This post is part of our series on people, places and things that have found new life in 2008.

EXORCISMS?

You may not be aware that in Europe these days "you have to look high and low for a properly trained exorcist."

Have no fear. We're on top of things. For the first time in almost 400 years, the Vatican has formally revised and upheld the rite of exorcism. "To fight the devil head on," Pope Benedict XVI has sanctioned the first ever formal exorcism training, a ten-week course at Rome's Regina Apostolorum. There are sessions on rites, how to talk to the Devil and recognize his tricks. No need to be concerned that people who are mentally ill might be misdiagnosed.The course includes psychology classes where practitioners learn to distinquish between mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, and genuine cases of possession.

With more than 70 priests trained as exorcists in Poland , (where hundreds gathered for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists in July), and about 300 in Italy, it appears that we are well on our way to halting the inroads the devil has been making.

It's important to know who among us are at risk.

"Typical cases... include people who turn away from the church and embrace New Age therapies, alternative religions or the occult. Internet addicts and yoga devotees," said Rev. Wieslaw Jankowski, a Polish priest who is overseeing plans for a new exorcism center.

Worse still, right here in the United States, Rev. Jim Peasboro of Savannah GA, believes that there is reason to be concerned that, "any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit." ("The Devil in the Machine: Is you computer possessed by a demon?").

According to Rev. Peasboro, "...most of the youths involved in school shootings like the tragedy at Columbine were computer buffs." He has, "no doubt that the computer demons exerted an influence on them." He estimates that 10% of American computers now "house some type of evil spirit." Good news: if a technician replaces the hard drive and reinstalls the software, he can rid the machine of Lucifer.

The kinks are still being worked out. In 2005, Irina Cornici, a 23 year old nun, died during an exorcism in Romania. In the UK, a ten-year old girl was beaten, cut at least 43 times and chili-peppers were rubbed in her eyes, to drive out the devil.

With all of this going on, you will want to consider helping yourself by recognizing satanic activity. Here are some tips:

-reject any and all types of unnatural insights, whether they occur while awake or asleep. These are manifestations of the devil and frequently occur to people who have used "Ouija boards, Seances, Magic 8 balls, Palm reading, Tea Leaf reading, Fortune telling, potions, Incantations, Yoga (even as exercise), Martial Arts, Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter Books, Eastern Mysticism, Tarot cards."

-terminate association with associations that include: Freemasonry, Cecil Rhodes Scholars, Shriners, Eastern Relgions, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Rotary International, Kiwanis International, and the Lions Club.

Of all of these potential gateways that the devil may take, none may be as troubling as the threat posed by the Magic 8 Ball. These black fortune telling balls have been around for more than 60 years and are now making a resurgence as part of the Classic Toy Comeback. Recommended for children 6 (!) and up, the revival of Magic 8 Balls could well pose a threat to national security.

Don't even think about trying to bring one on an airplane.


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