I would say that the experiments of modernity with respect to radically remaking political orders or revolution and genocide provide larger instances of this lust for mastery. One way to achieve mastery is to remove everything except yourself. If you are all that’s left, you’ll be in charge. But to do that is almost an ideal type of the desire for mastery that is characteristic for sin. And so if you look at the great genocides of the twentieth century, they’re all informed by that in a way. In a sense, they all begin when someone says, “Things are really bad; things have gone wrong; the way to set it straight is to gain complete control over it, to restart it.” That will almost always mean killing everybody. And there are a lot of examples of that.

Those attempts at mastery can all become habitual, and the interesting feature of such attempts at mastery is that they inevitably fail. The desire to have mastery or control over a lover or a child, for example, precisely removes that person from being a lover or a child and it tries to make them something that by definition they’re not; it fails as an enterprise.

Paul Griffiths