I was driving from Tuscaloosa, AL to Oxford, MS to offer a workshop and saw a bill board message that read: “Even so, Lord Jesus, Come, for Lo the Days are Evil.” There has been a lot of contemplation within our Unitarian Universalist congregations about evil after the tragic shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Knoxville, TN. Evil is a subject that we don’t handle well as a faith movement. So when it strikes in such a personified and directed way, it is time we take notice and find ways to deal with the matter.
What struck me about the billboard isn’t so much the statement of announcing the days are evil. What struck me about the billboard is that the solution offered was an outside intervention, the return of Jesus, to remove the person or people from the evil days. Rather than seeking divine guidance in dealing with the evil and reducing its impact and power, this solution was to pluck us out of the evil by the return of a Messiah to rescue us. It was a let’s not deal with the evil we see and instead pray for the rapture as our get out of evil days card.
It seems that Unitarian Universalists have something in common with conservative fundamentalist Christianity after all. While we might not be praying for the return of Jesus, we do tend to look the other way in the face of evil and not call what is evil by its name. We might call it racism or economic injustice or genocide or war but to label these as Evil would mean that we have developed a theology around evil that answers or attempts to answer questions such as: What is evil? How does evil generate? How can evil be dismantled of its power? Is it a power, an entity of force in the world? Can someone be possessed by evil? These are tough questions.
Our Humanist inclinations are that humanity has the ability to solve the problems of the world. If we only made a more concerted effort we could solve the problems we see around us. We tend not to call these evils but rather as problems needing to be overcome. Our Humanist inclinations get a bit fidgety when Evil is mentioned. We have no problem in using the word love as being a universal force in the world. But state evil as being a force and we find ourselves jumpin’ all around the subject.
So while our conservative Christian friends wish to be plucked out of the Evil they see around them, we would prefer to bury our heads in the sand when Evil with a capital E is mentioned. I sense the events in Knoxville are about to change our thinking about this reality in our midst. It is with some curiosity that I pause and wonder how we will begin to deal with the nature of Evil from here on out.
Blessings, Serenity Home