John's post from a few day ago might have created the impression that religious nuttery is mainly an Anglo-American phenomenon. Let me be quite clear about this: Germany isn't exactly a safe haven for sane and secular-minded people, although religion still remains much of a private issue. Here's some reading matter (though most of it in German, sorry) documenting how much this relatively sober world of ours is currently threatened by the forces of religious insanity.
First of all, old school stuff. Already in March, following the Bishop of Rome's decision to appoint 3,000 new exorcists, Der Spiegel published a couple of disturbing videos (here and here) about exorcism in the Catholic and Orthodox Church, as well as an article about the Pope's chief exorcist, the singularly simple-minded Gabriele Amorth.
No doubt, some of those newly appointed "specialists" will fill a gaping gap in the spiritual security net provided by the Catholic Church in Germany, where exorcism has been something of a taboo since the death of Annelise Michel, during a particularly "effective" exorcism conducted by the priest Arnold Renz, in 1976 (the case which inspired the Hollywood shocker The Exorcism of Emily Rose). According to Amorth in one of the two videos and other sources, a growing number of German Catholics believe that they are possessed by the devil and actively seek the help of exorcists.
This help might soon be at hand in the planned Polish exorcism centre, conveniently located only a stone's throw from the German-Polish border. Now Germans can, after having their hair and teeth done on the cheap in Poland (cause that's what they do), nip into "The Centre" for a drive-thru exorcism, before filling up their cars on cheap Polish petrol.
Oh Brave New World that manages to combine the worldly and the spiritual so effectively!
The most noteworthy comment on all this madness comes from Horst Herrmann, Professor of Catholic Church Law, in the second of the two Spiegel-videos: "The Church solves problems that wouldn't exist if the Church didn't exist."
Exactly. What does this tell us? Keep away from the Church!
Which is why a warning issued by Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, against Yoga, Reiki, Hot Stones and Mystic Meg -- all of which may lead to possession by the devil -- fails to identify the real culprit.
A culprit on a pulpit? Nice name for a band.
However, presumably more "modern" forms of Christian belief are no less disturbing than the inquisitorial rites of exorcism, as an article about young evangelicals at Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals. It is fruitfully accompanied by Kamenin's recent post over at Begrenzte Wissenschaft about the growing influence that the evangelical Lakeland Centre and its pierced Canadian prophet Todd Bentley seem to have on German believers.
Thanks to this post I had the dubious pleasure to discover the vibrant Christian blog culture out there in the internet, all soft-spoken and pseudo-intellectual, with one particularly disturbing site called Die Schönheit des Simplexen (The Beauty of Simplicity).
Sadly, it's not the simple beauty of Darwinian evolution these people are speaking of. For simplicity read stupidity.
The seriousness with which people are willing to discuss humbug is beyond me.
And finally, to our special friends, the Scientologists. If you think Tottenham Court Road is bad, just wait until Xenu comes to take Berlin.
Happy godless Sunday, everyone!