Politics Magazine

Unseen Worlds

Posted on the 31 January 2017 by Steveawiggins @stawiggins

Unseen WorldsA few weeks ago I wrote about re-watching The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In anticipation of the inauguration I was in the midst of a spate of possession movies. I watched several others, including The Rite and The Possession. This got me thinking I should read Felicitas D. Goodman’s book How About Demons? Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World. Goodman was an anthropologist who’d done fieldwork among groups that practiced possession—keep in mind that many religions believe in good spirits as well as evil ones. Her book is one of the few that takes the larger picture seriously. Many writers simply dismiss the “demon haunted world” as naive and superstitious, but Goodman makes the point that possession is a real phenomenon and we don’t know the cause of it. Indeed, it’s impossible to say with certainty what the agency is because spiritual causes can’t be studied empirically. That said, science deeply informs her analysis.

I’ve observed people speaking in tongues before. It’s an uncanny experience. No matter what you decide the origin might be, it’s strange and not a little unsettling. It’s related to possession, as Goodman shows. So is multiple personality syndrome. Unlike most scientists, however, she doesn’t make the unwarrzntly leap that since these are all related they’re all the same. Speaking in tongues is usually considered a good thing while demonic possession is not. Interestingly, recordings of glossolalia—speaking in tongues—show the same pattern globally. This indicates that whatever it is, it originates biologically from human brains in a mostly predictable way. Many world religions allow for possession by good spirits or gods and alternate states of consciousness are accessible by learning how to reach them. Anyone can do it, but some have the gift of doing so easily. Those who do overlap with the pool of the possessed.

As the White House shows, we like simple answers. Possession, however, is a complex phenomenon. Throughout, Goodman refuses to equate it simply with the physical manifestations that have been observed and recorded. She was a true scientist. Reductionism is related to our love of simple explanations. I wanted to read How About Demons? because it contains one of the few serious academic studies of the case of Anneliese Michel, the young woman on whom The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based. I was expecting, since this is an academic treatment, that the cause would be nailed down simply and efficiently. I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. Well before the movie Goodman interviewed those involved in the case and wrote an entire book on it. Although she clearly believed in science to explain our world, as this book demonstrates, she didn’t give it more explanatory power than it actually has. In a complex world we need as many subtle minds as we can get.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • How Does Smart Home Technology Impact Our Lives?

    Does Smart Home Technology Impact Lives?

    Smart home essentially refers to a home automation system under which all the electronic appliances in a house can be connected with each other over a digital... Read more

    16 hours, 39 minutes ago by   Kravelv
    HOME, HOME IMPROVEMENT
  • #FeedYourSkin with the ELEMIS Superfood Skincare Range

    #FeedYourSkin with ELEMIS Superfood Skincare Range

    By now, we're all aware of the vast benefits of Superfoods. They contain disease-fighting compounds and are either nutrient and/or antioxidant rich. You know... Read more

    The 24 February 2018 by   Glasgow Skinner/ My Life On And Off The Guest List
    FASHION, HAIR & BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE
  • Everyday Flossing: Waterpik Whitening and Sidekick Water Flossers

    Everyday Flossing: Waterpik Whitening Sidekick Water Flossers

    We've been smiling a lot lately. We'd love to say it's because life is absolutely amazing but it's because Waterpik has given us two things to smile about. So... Read more

    The 24 February 2018 by   Glasgow Skinner/ My Life On And Off The Guest List
    FASHION, HAIR & BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE
  • BNV002: That Vegan Conversation

    BNV002: That Vegan Conversation

    <Press the PLAY button above to listen to the podcast, or you can download it for later. > That Vegan Conversation Show Notes We’ve all had that... Read more

    The 24 February 2018 by   Chuck Underwood
    FOOD & DRINK, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, LIFESTYLE, VEGETARIAN & VEGAN
  • Snoop Dogg Inspiring Netflix Series “Coach Snoop” Is A Must See

    Snoop Dogg Inspiring Netflix Series “Coach Snoop” Must

    ChristianNews Snoop Dogg new Netflix series “Coach Snoop” shows viewers another side of the famed rapper from Cali. The 8 episode Netflix series, centers... Read more

    The 24 February 2018 by   Firstladyb
    SPIRITUALITY
  • Nuclear Accidents

    Nuclear Accidents

    diagrams: Chernobyl reactor before and afterNuclear fission is one of the world-changing discoveries of the mid-twentieth century. Read more

    The 24 February 2018 by   Dlittle30
    SOCIETY
  • Concert Review: A Cure for Pomposity

    Concert Review: Cure Pomposity

    The Vienna Philharmonic returns to Carnegie Hall. by Paul J. Pelkonen Gustavo Dudamel (standing) at the helm of the Vienna Philharmonic. Read more

    The 24 February 2018 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA