Evil and influence

[Content warning: post covers news stories about sexual abuse]

We’ve covered the right wing trad-catholic obsession with demons as an explanation for un-hellish activity before. This time the news of demons up to no good comes from the musician/game designer/columinst/author/publisher/film producer and hypothetical litigant Vox Day (link for reference http://voxday.blogspot.com/2020/04/a-ferocity-and-intensity.html ) Day is not a trad-Catholic but he flirts with a lot of the ideas that come out of that milieu, particularly the fetishising of Thomas Aquinas and by extension (of course) Aristotle.

Day’s source “Life Site” I won’t link to but is a kind of Catholic version of the evangelical protestant far right “news” websites that people may be more familiar with. The article is basically an over wrought man ringing up his friends all of whom confirm that they also think demons are everywhere and are behind the pandemic:

‘I phoned an exorcist in Washington D.C. I asked if demonic activity had increased since the Eucharist had been held back and many church doors had been locked. “Exorcists and those gifted individuals with insights into the spiritual realm have seen more intense demonic activity now. There has been a definite uptick,” he said, “Satan’s taken advantage of this crisis to meet his own ends, It seems demons have been given a free hand now.”’

Priests reveal how coronavirus crisis has unleashed ‘intense demonic activity’
Kevin Wells, LifeSite Fri Apr 3, 2020 – 3:49 pm EST

I always felt that it was a kind of patronising cliche to claim that pre-modern people invented demons as a way of grappling with notions of mental illness and emotional trauma. I also don’t want to belittle people’s coping mechanisms in a time of genuine fear but the examples I’ve (e.g. the ones quoted above) don’t present as people finding a way of coping. Quite the opposite, it is a sustained pressure to begin Church services again. I can see that there is a genuine trauma there — a crisis like this would, in other circumstances, bring people together for collective worship but most mainstream church leaders get why that would be disastrous both in the short term (it will imperil everybody) and the long term (church attendance skews older and would lead to the virus disproportionately hitting people who go to church).

Meanwhile, SF authors more overtly trad-catholic than Day are delighted that previously convicted paedophile Cardinal George Pell has been acquitted after a second appeal to the Australian High Court (news story here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-07/george-pell-wins-high-court-appeal-what-happens-next/12126266 ) The case, like many sexual assault cases, rested on the testimony of one victim who was testifying many years after the event. A jury and and the first panel of judges to hear Pell’s appeal found him guilty on the strength of the testimony but this final appeal (after substantial lobbying from the Australian right) ruled that the case against Pell was not strong enough to find him guilty.

What is undisputed though is that as a powerful figure within the Australian Catholic Church, Pell protected abusive priest and demonised victims. Nor are Pell’s legal troubles over. Some civil cases against him had been on hold until his criminal cases had been resolved.

Dragon Award Winner for Best Horror Novel that Isn’t a Horror Novel, Brian Niemmeier is delighted that Pell has been released: https://www.brianniemeier.com/2020/04/pell-acquitted.html

‘Now, this blog has never shied away from calling out members of the Church’s hierarchy when they betray Jesus’ command to tend His sheep. That said, digging deeper into Pell’s case turned up pretty strong evidence that his conviction was a miscarriage of justice prompted by the Enemy’s attack on a sincere servant of Christ.’

Whatever the court’s finding maybe there is no doubt that this ‘sincere servant of Christ’ throughout his meteoric rise through the echelons of power within the church, repeatedly failed to protect children and repeatedly went out of his way to protect abusers. We don’t need to invent demons to discover malign influences in the world.

30 thoughts on “Evil and influence

  1. I was extremely disappointed to read of Fell’s conviction being overturned. Can only hope the civil cases (which have a much lower burden of proof) all go against him.

    Seeing as how many of the worst COVID outbreaks in the US are from churches, there’s apparently no better way to kill off God’s children than sending them to church nowadays.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Funerals, church services, and carnival, apparently.
    What was that line by McClean, And as the flames climbed high into the night
    To light the sacrificial rite
    I saw Satan laughing with delight, or something?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I do make an exception for funerals, though, provided the mourners sit far enough apart and refrain from hugging and handshaking, no matter how much they want to. No after funeral coffee/lunch either – too risky.

      I come from a rural area and I have been at funerals as big as the one that caused the outbreak in Georgia, sitting in tightly packed pews. Luckily, there was no pandemic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s interesting that the folks who are always accusing Worldcon/the Hugos/SFWA/fandom in general of being rife with paedophilia have so little interest in genuine cases of paedophilia.

    At least in Germany, very few churches are complaining about the restrictions, but found ways to offer services online. And communion the way it is held is highly unhygienic anyway. Speaking as the person who nearly gagged the first time she took communion, because the wafer got stuck in my mouth and the communal goblet was smeared with lipstick.

