I’m Okay, You’re Possessed by Satan

Jason Pitzl-Waters is a better blogger than I am.

When I saw Fr. Longenecker’s post at the Catholic portal linking the Aurora theater shootings to demonic possession, I just rolled my eyes and posted a video about Bobby Jindal’s ridiculous exorcism story.

Pitzl-Waters had the presence of mind to point out the underlying purpose of such possession claims and the damage they do. A taste:

What a tempting idea, that an external evil took control of Holmes and instigated his actions. That it was an embodiment of Evil itself that guided the hand of the shooter, gunning down innocent people. However, this idea is pernicious, particularly within a Christian context, and only serves to prop up a system of abuse that targets anyone who steps out of line with a narrow idea of Christian morality and behavior.


… if someone you love is gay, into kinky sex, likes to play video games, or is Pagan, they might already be influenced by demons (and, by inference, that can lead to terrible tragedies). This isn’t simply my interpretation, it’s an assertion that has been flatly stated by Catholic exorcists.

Pitzl-Waters goes on to tie the exorcism mindset to the problems of witch hunts and witch children in Africa. It’s definitely worth a read.

Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but I’m hearing a lot more about exorcism lately. I wonder if this is a function of the credibility problems that the Church is facing. Exorcism is not something the laity can do for themselves, and the presence of demons make a strong argument for the high status of priests in the community.

Could this be an attempt, perhaps unconscious, to emphasize the authority of the priesthood in a time when their moral authority is in steep decline?

  • Russ M

    “The Devil Made Me Do It” is always used as a cop out among theists whenever they cannot come up with the words or a semi-logical argument to rationalize an event. The Aurora shooting must be particularly embarrassing for them because I read somewhere that the shooter, James Holmes, was a member of a Presbyterian church and attended services quiet regularly. Holmes was supposedly a devout Christian, but I’m sure they’ll rationalize that away and put as much distance as they can between him and Christianity.

    • Dutchhobbit

      Someone will argue that this is all the greater reason he did it. He being a christian would be tempted or possessed a lot sooner than a non-believer.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

      I’m with you on this one, Russ. It’s just a transparent attempt to avoid blame.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Whenever a community perceives itself to be under siege the crazies start comming out.

  • Star Foster

    I agree, Jason is an awesome blogger.

    Comedy Central should give Bobby Jindal his own show. I would watch that.

    • Nicole Youngman

      From your mouth to the ears of whoever’s in charge of such things…it would get him the hell outa HERE, anyway.

  • http://lamyka.libsyn.com/ Lamyka

    What I also appreciate is that he is specific in when he speaks about certain faith path’s choices and suppositions. He’s as meticulous as he can be. When I read his work on something like this I appreciate that it’s not some lazy ‘the Man’s gettin’ away with something again!’ blanket statement. Sometimes you read some writers or bloggers and every statement contrary to a religion or in examination of a religion is so remedial and retaliatory.

  • http://thingsgotwyrd.tumblr.com Crystal Dawn

    I am a believer in the power of our will. It is us in the end that choose to act or not to act. To commit crimes or to follow the law. Blaming anything outside of yourself, be it God, the Devil or mass media, is cowardly. We need to own up to our own actions and realize that outside of mental illness, other people are also acting by their own will.

  • vasaroti

    The priests just want their share of the market. I’t not the devil they’re trying to ward off, it’s the Baptists.