Witchcraft, not so much — Killing sacred cacti, yes
As I seek to understand the current confusing chaotic state of our country, I like to see what my Trumpian friends post on Facebook. It gives me a glimpse into their thoughts. In the beginning of his presidency, I would challenge these friends by asking questions about their reasoning. I’d point out to them when they posted memes or articles that were in error or outrageous to me. I gave up after a while when I saw it made no difference. I think I was unfriended a couple of times but I have never unfriended anyone.
So one of my friends posted this article about the practice of witchcraft in America. Intrigued, I clicked. It is just the kind of evangelical screed that infuriates me, especially because it started out by praising the end of the “witchhunt” to impeach the president. Apparently, there was a binding spell cast on him at Halloween. The writer also mentions a similar hex placed on Brett Kavanaugh as he was going through his hearing. The article goes on to describe the problem of witchcraft in America, how it and associated practices such as astrology, ouija boards, and tarot cards, are evil.
The writer, Aleta You, is an educated woman. She has academic credentials galore. Thoughfulness does not necessarily accompany one’s education. Christian writers in particular do not care to look at their thought processes to detect flaws in their thinking. This is the job of critics, like me.
The writer, in her introductory paragraph mentions the witchcraft claimed was used against Trump and Kavanaugh, but totally dismisses the actual wrongdoing of these two men. There is no mention of the fact that the president used his office to further his election in 2020. In addition, she ignores the question of the morality of the Republicans in the Senate who refused to even hear relevant witnesses and to uphold their constitutional duty to be unbiased (except for Romney, who did heed the moral compass based on his faith.) I can’t help but dwell on the voice caught on tape that he could grab women “there” because he is famous. His constant lying, his bragging, his policies to separate children from their parents at the border, the environmental policies that will cause harm and destruction to places, notably indigenous sacred lands, and on and on — these are sins — evil.
I am glad that the author and I have some areas of concern in common. In her argument regarding the existence of evil, she writes: “The existence of evil is manifested in the lives of tyrants and murderers across civilizations who exterminated millions of people under Communist rule, the holocaust, 9–11, the horrific murder of innocent children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and the list goes on. Steal, kill, and destroy are the methods used by the devil spirit realm and people who serve as their conduits.”
Perhaps we should define evil. I am of like mind with Matthew Fox, the visionary theologian who disputes the fall/redemption orientation promoted by the mainstream Christian church. Instead of original sin, there is original blessing, which sees God as love and humankind as essentially good, rather than essentially evil. In this original blessing framework, there is sin — “ a break, a rupture, in creation itself.” There is sin and the message of Christ is salvation from sin.. “Salvation is about healing, and just as the cosmos itself can be ruptured and torn apart by injustice, so too it can be healed by all human efforts to bring justice, which is balance, back …” (p.121 of Original Blessing)
Her article maintains the traditional view of evil as coming from the devil and the need for Christians to be vigilant. One problem with this view is that once you believe you have been “saved” you stop looking for the evil within, the breaks from Creation or God the Creator happening on an ongoing basis within yourself as well as in the world. They believe their religion to be a prophylactic, protecting them from the devil, which is real, but out there, not within. Once saved, they are not called to look inward, to look for ways they may be separated from the truth of God, the practice of love.
I recently reflected on my shadow self, that I am not being loving enough to my elderly mom. I resolve to be more patient. In the same vein, I am anxious about my country, reading about how the building of the border wall is desecrating sacred land. This is evil. The cartel in Mexico who murdered the butterfly protector and the Mormon family is evil. The NRA is evil. Weapons manufacturers who become wealthy through their killing machines are evil. Priests and scout leaders who raped young children are evil. Tarot card and Ouija boards are NOTHING compared to this evil.
We are called to act. Ms.You cleverly writes, “It is not the Meditations of the Apostles, it is called the Acts of the Apostles for a reason.” Evangelicals call on non-believers to be saved. That is their acting. People like me call on all of us to act, to save the world — to save the world from evil. This evil is seen in the disastous damage to the environment, in greed and corruption, in dehumanization, in calling children stupid, in war - in countless ways, big and small. We need to Act against those who perpetrate and normalize these sins, who do not get called to account for their evil.
She is right. There is so much evil. So much. So overwhelming. But it is not in witchcraft. She neglects to mention that the witches’ binding spell was to bind Trump from doing us harm. The hex was put on Kavanaugh to not be confirmed, with the belief that he was not worthy of such an esteemed position. The witches expressed their faith with the intention to protect the world, to bring harmony. That was a loving act. They were not acting to wreak havoc and to destroy the world as those who now have power are doing. We need to act in the way we can to carry forth our holy orders, to protect Creation and the victims of evil and injustice. At the very least, we can take away their power to do more harm by voting them out.