Sunday, June 2, 2013

Scott Woltze's Conversion Story, part 5 of 7: A Vision of Demons


The Holiness of God


If my neighbors had been watching me mow my lawn, they could never guess that the Divine Creator had reached down and changed my life forever.  But that is the mystery of God’s work among us—it often goes unseen.  They would have only seen me pause in place for ten seconds or so, and then resume mowing the lawn, but this time at a greater speed.  For God had not left me in a peaceful ecstasy.  My body smoldered with His love, and my mind raced accordingly, desperately trying to move beyond shock into understanding.

Who was this God?  This God who intimately knew me, and loved me—even when I seemed unlovable?  With hindsight, with understanding of Christ who loves us, even unto death on a cross, it’s obvious.  But at the time I couldn’t cut through the popular stereotypes and misconceptions about Christianity to get to the heart of the faith.  I couldn’t imagine what this simple God of love had to do with all the baggage of revealed religion—all of the contested doctrines and history.  And so since He had not revealed His name, what religion He authored, or even what He wanted of me, I clung to my experience of God, what He was like, the sense He gave me of His nature.  But this left me vulnerable to error, and I had already begun to slip in the first twenty-four hours into a na├»ve and safe theism.  I imperceptibly settled into the view that God is up there and He loves me, and I just need to be a better person, but my life wouldn’t substantially change.  That’s a common view today, but it’s a false one: for we are called to radical conversion, to put aside the old self and put on the mind of Christ.  And so God promptly shocked me out of this through two experiences.


St. Paul "put on the Mind of Christ"


The day after my conversion experience I decided to wash the dishes since they had been piling up as the semester ended.  Since I had no dishwasher, it was going to take a while, and so I walked over to my stereo to turn on sports talk radio.  That was just my routine and I was happy to cool off my mind after spending a restless night deep in thought.  But as the radio tuned in, the usual music, the banter from the hosts, immediately filled me with intense disgust.  I rushed to turn off the sound—fighting off nausea.  Music and words that I had always found edgy and pleasing and funny—instead sounded lurid and like gears grinding.  I thought I was just going to listen to some talk radio—something guys do everyday—but instead I was involuntarily rocked by a moral disgust—a moral and spiritual disgust that immediately caused physical disgust.  How did this happen?    


So what's wrong with a little guy talk?

The divine love dwelled in every part of me, and that love was perfectly pure, unspotted.  It could not be mixed with a radio program that was basically locker room talk: men at their most arrogant and crass, reducing women to playthings.  And since the divine love was in me, my body, my soul, convulsed in the presence of these things.  Nothing unclean can be in the presence of God because it is not of God—who is all perfection, all beauty and all majesty.  From then on I knew that I would have to surround myself with the things of God, those things that He delights in, since He calls us to his beauty and perfection.  God’s ways are not our ways, and we are often lulled into a moral and spiritual sleep.



Christ reveals his majesty and perfection during the Transfiguration

A Vision of Demons



The second experience was two days later.  I spent those days puzzling over this God who defied all of my expectations, committing who He was to memory day and night, barely sleeping or eating, but sustained by God’s love.  But over the course of those days the divine love slowly drained out of me—like a bucket with a small hole.  Finally, on the third day, the love passed, and I decided to go running late at night with my dogs at a wooded park.  Just as I arrived, an evil thought passed through my mind, and then another, and then another.  Each thought was more outrageous than the last—like a rising crescendo of evil.  I was stunned—not just by the wickedness of the thoughts—but that these thoughts clearly came from just outside of me—as if some unseen entity was subtly pushing them into my mind.  I immediately guessed that there must be something like evil spirits, and that God was allowing me to clearly distinguish their actions on me from my own thoughts.  I got out of the car and started my run—at a frantic pace—talking and shouting the whole way in praise, adoration and a desire for greater understanding.  That may seem strange, but I was excited because God had not left me an orphan—as I had feared, but He was continuing to show me more—even if it wasn’t good news.  As I ran I kept saying over and over,  “Are there demons?  There must be demons.”

Then just as I emerged from a hollow of trees into an intersection of paths and dirt roads, God answered my question.  Spread out below a large moon wrapped in smoky yellow clouds—like a scene straight out of a horror movie—a thousand or so furious demons streamed down the road toward me.  Some ran, some flew; some were husky, some thin and angular.  They looked like animal humanoids: like a thousand different failed genetic experiments.  Their skin or hides were burnt orange, dirt brown, lime green, electric red, but all ugly.  Though they looked monstrous, and though they strained to reach me as if they wanted to seize me, I was not afraid.  They were restrained at a distance of about fifty yards.  There was a kind of spiritual de-militarized zone between us, and I knew I was in God’s care—that He was showing me something under His protection.

Demons harass St. Anthony of the Desert


Someone might wonder, “Is that what demons really look like?  Has God given these pure spirits an eternal appearance as animal humanoids?”   No, I don’t believe so.  They appear that way because the point is they are grossly deformed—at war with their own angelic nature.  They were given perfect form when they were created—they were the stars of heaven: shining lights of purity, intellect, power and order.  And now they are formless in a sense, and so they usually appear like a rumpled sheet of deep blackness moving through our world.  They have lost their shining purity.  Their intellect is warped—no longer disciplined and perfectly rational—and so they often prefer a small short-term victory over us to a greater long-term advantage.  God has stripped them of most of their raw power.  He has largely neutered them, and so they rage because they have a memory of their former self.  They yearn to de-form the things of God—what God has lovingly given form to.  So they want to deform our souls, our families, our sexuality, our relationship with neighbor and the material world.  And they want to deform our holy liturgies and Church traditions.

2 comments:

  1. We too lose our "form" when we conform to sin. It actually changes physical appearances. and certainly a darkening of the intellect is so apparent. Like when DOCTORS claim that the unborn are not babies until a certain point. I heard one say 6 months, one 3 months. I hear irrational talk constantly at abortion clinics from various people. It is astounding. Satan's presence is so obvious there. He wants death and destruction. He wants to destroy the sacred bond between mothers and fathers, and their children. He is all about destruction of all people, as we are created in the image and likeness of God.

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    1. You mention how sin "actually changes physical appearances." I've noticed that people who have been in a state of grace for a long time look fresh and have an honest smile and open face. They also produce a calming/soothing effect when you are around them. On the other hand, people who have been in a state of grave sin for many years look weary, jaded and on edge. I once looked like that ;-

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