Friday, September 16, 2005

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

You can tell that Halloween is just around the corner: Walmart already has it's costumes and candy out and there's a whole raft of horror movies coming out soon. The only one I really want to see is The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The movie, interestingly, has received some good reviews in the Catholic Press:

Do the voices whispering in someone’s head come from his own subconscious, or from somewhere else? Is some syndrome or condition responsible for a patient’s disturbing behavior — or is the syndrome simply the name given by doctors to a particular set of symptoms and behaviors? Does a patient’s aversion to religious objects point to satanic influence, or is it merely obsessive-compulsive behavior with a religious bent?

The Catholic Church’s guidelines regarding possible cases of demonic possession, as with purported miracles and apparitions, insist on a default stance of skepticism. Naturalistic explanations are assumed until there is persuasive evidence to look beyond them (for example, displays of knowledge that seems impossible to account for in human terms, such as secrets known to the exorcist alone, or familiarity with unknown languages).

You can read the entire review here.

A good friend asked me an excellent question: why is the assumption that (when it comes to demon possession) only Catholic priests, and only those with permission from their bishops, are able to deal with problem?

I think there's a couple of answers to that. First, it's only in the movies that exorcism is reserved to Catholics. In the real world, more exorcisms are performed by Protestants, who obviously accept and believe in the reality of Satan and posession. I think that's because of the Church's more regimented approach to whether exorcism or psychiatry is a proper response to such allegations. Second, it's a sort of movie "shorthand" that when you want an audience to instinctively know that a character is religious, everything from an Evangelical minister to a monk, it's simply easier to put them in a Roman collar. See a guy in one of these, and there's no doubt about his occupation. So I don't think Catholics have cornered the market on exorcisms -they've just had about 2,000 years of public relations working for them.

For a really good explanation of Catholic belief related to exorcism, go here.

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