Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Study in the Changing Face of Evil Part 3

[If you'll go back and refresh your memory as to where Part 2 of this series ended, I said, "And this leads us back to the subject of astral projection which we'll pick up on next week."]

A Study in the Changing Face of Evil Part 3

Edgar Allen Poe ~ "The boundaries between life and death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends and where the other begins?"

What happened to me would, in my opinion, best be described as an OBE (out of body experience), and this was something that only happened very rarely. I think of an astral projection as an OBE also, but something a person causes to happen through meditation etc., and it's not the type of thing I normally approve of. The only reason I even brought the OBE subject up was because of that feeling I had of an evil presence near me during some of those times. When I entered a couple of sleep studies, I found that, while it's not common, there are certainly many other people who have these spontaneous OBEs, and many of them also mention the feeling of something evil in the room with them. I've felt that same evil presence during vivid dreams now and then also. I would like very much to know what that presence is. Science has not been able to account for it. Sure you can cause the brain to bring on states of fear, even panic, by electrically stimulating certain sections of it, but this feeling of an evil being was very different. If you see a lion coming at you, you may be quite afraid, but the lion feels scary--not evil. The difference is obvious to anyone who has felt that presence. And for some strange reason, the only people I've ever personally met who've had that same overwhelming feeling were others who had an OBE or who had become self-aware during a deep sleep state that brought about night terrors. It may only happen to 5% of the world's population, but this is something that happens to people from every part of the world and apparently always has if we can trust history at all.

There's another class of people who have seen these evil beings though, and that would be those who have what are generally called hallucinations. These aren't necessarily people with bent brains either. Sometimes they're just regular folks who see something they can't account for. It may only happen once in their life. Is it fair to call it a hallucination in this case? That's another word I don't like because it always denotes something that is unreal, and I don't know that what they've seen is imagined or not. And who's to say that this place our minds go to called imagination isn't a real place in some way we can't yet know?

There is still one more particularly disturbing faction of people who see evil beings during wakefulness, and that would be young children. I heard a woman sobbing a couple of weeks ago because her daughter had been seeing what she at first thought was an imaginary black goat in her bedroom. Even when the girl reported that the goat had begun speaking to her, the mother thought it was normal pretending. But when the goat started telling the child to kill her parents…alarm set in.

Every language throughout history has a word for demonic-like inhuman entities just as every language has a word for spirit. The Sumerians had the earliest known form of writing, and their stories are rife with tales of demonic forces as far back as nearly 5,000 years ago:

"In the hands of the fate demon my appearance has been altered, my breath of life carried away. The asag demon, the evil one, bathes in my body."

"The demons go hither and thither searching for Dumuzid. The small demons say to the big demons: 'Demons have no mother; they have no father or mother, sister or brother, wife or children. When ... [unintelligible] were established on heaven and earth, you demons were there, at a man's side like a reed enclosure. Demons are never kind, they do not know good from evil.'"

"Jectin-ana had barely finished that lament when the demons arrived at her dwelling. "Show us where your brother is," they said to her. But she spoke not a word to them. They afflicted her loins with a skin disease, but she spoke not a word to them."

"A small demon opened his mouth and said to the big demon, 'Come on, let's go to the lap of holy Inana.' The demons entered Unug and seized holy Inana. "Come on, Inana, go on that journey which is yours alone -- descend to the underworld."

Absolutely every race of people on the Earth have reported encountering demonic-like beings. Whether those stories come from people who saw them while in the body or out is difficult to say since the ancients weren't always clear. I find it disturbing that almost no one acknowledges their presence today. Christian songwriter, Keith Green, had a song called "No One Believes in Me Anymore" which was sung from Satan's point of view:

