Another tragedy, more crazy talk to boot. Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently said America’s “sin problem” was behind the Aurora movie theater shooting, while Rep. Louie Gohmert has said the nation was no longer under God’s “protective hand.”
Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest in my native South Carolina said recently on his blog that Satan could be behind James Holmes’ recent rampage in the Aurora movie theater shooting. Longenecker wrote:
… Was he demon possessed? Maybe. It happens.
Demonic infestation is a rare, strange and terrible psycho-spiritual affliction. In simple terms, a malevolent, separate intelligence infests the mind and spirit of a person. It takes over the rational faculties and dominates the personality. The phenomenon is real, but anyone who has ever dealt with the problem realizes that the demonic realm is complex. The human person is an intricate organism in which the physical, mental and spiritual aspects are totally interwoven. Therefore, in most cases, trying to diagnose the possibility of demonic influence is extremely difficult.
This is because, in theory, demonic influence in a personality can exist on several different levels. Experts disagree about the terminology and extent of the diabolical influence, and in this arcane discipline, for reasons that will become clear, there are few set rules or guidelines. However, some levels of demonic involvement can be observed.
Longenecker goes on to identify four “levels” of demonic influence, which begin at temptation and then devolve into obsession with a certain “sin.” The third level is “infestation.” At this level, the demon becomes entangled — or whatever — inside the spirit of the host:
When the signs of preternatural strength are seen, horrible alien voices come from the person, vile blasphemies are heard and perverted and violent actions are witnessed, one can be fairly sure that a demonic infestation is happening. However, many of these symptoms may also be signs of a deep mental or spiritual illness which is not demonic in origin.
Of course, we aren’t told how we are to determine the difference between “demonic infestation” and mere mental illness. The final level is possession, in which the spirit “hides within the personality rather like a parasite.” The actual exorcist at this point is in a kind of no-man’s-land between reality and the spiritual knife edge, as Longenecker describes it:
In analyzing these levels of demonic influence, one must remember that each level builds on the former and there may be no sequence, predictability or diagnostic tests. In dealing with the interface between the paranormal realm and the complexities of the human person, the exorcist often feels like he is walking blindfolded through a minefield set in quicksand. He is wrestling with a pool of oily octopuses. He is on the edge of chaos where there is no foothold.
Here, Longenecker, possibly realizing that not even he believes his own hot garbage, softens his tone and begins using the more typical and blanket term, “evil,” to describe what Holmes may or may not have experienced:
Is James Holmes demon possessed? It is impossible to say without a detailed diagnosis. Even then, it is a slippery question. We are dealing with a reality that is rubbery. In many ways this is the wrong question. Better to ask, “Was James Holmes taken over by Evil?”
“Evil” is capitalized here, of course, because Longenecker wants people think that he is still talking about the concept as the personification of the devil or demonic spirits, and again, we are given no explanation as to what this “detailed diagnosis” involves, other than to reference a friend whom he said was an exorcist:
A friend of mine who is an exorcist says this is why the ministry of exorcism is so exhausting and grueling—because the demons constantly lie. Whenever evil is manifested, it wears a mask. The evil ones squirm and hide. They flatter one moment and hiss with rage the next. They are one moment obsequious and aggressive the next. Because they are liars, reason and trust can find no grasp. Pure Evil is random, violent and unpredictable.
Longenecker then notes that “Evil” is “mindless” and that all we helpless humans can do is gaze on it with “fascinated horror.” Now, if “evil” is mindless, then how is there a demon behind this dark cloak? I thought Satan was a cagey, intelligent creature, as presumably are his minions as well if they have been smart enough to somehow outfox Yahweh all these thousands of years. Further, for all the “horror” that the Aurora shooting does represent, I find it hard to view the deaths of 12 people as anything but fascinating, no matter if some “spiritual” force was behind it or not.
Longenecker ends with some rather lame truisms about love (He capitalizes it, again personifying a wholly secular feeling) conquers darkness and that love (“Love”) was the force that drove three people to shield their loves ones in the shooting, saying nothing of selflessness or courage. Well, I hate to break it to Longenecker, but if God is “Love,” as Christianity teaches, then God himself failed where those three heroic humans did not.