"the occult is not innocent entertainment"

I can imagine the eyerolls this piece will be getting:

Father_Euteneuer.jpg

Having just read Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuers’s new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant, one of the first things I asked him was whether he was afraid of demons. I shivered more than once reading through its short chapters, arranged as basic questions about the devil, demons, possession, and the rite of exorcism.

“Not at all,” Father answered with a smile. “God has given me the grace to remain unafraid.”

When I expressed my surprise, he explained, “Demons are basically handcuffed, and they know it.”

Father Euteneuer does not speak as a theorist. Since 2003 he’s had extensive experience ministering to those possessed by demons. His introduction to the demonic world happened when a family asked him for help for one of their members, and he eventually asked for permission to perform the rite of exorcism. He has been doing them ever since.

Exorcism and the Church Militant is intended, in part, as a warning to parents who allow their children to be desensitized to “the dark world” by books and films like the Harry Potter series and the vampire books of Stephanie Meyer. Father Euteneuer told me possession is almost always a result of someone getting involved in some sort of occult practices, such as witchcraft, Wicca, tarot cards, and Ouiji boards.

“Harry Potter and these Twilight vampires glamorize the power of evil,” Father Eutenener explained, “and this has lead to many, many cases of possession among young people.” It may begin with a child or teenager simply “playing around” with the occult, but that seemingly harmless act is “opening a window” to possession.

By the end of my interview with Father Euteneuer, I realized my initial question about being frightened of demons had betrayed my misunderstanding of the limits of demonic power. Exorcism and the Church Militant is a book that should provide guidance to many for years to come, especially for parents who need a reminder that the occult is not innocent entertainment.

Read the whole thing and ponder this.  Are we too sophisticated to believe in demons and demonic possession?  Have we no intellectual capacity for these things?

Would love to read your answers.

As an aside, Father Euteneuer is no quack:

Father Thomas J. Euteneuer was president of the pro-life organization Human Life International (HLI) from December 2000 until August 2010, when he was asked by his bishop to return to the Diocese of Palm Beach.

Euteneuer was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1962, the fourth of seven children born to Joseph and Mariann Euteneuer. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana as well as a Licentiate degree in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. He is fluent in Spanish.

While in college, Euteneuer participated in the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Program, attended boot camp at Quantico, Virginia, and graduated at the top of his company. Believing that the Lord was calling him to the priesthood rather than the military, he entered the seminary. After his ordination in 1988, Euteneuer served as a parish priest in five parishes of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, secretary to the diocesan bishop, director of vocations, and spiritual moderator for the diocesan Respect Life Office.

His pro-life activity began in the early years of his priesthood with prayer vigils, pilgrimages, pickets at abortion clinics, sidewalk counseling and the establishment of a crisis pregnancy center across the street from an abortion clinic in 1999.

Since taking office at HLI, Euteneuer has made many appearances on EWTN and other local, national and international media. He has been featured in Human Events and National Catholic Register and has recently been awarded the John Cardinal O’Connor Award for Life from Legatus.

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  • JLawson

    “Are we too sophisticated to believe in demons and demonic possession? Have we no intellectual capacity for these things?”

    Might as well believe in sprites and leprechans. I’ve no problem with a belief in God, or of evil. I’ve no problem with the concepts of doing good for others (as opposed to TO others) but demons, devils, possession and the like?

    No.

    My father used to believe in paranormal activity – ESP, auras, channeling, Edgar Cayce, dowsing, pendulum location, Atlantean mysticism and crap like that. The folks pushing such garbage found their niches, made money off peddling nebulous claims, worthless charms and overpriced books.

    This guy’s found a niche peddling to the religious community that’s inclined to believe this way. More power to him – as long as he keeps this to himself and his believers – but he’s basically (IMHO, your mileage may vary) no better that the scamsters who used to channel Lemurian priests to folks for $500 a session. Ostensibly the folks pushing such books believed wholeheartedly in them, too.

    He’s telling an audience what they want to hear, and want to believe. Forgive me for not sharing the same beliefs – but that has no appeal.

  • Gmac

    “Father Euteneuer is no quack”

    Yes, he is.