Oh, my job keeps getting easier
As time keeps slipping away
I can imitate your brightest light
And make your night look just like day
I put some truth in every lie
To tickle itching ears
You know I'm drawing people just like flies
'Cause they like what they hear
I'm gaining power by the hour
they're falling by the score
You know, it's getting very simple now
'Cause no one believe in me anymore
Oh, heaven's just a state of mind
My books read on your shelf
And have you heard that God is dead
I made that one up myself
They dabble in magic spells
They get their fortunes read
You know they heard the truth
But turned away and followed me instead
I used to have to sneak around
But now they just open their doors
You know, no ones watching for my tricks
Because no one believes in me anymore
Everyone likes a winner
With my help, you're guaranteed to win
And hey man, you're ain't no sinner
You've got the truth within
And as your life slips by
You believe the lie that you did it on your own
But don't worry
I'll be there to help you share our dark eternal home
Oh, my job keeps getting easier
As day slips into day
The magazines, the newspapers
Print every word I say
This world is just my spinning top
It's all like childs-play
You know, I dream that it will never stop
But I know it's not that way
Still my work goes on and on
Always stronger than before
I'm gonna make it dark before the dawn
Since no one believes in me anymore
Well now I used to have to sneak around
But now they just open their doors
You know, no one watches for my tricks
Since no one believes in me anymore
Well I'm gaining power by the hour
They're falling by the score
You know, it's getting very easy now
Since no one believes in me anymore

The song's title couldn't be more apt even where the church is concerned. The Catholic Church in particular has made an admitted attempt to downplay the role of demonic forces. Actually, this is probably true of most churches today. Isn't it strange that the OBE and astral projection crowd has much more to say on the subject of demonic entities than the church? Even projectors that have little or no interest in religion tell tales of evil beings they've encountered seemingly out of nowhere and for no reason. Robert Monroe, the guy who coined the term "out-of-body-experience", mentions several encounters with them coming in many forms. Monroe was a businessman who started having OBEs out of the blue in middle-age. Today he's often mentioned in connection with the new age crowd, and judging by his last book, I'd have to say that he certainly seemed to join their ranks at the end. But if we can look past that for a moment, I believe there are some important things we can learn from his story. He's one of the few that have had these experiences that has also had the wherewithal to perform hundreds, if not thousands, of experiments, many of them assisted by medical personal with EEG machines etc. He had no interest in religion whatsoever in the beginning, yet he routinely encountered both evil beings and sometimes benevolent ones (he referred to the latter as "helpers") during OBEs. He also described seeing them trying to influence the behavior of humans.

There are two things about Robert Monroe's out-of-body journeys that should be of great interest to anyone. One is that he sometimes was able to locate people he knew around the earth no matter where they were and tell them later what he had seen them doing, so his OBEs were sometimes more like remote viewing. (I'm reminded of the time Christ demonstrated this ability, telling Nathaniel that he saw him standing under a fig tree before he met him--it caused Nathaniel to become a believer). There was one incident I thought was quite striking. Monroe had an unnamed female acquaintance who had left for vacation. All he knew was that she was somewhere on the east coast. During a self induced OBE (which I would call an astral projection) he purposely tried to locate her and found her in a New Jersey hotel. With her were two young women. All three had drinks in their hands and were just sitting and chatting. Monroe made a deliberate attempt to make the lady feel his presence. Anytime he had tried to touch anyone in the physical plane previously he found that his hand always went right through them. This time he concentrated all his will though and managed to pinch the woman very hard in the ribs. When she returned from her trip the following week she confirmed everything he saw. She mentioned nothing of the pinch however. Finally he asked her if she had felt him pinch her, and she exclaimed, "That was you!" She then lifted her blouse slightly to display the bruise marks he had left on her.

I think the evidence that OBEs are a real state of a spirit leaving the body to travel either in this world or another world is remarkable and plentiful for those who bother to look into it. I've made several videos about evidence for other worlds and otherworldly activity. Truly, the evidence is there. Whether they're worlds or dimensions is anyone's guess, but there is more to this life than what the material senses can alone gather.

If mankind has always known about evil, nonhuman beings whether they were called devils or something else, it seems curious to me that we're trying so hard to forget about them today and act as though the spirit world(s) itself no longer exists. In the Keith Green song mentioned above, Satan literally basks in the darkness of man's forgetfulness. In his novel, Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis says the following:

Of the things that I followed I cannot at all say whether they were what men call real or what men call dream. And for all I can tell, the only difference is that what many see we call a real thing, and what only one sees we call a dream. But things that many see may have no taste or moment in them at all, and things that are shown only to one may be spears and water-spouts of truth from the very depth of truth.

