Berry College exorcism: Was it devil or dining hall tacos?

Not to be irreverent, but after I read the story about the exorcism at Berry College and the description of the woman’s symptoms — “…she began to repeat ‘no, no, no’ …Her face changed right in front of me and the most evil, hideous grin came on her face and her eyes seemed to turn red,” I had a different thought.

Could  it have seen something she ate?

59 comments Add your comment

TW

October 7th, 2009
10:25 am

V for Vendetta

October 7th, 2009
10:31 am

Is it any wonder the rest of the nation looks at the South as if we were a backwoods, Bible-thumping, racism-perpetuating, fools? Let’s take a look at the past week:

1. Religion in schools (again)

2. Public official endorses religion in schools (again)

3. Claimed exocism performed in college (um, that might be a first)

Here’s the common sense verdict fueled by reason: Nathan Mallory is a moron. There is no such thing as the devil. There is no such thing as exorcisms. Now go about your lives.

jim d

October 7th, 2009
10:34 am

V,

WRONG!! “There is no such thing as the devil”

I’ve been known to be one on occassion. :)

jim d

October 7th, 2009
10:42 am

RED EYES???

In vino veritas

jim d

October 7th, 2009
10:51 am

Sounds like someone may have gotten into the communal wine.

Sarah K

October 7th, 2009
11:29 am

Well, Berry is a dry campus, so I doubt there is any communal wine about.

V for Vendetta

October 7th, 2009
11:42 am

jim d,

Haha! True enough! I suppose we all have our moments.

Batgirl

October 7th, 2009
11:58 am

Enter your comments here
V, you’re right. My southern roots go back 300-400 years, but even I think we can be a bunch of morons. This is the first I had heard about the exorcism, but I don’t know why I should be surprised. Add to your list of idiotic things, something I received this morning. Just a week after Banned Books Week I received an e-mail from a fellow librarian admonishing us not to buy the book Conversations with God. Apparently this is an Oprah’s Book Club choice, but it is supposed to be blasphemous, at least according to the originator of the e-mail. Of course, I immediately went to Amazon and bought it.

Larry

October 7th, 2009
12:24 pm

“He kind of migrated to a group that participated in exorcisms,” Skelton said.

The first “group” that comes to mind is the Roman Catholic Church, a curious group for WinShape to question. Then again, Truett Cathy’s restaurants are open on the Sabbath and closed the following day, so it’s not surprising WinShape’s logic process might be less than self-evident.

Regardless, this involved individual students, not a school sponsored function, so why would anyone care?

Sarah K

October 7th, 2009
12:30 pm

As a student at Berry, I can certainly tell you that the exorcism has stirred many heightened debates on campus. The vast majority of students and faculty agree that Nathan Mallory is probably nuts. I don’t think that the majority of Berry students (or southerners, for that fact) are necessarily morons, but there are certainly a number of “eccentric” people at Berry.

Not every member of the WinShape program are “eccentric” and certainly none are as “eccentric” as Nathan Mallory. In large part, the students in the program have more or less ostracized him from their group. I would not be surprised if he were removed form the program at the end of the school year. People have left or been removed for much less than that over the years. The program itself it uber conservative, and most people, including myself, consider it to be a black mark on Berry. But unfortunately, between the super conservative Berry administration and trustees and the uber right-wing design of the WinShape program, the opinions of the students and faculty at Berry are largely drowned out.

Our President has yet to comment on the matter (neglecting his responsibilities seems to be his number one priority) and I think that’s likely because he thinks the exorcism was legitimate. He has been quoted as saying all kinds of uber conservative nutty things over the years, particularly surrounding his refusal of LISTEN, the GLBT student group on campus. It was argued that groups like the “Black Student Alliance” and the “Baptist Student Ministry” are specialized groups permitted on campus, and so a GLBT student group should also be allowed. He responded that if her were the President when the Black Student Alliance was created, he’d have forbidden that as well. He’s a real charmer.

Overall, Berry really is a great school on the most beautiful campus in the world. My professors and about 95% of the student body are intelligent, moderate, and well rounded students. There are a few crazies in every school, and ours is Nathan Mallory. And unfortunately, Berry College and the WinShape program are going to have to pay for Nathan’s sins.

Maureen's accountability metric

October 7th, 2009
1:15 pm

I would like to submit a question to Dana Tofig here, since Halley’s Comet came and went between the time I submitted a response to his non answer about CRCT cheating and the time it actually posted.

Dana said “Does cheating happen? Obviously, it does. Is it “widespread?” No, I do not think so.”

Gee Dana, too bad Chicago didn’t win the Olympics, as I’m sure they would have loved to have utilized your talent for denial by having you write press releases claiming that there’s no widespread use of performing enhancement drugs in track and field.

Dana also wrote, “I am not the one who is qualified to identify incidences of cheating-”

Dana claims there’s no widespread cheating, even as he admits he wouldn’t recognize it if it bit him on the arse? Maureen you know him better than we do, did he do his internship under the tutelage of Karl Rove?

Dana, rather than ask you why you don’t think cheating is widespread, which would only serve to make your credibility level on education issues even lower than Paris Hilton’s on global warming, why don’t you answer a specific question instead; a question that could actually address cheating before it happens, and not after, like the DOE has done so far.

Dana, will you address if the DOE will commit to sending monitors to those schools where the evidence shows the only possible legitimate explanation for their scores is that they cheated? Furthermore, will they send monitors to schools where the evidence shows the most probable explanation is that they cheated?

The DOE can make the case that it’s cost prohibitive to send a monitor to every school. But what wouldn’t be cost prohibitive is to send a message to every school, by sending monitors to those schools who have been shown to have cheated, or where cheating is strongly suspected.

