Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Intersectional Demonology MASTERED73wsk
Intersectional_Demonology_MASTERED73wsk SUMMARY KEYWORDS spiritual warfare, book, demonology, leviathan, demons, islam, people, image, antichrist, narrative, world, jezebel, read, paradise, idea, exist, intersectionality, demonic, ways, christian SPEAKERS Peterson Toscano, Jonathan O'Donnell, Stephen Bradford Long
Peterson Toscano 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast. Hi, I'm Liam Hooper. And I'm Peterson Toscano. Together, we co host the Bible bash podcast. Each month we look into a different ancient story. We're curious to find insights into our own queer lives. We discuss these and share our findings with you. You can find the Bible bash podcast pretty much anywhere you listen to podcast, new episodes come out at the end of each month.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:00 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. In this episode, I speak with religious scholar and intersectional demonologist. As Jonathan O'Donnell, we discussed their new book passing orders demonology and sovereignty and American spiritual warfare, which is an examination of how American Evangelical beliefs about spiritual warfare intersect with transphobia racism and homophobia. This was a fascinating conversation, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But before we get to that, I have to thank my patrons. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors, and I truly could not do this. Without them. This show takes an enormous amount of work, it takes hours and hours and hours of work every single week to produce to schedule to edit, etc. And so my patrons really do make this show possible for this week, I have to thank terrace dowless Fidelis owl, and Rima thank you so much. Truly, if you're listening to this and you would like to join their number, just go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long, or you can follow the link in the show notes for just a few dollars every month. You get extra content every single week, including my house at heretics podcasts, advance releases of this show and access to my live show on Discord, lots of interesting stuff on my Patreon. So please take advantage of that. And what ever you are able to give goes a long way. However, I understand if you are unable to give right now the economy is still on fire, we are still living with the consequences of the COVID pandemic. So there are other ways to support this show. One of the best ways is to just leave a five star review on Apple podcasts that tells our digital overlords that this show is worth sharing with others. And if you do leave a review, I will be sure to read it on the show as thanks. Finally, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. If you're interested in the occult, and weird fringe religious stuff, if you're interested in new religious movements and ritual, then the satanic temple.tv is fantastic. You can use my promo code sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout to get one month free. All right. Well, with all of that finally out of the way, I am delighted to bring you my conversation with us, Jonathan O'Donnell, as Jonathan O'Donnell, welcome to the show. Happy to be here. So you are fascinating. And you have a fascinating book, your book is called passing orders, and you call yourself on Twitter and intersectional demonologist. So this is right up my alley, because I'm fascinated by concepts like spiritual warfare, demon possession. I grew up in that setting where all of those things were taken to be true. And now I am fascinated by the experience of those things. Right by the experience of the supernatural. I'm fascinated by the experience of spiritual warfare, demon possession and how that interfaces with social issues. Right, I'm that that is fascinating. So with that little introduction, tell us some about who you are, what you do, and what is intersectional demonology.
Jonathan O'Donnell 04:54 Okay, so, hello, everybody. My name is Jonathan O'Donnell. Just jaw than is fine. I am currently a visiting scholar at Queen's University Belfast, in Northern Ireland. I study, I study a lot of things. I'm primarily a scholar of the American Christian, right. But I also study demonology. More broadly and in different social situations. I sometimes study in early modernity, for example, I am the author of passing orders demonology, and sovereignty and American spiritual warfare, which is a case study of contemporary American spiritual warfare. And its intersection with various systems of dehumanization and discrimination or systems of power within contemporary America, including homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, anti blackness, Islamophobia, and settler colonialism. Broadly, it's a very wide ranging book, I refer to myself as an intersectional demonologist, slightly slightly tongue in cheek, but not entirely. And by that I generally mean that I approached demonology in the context of its intersections with systems of social prejudice and discrimination, but also in terms of the way that the way that people who are marginalized within certain intersections of power might use or channel demonology, like, as a tool for thinking through that, that positionality within
Stephen Bradford Long 06:25 society. So what I'm hearing you say, when it comes to intersectional, demonology is that there kind of two ways of approaching this, this thing that you say is tongue in cheek, but I think is actually very, very interesting and compelling. And there are kind of two ways of approaching it, which is one, how do power structures use demonology and concepts of spiritual warfare in a way that correlates with oppression of people of color, trans people, immigrants, etc? Right. And so there's that one angle of it, but then there's the other angle of it, which is how do minority groups and oppressed groups use demonology to make sense of their world? Is that am I hearing you correctly? Yeah.
