Monday, February 28, 2005

Evil Is Real

I have just picked up again the great collection of the short stories of Patricia Highsmith with a foreword by Graham Greene. She created the character of George Ripley and wrote Stangers on a Train, immortalized in a Hitchcock film. I love her fiction because she never shied away from graphically depicting evil. In her world, there are evil people who intend to do evil things and are often able to escape the consequences. She is very unmodern because she does not trifle in psychological or sociological theories that render human evil as merely regrettable choices and outcomes. I do not think she is anti-modern and she is adept in her insightful portrayals of the psychological depths of the human person. In reading her, we have to face the evil within ourselves and others. I experience this as realistic and fascinating but also as liberating. Evil does exist in us and we are often faced with choices between good and evil. As a Christian, I do not have to fear the dilemma of these choices because I have access to God's grace, if I ask for it. In the struggle of good and evil, I am not merely an observer but a participant because the struggle rages inside me as well as around me. Acknowledging the reality of sheer evil is invigorating because it is like the sensation of cleansing water that wakes me up and refreshes my eyes so that I can see. At the same time, as painful as it can be to be in the midst of this struggle, there is a confidence that the outcome, though only seen now dimly as through a dark glass, is already assured, though not yet fully experienced.