|Jul/Aug 2006 Salon|
According to experts, there are 134 million demons or evil spirits in the world.
I learned this from a television newscast. I live on the top floor of a building in Brooklyn that faces south, and I pick up several New Jersey and even Philadelphia stations. This particular broadcast was coming from south Jersey.
The anchorperson, an attractive blonde, went on to recount in her detached anchorperson voice that the pope at the time, both in his former capacity of bishop of Cracow and as pontiff, performed and was continuing to perform exorcisms.
Then she broke for a commercial.
I immediately began to wonder about that figure 134 million. It seemed seriously inadequate, especially if you allow for all the guardian angels and other benevolent spirits flying about or attending to the divine throne in heaven. There are about six billion people in the world. That means that to have some sort of evil influence on each one of them, every demon would have to service about 45 people. I used to work for a big-city welfare department. I also counseled drug addicts. So I have some idea of the maximum caseload a professional can competently handle. Forty-five seems to be right on the edge.
Of course on any caseload there are always some clients who require only the minimum of attention. For demons, these would be the Hitlers and Stalins of the world and their small-time counterparts. Also, the Christian Right, hardline Roman Catholics, Muslims and Jews, not to mention the hundreds of millions of ardent Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists and other godly folks, would be among the harder spiritual nuts to crack, and they might reasonably be put on a back burner.
That leaves us with a core constituency of perhaps 20 to 25 souls ripe for each demon's picking. Not a number beyond the ability of any well-trained professional, especially when you consider that a demon, being immaterial, can go at it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no time off for paid holidays, sick leave, or vacation.
This particular television station, by the way, was the same one that used to flog a videocassette about the sins of the flesh committed by our then-sitting president. The commercial pulled no punches and spared no delicate civic sentiments. Clinton was depicted as the willing slave of the Devil.
Since it was "experts" who came up with the number 134 million for the demons at large in the world, I didn't question it initially. But then I got to thinking, why 134 million and not 135 million? Or some other number entirely?
Until I remembered that at the beginning of the current era (A.D./C.E.) well-educated people took for granted the existence of demons and other various good and evil spirits. In fact, the experts of that day knew the names and rankings for each species, so to speakóDominions, Powers, Thrones, etc. Each kind of spirit had a job to do for good or ill. Paul the Apostle and other intelligent men and women, Christian, Jew and pagan, never questioned their existence.
It was an age that prided itself on its science as much as we do our own, and had pretty much figured out how everything worked and where everything's place was in the cosmos. Ptolemy, for instance, devised an ingenious and mathematically precise set of formulae to describe the workings of the universe based upon the obvious fact that the sun revolved around the earth, as did everything else in the heavens. Why shouldn't the theologians and philosophers be able to classify the varieties of spirits and, with a little help from holy writings, calculate precisely how many there were?
The pope, as a modern man, uses aircraft, television, and even public relations people to help him get across his message. The Ayatollah Khomeini preached his revolutionary call via audio cassette during his exile in heathen France before boarding a jet to assume civil power in Iran. And of course the most hardcore religious terrorists use weapons of a distinctly modern cast when they want to blow up a building or take out an abortionist.
So I suppose it should have come as no surprise to find that well-groomed anchorwoman being able to precisely pinpoint the number of devils, minor and major, plying their trade. Nor should it have been a shock to find that commercial airing about Bill Clinton. Putting one and one together, it all began to make sense: 134 million evil spirits loose in the world, a degenerate man in the White House, the pope feeling obliged to personally cast out devils (although at that point probably only in his spare time). The place is going to hell in a handbasket, and the bulk of us are worried about ephemeral matters like health care and war!
Thank God there are still people of faith as well as science, keeping abreast of what is taking place in the invisible world. While physicists argue about how many quarks can dance on the head of a proton, god-fearing folks are passing along the much more important spirit count provided by the world's front-rank demonologists, with special emphasis on those ensconced inside the Beltway.
Check these people out on your own local stations. Neglecting to do so would not only be unscientific but could be dangerous to your spiritual health.