    JL beat me to it but he’s perpetrating a fraud by pandering to a belief in the imaginary. He can no more ‘exorcise’ someone than I can bring the recently dead back to life.

  • Clay

    The materialist assertion that spiritual substances and entities do not exist takes as much faith as the religious belief in the reality of angels and demons.

  • Oyster

    I’m an agnostic. There are many things in this world which have yet to be explained. Until a thing is explained I remain agnostic. Much like Jay, I lack the faith gene.

  • retired military

    I am a practising Catholic. I like the Harry Potter films. They are entertaining. I have watched the twilight movies and also enjoy vampire diaries on TV as well as Supernatural. I like playing RPG Games.

    I do believe in several things that would be considered paranormal. I also believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life.

    I also believe in demonic possession. Do I think that watching Harry Potter or twilight would lead to demonic possession. Who knows. It could have as much influence on some people as watching Oprah or Jerry Springer has on others.

    I think Jeff Foxworthy said it well.

    “If an episode of Walker, Texa Ranger, changed your life, you might be a redneck ”

    I also think Ron White said it best

    “You cant cure stupid. There’s not a pill you can take or an operation you can have. Stupid is foreva”

  • Clay

    What I find amazing these days is the unstable foundation on which people base their philosophies. Or perhaps, more accurately, the absence of foundations. Now, I recognize that it’s impossible to determine the foundational depth of someone’s worldview from a few words in a blog comment section. However, the first two commenters made some bold statements in comparing demons to inventions of active imaginations or, worse, vehicles of wealth creation. While I don’t deny that unscrupulous men have always found a way to turn a buck using religion as a con, I also have enough critical thought to recognize that the existence of those individuals doesn’t alter truth. Not even a smidgeon. I also know that one man’s distortions of the truth doesn’t measurably diminish the truth. Truth simply is, and it doesn’t depend on our belief to exist. To argue the existence of the supernatural seems a trendy thing to do these days. People can be very smug and come off as very well-educated by denying the existence of the spiritual, and can get approving smiles by poking fun. But, perhaps they would refrain if they realized how silly these arguments really are and how silly they make themselves. After all, they are arguments based on very little substance but subjective anecdotes. Imagine using faith to argue against faith. How very unenlightened.

  • Jim

    So let’s see if I understand… We get up on Sunday morning (via our digital alarm clocks) check the weather report (via satellite and cable television) and drive to church in computer controlled cars along digitally managed smart highways so we can earnestly discuss demons and witchcraft?? There’s no hope. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  • epador

    My ex tried to cast demons out of me once. I spun my head around once and laughed deeply. The kids laughed, No I don’t believe in demons.

  • JLawson

    “The materialist assertion that spiritual substances and entities do not exist takes as much faith as the religious belief in the reality of angels and demons.”

    Not so much, Clay. Call it a lack of faith on my part. When I ask for the ‘why’ on something, I want more of an explanation than ‘angels’ or ‘demons’.

    Does faith work? Does religious belief matter? It can calm the mind, soothe and steady the soul (psyche, whatever) – and in the hands of the unscrupulous and unprincipled can cause great distress and anxiety.

    (Tried Southern Baptist for a few years. Saw lots of that… congregation strugging, pastor driving a Caddy – didn’t think much of it at the time, but he was always exhorting us to give more or the Devil’s Work would succeed. Ah, yeah. And let’s not even talk about Chick tracts…)

    Me? I’m semi-agnostic. My lovely bride of 17 years is hard-core irregularly attending Methodist, we’ve got the little guy going to a Methodist school (considering the options in this area for a good education, he’s in an optimal place) – and the Methodists just don’t do fire & brimstone worth beans.

    I like that.

  • SShiell

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    And your answer is?

  • Jeff Blogworthy

    Do I believe Demons (or angels for that matter) exist? Yes. Do I necessarily believe Euteneuers’s characterization of them or his interactions with them? No.

    You can be a naturalist/materialist or a super-naturalist. If you believe in God you must be the latter. I believe the teachings of Jesus and the bible. The bible is unequivocal on this subject. End of story.

  • JLawson

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    And your answer is?