Jonathan O'Donnell 07:10 There's I said halftime,
Stephen Bradford Long 07:12 okay. Okay, very good. So, so let's take a step back. And could you define for people what intersectionality is, and this is really important, because in America right now, people are losing their goddamn minds over critical theory. And, you know, they're, you know, not just in the US. Oh, really? Okay. Yeah. So everywhere. It's transatlantic. Okay, transatlantic, there's this transatlantic Trans Atlantic freakout over critical race theory and critical theory more broadly. And, and intersectionality is pretty central to that. What is intersectionality
Jonathan O'Donnell 07:51 so intersectionality, at its kind of base level was a framework of analysis that was initially coined by Kimberly Crenshaw, but like if you trace it back has a kind of older history within particularly like black female socialist riders like Angela Davis, for example, at its core intersectionality as a way of looking at the way that different intersections of marginalization compound each other within society. So for example, you can be marginalized as black or as queer, or as a woman, or as a black, queer woman, all of those or as you know, any intersections of those and the way that those different forms of marginalization interact with each other and create kind of novel or different experiences of marginalization. Intersectionality is essentially a lens for unpacking those types of experiences and the way that those experiences manifest in society,
Stephen Bradford Long 08:51 right. And so take, for example, the fact that I'm gay, so it's like, I am standing in this one street, and the homophobia bus is coming at me, right? But I don't have but I'm not standing also in the black street, or the disabled street or the woman street. But let's say someone is gay and black. Well, now they're standing at this intersection where the racism bus and the homophobia bus are coming at them. And that is a totally new and novel and unique experience from what I experience. Right and and then there's a and then you can just keep adding, you know, those into those intersections where then say they're a woman or a trans woman, well, there are these, these additional layers of, of novel experience that are that cannot be reduced to simply the experience of being gay or the experience of being black but it is a new thing entirely. It is a new wasn't it? Yeah, I don't know how well I'm explaining that. But that's kind of how I understand it. No,
Jonathan O'Donnell 10:05 that's that's that's a that's a that's a good kind of basic like framing for understanding what intersectionality is.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:11 Yeah. And you know, for all the freakout about intersectionality I actually think that it's a really useful tool for understanding the world. Like, I think it's very common sense. It's very practical. It's very obvious to me, and I don't understand why why people have such an issue with it. But all that aside, so, in your book, passing orders, you start out by discussing the liminality of Satan as you you, so you know, I'm a Satanist. This show has a large satanic audience. And this is why you say yes, hello to the satanists, of a of a what I found so fascinating, and I'm not done with your book yet. But one thing that I found so fascinating in your book, is how this this setup between Paradise and the fortification of paradise versus the passing nature of, of Satan, and how the how Satan undermines that fortified nature exposes the temporality and fragility, and porousness of paradise and then how that anxiety can be super imposed on American structures socially. Could you talk to him about that? Because I just found that whole thing fascinating. First of all, am I adequately representing what you said?
