I have been blogging lately on thoughts that occurred to me as I read through Grant Horner’s book Meaning at the Movies. Many of these have been about the movies, but many have been on other topics (or at least peripheral topics) as well.
Today’s topic is evil. Speaking of the movie The Exorcist, Horner tells us that its creators did not view this movie as fictional. They believed the evil it represented was real. And then he says this:
“Because it foregrounds the uncomfortable truth (the biblical truth) that real evil is never merely abstract: it is someone.” (p. 141; emphasis his)
Wow. It’s hard to even know what to say about that. I have never thought of evil in that way before. Love, of course, is personal — God is love and He is a person (or three). But this is a new thought to me.
The only thing I can add is to say that it calls to mind a pastor I used to have who would have us recite the Lord’s Prayer during worship as he translated it. Where most say “and deliver us from evil,” he has “and deliver us from the Evil One.” This also serves to make it personal. Is evil always so? I don’t know. I am struck by Horner’s statement and my gut wants to ay it is true. But I wonder what of anything that says about the origin of evil. Would there have been no evil if there weren’t a person (not a human necessarily, but Satan on this case) to be the source of it? We do tend to view evil as a sort of impersonal force in our popular conception and it is hard to believe that this is true. It tends to lead to a dualistic understanding of the world (good and evil equally balanced) which I know is not true. And it certainly is true that all the evil we see comes from someone or some ones. It doesn’t just happen; people do them. People a lot like us, truth be known. So is evil someone? What do you think?