Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review: Interview With An Exorcist

This was a book that garnered some notice around the time that The Rite was getting big. It's written by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea, who is introduced as an experienced exorcist from Spain and the author of several works on the subject.

I've been through a few books on the subject of exorcism, and they all tend to follow the pattern of starting with the author's experiences and then building in Church teaching based on those experiences. Interview With an Exorcist stands out by barely touching on experiences. It's almost a catechism of sorts, written in standard Q&A format. It's very short and stays away from dense language and concepts. For this reason, it's probably going to the top of my list to give to non-Catholics and unbelievers who perhaps have a more sensational interest in the subject.

This isn't to say that there aren't problems. I'm not an exorcist, but some of the stuff Fr. Fortea says seemed wrong. For example, he indicates that God's presence extends even to hell. While I've heard this sort of thing before, primarily from Eastern brethren, he presents it as fact, rather than speculative. He also claims that God still loves Satan and the demons, which doesn't seem to jive. Does God will any good for the demonic? He allows them to exist, so that's one thing, but the book seems to suggest that it's more than that.

There are a couple of other items, but I think they are minor points overall. The real bottom line is that exorcism is one of those things that Catholics get a lot of questions about, even if it's just because of a movie or TV show. Handing somebody a copy of Hostage to the Devil or An Exorcist Tells His Story right off the bat probably isn't a good idea. Even The Rite, which is a much more ideal introduction, might be tainted by the abominable movie. What you get in Interview With an Exorcist are basic and fundamental concepts, with all the fluff taken away. You give this to someone, then work them up to the other books.

Let me reiterate that I think all these books are valuable and should be read by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Milk before meat, though. Interview With an Exorcist is as close to milk as you're going to get with exorcisms


Mark of the Vineyard said...

I still haven't finished this book (though I started some time ago). The book over here kept the original title: Summa Daemoniaca.

A portuguese priest was invited to be at the Portuguese translation's introduction. Fr. Fortea was also present. The priest cynically mocked the book in the author's presence.

I noticed the same things as you, though. Also, I found it interesting that exorcists still aren't sure whether damned souls can possess some one or not.

Throwback said...

That was an interesting bit. More for me was his assertion that demons aren't always doing evil. If they're always hating God, doesn't that make for evil-doing?

Mark of the Vineyard said...

I thought the same as well. IIRC, Fr. Fortea mentions that when demons aren't doing evil that they're "thinking". As I understand it, if they're always thinking evil then they're "doing" evil.

Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that they're not in continual suffering.