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Today's Psalm at our main service will be Psalm 121. In it we are promised that God will keep us from evil. I wonder what evil actually means? Many centuries ago it just meant the worst of the worst, then in moved on to mean the morally absent.

I worry more recently that it has become a word which means "those people" - someone other and frightening, or actually destructive, is evil. If we are not careful there become classes of people who are, somehow, substantially different from us or through whom some supernatural being chooses to test everyone else. This sort of moral imperialism is dangerous and is precisely where genocide comes from. No doubt there are words and actions which are diametrically opposed to the Gospel, but are the people who engage in them intrinsically different?

The Old Testament is clear that one of God's demands is to refrain from moral elitism which writes off the needs of others, the orphan and the widow are usually mentioned. Perhaps one interpretation of being kept from evil is that when we look after each other society becomes more stable. Empires have fallen again and again because those in charge get too greedy and everyone else cannot support the weight of the structure. Israel was no different and neither are empires today. So what is evil - I do not think God is keeping us from each other - so what then?

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