If those monitors, and not the school system officials in those schools, secured the testing materials before, during and after the test, they we could really see what the students did at those schools, versus what the adults did for them.

Will the DOE commit to that Dana? Or does the DOE, in their heart of hearts, really not want the public to know “the fullest view” of what may or may not be happening in regard to cheating and the CRCT?

Maureen Downey

October 7th, 2009
1:18 pm

Metric,
You might want to post this on the entry on Dana’s leaving the DOE, which I just put up. I think it’s more likely he would read it there.
Maureen

Rebecca

October 7th, 2009
1:52 pm

As a Berry graduate, I both agree with and applaud Sarah K’s comment.

JR

October 7th, 2009
4:58 pm

I am suprised that so many people are eager to read one article and immediately state a often harsh and critical statement. As a student at Berry, I have been in the midst of this “festering debate” for weeks now. As I Christian man, my first reaction to this incident was that of shock and disbelief. However, my adversion to a reported incident is not grounds to say it is not true. First, it is clear in scripture that demonic possesion is indeed a realistic occurance. One would have a hard time trying to argue against that scriptually. However, there a many arguments for why one would see them in scripture but not see them in America today. A logical argument could be that they were demonstrated as “proofs” of Jesus’s divinity in a region where there was no evidence for Jesus’ teachings. If this were the case, it makes sense why Nathan would experience demonic possesions in India–a region where there is no “saturation” of scipture and demonic or hellish forces would not compromise or ‘prove’ their existence through intimidation or possesion. While in the West (America) a region largely saturated with scriptures, it can be said the Satan’s “battle” plan would not be to expose or validate his existence, but to subvert and divert all thought or concern with the spiritual. However, I can not prove that it did not happen, even if other factors such as mental health, illness, anxiety come into play. From what I know, Nathan is a man who loves the Lord, and “has a heart of gold” as Bob Skelton said. His actions may or may not have been appropriate, but that is not grounds to call Him a moron, extremist, or any other name–espcially when facts and context are lacking.

Mary R.

October 7th, 2009
5:17 pm

As a graduate of Berry, this incident on campus does not shock me. There have been wiccan rituals and satanic rituals performed on the campus, so why should this be shocking to anyone? Especially on Winshape. During an R.A. meeting, a Winshaper gave all the R.A.’s books on Jesus…I was not happy about the matter, but again, not shocked. Let’s just say, the guy isn’t an R.A. this year. Berry is not very open-minded and needs to become more in this day and age.

And JR, you are an idiot for putting down India with their rich spiritual history and presence. Just because it’s not widely Christian, doesn’t make it demonic or hellish.

Sarah K

October 7th, 2009
6:28 pm

Whether Nathan “loves the lord” or has a heart of coal doesn’t change the fact that he acted inappropriately. His “eccentric” nature, as I prefer to call it, whether good, bad, Christian, or nuts, has caused a world of hurt for Berry and WinShape. “Scriptural arguments”, as you call them, hold no value for me on this topic. I have examined this issue with the best logic I can, and that logic clearly points to the conclusions I have stated above. I suppose that makes me “intellectually retarded” (a person who has retarded their spiritual sensibilities by enhancing their intellectual sensibilities) as Nathan Mallory stated in the Berry College Campus Carrier.

Despite my opinions on his mental state or your opinions on his spiritual state, Nathan made a boo boo. And it was a whopper. Are you aware that he has fellow students on his hall, living only a few doors away from him, who are already ordained preachers? Why wouldn’t he seek their advice if this were a spiritual matter of demonic possession? Much less the advice of the other RA’s, the program directors at WinShape, a mental health professional, a spiritual professional, heck– any kind of professional would have done the trick.

His lack of responsibility regarding this issue will cost us big time. In my eyes, although I prefer to not use the term “moron” regarding him or anyone else, I do think those are some pretty moronic actions that were made by him. And he made the conscious decision to commit those acts, and he is the sole person responsible for the events that occurred in his room that evening.

Furthermore, I think a junior in college preforming an exorcism on young woman certainly classifies itself as “extreme”, and Nathan as an “extremist” for performing the exorcism.

I can’t speak for every person who has written on this page, but I can promise you that I have plenty of knowledge on what happened that night. Contrary to your beliefs, I have not read just one article and jumped to conclusions. I have literally listened to the full 45 minute interview on Viking Fusion, read the article on Viking Fusion, watched the video they produced, read the various articles & blogs from the Berry College Campus Carrier, AJC, US News, Creative Loafing, Rome News Trib, RichardDawkins.net, etc in addition to speaking with WinShape students who were in the building at the time of the exorcism. I have fully researched the event and topic, and I do feel that I can express valid opinions on the matters.

V for Vendetta

October 7th, 2009
6:53 pm

JR,

Nathan is a moron. You are a moron. Out of the three Berry students who have thus far posted, only Sarah K seems to have a shred of common sense. JR, the fact that you even wrote the words “Satan’s battle plan” proves that you have the collective intelligence of a shovel.

Forgive me, regular posters. I’m not usually so directly mean (mean, yes, but not quite so blunt); however, if this is an example of the kinds of students who are attending our colleges in the year 2009, I fear for the fate of our country. I hate to burst your bubble, JR, but here’s a little “truth” for you:

-There is probably not a God, Satan, angels, demons, tooth fairies, or Santa Clauses.

-The Bible is a work of fiction, compiled from various culture’s mythological tales.

-Believing in exorcisms is akin to believing in the use of leeches.

-I can’t believe what stupidity is present in institutions of higher learning.

JR, please, for the sake of yourself and those around you, go read some book based on reason, logic, and common sense. Might I suggest you start with the writings of Ayn Rand, and, after that, it would benefit you to pick up a few books by Richard Dawkins. See you in he11.

