Don, Doug and the Devil’s Dirty Work

Our family Halloween viewing tradition is The Ghost and Mr. Chicken in which Don Knotts plays a jittery (what else) local who stumbles across a murder disguised as a haunting. The last scene is the clincher, in all its subtle ghostly glory. What everyone had discounted was indeed true -- there was more than met the eye.[On a side note, the movie spawned the band Attaboy Luther.  Those of you “in the know” get the joke, and although I can honestly say that I have never heard the band before, I admire their cultural acuity and the fact that their pianist is a doppelganger for Ozzie Osborne.]In C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters the lead demon writes that when “humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians.  On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics … I have great hopes to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy.”I was recently with one of the most famous actors you have never seen, Doug Jones, (Silver Surfer, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) who suggested that supernatural fiction is uniquely suited to remind us that suffering and conflict are not just a matter of earthly power or evolutionary forces, but are result (in part) of “principalities and powers” at war with each other.   This notion of the value of supernatural fiction is not universally accepted in the circles I run in, on either side of the supernatural debate.

As much as we might like to, we cannot protect ourselves or our children from these monsters and demons.

However, the New Testament records a number of encounters with the Devil and his demons which, along with its accounts of miracles, are roundly discounted by modern materialists.  I believe films such as The Rite with Anthony Hopkins or The Exorcism of Emily Rose  by Scott Derrickison can do more to remind us of the true nature of the Lord’s Resistance Army violence in the Congo than any State Department briefing about regional DRC geopolitics can.At the Clapham Group we understand that when we work on issues and with clients, there is a dimension to reality outside of our normal experience, whether we see it or not.  The ravage of drugs and gangs in our inner city schools , the violent persecution of people of faith around the world, famine exacerbated by militaristic regimes looking to snuff out their opposition, and the looting by anarchistic flash mobs in London -- all “wage war” in the spiritual realm as well as our earthly. We want to see these demons defeated, which is why prayer is in our arsenal of engagement.As much as we might like to, we cannot protect ourselves or our children from these monsters and demons.   As Lewis wrote in his essay “On Three Ways of Writing to Children”, if we try to keep children from the knowledge that they are “born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil … we give them a false impression and feed them on escapism.”“I think it is possible,” Lewis continues, “that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming happens, you would fail to banish the terrors and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable.”Attaboy, Luther.  Remind us of the world around us, and the fact that we need to be fully prepared for the battles that we are willing and called to wade in to.Mark Rodgers