Jonathan O'Donnell 11:44 That is the beautiful summary? Okay, so honestly, now I'm like, Oh, how do I how do I get out of that, that summary of so I guess I'll start a bit with the symbology of paradise paradise, the word stems ultimately from a kind of median Persian term, for a kind of Royal Garden. Think of it almost as a menagerie, the Royal Garden was like it, it wasn't just the gardens of the Palace, it was also the gardens where the royalty kept various animals throughout from from the kind of Imperial holdings it was where they kind of brought various kinds of life forms and animals and plants from all over the Imperial territory. And in that sense, it works as an encapsulation of of Imperial or sovereign power in the sense that it's a kind of microcosm of the Empire as a whole
Stephen Bradford Long 12:37 and just to pausing to clarify when we say paradise what we mean is Eden so yeah, you got so I don't know if I made that clear. So when when I, when we talk about paradise here, what we're talking about is the symbol of Eden the perfect garden. Yeah,
Jonathan O'Donnell 12:52 yeah, well, Eden Eden draws on that particular because the idea of how this kind of predates I mean, maybe not predates Eden, but predates like, what we would refer to as Eden. Eden was kind of an iteration of this idea of the Royal Garden of the garden that contains all of the creatures that are kind of beholden or tamed by the ruler. And so like Eden, Eden, or paradise more generally represents this image of sort of absolute sovereign control over a given space and Satan or demons generally in the book but let's talk about Satan specifically, like unsettles this in the book, I use the kind of the good example of Paradise Lost and John Milton's kind of image of Satan infiltrating Eden in the kind of prelude to the fall where he kind of shifts through different sort of animal forms like he doesn't he's not stable. He becomes a cormorant, he becomes a probably a goat, some kind of unnamed, grazer animal. And then obviously, the serpent is the kind of culmination of this he doesn't belong. in Eden, he takes on different forms. It's kind of transient forms. And these work to kind of ultimately kind of unsettle the stability of the garden. And then ultimately, through the fall kind of de stabilizes, the entire edifice kind of introduces this ambiguity, this instability to what is ostensibly supposed to be a kind of vision of the kind of total supremacy of a weird divine rule but kind of king like kingship or kingly rule.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:34 Yeah, you know, what this reminds me of is kind of a parallel to that the colonial version of the witch that can transform into different kind of ordered ordinary animals and so you know, like trance for transforming into a rabbit or transforming and into, you know, whatever. And this sense of there's this this sense of disguise and trespassing and Never quite knowing what is and, and how that undermines and kind of proves that this fortified compound of paradise, you know, going back to what you were saying how this this passing nature of Satan exposes the fortified compound of paradise to be a fraud. It isn't fortified it it isn't eternal it is actually very malleable and porous. Right? And so how does that apply? How does that how does that anxiety that this myth reveals apply to America to American culture and spiritual warfare?
Jonathan O'Donnell 15:43 So, I mean, one of those obvious ways that I think was sort of very recently revealed through some of the hostility to immigration in the kind of late late Trump presidency was born various kinds of core evangelicals that sometimes turn termed at the Trump presidency, yes, explicitly, explicitly started using the image of paradise like as an image of the fortification of the US against against immigrants, specifically here, and they often appealed not just to kind of Eden but particularly to the kind of apocalyptic image of the New Jerusalem the kind of the the return to Eden at the end of time as the idea of heaven having a wall and a gate and a strict immigration policy. Yeah, I think I think the I think the evangelical meme that went around was like heaven has a war, engagement, strict immigration policy and hell has open borders.
Stephen Bradford Long 16:36 It's yeah, it's a specific Yes. And I'm, and on ironic, too,
Jonathan O'Donnell 16:40 I'm like this, this was critiques by various, particularly like liberal and progressive Christians as being a kind of, I guess, Boston diarization have the image of, of salvation. But to me, it reveals, it revealed that way that that image of paradise as the garden that must be fortified, but also which cannot be fortified, as this kind of founding idea of the way that it intersects with, I guess, the kind of Christian nationalist underpinnings of contemporary kind of event like conservative and evangelicalism in the United States, that idea of America as a kind of pristine space that has to be guarded against, but also to kind of return to that that image of the of the garden as the menagerie, the menagerie of tamed beasts and plant and animals. It's not just, it's not just a place that must be defended. It's a place in which everything must be tamed. Everything must be like subordinated to the well of divine kingship of, of sovereign power. And the end the thing that challenges that anything that doesn't fit anything that refuses to be tamed, or which cannot be tamed, either has to be excluded, or it has to be eliminated.
