I am a great admirer of the late novelist, Walker Percy (admittedly, he is not everyone's cup of tea). The main characters in his books generally suffer from some wound or affliction - often a physical disability in conjunction with an injury to the psyche or soul - and the themes usually involve sin and redemption. In his novel, The Thanatos Syndrome, there is an interlude entitled "Father Smith's Confession", a deeply thoughtful meditation on the nature of evil, and how seemingly kind and intelligent people can find themselves willfully committing the worst sort of horrors in order to achieve some "higher good." Father Smith reveals to a friend his experience as a traveler in Germany between the world wars, and a subsequent trip as a soldier in the U.S. Army in the final days of WWII. He recounts the shock of discovering that the intellectual and cheerful hosts of his boyhood visit had been involved in the grisliest excesses of the Nazis, including diabolical experiments on innocent children. At the end of his story, Father Smith explains to his friend why he subsequently became a priest:
"In the end one must choose - given the chance."
"Life or death. What else?"