Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Satan, The Last Best Excuse For Failed Strategy

Of any number of things I've been stuck with lately in the abortion debate, the one that I find seriously frightening is the escalation in Satanic imagery and continual references to Spiritual Warfare. It's not just the military lingo, it's the down right awful theology which subordinates the Salvific action of Jesus to the omnipotent power of Satan. This is not melding faith with reason, it's projecting irrational fear and powerlessness to dizzying heights.

William Lyndsey writes about this thoroughly discounted old form of gnosticism in a post today on his blog Bilgrimage. The following is an excerpt in which Bill is discussing Bishop Finn's speech to a Kansas pro life group. A speech in which Bishop Finn calls for pro life Catholics to engage in Spiritual warfare. I have posted about this speech previously.

The “we” who are at war are a group of Christian warriors with a hidden gnosis, a peculiar vocabulary and eccentric worldview known only to the true believer, from which the rough masses are shut out. (It's also a world view in which the unwashed masses are always shut out. There is no salvation for them.)

That peculiar vocabulary and eccentric worldview revolve around images of battle, militancy, blood, and, above all, Satan. Yes, Satan—in all his scary-alluring glamor; Satan, the old deceiver and father of lies, who constantly tries to weave his snares around our feet and claim us for the kingdom of darkness. Satan, who can, the good bishop warns, lay claim to us without our knowing we’ve been so claimed: as Bishop Finn maintains, “So let’s be clear: Human beings are not Satan, but certainly they can come under his power, even without their fully realizing it.”

Bishop Finn’s brief lecture employs the name Satan five times, that of Jesus six times.

And that pretty much says it all to me, where this apocalyptic worldview of Satanic possession of people who don’t know they’re possessed, with its lurid imagery of war and bloodshed and its gnostic vocabulary and worldview, is headed. It’s headed way off the charts of Christian orthodoxy, as every other gnostic and apocalyptic form of Christianity has done in the past. (In short, this is not Christianity, this is anti Satanism and because it is, it diverts people from doing anything meaningful in this reality by focusing the main effort on the unseen reality. This is a reality in which only the true believers have any authority.)

With its virtual equation of Jesus and Satan—Savior matched with Arch-Enemy—this is a worldview and theological system long ago condemned by most Christian churches, one that makes the devil as powerful as God. It’s a worldview and theological system that spectacularly miss the central point of the gospel proclamation: that Christ has died and is risen, and in that paschal event, the powers of evil have once and all been decisively defeated. (Jesus serves primarily as the foil for Satan. All His teachings on love mean nothing. In this theology there is no call for real conversion, only ritual confrontation.)


Further in his post, Bill links to a sermon by Fr. Euteneuer of Human Life International. It's a Good Friday sermon which is all about using Jesus's blood as a meditative ritual for exorcism. Fr. Euteneuer is another leading voice in the reactionary pro life movement. Apparently he's also a card caring member of the New Apostolic Reformation as he begins his sermon by quoting Revelations. It's amazing to me how these pro life prophets can make literal sense of Revelations. To me Revelations is a spiritual Rorshach test. A text one can project what ever they want into it.

I also believe if any of these pro life prophets ever came face to face with the Satan they describe they would shit their pants. They would quickly find out they projected way too much power into Satan for their human minds and emotions, and way too little into Jesus. Blithely spouting on about demons, Satan, and exorcisms is easy if you've never done it. People that actually have had these encounters don't talk about them. They don't brag about them. They don't teach about them. They certainly don't call the innocent in to active battle and they don't speak or act in such a way as to bring more of these encounters to this reality.

But of course, all this rhetoric isn't really about Satan. It's about power and who has it, and who gets to use it. The Catholic clerical caste has lost a lot of power with a lot of people. The Republican party is almost dead. Time to bring up the devil. Time to remind people who traditionally has had the spiritual and ritual to power to battle Satan, to conduct exorcisms, to lead the war against the Principalities and Powers. It's the clerically ordained who wield all that power, supported by all those laity who believe the clerical caste really holds all that power.

Actually, it's Jesus who holds all that power and through Him any baptised person who believes in Jesus. And Jesus Himself took it even further. "Those who are not actively against us are with us." Those others, who caused such angst to Jesus's Apostles, can also cast out demons in Jesus's name. Casting out demons is such an easy task that even those who aren't true believers can do it. Negative plane energy is not all that omniscient or powerful or insightful or intelligent.

It's mostly just our unconscious projections about situations we don't want to take responsibility for.

Which means to me, that some bishops and clerics don't want to take responsibility for the fact they have lost the Roe V Wade battle, and because of that they project that loss on an all powerful Satan. It's always easier to project failure than to deal with it.

The reality is, the abortion debate was never a war in the first place. It was a call for compassion for expectant mothers. It should never have become a crusade for the rights of the unborn at the expense of compassion and support for their mothers. Criminalizing abortion was destined to be a losing strategy because it targeted a law rather than fostering life giving choice in real women. The law became more important than real people in real situations. Catholic bishops allowed themselves to be coerced into the wrong strategy. Blaming this on Satan is a statement of inability to change strategies. The spiritual warfare is not out there somewhere, it's inside their heads.

Kudos again to Cardinal Rigali. At least he seems capable of finally supporting the moral strategy that actually is Christian, is about compassion and will save lives.


The following Vatican analysis of President Obama's first hundred days was just posted on Rocco Palma's Whispers In The Logia. The Vatican isn't playing the Satan card, condemning President Obama, or insisting that the Democratic party is the party of death.

[U]nder the headline, "The 100 days that did not shake the world," [L'Osservatore] said the new president has operated with more caution than predicted in most areas, including economics and international relations.

