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Principalities and Powers

Demonic forces never stopped running through human affairs. We just stopped seeing them.

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The Vision of Death, by Gustave Dore (Public Domain)
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

Aaron Rodgers won’t take the Covid jab, but he will gulp down some ayahuasca. It’s a very strict organic diet.

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At an inopportune hour in the middle of one night this week, as I lay awake and alone in a dark and sprawling and empty house, I stumbled upon purported details of the quarterback’s account of trips he took to Peru in the last few years.

According to some less-than-reputable websites and at least one viral Twitter thread, the Packers’ favorite anti-vaxxer claims that he’s been stalked by an entity he describes as “Hat Man” since going under the influence of powerful psychedelics. The Hat Man is a recurring trope in such visions—a dark and menacing figure who comes usually in dreams.

“He will sometimes appear in the distance,” Rodgers reportedly said, “usually veiled by darkness, holding the corpse of a dead rabbit and sometimes a blade.”

I don’t know if the Rodgers story is true. What I do know is that it’s entirely plausible, and it’s entirely in line with trends that have popped up all over in the course of these last few months.

Something is changing in the way we face the supernatural.

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Much of this change, as with Rodgers, may be attributable to the use of psychedelics. Rodgers would hardly be the only drug user to report encounters with strange and threatening entities while in an altered state. These entities, which some have called “machine elves” in the context of DMT, are described remarkably similarly by many who encounter them.

In a simpler age, we would have called them demons. That is what all these supposedly other-worldly beings really are. (And don’t get me started on “aliens.”)

The danger posed to human souls by all this experimentation is a high cost. But it may, in its roundabout way, lead to rediscovery of certain fundamental truths. Our most primitive human ancestors, in the four millennia between banishment from the garden and the Incarnation of Christ—without either the light of revelation or the accumulation of reason we call tradition—knew there were dark things in the world that they should fear. We can claim (as has become fashionable) that they were merely spiritualizing the mundane dangers man faced before conquering nature. 

That would make us fools.

Or we can face facts. On Thursday, 210 members of the United States House of Representatives voted against requiring abortionists to care for a child they have failed to kill if that child is born alive. This may seem far removed from talk of Hat Men and aliens and machine elves, but I suspect as the reality of demons makes its way back into the public consciousness, we will also find ourselves more able to admit their operation in our world.

Two hundred and ten elected members of Congress would like medical professionals not just to clip away at the limbs and necks of little children when they can convince themselves that these children are not human, but to watch those children writhe and wail in agony as they die preventable deaths outside the womb. (We might note also, as an aside, that traces of ayahuasca have been found in the remains of children ritually sacrificed by America’s older pagan empires.)

Michigan Democrat Rep. Hillary Scholten even quoted Scripture in the process.

"As a pro-choice Christian who chose life,” Scholten said, “this issue is so personal to me.”

“When I read the Scripture,” she continued. “I turn to passages, and I'm guided by passages like Jeremiah 1:5, which states, 'I knew you before I formed you and placed you in your mother's womb.' It doesn't say the government's womb."

Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

Another verse might do better:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

Scholten is a member of the Christian Reformed Church, a Calvinist sect that unequivocally opposes the murder of children in the womb. Her position is inexplicable, just as it is indefensible. But it also points to a key misunderstanding of many in the abortion debate.

It is true, as a general rule, that abortion is a complex problem, with complex causes, many of whose participants operate in one degree or another of moral incapacity. But there’s a harsher truth here that we ought to face as well: some people just want to kill kids.

I think back to the evening that the Dobbs decision leaked. I was outside the Supreme Court building, mostly observing the ruckus from the edges of the crowd. The inhuman howling of the pro-abortion demonstrators was enough to make the skin crawl. But that could hardly compare to the one who said with pride and force that he wished my “mother had strangled the life out of [me] the second [I was] born.”

The whole event was a powerful reminder: Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood.

The forces on display that night never stopped running through human affairs—certainly not as the United States slaughtered 60 million innocent children over the course of half a century. We just stopped seeing them. New recognition of their presence, as with the overturn of Roe, may just drive them into open combat.

The end of the age of disbelief—the minuscule blip in the arc of human history in which sensible people could not see even the faintest shadow of the reality around them—is fast approaching. Of what comes next, the Hat Man and the scalpel may be omens.

And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should no more seduce the nations, till the thousand years be finished. And after that, he must be loosed a little time.

And I saw seats; and they sat upon them; and judgment was given unto them; and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not adored the beast nor his image, nor received his character on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not, till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

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