Searching for Meaning in Evil's Turbulent Wake

Yet it is also doomed to failure.

Our need to wrestle meaning from such Evil, often leads us to blame cultural, political, or religious ideologiesb but this kneejerking blame-game is not only politically and spiritually unhelpful, it is misguided. Even the most clearly-stated of intentions (pdf) will never fully explain such depravity; ideologies and motivations will never truly match up to the unthinkable actions conceived and carried out by misguided fanatics.

Attempts to present the world with a tidy, conclusive narrative that encapsulates such tragedies cannot work unless we recognize that we are dealing not only with the "positive" forces of cultural mores, traditions, and historical precedents, but with "negative" ones, as well. The notion of Evil as privation—a key cog in any attempt to understand the motives that drive such tragedies—is a game changer.

Darkness only makes sense in contrast to the light it lacks. Its presence is a reminder that those who carry out such diabolical schemes are not simply putting a lesser good in place of a greater one; they are replacing a good with something that is not even a "being" at all—a confusion so warped and so profoundly blinding, should we really be surprised by the twistedness of its fruits?

7/28/2011 4:00:00 AM
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    About Alonzo L. Gaskill
    Alonzo L. Gaskill is an author, editor, theologian, lecturer, and professor of World Religions. He holds degrees in philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. He has authored more than two-dozen books and numerous articles on various aspects of religion; with topics ranging from world religions and interfaith dialogue, to scriptural commentaries, texts on symbolism, sacred space, and ritual, and even devotional literature.