The Name of Evil: “Legion”

The nature of evil is to break, divide and rend asunder all that God unites in creation — to destroy the inherent harmony of order and the oneness of relationships. The more broken the pieces and parts are in the ruins, the better. Whether in bitter arguments, destructive wars, bitter factions, or violent heresies, the Devil advances his agenda by dividing and sub-dividing what God has designed for wholeness and peace. Original sin separated man from God and ruptured the union of husband and wife, who quarreled after eating of the forbidden fruit and experienced the battle of the sexes. The Fall alienated man from God as Adam and Eve in their guilt hide from their Creator and avoid His presence. As a result of this tragedy, the first parents no longer live in tune with Mother Nature as they do in the Garden of Eden when Eve did not suffer the pain of labor or Adam the sweat of the brow. They experienced the oneness of marriage in all its integrity with no trace of lust, manipulation, or the separation of love from procreation until Original Sin caused these conflicts. The “legion” nature of evil thrives upon the multiplication of enemies at war with one another.

Hans Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” also portrays the devil’s work as the business of smashing into many broken pieces. The story depicts the devil’s technique of severing the sweet, innocent friendship of a boy and a girl when a piece of broken glass from the Devil’s mirror enters the eye and heart of Kay and spoils the loving affection between him and Gerda. This mirror, which distorts the good and the beautiful into the ridiculous and the ugly, fell from the hands of demons, shattered, “and fell down to earth, where it broke into hundreds of millions, billions, and even more, pieces.”

This is why “legion” is the fitting name of evil which thrives on multiplicity and the divisions among men—billions of broken pieces in the forms of endless arguments and interminable wars. Because of the glass in the eye, Kay no longer appreciates the goodness of his grandmother and instead mocks her and no longer cherishes the purity of Gerda’s heart and instead rejects her. Kay literally separates himself from all who love him and wanders on a sled into the frozen land of the Snow Queen, a land that corresponds to his cold heart and hardened nature. Without home, family, love, or friendship, Kay is an alien in a foreign land who has lost the child’s sense of wonder in his eye and the feeling of joy in his heart.

The demons in Dante's Inferno

The demons in Dante’s Inferno

In Dante’s Inferno, heretics, schismatics, and sowers of discord are physically dismembered (“cloven”), slashed by demons who lop off limbs: “Behind us is a devil who sets us aright/ for to the cruel slicing of his sword he subjects every spirit in the file.” A devil boasts, “See how I split the haunch! /Look at Mohammed and his mangled trunk!” These are the graphic images that capture the violence of discord in all its forms: a hole bored through the throat, the nose ripped, tongue sliced, hands lopped, an ear ripped, a trunk without a head, and “all red with blood.” Bertran de Born, one of the damned, confesses his sin: “I set the father and the son at war, / the wicked goadings of Achitophel /for Absalom and David did no more, / Because I severed two such persons joined.” Because these souls in hell instigated violent hatreds and fomented divisions, they now suffer the punishment they inflicted upon others.

All this anarchy, strife, war, and slaughter have their counterparts in the modern attack upon family, marriage, and children that also severs persons who are joined. The culture of death severs mothers from babies. Abortion violently separates the umbilical cord that binds mother and baby in the womb in the most intimate of relationships. The culture of death separates husbands from wives. Contraception annihilates the integrity of conjugal acts intended for both marital oneness and the gift of life, reducing men and women to mere “instruments of pleasure” in the words of Humanae Vitae. Contraception also divides man and woman by preventing the total gift of one’s self in love and surrender that deepens the relationship of marriage. The culture of death divides families. Divorce ruins the romance and love story of a couple and violates the indissolubility of matrimony, destroying the oneness of the family, separating children from parents, and breaking binding promises. Same-sex unions eradicate the meaning of marriage that God designed “from the beginning” when he made male and female to be “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” for the continuation of the human race. Such unions alienate man from God and Nature.

To deconstruct what God has created for indissoluble unity always sows discord and undoes a life-giving relationship. The evils of separation always beget more divisions and subdivisions that comprise the “legion” nature of evil that always spreads. Abortion causes low population growths that endanger the future of nations that fail to reproduce themselves, and it poses grave psychological and physical health problems to a woman, especially post-abortion stress syndrome, infertility, and a greater incidence of cancer. Contraception too violates the integrity of the body and alters the equilibrium of Nature’s rhythms, and it promotes promiscuity and all the sexually transmitted diseases that continue to multiply. Divorce begets the problem of single-parent families and fatherless children who struggle with poverty, delinquency, and other pathologies. Same-sex unions grant moral approval to unnatural behavior and disordered passions and give the illusion that man can ignore Mother Nature and God the Father to redefine reality and natural law. In short, once man rends asunder what God has joined together, there is no limit to the problems that continue to proliferate and become legion.

Mitchell Kalpakgian, Ph.D. has completed fifty years of teaching beginning as a teaching assistant at the University of Kansas, continuing as a professor of English at Simpson College in Iowa for thirty-one years, and recently teaching part-time at various schools and college in New Hampshire. As well as contributing to a number of publications, he has published seven books: The Marvelous in Fielding’s Novels, The Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature, The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization, An Armenian Family Reunion (a collection of short stories), Modern Manners: The Poetry of Conduct and The Virtue of Civility, and The Virtues We Need Again. He has designed homeschooling literature courses for Seton Home School, and he also teaches online courses for Queen of Heaven Academy and part-time for Northeast Catholic College.
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