And later in the same book: "One thread ran through all my delusions. Now mark yet again the cruelty of the gods. There is no escape from them into sleep or madness, for they can pursue you into them with dreams. Indeed you are then most at their mercy."

In C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, we find a chief demon instructing his young apprentice to make sure to keep the attention of humans on, "the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it 'real life' and don't let him ask what he means by 'real'."

Lewis mentions something else of great value in this book. He gives us a rationale for demonic beings doing what they do. He says:

They're second motive is a kind of hunger. I feign that devils can, in a spiritual sense, eat one another, and us. Even in human life we have seen the passion to dominate, almost to digest, one's fellow; to make his whole intellectual and emotional life merely an extension of one's own....

... There [in Hell], I suggest, the strongest spirit--there are perhaps no bodies to impede the operation--can really and irrevocably suck the weaker into itself and permanently gorge its own being on the weaker's outraged individuality. It is (I feign) for this that devils desire human souls and the souls of one another, It is for this that Satan desires all his own followers and all the sons of Eve and all the host of Heaven. His dream is of the day when all shall be inside him....

Interestingly, although I believe Monroe misinterpreted many things he witnessed during his astral journeys, I find it disturbing that when he once consulted one of these helpers (angels?) he encountered, asking why humans were at the top of the food chain more or less and why there shouldn't be anyone to eat us, the helper retorted that some of the evil beings Monroe encountered actually fed on certain human emotions, and fear in particular. Perhaps Lewis was on to something.

What does the bible say about this OBE phenomenon? Monroe referred to his astral body simply as a second body. The Egyptians called it Ka. Even Plato and Aristotle believed in a second sort of nonphysical body that resided in juxtaposition with the physical. Certainly the earliest Christians and Jews knew about the second body. I believe the Jews simply termed the second body as spirit. In the bible, only Paul directly refers to someone possibly moving "out" of the physical body before death though:

2 Corinthians 12:1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

You may recall that my own first experience as a teenager was accompanied by a pressure that felt like an immense hand pushing me down into the bed. Many who go through an OBE incident mention that same feeling of something like a hand--a heaviness on the chest area. Many times I've wondered whether the bible, at least in a few instances, may have been referring to the same feeling taking place when it says the "hand of the Lord" was on someone during a vision such as Elisha's in 2 Kings 3:15-16 "'But now bring me a harpist.' While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha and he said, 'This is what the LORD says....'"

And here are three more interesting instances mentioned by Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 3:14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me.

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.

Ezekiel 40:1 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city—on that very day the hand of the LORD was upon me and he took me there. 2 In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. 3 He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand.

These all sound like OBEs to me, and all are accompanied by the "hand of God" being upon someone.

Many people who have had an OBE talk about being able to see a cord at times that is attached between the back of the head/neck area on their physical body and to that of their second state body which is very thin and generally white or silver in color. This cord stretches to go wherever they go and never breaks. It's generally thought that at the time of physical death the cord does in fact break though and a person lives in the spiritual plane forever onward. Ezekiel mentions a similar cord:

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7
Remember him--before the silver cord is severed,
or the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

There is much more we could discuss on this topic of the out of body experience, but primary I just wanted to point out that it's something that man has always known about and that even some biblical figures may have been engaged in. And many biblical prophets (while quite possibly in an OBE state) also mention evil entities around the world. The story of Job goes into detail about Satan himself trying to influence the behavior of Job. And this is the core of what I meant to lecture on all along in this series. I first wanted to get the point across to you that many, many people from every corner of the globe, from every race and religion, and from every point in history, have had firsthand encounters with that dark spiritual agency. Lewis and Monroe each gave us a reason for them doing what they do--that they somehow feed off us or at least our emotions in some way that's unclear at present. If Monroe's "helper" (angel?) was correct, and it's the negative emotions they feed upon, this might explain why they should try so desperately to induce bad behavior in humans. Yes, I'm aware that it sounds like a bad episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and perhaps Lewis' argument may sound more rational to you (it does to me). But, whatever their reasons, let's consider for a moment that demonic forces do indeed try to induce bad behavior, at least in humans (and possibly other creatures as well).

