Yes, There’s Evil

Yes, there’s evil. No, I’m not going to pelt you with a Walt Whitman-esque litany of all the ugly stuff, real, imagined or concocted for extra views & clicks, that you see every time your eyes veer screenward.

The screen grab above came from an email I received from the Social Security Administration. I’m old and stumbling into really old and got my application in for Medicare. I share the pic (and hey, it’s a worthy public service announcement) because I see scammers as a proof of evil.

My generation wasn’t big on evil. Things that used to be called evil – like breaking any of the Ten Commandments – were chalked up to social forces like poverty or lack of education. But scammers are not “victims of society” acting out their pain.

  • Scammers are SMART. They’re smarter than many of us – certainly than I. That’s why scams work. It doesn’t matter what academic credentials they have or lack. They are not hapless victims of their environment – they act upon and shape it.
  • Scammers are not impoverished. They have at least parity with the rest of us when it comes to technology. They have internet. They have computers and other devices – maybe more than most of us if they are using multiple sites and disposable stuff to avoid detection.
  • Scammers can’t be excused as “marginalized.” They represent the world’s array of peoples and places (Nigerian bequest, anyone?). And they prey in many cases on the vulnerable – the aged and folks trying to dig out of financial distress in particular.
  • Scammers have the free time to work on their scams. They aren’t starving and slaving.

In short, you have intelligent, adequately resourced people CHOOSING to prey upon others out of a sense of entitlement and greed. They are doing and, by making their behavior a way of life, becoming evil.

This weekend I read a searching exploration of evil in a piece by Naomi Wolf. It is a long read and in parts she is grappling in print with the ideas she raises. So it impossible for me to say, “Yes, I agree with all of it” because the author herself hasn’t even embraced it all. But it is well worth the time to read it. Here are two core paragraphs:

What we have lived through since 2020 is so sophisticated, so massive, so evil, and executed in such inhumane unison, that it cannot be accounted for without venturing into metaphysics. Something else, something metaphysical, must have done that. And I speak as a devoted rationalist.

I concluded that I was starting to believe in God in more literal terms than I had before, because this evil was so impressive; so it must be directed at something at least as powerful that was all good. 

Wolf reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which I’ll confess I still need to read. I watched the TV adaptation, which started out well but fell apart and was cancelled due to creative fueding.

To the extent that the TV version was faithful to the book, it carried the challenging idea that gods become “real,” that is, have impact on real life, to the extent that they have devotees.

Wolf is not settled on whether the spiritual entities who represent evil are real, but she believes there are evil ideas or “energies” out and about and that people are following them away from the true God who desires our good.

The Apostle Paul tells us that evil spiritual entities are real, but he demotes them from gods to deceiving spirits,

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared… (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

Notice that the Apostle ascribes the evil forces no power but what their deceived devotees grant them. This is what Wolf is pointing out – some weird god did not supernaturally impose the evil Covid politics on hapless souls – but willing souls embraced the evil ideas and imposed them on their neighbors. Then, those convinced of their unquestionable opinions and entitlement to power allowed their consciences to be seared and actively lied to suppress competing voices and contradictory evidence.

Falling prey to deception is part of our fallen human nature. We all have lies by which we live and to which we devote ourselves. Chrisitans understand this to be forgiveable by appeal to the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, bringing the power of the Holy Spirit to help us identify, confess and turn from our collusion with the demons.

Yet all of us will die still clutching at lies. None of us are complete in this life. The Good News that the church needs to keep putting forward against the noise of the demons is the one truth that is louder and carries the real power of the living God:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes
in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

2 responses to “Yes, There’s Evil”

  1. I don’t think I agreed with everything she says, either, but it’s a perceptive piece. The image of the US as a “house swept bare” so the evil spirits can move back in force is powerful, and consistent with what we’re seeing.

    [Off topic: Since I’ve been on Medicare for eight years now, let’s have no more of this “really old” stuff.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. northernplainsanglican Avatar

      😁 no more ageism here!


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