Capable of Evil?

I listened this morning to a psychologist describing the end of the Stanford Prison Experiment from 50 years ago. Researchers recruited students to act as prison guards with prisoners in an actual prison. They stopped the experiment when they saw student behavior changes toward becoming sadistic tormenters.

When they debriefed everyone afterwards, all were shocked at the personality changes among the students. Even those who did not become sadistic questioned why they themselves did nothing to stop the behavior.

I was led in meditation toward a deep understanding that within me lay the capability to do the deepest evil. I have overcome those impulses. But if circumstances changed, how would I act?

The Apostle Paul describes this very part of human nature at the beginning of his great work on spiritual formation—the Letter to the Romans. He uses this letter to describe the spiritual journey we take from evil to faith to service. I have taught on this letter and found it a powerful tool for personal spiritual development.

Read it sometime with that attitude. See what it does for you.

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