I bet you thought demonic possession was something that only happened on “Days of Our Lives.” You probably thought that the people who historically were accused of being “possessed by demons” were merely misunderstood acid-trippers, off-their-meds schizophrenics, four-year-olds playing with imaginary friends, mimes, breakdancers, performance artists, heavy-metal musicians, manic-depressives, politicians, and Czech “slam” poets.
Well, once you meet a modern exorcist, you’ll think again (although probably not for very long). It turns out that these days people are actually seeking exorcisms for themselves. And often they end up with Gary Thomas, who took one of those Vatican-approved courses on demonic possession that you sometimes see advertised on television if you happen to be up at 3am, and who now helps the “possessed”:
“When we started, he told me, ‘Wait! Can’t you just take this thing right out of me?’ But that’s rarely how things work,” said Thomas, the official exorcist in the Diocese of San Jose in Northern California.
“It’s hard to get people to understand that no two exorcisms are the same. Reality isn’t like the movies.”
Well, based on the movies (mostly The Exorcist, but also UHF and Girls Just Want to Have Fun and No Retreat, No Surrender), I always thought that the possessed were freakishly strong, with unreasonable knowledge of the exorcist’s peccadilloes, the ability to speak Latin, and an aversion to religious items like holy water, crosses, Bibles, “MY BOSS IS A JEWISH CARPENTER” bumper stickers, glass-jar candles with pictures of Mary and Spanish-language prayers printed on the side, “Footprints” posters, WWJD bracelets, Amy Grant albums, Thomas Kincade lithographs, punching-nun puppets, and Jesus bobbleheads.
The reality, however, is totally different:
The classic signs of possession have been established for ages. The possessed may exhibit superhuman strength, describe private events in the life of an exorcist or possess the ability to speak languages — such as Latin — they have never studied. They often suffer bizarre physical reactions to contact with holy water, crosses or icons.
Well, maybe it’s sort of different? OK, it’s exactly the same. So it’s best to keep the Heart in Motion CD lying around, you know, just in case Father Thomas can’t get to you in time.