by Father Louis J. Cameli
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, PhD
In reviewing the book, “The Devil You Don’t Know: Recognizing and Resisting Evil in Everyday Life”, it is a compassionately written study on a phenomena that has caused sufficient amount of angst in the past. The Devil You Don't Know: Recognizing and Resisting Evil in Everyday Lifep rovides us with knowledge, thought and concern about our understanding of this issue. The purpose of this book as the author states is to “appreciate the reality of the daily struggle with the one who would subvert their journey to God; to recognize the daily devil that they did not know”.
As always, Fr. Cameli is cognizant of his readers. He has divided the book into chapters with four major themes: deception, division, diversion and discouragement. Each of the chapters is divided into scenarios that are easily identified in the reader’s life.
With deception, we see the devil offering us false promises, a glut of information that is tangled in false translations, a sense of communication that is not based in truth and easy remedies for what ails us. Those easy remedies look like consumerism and gluttony. The communication is not filtered appropriately so that we will still have Christ as our core. The false promises look like an offer of the devil to do less than we should to keep Christ in a close embrace. “If you spend less time on prayer and more time on your something else, it will be better” the evil one taunts us. Christ offers us hope and confidence to do this differently.
With division, we see the devil tempting us to subtly choose his way. It often happens when someone offers us a partial truth in what they want to accomplish and only by truly discerning the issue can we say no to this divisiveness. Sometimes this takes the form of gossiping about another so that we feel more confident and secure in our own pursuits. Sometimes this takes the form of choosing a structure or a procedure for doing something that neglects the gifts or abilities of others in the structure.
With diversion, we see the devil tempts us with a more glamorous rendition than one with Christ embedded in it. It could be reaching for more in an act of consumption. It could be wanting a different relationship when Christ is calling us to responsibility and faithfulness It could be moving away from someone that truly needs our assistance. It could be wanting or pursuing a job that takes us away from who Christ is in our lives. It could be a University professor not getting the papers graded for students but reading a novel instead!
With Discouragement, the devil tempts us to want a perfect life. According to the author, we need to “expect struggles and discouragement, we need to expect the presence of the evil one to exploit our discouragement and we need to hold onto our confidence”. When one belongs to a group that should start with a prayer and it is not taking place one could lose one’s confidence in praying. If we keep Christ in a tight embrace this will not take over our lives. We see our lives crowded with acts of violence and meanness and our response needs to be hope and encouragement to others.
These are just some of the deep and thoughtful understandings of the evil one in our midst. The author has much more to say in a way that does not fill us with angst or discouragement but ways that we can utilize the gifts God has given us again and again. I would recommend this book as one that is practical and readable that will move us toward a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit.