Father Dwight Longenecker raises the possibility, and explains the deeper meaning, of possession by Evil:
What makes a mild mannered, promising young scientist decide to arm himself to the teeth, walk into a suburban movie theater and start killing innocent people at random?
Did he have a bad childhood experience? Doesn’t seem that way. Everybody says he was a nice, very smart, shy kid. Maybe a bit of a geek, but there are millions of geeks who don’t go on killing sprees. Was he insane? There weren’t any warning signs that he was crazy. Was he politically or religiously motivated? No evidence. Was he driven crazy by violent video games? He didn’t seem to play more than most kids. Was his mind poisoned by the nihilistic second Batman movie? It was a dark film, but millions saw it and didn’t go on a rampage. Was he somehow “possessed” by the Joker character? Some say the demonic Joker drove Heath Ledger to kill himself.
Now it’s getting spooky. There was a weird phone message with bizarre guttural voices and moans. Was he demon possessed? Maybe. It happens.
Demonic infestation is a rare, strange and terrible psycho-spiritual affliction. In simple terms, a malevolent, separate intelligence infests the mind and spirit of a person. It takes over the rational faculties and dominates the personality. The phenomenon is real, but anyone who has ever dealt with the problem realizes that the demonic realm is complex. The human person is an intricate organism in which the physical, mental and spiritual aspects are totally interwoven. Therefore, in most cases, trying to diagnose the possibility of demonic influence is extremely difficult.
This is because, in theory, demonic influence in a personality can exist on several different levels. Experts disagree about the terminology and extent of the diabolical influence, and in this arcane discipline, for reasons that will become clear, there are few set rules or guidelines. However, some levels of demonic involvement can be observed.
The first level of demonic influence is temptation…
The second level of demonic influence is obsession…
The final stage of demonic influence is possession…
Is James Holmes demon possessed? It is impossible to say without a detailed diagnosis. Even then, it is a slippery question. We are dealing with a reality that is rubbery. In many ways this is the wrong question. Better to ask, “Was James Holmes taken over by Evil?”
Yes. Something happened to the mild mannered science geek. He turned into a monster. Something twisted in his mind and heart, and Evil made an entry. Evil infested his life. It took him over. Whether the twist was through mental illness, some inner wound or some terrible dark intelligence, we cannot say. The fact that we can’t say what went wrong and don’t have a neat and tidy answer is the key to understanding the terrible conundrum of evil.
When faced with mindless massacres, we don’t have a rational answer—and that is the rational answer. What I mean is that the further one goes down the path of Evil, the more it becomes irrational and mindless. Evil, by its very nature, is a lie, a subterfuge, a deceit and a vast web of contradictions and inconsistencies. Evil is, by it’s nature, the darkness and the chaos—where what seems reasonable is only a smoke screen for the absurd, and what seems logical is a pretext for irrationality.
The true answer to the absurdity of evil is the supernatural rationality of love, for love is the outgoing goodness that counters evil. By “love,” I do not mean merely sentimental or erotic love. I mean a power that is positive and creative and dynamic and pro-active in the world—the power which Dante said “moved the Sun and the other stars.”
Love is the divine force of rationality and goodness. Love is the force which empowered three murdered men in the cinema in Aurora to shield their girlfriends from harm. Love is the force which makes the meaningless meaningful through the strange power of forgiveness, and which brings sacrifice in the face of insane self-love. Love is the light in the darkness, and Love is the meaning that makes us remember in a compassionate connection that this dark act took place in a town named Aurora, which holds a hopeful meaning: “Daybreak.”