    Um… what type of dancing? Square dance, mosh pit, tango, waltz, hula, line?

    You have to be a bit more specific. Like…

    “How many angels can do the Electric Slide on the head of a pin?”

  • Clay

    Call it a lack of faith on my part. When I ask for the ‘why’ on something, I want more of an explanation than ‘angels’ or ‘demons’.

    Perhaps it’s semantics we’re dealing with here, but I would respectfully argue that it is not a lack of faith per se. It’s a lack of faith in X or, more accurately, a greater faith in Y. Not a single human being residing outside of a loony bin lacks faith. Faith is what allows each of us to place one foot in front of another, the only difference is our belief in what we tread. If you’ve ever read Richard Dawkins (an avowed atheist), you cannot deny that he is a man of great faith, just not a faith in a Creator God. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoncJBrrdQ8

    The fact is inescapable. You do require faith to deny the supernatural. To dispute that requires proof of its non-existence. Oh, and preachers in luxury automobiles don’t count as empirical evidence.

  • MunDane68

    Alrighty then…

    Lets point out something from the Bible, y’know, that book that this is supposed to be based on.

    Jesus, and his disciples, apostles and others mentioned in the Book, never cast demons out of a notional ‘Christian’, only unbelievers. Secondly, nothing seems to inspire increased levels of giving from the frightened little old ladies and the less educated than there is something ‘out there’ that only the cognoscenti can deal with.

    As a science teacher, I really do find that stupid video from the ICP to be the general knowedge level of most people. Religion, it seems has its own ignorance to deal with.

  • http://machineoverlords.blogspot.com/ Evil Otto

    Wow. Shades of my childhood, when quacks like Euteneuer were warning us about the horrors of Dungeons and Dragons. A generation before that, it was Rock music. Nothing ever changes.

  • studakota

    Lack of faith my arse, some intelligence on your part would be more like it. I’m not believing in anything I can’t touch, feel, hear, smell, or see. You’re free to engage in your silly games, but I do wish you’d not come knocking on my door, while I’m otherwise engaged, with your offers to save me. Actually you’re telling me I’m not as smart as you because I haven’t found whatever it is you believe in. And let that youngster with you go and play with his friends, he looks like that’s where he’d like to be. Nothing wrong with the Ten Commandments though.

  • http://machineoverlords.blogspot.com/ Evil Otto
  • Jeff Blogworthy

    Clay makes an excellent point. Everything we “know” about matter and reason tells us that it is impossible for matter to magically “evolve” from dead and innate to living and complex. Yet men go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to insist that it does just that. Then they claim some kind of intellectual superiority for it, when intellect has nothing to do with it.

  • Dodo David

    What does Linda Blair have to say about all of this?

  • Clay

    but I do wish you’d not come knocking on my door, while I’m otherwise engaged,

    You can be quite certain that I haven’t knocked on your door, with or without my child. How you believe (and you do believe…in something) really doesn’t affect me in the least since I don’t know you. I may share my beliefs in normal conversation, just as you do, but I don’t go around the neighborhood interrupting your Sponge Bob episodes. It must’ve been someone else.

  • studakota

    Religion is somewhat like developing a taste for exotic cheeses, it has to be taught. Of course you can teach a young, impressionable, mind anything. They taught 18 year olds to vote for Obama didn’t they? Seen pics of drug lords money stashes? Just think of Chicago, New York, L.A., church counting rooms, I’ll bet they’d make those drug pics look puny by comparison. You know I’d get into this business myself but I have in my makeup, I tend to giggle to easily.

  • JLawson

    “You do require faith to deny the supernatural.”

    No, simply a lack of interest and effort. There’s little to nothing tangible to prove the supernatural, so it becomes much more a case of mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. You want to believe? Knock yourself out.

    God? Allah? Flying Spaghetti Monster? Go right ahead.

    The existance of God doesn’t bother me. God exists, I think He sneezed (Big Bang) – and He’s been laughing at the results ever since.