Of the many unexplainable oddities in nature none is more irregular than unnatural behavior in both humans and other animals. We often find ourselves tempted to do, not only evil things, but things that simply make no sense, even behavior we normally wouldn't think of doing, and then afterwards we say to ourselves, "Why on earth did I do that?", or "I don't know what came over me!"

Now I'm not talking about character traits because those are things habitual in nature. What I'm talking about are behaviors that are decidedly uncharacteristic. What I'm trying to convey here are those behaviors that appear out of nowhere and for no reason. Children are especially bad at this. Your son is twenty feet up in a tree and for some ungodly (literally) reason decides to jump down. My father's older brother did this when they were young, except it was more like thirty feet. Not only did he miraculously walk away unscathed, but dad jumped right behind him and also was uninjured. Dad tells me he still doesn't know why either of them did it. This unnatural desire to jump just came over them all the sudden. I heard a story from a woman the other day who mentioned going to summer camp one year as a young teen, and for some reason that she still can't comprehend, pulled the zipper down the front of her friend's top (who was braless) exposing her to the other kids. After all these years she's still stymied as to why she did this. It was almost like an instinct, some inner drive seemed to command it of her. I know of a man who, while he was in college, was walking down the street one day, and decided on the spur of the moment to walk out into oncoming traffic and kneel down in front of a car. He got lucky, and the car was able to avoid him. Nothing was troubling this young man; he was relatively carefree and happy, yet something drove him without hesitation to do this foolish thing, and he couldn't begin to tell you why.

If it's the prodding of devils acting on our psyches, it would seem to have little in common with Lewis' notion about the way demons feed upon us. If Monroe was right, however, this behavior would make sense since they would all bring about extreme emotions in all the people involved. You may feel no emotion at all in climbing a tree and jumping, but a few feet before you hit the ground, great anxiety and fear are bound to set in. And even if you felt no anxiety or fear when walking out in front of traffic, it could still be that the driver you step in front of may feel a great deal of it.

One of the strangest things in all of the animal world has got to be the way parasites act on their hosts causing them to act out all kinds of seemingly irrational behavior. There is a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii which is thought to produce low intelligence and hyperactivity in human children. It's also been linked to Schizophrenia. One particularly interesting parasite to me is the gordian worm. As a juvenile it enters into various kinds of insects and then grows into adulthood feeding on the insides of the insect. After it reaches adulthood, the parasite can only breed in water, so it appears to somehow act on the brain of the host causing it to go into a pond, lake, or other body of water, and quite often this host cannot swim, and so it basically commits suicide at the prodding of the parasite. Afterwards the parasite emerges from the corpse. Here is a thirty second video (without sound) showing an infected cricket jumping into a swimming pool and drowning, and the parasite subsequently emerging from the body. What's even odder with this host is that crickets can normally navigate around on water pretty well. It seems as though this cricket purposely drowns itself.

I'm reminded of the man at the tombs whom Jesus healed who was demon possessed. The strangest thing about that healing was that the demons, through the man, asked to be sent into a herd of pigs. The pigs subsequently ran off a cliff and drowned in the water below. Coincidence? I'm not necessarily saying demons and parasites are one and the same. But isn't it odd the way God so very often uses real life examples that are symbols of the spiritual world from which ours takes its existence. Demons in this case represent the macrocosm while parasites are the earthly symbolic microcosm.

On the other hand, who's to say that devils don't work through creatures like parasites or bacteria? If they would live in a pig, why not a parasite? Charles Williams once said that demons "pine for matter". They can never have an existence outside of the spirit world. The closest they can come is to live through us, or through other of God's creatures. Perhaps when we figuratively refer to a man with cancer as "fighting his demons" we aren't speaking as figuratively as we think. We might rather be unconsciously tapping into yet another example of the macrocosm/microcosm of devils at work in some way. Satan set the ultimate example of effecting human behavior in the Garden of Eden while in a spiritual paradise. Parasites, bacteria, and other fungi have been copying the behavior on the microcosmic material world of human flesh ever since. Parasites are essentially agents of evil.

