The baptismal promises we make include resisting evil. The beginning of resisting evil is necessarily identifying it. What is evil? Because believing in evil can so easily set up a dualism, a kind of war or battle between God and the devil; I find it easier to resist evilS. Making the word plural and then removing the capital “E” and demoting it, seems to fall in line with what Augustine said about evil being nothing more than the damage caused by the snake’s tail as it whips around, uncontrollably, after the head of the snake is being crushed.
So I do not believe so much in Evil as I believe in evils. And evils are those things that I do and that are done to me and that are done to others which intentionally cause suffering or separate me for others from the awareness of God and love. I say awareness because nothing can separate us from God. But in the same way that clouds can cover the sun and make a day freezing cold, blocking the warmth; so to evils can block our awareness of the radiant warmth of God.
So what are those evils that we must resist to fulfill our baptismal promise? There are as many lists as there are humans on the planet. This is mine. It is just today’s list. Tomorrow I expect there will be a different list, with some evils that remain solid, and others which float in and out like the dealing of cards in a Vegas Casino – fast, almost with sleight-of-hand, and as if dealt by something powerful. I find it less helpful to list evils than I find it helpful to suggest their alternatives. It is those alternatives that are listed below.
Charles’ top 10 ways to resist evils:
- Spend five to 30 minutes or more with a lit candle each morning listening to God in silence.
- When you are triggered with anger, stop immediately, walk outside, and go for 30 minute walk. DO NOT stay. Leave. No matter what you miss, leave and walk off the chemicals which have just entered your blood stream.
- Notice your addictions, remember that they come in threes, and have a plan when anyone of them surfaces as anesthesia. Have a friend you call when one surfaces.
- When power or manipulation attempt to dominate you, resist and do not count the cost. Ever. Patriarchy is alive and well. Resist it. Midwife something new. Be an anarchist.
- Always focus on truth by resisting the untruth of both nostalgia and fantasy.
- Decide who is on your team of close friends, edit the list from time to time, cultivate the relationships carefully, and know who you can call at three in the morning without even the slightest hesitation or embarrassment if you are in trouble.
- Throw dinner parties- evil is discouraged by joy and laughter, always.
- Create your own house church with a small group of people from your Sunday church. Meet for great meals at each other’s houses and discuss the hard work of living a good life.
- Simplify your life, your possessions, your schedule, your career and your relationships.
- Live with intentional mindfulness, asking regularly “What am I doing?” and “What am I saying?” and ‘What am I thinking.” And then ask if what you are doing, thinking and saying is worthy of your Christian calling.