“More vomit! Damn it, I need more vomit!”
Actually, before I get to this post about people who believe in demonic possession, I have a very simple question. If you believe in demons, isn’t that almost akin to worshiping them? After all, we do refer to believers as God-fearing people. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to post this description of the casting out of demons from Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting With Jesus (italics mine; “Brother Mike” refers to the author’s brother):
After the worship service, I approach Brother Mike about exorcism: “I gotta ask you, Brother Mike,” I said, “do you cast out demons often?”
I must say here that one of the biggest quandaries in writing this book is that people trust me not to make fools of them. Brother Mike talks straight and is never evasive. It’s the trust of a brother.
“I’ve encountered demons no more than six times in my life,” he said. “I’ve only had a couple of direct casting-out experiences. But I think there are a lot more demons around that we do not recognize. Remember the maniac of Gadarenes? The guy in the Bible who was running around naked in the graveyard with two thousand demons in him? He’s in the Bible twice: Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26. Jesus cast the demons into a herd of swine. My most recent casting-out was in a young man twenty years old. His dad had come to me and said he thought his son was demon possessed. The boy was involved in drugs and sex. Drug dealers are sorcerers, part of Satan’s power of the air now ruling here on earth to a large extent. Revelation 8 shows the connection.”
“What do you do? Lay on hands or what?”
“We use scripture read aloud. Particularly those scriptures on the blood of Christ. The Devil hates the blood of Christ, and God promised the power in the blood. This young man said he could actually lie in bed and feel his girlfriend in his arms even though she wasn’t there. He liked wild music, drink, and drugs. He talked to me for two hours, and all the time he had this dark look about him, So I looked into his eyes and said: ‘I think you are demon possessed, Do you think you are? Do you think you have demons?’ He said yes. I told him, ‘Then you cannot get victory.'”
“Hell, little brother. What does a demon do when you try to cast him out?”
“Well, these demons never talked back to me, though sometimes they do. We started to pray, and the boy got up and ran, I pinned him to the door, and he started to growl at me just like a wild dog. And so here’s what I did: I just plead the blood. The name of Christ has power, and the blood is where the real power is, After he calmed down a little, we sat him back in the chair, and his dad went to get two other preachers. We surrounded the boy and began to pray. He growled and tried again to run. We held him down in the chair for about twenty minutes or so, all three of us praying at the same time. We prayed loud. When you are fighting a spiritual battle like that, it gets real loud. Finally he went limp, and I think that is when the demon left. After that he was exhausted. He later got saved. That was several years ago, and he’s still in the church.”
“After an ordeal like that, I’ll bet he is!”
Brother Mike tells me that Satan has an invisible army of demons doing his bidding and that every demon is different. He says demons will take up residence in a house and stay there for years.
“Me and Preacher [the church’s founder] and two other guys cleared demons out of my son’s father-in-law’s house. Demons were exposing themselves to my son’s father-in-law [who is, incidentally, a well-placed U.S. government administrator]. A black form with red eyes actually came into the room and stood over the bed. It scared the wife and kids to death. We got out the Book of Hebrews, chapters 9 and 10, where it talks about the blood and the victory. We went into every room and it commanded the demons to leave in the name of Christ. We asked them to reveal themselves. We called them cowards in the face of God. They never came back.”
“Geesh! The Baptist church has certainly gotten livelier since the days when I went to church.”
I often make light here of millions of Americans whose magical thinking about the Bible resembles Dungeons and Dragons more than religious contemplation. I have to. It helps me deal with the fact that my own family believes in demons.
This is a really lame sounding exorcism. Where’s the head-rotating and the buckets of vomit? Only a little growling? This is the whiniest demon EVAH!
On a more serious note, blaming one’s own failings on metaphysical termites (“demons will take up residence in a house and stay there for years”) is a recipe for societal infantilism. It used to be that when a young guy was screwing around, someone pulled him aside and told him to grow up and get his shit together. The point, he was responsible for his own mess. This ‘demon-blaming’ is hyper-salvationist irresponsibility, with a touch of D&D thrown in. Once the ‘demon’ is gone, you’re no longer responsible. Here are some examples of how this could be misused:
I didn’t cheat on my wife, a demon made me do it.
I didn’t steal, a demon made me do it.
I didn’t invade the wrong fucking country, a demon made me do it. (Wait a minute…)
Funny how this never seems to apply to some of the most desperate groups, like poor, single mothers*. I guess poor, single mothers, even though they are perhaps the most powerless group in the U.S. but who are also somehow the Root Cause of All Social Problems** (except for the teachers’ unions), are also possessed. Nope. For them, no demons–they need to take more personal responsibility for their actions. Funny, how only the ‘right’ people are possessed….
Oh, I almost forgot, there’s one more troubling thing about this: people still believe in demons. This puts all of the arguments on ScienceBlogs about framing into a rather depressing context….
*Although wouldn’t it be kewl if the demon got her pregnant?
**Except for TEH GAY.
Update: Brian, at Primordial Blog, tells us of his former life as an exorcist.