Recently I discovered a new tv series (well, not new it’s starting its 3rd season next year) called Evil and stars Katja Herbers (remember her in The Americans?) and Mike Colter (who was Luke Cage). It is about a team of assembled to investigate paranormal happenings by the Catholic Church.
Needless to say, it is a perfect fit for my own independent research. So, let’s jump in and find out if this show lives up to its name.
Remember, you can view all my reviews at my website as well as all my coursework for my Unschooled Master of Theology Program.
On to the review…
That Which is Evil
This show started right out of the gate quite strong, with a great premise and a wonderful sense of horror and suspense. There was a common enemy in the devil or at least in his minions of the 60 who were working behind the scenes to do something in the world of men.
The enemy was quickly revealed in Townsend and the battle began in earnest as good vs evil traded blows and the devil hatched his schemes. I particularly like the star of the show, Katja Herbers, a favorite of mine from the Americans. She is a fascinating actress with an air of mystery about her. Same with her co-stars on the investigative team. They seem to work well together, compliment each other, and the skepticality is refreshing.
Seemingly Lost its Way
By the opening of Season 2, though, the show has seemingly lost its way. Several plot lines are initiated but abruptly abandoned with no explanation. No one mentions the fact that David was kidnapped by a woman, held prisoner, and that she murdered a comedian in her basement. By the end of the episode she simply calls the police and confesses. Yet, there is no mention of it at all in the future episodes, as if the other members of the team have no idea the events happened.
The conspiracy of the 60 demons seems to have been lost in the random examples of the supernatural in each episode, as if they are trying to cover their bases, suffice to just briefly mention each at the expense of the main plot of conspiracy. Supernatural did this, but all subplots in one way or another (with few exceptions) informed or were somehow connected to the main plot that tied all the series together. Evil, instead, tends to jump from one idea to another without any connection between.
An example of this is the Season 2 episode where Kristen’s husband confronts her concerning the diary. There is literally no preceding explanation that provides background or indicates she’s coopted her daughter’s journals or that she’s using kill house diagrams as a way to process her frustration. She, in fact, seems quite upset that her daughter discovers these floorpans, indicating that she was sketching out kill plans for her own house and fantasizing about killing her own kids.
This is not only bizarre to the character but is rather disconnected and detached behavior since there is no mention of this beforehand.
Problems with their Demonology
There is also a problem with the show’s demonology, or the theology depicted of the Catholic Church. Their various kinds of possession are simply not biblical (though I do approach this from a protestant theology, so mileage varies).
There is also no mention in the Bible that angels look like they do in the show, especially that of Michael the archangel. Though, typically, appearances in the biblical text of angelic beings do seem to render humans to varying degrees with a fair amount of terror, so there might be something to this.
The use of crucifix as if imbued with some sort of power is fallacious at best. It is said, historically, that the early church avoided the use of the cross let alone any depiction of the crucifixion. It was not until the 4th and 5th century that the crucifix began to appear and not until the Middle Ages did it become popular. The history of the rosary is even more so clouded in tradition. It dates back to the crude use in the 3rd and 4th centuries by the desert fathers of knotted prayer ropes as counting devices. This slowly developed over the centuries along with and in tandem to Marian doctrine, resulting in the 1200’s of the rosary by St. Dominic (by way of a vision, though there is no historical evidence of this).
The same can be said of the extensive use of Latin in exorcisms, as if this transition language (between Greek and modern languages, such as English) possesses some sort of magical influence or power over demons or the supernatural realm. Biblical accounts depict no specialized language used other than the common tongue, and in fact, the casting out of demons was either done in Greek or Aramaic at the time (certainly not in Latin). If tradition, as the Catholic Church contends, holds some authority, then it would have to at least confirm the biblical accounts. Rather it seems to add to, contradict, and supercede the Bible in many instances. This is the great Catholic error, the elevation of tradition or church authority (in its leadership) over the biblical record.
In the second season there is a subplot developing between David and the Nun who seems to have a special ability or insight into the demonic world. She becomes David’s defecto teacher/mentor to prepare him for the battle to come against the devil. The problem with this idea is their methodology or how they prepare for this battle.
The show has David in several episodes “meditating” to gain some sort of power or ability. This can be confusing in our day because this particular word is laden with so many diverse definitions it’s hard to keep track of which one we are referring to in any particular context.
Meditation in the Bible is much different than what the Catholic Church today means, and there is an even greater difference when the new age or cult religions use the term.
