Were demons involved?

AP Photo

I keep thinking about those kids, don’t you?

They ran for the forests, and the water, screaming, clinging to each other, as they tried to find someplace, anyplace that would offer them safe shelter from a crazed gunman.

Now that gunman — Anders Breivik — wants his day in court.  He wants to explain to the good people of Norway why he murdered their children. If he acted alone, as Breivik claims he did, he killed nearly one child for every minute of the 90-minute rampage.

I can’t imagine what that’s like, losing a child. I hope I never have to find out. But I know this — it wouldn’t matter to me if God himself showed up and told me why, it wouldn’t be answer enough to appease me.

I remember a war widow telling me that she slapped the Marine who delivered the news to her about her husband’s death. Slapped him right across the face. Then she beat on his chest, and that Marine, he just stood there, not flinching or drawing back or making any effort whatsoever to stop her from whaling on him. A Marine, mind you. I think God is like that Marine. I think when we are crazed by grief, he doesn’t bother with explanations. He just stands steadfast, often silent, allowing us our red hot rage in times of deepest sorrow.


There is an outcry from the Norwegian people to deny Anders Breivik the right to speak. Nearly 76,000 people are participating in a Facebook protest.

I’m not familiar with Norway’s legal system, but I see no reason why Breivik should be given a public forum to vocalize his rantings. One interview I saw with police interrogators said that Breivik is quite proud in his own mind over all that he was able to accomplish. I assume that means he’s pleased that the body count was so high. The more dead bodies the bigger chance one has of garnering international attention, after all.

There are reports are that Breivik, an active participant in online gaming, used certain games as his “training tools.”

But this was no game for Prableen Kaur, one of the hundreds of teens who literally ran for their lives. In a blog post titled Hell on Utoya, Kaur recalled the real-life terror:

People jumped into the water, started swimming. I was lying. I decided that if he came, I would play dead. I would not run or swim.I cannot describe the fear, you can only guess what I felt.

When he came, he said, “I’m from the police.” I was lying still but I heard someone shout back that he had to prove it. I do not remember exactly what he said, but the killer started shooting. He shot those around me. I was lying still, thinking: “Now it’s over. He’s here. He takes me. Now I’m dying.” People screamed. I heard that others were shot. Others jumped into the water. I was there. The mobile phone in hand. I lay on top of the legs of a girl. The mobile phone rang several times. I played dead. I lay there for at least an hour. It was completely quiet. I gently turned my head to see if I could see someone alive. I looked. I saw blood. Fear. I decided to get up. I had been lying on top of a dead body. I had a guardian angel.

This was no random act of violence. It was well-planned, like the 9-11 attacks. There will be those who argue that Breivik is mentally unstable. They’ll get no argument from me on that. I’m sure that he is.

But if I were to suggest that the cause of his particular manifestation of mental illness is demonic in nature, I’d be dismissed as being one of those right-wing extremists myself (which regular readers of this blog will immediately recognize as a ridiculous notion.)

Still, such evil makes sense to me only in terms of the demonic.

I don’t think of Breivik as a Christian. What I think he was practicing is an extreme form of the Religion of Certainosity. So convinced is he that he is right about everything — including the need for a revolution — he reasoned, in that addled brain of his, that killing children was an end that justified the means: “Better to kill too many than not enough,” he wrote.

What’s truly sobering is to realize that there are people out there, behind laptops of their own, who consider Breivik a hero of sorts. Consider these remarks I found at a forum talking about the Norway killings and a video that Breivik posted (I’m not going to link to it. You can find it if you really want to.):

Breivik also pointed out the fact that the new so called “conservatism” in Europe isn’t conservative at all and should be more like real conservatism (American conservatism), which is true. He also showed that multiculturalism has killed European cultures and that Europe is become more and more Islamified, which is actually true as studies show that in a few generations Muslims will become the majority in Europe. The man is truly a genius and has figured out what most brainwashed liberals are too naive and stupid to understand. He also calls on for more people to stand up for what they believe in and put an end to these horrible liberals.

I’m just glad I live in America, where we have real conservative/libertarian freedom and aren’t freedom hating liberals and radical pro-Sharia Law Muslims like in Europe. Who knows, maybe he’ll have started something big here and we’ll get a conservative/libertarian revolution in Europe and it will become free like the United States, one can only hope. I don’t condone violence, but I understand why he had to do what he did. He had to get the message across and this was the only way to spread it so that it would work, he dd it not out of hatred, he wasn’t killing those teenagers and “civilians” he was turning them into heroes. They were the first casualties of his war against the liberals. This is no different from how some innocent people died in the American Revolution, the end justifies the means.

It’s stuff like this that ought to compel all of us to pray with a renewed fervor. To pray as Prableen did: I prayed, prayed, prayed. I hoped that God saw me.

So what about you? Do you consider acts such as Breivik’s demonic in nature, simply delusional, sorely misguided, or something else altogether?