Stephen Bradford Long 18:03 How does this interact with LGBT populations, LGBT plus populations? Because I see, I how do I say this, I have experienced this firsthand as a gay man, where there's this sense of distortion and trespass, that comes from the very existence of LGBT people. And and, you know, I was on the receiving end of this growing up in the conservative church and North Carolina and the mountains here in the, in the evangelical world, and that so your image of Satan as this Trespasser that undermines the kind of the assumptions of paradise that undermines the power and assumptions and all that about paradise, I see that that that being innate to the experience of what it means to be gay, because being gay, kind of it breaks down those hard binaries that you know, evangelicalism has about male and female, you know, and it breaks that down, and we can't help but break that down just by our very nature. But does that make sense? You know, that that's how I read your book. So how do the spiritual warfare texts so you in in your book, you go into the spiritual warfare texts? How do those texts approach things like immigration and LGBT people? They approach
Jonathan O'Donnell 19:45 them in connection with different ways. And I think this is one of the things I tried to talk about a lot in the book is the way that contemporary evangelical demonology uses demons in different ways depending on the groups that it's trying to target and At any given time, but in ways that often overlap and intersect with each other good. I mean, chapter two of the book, which is the chapter on jazz rebels, the kind of one that I did, I'd go into kind of in most detail on juridically gender and sexuality because Jezebel is often called upon to kind of figure deviant forms of gendered and sexual expression.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:20 This is this is not Jezebel, necessarily the biblical figure, but Jezebel, the demon Jezebel, like the demonic archetype, and
Jonathan O'Donnell 20:30 the demonic archetype of Jezebel, who is modeled and inspired by the biblical character. So that is seen as kind of like, in a way she's projected as like the demon that was behind the biblical character in a lot of the yes, these two. Absolutely, she's seen this pre existing.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:48 And for anyone who thinks that this sounds absolutely fucking crazy, I grew up surrounded by people who were obsessed with the Jezebel spirit. They like everything that went wrong. It was the Jezebel spirit, anything that try to interrupt the church or interrupt through, you know, kind of like the peace in the Christian community. It was the Jezebel spirit, the rise of gay rights, the Jezebel spirit, abortion, the jazz, the Jezebel spirit, I was about to say the Jesuit spirit. I was like, No, that's wrong. That's something else. That will be a difference. that'll that'll be a different episode. No. So yeah, for people who think this sounds nuts, this is actually a thing. Okay, go on.
Jonathan O'Donnell 21:33 This is actually but yeah, that kind of gets to the heart. So like, Jezebel is really interesting, because of all of the kind of demonic figures you get talked about. And contemporary spiritual warfare, she's probably the most ubiquitous. Like she's kind of an F. Yes, she is. It's like, it's rare that I find a text that doesn't at least obliquely mentioned her, like, even just an offhand comment somewhere. But one of the things I find tends to unite usages of Jezebel, despite how kind of all over the place she tends to be in these texts is this idea that she kind of challenges that I guess the the normative or normal, or like, quote, unquote, normal structures of the family. And that can be the sort of, I guess, the biological family, the traditional family, particularly the sort of heteronormative family, the nuclear family. Yeah. But it could also be the spiritual family of the church, for example, or even like the family of the nation, the idea of the national whole Jezebel kind of comes along, and is this force that disrupts what these people see as the kind of proper relationship between groups of people between bodies between nations, either, so she's used gay rights, obviously, things that are seen as kind of disrupting the traditional family, in some ways. Also, globalization or immigration, sometimes, like things that are seen as kind of disrupting the kind of body of the nation like breaching it's kind of it's kind of a it's like,
Stephen Bradford Long 23:02 national sodomy. It's like, yeah, yeah, I mean, it really like if you think of like the family as a body or the church as a body or the nation as a body, then it's, it's like Jezebel represents the unholy and ugly and awful, quote, unquote, to them gross forms of sexuality and, and unlawful entry. You might say,
Jonathan O'Donnell 23:29 unlawful entry is a good idea like a deer like National salting, as a phrase,
Stephen Bradford Long 23:39 that's the title of your next book. And you're welcome.
Jonathan O'Donnell 23:43 At least the title of a chapter somewhere.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:45 Yes. And you're 100% going to credit me?
