I will not spend a word of this column rehashing or reiterating. By now, everyone knows what happened. Everyone in the nation, perhaps around the world, is now simply trying to grasp this. There is no mystery about what occurred (are the horrid details even important in the grand scheme?). The questions now are all about…why? How can someone do such a thing?
To answer that I will review a bit of a conversation I heard the other night between Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo.
O’Reilly: You would classify this as evil wouldn’t you? I mean that’s what this is…”
Geraldo: Bill, Evil is not a strong enough description, this is beyond evil.
O’Reilly: There is something terribly wrong going through our society and there is nothing we can do about it. I mean we can’t stop it.
Another reporter on another show said: “With all that we have seen in recent years, we have never seen anything like this.”
All three of these people are incorrect. I don’t say that to judge. They are struggling, as I am, as we all are, to get our heads around this.
But as a Christian I know that evil IS a strong enough word. I know that we HAVE seen it like this and have seen it many times, and I know that there IS something we can do about it.
Dietrich Bonheoffer, the great Christian theologian took a stand against Hitler in the late 1930′s and early during the second war. The Nazi’s murdered him for taking that stand. He was imprisoned repeatedly, He was hauled around in a panel truck where he was stacked in among other former German dignitaries that dared to question Der Fuhrer. They piled this fine people on top of one another like a stack of lumber. They were kept in the truck for stretches as long as 20 hours. They urinated and defecated on one another. Eventually Bonheoffer was hung at Tegel military prison.
From that prison cell, Bonheoffer wrote these words: The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on out traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.
The fundamental wickedness of evil…let that soak in for a moment…Bonheoffer is talking about here evil disguising itself as something good in order to find a way to wreak destruction. Bonheoffer saw evil up close and personal. And this is where I disagree with Geraldo, evil is a strong enough word. This is evil…this slaughter of innocent five, six and seven, year olds…this is what it looks like. As Christians we have been warned of this. This is the self-same dark force in the universe that scourged an innocent Christ until he was nearly disemboweled. This is the same force that nailed him to a cross and then mocked him. This is the same force that led toddlers to the ovens.
We HAVE seen this before. We see it nearly every day. We see it when we hear of young boys raped by a football coach who masqueraded as someone they could trust and someone that cared for them. We see it when any innocent young child is harmed anywhere in the world. We see it in modern day genocides in Africa. We see it when missiles from Gaza are hurled into apartments where families are sleeping. This is what the word evil means, this is how evil manifests itself. There are no limitations to its outworking of death and destruction there is no remorse present in evil there is no compassion present within evil.
This is the same force that lures us in with lust, or drugs, or even a promise of alleviating loneliness. It lures with something attractive so that it can rip apart and utterly devastate.
This is the force of darkness that the Bible warns about over and over and over. They are warnings which our culture scoffs at over and over and over. The same people on TV today saying, “Lift a prayer” , will be the same people saying, “How dare you use the word sin…how dare you judge…” tomorrow. There is an enmity with good present in our hearts that prevents us from truly admitting that there is evil. It prevents us from doing that one thing that can be done.
Here is where O’Reilly was wrong. We can do something about it. In this world we cannot eliminate it. Evil is among us. It permeates this sinful world. But the counter to evil has been provided.
It seems that in order to defeat evil like this man demonstrated we need to take up arms or draw swords. My gut instinct is to rush out and find evil, to root it out like a cancer and smash it. But in that method O’Reilly would be right. Those efforts would be futile. We do not yet have the means, nor the authority to wipe out evil entirely from the world. That comes later. The true remedy for evil to our human flesh seems wholly inadequate. It seems too simple and innocuous to work or to be effective, yet it is not just an effective possibility it is in fact the only cure.
Of all things… the greatest weapon against evil…the only weapon against evil…is a babe. Satan didn’t see that one coming and we didn’t either. Sometimes we still don’t see it. Sometimes it still doesn’t make sense or seem powerful enough. But it is all powerful! Satan has yet to fully comprehend, I think, that he with all his darkness and wickedness and vile putrid nature would be defeated by a babe in a manger. Yet he has already been undone because that particular Babe represented Amazing, unspeakable…LOVE and love is the atom bomb to evil. Evil cannot overcome pure love. It cannot, it will not defeat love. In fact, love has defeated it.
It is in the Incarnation of Christ…it is in the amazing love of God made flesh that evil finds its ultimate doom.
The night after the shootings I went out to strike a mighty blow against evil. I didn’t feel like it but I went anyway. I went with a group to the homes of widows on a rainy night. We sang Christmas carols to them and they gave us cookies or a piece of candy or…something, for they were determined we not leave empty handed, thus was their level of gratitude. We sang about a Silent Night when perfect love was personified. It was one step. It was one starfish thrown back into the sea. But it WAS a step toward the conquering of evil.
And it is not because of anything our little band of singers did. It certainly wasn’t the depth of our singing talent. Our efforts were only effective and were a type of the ultimate answer only because the love we demonstrated flowed from Him and is based upon what He did.
Satan is evil manifested. He is wickedness concentrated. God, immaculate in the man of Jesus Christ, IS goodness. All that is good flows from Him. The baby Jesus represents all of that perfect and overpowering and conquering love poured out from God to this sick and decaying world. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Evil will not stand. These babies will be avenged. But for now, it is not for us to avenge them. It is for us to love and by loving to strike a blow on those children’s behalf against the evil that befell them.
Chris Skates is the author of the novel, Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing To Do With The Environment, which is available in the Patriot Bookstore. He has been published in dozens of national magazines and has authored multiple technical articles in his field of Chemistry. You can follow his blog at www.chrisskates.com