Don’t Call on Demons You Don’t Believe In

Human beings, John Calvin said, are incurably religious creatures. Left to our own devices, we will start worshiping something or someone, whether or not that means dabbling in the supernatural and calling on spirits, holy or otherwise. This is true even for those who don’t take the supernatural seriously. Such people may assume their dabbling is harmless, or artistically edgy. But they couldn’t be more dangerously mistaken.   

Writing in The New York Times earlier this month, Ross Douthat commented on the growing interest in astrology, “manifesting” videos on TikTok, and spiritual exploration with psychedelic drugs. These things, he argues, are signs that our supposedly secular society is in the midst of a spiritual awakening, but one that involves the wrong types of spirits.

Unrestrained by theology or organized faith, people eager for transcendence are opening doors without considering what might walk through. For example, Douthat notes the golden statue of a woman-like creature that was recently placed atop a New York City courthouse. The bizarre figure features hair braided into horns, arms reminiscent of tentacles, and a lace collar in apparent homage to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It’s an unsettling mashup of Earth goddess, abortion politics, and classic demon imagery that embodies our society’s experimental spirituality.  

More overtly hellish antics took the stage at this month’s Grammy Awards, where “nonbinary” pop singer Sam Smith literally dressed up as the devil and performed a song called “Unholy” with transgender artist Kim Petras. Progressive commentators were quick to lecture religious conservatives who were supposedly “freaking out” over Smith’s horns and hooves. “These performers probably don’t actually believe the devil exists,” said one left-wing host. It’s just “artistic expression.” 

Is it possible the devil doesn’t care? Maybe Smith and the artist behind the New York courthouse statue are just trying to be edgy or being pulled along by the allure of the taboo. Maybe people who experiment with occult spirituality and “expanded consciousness” are just fooling around. Maybe flirtations with spiritual darkness are only a big bluff. (Read more from “Don’t Call on Demons You Don’t Believe In” HERE)

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