I had a friend in college who told me about a test he had had in high school. He had given the following answer:
Require not, my friend, that I should solve the riddle. I prefer asking, my calling is not answering. (it’s more amusing in Norwegian because this was a Henrik Ibsen quote in the archaic (to us) language Ibsen used.
He had at least learned a sentence Ibsen once wrote, so he didn’t walk out completely empty-headed. Come to think of it, I think his teacher would disagree. It would be tempting to give the same response if the question was the origin of evil. That is always a hotly debated question in theological circles. We dealt with the same question when I studied theology 20 years ago (Oh my God! Has it been that long? Think I’m getting old).
One of my best memories from university was a guest lecturer (he’s now a professor at the same university) who talked about the fight against P (p for power). He’s had an interesting career, by the way. He started researching youth culture and later in his career he was a field priest with the Norwegian forces in Afghanistan. He wrote a book about his experiences there, on one of the main dangers of war, boredom. Maybe youth culture and war has similar issues in that respect. I think he was on to something.
By powers he meant all negative forces, and it’s important that we fight them. The Powers like to flirt and seduce, often with youngsters as targets and victims. Part of the problem is that evil is often presented in a far better light than the good, not least in the media. Bestiality is colourful, while the good is gray and dull. Then it is no wonder that many people are attracted to the same behavior. We are very influenced by media.
I’m dubious to the idea of the devil as a physical being, as in Satan (he is quite entertaining in South Park, though), but I am convinced that there is a spiritual world where there is a struggle between good and evil. I think it manifests itself as different things to us, like group processes. It is remarkable how some things keep coming back over and over again. Racism, slavery and oppression of other groups for example doesn’t go away completely. No matter how enlightened we become, it seems to be a recurring theme. It may seem as if there is a supernatural force coordinating this, but I believe it’s just what happens when the wrong people work together.
There are two types of people I sort of envy, atheists and Christians who think they know God. All I know is that I know nothing, and I don’t understand how people can be so certain. I like the way it’s presented in the movie Constantine where angels and demons could only try to influence people. If we don’t allow them to influence us they are powerless. I suppose that goes for both angels and demons. We have the entire responsibility alone. God has just as little part in our decisions as the Devil, and just as little power over us.
Sometimes certain people appear, people who want to do the right thing and have the power to execute their plans, but it almost seems as if they are being sabotaged. I think Obama is one of those who could be what the world needs, but the question is whether or not he will be allowed to. It was very exciting when he won the election for 4 years ago. I think he wanted to do the things he talked about, but he was forced to deal with other things from the start. The Health Care Reform is one the big issues and one that could have made the lives of many Americans better. Not only was the opposition on this issue strong, but the economy required Obamas full attention during the first period, and the 2nd started with a gun law debate. As if that wasn’t enough he got the Petraeus-problem as well as disagreement about his new defense secretary.
The world needs a strong United States and a strong person leading this union. I think Obama could have been remembered as the right president at the right time. I am not sure he will be. The forces working against him doesn’t make any sense at all, unless you think of them as P.
When it comes to Norway, supposedly the best country to live in (according to the UN) all is not perfect here either. It’s on an entirely different level of course, but I have experienced a bit of what it takes to fight P. It is impossible to say whether I was chosen because I have been an easy, isolated target or whether it’s because I married a black woman (I’m not suggesting racism of course because an evil like that doesn’t exist in our perfect society). The truth is that we are constantly experiencing the effects of the negative group dynamics of P, but now we at least live in a place where people have chosen to influence each other in a positive direction.
People can be pretty destructive. No news there! I know at least a dozen names for the devil. Some of the more classic ones are: Beelzebub, Antichrist, evil one, Lucifer, prince of darkness and adversary. No matter what we call him, do we really need him? I believe we are perfectly capable of handling his job on our own. In fact, we do it remarkably well!
As I translated this entry I discovered another attack from Sen. Lindsey C. Graham (C is for Counterproductive). I assume he’s a rational man, but this is hard to understand. It reminds me of a straw man who said that some people without brains do an awful lot of talking. In a normal world the way the Republicans behave these days would be like shooting themselves in the foot, but it remians to be seen how normal the world is.