V

aknight

October 7th, 2009
7:31 pm

V – I am a senior at Berry, and although it is very apparent that you do not believe in God, which is of course, your choice – wouldn’t the decent thing to do would to be respect others beliefs around you? I plan to respect yours.

I know Nathan, and am friends with him, and though I am not particularly on his side with this whole exorcism thing, I don’t think it is fair to judge him and call him a moron without actually meeting him. If we were all to go by your standards, (which of course seem to be thinking our opinion is the only one, and judging without knowing) then I guess we can assume that you too are a moron? I’m just following your lead sir.

Point being, whether you believe or not, agree or not – casting out unjustified opinions of others is kind of a dick move, and I feel that as a friend of Nathan’s, and as a Berry student that actually HAS a clue as to what’s going on around campus Mr. V, I needed to put my two cents in and stick up for him. If you ever want to come to campus and meet Nathan or myself and actually walk around and participate in the colleges activities, I encourage you to look me up – I’ll be happy to be your tour guide. Until then, get over yourself.

Rachael Wheeler

October 7th, 2009
7:38 pm

I’m a freshman here at Berry.

I am genuinely sad that the world is laughing at us.

In our defense, we do not even have tacos in the dining hall.

V for Vendetta

October 7th, 2009
8:21 pm

aknight,

I disagree. Based on what I’ve read about him, he’s a moron. Let’s take a look at the article, shall we? Here is a quote from Mallory:

“While we were worshipping, she began to repeat ‘no, no, no’ just like the other demon-possessed cases I’ve seen in the past,” Mallory wrote in an e-mail to WinShape students. “That’s when [the demon] showed itself.”

“Her face changed right in front of me and the most evil, hideous grin came on her face and her eyes seemed to turn red and I prayed that the Holy Spirit would just take over from there and he did,”

I’m sorry, aknight, but these comments are not typically made by a rational individual who values reason and logic. In fact, I would dare say that these comments border on outright lunacy and are indicative of a fundamentalist–i.e., extremist–belief system that can only be maintained when reason and logic are completely dismissed. A person possessing neither reason nor logic would find himself unable to rationally understand the world around him. A person possessing neither reason nor logic would rely in mysticism as his sole means of interpreting the world around him, forming values, and maintaining morals. A person possessing neither reason nor logic would be ignorant–a “moron,” if you will.

You see? I’m not just calling people names. My evaluation is based on the facts that I’ve read about in the paper. My evaluation of JR came from similar evidence. (Anyone who uses the phrase “Satan’s battle plan” must share Mr. Mallory’s penchant for mysticism.) He, too, seems to qualify as a moron. Though your reasoning (and grammar) skills need work (your second paragraph is a mess), you give me no reason to label you the same. Congratulations.

Rachael,

Do yourself a favor, hun. Stay away from the fundies. Take some philosophy courses. Remain rational and independent.

aknight

October 8th, 2009
12:00 am

Once again, your opinion, V, is stated on the fact that you yourself are not a Christian. I believe my first paragraph takes care of that one. As I said before, for people who do believe in the Bible, exorcisms are real. Whether Nathan actually performed one or not is of course up for debate; I’m debating it myself. All I’m saying is, you don’t know Nathan as a person, you know him as a part of an article, a story.

aknight

October 8th, 2009
12:01 am

Rachel – I agree, maybe the next thing the media can turn into a big deal should be the lack of Mexican food in the dining hall – it seems they are looking for anything these days.

Jones

October 8th, 2009
3:26 am

I am fairly certain that the comments I make will not be grasped by the most verbal of those who have written herein thus far. How the school will respond? Dean Heida is quite accomplished at ignoring problems and issues, choosing instead to hope that “time” will mitigate all to a place of non-existence. A secular approach is generally her chosen direction… even to the point of seeking ana-biblical solutions. She’s in her position because she looks good and politics well. Fortunately for all, diligent, intelligent, and competent associate deans exist. This formula works for Berry… no reason to change it. So, count on nothing substantive, good or bad, happening to anyone involved. To those who say Berry needs to vacate its Christian heritage? If you really believe that Berry is still a Christian-based university, then you have your head in the sand. Attempting to be critical of Christian virtues at Berry is simply catch-all for you as you seek a cause about which to complain. You think being anti-Christian somehow makes you cosmopolitan. You fool no one, only yourself. Win-Shape is a very small portion of the student body and does not have near the influence it once claimed. Now, to the exorcism event itself… Your belief or disbelief in this or similar events of religious relationship has absolutely nothing to do with the truth of, or lack of truth in, the occurrences. This young man is a moron only because you need for him to be… because he and this event couldn’t possibly have been true or real since it doesn’t fit snuggly into your small mind and intellect (which you wrongly perceive to be big and vast – you seem to be quite full of yourself). Good luck to you, my friend… your world will be a very lonely one. As you likely attribute my comments to those of an “obvious fundamentalist” (which, by the way, I am not… a teacher of philosophy I am… and many consider me liberal), I’ll leave you to ponder 1 Corinthians 1, verse 18 and following… “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

V for Vendetta

October 8th, 2009
8:01 am

aknight,

It’s my mistake, really. I should have expected this level of rational thought from Berry. It doesn’t matter if Mr. Mallory believes exorcisms are real. The bottom line is that exorcisms are NOT real, despite what some misguided people believe.

This is the problem with people of faith; they believe in a primacy of consciousness. They maintain that because they believe something, it must be real. Since people such as myself can’t PROVE it’s not real, it must be real. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see the fallacy in such reasoning.

Kids believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, unicorns, elves, etc. Are they real? There are books written about them, so they must be real, right? There are historical texts that describe dragons, monsters, and other such creatures. Are they all to be believed?