    As (I believe it was) George Carlin said once, or maybe Jeff Foxworthy – “You don’t believe God has a sense of humor? Just look at the folks around you…”

    What DOES bother me is that small subset of believers that believe (and I was one for a while) that it’s their duty, responsibility and right to convert others to their way of thinking, whether it be through wielding a sword, or rhetorical Biblical-based argumentation.

    I respect your belief, and your dedication – but don’t expect me to adhere to them or take them as my own.

  • Roy

    “What DOES bother me is that small subset of believers that believe (and I was one for a while) that it’s their duty, responsibility and right to convert others to their way of thinking, whether it be through wielding a sword, or rhetorical Biblical-based argumentation”

    Sorry about that. But it’s a direct command from the boss. Technique is the key, however. Leading by example tends to persuade better than using the sledgehammer.

  • Jeff Blogworthy

    Evangelical atheists are far more threatening to life, liberty and property than evangelical Christians.

  • jim m

    I wish these people could see how ridiculous they are when the talk about Harry Potter being a gateway to evil.

    As an evangelical Christian myself and having read the books I found them full of sound moral teaching and clear definition of good vs evil. A number of respected Christian publications have pointed this out but that has been ignored by the MSM.

    Heck, given the violent imagery and lawlessness of college football players I would argue that our children are under more threat from the NCAA than they are Harry Potter. And that would be not much.

    The problem with a lot of Christians (and Catholics) is that they lump a lot of stuff with what they call ‘occult’. Harry Potter is not occult and you don’t see children running off to join Wicca or trying to summon demons. As a matter of fact it is pretty decent literature, promotes sound moral character traits such as loyalty, perseverance, Not judging others by outward appearance, self sacrifice, and compassion among others.

    Christians in general and this guy in particular make themselves look like fools when they call HP occult. While I do believe in spiritual influences in our lives I see that well over 90% of what Christians cite as demonic influence to be nothing more than hysteria.

  • Clay

    I respect your belief, and your dedication – but don’t expect me to adhere to them or take them as my own.

    Oh, perhaps you’ve misunderstood me. I have no expectations where you are or your beliefs are concerned. My engagement with you on the subject of my faith will never exceed the limits of your interest. You only have to tell me that you don’t care to discuss it and I’ll happily move on. I do not believe that the U.S. is a Christian Nation. As far as I believe, to say so would be an abomination to my faith. The U.S. is a free nation, which guarantees the individual practice of religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” That last part is where I think we’re blowing it.

    But please, above all, let’s be honest with one another.

  • JLawson

    “Everything we “know” about matter and reason tells us that it is impossible for matter to magically “evolve” from dead and innate to living and complex.”

    Um, no, sorry, Jeff. From the Wiki on Abiogenesis

    By examining the time interval between such devastating environmental events, the time interval when life might first have come into existence can be found for different early environments. The study by Maher and Stevenson shows that if the deep marine hydrothermal setting provides a suitable site for the origin of life, abiogenesis could have happened as early as 4.0 to 4.2 Ga, whereas if it occurred at the surface of the earth abiogenesis could only have occurred between 3.7 and 4.0 Ga.[22]

    Other research suggests a colder start to life. Work by Leslie Orgel and colleagues on the synthesis of purines has shown that freezing temperatures are advantageous, due to the concentrating effect for key precursors such as hydrogen cyanide.[23] Research by Stanley Miller and colleagues suggested that while adenine and guanine require freezing conditions for synthesis, cytosine and uracil may require boiling temperatures.[24] Based on this research, Miller suggested a beginning of life involving freezing conditions and exploding meteorites.[25] An article in Discover Magazine points to research by the Miller group indicating the formation of seven different amino acids and 11 types of nucleobases in ice when ammonia and cyanide were left in a freezer from 1972-1997.[26][27] This article also describes research by Christof Biebricher showing the formation of RNA molecules 400 bases long under freezing conditions using an RNA template, a single-strand chain of RNA that guides the formation of a new strand of RNA. As that new RNA strand grows, it adheres to the template.[28] The explanation given for the unusual speed of these reactions at such a low temperature is eutectic freezing. As an ice crystal forms, it stays pure: only molecules of water join the growing crystal, while impurities like salt or cyanide are excluded. These impurities become crowded in microscopic pockets of liquid within the ice, and this crowding causes the molecules to collide more often.

