Issue 20: Evil

This issue of The Other Journal aims to address the topic of evil, both with regard to its obvious manifestations and its haunting opacity. At times our contributors lament the presence of evil and at times they call us to work against it. At times they analyze the Christian response to evil, critiquing it and offering some correctives, and at times they merely try to bring evil’s more insidious or systemic forms to light. These essays, interviews, poems, and short stories resist easy definitions and explication. They suggest that evil is not always as easy to name as we Christians might think and that we may even, at times, be its willing and unwilling accomplices.

Maryanne Hannan


In “Longing,” Maryann Hannan examines the contrast between a psalm’s proclamation of trust and her own unending spiritual desires.

Jacob H. Friesenhahn

Evil, the New Atheism, and the God of the Trinity

Von Balthasar’s theology of the Trinity provides a compelling framework in which Christians can engage the problem of evil, including its recent formulations by the New Atheism.

Annette Marquis

The Faces of Hell

When violence strikes a church on a Sunday morning, it challenges us to question the meaning of hell and the power of love.

Brian Volck

Enduring Freedom

In “Enduring Freedom,” Brian Volck brings us to war-torn Afghanistan, where a mother sees “evidence of things unhoped for: an arm, half a foot, an ear.”

Paul Hobbs

By Name

In this piece, Paul Hobbs explores the difference between seeing humanity as interconnected and seeing humanity as a number of disposable and replaceable units.

William Dyrness

A Mall is just a Mall, and (Sometimes) That’s All We Want

In this article, William Dyrness responds to Robert Covolo and Cory Willson’s attempt to position themselves between theological account of culture and cultural practices outlined in James K. A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom and Dyrness’s book Poetic Theology.

Timothy E.G. Bartel

The Canyon, Age 8

In “The Canyon, Age 8,” the poet Timothy E. G. Bartel describes a certain coming-of-age brush with a minor sin, one that leaves him “tasting his new words.”

Elaine Jordan


Reverend Elaine Jordan encounters a haunting creature in this poem, a creature whose thin frame and violent actions remind her of a distant, almost-forgotten self.

Carole Baker, Paul J. Griffiths

To Be or Not To Be: An Interview with Paul Griffiths

In this interview Paul Griffiths discusses the contours of a Christian understanding of evil—what it is, what it isn’t, and how Christians can acknowledge it without succumbing to it.

Jennifer Strange

O for a Thousand Tongues to Mutter

In “O For a Thousand Tongues to Mutter,” Jennifer Strange tracks traces of corruption—a fallen soldier’s body, a swarm of ravenous ants—in the “pale business” of our passage “in and out of life.”

Branson Parler

Overcoming Lamech: Lament as Antidote to Violence

In response to evil Christ-centered lament is a performative action that both acknowledges the evil and injustice present in the world and simultaneously defuses our vengeful feelings by focusing on the sacrifice of Christ.

Luci Shaw

Hate Invasion

In Luci Shaw’s “Hate Invasion,” anxieties, like crows, “clot” and “colonize” the mind and heart of the poet, who longs for divine answers to earth’s evils.

Kevin Austin, Sarah Janci Perez

Not For Sale: An Interview with Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin discusses the evil of modern-day slavery in morphing persons into things, slavery’s prevalence in our own communities, and the future hope for ending slavery through the work of modern-day abolitionists.

J.D. Smith


In “Sequence,” J. D. Smith offers a startling contrast of nightmarish images—an animal lured for an empty sacrifice and a watery attempt to escape from one’s self.

Kali Wagner

Tillers of the Ground

In Kali Wagner’s poem, two mourning women become potters, the dirt of their sons’ graves “dusting the house” of their grief.

Chad Gusler

We The Village

In the days when our courthouse was being built, a mason—we don’t know who—came to our village in the night and inscribed a simple phrase on the building’s cornerstone: God’s will be done. We were, at first, outraged that someone had dared to soil our builder’s work, but over the course of generations, the mason’s […]

Chris Keller, Richard Beck

The Killer in Me Is the Killer in You: An Interview with Richard Beck

In this interview, the experimental psychologist Richard Beck shares insight from his book Unclean and discusses the ways in which disgust psychology provides confessing Christians with a sobering and instructive reality about the nature of evil.

Brian Bantum

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian – A Review

John Piper’s Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian marks the entrance of a major American pastor into conversations about race and the church, but it also displays some problematic views of both race and Christ that ultimately work against Piper’s hopes for racial harmony.

TOJ Editors

Issue #20: Evil

That pain, suffering, oppression, and violence occur in the world is all too obvious. To grasp that the destructive forces we face are evil is not so obvious. This is not because the effects of evil are merely illusions, but because to know something as evil, that is, to recognize it as a force in […]