I truly hope you are not majoring in a subject that requires logic and rational thought.

Lauren

October 8th, 2009
9:48 am

Jones: I completely agree with you about Dean Heida. However I do not agree that Berry is not a Christian-based school. And no, I am not looking for a cause to complain about. I already have plenty of those. Have you not read Berry’s mission statement?
“Berry College is a comprehensive liberal-arts college with Christian values. The college furthers our students’ intellectual, moral and spiritual growth; proffers lessons that are gained from worthwhile work done well; and challenges them to devote their learning to community and civic betterment. Berry emphasizes an educational program committed to high academic standards, values based on Christian principles, practical work experience and community service in a distinctive environment of natural beauty. It is Berry’s goal to make an excellent private liberal-arts education accessible to talented students from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds.”
No, Berry is not longer affiliated with a church as it once was. But it is still deeply rooted in Christian values and morals. It’s motto is even “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
Most of the professors I have dealt with are more liberal. However the vast majority of the student that I have encountered are pretty conservative and strongly value their Christian faith. There is sometimes a clash between the school’s trustees and administration, the professors, and even between students. I do not have a problem with someone’s religion until they try to force it upon me.

Z for Zebra

October 8th, 2009
10:06 am

Dear V for Vendetta,

You, my friend, are a goober. Thank you for imparting your wisdom upon our lost souls. You see, without you, we may have never again heard Richard Dawkins’ mindless, lousy arguments as to why there is no God. It’s almost as lame of a reason to believe in God’s existence based on Pascal’s “Wager.” I hope you see that you are also insisting that such wonderful things as justice and beauty are non-existent. Are you really that postmodern?? I would hope you are not, so please tell me you at least see the truth of objective justice.
Also, please notice that just as the Christian appeals to the authority of the Bible, you appeal to the authority of Dawkins and perhaps more so you rely on the authority of reason and rationale. What I am trying to say is that you have faith in your logic. Let’s just be honest, alright? You are not a better person because you “know” that God doesn’t exist. Sure, you can still make fun of people, but realize that they are just as able to do the same for you. And honestly, according to your profound logic, who the hell cares anyway? Let exorcism kid do what he wants, he’ll be dead in…oh…60 or so years. So will you. So what does it matter? Is is just a game to you? Do you like to argue for the sake of arguing?
By the authority you appeal to, nothing really matters, when it comes down to it. The New Atheists just aren’t that convincing…and they don’t really say anything new. And even if they did, what does it matter? You are a tiny tiny speck on a tiny tiny planet that is hardly a blip on history’s radar. You, my friend, are small. I hope you realize this, and therefore realize that if anything at all, you are easily susceptible to religious debates, which is precisely what some religious gurus want you to be. You fall prey to the mindless repetition of debate…you of all people should know that even if your reason and logic are accurate and exact, people will always refuse to believe, whether religious or not.
Oh, and please admit as well (I assume that you do), that you are a fundamentalist as well. Just look up the definition. You are strictly adhering to the doctrine of your own personal beliefs. Let’s just be honest about where we are at, please?

Anyway, all this makes me smirk a bit, seeing that if we were to pass one another on the street, or sit in a subway together for awhile, we would both be fairly cordial with each other. I would probably tell a funny/stupid story about my life, and you would crack a joke about some religious nutjob you used to know.
I look forward to your caustic, passionately reasoned response (no sarcasm is meant in this last sentence, to be clear).

Jones

October 8th, 2009
10:15 am

V… Your words are quite insightful into your personal intellectual cerebral narcissism; and I think President Lincoln is best quoted here… “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” V, count this blog among your accomplishments for you have removed all doubt. You have provided keen examples of misplaced and misapplied logic; as well as poor and pouty rhetoric (illegitimate apophasis, hyperbole, metonymy…). (Go ahead, look them up – no one is watching.) No doubt, there are Christians praying for you… So, other than the fact that you owe Peter Russell the sincerest of apologies for your misapplication of the “primacy of consciousness” (I see a real “mis” trend here, V), it is with your last entry that this blog has reached its climax…

Jones

October 8th, 2009
10:39 am

“Lauren and Z”… your entries hit while I was typing my own… and before I leave I wanted to tell you both I absolutely enjoyed your entries! You both have given factual, well-organized, accurate, and strong rhetorical blogs… I thank you. Lauren, I pray such a diverse environment does exist at Berry for such an environment produces true academic freedom… and I hope it builds a valid apologetic of the Christian faith for you, too. Fear of name-calling and jokes has too long silenced well-read and educated Christians. In Christ is salvation and hope for eternity… which is something the simplest and most learned among us discover once they truly take the time to engage the prospect. Z, you provided legitimate apophasis, hyperbole, and metonymy which I will use as a positive example. You need to consider a debate team… well done…

FDD

October 8th, 2009
11:02 am

V,

I have to say that the premise of your ‘logical’ argument is horribly flawed. Thus, you are likely unable to carry a relevant conversation with someone who believes in anything spiritual. But if you are truly using reason to perceive what your consciousness tells you is the truth, then how can you call a theist (christian or otherwise) ignorant. By definition, you are the ignorant or agnostic one to the consciousness of the theist, and because you haven’t experienced something in your consciousness spiritually convincing you must find it necessary to attempt to debunk religion by equating it with fairy tales and rituals that emanated from unrelated pagan beliefs along with other secular things. Your part in this conversation is the equivalent of an elementary schooler trying to lecture to a Ph.D. in biology on why his dissertation is incorrect because you can’t see or comprehend his logic.