Jonathan O'Donnell 23:49 I will, I will do I'll put you in the acknowledgments. So, yeah, so like, I think it's really important when you think about the way that the way that demonology functions and contemporary spiritual warfare is that it tends to be incredibly holistic, or like totalizing in its narrative, which means that things that disrupt the order of the family also disrupt the order of the church, the order of the community, the order of the nation, and ultimately, the kind of the order of the cosmos itself. Like it's this totalizing form of disruption, gay rights as something which in their worldview challenges that kind of foundational hit like that, that foundational linchpin of the normative family, whether that's through homosexuality or through like trans, or whatever, it happens to be something that does seem to disrupt that quote, unquote, natural family, like, echoes out from that structure, and ultimately kind of starts to disrupt the entire system, which is one of the reasons that Joseph the Jezebel spirit has said, we're a bit cautious in these texts, because she's kind of the foundational like act of disruption that opens the family. over the nation to these other kinds of demonic threats that are seen as existing, whether these are like projections of Muslims, for example, immigrant groups who are seeing this kind of coming in and changing of the kind of white Christian fabric of America. You see this very easily in a kind of slightly more secularized I guess, framework in both European and American kind of reactionary discourses, that kind of the feminization of the West, for example, which kind of opens it to attack from the these kinds of coded virail, kind of masculine immigrant immigrant groups, you can kind of come in and dominate the culture. And like Jezebel, in some ways, operates as a kind of spiritualization of that narrative, this narrative of the kind of disruptive feminization of like, quote unquote, Western or quote unquote, Judeo Christian civilization, which then like leaves it open to, to kind of demonic infiltration.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:53 Were you the one I can't remember. Were you the one in your book, who talked about demonology as a theory of everything as a as a totalizing theory of everything that
Jonathan O'Donnell 26:03 I do quotes, I quote, someone who says that okay, yeah, I follow that. That was Bruce Lincoln. He's the study of religion, Scotland kind of talking about That's right.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:13 It might have been you or some other. I don't remember where I was reading that. But yeah, like
Jonathan O'Donnell 26:18 I do quote that in my okay, that must have been in
Stephen Bradford Long 26:23 talks him about that.
Jonathan O'Donnell 26:24 Yeah, is there like Bruce Lincoln is a scholar of religion, in an article that's actually on ancient Zoroastrian demonology is likely what the original articles about refers to demonology as a unified field theory, in the sense that it attempts it amalgamates different various different discourses, he kind of lists like You listed a number of them. But ultimately, it's a unified field theory that attempts to name categorize and comprehend threats to whoever us happens to be in this context, but it attempts to kind of unify all different ideas or different threats to to the US like under a single umbrella, like as the kind of as manifestations of a kind of singular totalizing force of, I guess, evil in that worldview, but it's essentially a way of unifying disparate threats under under a singular umbrella.
Stephen Bradford Long 27:21 Yeah, so an example of this would be, you know, in the world that I grew up in, everything from terrorist attacks to cancer, were all seen as equally demonic as manifestations of the same evil force in the world. And so it's like, yeah, it's this unified field theory of all, all the bad, all the bad things, all of the things that threaten our place in the world, be it immigration, be it homosexuality, be it cancer, actual disease, you know, real things, and then more kind of ambiguous things like threats to the family, or whatever. It's all evil, it is all demonic. Yeah.
Jonathan O'Donnell 28:10 Because it all originates from that kind of foundation or disruption in order, like in a kind of Divine Sense, like the world and it's an intrinsic natural sense for these people is fundamentally ordered. Therefore, anything that threatens that order, whether it's sickness, whether it's terrorism, whether it's sexuality, whether it's immigration, whether it's like a domineering pastor that you have in your church, whoever it happens to be fundamentally, like originates from that foundational disruption, that is the demonic
Stephen Bradford Long 28:42 now, something that I think is worth clarifying here, and you make this clear in your book at the very beginning, you are not concerned in your work with whether or not the demonic exists. Yeah, you are concerned with how these ideas and experiences manifest in society? Would that be correct? Yes. Because because I can imagine someone listening to to this and be like, well, do they believe in in demons or not?
Jonathan O'Donnell 29:11 That's I get that question a lot. Yeah. Like,
Stephen Bradford Long 29:13 like, Do you believe in demons or not? And the answer, as from what I understand is, that's not the point. The point is people believe demons exist, and we are going and we need to study how these experiences and ideas oppress people and interact with people in Am I right about that?
