J.T. Knoll (March 11) is right about In Cold Blood. Truman Capote’s famous account of the killing of a Kansas farm family in 1959 confronts head-on the problem of evil in the world. The column isn’t as accurate, however, in describing Christian Scientists’ perspective on evil. It isn’t the simplistic “denial” often assumed.
A friend of a friend of mine had a business in Ireland that was threatened by terrorism in the 1970’s. His business partner moved his family from the country in fear for their lives, but this man, a Christian Scientist, chose to remain and confront the evil.
He had no Illusions about the dangers or the depth of the hatred stirring the violence. He, too, at one point found himself facing the irrational barrel of a young man’s gun. The fear he didn’t feel on that occasion was the result of his glimpsing the “real, true” nature inherent in us all – even those threatening him – as the spiritual image or reflection of God:
“I had a feeling of peace, a sense of compassion, even of love. I rolled down the car window. The young man still had the gun pointing at me. . . . He looked at me strangely and appeared confused. He then thrust the gun into his long black coat. Then, after shouting at the other young men with him, they all just ran off. . . .”
Was this businessman simply naive? Christian Scientists do take a different, less helpless view of evil than most, but this doesn’t stem from avoiding or trivializing the issue. The tremendous experience of God’s goodness and presence that characterized Christ’s Christianity radically changes the human perspective, even as darkness yields to the presence of light. This is the “higher sense of omnipotence” that the denomination’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, was pointing to in her writings.