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  • Karen, I don’t know what to think. But I’m thankful for your writings on it, particularly the image of God steadfast in our grief. “Demonic”, though, is how I would describe anyone who’s able to attack what God has called special to him–children–and do it so viciously and with a sense of justification.

  • Rose Blackwell

    Demons.. I dont think so Karin he knew what he was doing.
    Great article as always.

  • One cause doesn’t exclude the other. Clearly demonic. Clearly mentally ill.

    • I just realized the use of the use “clearly” might place me in the camp of the Religion of Certainosity. I was just trying to answer the question.

      • Debbie

        wonderful self correction James yet I understood where you were trying to land…Jesus suffered much and didn’t strike back…I am not sure this man really understood Life in Christ.

  • A bad man. A very bad man. Frankly, I don’t want to give him room in my head or my heart. He doesn’t deserve it. Well, actually he does. He deserves my prayers, alongside those grieving families and emotionally wrenched survivors. But, my gut reaction is to not pray for his soul.

    And no, we don’t understand why or how this could be used as part of God’s plan, but we simply weren’t made to comprehend all things. We must steadfastly trust the Lord.

    Easy enough to say, yet, altogether another thing to actually do in times like this. Perhaps we continue to pray for Truth and mercy and comfort that will fly in the face of fear and terror and grief because we are not battling things only seen with out eyes.


  • Definitely a sick, twisted mind. It bothers me that this guy is being given a platform to speak. He should not be allowed. And, I also find it sick and appalling that so many places online are posting this guy’s demented interview with himself. I don’t want to know what this guy was thinking, or what his reasoning was behind such a mass killing of innocent people. People who want to see this are greatly disturbed. I want to see the families of these innocent people who were killed healed and comforted. I don’t want to understand why such a deeply disturbed person could do such a horrible thing. If the day comes that I can understand such thought patterns of a lunatic, then I will be ready for commitment to a mental hospital myself. May God be with all those who are suffering over this horrific event.

  • Sharon O

    Our world is full of crazy people, it is upsetting that one person has the right to bear arms and kill others as if in a game. It is sick and sad and very disturbing. We had that in Oregon at Columbine… shooters who take their ‘mindset’ and just blow others away with out any remorse or saddness of what they had done. Evil I do believe so, demonic I believe that also because their heart has no feeling. They rationalize their evil ways and feel it was their right.
    I do believe these people will pay one day in a most severe way if not on this earth.

  • Sylvia Peterman

    He hated anyone different from himself or his fellow Europeans. He was an abolutist. This is the way to believe, to be, to live. He wanted to live in a world of isolation~no change. He became obsessed and delusional. He posted a 1500 page rant~that’s delusional. So many innocent lives lost. He doesn’t need to be heard. The families of these poor children have heard enough. They are in my prayers.

  • Debbie

    Sad that there are many over the net that do believe what this guy did…all that delusional stuff…and we really can’t do anything till they do take a life…nature of the beast that blinds this world.

  • I_Claudia

    I have a question for anyone kind enough to give me the perspective of a Christian who believes in demons.

    I’m an atheist, so obviously I don’t think demons had anything to do with it. He may be mentally ill (it could be argued that anyone who coldly murders children is mentally ill by definition) or simply evil or both.

    My question is: If you believe that Breivik was possessed by demons, do you also think he should be punished for his crimes? I ask because wouldn’t someone under demonic control not actually have free will, being as they are a tool of demons? Someone unable to control their actions due to supernatural forces can’t make a choice of what to do, and this capacity to choose is essential to his capacity to stand trial. I guess it could be argued that he should be deprived of liberty, since he’d still be dangerous (though how walls would stop demons is a bit of a mystery), but wouldn’t a psychatric hospital be more appropriate in such a case? Obviously I’m not saying that this is going to happen, since “demonic possession” can’t be in any way measured or demonstrated to be real and thus can’t be used to judge this man, but I do wonder about the thoughts of someone who does believe he’s possessed by demonst. Cheers.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Claudia: Good questions. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. It’s been quite the week around here.

      What strikes me about your question is this reference to being “possessed by demons”. I do believe in God, in Satan, in angels, in demons.

      I believe in a force of good and a force of evil.

      I put that out there just to be clear where I’m coming from.

      Here’s my take on this demon possession thing. I think evil is a choice, something we do slowly, step-by-step, like walking into a dark basement. You know you are headed into darkness but you may not know how dark it is until you’ve reached the bottom of the steps and the door has shut behind you and it’s so dark you can’t see your way back.

      Nobody forced us to go there.

      We go — or don’t go — of our own accord.

      But once we are in the darkness of that basement, we have no idea what creatures lurk there, terrorizing us.

      We could still get out of the darkness, if only we could find some light. But without that light, it’s just us and the creatures.

      Some people would feel perfectly comfortable in such darkness, among unseen creatures. They would friend them. Perhaps name them. They trade away vibrant human relationships so that they can be rulers of their own dark underworld, befriending creatures who scatter whenever there’s a hint of light.

      That’s what I think of when I think of Breivik — or people like him — being motivated by demons.

      Does that make him crazy?
      Or just evil?