Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams
notebuyer

The Glamour of Evil

The people who write about "the banality of evil" are missing an important point. Evil has glamour, and the glamour is meant to hide what's going on. Look at the faces in the photograph. These are the commanders, the soldiers, the clerks of Auschwitz. They don't see a problem with what they are doing. They don't remember, if they ever heard, the questions parents and godparents answer at baptism:

Baptism: The celebrant questions the parents and godparents:

A. Celebrant: Do you reject Satan?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Celebrant: And all his works?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

B. Celebrant: Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God's children?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Celebrant: Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Celebrant: Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?

Parents and Godparents: I do.


But there is glamorous evil, often subtle, as in certain ideologies or lifestyles. They don’t seem evil, but they end in evil, or in emptiness, which is the same thing—to miss out on the ultimate richness of life, the fullness of meaning and peace and community we were made for.
One broad example could be the so-called American Dream.

In the 1939 novel Ask the Dust, the young immigrant protagonist wanders the streets musing to himself: “Los Angeles, give me some you. Los Angeles, come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town, I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.” He soon realizes that California’s many promises—the women he passes on the street, the golf clubs in storefront windows, the blue-green swimming pools—don’t deliver. He will never possess them. “You’ll eat hamburgers year after year, and live in dusty vermin-infested apartments and hotels.”

A better-known example of the American story is Jackie Kennedy. She represents an acceptable glamour that many admired. Still, the Kennedy family represents a vision of the good life which doesn’t end happily ever after. In the movie Jackie, Bobby vents to her his anguish at the collapse of the family political dynasty: “What did we accomplish? We’re just—we’re just the beautiful people. Right? Isn’t that what we are?” She laments in her own fog: “I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy.”

Each of us, too, will be faced with glamour that can lead us astray.
Tags: evil
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