As a former Catholic school boy, there was one movie we were all taught to treat less as a horror show and more as a legitimate warning sign of the very real possibility that at any second Satan himself would take control of your body. That was The Exorcist. Zombies probably weren't going to eat me, but the devil might make me cut myself up with a crucifix. Priests have a way of explaining things so that they sound reasonable.
The Rev. Francis X. Cleary, who was just a Jesuit seminarian when Jesuits allegedly performed an exorcism on a 14-year-old boy in St. Louis, which would inspire William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel.
Cleary, 81, died Wednesday at Jesuit Hall at St. Louis University, where he was a biblical scholar.
Catholic exorcisms are notoriously hard to get, and though the local diocese admits to keeping an exorcist on hand, spokesmen have said they've never seen what they'd call an authentic case of demonic possession that would warrant calling all the powers of God into battle. But Kansas City residents convinced they're plagued by demons still try to get them, and if the church turns them away, or suggests the solution be found in psychiatric counseling, there are a whole lot of people ready to take them in and perform a home remedy.
In 2008, I wrote about James Vivian, a preacher who cast the devil out of people in his living room and trained teams of exorcists in Wichita ("Devil Inside"'). Too bad the two never got a chance to compare notes.