The first exorcism I ever heard about was the one Jesus did at the city of Gadara, which wasn’t really a city at all, but a village, with the usual biblical elders and lepers and fallen women.
In Gadara, Jesus finds a man possessed by demons, and asks him his name.
My name is Legion, replies the possessed man, in the standard polyphonic demon-possessed voice, and then the multitude of devils beg Jesus not to cast them into the abyss, because they know who he is and they realise he’s omnipotent. They’re afraid, because even demons have feelings, but Jesus is in no mood for this kind of nonsense, so he he clicks his fingers and casts them out of the possessed man. With no host to inhabit, the demons immediately fly into a herd of pigs, a very big herd of 2,000 swine, who immediately go apeshit and run down a hill into the sea, where they all drown.
Jesus is delighted. See? he says. See what I did?
Jesus is an idiot, because he doesn’t realise he has cost the town its entire livelihood by killing all their pigs when he could simply have banished the demons into the outer darkness like any normal omnipotent deity would do. Like, for instance, Q might do.
No. Jesus had to have a big spectacle and now there are bloated pig corpses floating everywhere, polluting the water, stinking the place up and making a mockery of everything the Gadarenes have worked for all their lives They’re bankrupt, thanks to Jesus, and they waste no time telling him so. The elders come forth, and they tell Jesus to get the fuck out of the town right now, unless he wants to be torn limb from limb.
That’s when Jesus begins to wonder if he might actually be Brian.
Why were Jews keeping huge herds of swine? Simple: Romans.
There’s no prohibition on Jews herding pigs, as long as they don’t touch the meat of a slaughtered animal, and the Gadarenes were making a nice living supplying the occupying Roman forces until Brian turned up.
Such was the inauspicious beginning of Christian exorcism.
Fast forward two millennia to Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist and you’re looking at the only other time in history that large numbers of people read a story about a fictional exorcism. In fairness to Blatty, his plot was better, though not funnier, than the story Mark wrote for his new Roman audience a mere 30 years after the events he described.
I know which one Professor Giuseppe Ferrari liked best as a lad, if his latest utterances are anything to go by.
Who’s Giuseppe? Oh, he’s a leading Italian exorcist who gave a lecture recently as part of an exorcism course, but let’s not pause to think about that just for the moment. Instead, I’ll just tell you that one of the things he warned his student exorcists about was the danger of sexy vampires.
Sexy vampires in the likes of True Blood and Twilight, according to Il Professore Ferrari, are leading young people to experiment with occult forces. You can see that Giuseppe didn’t get out much as a young man, or even as the old, celibate man that he is today, because if he had got out, he’d know that a vampire simply is sexy. He’d know that without sex, a vampire is nothing.
If Giuseppe hadn’t been obsessing about demons as a child, he would have got it straight away, just like everyone else in the world.
Vampires = Sex.
Sadly, poor old Giuseppe wasted his life locked away in a world full of demons, shades, homunculi, succubi, lycanthropes, White Walkers, Yog-Sothoth and the Loch Ness monster.
Giuseppe, in other words, is the saddest poor git who ever wore shoe-leather, and yet this man with paranoid delusions about hobgoblins and a fear of sex is held in the highest esteem by the new old Pope who agrees that werewolves roam our rooftops and can only be stopped by celibate men waving beads and shaking bottles of water at them.
The Pope thinks this is so important that he’s made sure every Catholic diocese has at least one trained exorcist.
In even the most deprived parts of the world, every diocese has a trained exorcist.
Let’s think about the Pope’s priorities.
Not a trained endocrinologist, oncologist, gynaecologist, obstetrician, anaesthetist or orthopaedic surgeon.
No. An exorcist.
These are the people who claimed their missions saved Africa from superstition.
These are the people who, today, seek to influence the outcome of a civil referendum on a civil matter in our country.