You little demon, you! You had better be careful when and where someone says this to you.
Reverend Charles Morris will appreciate the gentle humour in the sentiment, but Roger Husbands may want to cast you out, or a bishop of the Catholic Church’s cadre of sanctioned spirit-busters could be waiting to exorcize you.
Beware too the Minister of Education; he will tell on you. Ronald Jones is a demon believer. Mr Jones is of the conviction that all these delinquent, lawless and violent youths of late are possessed by demons. Well, bless my soul, I thought these wayward youngsters were plain mischievous and wicked, entitled to a good talking to, a spanking, or a staycation at Dodds.
I would like to think the Minister of Education speaks figuratively, and that he is making no attempt whatever to persuade his Cabinet fellows that the demon-possessed – whoever they are or wherever they may be – are indeed the causation of this country’s woes. Mr Jones might as well have stretched his imagination some more and attributed demon possession to the Opposition – a state, of course, which all right-thinking people know is not the fact.
But if Mr Jones’ pronouncement is taken profoundly seriously, some bright spark is bound to come up with the notion of a budgetary supplement for the national exorcising and casting out of devils from our young – and politicians.
It won’t be long before some of these overly exuberant preachers amongst us are claiming a piece of the pie for seeking out the controlling demons of Alzheimer’s victims, and others struck by Parkinson’s disease and St Vitus’ dance.
You will understand, therefore, my earnest hope the Minister of Education is in figurative mode.
In this day and age we cannot be ascribing the causes of our problems to demonic forces. Demons, at best, are metaphors for our base and depraved behaviour and conduct to and before our fellow man. Demons are no evil spirits floating or flying around anywhere, or housed in anybody’s intestines, whereupon being cast out they are vomited up, with bile and all.
Earthbound spirits and demons are to be considered no less the products of superstition than Guyana’s bacoo, Trinidad’s soucouyant and diablesse, Haiti’s loogaroo, and our very own steel donkey. All these evil spirits are our vehicles of excuse for following our lower nature and turning away from good and righteousness that symbolize God.
My Oxford English Dictionary defines demon as an evil spirit or devil; and an evil or destructive person or thing (often humorous); and, as a modifier, a person skilled in a specified role: a demon cook. Origin from the Latin daemon and Greek daimon (deity, genius).
Okay, so the religiously reasoning Roger Husbands brigade will remind me that in the Gospel Of Matthew and Of Mark Jesus cast out demons, or evil spirits, from those afflicted with various ailments. In those days, if you had more than a cold, it was almost certainly a demon.
And Jesus, superior to whatever it was that had hold over the sick, merely gave a command. Once – not three and four times, or a repetitive ten or 15 – and was able to free the victims before him.
There were no candles and three white fowls. No crosses, holy water, old books or monosyllabic chanting – no exorcism.
It was so simple, Jesus showed his disciples how to do it. They released people from a bad attitude by merely mentioning Jesus’ name – Yahshua, as originally pronounced, I am told.
Compare this with the Judaistic jokers, as related in the Book Of Acts, trying to exorcise a very powerful spirit without believing in or knowing of Jesus, and failing with disastrous consequences.
If I had a humongous bad attitude, and in one of my self-deprecating episodes I was bestirred by people around me ranting and raving, and banging on tambourines; or by men in black frocks, stifling me with smoking incense and lit candles, and soaking me with stale water and uttering mumbo-jumbo, my spirit would be the more vexed too.
I would be a demon with tragic consequences.
Monsignor Vincent Blackett will probably give the Minister of Education his backing: that demons are real; not metaphors, if he challenges not the Roman Catholic Church’s unequivocal stand on them. I will stick to the figurative and pray for Ronald.
I am the demon that I will be; it’s merely a matter of how I treat you – and he.