Musings on Evil, the News, and “Real Life”

Hi, friends. If you’re wondering about the title, don’t worry; this article isn’t a postmodernist assertion that reality is actually subjective, though people do say “perception is reality.” In this post, I’m meditating on a point from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and applying it in a couple different ways.

One of the last letters in The Screwtape Letters explores how confronting evil affects people’s views about religion. Essentially, Screwtape writes that when people experience horrific events and/or witness true evil, such as in war, they tend to decide that religion must be fantasy while what they are seeing is “reality.” He makes an interesting point that evil causes people to turn against God, yet the antithesis of evil–beauty, joy, bountiful blessings–doesn’t necessarily have the equal and opposite effect of filling people with assurance about God.

I speculate on a few different reasons for these reactions:

  1. We are more faithful on a mountain top than in a valley. [Not always–just 99% of the time.]
  2. We tend to blame God for bad things while crediting ourselves for good things.
  3. Any experience which causes trauma will make everything ordinary pale in comparison. [Faith is only ordinary when it’s half-baked, but that’s another subject.]
  4. When life is good, we’re happy, but when life is bad, we’re really miserable. [At least in privileged Western countries where we expect to be happy most of the time.]
  5. We ask why bad things happen if there is a creator–a just, loving God at that.

Combining these reasons, it seems perfectly logical to me that a person who experiences scarring trauma would turn against religion–unfortunate, of course, but logical.

So, here’s the segue…

Shortly after reading the book, I grabbed lunch with my mom one day and noticed The Wendy Williams Show broadcasting on the TV. She was divulging the latest celebrity gossip. A train of thought popped into my head.

marten-bjork-658221-unsplash

Isn’t it ironic that many regard subjects that are petty, fickle, and futile as “real” while deeming faith in something permanent as mythical?

A celebrity’s latest romantic relationship is real; a person’s relationship with God is mythical.

Social media buzz around the topic of the day is real; scripture that never changes is mythical.

Platitudes spoken at funerals bring people real comfort; the hope in life after death is a mythical crutch.

My definitions of “reality” and “real” don’t hinge on what is observable. Maybe…some things that we can’t see or can’t totally fathom are more “real” than the world around us.

The circumstances of society constantly change. The Word of God, on the other hand, doesn’t change.

Don’t get distracted into believing that the noise all around us is all there is–that “real life” is just the latest news…or, returning to my original premise, that the existence of evil means that religion is a fantasy. 

God’s everlasting promises are “realer” than the arbitrary hierarchies we build on Earth.

The assurance of Jesus’ return as ultimate judge means that evil will someday be rectified.

Thanks for reading and God bless you!

8 comments

  1. I wrestle with this concept repeatedly when distraught. Eventually, I asked myself some difficult questions. (After the hurt and rage burns away.) Then I remember this path leads nowhere I want to go.

    I outgrew blaming evil on an indifferent god long ago. It didn’t hold up to the hard questions. I think it’s where the term blind rage comes from. Rationality and anger are strangers.

    I believe in free will. Humans commit atrocities daily. We all possess good and evil. Our choices and actions are at root of both. I can’t dictate the will of others. To do so would make me a thief.

    I can only choose and act as I will. I used to think God would protect me from evil. I learned otherwise. I learned my choices and acts are all I can control. I learned not to attach expectations to my deeds for the same reason. Hard lessons.

    I let go of my expectations for rewards in an afterlife. It’s beyond my control. I choose that which allows me to love myself and others. I reject evil because it hurts others and their pain destroys me. 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I’ve said in the past, you have a big heart, Allison. I’m joyful that despite your own struggles in life and the atrocities you have personally witnessed, you choose an attitude of love! The fact that others’ pain hurts you makes you the best kind of person–the kind of person who sympathizes and empathizes rather than turning a blind eye and only caring about #1.

      You are right that humans have free will, and we choose to do good or evil. We can’t prevent evil from occurring. What we can do is choose good and try to inspire others to do the same. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In seminary, I had a professor who talked about how the world is upside down and Jesus right sides it. So often what we hear is that the world is what it is and Jesus flips it upside down. Yet, I think the professor is right. The world is the one that’s screwing things up. Jesus is flipping it back the way it should be. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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