Archives For evil

Have you ever wondered why–in stories, books, films–there’s a protagonist and an antagonist? A good guy and a bad guy? Beyond the mere fact that without conflict there isn’t much story, there’s something deeper going on. The stories we love the most, of the heroes vanquishing the villains, reflect a deeper truth: that the story we’re living in (life) has an antagonist called the devil. And like characters in stories, we endure conflict either to achieve the good we seek, or because of the evil in the world. We are also in conflict with ourselves, with our own nature. But God has provided both the ultimate triumph over evil and the sin which lives within us; this happened upon the cross of Christ, when He said, “it is finished.” Although this is true, evil endures in our world until the consolation of history. If history were a play, this is the third act. But make no mistake: the King shall return to set all things right.

It is up to us to decide which way we shall go, who’s team (if you will) we’ll join. In the meantime, because we have received His help, how can we not be about God’s business, be helping others?

Following is an article from Grace Hill Media on the reality of evil:

Evil has been with us, and in our entertainment, since the dawn of time. First plays, now movies and TV shows, always have to have a bad guy – a corrupt cop, a supervillain bent on world domination, a violent criminal or murderer. In earlier, some would say simpler, times, the dark character in entertainment was clearly one audiences were meant to root against. It was easy, or at least easier, to know our heroes from our villains.

 

Today, though, it can be a little tougher. Far beyond the reluctant anti-hero, some of the characters we’re supposed to find admirable have qualities that just a generation ago would have firmly planted them in the bad-guy camp. From a sexy devil with charm and a heart (Fox’s hit series LUCIFER), to all variety of films (the TWILIGHT series) and TV shows (pretty much anything on The CW), characters who used to headline horror films – vampires, zombies, werewolves, witches – are now the stars we’re supposed to want to emulate.

 

That’s why it’s refreshing when a film like THE CONJURING 2, in theaters nationwide Friday, comes out. Like the first film, a big hit that took in $318 million at the U.S. box office alone, the sequel vividly portrays the nature of evil – as something destructive and ugly and to be defeated, not embraced. The “bad guy” in this case isn’t a guy – or gal – at all, but a demonic spirit that torments a British family and must be overcome by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, reprising their roles from the original film).

 

The Warrens make sure the Hodgson family, the targets of the supernatural entity, understand it is a malevolent force out to destroy them. As a statement from the real Ed Warren stated at the end of the first film, the new one makes very clear that: “Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.”

 

A film like THE CONJURING 2, with its forthright depiction of spiritual evil, is a great opportunity to talk with friends about the true nature of the dark forces that inhabit our world. Here are a few questions to get that conversation going:

 

  • Do you believe in good and evil? In the spiritual realm? In the human realm?
  • If you do believe in evil, what do you believe is the source of it?
  • If you do believe in evil, how do you think it can be defeated?
  • What do you think about the trend in entertainment to make heroes out of characters that have traditionally been villainous?
  • Do you plan on seeing THE CONJURING 2? Why or why not?

Much ink has been spilled about the injustices, the inequities, seen all around us everyday. Kids go to bed hungry while parents shoot up dope. Or worse, kids wind up dead. There isn’t day goes by without a report of road rage; somebody cut someone else off, and then someone gets beat, shot, or run over. We regulate, legislate, send folks to anger management classes, hold sensitivity training at work, and try to watch our words. We’re simultaneously anxious, uptight, fried, yet we somehow don’t want to offend…

We sublimate, self-medicate, and stuff our feelings. Is it any wonder, with the the amounts of both intrinsic, and extrinsic, repression that there are slips in the space/time continuum? That there are blow ups? We are selfish by nature, out to get our own, looking out for number one (as the saying goes). We’re indignant when someone tramples upon our (perceived) rights, yet have no trouble trampling another’s rights, boundaries, space, to get what’s ours.

It’s reductio ad absursum. Yet we are blind to it. And no matter how enlightened, how modern, we become there are no programs, classes, sweat lodges, pilgrimages, substances, or really anything which can effect a change in what we call human nature. The heart simply cannot be changed by anything existing within the same broken, reprobate system in which it itself dwells. This calls for outside intervention.

No cleanses, juice fasts, or high colonics will ever rid us of the foolishness bound up in our hearts. A wise teacher once said it is not that which enters a man which defiles him, but rather that which comes out of him.

Out of his heart.

Many, many there are who seek enlightenment upon their own terms. But few there are who find new life.

The kids are not all right.

That’s why God sent His Son, Jesus. He may not be the immediate answer to every ill in this vale of tears, but He certainly is the ultimate one.

Seek Him while He may be found.

