The Curmudgeon


Friday, March 02, 2012

Family, Religion, Tradition

Among the many little blessings in which we are the poorer for our embrace of militant secularism is, of course, belief in witchcraft. The Christian belief in witches and demonic possession has long traditional roots stretching back to the Bible and, no doubt, beyond it to whatever charming Canaanite customs the Hebrew genocidaires saw fit to appropriate. In Europe the impoverishment of our spiritual life by the forces of materialistic psychology has diminished belief in witches, or at least has reduced the number of people willing to admit to such beliefs; but the battle is not yet lost. At least eight children a year in Greater London are being exorcised, although in some cases the results can be embarrassing. Certain Pentecostal pastors are spreading the good news that one can beat, bite, kick, starve and torture a child without committing a sin; indeed, provided a recognised authority has certified the child as possessed, even the most enhanced measures will take on a positively virtuous odour, since the torments will be inflicted on an evil spirit rather than on a human being. As with more worldly abuses, and doubtless as in many if not most of these cleansing operations, the killer of Kristy Bamu was himself a beneficiary of similar, though less extreme, attentions when he was a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We don't seem to be learning from these cases," said the executive director of Africans Unite Against Child Abuse. "People cry crocodile tears and then nothing happens." Well, one cannot simply uproot a venerable tradition just like that.


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