Category Archives: good vs. evil

dissonance

I enjoy music and something about a quality song in a minor key makes me smile.  

I sing harmony. I long for the notes of dissonance where one sings strongly, moving against what seems as it should be; clawing at the melody so as not to lose the note and see the entire song unravel.  I like the way my mind can hear the resolve, running against the grain of what I sing.  I hear it, but I do not sing it too early.

When I listen, my ears tune in naturally to dissonance.  I  like way that the anticipation of “is it possible, can good come?” makes me want to hold my breath. To hope against all odds. To know that the dissonance in it’s chilling beauty will be resolved. When a composer writes in the perfect amount of musical trouble, the piece is all the more for it.

Tolkien writes of something similar in the Silmarillion. He tells of music – a glorious harmony, the union of many voices. An all encompassing song written before the start of time.  In this song, one of discord creeps in. Attempting to go his own way, the voice of dissonance tries to sow in sour notes – to ruin the masterpiece. It cannot be done. The composer takes those notes of disdain and weaves a strain of music around them producing something of even more beauty than before.

So why then, I ask, in the middle of life when discord arises, when dissonance is the note on my tongue, do I not actively seek out in my mind’s eye, the glorious resolve that is but a breath away?

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Good, Evil, and In between?

I was spending some time thinking about the types of stories and tales I like. If you have known me for any length of time (or don’t know me buy regularly read this blog) its pretty obvious. I like stories with epic history. Stories of fantasy. Stories of the unbelievable. Stories of mystery.

Here is a short list of the stories I have been into:

LOST
Alias
The Chronicles of Narnia
Harry Potter
Pirates of the Caribbean
Lord of the Rings

I have also been known to enjoy StarTrek (specifically TNG) and a little Stargate SG-9 (come on! It has “Macgyver”)

Anyway, I digress. Something I have been thinking about it how good and evil is portrayed in these stories. Some have very distinct Good and Evil. Characters are on one side or the other. The “moral compass” of the story is very defined and unmovable. Others lean towards clear definition, but make use of the gray. Others have characters running around making “in between” decisions based on what ever seems right in that moment. There is some type of vague moral compass, but it is extremely hard to define. And still others are almost purposely completely undefined (or perhaps upside down) with all characters moving to the center, none completely good or innocent, none completely evil.

Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia fall into the first category. Good/Evil exist and each character is on one side or the other.

I think Harry Potter falls into the second group. There is a clear defined evil, but the “clear defined good” is less evident. Good characters are allowed to make sketchy moral choices for the “greater good.”

I would put LOST and Alias in the third category. We want to believe that there is definite good and evil, but when good characters make evil choices or evil characters make choices to help others, it is hard to hold firm to the idea that there is definition. In the end, there may be good and evil in these stories, but both sides are making decisions that not in line with the side each character is “committed” to.

Finally, I would put Pirates of the Caribbean in the last category. The premise of the story (Pirates – come on PIRATES – are “good”?) wants us to believe that questionable characters are the heroes. Throughout the three movies good characters become bad, bad characters become good, and then they don’t stay there, they switch again. This is done so often, all characters have moved to the same grey moral center where there is no longer definition. Can Davy Jones even be “evil?” He is simply a heartbroken man…and the excuses roll on.

So yeah, Its interesting that the two mythic stories by Christian authors are the two in the above example where good and evil are clearly defined. And in addition to that, in myth, if there is clear good and clear evil, is it not typical that the good will prevail? Arguably, they are two opposites, but not equal in strength. Good verses Evil, but in stories Good wins. Good is stronger. Yet, as clearly seen in LotR & CoN humanity is NOT the source of Good.

Anyway, I was just thinking about the similarities and differences in the stories I like. I am greatly encouraged that of all the stories, it is the clearly defined good that defeats the clearly defined and weaker evil that I like the best.
Don’t we all?

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NIU

Northwestern Illinois University is less than 40 miles from here.

Another University shooting. It seems both surreal and expected at the same time. By expected, I mean that “random” shootings seem to occur at such an alarming rate that the volume of noise they create just becomes static to the listener. Each is equally as tragic, yet the volume of tragedy in the world is overwhelming.

The TV, the Radio, the noise…is there no rest? Is there no Peace? For a troubled humanity, peace can be found, but it is sought out it in lost places.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (john 1:5 – ESV)

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An "evil" class

I am taking a class called the Theology and Problem Evil. It is taught by Dr. Henri Blocher and it is Amazing! I am in the middle of writing a book review for a book called “Can God Be Trusted?” by Dr. John Stackhouse. The entire conversation of the class is very complicated and filled with theological and philosophical arguments. The main point: we can still maintain hope in Christ and through Christ and perhaps evil is not intended to be comprehend, rather to be fought.

Sadly, the class is over on Friday. Dr. Blocher lives in France and just comes to town to one month a semester to teach. Happily, that will free up three afternoons a week to study for comps.

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Literature

So I have been on a huge reading kick lately. I have always loved to read, but for some reason I have not read very many of the “classics” or Current Best Sellers.

This spring I started Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. I have enjoyed the plot, but some times get so bored by the Characters thought (which go on, and on, and on) that I quit reading the book for about 4 months. I just picked it up again and realized that because I am almost 1/2 done with an 800 page book, I really need to finish it.

As most others in recent years, I have now read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I wanted to read them before I watched the movies. I would have to say that Tolkien is now my favorite author. His contemporary, CS Lewis, has been on of my favorite for years. I read the chronicles of Narnia several years ago. (and am eargarly awaiting this December!)

I also attempted Sense & Sensibility and Emma by Jane Austin. Saw the movies, but have yet to finish either book.

Harry Potter, here’s a fun one. I have heard the hype for years, but only when book 6 came out did I finally read any. I bought the first five in a box set. LOVED THEM, and 18 days after starting book one, I had finished all 6. (yes, I need a life to fill up all this time, that was over 3300 pages of reading)

And finally, Another highly anticipated book came out yesterday. Eldest the second book in the Inheritance trilogy. the first book Eragon was written when the author was only 15 yrs old. I only read book one in may. I recommend this one. yes, it is kind of a kids book, but still enjoyable.

Looking back at this list of books, it only confirms that I love the fantasy genre. I think it is because I love the epic tale of good vs. evil.

Plus, I think that each of our lives, in reality, are part of an Epic tale. I often view life very “in the now” but reading such fairy tales reminds me that there are elements of the story that reflect how things really are. And I think it is helpful to the “good” and hurtful to the “evil” if I keep this in mind and live accordingly.

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Filed under good vs. evil, harry potter, jane austen, literature, narnia, reading, tolkien, tolstoy