On Calling Some Things Inside Us to be Silent
"What do you think about demons?" he asked me.
Honestly, I was just trying to drink coffee. I was not trying to get into a theological debate and dissect demonology with someone I didn't know.
But the question hung in the air..."What do you think about demons?"
Honestly, I don't know what to think about demons. Giving evil too much power and say in the world is dangerous, especially if you believe, as Christians do, that every Sunday we celebrate the "feast of victory of our Lord" rendering anything other than love and wholeness ultimately impotent in the face of a God who won't even let death have the final say in this existence.
And yet, well, I've seen evil. I know evil systems, and have even heard evil within myself in times when my shadow-self took the wheel.
A friend of mine named her depression. It told her terrible things, untrue things, and she needed to name it so she could say, "Knock it off, Deidre" when it got out of hand.
The man I met in Colorado, Wit, who I've spoken of in sermons and written about. He was certainly wrestling with something evil inside of him that told him to count his ribs every morning...and still that wasn't enough. Every bone needed to be seen through that thin skin he wore like an over-sized trench coat.
Do I think there are demons trying to infect people like viruses? I can't say that's in my worldview. My friend and colleague in Papua New Guinea is currently on a crusade to save that country from outdated belief systems that include witches, because they end up killing young girls, accusing them of being demons and spreading disease.
That's an example of how careless talk about demons/devils can lead to terrible atrocities.
And yet I know evil is real, and it feels like evil sometimes has legs: running from, dodging, avoiding, escaping...
This Sunday's Gospel lesson has Jesus being revealed as a powerful teacher, one who can even cast out demons.