Illustration: Evil

In his book Unspeakable (HarperCollins), Os Guinness helps us deal with the question of evil in a culture scarred by terror. Early in the book he observes, "A basic fact of life is that any of us may suffer and all of us will die…Another basic fact of life is that countless human beings live in abject daily fear of evil and the brutal people who abuse power and oppress them. For much of the world, evil is—and always has been—a daily fact of life.

"These two ancient issues are dark and difficult enough in themselves, but there is a modern twist to the discussion that makes it harder still. The events of September 11 hit America and the West at large at a time when intellectual and moral responses to evil are weaker, more controversial and more confused than they have been for centuries. Put simply, we no longer have a shared understanding about whether there is any such thing as evil. Some even question whether it is proper to speak of anyone as our enemy. The consequences of our uncertainty damage us on all sorts of levels."