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Posted on 02/26/2013 6:06:59 AM PST by Kaslin
The Devil, You Say!
Hardly had the shooting stopped at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the national commentary machine cranked up. Everyone and his dog had something to say: Most of it, as events would show, centered on the compelling need, or lack of it, for gun control.
To the Rev. Dr. Bill Dickson, it seemed the time had come for a metaphorically deeper treatment, focused on the seething, slithering abode of evil itself and the inhabitants thereof.
"Something shocking is going on in the world," Dr. Dickson, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, told me the other day. "It's not explained in human nature. We need to realize we are in a spiritual battle, facing an evil opposition that wants to destroy us."
What figure would we be talking about here if not the Devil: same red-suited gent rumored for centuries to be abroad in human affairs reduced in our scientific/high tech age to an exclamation or a Halloween costume? To return the Prince of Darkness to something like his old time prominence, Dr. Dickson organized at St. Andrew's a Lenten season series of teachings entitled, "Evil -- the Diabolical Spirit Which Haunts the Wilderness."
How do you like topics such as "Satan as the Corruptor of Governmental, Societal Systems," "Satan as the Inspiration and the Ultimate Object of False Religion" and "Satan as the Enemy of Truth, the Deceiver"? It strikes me we ought to like them a lot -- as occasions for renewing forgotten understandings of a power who should be in the forefront of our worst apprehensions.
The world of today, as I have remarked, takes the Devil lightly, if it takes him at all, despite his traditional portrayal as the avowed enemy of God. The Devil -- fallen angel as he is -- wants the reverse of whatever God wants: contentment, love, joy. It becomes his own joy (by traditional account) to work through God's own creatures -- men, women, children -- to frustrate the whole heavenly enterprise. We find it written in the Gospels that he sought for that identical purpose to work his will on God's son.
Was Adam Lanza, the Newton gunman, the Devil's agent? To put it another way, can the possibility be foreclosed? Because if it can be, the Prince of Darkness is off the hook, and we turn, necessarily, to the examination of purely human causes and motives.
The guy, you say, was nuts and got his hands on guns he shouldn't have had access to? That could suggest, as many do, the need to tighten up gun controls and maybe better oversee the mental health system.
On the other hand, what if hatred, malice, the dark wish to inflict harm on innocent others -- what if these were the primary driving forces in Lanza's makeup? Would that realization not color the discussion in useful ways? And, yes, if it did, would it or would it not prove that evil somehow lurked around Newtown, Conn., on that stomach-churning day last December?
Prove or disprove it how? That would be next question. Merely asking it conjures up mysteries and wonders more familiar to our forebears than to us. Among these: the presence among us of malice and wickedness.
Is it really possible, outside theology, to address the question of how a mere boy -- never mind where he got the guns -- could murder the woman who gave him life then slaughter children on whom he never before had set eyes? And if (as many would contend) you can't talk about such a thing without theology, does the world not owe itself the duty of asking whether our forbears knew some theology it wouldn't hurt us to recall?
Disbelief in the Devil, whether as blackened angel, symbol of perverted love or both things at the same time -- would strike our ancestors as a huge favor to the old boy, letting him retreat into the shadows while humans sort out their sorrows. He won't get that kind of surcease at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, I venture to predict.
2 Timothy 3
King James Version (KJV)
3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.
10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Even most churches agree that the vast majority of such heinous crimes are less by Satanic design than by mental illness.
There is no ready solution for mental illness, either, as it can be a dynamic thing, subtle for a time and then outrageous, and more than anything else, *uncomfortable* for sane people to relate to. There is a very deep desire to communicate, for there to be reason with another person, and when they cannot be reasonable or communicate well, it is very frustrating. “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.”
So most people prefer to shun mental illness, or even the discussion of it.
The states used to commit many people to institutions, often unjustly, and finally the courts had enough, so forced them to release all but the very worst.
As loathe as I am to propose a federal solution for anything, because of their hopeless and overbearing excesses, in this one situation, they might be a better solution to a problem that the people and the states have neglected.
Not on their own! Of course, there would have to be enormous safeguards, as the temptation for abuse would be extraordinary.
A federal reservation for the mentally ill.
It would have to be hard to get there, and hard to stay there. Psychiatrists at the county and state level, along with state and federal judges would have to support institutionalization, “just to protect the mentally ill person and others from harm.”
It could likely take more than a year to get in, and frequent, independent psychiatric evaluations to stay there.
But unlike at the state level, where psychiatric confinement is to just put the person into a daily, 23-hour drug induced coma, the effort here would be to try and repair them.