Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why is there evil in the world?

Monday, November 10, 2008

That's the eternal question, isn't it? Why does God allow evil in the world? Why doesn't God just override our evil genes (or whatever it is that leads us to act as we sometimes act)?

Let me give a writer's answer. Evil is the setting for good actions. In the face of evil, we have the right to make good choices.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying God created evil so we could do good. I don't know why there is evil in the world. I'm just saying that we still have the right to choose the better way.

In large and small ways, we all make our witness in the world.

When you say to a friend, "I don't really want to be a part of hearing or spreading that gossip," you are making your own little positive witness in the face of evil.

When you welcome a stranger into your church or PTA or whatever, maybe even welcome someone others would not welcome, you are making your own little positive witness in the face of evil.

When you stand for justice, when you protest injustice or write a book that screams against some terrible abuse, you are making a positive witness in the face of evil.

Even in the way you lead your life, you can make a positive witness in the face of evil. Look at Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Not all the heroes of our youth were such good people. I heard a TV interview about one of my boyhood cowboy heroes. Those interviewed told the story of the time he was doing a personal appearance. He fell off his horse because he was drunk. He was promiscuous. He picked up young women in hotel lobbies.

Can you visualize Roy Rogers being drunk or promiscuous? I'm not saying he might not have made mistakes along the way, but basically, he lived the code he portrayed on the screen. I'd bet on it. The character he put forth in all those movies and on TV was the character he was.

I liked both cowboy heroes, and I still do, but I am glad the hero in my dream, the hero I felt called to write about, was Roy Rogers.

I don't know why there is evil in the world. I doubt any of us really know why evil exists, though we all have our own theological explanations, as ministers would put it, our own theodicy. But the truth is, evil can be the backdrop for the opportunity to do good, courageous things. That's the way it was for my Roy Rogers, Harry, Nevaeh and the gang.

So it all comes down to us, doesn't it? What kind of witness will I make today? I can't necessarily do away with evil, but I can act correctly in the face of evil, and then when my life is done, I can know, that despite my own wrongdoings (and we all have them), I sometimes did good, even in the face of an evil I couldn't explain or understand.


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