Monday, July 22, 2013

Demon Possession and House Blessings

I've had demon possession on the brain lately.  You might wonder why or you might say, "Of course.  We're approaching the 30th anniversary of the release of The Exorcist.  Time to turn our attention away from zombies and to demons."

A few weeks ago, I wrote this blog post about Mary Magdalene for the Living Lutheran site.  I wrote about her possession by 7 demons, even though in past posts about Mary Magdalene, I've been dismissive of the idea of demon possession.  I've assumed that her critics have accused her of demon possession to discredit her.

I was always taught that the ancient world used the idea of demon possession to explain mental illnesses that they couldn't otherwise understand.  That makes sense to me.  But down here, you meet people who truly believe.

Last week we were talking with our pastor about our move to the new house.  He asked if we wanted a house blessing.  The idea immediately appealed to me.

A Lutheran house blessing is different than what you'd find in other cultures.  Lutherans don't expel demons or other evil spirits, although my pastor says that he sometimes gets phone calls from people who want that kind of service.

Part of the reason for that request is the popular culture that surrounds all of us.  But part of it is the island culture that's part of the larger culture in South Florida.

I don't believe in evil spirits, although I have lived in houses that seemed determined to drive me away.  But my rational brain was firm in its insistence that shoddy upkeep of past owners led to the repair disasters, not evil spirits.

I walked into the house that we've just bought and immediately felt at home.  That doesn't always happen.  It was a welcoming vibe, but that's more about my mindset than it is about good spirits that inhabit the house.


In the summer of 2003, we had work done on the kitchen of our old house, which meant we had a variety of workers coming through.  A Jamaican carpenter said, "You live in a house of love and joy.  I can feel it when I come through the door."

At the time, I took it as a compliment.  I still do.  He may have been thinking of literal spirits, not just the spirits of me and my spouse.

I hope our new house will have that vibe.  And that's what  Lutheran house blessing will do.  It will ask God to bless the residents and visitors and to protect us all.  I'm looking forward to it.

Maybe my pastor could bless my office too while we're blessing the structures that we inhabit.

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