Reflection Masthead
Issue 109 - Not Nice - June 2014

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Thoughts on Evil
"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." - Albert Einstein 
"Every act of evil unleashes a million acts of kindness. This is why shadows will never win while there is still light to shine." - Aaron Paquette


"No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from." - George Eliot



Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


96-Reveal Your Mercies

98-Pilgrim Soul


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

103-Pretense Free

104-Into Self Into God


107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

Link to all past issues 



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Crooked Timber


Sweden has the highest rate of domestic violence in Europe. Its suicide rate is among the highest in the world, and alcohol abuse is widespread. Yet, writes Giles Fraser, an Anglican priest who writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, it is people in the arts who deal with these dark themes, not the church.

While Swedish artists and actors "tackle the big questions of human darkness," writes Fraser, Swedish churches seem like "like tasteful temples to nice." Most Swedes consider the church to be irrelevant (only 2% attend church regularly). Fraser comments: "Devoted atheists are never going to be persuaded by a theology of the cross. But no one whatsoever is going to be persuaded by a theology of nice."

Sadly, much of life is not nice. At best, life is messy and complicated; sometimes it is downright cruel and utterly vulgar. Even Wooden Cross acting with the best intentions, we often hurt one another deeply. New York Times columnist David Brooks recently quoted Immanuel Kant: "Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made."

Sure, most of us would rather deal with nice than with nasty. But all our piety will never reach the depths of human life unless we acknowledge the crooked timber of humanity, unless we confront not only human fallibility but the reality of evil.

Confronted by these shadows, let us always remember:

  • to cut each other some slack and to be gentle with others' frailty (the main thrust of Brooks' fine column);

  • to not be surprised by evil;

  • to expect that justice and peace will require both effort and courage; and, above all,

  • that God, well acquainted with the crooked timber of the cross, is neither surprised nor conquered by the darkness of life.

                                                                 - Bill


Inflammatory Rhetoric

           Early Thursday morning I was near the front sidewalk, on my knees, pulling weeds from the flower bed. It was a peaceful morning as arising sunshine dappled the dewed grass. Suddenly a black truck with darkened windows drove by, hesitated, and the driver powered down his window. He shouted obscenities at me because he couldn't find the house having a garage sale. Trouble is, lots of people maintain a high level of anger, belligerence, and violence; much of it is free-floating rage.

          Sadly we have become a nation void of respect and fraught with inflammatory rhetoric. Coincidently, that very same day, I heard a discussion on the Diane Rehm show, Bipartisan Efforts to Reduce Government Gridlock. The guest, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, said "Polarization is an incredibly important problem, but we need to see the way in which the current environment for fundraising actually exacerbates polarization. What both parties have discovered is that if they spend their time criticizing the other side, it's easier to raise money, than if you spend your time saying what's so great about you. So the business model of fundraising depends on teaching us to hate each other. And they succeed. This, of course, goes into the media, too. MSNBC and Fox News have a business model that profits to the extent they can build this kind of antagonism between both sides."

          Whatever the cause, and whoever deserves the blame, at some point there must be an intervention or a turnaround, lest the growing escalation destroy our entire nation. History always repeats itself if we don't learn from previous mistakes.

          I worry about the split, splintered soul of our country.

                                                             --by Jan
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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries