Thursday, September 17, 2009

further thoughts on "Notes from a Tilt-a-Whirl" : the problem of evil

So . . . more on N.D. Wilson's "Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl". Wow. I think I'm going to be re-reading and chewing on and quoting this one for years. I'm still turning over in my mind what I think of how he addressed the problem of evil. Because, for the most part, he doesn't see much of a problem. He presents it in artistic terms--a painting needs light and shadow, a story needs conflict for a plot line. And I certainly take his point that much of what we blithely call "evil" might actually not be so--that it is simply a higher, greater, more dangerous, sharper edged good than we are prepared to handle. Do we want sharp edged mountains in our world? Or would we rather have a world where no foolish grade schooler can ever concuss herself on a steep snowfield? I think it was worth it . . . since I didn't end up dying anyway . . .
But what of the evil we do see? The real, undeniable, pit-of-hell stuff? Is that from God? Does he actually desire it? Is it simply the shading in his pencil sketch? No--God is light, and in him there is no darkness. God is not tempted by evil, nor does he create or encourage evil, nor does he set us up for a fall for his own purposes. The evil in the world, the sin in the world, is our fault. God doesn't need it. God doesn't want it. It is not an addition to God's color pallete.
Would Wilson agree with me? Well, I can't entirely tell from the book. Maybe he just figured that other takes on dealing with the problem of evil had been well addressed in other places and he was doing something different here. He is presenting, if you will, the problem of Good. The problem is that Good is too much for us to handle. And it's certainly true that if we stop trying to reduce Good to fuzzy bunnies and safety scissors, our perspective on evil looks a little different. If we stop trying to equate evil with "anything I don't want," and remember that the plotline of this universe is about more than my comfort--if we attempt, at all, to take it in context--maybe the problem turns out to be a little different than we thought at first.

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