Thursday, February 23, 2006

Overexorcising Or Overstating?

Bob Larson. He’s still at it. Traveling around the world, rescuing demon-possessed people, driving evil entities back into The Pit!

I’ve followed Larson’s impressive career over the years, first on his radio program, then on TV. Then he seemed to have dropped off the spiritual map. But the other day I found an article about him online, an uncritical piece featured in the Toledo Blade by David Yonke, Blade Religion Editor. ("Pastor feels called to fight demons," Saturday, February 11, 2006.)

If you want to win the reader’s attention, you have to have a good hook, grab them right from the first line. Here’s how Yonke opened his article:

“The Rev. Bob Larson has been kicked, bruised, choked, and spit upon. His ribs have been broken, he has been scratched and bitten, and he's received death threats.”

Wow. And it’s even more startling when it is stated that Larson is 61 years old!

In the article Larson proclaims that he’s “The Exorcist.” That’s nice.

Then there’s one statement made by Larson that caught my eye: he claims that he has performed over 6000 exorcisms over the last twenty years.

That 6000, not 600, exorcisms. By one man. Over twenty years. Do the math. That’s an average of 300 exorcisms per year. (There’s only 365/366 days in a year.) Some of that has to include being beat on by demon-controlled victims, lots of scratches and bites. And don’t forget the broken ribs. Did Larson keep performing exorcisms from his hospital bed so the wouldn’t fall behind on his 300 per year average?

Obviously the movie, The Exorcist, is fiction. Not every exorcism involves dodging orally-ejected green pea soup and tolerating freezing temps. But there was a piece on exorcism years ago on one of ABC-TV’s news magazines. It showed a group of exorcists trying driving the demon out of a possessed teenaged girl. The process was a long haul, tremendous mental strain for all involved. And after that great effort, the girl still ended up seeing a psychiatrist and being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs.

With more than 6000 exorcisms under his (bible) belt, one would think Larson would slow down and spent a few months recuperating. Or does he do like 50 exorcisms at a time, like a priest giving his congregation a mass blessing? A McExorcism kind of service.

Maybe Mr. Larson could document all the exorcisms he has done to allay the skepticism of questioning individuals such as yours truly. That’s if he isn’t on the verge of collapse from overexorcising.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Cartoon Violence

Recently I received an email from a friend, a visual artist, about the Danish cartoons that have led to violent clashes with Moslem demonstrators in some parts of the world. He wrote:

Is this what all the fuss is about? find attached a copy of the danish cartoons in question. pretty lame if you ask me.

And I replied:

There was a segment about this story on TV last night (60 Minutes). The cartoons included in your email were the only ones that appeared in the Danish newspaper. Apparently an Islamic cleric in Denmark send those along with other ones that were very offensive to his contacts in Iran, implying that all of them had been published. So this hatemonger went out of his way to stir up trouble.

But I can understand why some Moslems are reacting in such a severe way. (I understand why; I don't agree with it.) Look at how a nation's flag, especially in the US, is considered to be sacred by a majority of its citizens. People have been brainwashed by those in power to blindly believe in a particular system, including the veneration of the system's symbol. Fight for the symbol. Carry the symbol into battle. Die for the symbol; never let the enemy gain the symbol in a fight. It's the usual politico-religious mind control crap that has been going on since the days of the caveman. Tribalism lives. The tribal leaders want their followers to be swept up in the emotion to the point that no questions are asked. Look at how W & Co. jingoed the US into an unwinnable war in Iraq. The hypnotic power of flag waving.

So don't be surprised how cartoons can be cynically used to inflame a particular group into violent confrontation.