Jonathan O'Donnell 29:32 Yeah, that is correct. And that's what the book aims to do. Absolutely not concerned with whether or not demons are like metaphysically real in any absolute sense. Whatever that would mean,
Stephen Bradford Long 29:44 whatever that even means. I don't even know what that means. But they are real in the sense that yeah, people experience them. And the idea of them have a real impact on the world people
Jonathan O'Donnell 29:55 experience demons people are demonize people but come demons like in through political imposition through social structures of dehumanization and discrimination. So demons are absolutely real in that sense rather, whether like malevolent spiritual entities exist is is immaterial to the project that I lay out in the
Stephen Bradford Long 30:17 book to quote Dumbledore Of course, it's all in your head, Harry, why on earth should that mean it isn't real?
Jonathan O'Donnell 30:23 Pretty much pretty much as much as like, it's not just like, just like, quote, you're saying,
Stephen Bradford Long 30:27 as much as Yes, I, you know, I've basically relinquished quoting from Harry Potter, except for that one, except for that one, because I find that that one idea is so helpful. That one is fabulous. But ya know, also, you know, we millennials, we need to get past Harry Potter as like our universal vernacular, like we need to move on. It's time. It is time for us to move on. from Harry Potter as like our universal touchstone.
Jonathan O'Donnell 30:55 Yes, although exactly what will replace it, I think is is a difficult issue, given how influential it was an entire generations.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:04 Oh, my God. Yeah. All that aside,
Jonathan O'Donnell 31:06 this isn't technically about Harry Potter.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:10 I mean, that's a really interesting.
Jonathan O'Donnell 31:11 He likes to go on random tangents, like Welcome to Half an hour.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:16 Welcome to sacred tension. Well, I do want to talk, I do want to have a show specifically about Harry Potter at some point, because the intersection of that with culture is so fascinating. Oh, definitely. All that aside. Okay. So you talked about Jezebel, I'm trying to remember the other archetypal demonic figures that you cover in your book, talk and talk about the other archetypal figures.
Jonathan O'Donnell 31:39 So the other I don't I mostly focus on three figures. The first one which is Jezebel, the second is the Islamic Antichrist. Right Antichrist as a Muslim. And the third one is Leviathan, who is a demon very close to my heart. I do love Leviathan.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:57 So let's start with Leviathan. Let's start with the one close to your heart. Talk about Leviathan. Now, I and also I have not gotten that far in your book. This is all new to me. Yeah,
Jonathan O'Donnell 32:06 so Leviathan is a really interesting demon. Leviathan is from the book of Job specifically, but is the kind of biblical variation of the chaos dragon off kind of ancient Near Eastern cosmology echoed in places like TMS and kind of other kind of kind of ancient chaos, chaos dragon stories. So Leviathan is a representation of essentially primordial chaos, but also through these various kind of biblical associations with Pharaoh but then also through in Western society, these Europe particularly European political philosophy, through people like Thomas Hobbes, and his kind of famous book Leviathan, Leviathan also becomes a kind of an image of the state or of order and control. So Leviathan has this interesting tension between being both a symbol of chaos and a symbol of order, but through the image of Pharaoh of order that is not right, or that is not sort of divinely ordained, it's, it's, it's bad sovereignty, essentially. And the chapter kind of looks at that duality and the way that it manifests in in contemporary spiritual warfare discourses, which tie back to the biblical creation narrative, the idea that the D the kind of primordial deep from that existed before the world so just a random throw etymology out there like the word in Hebrew for the deepest to home, which is a cognate to the word it basically stems from the same root is TMS like Assam illogically, so to home is, in some ways, the primordial chaos like the chaos dragon that is, that is m and in elsewhere in Near Eastern cosmology, and Leviathan emerges as a kind of repetition of that, that primordial chaos, the chaos that was kind of tamed the beginning of the world, but which refuses to go away, which constantly kind of comes back in this in this kind of draconic form, sort of emblem atomized through the seas through through the serpent. So you see, like the serpent in Eden could also be read kind of almost as an iteration of this kind of draconic disruptive chaos that that should have been defeated, but hasn't quite been until the apocalypse happens. There's the line in Revelation, which I loved when I first realized it was there, which is when when Heaven and Earth are remade, at the end of time, there was a line that says and the sea will be no more. There is no sea, in the post apocalyptic like paradise because the sea is chaos, because the sea is chaos. The sea is Leviathan, the sea is chaos. So in the chapter I look at the way that Leviathan exists as this symbol of the thing that refuses to go away or not. iced the this force that constantly kind of is supposed to be gone but which infiltrates and disrupts like sort of normative society or normative order, particularly in America. And I trace this through a number of different usages because Leviathan, kind of like the Antichrist and like Jezebel has a lot of different variations. The two that I really look at is the association of Leviathan with socialism. Particularly,