I’m not saying you are right or someone is wrong, but if you have not experienced the existence of a God or anything spiritual then it is your consciousness that has been limited. The belief in these things exists in one’s consciousness, and to that person only is it perceived uniquely. So to your claim that a person with reason or logic would not believe in such things makes no sense. It is kind of like scientist reasoning an outcome for his experiment without actually doing the experiment and making bold claims that anyone who believes the experiment would have turned out differently is a moron. For you, mind and body might be perceived, but spiritually you are lacking whether you can reason that or not.

Z for Zebra

October 8th, 2009
11:44 am

Jones-

Thank you. I enjoyed your insight as well. Truly, it is tragic that such double standards exist in so many “good” arguments. Perhaps you would agree that the Bible would say that much of it comes down to control- to us taking the place of God? We try to be objective and “over” everything (like Socrates in his lofty basket in Aristophanes), because we already think we are over everything. Our self-made assumption of ruler-ship presupposes our control over others, which displays itself in all kinds of double standard arguments and actions. We try to be right, not because we want to be right, but because we already think that we are.
Place my desire to rule next to the Gospel, and I can’t help but be offended. Surely, as you quoted, the Cross of Christ is a stumbling block and nothing more than foolish to those who are perishing. But surely it is a humbling, redeeming mercy and saving grace for those who believe. To know that Jesus died in my place for all my crimes for the vindication of God’s name is near unthinkable. May God grant his kindness to those who still think they are god.

BerryStudent05

October 8th, 2009
12:01 pm

Anyone reading this,

If you have met Nathan, then you can comment on your opinion of his personality. Over the 2 years he’s been at Berry, this is the biggest thing that’s ever happened with him. How do I know this….because I know Nathan. However, I wasn’t present at the exorcism, so I can’t legitimately comment on that, nor can those who weren’t there. For those who have read his interviews, question whether or not your interpretation is accurate.

As far as what the bible says in scriptures, there’s nothing that would link logic and rationality to the existance of God and demons. That’s not God’s nature a lot of the times. I firmly believe (only based on experiences and scripture) that Satan’s game plan, as JR stated, is not to show us that he exists, but to let us live the american dream, believing we’re living an important life, and then go to hell. Where in the American dream are we living our lives for Christ?…….it’s not there, so why would Satan have to scare us into believing in possessions when our lives are already destined to be eternally apart from God. There’s scripture to back this up, as well as first few pages of “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.

In India, as Nathan Mallory, said to me in person, face to face, They’re “American Dream” doesn’t exist, therefore they’re so much more likely to give their lives to Christ, because they have nothing to lose and because spiritual warefare exists everyday. Yes, this sounds pretty lame, but then again, ask yourself if you’ve ever been to parts of india where it’s dirt poor and did or did not witness these things. I haven’t, so I can’t say that my eyes have seen it, but for anyone who believes that Christ died for them, and that there’s an enemy who doesn’t want them to follow christ, how does Satan plan to prevent giving our lives to Christ.

aknight

October 8th, 2009
12:02 pm

All,
I think we should let V believe as he will, although I will be praying for him. The point of my arguement first, was the point out that no one should be unfairly judged, and I believe V also counts as “no one.” My second argument was that he’s got his beliefs, I have mine, others have their own. They may not be the same, but they should all be respected. V seems to skip that part in his reading.

Thank you all for your comments. Some people are just too stubborn and arrogant in their own thoughts, but that’s just the way it is. I’m asking that he respects the Christians around him, so I think we should respect (not agree with) his beliefs as well…maybe one day V can learn from others around him.

Jones – I agree with everything you have stated.

Bryan G.

October 8th, 2009
12:23 pm

I’m really not sure why this story is a big deal.

A student at a church-sponsored college performs an exorcism. Well, I mean, I assume if they believe in God, they believe in Satan. So…what’s the big deal?

Yeah, I think it’s crazy…you (assuming you have common sense) think it’s crazy. I think it’s hypocritical for Berry to remove the kid from his R.A. job for doing a religious sacrament that many churches recognize. Would he lose his job if they had communion in his room?

Anyway, to recap, this would be crazy if it happened at UGA or Tech…but not Berry.

V for Vendetta

October 8th, 2009
12:29 pm

Z,

You’re right, Z. We are just specks on a tiny planet; drifting through a universe so vast, many people have difficulty grasping the sheer enormity of it all. You are also correct in stating that it doesn’t really matter what a person believes. True enough. In the end, we all cease to exist, and what one believes in relation to another makes very little difference. However, I believe that our ability to reason, the very ability that separates us from every other conscious entity on Earth, necessitates a certain perspective if we are to coexist on this planet as rationl individuals. Of course, I stress the words rational and individual because no man should ever initiate force against another, whether it be physically or epistemologically. But faith-based social structures–i.e., mysticism–have long and distinguished track records of intolerance and democide to go with their messages of peace, love, and harmony. I have a hard time finding examples of human atrocities committed in the name of science. Perhaps you feel that the New Atheists are simply repeating the same tired messages that have been present as long deists and atheists have existed; that is your right. However, I marvel at your outright dismissal of Dawkins, whom I referenced as more of an example rather than a single, higher authority. He has had more schooling than I have, but there are plenty of others to whom I could have “appealed.” I’m also confused at your assertion that objective justice and beauty cannot be derived from reason and logic. Do we solely rely on a higher power for such things? I should hope not.

I don’t “know” that God doesn’t exist. Such a statement would violate my belief in reason. I said he “probably” doesn’t exist. I prefer rational egoism to servile faith. Maybe I was too hard on Mr. Mallory, but I marvel at the fact that students in college can unequivocably believe in such things as exorcisms in the year 2009. If ever we meet someday, I hope the conversation goes as you suggest. You sound like an interesting individual, and I’m sure I would enjoy chatting with you.

