The question that was the most pressing was about evil: what is evil, what does it look like, how do we confront it, had she had any personal experience with evil? In the UCC statement of faith we speak the words "You call us into your church...to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil...". Part of the prophetic call is identifying evil, pointing it out like a signpost, naming the 800 lb. gorrilla in the middle of the room, that we might turn from that evil but also turn our justice hearts and minds towards ending the root of that evil.
During my own ecclesiastical council I was asked to spin for 4 or 5 minutes about the power of evil. My answer eventually distilled down to evil being fear combined with power that takes advantage of the fearful yet powerless. A colleague of mine said to me last evening that he believes that there are no evil people; people do evil, ugly, unconscionable things but all persons are children of God, created by God. It is fear that separates us from God and from one another. It is fear that creates intolerance, prejudice, hatred, violence, the need for domination and control, and the belief that we are innately a violent species.
O'Murchu in his book Evolutionary Faith gives this chilling observation:
He contends that humans had the capacity for spirituality long before religion, even language, that we comprehended and cooperated with the surrounding environment in a way that gave meaning and purpose. It was when we sought to subdue the earth and all its inhabitants, when the need to control our fear became our purpose and meaning, that evil entered the world: the creation narratives in Genesis 1-3. However, it is important we remember that we were created for blessing, not fear; for relationship with all life, not estrangement; for continuing the evolutionary story, not for its submission and annihilation.
"Ironically, it is at the height of our so-called civilized status that we became a distinctly barbaric species. Why? Largely because we set ourselves up as the ones who could conquer and control creation, and in that process we began to rupture the womb from which all life is begotten. ...At root, our angst is not about our humanness; it is about the deprivation that ensues when we cut ourselves off from the womb of universal life."
The whole of creation is the embodiment of Spirit, of life, of creative change. It is God's first and most precious gift of revelation. Embracing this goodness, this power, this love revealed and sharing it with others gives us the strength to resist the seduction of our fears and to work toward wholeness.