Stephen Bradford Long 35:25 I was just about to bring that up. I was I was like, yeah,
Jonathan O'Donnell 35:29 yes. Socialism, like in the kind of conservative reactionary, like fantasy of the kind of the socialist state that is oppressing them. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:38 I mean, the first thing that came to mind when you're describing this was the Soviet Union, like a power structure that is outside of the will of God, that is that embodies both chaos and order simultaneously. I could see how like how the Soviet Union during like, the rise of the Christian right would be the quintessential manifestation of Leviathan. Yeah.
Jonathan O'Donnell 36:01 But because of that, like, do you say that unit as an example, they're actually like, you have the the, the Cold War, and the Soviet Union is defeated, and like ostensibly kind of American capitalist Christianity kind of triumphs over everything, but we still have socialist politics, you still have we have Occupy Wall Street, we have these kinds of, you know, resurgent grassroots movements that are like challenging American capitalism, which become coded as manifestations of Leviathan of the past that refuses to go away the force that should be defeated, that should be over but that constantly kind of is coming back to kind of disrupt this this dream of kind of finality of totality of triumph.
Stephen Bradford Long 36:46 So it's like super natural socio economic whack amole. Yes. And okay.
Jonathan O'Donnell 36:52 The other usage, which I think is particularly important for in America specifically, is that Leviathan was often used to conceptualize certain forms of like indigenous spirituality or indigenous traditions as well particularly like often referencing like serpent gods from Latin America, or like places like the Serpent Mound in a higher Overleaf. But essentially, they're using using Leviathan in a similar way to code in particularly like American indigenous or kind of native traditions, which similarly, much like socialism, and that model like are the thing that the settler state is supposed to have kind of superseded, but that still exists, like there are still indigenous people, they're still fighting for their rights, fighting for that, that sovereignty through things like the Dakota Access pipe against things like the Dakota Access Pipeline and things like that. So you have Leviathan manifests in a number of ways. But in the chapter, the ones that look at are this kind of image of socialism image of kind of indigeneity and indigenous spirituality, two different forms of the past that refuses to stay past within, within kind of an American Christian nationalist narrative of triumph and narrative of kind of, of overcoming these past forces that are supposed to be overcome, but that refuse to go away, which continually challenges kind of claim to supremacy.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:13 That's fascinating. Yeah. And just to clarify, you are identifying these archetypes within American spiritual warfare, specifically, from your study of texts with Yeah, in America, just just to make sure that my audience is clear on that. Yeah, just to
Jonathan O'Donnell 38:31 go just to give an answer. Basically, I started this research during my doctoral thesis and kind of carried on in the years afterwards, I read about 300 Spiritual Warfare manuals. Oh my god. And basically, I read about 300 years, with a bunch of kind of news articles and blogs and sermons and kind of things on top, I looked at the kind of the figures that we're constantly called upon, like the themes, the ideas that these different texts were kind of drawing on and articulating, often like without any explicit connection to each other. And then the book is kind of me thinking through the themes that I guess were most interesting or kind of grass gripped me and in particular ways that I found needed kind of thinking through there not all of the themes that were there because in a survey of 300 texts, you're gonna have things that they don't talk about, but that's why my research is continuing because I can talk about those other things now that I didn't
Stephen Bradford Long 39:28 absolutely yeah, no, it's it's it's absolutely fascinating. And you know, what you were just saying about chaos dragons and and how Leviathan kind of represents the eternal chaos that threatens the oil how just like the chaos that just keeps keeps coming up. That's that's giving me flashbacks because I'm reading Jordan Peterson second book right now.
