Home/Rod Dreher/Something Demonic Is In The Air

Something Demonic Is In The Air

I wrote last night that “something demonic is in the air.” A reader e-mailed to say:
Man, that’s the truth. That’s this whole year in a nutshell. All summer long my wife and I watched with horror as family and friends were sucked into the Critical Race Theory vortex. Her family is Evangelical, mine is a mix of mainline liberal and nones, and we are Orthodox. But we watched people we loved in all those camps become consumed — almost possessed it seemed — with the progressive CRT mantras. My cousin, an academic dean at a Midwest university, has gone aggressively all in on CRT stuff and won’t talk with me now. My wife’s youngest sister and husband on the West coast are also all-in with that stuff. There were old Evangelical friends, some of whom I’ve known since college days for nearly 20 years who suddenly I couldn’t text anymore because they couldn’t do anything but rant about race and a pox on you if you weren’t willing to raise high your fist and the banner of BLM. We watched as several friends in our Orthodox parish became just as consumed on that front. A close friend from the parish who had organized our women’s retreat for years declined to do so this past year when several other women — people who’d literally been friends of hers for years, gone to parties regularly at her home and had her and her family regularly over to theirs — vehemently turned on her and told her they’d try and keep others from attending any retreat she organized. Why? Because she was not supportive of BLM.
And then, post election, we have watched with equal horror as more friends and family not on the Left have gone down the election fraud black hole. My birth mother (I’m adopted, but have a long-standing relationship with my biological mother) spent all November and December at Stop The Steal rallies. She sends me QAnon texts. She says she would’ve been in DC if she could’ve gotten the time off. My mother in law is convinced Trump won the election and won’t hear talk otherwise. Several of our closest Orthodox friends have suddenly become obsessed since the election with ranting about the conspiracy theories and some of the Q stuff. One will inundate me with texts about it. He insists that the whole Capitol riot was planned by Antifa and that everyone there were Antifa people in disguise. Ashli Babbitt’s social media history of pro-Trump and Q stuff? The pro-Trump and Q-supportive social media histories of other people arrested? Oh, that was all falsified by deep state supporters of Antifa. Or they targeted those people and used look-alikes. I’ve tried reasoning with him. Nothing doing. I even sent him several of your recent posts since he was a fan of your BenOp and LNBL books. “So sad they’ve tricked Rod or gotten to him too” was the reply. What does one say to that?
There is lots of media coverage of the QAnon demonic insanity now, but we must not forget that the Left’s demonic theories are being institutionalized. Christopher Rufo continues to do stellar work exposing this evil. In his latest, Rufo writes about a Cupertino elementary school that was teaching little children the basics of racial hatred, in the name of progress. Excerpts:

An elementary school in Cupertino, California—a Silicon Valley community with a median home price of $2.3 million—recently forced a class of third-graders to deconstruct their racial identities, then rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.”

Based on whistleblower documents and parents familiar with the session, a third-grade teacher at R.I. Meyerholz Elementary School began the lesson on “social identities” during a math class. The teacher asked all students to create an “identity map,” listing their race, class, gender, religion, family structure, and other characteristics. The teacher explained that the students live in a “dominant culture” of “white, middle class, cisgender, educated, able-bodied, Christian, English speaker[s],” who, according to the lesson, “created and maintained” this culture in order “to hold power and stay in power.”

This school is 94 percent nonwhite, and majority Asian-American. More:
One parent told me that critical race theory was reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. “[It divides society between] the oppressor and the oppressed, and since these identities are inborn characteristics people cannot change, the only way to change it is via violent revolution,” the parent said. “Growing up in China, I had learned it many times. The outcome is the family will be ripped apart; husband hates wife, children hate parents. I think it is already happening here.”
Read the whole piece. Rufo reports that Asian-Americans in California are organizing against this garbage politically. This is the right thing to do: band together and stand up peacefully, with determination. You don’t fight one set of demonic lies by embracing a rival set, and acting like thugs.
About the demonic spirit inflaming many on the Right, the Southern Baptist pastor Russell Moore nails it this post, especially here:

The sight of “Jesus Saves” and “God Bless America” signs by those violently storming the Capitol is about more than just inconsistency. It is about a picture of Jesus Christ and of his gospel that is satanic. The mixing of the Christian religion with crazed and counter-biblical cults such as Q-Anon is telling the outside world that this is what the gospel is. That’s a lie, and it is blasphemous against a holy God.

Look around us, five years into this experiment. Every family I know is divided over this personality. Every church I know is too. Friendships are broken, for almost everyone I know. And, most importantly, every survey shows that the church is hemorrhaging the next generation because they believe that evangelicalism is a means to an end to this political movement. You may say, “Well, we can’t make decisions based on what people want”: true. If I were speaking every week to people who are leaving because they reject the Trinity or the Incarnation or the bodily resurrection or sexual morality or whatever, I would agree with you.

But if people are walking away not because we believe too much for them, but because they don’t think we believe what we say we believe, what then? How can the witness of the church be rebuilt? What are the consequences? A start—a small but necessary start—is for the church to say, clearly, conspiracy theories and insurrections and riots and murders and incitement are out of step with the Word of God and we will not—not one of us—spend one second hemming or hawing about that.

Do you know what the opposite of “symbolic” is? “Diabolic.” In the Greek etymology, a “symbol” is something that gathers what is separated and creates something meaningful with the parts; a “diabolical” force is one that separates. “Symbol” means integration; “diabol” means distintegration.

Back in 2015, I wrote about this entry from a dating website (which has since gone behind a private wall) in which the author quotes from a bestselling 2004 book The Art of Seduction, by Robert Greene. From the website:

In the book, Greene talks about the importance of language in seducing someone. Seduction, as you know, is a matter of how and what you communicate to your target, and is thus, extremely important in your interactions.

