I have been hooked by itv’s new series Midwinter of the Spirit. It’s an occult thriller set,not in a creepy house on a deserted hill, but in the cosy English countryside – Herefordshire and the west country, the borderlands. Being intentionally spooked is obviously one of the strange pleasures that humans seek out but there are other enjoyable things in this series for me: the Christians in the series are not candy coated, they are believable with their flaws and their glories; the descriptions of deliverance ministry and the rigors of making sure that’s actually what’s needed ring true; the depictions of occult evil are powerful because they are believable.
The show is reminding me what I think about the occult, what I believe or don’t believe, what I think the dangers of it are. That’s the power of the play of imagination. It’s a lot safer to use the play of imagination to explore the occult than it is to explore it in reality. You will either get sucked into something that is actively evil or in most cases run the risk of a far more prosaic passive evil – you will lose your autonomy involuntarily, gradually end up restricting your life based on superstition that don’t give life, but suck it out of you.
Apparently in the UK 18% of people believe in possession by the devil, not exactly the majority. (And that must mean that most Christians don’t believe in possession by the devil either since in 2010 64% of the population identified as Christian.) But there is is a great quote by C S Lewis
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight”
I’d recommend watching Midwinter of the Spirit – it’s the perfect way to creep yourself out on an Autumn evening. And an interesting insight into an unusual ministry of the Church, whatever your beliefs.