Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #4

Read: “We Are All Profiting from and Complicit in Evil”

I want to begin this week’s post by saying that I enjoyed being with fifteen of you in the Zoom meeting last Friday. I am glad we have made these gatherings part of our common-reading journey. Even though I have attended many such meetings, this was my first time to host one. We made it, but I have lots to learn!

The next Zoom meeting is July 15th at Noon (ET). In the “Engage” post for Monday, July 11th, I will provide the link.

And now….to this week’s reading…

As we move into chapter four, we enter what I would call a “hard saying”–but one Rohr had to name if we are going to know what to do with evil. That is, we must come to grips with the fact that we benefit from the “dirty rotten system,” and even more, we contribute to it.

Thomas Merton’s prayer opens the chapter and launches our reading, naming our “deep involvement in the collective sin” occurring all around us. We do this inwardly through “our bent to sinning” (Charles Wesley’s phrase) and outwardly through our benefiting from the spoils evil offers us as it vanquishes goodness. Through our condition and consent the status quo becomes a sacred cow.

That’s why it is so difficult to name evil and work to overcome it. Rohr writes about the seven deadly sins and about the laws that protect the powerful while oppressing the powerless. He is right when he says, “Expedience and ambition will always find a law or a scripture to justify their power grab.”

This short chapter is packed with stark realities, all of which we must recognize if we are to overcome evil with good. As the old song says, “It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer “

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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