The Banality of Evil

Recently, I was listening to a podcast from OnBeing about Hannah Arendt who spoke about what she called “the banality of evil.” (“The Banality of Evil” is covered in her 1963 book about the Jerusalem trial of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann). The Ardent scholar on the podcast, Lyndsey Stonebridge,  explains that the “banality of evil” is the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.

The banality of evil means that we are susceptible to becoming so fused with empire and its ideology that we not only fall asleep to its ills, but we actually become an extension of it.  For Arendt, this leads to passivity and alienation. This is exactly what Johns vision in the Book of Revelation is meant to warn us of and wake us up from.

Where is the Spirit inviting us to be people of the lamb that was slain in these four themes that show up in Revelation: 

  • In relationship to enemies (do we have enemies?)
  • In relationship to wealth (do we manage our wealth or does it give us freedom)
  • In relationship to how we worship and who we worship with?
  • In relationship to how we build and create community, whose voices get lifted up, who is centered and cared for us.

For more information on these themes check out my new book “Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation” visit “Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation as Resistance” Kindle Edition https://amzn.to/2l7OUgI

Published by Wess

Teacher, author, Quaker, ​and public theologian. He works at Guilford College, enjoys riding his Triumph Bonneville, and listening to music.

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