Resisting the Call of Demons

Salvador Dali _ Die heilige Bibel (1964-1967)


I have just returned home this night from a very long and arduous workday having, to my chagrin,  missed opportunities for corporate worship, a theology class, and an organ recital I so much wanted to attend, along with an opportunity to visit friends I so much enjoy being around.  But as I sit this night listening to Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in C Minor and wallowing in self-pity, so totally unjustified, I am brought up short by the article laid before me from the New York Times of today’s date.  The article recounts the thoughts of many people concerning the recent and recurrent mass shootings.  Each opinion shared in this article reflects the deep seated fear and anxiety that the chance of being shot, or having a loved one shot,  is now ever present in our minds as we pursue our daily life and work.  These fears and anxieties have come to permeate the very fabric of our nation. The possibility of premature death by shooting is becoming a commonplace part of our existence.  What was once a culture of death limited to remote parts of the world has now found us and is living amongst us posing a very frightening spectre of loss and horror.  And, while I share these fears and anxieties there is another fear and another anxiety that troubles me in a much deeper way and which I see as much more deadly than any gunman’s bullet.  That is: how the fears and anxieties of our people are in God’s reality demons[1].  These demons seek to corrupt our very souls and turn us from loving those whom we are called to love into bigger demons that thrive on fear and hate. For I believe in demons in the fashion that they are portrayed in the Screwtape Letters.[2]  I believe that we are continuously in the midst of a battle and the way in which we react to the actions of demons will, in the end, determine our fate for an eternity.  And, in this sort of contest, as was once said in a popular film, “there is no medal for second place.”

So in this evening of self-pity, fear and anxiety I pray that we may turn away from the call of demons and reaffirm our love for one another and for those whom we are called to love.[3]  It is a wise, just and good thing to seek to protect ourselves and our bodies but we must also protect our souls as well.  We must refuse to become demons feeding on fear, anxiety and hate.  Let us look to those brave wonderful souls from Mother Emanuel[4] who chose to turn toward the light and resisted taking a path into the night of darkness which by every earthly standard they would have been so entitled and justified to do.   Be brave and be strong in the knowledge that despite the assaults of  the works of darkness you live in the tender love of the Lord and that he has not forsaken you no matter what tragedies the headlines may bring before you day to day.

This Advent as we await the coming of the true Saviour of the world let us hope and pray that we remain in the light and refuse, steadfastly, to follow a  path into the night to the extinction of our immortal souls.

The NYT article may be found here Life in a Time of Mass Shootings

[1] One might question the rationality and even the sanity of one who professes to believe in “demons” but I make no apology as I also believe in God and in angels.  If that’s crazy then so be it.  A reading of the Screwtape Letter by C.S. Lewis will clarify this fine insanity.

[2] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters .

[3] My thanks to the Reverend Charles Davis for having coined this phrase as a part of his Eucharistic dismissal blessings pointing out our call to love those we really don’t feel like loving such as those differing from ourselves such as the poor and, yes, even terrorists both domestic and foreign.

[4] Mother Emmanuel AME Church Charleston, South Carolina the scene of horrendous violence earlier this year but from which emerged a local and then nationwide affirmation of love and forgiveness rather than hate and revenge.

Art:  The Waters of a Great Flood by Salvador Dali ( 1964) this piece was meant to illustrate the waters of a great flood but to me the dark void represents the omnipresence portended by the spreading of evil through the active work of demons in our world.