10/09/2013 09:30 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Another Reminder of the Power of Evil

And so it drags on for another day. The two sides continue to demonize each other. The solution to the problem is that the "other side" ought to just give in and give up. Both sides wrap themselves up in the "arrogance of righteousness." One side even claims that they have "God on their side." Perhaps both of them ought to go back and listen to one of Bob Dylan's great songs about "God on our side."

But that is one of the great disguises of evil, to make itself look so much like the good. One of the great powers of evil is to be able to make a second level good into an absolute good. To take a minor and make it a major. To take a good cause like "debt reduction" and make it into an absolute when the absolute ought to be "to govern for the good of the country." The power of evil has the splendid power to make those who are remaining steadfast feel like they are saints. They are being persecuted for righteousness sake. Both sides claim the high road, and believe themselves to be doing good. Evil enjoys watching this kind of fight between two committed sides.

Because it has the ability to look so much like the good, there has always been the temptation to think that evil can be easily overcome. If these two good intentioned sides would just talk to each other, we could easily solve this problem. Boehner has been quoted as saying, all Obama has to do is come down to the House and give in. Reid has said all the House has to do is pass a budget without Health Care restrictions.

In fact, it is one of the worst mistakes that continues to be made in Western Civilization since the age of Enlightenment. It is the quick and easy assumption that evil can be simply and painlessly overcome. "A weak awareness of the power of evil is the simple, shallow, optimistic notion of the West.", so said Gardner Taylor, one of this country's great Black preachers. It is the arrogance of education that all we need to do to achieve the good is to get more people education. But education only makes the evil ones more skillful. Look at Osama Bid Laden. Education is good but it does not eliminate evil. Wealth, Fame, Military Power, Democracy, Political power, none of them are able to overcome evil. Certainly religion has not been able to overcome evil.

One of the greatest problems with American protestantism is that its major public expressions completely avoid dealing with the problem of evil. If you listen to Joel Osteen evil is just a lack of effort and faith in yourself. All the prosperity gospels discount evil as quickly as possible. Bad things may happen but with a little faith and effort you can over come them.

Someone once suggested that all evil needed to succeed was for good people to do nothing. Well, that is pretty simplistic as well. The power that religion does give is the power not to pretend that evil can be overcome. Evil is around us, in us, in our systems, in our economy, in our lives, and we ought not to pretend that we can just deal with is easily and quickly. The best way to deal with it is to acknowledge it and ask each other to call it to attention when we see it. What is happening in D.C. right now is simply evil and it obviously will not be overcome easily.