    Evidence of the early appearance of life comes from the Isua supercrustal belt in Western Greenland and from similar formations in the nearby Akilia Islands. Carbon entering into rock formations has a ratio of Carbon-13 (13C) to Carbon-12 (12C) of about −5.5 (in units of δ13C), where because of a preferential biotic uptake of 12C, biomass has a δ13C of between −20 and −30. These isotopic fingerprints are preserved in the sediments, and Mojzis has used this technique to suggest that life existed on the planet already by 3.85 billion years ago.[29] Lazcano and Miller (1994) suggest that the rapidity of the evolution of life is dictated by the rate of recirculating water through mid-ocean submarine vents. Complete recirculation takes 10 million years, thus any organic compounds produced by then would be altered or destroyed by temperatures exceeding 300 °C (572 °F). They estimate that the development of a 100 kilobase genome of a DNA/protein primitive heterotroph into a 7000 gene filamentous cyanobacterium would have required only 7 Ma.[30]

    A few million years is a long time – just look at how may different types and breeds of dogs there are, which have been separated down from the original wolf stock by humanity – and we’ve only been working on them about 10k years or so.

    Given a few billion years, I have no problems believing that semi-random RNA strands can join, grow, work their way up to a Permian level of sophistication, then shift directions to the Dinosaur era, then shift directions again towards the mammalian. To us.

    Remember Orgel’s Second Rule: “Evolution is cleverer than you are”.

    And then there’s this… Forgotten Experiment May Explain Origins of Life.

    On preview – applaudes Jim M @#25

  • JLawson

    Clay -

    “The U.S. is a free nation, which guarantees the individual practice of religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” That last part is where I think we’re blowing it.”

    Fully agree with you on that last part. Freedom of religious exercise doesn’t mean freedom FROM religious exercise.

    Interesting discussion – got work to do – chat at ya’ll later!

  • retired military

    As usual when talking about religion for nonbelievers you could have Moses resurrect from the dead in the middle of Yankee Stadium during the 7th game of the world series and they still would not believe.

    For believers no proof is required.

    The only way to tell who is right is when you die and find out (or not find out) the truth.

  • mojo

    So – what’s the low-down on Fairy’s? Padre?

  • Jeff Blogworthy

    Um, Jlawson you proved my point:

    Given a few billion years, I have no problems believing that semi-random RNA strands can join, grow, work their way up to a Permian level of sophistication, then shift directions to the Dinosaur era, then shift directions again towards the mammalian. To us.

    You have well said that you have no problem “believing.” Unless you have been around a few billion years you don’t know, you faith. All our experience in this life tells us that clay does not turn itself into the Statue of David. Your believe is completely and utterly mystical.

  • JLawson

    Okay, Jeff.

    (Shrug.)

  • jim m

    JLawson,

    The problem with the experiment you cite is that both dextrorotary and levorotary amino acids were formed. Only L-amino acids are found in nature. There is never any mention of this or accounting for why L-amino acids are the only ones found in nature. Science has avoided that question scrupulously.

    So the formation of amino acids, while interesting does not prove abiogenesis and it actually raises more questions than it answers.

    Science used to be about finding answers to hard questions. Today (as in the case of global warming) it is about providing sound bites to support ideological beliefs. Someday we will get back to real scientific inquiry.

  • JLawson

    Jim M -

    I can speculate – there may be some evolutionary advantage to L-aminos over R-aminos. Maybe the R-aminos were tasty snacks to the l-amino-based organisms. Maybe it was a metaphorical toss-up, and could have fallen the other way just as well.

    Random chance causes many things. Move across the country to a city of 5 million, meet someone else who ALSO happened to move across the country at the same time, who just HAPPENED to be in one particular place at one particular time, with a particular need – and a year later you’re getting married.

    Fate? Predestiny? Luck of the draw? Chance?

    What it is doesn’t much matter, does it? I think I was guided by FSM’s noodly appendage, personally…

  • jim m

    Best comment I have heard about the Twilight series:

    Vampires are supposed to have no heart beat. No heart beat means no circulation, no blood pressure. No circulation and no BP means they can’t get an erection.

