Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When Evil Goes Public--stuff from Sunday's sermon

In my sermon this past Sunday--Palm Sunday--I asked the congregation to imagine themselves in the place of the crowd which cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday but mocked him on Friday.  I used the analogy of a stock offering--I.P.O--"Initial Public Offering"--to talk about how an evil that belongs to a few is bought into by many--hence a crowd that supports Jesus one day can abandon him a few days later.

One of my illustrations came from a favorite public radio program of mine, This American Life.  On a recent episode entitled "See No Evil" excerpts were read from the book Voices of Chernobyl which detailed how all sorts of officials overrode their own consciences and bought into the cover-up and deception regarding the tragic effects of released radiation from the reactor.

I also spoke about Civil War historian and documentarian, Ken Burns' remarks about how a nation would allow its economy to become dependent upon slave labor (the best analogy he could come up with was our current dependence upon fossil fuels even though we know it's bad for all involved), despite the fact that most people knew it was wrong, as well as the many Germans in Nazi Germany who were guilty bystanders to the Holocaust (e.g. Hannah Arendt's book on Adolf Eichmann which labeled it the "banality of evil").  It seems only in retrospect--and many times not even then--can we admit the complex evils we are a party to.

In my opinion only the saving grace of God can truly reveal to us our own complicity in the brokenness of our world in the present tense--otherwise we find our ways to justify our actions until a day when we can admit our faults without having to sacrifice anything to change them.

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