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Boy, bye; How I stopped being so scared of evil

 

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Illustration in my Children’s Bible

The Gospel on the first Sunday of Lent describes Jesus’s temptation in the desert. Jesus is tempted by the devil.  The devil is an instigator. He is manipulative especially as he constantly seeks to gain power. Going after Jesus is evidence of the arrogance, narcissism, egoism that comes with being evil. Jesus is able to resist. He is all powerful. Jesus demonstrates the strength and authority needed to resist temptations that we all experience. We all want to attend to our immediate needs. I’m starving so let’s turn these rocks into bread. We want youth, physical strength, and immortality. I’m going to drink my liver into disease because it feels good. Because I’m young, I’ma be all right. We want wealth and power.  Life owes me these things.  Jesus rises above those desires. He sees the ultimate goal. The 40 days have been a test. They’ve been physically hard but he has stayed faithful and strong. He is preparing for what is going to be more difficult. He is finding the discipline before he begins his ministry. Jesus does not fear the devil and sends him away like the nuisance he is.

I grew up very fearful of the devil (What I learned watching The Exorcist). I was much too young(six!) to learn about possession, that the devil was a real entity that could take over a person. It made me much more fearful than my daughter is at that age.  On the other hand, I grew up as a spiritual child. I was drawn to the Bible. I was reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Luke at age 7 because I wanted to do so. One reason I haven’t exposed to her more horror movies or pop culture interpretations of the devil is I find them scary. About 15 years ago, I made a survey and asked my friends when they first saw The Exorcist and what were its long-term effects. I continued to do other readings about exorcism. Those fears stuck with me.

r12mwvNow I’m older and I have had life experiences with different facets of evil. I’m not fearful because I know good prevails. I’ve done a lot of writing about my thoughts as I “exorcised “a “devil.” (My second career as an exorcist) I gained a lot of strength from those experiences. I may laugh when I say “the devil is a lie” and “not today, Satan” but those are true statements. I have been able to look at that evil, at that enemy, to look it in the face and say I’m not afraid of you. That’s powerful.

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Father Tomas is played by Rebelde cutie Alfonso Herrera

On a related note, while dealing with real-life drama, the TV show, The Exorcist, premiered on Fox. While it wasn’t a ratings hit, it was a critical hit and a hit in my household. We watched it every week and analyzed it. I connected it back to what I was living. I found parts of it hilarious. I would argue it is better than the original novel and original film.   Those were good but the TV show’s acting and writing took it to another level. Geena Davis was brilliant. The show explored what is happening in the church regarding the role of lay people, the role of women, and the behind the scenes politics which you may not know about if you haven’t been involved in ministry. I like that the show spoke to the power of family and faith.  As I wait along with other fans to learn if the show will get renewed, I would recommend binge-watching on Hulu or Fox. Don’t be too scared.  Y’all know who wins and who always will.

Watch Season 1 of  The Exorcist

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Jesus saying “Largate!”

 

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Craig Manning must die!

I didn’t see the teen comedy, John Tucker Must Die, but I liked the title. It definitely fits my feelings about one-time Degrassi the Next Generation heartthrob, Craig Manning(played with gusto by Jake Epstein) especially after last night’s mid-season premiere episode, “What’s it feel like to be a ghost?” Craig returns from his tour as a regional rock music champion to his adoring girlfriend Manny, his adoring best friend Ellie, and an adoration for a drug not prescribed for his bipolar disorder. It was a good episode but had a strangely emotional effect on me. Within half an hour, I was pacing the living room like a maniac, livid at a fictional character as if Manny were my best friend or I were in her shoes. It made me wonder: why do I hate Craig? What is it about this character that makes me hope he’s the one to die(the often-publicized hook for this season’s finale)?

I’ll begin with my take on Manny. Manny is one of my favorite characters. She may be the school hottie but this girl has survived abortion, her best friend’s eating disorder, body image issues of her own, her strict Filipino parents’ rejection, and years of drama thanks to Craig. She may not be an honor student but she is feisty and insightful. Craig has treated her badly since seventh grade yet she forgives him constantly. Like that friend’s boyfriend you secretly can’t stand, if you love Manny, you know she loves Craig and therefore deserves the happiness of being with him. After last night’s episode, I hope Manny finally realizes she deserves happiness that doesn’t sacrifice her dignity or health.

On a personal level, I have been in Ellie’s place more so than Manny. Like Ellie, I have been the loyal best friend, the one who provides intellectual connection and emotional depth. In high school, it was Warrior. In college, it was Tiger(and to a certain degree, that hot water polo player.) For all those men, I was the faithful sidekick, only to be dropped for the hot girl. Whenever I see Ellie clamor for Craig’s attention, I am reminded of all the energy I put into my so-called best friends. Forget chemistry. No errand or favor or hours-long conversation got me the guy.

In real life, guys like Craig are to be avoided. I do still notice them(what was Beautiful, if not a better-groomed, non-musician Latino version of Craig?) but I prefer to meet someone who will be my loyal partner.