The Categories Of Evil

I wasn’t that old when I was assigned by God to study spiritual warfare.

And, very typically, I thought him, well, nuts.  Or old (being timeless).

Or generally clueless about life on Earth.

Evil.  Imagine.

Why would I be interested in that at all?

Life was life.  There were no bogey men lurking in my closet.

Sure there were people who did terrible things.  But this was Earth, after all.

Could you blame them?

We have to live here.  You don’t.

That was my usual last word: You don’t live here.  You really don’t know what it is like.

So I usually just did what was assigned me and not a whit more. 

And it was such a very serious study.  I would have preferred studying furnaces or tar pits.  And I wouldn’t want to study either AT ALL.

So, being very wise, I grew up.  Mostly avoiding the subject of evil.  There were lots of other things to focus on, after all.  And I did all my focusing on those things.

And then there was seminary.  I was there studying Christian education.

And along came the assignment: you will learn the soul structure of three evil entities: the Antichrist, Satan, and the devil.

And I sort of went, Oops.

The what exactly?  The who?

Soul structure?

(That was a new concept to me.)

I began with eyes.  If I looked into the souls of one of these characters I would see a color.  A different color for each.

And over the next few weeks or so I did look into a person’s eyes and I did see a color in the center of his eye.

Did he know I was seeing this? 

As the colors revealed themselves to me I began to look beyond what I knew about the person before me and wonder about the “evil” he represented.

And it was then that I realized that I was way out of my depth.  I had neglected the study of evil to such an extent that I had no platform of ideas on which I could construct a concept of evil.  I had no ability to find understanding.

I was on another planet and expected to know the language of the aliens with whom I now dwelt.

I didn’t.

What was evil about this person?  Why was he evil? 

What did evil even mean?

I should have thought about this before.

But I hadn’t.

And here I was.

At the edge of my first experience with spiritual warfare.  Without even knowing it.

Without the knowledge that would tell me that I was in danger. 

There were times I did feel sick.  I did feel overwhelmed.

But my world was crashing in on me in other ways, too.  Another battle that, while I didn’t know technically what it was, at least I knew that I was in a battle.

All I really knew at that time was the Lesson of Anger.  It is entitled, Learning to Dance With the Great Bear of Anger.

The answer: you do it one step at a time.

In other words, don’t focus on your feelings.  Don’t get angry about getting angry.  Don’t care about what set you off.

Just relax and focus on your balance.  And learn to step gently in the minefield that the other person had laid so carefully for you.

It was your responsibility to survive.  To get through the confrontation.  Strong, silent, and with patience.

An odd lesson concerning anger, I know.  But it’s what I relied on throughout one of the battles.

But, back at the seminary, I didn’t apply that lesson.  Mostly I just absorbed shock after shock as people around me behaved in increasingly shocking manners.

Finally I was gone from the seminary.  But the battle that began there waged for decades afterward.

I was in seminary when my two children were very young.  They were both grown and gone by the time I figured out how to turn and face the enemy who had hunted me for all those years.  And, by then, I knew what to do to defeat him.

And I did.

It wasn’t until my life had settled down somewhat and spiritual battle after spiritual battle was being thrown my way that I said, I have to get serious about the concept of evil.

So I began to read.

And read.

And read.

And the more I read on evil the angrier I got. 

No two books were the same.  No two books even approached evil from the same way. 

No two books could even agree on who committed evil or why. 

Was a person evil?  Oh, no.  Oh, yes.  Well, maybe.  Sometimes, depends on the situation.

Well, that was helpful.

Were there supernatural forces of evil, like Satan?  Don’t be daft.  Everything bad we do is a reflection of Satan’s control of us.  Ideas like that are myths, but they can be helpful to consider.  Not real, but symbolic.

Did anyone actually know what they were talking about or were they just writing because they liked the sound of their ideas and thought they were on to something?

It was all basically imaginary ideas pretending to be useful.

And not accomplishing anything.

So I threw them all at the wall and sat down with papers strewn all around me.

And I thought.

And I thought.

And I prayed.

And I meditated.

And it seemed to me that in all that mess of conflicting ideas there might be some ideas.

The problem with all those books, though, were that they went out of their way to not let any idea be concrete.  Be actually real.

Could I pick up this idea, go out into the world, apply it, and see the sense in this understanding?

No.  Not once.  Not ever.

So the first thing I wanted to accomplish was to make definitions that were concrete.

And absolute.

No variables.  No varying within the definition.

Just a definition.


So I did.

And I found that all my ideas fit into three categories:

  1. ordinary evil
  2. monstrous evil
  3. unseen evil

I found that I focused especially on behavior, on how the evil was executed in the world.  And I also found that there wasn’t all that much variety in the ways people did that.

But first a usable definition of evil: the harm one person does to another for no justifiable reason. 

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

So, the categories.  Briefly.  To be expanded upon in future writing.

Ordinary Evil

These are the things we do everyday that we explain to ourselves hurt no one.  Drug use: trying explaining the effects that drug wars have on towns in other countries, and when you see a shrug of the shoulders, you are witnessing evil.  Why should I care about schoolrooms of children being killed or towns burnt down?  I like getting high and I’m not hurting anyone.

This can be applied to all sorts of things.  Online flirting.  That results in the breakup of marriages. 

Addictions.  I have heard people tell me that their drinking didn’t have any bad effects on anyone they were dealing with.  Their own children.  Their parishioners.  Their coworkers.  Nobody.  Somehow an alcoholic can get through the day without any inappropriate behavior.  It’s magic.  Or, it’s ordinary evil. 

Monstrous Evil

Monstrous evil is made up of two thoughts:

  1. You are a lesser human being than I am.
  2. I have the right to treat you in any fashion that I choose.

These are the thoughts of people in cults, terrorists, wife beaters, slave owners, and the like.

Any reduction of the value of the other person while caught in the thought that “I am normal and you are not,” and any and all sorts of harm can be inflicted on the other.

This is NOT “I am better than you” built on a difference in power.  It is an ingrained perception of what normal and acceptable is and isn’t. 

I’m white, you’re black.  White people are good.  Black people are not.


Unseen Evil

Here is where unseen evil comes in.  In various ways. 

I include all those truly Unseen Evil manifestations in our universe.  Of which I will detail in detail in further posts.

But I also include here things like the phenomenon that you witness in churches where evil is walking around flaunting itself, and the people in those churches see nothing.  Or even when it is specifically pointed out to them, like their priest being a pedophile, brush it out of their thoughts.

I’ve known of Roman Catholic parishes actually arguing against getting rid of their wayward priest.  But he was so good with the children.

Well, yes, dear, that was the whole point of his evil.

So there we have the beginning foray into evil.

Which I have found is, in truth, a never-ending study.

When I come across a new form of evil that I have not yet cataloged, I just sigh and get a new notebook.  And pray that having to learn about this evil doesn’t take too much out of me.



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