Greene makes the distinction between two types of languages — symbolic and diabolic language. To quote him here:

“Most people employ symbolic language—their words stand for something real, the feelings, ideas, and beliefs they really have. Or they stand for concrete things in the real world. (The origin of the word “symbolic” lies in a Greek word meaning “to bring things together”—in this case, a word and something real.)

“As a seducer you are using the opposite: diabolic language. Your words do not stand for anything real; their sound, and the feelings they evoke, are more important than what they are supposed to stand for. (The word “diabolic” ultimately means to separate, to throw things apart—here, words and reality.) The more you make people focus on your sweet-sounding language, and on the illusions and fantasies it conjures, the more you diminish their contact with reality. You lead them into the clouds, where it is hard to distinguish truth from untruth, real from unreal.”

As an indirect seducer, you must focus on using diabolic rather than symbolic language. Your goal is to stimulate your target’s imagination, enveloping her into your spirit. Do this, and she will not be able to resist you.

This spirit is everywhere today! On the Left, on the Right, and everywhere in between. The diabolic attacks are not coming from one side alone. They are all over. From my book Live Not By Lies:

We cannot hope to resist the coming soft totalitarianism if we do not have our spiritual lives in order. This is the message of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great anti-communist dissident, Nobel laureate, and Orthodox Christian. He believed the core of the crisis that created and sustained communism was not political but spiritual.

After the publication of his Gulag Archipelago exposed the rottenness of Soviet totalitarianism and made Solzhenitsyn a global hero, Moscow finally expelled him to the West. On the eve of his forced exile, Solzhenitsyn published a final message to the Soviet people, titled, “Live Not by Lies!” In the essay, Solzhenitsyn challenged the claim that the totalitarian system was so powerful that the ordinary man and woman cannot change it.

Nonsense, he said. The foundation of totalitarianism is an ideology made of lies. The system depends for its existence on a people’s fear of challenging the lies. Said the writer, “Our way must be: Never knowingly support lies!” You may not have the strength to stand up in public and say what you really believe, but you can at least refuse to affirm what you do not believe. You may not be able to overthrow totalitarianism, but you can find within yourself and your community the means to live in the dignity of truth. If we must live under the dictatorship of lies, the writer said, then our response must be: “Let their rule hold not through me!”

A devil is no less a devil if the lie he tells flatters you and stands to help you defeat your enemies and achieve power. In my Substack newsletter tonight (subscribers only), I published a letter that a Christian friend who spent twenty years in the occult sent to me, and gave me permission to share. In it, she writes:

I’m not into woo-woo. I approach all notions of miracles, angels, demons, with a deep sense of skepticism. In two decades in the occult, I became adept at not rolling my eyes when people talked about energy, faeries, and other nonsense. And that skepticism and tolerance spiritually numbed me, because now I realize I don’t react to blasphemy or spiritually unhealthy environments. I’m working on that, with the help of my spiritual father. But yeah, I don’t see ghosts and demons lurking in every dark corner.

So what do I mean when I talk about demons? I don’t like talking about this, but maybe I should talk about it. It’s inviting something in, and that something is dark and has a heaviness to it. It’s something that sits and lurks, like the spiritual equivalent of an oil slick. It’s scary, especially the first time, but often it isn’t as scary as whatever very real need you have that drove you to this. It feels benignly malevolent, as if it isn’t particularly interested in you, but doesn’t exactly mean you well either. And it’s easier the second time, and the third, etc… You romanticize it, like a spiritual drug that offers you the illusion of control. It doesn’t really bring you what you want, but you cling to any small perceived success as vindication. Your life becomes more confusing, more filled with lies and cognitive dissonance. Everything feels like an illusion. Your relationships suffer. You realize the ritual and the “magic” isn’t doing anything so you seek a relationship with the demon, but the demon doesn’t want a relationship. It wants to consume you.

The demon doesn’t want a relationship. It wants to consume you.

With some distance, I now believe that the real goal of demons is to drive you to suicide, so you are theirs forever.

We are committing suicide as a nation by allowing these demons to rule us — the QAnon conspiracies and the Critical Theory malice, I mean. The only antidote to the diabolic is to stand firm in reality — and to stand firm with others. Those Chinese Americans in California, with personal memories of what the communist Cultural Revolution did to their families and their nation — listen to them! 

UPDATE:From the Dallas Morning News. Diabolical:

Days after President Donald Trump incited supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the election, an evangelical pastor in Frisco told his congregation they have an “executive order” to keep Trump in office.

Brandon Burden, the pastor at KingdomLife, is a former Frisco City Council candidate and member of the Frisco Conservative Coalition, a political action committee. …

As Burden stood at the pulpit Sunday, he shouted in tongues while a woman at the altar waved a large American flag in front of him. The pastor cited “prophetic voices” who have said God told them Trump would be president for eight years.

“We have an executive order — not from Congress or D.C., but from the desk of the CEO of heaven, the boss of the planet,” Burden said. “He said from his desk in heaven, this is my will; Trump will be in for eight years.”

He said it’s the responsibility of his congregation and other Christians to execute God’s order and alluded to the Battle of Jericho, leading church members in a march.

Go to the livestream from the charismatic church’s service on Sunday, embedded in the DMN story. Go to the 46:30 part, and listen to what this pastor says. He says, praying to God, “Father, we loose the sound of war!” On Washington, DC, he means. The Jericho March they do around the church is led by congregants carrying a US flag, and Israeli flag, and a Texas flag.

What kind of pseudo-Christian craziness is this? Loosing war on the nation’s capitol, all in the name of God and Trump? Demonic, all of it.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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