Despite this post’s lofty title, the focus is somewhat narrow. Many Christians and other people of faith believe there is an innate desire in all humans to believe in something higher than themselves—God. I’ve heard this desire inelegantly (but accurately) described as a “God-hole,” a hole that cannot be filled with anything other than the Divine.
The West today is awash in cynicism and nihilism, and an aggressive form of anti-religious sentiment. Just witness the amusing, angry lengths to which strident Internet atheists will go to denounce religious (almost always specifically Christian) beliefs. It’s pedantic to write, but it bears repeating: atheists ironically fill their “God-hole” with the religion of hating and/or denying God’s Existence.
The net effect of this existential nihilism is manifest in abundant ways: high suicide rates, debased morality and behavior, the destruction of the family, and spiritual emptiness and confusion. We overthrew God—or at least, we tried to remove Him from our lives—but the void, the “God-hole,” within us remains.
Nature abhors a vacuum, so something is going to fill that hole. It was with interest, then I read this piece from The Daily Dot that I stumbled upon while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day. The piece is about a “healer” and lifestyle blogger named Audrey Kitching, who by all accounts is a duplicitous fraud: she resells cheap Chinese jewelry at a huge markup, billing them as “energy crystals” and the like, and her gullible followers/victims eagerly lap it up.
What caught my attention, though, was not that a woman was trading on her looks and Instagram filters to build an online business, but rather the women who sacrificed their lives and good sense to someone who is, essentially, a bubblegum-haired freak with a penchant for codependent, psychologically abusive relationships. Kitching convinced one of her employees to sever all ties with her family for a full year, and essentially used the poor, misguided woman as slave labor.
Men seem to succumb to the supposed “logic” of atheism, priding themselves on their assumed intellectual superiority for refusing to believe in anything beyond themselves. Women, on the other hand, love quasi-spiritual garbage like Kitching’s baubles (it’s humorous reading how allegedly “legitimate” healers are opposed to Kitching for diminishing their corner on the medium/spiritualist market—I guess she’s not in their Scammers Guild).
Kitchings and her ilk—palm readers, dime-store oracles, astrologers, “good witches,” etc.—offer spirituality on the cheap: all the “feel-good” stuff about loving other people and being part of the Universe, without any of the obligations—forming a family, living chastely and soberly, etc. In the absence of strong men and strong institutions—namely the Church—and in an age of #MeToo feminism and “you go grrrrrl”-ism, women are easy prey for bubbly charlatans (if you’ve followed Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology, the fourth installment, “New Year, New You,” beautifully satirizes this kind of Instagram-friendly quasi-spirituality—and its horrifying consequences).
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t discount this stuff out of hand. Indeed, I believe we’re always struggling against principalities and demonic forces, which is precisely why we should take this seriously. Witchcraft and its associated branches is a real spiritual threat, and we’re losing a generation of women (and soy-boyish men) to a new wave of New Age spirituality and feel-good bullcrap. It’s most insidious in the Church (by which I mean broadly all of Christianity, although I think High Protestant churches are particularly susceptible to this kind of infiltration), where its pernicious influence is far more subtle.
But the rise of witchcraft and other forms of knock-off spiritualism represent physical and metaphysical dangers. Metaphysically, we shouldn’t be messing around with the spiritual world outside of our relationship with Christ. Just look at what happened to King Saul when he consulted with the witch at Endor.
Physically, men and women are debasing themselves in the name of a “if it feels good, do it” mentality in a desperate attempt to fill their empty “God-holes.” Women are literally prostituting themselves via Instagram—a terrifying intersection of online media attention-whoring and real-life whoring. That kind of cheapness only comes in a culture that discourages traditional values and encourages riotousness and spiritual rebellion.
I always warn my students—I’m sure they occasionally roll their eyes—not to mess around with the spiritual world. Angels are real—but so are demons. And Satan always comes clothed in light—and shiny Snapchat filters.