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How do you account for the atrocities happening around the world?


Question & Answer


Louise Bill from the Internet writes:

The question that has always haunted me is this: if the Holy Mystery is love and that is already in our essence, then how do you account for the Holocaust, inhumane conditions and treatment of the people of Somalia, Southern Sudan and all of the other atrocities that are happening around the world and in our own country? Where is the Beloved, the Holy Mystery, and the love of God?

Answer: By Kevin G. Thew Forrester, Ph.D.

Dear Louise,

Your question is the cry of the human heart, plaintively seeking to know where the Beloved is in the midst of such barbaric human evil. Human history being replete with atrocities has led not a few to conclude that human beings are essentially evil and corrupt creatures (Augustine) and/or subject to a satanic force at work in the universe (dualism). I don’t have a counter argument. Rather, I offer the insights culled from my experience. You will need to discover what resonates with your own soul.

My experience, which is consonant with so many of the mystics of east and west, is that not only is the Holy Mystery in our essence, it is who we essentially are. This Mystery is the Holy Source and is Boundless Love, which means that Boundless Love is the quality of the very fabric of life whose Presence we can come to know immediately and directly as the Being of our own being. Such knowledge is the soul’s deepest desire. Human beings are not essentially bad, but as the Celtic mystic, Eriugena, realized, essentially good – for God is our essence. This is why we can say that we live, move, and have our being as manifestations of the Holy Mystery.

In my experience, what happens is that we gradually lose contact with our true nature. I find that the language of “blindness” is helpful here. Sin, contrary to the dominant tradition, is not essential badness, or evil, but our blindness to the essential truth of our divine nature. In our blindness, as history all too painfully makes clear, there seems to be no end to the bestial destruction we can wreak on one another and inflict upon creation. But – and this is what is crucial – the Holy Mystery is never, nor could it ever be absent and somehow withdrawn. Essential Reality is what it is. Yet, the Holy Mystery does become lost to our sight, hidden within the distortions of the human heart. I believe hatred is love mangled and distorted.

Why do we become blind? Or what constitutes the blindness itself? These questions go beyond what I can say in this brief response. But it is inevitable in the course of early childhood development that significant parts of ourselves – namely our painful experiences and emotions – are split off into our unconscious. To the degree that we do not later come to understand and include as part of our whole self these early split off segments (such as trauma, rejection, shame, hate, anger, envy), they blind us to our selves, our motives, and determine much of our behavior as destructive. To better understand the evil we perpetrate upon one another, we need to better understand the psychology of early human development, which means to more fully understand the soul’s unfoldment.

~ Kevin G. Thew Forrester, Ph.D.

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author

Kevin G. Thew Forrester is an Episcopal priest, a student of the Diamond Approach for over a decade, as well as a certified teacher of the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition. He is the founder of the Healing Arts Center of St. Paul’s Church in Marquette, Michigan, and the author of five books, including “I Have Called You Friends“, “Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms“, and “My Heart is a Raging Volcano of Love for You” and “Beyond my Wants, Beyond my Fears: The Soul’s Journey into the Heartland“.

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