Richard Rohr – The Invisible Spiral of Violence

If you cannot recognize evil on the level of what I call the world, then the flesh and the devil are inevitable consequences. They will soon be out of control, and everything is just trying to put out brush fires on already parched fields. The world or “the system” is the most hidden, the most disguised, and the most denied—but foundational—level of evil. It’s the way cultures, groups, institutions, and nations organize themselves to survive.

It is not “wrong” to survive, but for some reason group egocentricity is never seen as evil when you have only concentrated on individual egocentricity (“the flesh”). That is how our attention has been diverted from the whole spiral of violence. The “devil” then stands for all of the ways we legitimate, enforce, and justify our group egocentricity (most wars; idolization of wealth, power, and show; tyrannical governments; many penal systems; etc.), while not now calling it egocentricity, but necessity! Continue reading “Richard Rohr – The Invisible Spiral of Violence”

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Richard Rohr – The World, The Flesh, and The Devil

Traditional Catholic moral teaching said there were three sources of evil—“the world, the flesh, and the devil.” Dom Helder Camara, who was the holy and wise archbishop of Recife, Brazil, taught this in terms of “a spiral of violence” spiraling from the bottom up. “The world” (systemic evil) is the lie at the root of most cultures about power, prestige, and possessions; in the middle is “the flesh” (the personal evil and bad choices of individuals); and at the top is “the devil” (evil disguised as “good power” to enforce the first two), which is usually the unquestionable institutions like war, the “laws” of the market economy, most penal systems and many police forces, unjust legal systems and tax systems, etc. They are rightly called “diabolical” because, starting with the snake in Genesis, high-level evil always disguises itself as good, charming, on your side, and even virtuous. Satan must present himself as too big or too needed to ever be wrong. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – The World, The Flesh, and The Devil”

Richard Rohr – Discerning Structural Evil

If you cannot recognize evil on the level of what I call the world—then the flesh and the devil are the inevitable consequences. They will soon be out of control, and everything is just trying to put out brush fires on already parched fields. The world or “the system” is the most hidden, the most disguised, and the most denied—but foundational—level of evil. It’s the way cultures, groups, institutions, and nations organize themselves to survive.

It is not “wrong” to survive, but for some reason group egocentricity is never seen as evil when you have only concentrated on individual egocentricity (“the flesh”). That is how our attention has been diverted from the whole spiral of violence. The “devil” then stands for all of the ways we legitimize, enforce, and justify our group egocentricity (most wars; idolization of wealth, power, and show; tyrannical governments; many penal systems; etc.) while not calling it egocentricity! Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Discerning Structural Evil”

Richard Rohr – The World, the Flesh and the Devil

Traditional Catholic moral teaching says there are three sources of evil—the world, the flesh and the devil. Dom Helder Camara, who was the holy and wise archbishop of Recife, Brazil, taught this in terms of “a spiral of violence” spiraling from the bottom up. “The world” (systemic evil) is at the root a lie, in the middle is “the flesh” (personal evil), and at the top is “the devil” (evil disguised as “good power” to enforce the first two).

Up to now in human history most people’s moral thinking has been overwhelmingly oriented around the personal evils of “the flesh.” There was not too much knowledge of the social foundations of evil behavior until very recently. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – The World, the Flesh and the Devil”

Martin E. Marty – Politics and Inerrancy

martinmarty

Sightings 11/24/08

Politics and Inerrancy

by Martin E. Marty

“From a perspective committed to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God,” the biweekly glossy World (November 15/22) asks at almost issue-length what went wrong with the Republicans in the recent elections.  To the editors’ credit, they do not spend much space in a blame game on what went wrong because of Democrats and liberals, but instead in self-examination of Republican faults.  Decades ago wags said that the Episcopal Church was “the Republican Party at prayer,” but in elections in our time it has been said that “inerrant Word of God” factions tended to find Republicans to be inerrant.  No more.  Let’s look at World.

Continue reading “Martin E. Marty – Politics and Inerrancy”