"On ethical questions, too -- which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops -- Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed," it said.

It said the new draft guidelines for stem-cell research, for example, did not constitute the major change in policy that was foreseen a few months ago.

"(The guidelines) do not allow the creation of new embryos for research or therapeutic purposes, for cloning or for reproductive ends, and federal funds may be used only for experimentation with excess embryos," it said.

It added that the new guidelines "do not remove the reasons for criticism in the face of unacceptable forms of bioengineering" but are "less permissive" than expected.

The article saw a positive sign in the recent introduction of the Pregnant Women Support Act, which would help women overcome problems that often cause them to have abortions. It was sponsored by a group of pro-life Democrats.

"It is not a negation of the doctrine expressed up to now by Obama in the matter of interruption of pregnancy, but the legislative project could represent a rebalancing in support of maternity," the newspaper said.

It sure is nice to see that the Vatican actually sees what I've been writing all along. Supporting maternity is a legitimate abortion strategy. I'm almost shocked to read this analysis. Maybe Dr. Glendon jumped the gun as the Vatican doesn't seem to be nearly as anti Obama as some of our clergy.

Perhaps the Vatican understands that President Obama is listening, and rather than beat him with a stick for not being completely Catholic, they've chosen to give him credit where credit is due.


  1. "Actually, it's Jesus who holds all that power and through Him any baptised person who believes in Jesus."

    So right Colleen! Jesus is the one who holds all that power. He is the armor of our Faith. We are under His protection when we have Faith in Him.

    So often He would say: "Your Faith has saved you."

    If only Bishop Finn had such Faith in Jesus Christ and would teach about Him and bring His light into the world instead of casting the shadow of Satan upon the world. He is misleading many into a battle in which "they know not what they do."

  2. Absolutely right butterfly. He's leading them into a battle in which they "know not what they do."

    Go into any such battle with fear and you lose.

  3. Here is an interesting question to ponder, a question of faith:

    Where is ones faith?

    If one believes in Satan, if one believes that Satan has any power at all, then that is where one has placed their faith. The context of Finn's rhetoric is proof that he and others with him have not placed their faith in God, but have placed their faith in Satan.

    That is the god that they now serve, the god that they have served all along. All one has to do is to look at their record and one has all of the proof of the truth of this premise that is needed.

    He and so many others are leading the unsuspecting along a path that guarantees that they will suffer unnecessarily.

    What the bishops are doing here is satanic. AND, I believe that they know exactly what they are doing. Authoritarian demands failed, their abortion rhetoric failed, their attacks on Obama have failed, ... this is simply one more futile attempt to regain their "lost" power over the laity.

    One of the most wonderful quotes from Frank Herbert's "Dune" is "fear is the mind killer - I will face my fear and it will pass through me" or something like that.

    I had to face that today at work. One of the coworkers came in with the flu and took the workstation next to mine. It took almost an hour for me to work through the panic and fear and reconnect with my source in an attitude of faith. It was a very uncomfortable, but very enlightening and edifying experience. I gained a couple of valuable insights from the experience.

    First, I realized that I had a hidden faith in the power of disease rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit within me. (oops!)

    Second, after I reconnected my faith, I realized that in that hour, it never once occurred to me to pray for a healing for the coworker. (double oops!)

    As soon as I did, the change in her was almost immediate and truly amazing. The symptoms disappeared, her color returned, her demeanor improved as well.

    But most important of all, I was at peace again, reconnected with the Holy Spirit, and breezed through the rest of the day.

  4. Carl, I am highlighting this now because of so many young people that have bought Satan's deception - "He and so many others are leading the unsuspecting along a path that guarantees that they will suffer unnecessarily."

    They will suffer for it Carl. In wasting their energy in negative energy and spewing it out into the world they will be draining their life away to an existence of one battle and fear after the other and no relief - and misery loves company so they'll be looking to make plenty of others miserable. And until maybe one day they finally reach out and beg Jesus for Peace and to forgive them and ask Him to give them a new heart, new vision and new hearing from the Holy Spirit. One would hope and pray that they would do so sooner rather than later.

    Colleen, from what I can gather they are going into such a battle with not much but fear. They seem to be all about fear. In St Theresa of Avila's writing The Interior Castle she speaks about the low levels in that castle that are filled with snakes and one becomes fearful. As one progresses into the other rooms in time and process of faith, if one goes back into the lower chambers where the snakes and scary stuff are, one begins to learn to laugh at the fear. Too bad the Church is not teaching about the Interior Castle in a way that would actually help people meet the loving God within instead of the rant given by Bishop Finn in which he essentially denounces everyone as being Satanic if they don't agree with him. He's teaching people to become fearful instead of aiding them to be healed by the presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. He wants people to bow down to him and what he says and what he wants, instead of bringing people closer to Jesus Christ and His healing love.

  5. Butterfly, iyou bring up a great point with St. Theresa of Avila.

    I would say that after a person reaches a certain point you realise the lower levels have no more power than you give them. One begins to see they only reflect back at you your own issues of powerlessness and abandonment.

    Once one accepts that they have no more power to influence one and you can actually reach a point where you can approach this energy with love and gratitude. They too have a place in God's creation, which is why I constantly refer to the book of Job.

    Satan is not God's or Jesus's enemy, he is man's adversary. That's a whole different ballgame and has everything to do with free choice.

    Carl you wrote: "All one has to do is to look at their record and one has all of the proof of the truth of this premise that is needed."

    Failure is the hallmark of low level energy. Couple failure with fear and hate rhetoric, and it's pretty easy to see love is not the energy which is running the show.