Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

That’s what I’m talking about

Posted on by arlen

When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to talk about was the relationship between Good and Evil. Not in any sterile, merely philosophical way. I wanted to talk about the effect they have on each other, the responses they call forth from each other.

Ben Witherington, author of the Gospel Code, which I wrote about earlier has located a stellar example in the events in Amish schoolhouse.

We can learn much from the example of the Fishers, mother and daughter. Both of them stood up, at a time when the rest of us would have excused them from the duty, for what they knew to be Right, to be Good.

If it is true that Evil is analogous to a SuperBall, bouncing around this planet at high speed, knocking over breakables and creatng havoc, then there are really two responses that have any efficacy. One is to harden everything, so the ball will not break it (or us).

The cost of that option is that the ball will then bounce off the hardened surfaces at high speed, rebounding in another direction where it will inevitably find something (or someone) else less hardened, where it can create destruction and agony. For that is the ultimate purpose of the ball, to bounce off everything and everyone in its path.

The second response open to us is to absorb the impact ourselves. While a Superball will bounce quickly and crazily off the hard but irregular surface of a brick wall, when it encounters a cushion, it will not bounce at all.

When we stand up, as the Fishers did, we say in effect to the Evil “this far and no farther.” The ball that is Evil then may break us, as when the invader shot Marian, but in doing so it loses momentum. And when her mother, surrounded by friends and neighbors, stood up and extended the hands of freindship and forgiveness, the ball’s momentum was completely extinguished.

I recently passed through a similar (in kind, but nowhere near similar in severity) trial. Would that I could have passed the test as well as the Fishers. God give me strength to do so the next time.

One Response to That’s what I’m talking about

  1. Reading Bill Witherington’s account of Marion Fischer’s actions in the schoolhouse made me think of all the action movies in which hostages are taken and violence is met with violence in the guise of heroism. Her story is not that movie and yet Americans will probably find themselves embracing her story in some made-for-TV movie in the future. Is her sacrifice acceptable to our force-meets-force culture because she was young and innocent, (perhaps even because she was female) instead of secretly a martial arts expert or superhero?

    If the hostages had been adults and the person who said, “shoot me and let the others go” a burly ex-marine with Special Forces training would the offer of a sacrificial victim in the place of the others be as warmly embraced by the public? Sure there are movies in which a cop offers to become a hostage in place of the others, but that’s different: they are not offering to die. They’re being heroic in that action-movie way Americans love, looking to get the drop on the gunman, outwit him, outtalk him and ultimately outpunch him and outshoot him.

    Does the American public love the Marion Fischer story because they perceive that there was nothing else she could have done, except die? I fear the general public, without perhaps fully realizing it, embraces this story as “a story of a noble death” rather than a story of a noble life (thereby missing the point of her sacrificial offering).

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October 2006
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