Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa on April 23, 1974 · Page 8
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Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa · Page 8

Carroll, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, April 23, 1974
Page 8
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"V .1 cvit: One More Sign of End of the Era of Human Optimism M-: i i..indon Kconomisl Newsservice After centuries of virtual ;?glect, the Prince of Unclean Spirits has emerged from the shadows and is basking in the glow of public awe. One of the more curious of opinion polls reported recently that Americans' belief in the DtA'il has gone up from 37 per cent to 48 per cent since 1964. with another 20 per cent half-persuaded that he exists. Since the proportion of those claiming to believe in God has gone down from 77 per cent to 69 per cent over the same 10 years, it is not impossible that the Devil might one day draw ahead in the credibility stakes. The commercialized revival of interest in the ancient Christian rite of exorcism, which the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches still sometimes use to cast out evil spirits, is another example of the same thing. The idea of evil as an objectively existing force in the world seems to have recovered its hold over the more impressionable part of public imagination in the West. Those crowds flocking to see "The Exorcist", the film which shows the exorcising of a 14-year-old girl by two Jesuits who die in the process, are the most recent manifestation of the new interest in demonology. Of course, some of it is just the latest trendiness, and therefore gets the showbiz instinct jumping in to make the most of it. But "The Exorcist" might have only average box-office appeal if it did not have a substratum of real Angst to work on. This eruption of unease about what evil is and how it works should not really be a surprise to a generation that is still digesting the experience of Hitler and Stalin and now has to cope with an anonymous army of terrorists, kidnappers and bombers. The surprising thing is that it was not predicted. But it was not. It is not just the ordinary modern agnostic who seems puzzled about it, but churchmen as well. Although they have officially kept Satan on their books, most churches have in fact relegated him on the junk heap of mythical creatures made redundant be Freud, Marx and other pundits. Pope Paul caused not a few sniggers in his own church when he said in November, 1972, that the Devil actually existed as a "live, spiritual, perverted and perverting being, the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history." No doubt there are good reasons why the churches are reluctant to talk about the Devil and his works. But the churches, in trying to forget and live down their mistakes of the past, may have erred too far in the direction of shallow optimism about the human condition. Jung, who valued religion but was no orthodox churchman, did not commit the error of underestimating the nature of evil. He thought the Christian concept of a Trinity deficient, because evil was not represented in it, and wanted to replace it with a "Quaternity" to take the other force into account. Dostoyevsky had something of the same idea. He predicted with deadly precision that 8 Times Herald, Carroll, la. Tuesday, April 23, 1974 much of the evil committed in the 20th century would be motivated by ideas of justice and equality. One of the characters in his novel "The Devils" is perplexed by the terrible logic which leads a radical democrat to believe that the mass of people have to be reorganized by an omnipotent elite: "Starting from unlimited freedom, I arrive at unlimited despotism." It is one more sign of the end of the old optimism of the 18th and 19th centuries. That was the time when the Marquis de Condorcet could look forward to an age when "the sun will shine only upon a world of free men who recognize no master except their reason, when tyrants and slaves, priests and their stupid or hypocritical tools, will no longer exist except in the history or on the stage." The confidence of the Enlightenment lingered on into the last third of the 20th century, but the past couple of generations have made it harder to sustain. There are too many tyrants and slaves in the world of politics, too little evidence of reasoned order in the world of private lives. The result is a new realism about man and his ultimate chance of perfectibility. Whether people believe in a personalized Devil sabotaging both man's and God's worn, or merely suspect that there exist mysterious but hostile forces in an otherwise Godless and Devilless world, this new realism is a great change. The temptation today is the opposite of that of the Enlightenment. The glib cheerfulness of that time is being replaced by a glib relish for the apocalyptic. Bertrand Russell gave a warning against that. Too many people, he said, "seem to be in love with misery and death ...They think that hope is irrational and that in sitting down to lazy despair they are merely facing facts." Of course that is one way to deal with the problem of accumulating evil. But it seems unlikley that the old optimism will be recaptured. Baudelaire observed that the Devil's cleverest trick is to convince people that he does not exist. The dramatic- rediscovery of belief in Old Nick may have trumped that trick. After all. if people say they believe in evil sis a real force in the world, they may have to accept good as something equally objective. i Tin 1 Krwiomis! (if t.nmlmi PREFER JAMES STORIES STANTON, Mo. <AP) — Tourists would rather hear about Jesse James than the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. That's the opinion of cave guides at Meramec Caverns on U.S. 66 here. It was the hideout for Jesse and his gang during the 1870s and a stop on the Underground Railroad. "The tourists can't seem to get enough anecdotes about Jess," say the guides. "They don't care too much about the geology or historical significance of the cave." You've cut down on your use of natural gas since last November. And that's great! Sure we like to sell natural gas. But it's more important to be able tp continue to supply your home with this clean, efficient energy far into the future. By using less natural gas, you help conserve a valuable natural resource. And by using less natural gas in your home, or store or office, you make more gas available for commercial and industrial customers who buy gas under interruptible contracts. So thanks again. Thank you for turning your thermostat down to 68° or below. Thank you for installing proper insulation. Thank you for keeping your furnace in tip-top shape, Thank you for using the right size pan on the right size burner on your gas range. Thank you for using your dish and clothes washers only when you have a full load. And, of course, thank you for using energy efficient gas appliances. You're doing a great job in helping to meet the energy challenge. Let's keep it up! Northern Natural Gas Company The pipeline serving natural gas to your local gas company

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