The Vatican's Exorcists: Driving Out the Devil in \t\t the 21st Century

Tracy Wilkinson, Author . Warner Books $24.99 (188p) ISBN 978-0-446-57885-1
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Anyone who has seen the movie The Exorcist will never forget the transformation of lead actress Linda Blair from an innocent young girl into a demonically possessed, vomit-spewing monster. According to Wilkinson's account, some contemporary Catholic priest-exorcists have seen even more horrifying metamorphoses. If the priests interviewed in this informative book are to be believed, there is an increasing demand for their services. Underlying the attraction to exorcisms, Wilkinson speculates, is a desire for simple explanations for complex problems. "In a world awash in catastrophe and unspeakable suffering, many people feel increasingly compelled to see evil in concrete and personified—not to mention simplified—forms, and to find a way to banish the bad." Wilkinson adroitly places those who recommend exorcisms in tension with those who do not see value in the practice. The questions the skeptics raise are obvious but important: are people who desire an exorcism really possessed by Satan, or are they mentally ill? How does one distinguish a "legitimate" possession from other pathologies? This book is certainly not an apologia for exorcisms, but it will appeal to those looking for a fascinating history and some thoughtful commentary from proponents and skeptics alike. (Feb. 21)

Reviewed on: 12/11/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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