Passion composer calls Devil: but will he come?

John Debney, who wrote the soundtrack for The Passion, is claiming that Satan tried to interfere with his composing:

I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan’s] face. Then the volume would go to ten and it would happen all the time.

Debney decided to have it out there and then:

I got really mad and I told Satan to manifest himself and I said, ‘Let’s go out into the parking lot and let’s go.’… I was walking down the stairs and I was verbalizing and saying to Satan, ‘Manifest yourself right now.’

However, just as we’re expecting an Exorcist-style encounter, the tale anti-climaxes:

He didn’t manifest himself, but I wished he would have. It changed for me after that.

But what would he have done had the horned one appeared in person? Well, perhaps he would have followed Mel Gibson’s plans to get Medieval on the New York Times‘s film critic:

I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.

C. Peter Wagner, Demon Hunter

Charisma Magazine is profiling C. Peter Wagner, the man whose teachings probably inspired General Boykin’s statements about Muslims and photographs of demons last year (although no one seemed to pick up on this connection). The profile notes that:

Unlike many academicians who write at a tedious college-reading level [!], Wagner is a populist who tries to reach average laypeople. None of his books ever hit a best-seller list, but total sales of all his titles is more than 2 million copies.

Considering that many of his books are used in seminaries, Bible colleges and independent church-training centers and are available in 25 languages, Wagner’s impact seems staggering.

Indeed, and someone like Wagner deserves as much attention as the likes of Pat Robertson  – perhaps more so.

Wagner’s major contribution to humanity is his views about Spiritual Warfare and its relation to the “10/40 Window”, the area on the world map which covers North Africa, the Middle East, China and South Asia. These areas are the most resistant to Christian conversion, and Wagner reasons this can’t be because the people living there simply have their own way of life which they prefer: it must be because of “Territorial Demons”, which needed to be overcome by what amounts to exorcisms of whole countries.

Wagner managed to gain prominence by harnessing an interest in demons created by This Present Darkness, a Fundamentalist novel in which demons try to control the inhabitants of an American town by teaching its inhabitants about environmentalism and Eastern religions. Also, with the revelation that so many “I survived Satanism” books were fraudulent, Wagner provided an alternative view that was just as black and white but required less evidence. At one point, he was teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary and his ideas were being vigorously promoted through his friend John Wimber in both the USA and the UK, with Wimber’s books providing a chunk of the reading material on the Alpha Course.

Wagner’s influence has peaked now in the West, as has the Charismatic movement, which provided a way for conservative Protestants to ease themselves out of their rather dour sub-cultures into something more cheerful (see Steve Bruce). Wimber is no more, and the Alpha course has been de-Wimberised. Charismatic “Spiritual Warfare” is also less popular following several sexual abuse scandals. Also, by providing a supernatural explanation to explain why Charismatic ideas are failing to spread more successfully, Wagner keeps members of the movement busy with stuff irrelevant to actually getting converts.

However, the “25 languages” part above shows where Wagner’s legacy really lies: in Africa and parts of Asia where an indigenous and heavily-supernaturalistic Charismatic movement really is going from strength to strength.

Mel Gibson, Jim Caviezel in “Satanic Attack”?

So much has been written about Mel Gibson’s movie version of Anne Catherine Emmerich’s The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that I didn’t think I would have much to add, except my hope that its Aramaic dialogue might at least make people curious about Syriac, a dialect of Jesus’s language still spoken by Assyrian Christians from parts of Turkey and Iraq (although now in decline).

However, an email has reached me urging me to “pray” for the film. The email goes on a bit, but to summarise, it claims to report a message from a friend of Jim Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus in the movie. This person knew Caviezel at Washington University, and apparently Caviezel has told his friend that

There are strong non-Christian movements which have arisen in recent days who are extremely hostile towards the Gospel.There are lies being circulated among the media pertaining to the film. And there are even special interest groups among “Christian” leaders who are trying to remove certain aspects of the movie to better align themselves politically which would remove significant truth from the movie.

Caviezel and Gibson have faced death threats, and this is all, of course, a plot from Satan.

As ever, one looks for confirmation for these dramatic statements from some creditable source. A couple of sites devoted to “prayer requests” carries the same email, one attributing it to Rod Handley. This seems to fit: Handley was working at Washington University at the time Caviezel was there, but it’s odd that this name is not included on the email forwarded to me or on the only other on-line source. The email also claims that when asked by his friend what he had learnt by playing Jesus, Caviezel had replied “Two words: Unquenchable Fire”: an enigmatic quote which appears to have been lifted from an interview he gave to CBN.

So, what is this “significant truth” that will be taken out of the film? If it’s so important, why doesn’t the email writer tell us what it is? And who are the mysterious “strong non-Christian movements”? Could be something completely innocent. Or it could be an anti-Semitic reference to deicide and Jews.

The email contains a couple of other odd claims. One is that the film is “not allowed” in France. I can find no reference to this at all anywhere else – indeed it seems that the film is opening there in April. I assume the current anti-French climate, along with reports about how France views religion has led to the belief that Robespierre has risen from the grave.

The other odd statement is that Aramaic, being widely spoken among Muslims, will show them “The Gospel”. This is not quite right, although Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew do have a number of words that are mutually comprehensible.

UPDATE (29 Feb): The claim about The Passion in France appears to have something to it after all, according to the latest Sunday Telegraph:

French cinema chains are refusing to distribute or screen Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ because of fears that it will spark a new outbreak of anti-Semitism. France is the only European country where there is still no distribution deal for the film.

UPDATE (3 March): Reuters reports that The Passion will be distributed in France by a Tunisian Muslim:

Tarak Ben Ammar, a major film broker with business ties to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Bersluconi, told interviewers the film stressed forgiveness and blamed the Romans rather than the Jews for Christ’s death…Ben Ammar, who produced Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” and Roberto Rossellini’s “The Messiah” in the 1970s, has also been involved in the production of such popular films as the “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” series.

More Satanic Panic in the UK

A news item from the British Sunday Mercury (serving Birmingham) reports that serial killer Fred West was involved with the occult. The source for this revelation? “Renowned Irish author Jim Cairns”, according to the hack concerned.

Renowned? Unlike the hack, who gets paid to do this sort of stuff, I spent about ten minutes on-line to find out who this distinguished source really is. Alarm bells went off very quickly. According to Cairns, just about every missing person in Ireland has been abducted by secret Satanic coverns for sacrifice. And who are the Satanists? Among others, the prime movers are, er, Evangelical and Charismatic Christians, whom he insists on calling “Born Agains”, and who he seems to think of as one controlled movement. And who are their leaders? Er, George W. Bush, apparently. Cairns, who is a great fan of David “Queen Elizabeth is a giant lizard” Icke, also goes on at rambling length about the CIA, paramiliataries and people he has fallen out with over the years (including his ex-wife).

The report then goes on to back Cairns up with mention of Valerie Sinason, a psychotherapist advocate of the existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse, without noting the many critiques of her methods and ideas, such as Jean La Fontaine’s work.

Although, about 20 paragraphs down, there is a mildly sceptical response from Dr Peter Maxwell-Stuart of St Andrew’s University, the newspaper raises Cairns to a level of respectability. Never mind that Cairns preys on our natural bewilderment of West’s evil to spread unnecessary fear and suspicion. Never mind that he puts the families of missing people through unnecessary torments. Never mind the damage done to serious efforts to counter child abuse and other crimes.