Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Lately, I've become fascinated with the rhetoric espoused by both the secular and the religious sector that implies evil can be surgically removed, like a cancer. Much of the talk centered on "winning" in Iraq or Afghanistan hinges around the suggestion that by removing a few key players, almost as if they were tumors, could "cure" the situation. Fundamentalist Christians embody evil in a discrete entity--Satan--and work off the assumption that if you just drive Satan away, well, only good will remain. Good. Evil. It's so simple and easy to grasp--so why muddy the waters by complicating it?

Here's the truth: Even when you surgically remove a cancer, you take good tissue out with it. The surgeon doesn't have microscopic vision. Instead, a rim of normal tissue is always taken out with the cancer. Even then, what grossly looks normal isn't always "normal" when scrutinized under the pathologist's microscope. Occasionally, microscopic foci of tumor extend to the edges of that "normal-looking" margin, and then more good tissue must be re-excised for a surgical cure.

Therein, I believe, lies the true nature of evil. Sure, there is obvious evil. Line up 100 people and they'll tell you Adolph Hitler was evil. But sometimes, evil is more subjective...or not evident until exposed to the frame of passing time...or adjucated by which side you were on in the event. Westward expansion didn't seem evil when Americans felt we had to fulfil our "manifest destiny" but the displacement and massacre of tens of thousands of Native Americans, in retrospect, certainly has elements of evil entertwined within it.

It's interesting that we have a human tendency to stratify sin when all sin is capable of giving a person the feeling of "separation from God." We lump all the things we think of as "really bad sins" in the "evil" category and all the little piddly wrongdoings as "failings" or "shortcomings" or whatnot. Yet, in our times of tribulation, we can feel our self-distancing from God for something small just as acutely as for something big. At the same time, we can be blithely unaware of sins not yet come to light, that turn out to be significant failings on our part.

In my mind, this is why I think the concept of being able to perform an "evil-ectomy" is an impossible task. The margins of the "tumor" are so blurred it can never be fully excised. If the prayer "God, please remove all evil in the world" could be answered, who of us would be left standing? Nobody--and that is our divine paradox. Each of us, made in the Creator's image, has to work our way through this co-mingling of our divine nature and our sin nature. The tumorous portions of our soul are not discrete lesions but more like a miscible pair of liquids. One simply can't be separated from the other. Yet in this murky, opaque mix of two totally opposite entities, we still see the light of God shining in people. Go figure!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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