Exploration of evil

"Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you." Psalm 102:1

I have long been fascinated by exorcism stories. It's so closely tied to Christian theology, that I enjoy seeing what various takes have to say. Sometimes you find nuggets of theology in the midst of a place you wouldn't expect.

There are two types of exorcism stories. The first example is "The Exorcist," the famed 1973 movie that some view as the scariest movie of all time. It is about exorcisms, which is a religious ceremony, yes. But it's not the way you'd expect. It uses exorcisms as a plot device with no real intention of exploring theology.

The second example is "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," which was released 11 years ago. That film was written and directed by Christians with the express purpose of telling an exorcism story as a way of exploring faith. It's a theological piece meant for outreach.

Most other exorcism stories — and there are many — fall somewhere along that spectrum. In fact, most hue closer to "The Exorcist" than "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." I thought that's what would happen with the new FOX series, "The Exorcist," based on the famed movie. But what I got was more of an interesting mix of the two.

The Scripture I started this post with was used as the title of the pilot episode. And from the moment the show began, it was clear that in some ways this will be an exploration of Scripture. The opening sermon actually is a beautiful depiction of faith, built around Peter walking on water, becoming afraid, and sinking into the sea. It was a sermon that made me think, and probably would have done the same for all audiences.

It was a sign to me that this series will be something different. Of course, being a Hollywood production, it's far from perfect. In fact, a bit later in the episode the priest is having a conversation with a woman about demons and actually says they aren't real, but rather a convenient way to explain things like addiction and struggles. That's bad theology, plain and simple. Nothing in Scripture justifies that stance, in fact it would point you the other way.

Still, there is something different and unexpected about this presentation of "The Exorcist." There is a mix of theology and pop culture's take on this religious ceremony. I don't know which way this series will end up coming down, but I'm curious to see where it goes after a surprisingly engaging pilot presentation.


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