Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"See No Evil" is Spiritual Blindness

I wrote this to some readers the other day ...

I'm beginning to suspect that when we catch wind of something wrong in the lives of our friends or associates, it's quite likely far worse than we suspect. People soft pedal their sins all the time, even to themselves. In our lack of faith and naivete, we say, "Oh, these priests wouldn't be child molesters," when in fact they may be evil to the core. They may not be, but it is only our fear and squeamishness that keeps us from seeing what may be the truth. It is only our lack of trust in God that prevents us from confronting the enormity of the darkness in our own lives and in the lives of others.

In other words, since we don't trust God to redeem and rescue us, even from the thickest of muck and mire, we put on our rose colored glasses and pretend that everything's OK.  But sometimes things are so much more sordid and corrupt than we can imagine, and sometimes hell is hotter than we think.

The following examples illustrate this.  These are all people I've known, though I've changed the names to conceal their identities.

  • All the kids in junior high and high school made fun of Frank for being "gay".  He was a friend of mine, and I knew he was effeminate, but after we graduated, he finally admitted the truth.  Not only was he "gay", he had been having anonymous sex with men through the "glory hole" in the men's room stall at the truck stop, ever since he had gotten a job there as a bus boy at the age of 14.  Dozens of times a day for many years.

  • I knew Steve and I knew that he had a shady past.  I did some internet research and found out that he had been sent to prison for molesting a child - molesting her for a ten year period.  Putting some pieces of the puzzle together, I learned that this child was his own daughter.  He abused her every other weekend, which is when he had occasional custody of her, per the terms of his divorce.  She later, quite naturally, tried to kill herself.

  • Cindy really wanted to impress me with how smart and successful she was.  She told me she had a roommate, but it was another girl.  I later learned that not only was it a guy (her live-in boyfriend), it was a guy who would verbally degrade her in front of his family, a guy who cheated on her, a guy who had psychological problems.  Cindy herself hinted at her own checkered past, and even admitted that it included some sad periods of drug use and extreme sexual promiscuity and perversion.  But it slowly began to dawn on me that it was far worse than what she admitted to and far worse I could possibly imagine - and that so much of who she was was a dark and dreadful secret that she was ashamed to reveal to anyone.

  • Sally was going to marry Dave no matter what.  We all knew that Dave could not function well socially among others, but we later learned that Sally married Dave despite knowing that while they were dating he had been sexually involved with her own brother.  His penchant for gay porn and everything that goes along with that (which is also beyond the imagination of most of us) was something she apparently thought she could reform in him.

  • Gary's wife told him she didn't love him.  He didn't believe this.  He sacrificed everything for her, worked tirelessly to make the marriage work, did everything he could to salvage it.  After all, that can't be true, can it?  When she says she doesn't love him, she couldn't mean it, could she?  She eventually left him and filed for divorce.

  • Watch any episode of American Greed.  "Bill is a good man who is helping people like me make money!  He is a respected member of our community!  Sure, sometimes I don't immediately get the checks from my accounts when I request them, and the rate of return on my investment with Bill is too good to be true, but he can't simply be taking our life savings, our retirement money, and spending it on himself, could he???"

Yes, people are often far better than we give them credit for being, and goodness is more substantial than evil.  

But we don't want to follow Christ into hell - even our own personal man-made hells - because it's far more horrible than we could ever imagine it to be.  And this is one of the prime reasons Catholics aren't angrier about the Sex Abuse Scandal and aren't demanding accountability from their bishops.

It's just far more ugly and sinister than we can possibly imagine.


Kevin O'Brien said...

"Some years ago, former Los Angeles Times religion writer William Lobdell wrote about his experiences covering the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church. Lobdell shared that what broke his spirit wasn’t the way the church leaders refused to see the truth, but rather the way the ordinary laypersons refused to see it–how they shouted down peers bold enough to speak honestly about their traumas, how they sought to rationalize any evil done by their beloved leaders." - Rob Asghar, Forbes Magazine,

jvc said...

"I'm beginning to suspect that when we catch wind of something wrong in the lives of our friends or associates, it's quite likely far worse than we suspect."

I usually assume most people are living idyllic lives and I'm the one who is the most screwed up. I probably come out at about 50/50 correct!

Drusilla Barron said...

It really is bad out there yet I know so many Catholics who simply don't want to know it.