Saturday, August 3, 2013

Can Evil win?

They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprung - Gustave Dore

I have never seen an author, of any of any kind, but especially not a Christian author ever shirk from torturing, killing or otherwise making their characters miserable. By their maniacal laughter it's safe to assume we never mind dumping a little torture on our good characters. It makes them happy ... or at least, it makes us happy and we don't care what they say.

However, when it comes to bad characters it's hard for us to do the inverse. To treat them well and to let them get away with their evil deeds tends to be something we loathe to do. This happens in Christian art especially. We Christians, and not just the most conservative among us, tend to make sure that evil is punished in accordance to the liberality with which it was practiced. This isn't something unique to Christians either, even though the morals are looser in secular fiction, what Seculars consider to be moral is still enforced with the strict moral code unless it's a Modernist/Postmodern drama in which the author is actively trying to point out that morality is irrelevant. 

But do you always need to punish the evil character to show the existence of absolute moral law? This is a difficult question. The answer is No, and Yes. 

The answer is No, because you do not have to have the good guys win and the bad guys lose to show the existence of the moral law. And the answer is yes because Good must always be shown to be ultimately rewarded, even if through pain, fire and loss and evil must be shown to be futile, even if the villain has achieved ultimate victory.

What this means is, yes Evil can win, but ultimately it will be a Pyrrhic Victory. It must be shown to be hollow and empty, where they have sacrificed that which was most human about them. The hero on the other hand may die, but they will die in what Tolkien called 'thorny courage', though the hero went through immense pain and finally died they still did what was right.

It might even possible for Evil to prosper and be happy and for the author still to uphold moral laws. However, this prosperity and happiness must be shown to be temporal while the actions of the good characters must be shown to be eternal. In shot the answer is, yes Evil can win, but it must be punished in the end. And, Good can lose, but it must be given victory in the End.

"The Tyrant dies, his rule ends. The Martyr dies, and his rule begins." - Soren Kirekegaard. 

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