WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO
TALK ABOUT EVIL ANYMORE
A symptom of the moral/cultural change that has taken place in our country is the difficulty people have nowadays with concepts, language and imagery that are traditional expressions of religious faith. In the common conversation of today we’re more likely to hear lines from famous movies or popular TV shows than the scriptural quotations and Bible-inspired clichés that once peppered everyday speech.
This unease is especially acute when we’re talking about some evil act or horrific wrong — of which there are always plenty to talk about, the bombing at the Boston Marathon being only one recent example. Where years ago it would have been common for someone to note the hand of Satan in a tragedy like that, now such an attribution would be unusual, at least made in public.
Maybe we can blame it on the late great comic, Flip Wilson, whose “Geraldine” character had a ready excuse for every misdeed: “The devil made me do it.” That all-too-human deflection of personal guilt was all-too-easy to identify with.
But today we have a devil of a time with satanic or demonic references. They make us all squirmy with their seemingly unsophisticated implications.