Jones,

I find it interesting that you so haughtily call me narcissistic, and then proceed to condescend to me by using words you assume I will not understand, as though my intellect cowers in the presence of someone such as yourself. I wonder at your use of the word.

My reference to the Primacy of Consciousness comes from Ayn Rand’s book Philosophy: Who Needs It. The article is entitled “The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made.” I don’t plan on apologizing to Mr. Russell because I don’t agree with his views on consciousness. I see consciousness as Ms. Rand does–i.e., as a means of interpreting the world around us and integrating the sensory information we receive from it. To quote Rand in opposition to the Primacy of Consciousness:

“The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward.”

Is that an appeal to a higher power? Am I allowed to quote or reference anyone?

I apologize if all of this is beneath you. My “small mind and intellect” which I “wrongly perceive to be big and vast” was not able to come up with anything better. Since you are the teacher of philosophy, I implore you to do just that. I’m more than willing to listen.

Bryan G.

October 8th, 2009
1:20 pm

Berrystudent05:

Did it occur to you that the people in India may be giving their life to Christ because (a) they don’t know any better or (b) because there is nothing good in their life so they HAVE to believe in a higher power to keep living?

Sarah K

October 8th, 2009
2:01 pm

Bryan G. –

I think it’s inevitable for a student exorcism to become a “big deal”. In fact, I’m shocked that so many people don’t see it as the big deal that it is. Nathan Mallory has no expertise in exorcising demons (only what he has seen in India), and I would hardly call it a common practice. Many churches don’t perform exorcisms at all anymore. The Episcopal Church has not officially performed one in decades, as I have understood it. Largely because science has shown us that “demonic possessions” that used to mandate an exorcism by a church official are actually mental diseases and disorders that require the care and attention of a mental health professional.

In my eyes, the “big deal” is that the actions he took were reckless and irresponsible. Sure I think exorcisms are kind of nuts and that his intense spirituality may have knocked him off his rocker a few times, but my biggest concern is that all accounts of the incident show his vast irresponsibility in the situation.

The “possessed” young lady went to him for help that night. Perhaps because he was an R.A. or because he was a Christian, her reason doesn’t matter. He took her presence there as a sign from God, and he then took it upon himself to pay with her, and then later exorcise a demon from her. She repeatedly yelled “No, no, no!” but he continued. His neighbors have told me they thought it was a rape because of the shouts coming from his room.

As a person graced with responsibility, and as an R.A. who is trained in how to handle emergency situations, he should have known better. He should have sought help from someone with more experience than he has. He should have stopped when she said no.

I don’t care if he is Mr. Congeniality or a Christian or whatever else his friends laud him as; the fact of the matter is that he acted irresponsibly. In my eyes, that is why this is a big deal.

Also, despite its roots in Christian traditions, Berry is hardly church sponsored and certainly does not condone student exorcisms. We are not a church-sponsored school. We are not a Christian school. We are a school rooted historically in Christian traditions. But there is nothing about Berry or our curriculum that would support a student performing an exorcism on a young lady.

BerryStudent05

October 8th, 2009
2:07 pm

Bryan G.,

Yes, I’m a firm belive in what Christ has done, but I’ve also taken several philosphy courses where it was examined that only the weak minded and ignorant believe in a God, but it also says in scripture that it’s harder for a rich man to enter the eye of a needle than the kingdom of heaven. This is because rich people, such as ourselves, have more to sacrifice when we give our lives to Christ. On the flip side, yes, these people don’t have anything, and you could say they’re “more prone” to believing in a higher power, but that’s part of becoming a christian. God says that you must do 3 things: Be willing to deny yourself daily(in other words, don’t depend on yourself for meaning and purpose), take up your cross daily (realizing that a life devoted to God isn’t easy), and follow me. Although it’s much easier for the poor to grasp these concepts, there are lots of poor people that don’t.

But ask yourself, if you were to see a demon, you would know it existed. Back to what I said earlier, if Satan showed us he existed in a physical or spiritual form, then where would atheist’s be. Satan has them where he wants them, and to reaffirm his existence would only lead to the possiblity of Atheists denying what they believe and coming to Christ, which is contrary to what Satan wants.

Z for Zebra

October 8th, 2009
2:07 pm

V,
Thanks for the quick response! I did not make myself clear on some points, so might I address them? You wrote that “You are also correct in stating that it doesn’t really matter what a person believes.” I actually think it is of infinite importance what a person believes. But if what Dawkins or Hitchens would say is true- that there is no God- then it simply wouldn’t matter what anyone believed.
“But faith-based social structures–i.e., mysticism–have long and distinguished track records of intolerance and democide to go with their messages of peace, love, and harmony.” This is true, but it is quite difficult to link the cause with the effect. There are plenty of non-religious perpetrators out and about these days. I think it is an audacious claim on Dawkins’ (or Harris) part to say that religion is the cause of the majority of violence. And even if it is, since they are atheists, why do they care so much? They want justice to be done, but they don’t know why they want justice to be done. I pose this as a question: why do you want justice?

And sorry for the blatant disregard of Dawkins. The dude is smart, I will give him that (he articulates the theory of accumulation in evolutionary theory better than anyone I know of). But, he is just as much a fundamentalist as those right-wing conservatives. He compromises his character with such an obvious double standard. If he were a true atheist, then he really shouldn’t write books at all, cause it doesn’t matter! To him, there are no eternal consequences to anything, so maybe he just gets some sort of weird pleasure out of writing and arguing for something that is meaningless.