Of all his accomplishments, I think Satan must take greatest pride in changing the human view of morality. Remember the incident with Michael Jackson and child molestation we talked about? While things like parasites mostly try to affect the way we treat ourselves, Satan is more concerned with how we treat others. He's made great use of language toward this end. If you call a thing by another name long enough, people will begin to believe it. All the devils in hell would like to see each and every child molester left free to roam the world so they can keep on doing what they do. But of course if anyone were to stand up and say exactly that, he would be scorned by the masses. So instead Satan takes the more subtle route of changing our perception of evil itself while taking the focus off the child and putting it on society as a whole. The child molester is misunderstood. He was mistreated growing up because he was different, maybe a little effeminate and weak. And who was he mistreated by? Us of course. It's our fault he's the way he is. We didn't show him enough love and respect before he started molesting, and that's what set him off. We should have been more tolerant. We should always be tolerant of others no matter how different they are. And when they finally do go wrong and molest, we should be both tolerant and lenient of their wrongdoings because there before the grace of God go you and I. Thus today we have school teachers talking a great deal about tolerance. But where's the faintest bit of talk about permissiveness in all this? We're ready to tolerate any and all sin today because we're taking the high road in doing so. It proves we're better people for doing it. But you can no more make the world a better place by being tolerant of criminals than you can make your house fly by drawing wings on it.

If the prophets of old were alive today they would in all likelihood be run out of any Christian Church they entered. King David surrounded himself with prophets and seers. And it sure looks to me like they were often in trance states. Today it's somehow all come to be viewed as the work of the devil and occult practices. Even meditation has come under ridicule although one has to wonder exactly what the Sabbath's "rest" was for if not meditative purposes? Transcendence used to mean focusing one's attention on the world of spirit. Now it too has come under that all inclusive cloak of occultism. Christians today don't have enough on the ball to even realize that all spiritual power comes through transcending the material world whether they be powers used for good or for evil. Mysticism has become the evil deed of a witch when it used to be the opening of the heavens to the spiritual eyes of the faithful Christian. And yet Christians today complain that we don't see miracles like those in the bible anymore. Is it any wonder? We've closed off every avenue to the world of spirit, that land where angels tread, and actually did it in the name of God. This is what the devil focuses on doing. He wants us to call good evil and evil good. And he's succeeded. He has changed the face of evil.

I'm going to close this series out on evil with a prayer written by Bob Russell while he was the pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. (He may still be for all I know). He read it at the Kentucky Governor's Prayer Breakfast in 1995. It later caused quite a stir among democrats when Pastor Joe Wright read the prayer at the Kansas House floor a year later. One democrat walked out during the prayer. Three others got up and protested Wright's prayer as a message of--you guessed it--intolerance.

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.

We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.

We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.

We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.

We have abused power and called it political savvy.

We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state.

Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ.



shadowlands said...

Some long forgotten truths enclosed here. Thank you for posting Bill!

gCuezy said...

I have to say, I didn't read the other posts in the series but this was a great read. Due to my poor faith and somewhat 'intellectual' Christianity I hate to even think of Demon's existing, let alone having roles. By my stating that I'm aware something is wrong with it.

I'm glad you include mentions of mysticism... I follow you on youtube under the name gCuezy and have am now an Orthodox catechumen (I commented your page about it) and I'm very interested in hesychasm and Christian meditation. This really needs to be brought back to Christian culture today. A quick look at some of the more 'mystical' Fathers and you can see they experienced God in a way you never hear about today.

Good job on the blog... keep it up.

Grace & Peace,

C W Seper said...

Hi Jonathon,

Isn't hesychasm just another word for quietism? I know the Catholics eventually condemned it (they may have relented since), but I don't have a problem with it. The church does indeed need more of this kind of thing. As I said in the latest blog posting though, it's not wise to live in a state of perpetual mystery. That's what the Sabboth may in fact be for, but the rest of the week is for work. I used to follow another guy's Christian blog, but all he ever talked about was esoteric topics. He always had his head in the clouds, and I always wanted to ask him what he had done for his neighbor lately. That's what I appreciate most in MacDonald. He preached that if you work hard in service to others/God that all those Spiritual gifts people want so badly will come unsought. Nothing wrong with a little meditation though.