In my new book, Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans, I have a chapter near the end about our efforts to explain evil.
The problem for Christians and other people of faith in this effort is that every possible answer to the old question of theodicy -- Why is there evil in the world if God is good? -- fails ultimately. We simply don't have an exhaustive answer to explain evil and suffering.
And yet because evil is a mystery, we feel compelled to continue trying to understand it. So we write books, essays and blog postings. We preach sermons and give seminars. And we make movies in which the subject is evil.
One such movie has just been released, "Deliver Us from Evil," a line obviously taken from the traditional English translation of the Lord's Prayer.
Christianity Today recently published this fascinating interview with the director of that film, Scott Derrickson. A few highlights from the interview:
* Much of the movie is about the sacredness of language and the power of words. Christians believe that "in the beginning was the word" and that God spoke the world into existence. So there's something about the power of language in this movie that plays in a significant way.
* I think there's a real mystery to the inexplicable irrationality of true evil—both human and spiritual.
* I genuinely don't understand why everyone isn't obsessed with discovering and unmooring a deeper understanding of it. If we're not compelled to gain a deeper understanding of good and evil, how can we make the world a better place? How can we find ourselves at the end of our lives and know that our lives were significant?
Well, there's more in the interview. So go read. And if you find an exhaustive answer to the presence of evil in the world, please let me know pronto. That's a scoop I'd love to own.
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WARREN, Vt. -- While I'm in Vermont for a family wedding don't look for the usual second item here on the blog. I hereby give you back a few extra minutes a day. Use them well.