“Do we solely rely on a higher power for such things (justice, beauty)? I should hope not.” While I would say yes, we do in fact rely on a higher power, indeed I would say that we must for all things, I would also say that such things as objective justice and beauty certainly point to a Creator. This is for clarity’s sake: do you think of justice as objective? That is, that it is not just some “social construct”? If so, then where does it come from? Why do we know it exists? And really, what in the world is justice? (haha sorry, you don’t have to answer that one…even Socrates couldn ‘t figure it out.)
Oh, and my apologies on putting words in your mouth. You did say that God “probably” does not exist, not that you “know” he doesn’t exist. Thank you for the correction.

Oh, and fear not, I still think you are a goober.

Dr. Sloan

October 8th, 2009
2:14 pm

There seems to be some confusion here about whether or not Berry College is a “Christian-based” school. I’m not clear on what people mean by this term. Perhaps a little history would be helpful.

Berry was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry, a Presbyterian lady who wanted to provide education for the children of local families, mostly poor farmers at that time. From its inception, religion has always played an important role in campus life, and students used to wear uniforms, they were required go to chapel, and they were bound to a strict code of behavior.

All that has changed now, but religion was still an important part of the campus milieu when I graduated in 1984, and it continues to be so. So although Berry has wandered far from its Christian origins (e.g., they showed “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Life of Brian” on campus the year I graduated), the influence of, and emphasis on, religious practice is still there. There are numerous non-denominational fellowships on campus as well as denominational groups. When I was there, there was practically every flavor of Christianity represented on campus, from mainline liberal to fire-breathing charismatic. Sounds like that’s still the case.

The take-home message here is that religion, and Christianity in particular, probably play a larger part on this campus than on most others, but that’s not to say it’s a “Christian” school any more. I think you could say that about the school in the mid-’70s, but not now.

Look, there are varieties of religious experience, and that doesn’t stop when you go to college. I think the first mistake was that Mr. Mallory chose to go public with this incident…that happened the moment he sent the email. I would have thought it would be wiser to show some discretion for the sake of the other person(s) involved. I hope he didn’t name any names, but maybe it was bound to be known anyway…Berry still has a fairly small student body, despite the large campus!

Berry College is a wonderful school and I received a fine education there. And to those who reflexively equate religious belief with a lack of intellect, I would only point out that even any decently educated atheist ought to be able to name at least a few great scientists, scholars, and men and women of letters who were devout people. I was taught at Berry by a number of professors who possessed tremendous knowledge in their specialized fields, coupled with great spiritual wisdom. That was part of what made attending Berry so special.

Bryan G.

October 8th, 2009
2:25 pm

BerryStudent05:

So, Satan doesn’t show himself because he doesn’t want to scare off atheists. Then why doesn’t God show himself? Are we all doing just fine down here without him?

I think the reason I see neither demons nor angels is the same reason I see neither unicorns nor Griffins.

At the end of the day, religion is simply believing in something one cannot prove in order to explain things you cannot explain. Jesus’s story is the same story as Hercules and several other mythological heroes.

BerryStudent05

October 8th, 2009
2:25 pm

Dr. Sloan,

I’m sure if you teach at Berry, but to clear it up, berry’s not a christian campus. However, it draws mainly southern, bible-belt, conservative students, which are predominantly associated with the christian faith. As a liberal arts school, they don’t endorse any specific religion, but the majority of the students say they’re christians. Hope it helps.

BerryStudent05

October 8th, 2009
2:31 pm

Bryan G:

You make a great point…..and i’ve asked myself this many times before I was a christian. Feeling and seeing the presence of the holy spirit in my life shows me that God exists. Being a christian is more of a relationship with God, which is through the holy spirit. No, I can’t take the holy spirit out of me, and mold it into play-do so everyone can see it, but you know it’s there. I know this isn’t enough proof for you, but through scriptures and prayers, I’ve witnessed miracles in my life and the life of others. Jesus said he’ll be back in the scriptures (the rapture), but it wont be until all the nations have heard the Gospel, which is why missionaries devote their lives to sharing with others.

Bryan G.

October 8th, 2009
2:44 pm

BerryStudent05:

Okay…good enough. I’m glad that you have found fulfillment in your religion.

Bryan G.

October 8th, 2009
2:48 pm

Sarah K-

No, trust me…I agree that it is ridiculous and that possessions are either faked or are mental disorders.

I’m just saying that almost 100% of the Christian world believes in a Satan. A smaller majority believe in possessions.

That’s why I don’t understand why it’s a big deal at Berry anymore than it would be a big deal at, say, Notre Dame or Boston College. There seems to be debate as to how religious a college Berry is.

Berry’s mission statement is “Berry College is a comprehensive liberal-arts college with Christian values…Berry emphasizes an educational program committed to high academic standards, values based on Christian principles, practical work experience and community service in a distinctive environment of natural beauty…”

So, one Christian “value” is that there are evil forces out there. That’s why I’m just saying…a kid at a Christian college performed a religious sacrament. B.F.D.

Sarah K

October 8th, 2009
3:15 pm

Bryan G. –

I understand and agree with you on many of your points. Something like 90% of students at Berry identify as Christian, although most do not attend church. So I think it is fair to say that Berry is a predominately populated by Christian students. And the school values many Christian traditions and is historically a Christian school. However, just because our values stem from Christian roots hardly means that the school endorses exorcisms on campus. Holding Christian values does not equate to supporting exorcism performed by irresponsible students.

The “Christian values” you might find at Berry are incorporated into our education of the “head, heart, and hands”. The “head” is the work experience program. The “heart” is the spiritual and moral growth. And the “hands” are for service to others. While Berry does indeed have Christian roots, and is certainly populated by a largely Christian student body, it is not a Christian school. It upholds many Christian values, but exorcisms are not one of them. Berry upholds some Christian values, not all of them.

