Friday, March 27, 2009

Applied Memetic Demonology 102

If demons are memetic in character, then how do we fight them? This is Applied Memetic Demonology, after all. So...where's the application? (If you want the more abstract theoretical stuff, you'll have to wait for my Arcana Daemonica 301, which isn't offered again until Fall 2010.)

There are a variety of tools that are efficacious in the battle against those self-perpetuating threads of thought and cultural darkness that shatter us individually and cause our societies to devour creation and neighbor. Those tools include the following:

1) To Kill A Demon, Starve A Demon. Memes reinforce themselves through repetitive control over our actions. The more often we engage in a particular behavior or allow our actions to be controlled by that thread of thought, the stronger that thread becomes. At a personal level, cycles of addictive behavior, anger, jealousy, and bitterness can become so deeply entrenched in us as to completely control our actions. Resisting the urge and undercutting that pattern is one essential step in breaking the cyclical character of a controlling meme. This can be immensely difficult for us to do alone.

So pray over it. Meditate over it. Supplant and subvert that pattern of behavior at every level. Replace it with actions that are healthy and in the service of others.

Don't just briefly stop yielding to it. Leave no room in your life for it to feed.

Also...don't give it power. Don't say, "I'm in the grasp of a mighty spiritual power." Say, "I'm in the grasp of something that is nothing." We want our own struggles to be part of a great war that is raging across heaven. We want this sense that we're part of a great life or death struggle for the cosmos itself. But we only want that because we are selfish. God already rules everything but us. Our own struggles...our own demons...are tiny. Call 'em on it. They are practically nothing.

Those controlling patterns of behavior are even more ferocious at a collective level. Resisting social compulsions towards hyperconsumptiveness or xenophobia is a huge challenge. There, the church and communities of faith can respond. We can provide prophetic witness. We can provide a community that nurtures countercultural alternatives to the demonic ethos that consumes us with consumerism and stokes the fires of nationalistic fervor.

Or not, depending on the church. But the battle is worth waging.

2) Apply Light. Demons rely on darkness for their survival. Enveloping them with shame and silence is just what they need. So don't give it to 'em. Open yourself up to the love of God and neighbor.

Praying, meditating, and allowing yourself to stand before your Maker helps give a foundation for taking the little buggers out. That doesn't mean crying out "The Power of Christ Commands You" over and over again while wearing big billowy vestments. That's a movie, folks.

The awareness of God's presence that comes from prayer provides a sacred space in your life, an awareness of the presence of the holy that can act as a beachhead in your efforts to drive out the darkness. That radical kenosis or "self-emptying," if done regularly, connects you to the truth of God's absolute power and transforming love. The more transparent you are before God, the less shadow you cast. And those memes only live quivering in the shadows of your soul. Fill yourself with light.

You need to open yourself to neighbor, too. That means sharing. Confessing. Find a friend or loved one you can speak to who will support you. Find a mature person in the faith who will hear without judging and hold you accountable. That connection, that opening to another, makes for a connection in the Spirit that transcends the reach of the pernicious little memelings within you.

There are plenty of groups that can help with this. 12 Step programs, though often maligned, are of tremendous help. Church accountability groups are also very effective. People of faith often reject the assistance of professionals...but a good, faith-sensitive psychologist or psychiatrist is yet another weapon in your own struggle and an aid to overcoming those things within yourself that oppress and subvert you.

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