Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Demonologist

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I am an avid and eclectic reader, so a couple of years ago my wife Ruth gave me Andrew Pyper's latest novel. http://www.andrewpyper.com/She didn't know much about Pyper or his books except that the reviews were favourable. Well, the novel was very good and very creepy. Pyper is a master of ominous suspense and I could barely get through the book because I may be the world's biggest scaredy cat when it comes to films and novels

Pyper has struck again with The Demonologist:

 Professor David Ullman’s expertise in the literature of the demonic—notably Milton’s Paradise Lost—has won him wide acclaim. But David is not a believer.
One afternoon he receives a visitor at his campus office, a strikingly thin woman who offers him an invitation: travel to Venice, Italy, witness a “phenomenon,” and offer his professional opinion, in return for an extravagant sum of money. Needing a fresh start, David accepts and heads to Italy with his beloved twelve year-old daughter Tess.
What happens in Venice will send David on an unimaginable journey from skeptic to true believer, as he opens himself up to the possibility that demons really do exist. In a terrifying quest guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of Paradise Lost, David attempts to rescue his daughter from the Unnamed—a demonic entity that has chosen him as its messenger.

Will I venture into The Demonologist? Maybe. Probably. Evil intrigues me, even though the subject is not very United Church. We don't speak much about evil, let alone the demonic or the devil. We always start Lent with Jesus' encounter with the devil in the wilderness, but we don't seem to take it too seriously. But we don't have much explanation for horrors such as the massacre in Rwanda, or systematic child abuse, or refusal to consider gun control. The last example may have your eyebrows on the rise, but I have described as demonic the steadfast refusal of a supposedly religious nation to address the destructive nature of the Fifth Amendment as it is applied in the U.S. This isn't hyperbole on my part. I was in the States with a bunch of fine Christians at the time of the Colorado theatre massacre last summer. Not one person mentioned gun control other than me, a Canuck.

Thirty years ago psychiatrist Scott Peck created a stir with his book, People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil. The original cover included a pitchfork. Admitting that he saw evil in his practice was a controversial step but it stirred  a conversation about evil that continued for a while. Maybe Andrew Pyper's novel will do the same.

What do you think about the existence of evil? Does psychology supplant ancient talk about evil, or can the two coexist? What is your experience with evil?

1 comment:

IanD said...

Evil sucks. (What else can you say?)

Since 2009, I have followed the mantra of "do one nice thing for someone every day." For instance, last week, with my custodian running behind, I set up the chairs for an assembly. Maybe it's a card to a kid in my class for an assignment done well, or a little thing from the store for my kids. Stuff like that adds up, in my mind.

It doesn't totally counteract the kinds of things you read about in the dailies, but it's something I can do consistently to hopefully make the place better.