Tag Archives: miracles

Of Demons & Spiritual Warfare: Mental Demons & Beyond Ableism

Content Note: Discussion of depression, mental health issues, ableism

“28 When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who weredemon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29 And they cried out, saying, “[a]What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before [b]the time?” 30 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going tocast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.”

This passage and a few others in the 4 Gospels gives one of the famous accounts of Christ ‘casting out demons’. But as we navigate through this series for the month, we’ll come across different kinds of instances of demonic activity in scriptures. Of course, one of the themes is WHAT IS a demon? Is it the embodiment of evil or an actual being?… or maybe a little of both? And in what way does humanity’s crafted pop-culture units- movies, films, etc.,communicate even “secular” understanding of ‘demons’ ?

First thing’s first! It’s very clear that many folk ( some even Xtian! but many agnostics and atheists too) claiming that the demons spoken of in scripture are really just mental/psychological demons and they didn’t have another name for it at the time.. you know, since ‘modern science’ has all but disproven something like this, or at least made it very tough to believe..

Well, the problem with this is that it automatically concludes that those born with any number of mental/development disorders (including any number of intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, autism, etc.) are just perpetually demon-possessed and therefore unclean or inferior and to the extent that they could ‘have these demons cast out’ , they’d be healed and more righteous. I.e. disgustingly ableist. Now, I’d like to believe that most folks who make their case to all demons being only psychological don’t quite mean it this way, but this is essentially one notion we’re left with.. We must be mindful of that when we’re discussing the idea of ‘mental demons’.

The idea of a demonic stronghold in one’s life or in society as a whole, is often illustrated in scripture as something that the person may not have been born with as a biological/medical condition, but more so because of the presiding evil order of ‘the things of this world’. Perhaps because of empire? Let’s take a look at one- depression!

Depression is one of the leading psychological illnesses of our time in America. The recent death of Robin Williams helped to bring to light something that so many folks struggle with daily. Some say that that depression is akin to an illness that is diagnosable that we had no part in contracting, still I’ve heard other say it’s a matter of feeling a deficit in life purpose. Regardless, many will always state that if the person dies as a result of suicide due to struggling with depression, then “they had demons that they couldn’t overcome…”- so even in our Western materialist secular society we still hear the invoking of the demonic in everyday parlance when it comes to a disease as mentally burdensome as depression and suicidal thoughts. At its core, depression feels like a heavy burden on the mind of the sufferer that often coincides with some other event external to the person. Bullying, unemployment, and yes- even racism!

The mental burden placed on the mind of the one who if forced to immerse into some presiding hegemony often results in suicide. We see this in the sky-high suicide rates of Indian farmers who are struggling and embarassed by their inability to provide for their families because of corporate agro giants like Monsanto rendering them poor. Also, there’s even this article: The Link Between Racism And Depression , detailing the link between racism and depression. And speaking of colliding worlds causing depression, here’s this from the study : ‘”What’s more Asian-American women have long had the highest suicide rate of other women that age. Asian-American women age 65 and older also have the highest suicide rates for elderly women. For immigrants in particular, cultural isolation, language barriers and discrimination add to the problem”

One common theme we see between many cases of depression is the idea of , as stated earlier – a painful sense of purposeless, almost as if you’ve been forgotten or forsaken.  And I couldn’t help but think of the consistent theme of “the old forgotten mansion” or “shack”, etc. that is also haunted. It’s almost as if being forsaken/forgotten is a prerequisite for the demonic, even in popular fiction! And who feels more forgotten than those who are oppressed by empire?

Let’s meditate on the link between being forsake and forgotten. The idea that Christ came to set the captives free. ( think, the phrase – “God-Forsaken!”). Christ’s ministry and power over the demonic proves that God has not forsaken His creation.

Until next time – we will explore notions of the demonic further and from a different angle, then!

For relevant posts on Ableism and Jesus’ confrontation with evil, check out these recommended posts:

Jesus heals a possessed man, or a man with epilepsy? by Sonja at Women In Theology

The Failure To Bother To Love: On Ignorance and Ableism by Katie at Women In Theology

Christianity, Disability, and Nonviolence #TheNewPacifism by Rod here at Political Jesus



The Strange Religious Turn of @Warehouse13 #Warehouse13

Anything Can Become An Artificact, Anything Can Become Sacred

Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my previous post on Warehouse 13, see: Warehouse 13: Science Fiction, Sexism: When Inclusion Becomes Oppressive

I have been a fan of the Syfy Original Program Warehouse 13 for a couple of years now. Up until this point, there hadn’t been any discussion of religion or a higher power, etc. No season (granted, the past 3 seasons were 13 episodes each, but still), there weren’t any allusions to religious figures or anything for that matter. This season however, season 4, everything has changed. Fans are now learning the origins behind what makes an “artifact,” what makes an artifact dangerous and the need for the Warehouse. Artifacts, in the world of Warehouse 13, are ” mysterious relics, fantastical objects, and supernatural souvenirs that are each packed with enough energy to somehow move and affect other objects.” Each episode of Warehouse 13 involves the core team of Artie, Myka, Pete, and Claudia using their skills to track down an artifact gone awry. In the first three seasons of Warehouse 13, “the monster of the week” was caused by the artifact that a person had either stolen or had been given accidently as a gift, etc. This season, fans learned that what makes an artifact is HUMAN ACTION, usually an act of courage. The Warehouse does not collect these items right away, but if things start going wrong, it is up to our favorite detectives to save the day.

The focus on the miraculous, the occurrences of the unexplainable in the everyday lives of humanity is similar to my conversation on miracles. Miracles do not violate creation in any way; what happens is that they occur within nature. Artifacts are not initially destructive in most cases; much of the time they start out with great creative potential. Whether we are referring to Harriet Tubman’s Thimble or Gandhi’s Doti, or Lewis Carroll’s Looking Glass or Pliny The Elder’s Scroll, Warehouse 13 serves as a part religious, part edu-tainment program. The roles that Brother Adrian and the Brotherhood (who seek knowledge with the permission of the Vatican)have given religious persons a new image. Rather than the trope in science fiction of the backwoods zealot, what we have in the Brotherhood are persons who are religiously devout and scientific minded. What it means to be religious in W13 is defined in part by human ethical actions during moments of great distress.

How have you dealt with the changes this season in Warehouse 13? Does it shed a positive light on persons who are both scientific-method affirming and religious?

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