Wal Mart, the Devil, and the Mystery of the Bashful Exorcist

Wal Mart, the Devil, and the Mystery of the Bashful Exorcist March 27, 2019

It could very well be the latter, because of the second sentence there. “It often includes physical attacks and symptoms and strange occurrences.” What does that mean? It’s English and grammatically correct, but it doesn’t make any sense. It’s not even clear whether Armstrong or her anonymous exorcist said it.  By “physical attacks,” does Armstrong or Father Not-Michael mean health problems like heart attacks and panic attacks, or do they mean that the demoniac physically assaults other people? If she or he means physical health problems, why did they include “and symptoms” like that? What’s the difference between physical attacks and symptoms? And could there be a more generic name for any phenomenon than “strange occurrences?” That could refer to anything from poltergeists to unusually rainy weather. The great art of writing is to show and not tell, and this article is begging for some concrete examples. Father Not-Michael surely has some riveting stories about the strange occurrences he’s encountered in his ten years performing exorcisms, but we don’t get to hear any of them.

Speaking of strange occurrences, a little further down we get another muddled paragraph:

For committed Christians, it should be obvious never to entertain anything demonic. That especially includes having a hatred for sin. As Father Michael said, “Ultimately sin is what lets in the darkness.”

Since the only quotation marks in that paragraph are around the final sentence, I at first assumed that the first two are the responsibility of Ms. Armstrong. But Ms. Armstrong is a professional writer and surely would never craft a paragraph that muddled. It must be that the first two sentences are off-the-cuff remarks from Father Not-Michael and someone forgot to include quotation marks. It took me several minutes to understand what he was getting at. Due to sloppy syntax, it looks as though Father Not-Michael is saying the exorcist told her that a hatred for sin is one of the demonic things that we ought to avoid. This lack of clarity is bound to get someone into trouble.

Armstrong then mentions, apropos of nothing, that some outfit calling itself the American Family Association is already up in arms against Wal Mart because Wal Mart ran an obnoxious ad about two gay men who went on a blind date in Wal Mart. I don’t personally think that the ad is obnoxious because the couple was gay, mind you. I think it’s obnoxious for a thousand other reasons, chiefly because it’s about two people going on a date in a Wal Mart in the first place. The very idea makes me sick. Take a look for yourself. But the American Family Association wants the ad removed because it’s “pro-gay.” There is no connection between the obnoxious blind date ad and the Satanic items; the gentlemen on the date buy Little Debbies and a cast iron pan, not an idol. Armstrong just randomly throws this anecdote in at the end of her piece and then encourages her readers to boycott Wal Mart as they apparently did to J. C. Penney, which doesn’t sell Satanic paraphernalia as far as I know. But then again, I didn’t know about Wal Mart until today.

I am extremely baffled and confused at this entire article, for a number of reasons. I am baffled that Wal Mart sells cheap tacky Satanic paraphernalia in the first place. I am baffled that this is the first I’m hearing of it. I am baffled at the very idea of a genuine exorcist being consulted for a newspaper and agreeing to speak about Wal Mart’s cheap tacky Satanic paraphernalia but only if his name was kept out of it. I am baffled that no copy editor ever looked this over, or if they did they ought to be fired. The National Catholic Register isn’t a loose network of curmudgeonly bloggers working alone like Patheos. The National Catholic Register is a newspaper, which is supposed to have higher standards. If I didn’t know any better, I would wonder if Ms. Armstrong was taken in by a con artist who wasn’t an exorcist at all– or, just perhaps, if she made Father Michael up out of her own head. I don’t seriously believe either of those are the case, for the record. But why interview this bashful and poorly spoken exorcist in the first place? Why not find an exorcist who speaks clearly and isn’t afraid to say his own name? Why not just write a simple article declaring that there are Satanic knickknacks for sale at Wal Mart, quote the Catechism for the Church’s position, and leave it at that? Why all the melodrama?

There are a myriad of reasons why one might want to boycott a heartless corporation like Wal Mart. I don’t know if offering cheap statues of Baphomet to anyone who wants one is a very good reason, and I doubt a boycott will be effective in any case. I certainly encourage my readers to avoid Satan and all his pomps and works– though I think that the best way to go about doing this is to pursue virtue through prayer, the sacraments and the Works of Mercy, rather than looking around for items you shouldn’t buy from a big box store. It’s not that demonic possession and oppression aren’t real. For all I know, even “demonic depression” is real. It’s just that God is so much more real that in Him, the devil and all his work become irrelevant noise.

My only other advice is that the National Catholic Register ought to hire a few copy editors. I’d like to have one as well.

(image via Pixabay) 




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