The unclean spirits of the New Age
The Liturgy today reminds us of the primary mission or the primary assignment of the Church. Hence, we heard of the call of the twelve Apostles and their mission from Christ. Christ gave the Church through the Apostles two great gifts – authority and mission. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of human history.” Indeed the band of Christ’s Apostles have altered the history of the world through the gift of authority and mission from Christ. The authority and mission is simply that of empowering people with salvation through spiritual liberation or freedom from demonic oppression. The Lord tells the Apostles to go out, two by two, and drive out “unclean” spirits.
As people of huge trust in God that are also informed by our traditional belief systems, we believe that every challenge has a corresponding religious and spiritual implication. No wonder Prof. John Mbiti says that we “Africans are notoriously religious.” So, we see ourselves interpreting almost every calamity, failure, disappointment and sickness as caused by spiritual agents especially demonic forces or in our popular parlance we say the “issues at hand are spiritual.” Demonic forces would mean evil spirits that manifest through witchcraft and sorcery, Satanism and occultism, spells and curses, black magic and so forth. The foregoing elements that are associated with unclean spirits are real but they can be handled by the power and authority of Jesus. Sometimes we erroneously over emphasize them against the power of Jesus, through fear and over spiritualization of the whole experience.
On the other hand, unclean spirits have taken another dimension in our modern age. They operate and hinge on three Ps – POSSESSION, PLEASURE AND POWER. Therefore, in our world today, we have various forms of unclean spirits or demons that are gradually taking over our freedom. These unclean spirits or demons are either inherited from our families or through the influence of our society’s erroneous ideologies like relativism, minimalism, materialism, consumerism and hedonism. The old and renewed domain of unclean spirits/demons is addiction. Addiction is speedily taking over our freedom and control. As I share with you we have statistically an overwhelming number of persons inflicted by addictions of various categories and numerous list. For instance chemical or substance addiction has its list: alcohol, tobacco, opioids (like heroin), prescription drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers), cocaine, cannabis (marijuana), amphetamines (like methamphetamine, known as meth), hallucinogens, inhalants, phencyclidine, and other unspecified substances. There is the list of impulse control disorders such as: intermittent explosive disorder (compulsive aggressive and assaultive acts), kleptomania (compulsive stealing), pyromania (compulsive setting of fires) and gambling. Finally there is the list of behavioral addictions: food (eating), sex, pornography (attaining, viewing), using computers / the internet, playing video games, working, exercising, spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion), pain (seeking), cutting and shopping.
Now God has destined us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and all our mind (Luke 10:27). Addictions thwart our relationship with the self, others and ultimately God. Therefore we need to identify them and handle them appropriately. Even if you do not have any pronounced addiction, you may still be addicted to your thinking and worldview! Lord and Master of our essence and existence, save and deliver us from every addictive behavior and manipulation. Amen.
*What is your take about the connection between addiction and the influences of unclean spirits in our New Age?
Fr. John-Mary Atep.