    Who wouldn’t want their teenage daughter going out with a vampire?

  • Clay

    Christians in general and this guy in particular make themselves look like fools when they call HP occult.

    I agree. I don’t have a problem with Christian parents deciding against their children watching HP. In fact, more power to ‘em. My problems is when they decide to make it a measuring bar for my faith. Thankfully, my son has no interest in HP, so that’s a decision from which I’ve been delivered.

    Science used to be about finding answers to hard questions.

    jim m, a very interesting book (sorry, I hate it when people make book recommendations to me, but…) is Intellectuals by Paul Johnson. There seems to be a widespread assumption throughout much of the Western intellectual community that belief in God is based on all kinds of irrational, immature needs and wishes and, conversely, atheism (or skepticism) is derived from a rational, no- nonsense appraisal of reality. However, it can be effectively argued that many of the deep-thinkers of the past century are not that objective after all. In fact, most have a vested interest in disproving religions based on a superior, transcendent ‘other’.

  • Conservachef

    Rick,

    For an Evangelical perspective, check out
    Albert Mohler’s
    article regarding exorcism and demonic possession.

    He doesn’t deny demonic activity, but does disagree with “rites of exorcism,” and quotes the Bible for examples.

    And for the record, I’m not trying to open up a Protestant vs. Catholic debate- merely pointing out that belief in spiritual warfare isn’t limited to Exorcists…

  • Murgatroyd

    The fact is inescapable. You do require faith to deny the supernatural. To dispute that requires proof of its non-existence.

    What you call “demons” are actually body thetans, as revealed by the great scientist, philosopher, and theologian L. Ron Hubbard. Body thetans have nothing to do with Christianity — according to Hubbard, their existence pre-dates the existence of Christianity by 72 million years.

    Clay, I dare you to prove the non-existence of body thetans.

    (No, I don’t believe in the existence of body thetans. That would be stupid.)

  • Craig

    Clay,

    Thank you for some engaging and eloquently written responses in the comments. I enjoyed reading them.

    Murgatroyd,

    It is called faith, for a reason, is it not? Certainly, one can look to evidence either for or against (though how free this is from the contamination of bias will always be debated). But ultimately, it comes down to the perception of the heart.
    One thing that has always puzzled me though, why is it that an atheist is quick to proclaim the foolishness of believing in a flying spaghetti monster. But never (at least in my experience) proclaims themselves to be nothing more than a random assortment of learned responses and traits with the same roiling egotism?
    Indeed, how does the well known egotism that allows atheists to scale to the self assumed intellectual superiority that is there wont, even exist within the fundamental nihilism of the position they have adopted?
    Do demons exist? Would their existence violate the very freedom of choice we were created with? The questions go on and on. I certainly don’t have the answers. I wonder why some proclaim to though? Whether they be theists or atheists, they are the ones who I am wary of.

  • big al

    How many hundreds of demon and evil spirit based movies has hollywood churned out over the past 5 years? Just because of its popularity does it make sense to single out harry potter? Why not point the finger at the film industry and the morally bankrupt people who run it. There is evil at work on the earth and you can see a big footprint of it in THAT industry can’t you.

    Big Al

  • Clay

    Clay, I dare you to prove the non-existence of body thetans.

    Well, I am sorry, but I sincerely do not see your point. Of course, none of my comments indicated a disbelief in body thetans…or flying spaghetti monsters (and I also share your faith that there are no such entities), and I didn’t demand proof of anything from anybody. My point has been that we all have have formulated our own worldview based on the evidence that has been presented to us, but these philosophies have gaps, and those gaps require a ‘leap of faith’ to overcome. Admittedly, we tend to see the gaps in the philosophies of others with astounding clarity, while underestimating the schisms in our own. So, let’s be honest and recognize that we are all people of faith. My singular point has not been to offer proof of a transcendent God, or skepticism regarding the theory of abiogenesis, or postulating where body thetans may fit into the whole scheme of the cosmos. My point is that we all must exhibit faith in our daily lives, based on the philosophies and theories to which we subscribe. To argue that would just be, well, stupid

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