The other day, I shared My Jesus Story. While coming to Christ certainly solved my need for a Savior, it didn’t solve everything. Maybe it was expectations, maybe it was something else, but being saved hasn’t necessarily made this life better. I’m still who suffers from crushing self-doubt, nursing wounds that I thought were long since healed. And I have a terrible need to be noticed, to be reckoned with–and not ignored–that colors all my relationships. The latent Freudian in me thinks this stems from childhood neglect.

Believe me, I want to be passed all of that. I just didn’t know how.

And there are other things, darker things, burdens loved ones bear. I wonder why Jesus let these things happen? The Scriptures say he is sovereign, but that not everything is now under his feet. This is a terrible freedom with which the world is burdened. All manner of things happen… People are killed, die of overdoses, get raped, are abused, see things which cannot be unseen…

And the Scripture declare that although Christ died, all is not yet as it should be. All is not yet under his feet. Yet I’m somehow supposed to trust in his sovereignty? It’s a hard road to hoe. We have the freedom to not only mock God, but also abuse the very freedoms his son died to procure.

Evil with a capital “E” not only exists, it also walks among us. Is in us.

The world is a mess.

But then again so are you and I.

I wonder if the reason Jesus doesn’t step in and set things to rights is because he wants us to partner with him in doing something about the world’s ills? Perhaps instead of just decrying the evil we see, maybe we’re supposed to get in there, get our hands dirty, do something?

For the scripture which says that not everything is under his feet also says that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”

Maybe Jesus doesn’t solve everything because he wants us to be a part of the solution?

It could be.

In any case, m
Continue Reading…

Shh! I need to tell you something. It’s a secret. No, not here. Come around the corner… Where it’s a bit darker.

I’m a fan of horror fiction. I grew up reading Stephen King. I still read his work. Now, I’m not a fan of horror for horror’s sake, or the buckets of gore served up ad infinitum in so-called torture porn. That said, even the Saw movies present a kind of twisted “what would you do” scenario: do you sacrifice, or save, yourself. (I’ve not seen them).

The best horror stories are always morality plays. The darker the darkness, the starker, the brighter, the light is in contrast. It’s good vs. evil on grand scale, where the forces of evil always seem on the cusp of winning, but then good overcomes. Characters–regular people, like you and me–are placed in these insane situations, and we get to see: will they rise to the occasion, or be overcome?

Fiction in general, and horror fiction in particular, helps us to make sense of a seemingly senseless world. It often does so by invoking the supernatural. This, I think, is really what explains our ongoing fascination–as a culture, as a species–with the things that go bump in the night. Whether we are atheists, agnostics, rationalists, scientists, and whether want to acknowledge it, or not, in our inmost selves we know that there is more to the world than what we experience with our senses.

Horror takes this intrinsic understanding, and makes it tacit reality: the monsters are real, the unseen exists. There really is more to this world than meets the eye.

We who are Christians of course know this: there is a God, a devil, and a war for the souls of every person who has ever lived. Horror, in a sense, shows the world as it really is: a battleground between the forces of light and dark. Because that’s the stark truth: we were, all of us, born into a world at war.

We who are Christians also know something else: in the end, we win. In the end, good will ultimately triumph over evil (although it’s bloody battle now). The devil is not, nor has he ever been, God’s equal. He will lose.

Which is why I get excited when a movie comes out that acknowledges the fundamental nature of reality: good, and evil, are real. The world is often a scary, confusing place, and there are sinister forces at work that we can’t comprehend.

What movie is this? That marries two things I love? A good scare, and the overcoming goodness of God?

The Conjuring.

What do you think? Are you going to see it?

We live in a world where it’s all too easy to blame, and cast aspersions, rather than take personal responsibility. This always works so much better, right? I’m broken, we’re broken, because of our parents, our life experiences… It’s always the other guy’s fault.

Guns, and pornography, for instance, are always hot button issues. We keep trying to legislate around them.

It’s a losing battle.

Because neither guns, nor pornography, are the problem. No, the problem is the needy beast of a thing which beats within our chests. The brokenness which compels us to shoot, the desires which bid us look.

Porn doesn’t make us look, nor do guns make us shoot.

Beyond that, what rights do we, the bond slaves of Christ, truly have? We are free in him, of a surety, but freedom apart from responsibility is mere liberality, and is a license for all manner of justifications. (I speak here from experience). 

We each of us need to look to our own hearts, and stop blaming the man, the system, the government… All are broken because we are broken. And as long as we live in this world–in Act III of history–freedoms will be abused, evils will be done. That is what free will means: we have the freedom to choose the right, or the wrong.

And the consequences of these choices unfortunately affect more than just us. Some drop like a pebble in a pond–causing ripples–and others crash like an avalanche of destruction.

Yet without this very freedom, we would not know love. Without evil, we would not know good. Without the choice betwixt the two, we are mere automatons.

Choose love today. Choose, even if hurts you–even if it takes from you something you want.

And pray with me, Maranatha! Even so, please, Lord, come.