Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Theology of Evil

"The Devil has a whole system of theology and philosophy...which explains that created things are fact the whole universe is full of misery..." Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

According to the Evil One, the creator rejoices in the sufferings of men; the universe is filled with misery because the creator himself plans it and wills it. In myriad ways, the implication of a move toward what is good within a spiritual tradition, by definition, acknowledges its opposite, what is evil. This is an idea which has not been directly explored here before.

Evil is indeed the counterpoint to many if not most spiritual systems and modes of practice. Yet in a modern, pluralistic society such as the United States, its presence may be easily obscured by many factors, and it may be enveloped and packaged into a number of other ideas. Without clear, careful awareness of the implications of a thought or action, an individual or a mass movement, evil easily arises into our midst.

Thomas Merton writes-- indeed, says within this system, the Creator took real pleasure in the crucifixion of souls; the Christ came to earth so as to be punished. Punishment is in fact his chief goal for himself and for all others. The pair, the Christ and his creator, want nothing more than to punish and persecute; that mankind inevitably is in error, he is wrong, so much so that there is great opportunity to manifest the justice of the wicked.

In the cosmos of the Evil One, the first order of creation is Hell; it comes first, before all else. The proper devotions of the faithful are about evil so as to be cloaked with evil. It is so that man cannot escape his punishments, the justice that this One metes out.There is no escape for individuals, nor for society in this way; there is no mercy, for it has no place in these systems of justice by punishments. The suffering, the Christ and his cross have now been transformed into a new symbol, a symbol for the victory of Justice and Law.

The Evil One declares that it is Law and Justice, not Love that fulfills the teaching. "Law must devour everything,' writes Merton, 'such is this theology of punishment, hatred and revenge."
Those who live by this dogma, live for just punishments, and yet desire to successfully evade the very same for themselves. He or she will take care to see to it that others do not avoid suffering. This concern powers the believer. The chief mark of hell is that there is everything but mercy. God absents himself from hell.

His mercy is elsewhere. Those in agreement with the Evil One are perfect; they no longer have need of any mercy. It is perhaps because "they derive a deep, subconscious comfort from the thought that many other people will fall into hell which they themselves are going to escape."

By this feeling, this conviction they are saved. The Evil One makes many disciples; he furthers his conquest through announcements against sin, the evil of sin which is guilt. So don't feel guilty, lest you fall into sin! In syllogistic logic, the principle of pleasure is explored:
 pleasure is sin; all sin is pleasure.
Next comes the notion that since pleasure is practically unavoidable, indeed planted here by the creator, we have a natural tendency towards evil, our nature is evil; therefore practically no one can escape sins because pleasure is inescapable. And so in the philosophy of the Evil One, what is left except to live for pleasure, to live in the now--with no thought of anyone or anything else beyond the self?

Ironic how those lives are often miserably unhappy ones, isn't it? Yet it's all in the plan of Justice and Punishments devised by this creator who works without mercy or grace, explains Thomas Merton in his essay, "The Moral Theology of the Devil."

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