The word in the Bible is μελετώ and it most often refers to “recitation” or the voicing of the word of God. It was a specific practice for the desert fathers in addition to prayer, devoting themselves to the verbal and mindful recitation of the Scripture throughout the day (a kind of bathing in the Word, to contemplate and consider its meaning), while working with their hands, while on a journey, while sitting quietly in their cells.
Never did the desert fathers indicate a new age or eastern meditation that is an emptying of the mind, the disconnection or disengagement of the mind from emotion or thinking. This is what Paul argued against in 1 Co 14:14-15, “I will pray with the spirit but I will also pray with my mind.”
There is a tendency, especially in the Catholic Church, but also in the greater evangelical and main line denominations of the protestant faith, to mix and weave together a bastardization of Christianity out of both Christian doctrine and the teachings and practices of eastern mysticism. I can attest, as a new believer in Christ at 17, I was desperate to find a way to return to the faith of my youth (buddhism), to be able to once again pursue meditation for its many benefits, and to continue again down that spiritual path in pursuit of enlightenment. But, as a consequence of God’s intervention into my life, the ability to meditate or practice the Martial Arts was wholly and forever stripped from me. The desire to do these things was still present (and even remains today to some degree), but the ability to do so, the ability to get anything out of them was gone.
The mixing of eastern mysticism and its practices with Christianity is a demonic attempt to add doctrines of demons to the faith. It is yet another example of how the Catholic Church has married herself to the fallen world (not that the protestant or evangelical faith has faired any better with its harlotry after capitalism and wealth in the modern era).
Eastern meditative practices will not “prepare” someone to do battle with demonic forces. As Jesus said, “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Ma 17:19-21). If we are to engage in the supernatural realm at all (and I’m not entirely convinced it is something we should be seeking out in the first place), we are given by Paul a specific strategy in which to prepare and to defend in Ephesians 6:10-18.
In the end, it will do us no good to mix into our faith and preparation the doctrines of demons and the false religious practices of the world.
In the end, I think Evil is a pretty entertaining tv show, despite some of its inaccuracies with regard to biblical theology and it’s uncomfortable jerky plot movements (but what can we really expect from Hollywood). I really do appreciate this particular actress in the lead role, though her own journey seems to be taking her down a dark path. She is either herself demon possessed without even knowing it, or there is something bizarrely wrong with her (the personality changes, the marking herself with a hot crucifix, her trips to the bar to almost pickup men, the murder of the serial killer, etc). The fact that she was able to get away with murder after being caught by the two female detectives tells me there is something very strange happening both to her and for her on the devil’s behalf.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see as the series progresses (or will be abruptly canceled as is so often the case with new shows these days).
Until my next review…
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Excerpt from Sacred the Circle:
There was a knock at the door.
Campbell got up from the chair and crossed the small distance so he could open it.
A young man stood in the doorway, probably in his early twenties.
Campbell could tell he looked a little disheveled.
He had deep rings around his eyes, as if he hadn’t been sleeping much, and he kept checking the hallway in both directions, as if half expecting someone to be stalking him.
“Hey,” Campbell said.
The kid was stumbling over his own words.
Campbell leaned out into the hallway, checking to make sure there was no one else listening.
This guy wasn’t the only one who was becoming paranoid.
There were two students hanging out at the foyer, near the stairs, but the rest of the floor was clear.
“I’m sorry,” the kid said. “Must be the wrong place. I’m mistaken.”
He started to leave.
“Wait,” Campbell said, putting a hand out. “Hold on a second.”
The kid paused.
“What’s your name?”
He fidgeted with his collar.
“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”
“You’re not crazy, Lloyd,” Campbell said, grinning.
“Did you – ? ”
The kid paused, as if unsure if he should continue.
He looked back toward the stairs, then at Campbell.
“Did you know I was coming?” he finally asked. “I mean, that’s not possible, but, were you expecting me?”
Campbell chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Lloyd asked.
“Well – ”
Campbell pushed the door open all the way so Lloyd could see inside his dorm room.
The entire room was full of them, students, non-students, ranging from what looked like eighteen to even a few middle-aged men, scattered about the room, sitting wherever they could find a comfortable spot.
Lloyd’s mouth dropped open.
“I wasn’t really expecting them, either,” Campbell said. “So, I hope you don’t hold it against me when I tell you, I had no idea you’d be showing up here. Do you care to join us, anyway?”
Buy my book Sacred the Circle to find out what these men are hearing from the supernatural realm. Will they answer the questions tugging at them? What are the visions saying? Who are the Multitude? Why are all these men being brought together? By whom? And why, above all else, are they being convicted….to pray?
But, trust me when I say, you’ll be white knuckling this one with every turn of the page!