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Begone, Uneven Legged Spirit of Homosexuality!!!

Wed 8 Feb 2006 In: Comment

Have you ever been 'exorcised' by an irate Pentecostal fundamentalist? Ever wonder what that was all about? Firstly, what are Pentecostals? Arthur Parham founded the Bethel Bible College in Topeka Kansas in 1900. At Christmas that year, Agnes Oznam reportedly started speaking Chinese after being filled with the Holy Spirit. Even if no Cantonese or Mandarin speaker was actually around to verify it... In 1906, African-American Pentecostal William Seymour was kicked out of his Holiness church, whereupon some disgruntled and sympathetic former parishioners invited him to set up another church at 312 Azusa St, in Houston Texas. Pentecostalism spread to Canada, Latin America and Western Europe after that. And 'exorcism?" This term implies belief in literal demonic entities who possess one. To remove the offending 'demons,' one resorts to particular religious literature, set ritual patterns, formulas, gestures, symbols, icons and other talismans. Catholics and Muslims also believe in exorcism, but place strict limits on its use. In Catholicism, only ordained ministers are permitted to recite the formula, against those who manifest sudden multilingualism, blaspheme a lot, display supernatural abilities and an aversion to Christian holy names. The mandatory formula is set down in "Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications" (1614/2000). Both Catholicism and Islam caution against confusing this with mental illness. Unfortunately, Pentecostals tend to see demons and evil spirits everywhere. These antics are deeply embarrassing to mainline Protestants and non-Pentecostal Calvinist fundamentalists, who are sceptical themselves about the authenticity of Pentecostal attributes. This is nothing new- Stephen Greenblatt related one seventeenth century case where Anglican sceptics cracked down on Catholic and Puritan exorcist enthusiasms by challenging their authenticity. Pentecostal exorcisms are acts of boundary marking. They mean that the Pentecostal is feeling threatened by your physical proximity and attempted rational conversation, so repeats comforting rote biblical proof texts and rhetoric aloud, labelling you to reassure themselves- and annoy you, so that you cease conversation with them. While these may reassure the faithful, Pentecostal performances may puzzle the uninitiated. In December 2004, Paul Malcouronne wrote an article on Bill Subritzky, an eightysomething Pentecostal, as well as one of the ringleaders of the campaign against homosexual law reform in the mid-eighties. In the nineties, his Dove Ministries imported the two antigay hate videos at the centre of an unsuccessful hate speech ban case that went all the way to the Court of Appeal, where the ban was struck down. Subritzky was a homebuilder before he went Pentecostal, and lists a whole set of 'demonic influences' in one book from the eighties. Apparently, one is exposed to demonic possession if one has indulged in pornography, watched Sex in the City, attended wild parties, Mormon or Jehovahs Witness church services, or studied karate, kung fu, judo, ouija boards, transcendental meditation, Buddhism, yoga, parapsychology, accupuncture, astral travel and fortune telling. Hard/goth/punk rock, heavy metal, Uri Geller, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull, Dungeon and Dragons roleplaying games and UFO cultism are also verboten. Oh, and homosexuality. Homosexuality? Yup. Subritzky encountered someone with misshapen legs, one of which was seventeen centimetres longer than another, while on 'crusade' in Tonga. He exorcised gayness from him, and the leg shortened back to its normal length. And in Malcourrone's article, Subritzky gets overheated about 'sodomy', 'back passages' and filth, although straight extramarital sex is just as bad. So, don't be vexed if a Pentecostal tries to exorcise you Think of it as performing their identity, and grade their performance with score cards. Zero. Recommended: Felicitas Goodman: How About Demons: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World: Indiana University Press: 1988. Stephen Greenblatt: "Shakespeare and the Exorcists" in S.Greenblatt: Shakespearean Negotiations: University of California Press: 1988. Peter Malcouronne: "The Healer" Metro 282 December 2004: 100-102. Not Recommended: Bill Subritzky: Demons Defeated! Auckland: Dove Ministries: 1985. Craig Young - 8th February 2006    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Wednesday, 8th February 2006 - 12:00pm

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