Reality Confusion Redux: Inanimate Evil

Fundamentalism is rife with strange superstitions concerning the ability of mere things to somehow hold mystical powers of evil. If you want to freak out a fundy, invite them over to your house and then ask them to help you organize the cupboard where you store your wine and Ouija boards. For to a fundamentalist that isn’t just some fermented grapes and silly writing on a cardboard box. No, indeed these things actually are themselves evil.

It’s as if the concept of “sin” has somehow turned into a dark mysterious force that infects everything it touches. And in a moment of weakness if an unsuspecting person should allow a picture of Santa Claus to hang on a door or a statue of Buddha to sit on a shelf or an NIV to lay on their coffee table, that object is, in fact, a doorway from which the very powers of hell can gain access to your life.

By way of illustration, I was once told by an elderly lady that the pastor of her church got up in the pulpit and railed against unicorns as a symbol of the New Age Movement and a likely symbol of the occult. After this very biblical and Christ-honoring sermon (one can only imagine that the text was Deuteronomy 33:17) this elderly woman’s daughter came to her mother’s house and broke the horn off the unicorn statue that the daughter had given her mom as a present some months earlier.

With the satanic protrusion removed, we are left to believe that the evil the unicorn contained all seeped out of the hole where the horn had once been and (lacking a proof text for the satanic nature of horses with holes between their ears) she did not do any further violence to the statue. Her mother’s good nature, however, was left much worse for the wear than the figurine was. And what did this accomplish? A little glass was shattered. A heart was broken. And evil remained unchanged for it stayed right where it always has lived in the heart of a person driven by fear and ignorance.

Now we all know that an idol is nothing. But carve that idol out and fill it with alcohol or stick a peace sign on it or tell someone that it’s a talisman from an African witchdoctor and apparently nothing turns into something pretty quickly. Reality is a funny thing in fundyland.

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