And I guess the “B.F.D.” classification must vary from person to person. Since I see this as a rather big deal, but not everyone agrees. I would guess that most people would call his actions irresponsible and distasteful at the least, and the fact that he so publicly denies any wrongdoing is bound to rub people the wrong way and make him, and therefore WinShape and Berry, look like fools.

Bryan G.

October 8th, 2009
3:20 pm

I think you and I actually agree more than you may realize, Sarah. I totally and 100% agree that what he did was irresponsible and ridiculous and stupid…and whatever adjective you may put. But I guess it’s a time and place thing.

An exorcism in a church is less ridiculous than an exorcism at, say, my office. I just consider Berry to be more the former than the latter.

Yes, though, it makes Berry and Winshape look stupid, but I just feel like you invite that when you invite in religion to the degree that Berry does.

Dr. Sloan

October 8th, 2009
3:53 pm

BerryStudent05: I don’t teach there, I attended from ‘82 to ‘84 and graduated with a B.S. in biology/chemistry. Card-carrying member of the Thomas Berry Liberation Army!!

With regard to Berry no longer being a “Christian” school, I think that’s pretty much what I said:

“So although Berry has wandered far from its Christian origins…the influence of, and emphasis on, religious practice is still there.”

“The take-home message here is that religion, and Christianity in particular, probably play a larger part on this campus than on most others, but that’s not to say it’s a “Christian” school any more.”

Sarah K

October 8th, 2009
4:02 pm

Oh I don’t think we disagree. I think you’ve made a fair statement. We, as a college, appeal to Christian, southern, conservatives. Therefore we do invite the people who legitimize things like “exorcisms” (see most of the posts on here by Berry students if you doubt me). But, while Berry may be a more fitting environment than your office, I think the best place for an exorcism (if there is such a thing) is in a church with ordained clergy members and people who have studied “demonic possessions” for many years. I guess there is a chain of ridiculousness here. Most ridiculous place for an exorcism: your office. Slightly less ridiculous place: Berry College. Least ridiculous place: a church or church sanctioned environment. So, not in contradiction to your statements, but rather in agreement, Berry is a more suitable place than others. However, it isn’t suitable enough for my taste. I think exorcisms, if they must exist at all, should be handled by a priest and not a student. So even an slightly less ridiculous location of Berry College is still to ridiculous for my liking. But I suppose there are many things too ridiculous for my liking.

Sarah K

October 8th, 2009
4:19 pm

That last one was for Bryan G. In case there was any doubt or confusion! :-)

V for Vendetta

October 8th, 2009
5:25 pm

Z,

Glad I can still fulfill your “goober” label. I don’t want to disappoint!

Your following statement in regards to violence stemming from religion perplexed me:

“This is true, but it is quite difficult to link the cause with the effect.”

How do you figure? Were the Crusades not fought primarily on the basis of religion? I don’t see the point of recapturing the Holy Land if one does not first believe it is holy. Was the Spanish Inquisition simply a mere misunderstanding between some people who had trouble resolving their differences? Isn’t “jihad” typically defined as “holy war?” Weren’t early Christians fed to lions?

I have a hard time brushing aside faith’s role in such atrocities. Human sacrifice is a uniquely faith-based occurrence, even appearing in the Bible. Please explain how faith was not a part of these issues. As Ben Franklin said, “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

I also found this statement intriguing:

“While I would say yes, we do in fact rely on a higher power, indeed I would say that we must for all things, I would also say that such things as objective justice and beauty certainly point to a Creator.”

Why do you think man incapable of objective justice? Justice and beauty are simply reflections of individual values. Men interacting in rational and egoistic ways are constantly making value judgments. They seek value, so they shun those who do not bring value to their lives. For this reason, it is possible to derive morals from reason and logic. Because it is not in a man’s best interest to kill another man, no man has to be told that killing another man is irrational. If such a thing were to happen, it is the purpose of the government to ascribe an appropriate punishment. Indeed, that is the primary purpose of a government–to protect the individual rights of its citizens, to act as an impartial arbiter.

Beauty is also based on individual values. A person chooses a partner by recognizing similar, deeply-held values in combination with aesthetic characteristics. If this were not the case, all men and women would seek out the exact same type of person. A person notices harmony of color, texture, shape and line–all aspects of traditionally beautiful imagery. This is precisely why paintings have a line or flow to them, why the eye travels the canvas in a distinct way and is able to distinguish between a masterpiece and a coloring book. It is also why an individual might prefer The Last Supper to the Mona Lisa, or Michelangelo’s David to Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa.

Some see beauty in mud. Some see beauty in stars. Some see beauty in words.

Beauty is one of the most individual of all human phenomena. To ascribe it to a higher power–or anything else for that matter–is to make us no better than beggars, existing for no other reason than the whim and wonder of an almighty.

But why should I care? Or, in point of fact, why should someone like Dawkins care? You said:

“If he were a true atheist, then he really shouldn’t write books at all, cause it doesn’t matter!”

Maybe that’s true. Then again, maybe Dawkins feels as I do–that there is a certain sense of peace to be gained in atheism, a sense that your life is your own, that you live for no one else. A true atheist would want to share this profound feeling of self reliance and independence. A true atheist would want to counter faith-based arguments with logical thought and reason. A true atheist would know that offering his or her opinion is like offering an outstretched hand: It does not require action from the person to whom it is being offered, but it’s there if he or she wants to take it. They, like the atheist, are free to make a choice.

I’m not going to pretend that what I said about Mr. Mallory wasn’t mean-spirited. It was. But neither am I going to pretend that the faithful hold the high ground and the atheists should retire quietly into the shadows. I’ve lived in the South my entire life, and I’ve been bombarded from all sides by those prophesying my damnation, hounding me to repent, or labeling me as a blasphemer. But that’s fine.

I have reason on my side. They just have a story.