    When I was a teen and had confirmation lessons, I came up with all sorts of suggestions how to improve communion (bread or cookies instead of wafers, grape juice instead of wine, so alcoholics can take it, too, individual plastic cups that can be rinsed). The pastor was not interested.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There was some discussion in the Catholic church in Australia a few years ago about using gluten-free wafers (it’s not like you need them to rise so the gluten is practically useless). But the word that came down from on high was no, this would remove the essential ‘breadiness’ of the wafer so Coeliac Catholics get to miss out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. but, but the whole point is that it ISN’T bread by the time you eat it. Or maybe that was the issue — to concede that gluten might be an issue was to concede that people were actually eating bread.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. But Cam, it is bread. Catholic teaching has never denied that it is bread. That it is still bread is part of the point, because Jesus blessed the bread at the Last Supper. A Catholic with a wheat or gluten allergy who receives communion via a communion wafer is going to receive the Body of Christ and an allergic reaction and no one in the church denies this.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Is it? I thought the point was the substance had changed i.e. it was a physical transformation. I’ll concede I may not have been paying proper attention 🙂

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      3. Coeliac diseases wasn’t yet widely known at the time I made those suggestions, but that’s another issue to take into consideration. Communion should be accessible to all.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. @camestrosfelapton Apr 9, 2020 at 3:50 am

        Think Aristotelean metaphysics via Thomisn. The essence of the bread changes but the accidental properties stay the same. The appearance (taste, texture etc.) of the bread remains the same but it’s really Christ’s literal body.

        Nearly every time I explain this to a catholic layperson I get incredulity and protestations that they don’t really believe this.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh I have such a great story about that but I can’t tell for reasons and it frustrates me. Suffice to say it is an interesting demonstration of the difference between ‘what catholicism believes’ versus ‘what catholics believe’

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve seen tiny pieces of bread and little disposable cups of grape juice used. This was also brought out to everyone in the pews to avoid any mobility issues. There may have been a more traditional option as well, but I don’t remember.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The very traditional approach in our church (Presbyterian before it was United, in both cases decidedly non-Catholic) was in fact individual cuplets, there were even holders in the pews.

        Our current approach is to take either a piece of bread — already cut into pieces for easy picking up without touching other pieces — or a gluten-free wafer, dip it into the grape juice, and eat bread and “wine” in one. Minimally germy if everyone’s fingers are steady. There are also liberal amounts of hand sanitizer available.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I believe that the Church of Sweden will provide grape juice for communion if requested (or, I believe, on the priest’s own initiative, if the receiver is a known recovering alcoholic). But, I could be wrong here.

      At least it is not communion done by the “tear the bread to pieces, drop it in the wine vessel, serve with a common spoon” method…

      Liked by 2 people

    4. There are a number of Protestant churches in the US that do all of those things. The more “low-church” sort, so that’s probably why he resisted.

      I am rather surprised they weren’t wiping off the goblet between people, as I’ve seen in churches I’ve been to. A nice snow white cloth that matches the altar drapery. No lipstick.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The pastor (Lutheran Protestant, but in a somewhat conservative rural region) did wipe off the goblet, but some jerky person had used the sort of lipstick you can’t wipe off, so he only succeeded in smearing it all over the goblet. And using slices of bread and grape juice was something other churches in urban neighbourhoods already did at the time, which is why I suggested it.

        I suspect our pastor at the time was reluctant to seem too progressive, because he was under constant fire from more conservative parishioners, who wanted the old pastor, a relic who would have fit better into a museum, back.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I have questions about the exorcist that LifeSite allegedly spoke to. Like, does he even exist? If so, does his bishop know that he’s running around claiming to be an exorcist? (Per the code of canon law, the rite of major exorcism may only be performed by a bishop or by a priest expressly appointed by a bishop.) I am suspicious because “gifted individuals with insights into the spiritual realm” is not at all a Catholic phrasing. Holy Mother Church is not down with people claiming to be gifted individuals with insights into the spiritual realm.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I shouldn’t laugh at this. I’m a bad person. Also there’s at least some short fiction in there. I’m thinking along the lines of a spiritual protection racket which isn’t a new idea.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. “It you don’t accept Sola Gratia the Lord can’t help you, buddy. He might break your legs though, for all eternity.”

        Liked by 4 people

  5. Wonderful article, thank you greatly for sharing it. I have recently published an article on the George Pell situation and what the judgment means for society moving forward. If you have time, it would be great if you could check out my post and let me know your thoughts! Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Is it? I thought the point was the substance had changed i.e. it was a physical transformation. I’ll concede I may not have been paying proper attention”

    Cam: ‘Substance’ is being used in a technical sense – distinguishing an essential property of a thing from its ‘accidental’ properties. The “substance” of the bread and wine are transformed, but the “accidental” properties – including taste, texture and ability to cause allergic reactions are unchanged (as I understand it – not Catholic but an interested observer).

    Liked by 2 people

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