Jonathan O'Donnell 39:51 He loves his cake.
Stephen Bradford Long 39:52 Oh my God. He fucking loves his chaos dragons into it.
Jonathan O'Donnell 39:58 I'm slightly proud that I managed to run Are the whole chapter without once referencing good?
Stephen Bradford Long 40:02 Yeah, I sadly I could not get to you
Jonathan O'Donnell 40:07 wrote it like during the height of his like his rise to fame and I was like, do I throw in a rock on somebody? No, I'm not gonna do a
Stephen Bradford Long 40:14 good job. Well done. Unfortunately, I could not get through this entire interview without a reference to Jordan Peterson. But and dear listeners, you can expect either a blog post or a podcast episode about beyond order. Jordan Peterson's new book. I did an episode eons ago with Douglas Lane, the really famous socialist about his first book 12 rules 12 Rules for life and so maybe I'll get another like big guest to discuss beyond order. We'll see. Yeah, a lot of fun. What's that?
Jonathan O'Donnell 40:47 I'll tune in for that one.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:48 You know what I you know, I what I should really do? Do you know who Philosophy Tube is? Yes, yes, I know. She did. She did this fantastic video on Jordan Peterson's new book. And I'm like, if you weren't so out of my league, I would 100% have her have her on the show. But she's video was so good. She was She's pretty. She's so huge. Now that she will, she does not even acknowledge tiny creators like me. Anyway. Okay, so we've talked about Leviathan, we've talked about Jezebel, tell us some about the Muslim antichrist.
Jonathan O'Donnell 41:23 Okay, I guess to kind of the Antichrist is a figure who crops up in a lot of different ways in a lot of different texts. So in order to kind of curtail, a focus focused specifically in the book on the Antichrist as a Muslim in in evangelical texts, particularly kind of post not just post 911, because it has a bit of a history, it kind of goes back to the early 90s is kind of some of the earliest when it gets like a lot older than that. But in spiritual warfare, like you start getting early 90s texts, like George Otis is like, last of the giants. I think it's gorgeous is
Stephen Bradford Long 41:55 like no, yes, I remember I remember that book. Yeah. That's one
Jonathan O'Donnell 41:59 of the earliest ones on on like, the Antichrist is Muslim and spiritual war.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:04 So just to just to pause really quickly, I'm realizing that there are so many terms that we need to define here. Like it's, it's occurred. Yes. Like it's, it's occurred to me all so many times through this conversation, that we need to define lots of terms. We have not yet defined the term spiritual warfare in this context, can you just tell people what spiritual way is, before we move on to
Jonathan O'Donnell 42:29 spiritual warfare is a contemporary, charismatic Pentecostal form of practice, which is oriented around fighting demonic spirits that are active in the world. It does this primarily through prayer, particularly what they call it, militant forms for which can involve prayer walks, where they kind of move around physical spaces, or you know, whether those are rooms or houses or whatever. It could also involve political activism, like pushing for legislation, getting people into positions of power, and but it's essentially a way of conceptualizing the world as torn as a battlefield between spiritual forces, the world is divided into good and evil, light and darkness, Angels and Demons, God and the devil. And they're kind of constantly battling it out for the souls of humanity, but also for kind of geographical territory, in a lot of ways, whether there's a houses like in the kind of typical haunted house idea, but also neighborhood cities, entire nation, sometimes whole continents.
Stephen Bradford Long 43:31 Yeah, you know, what's so fascinating about that, and you have a whole section about this in your book. So I was a missionary and Youth With A Mission. And one of the things oh, I have so many stories to tell you, but I was a missionary and Youth With A Mission. And one of the things that they were big believers in was, was in principalities, this idea that that town that there was like this hierarchy, this demonic hierarchy, where like, lesser demons would be over specific towns, and then there would be demons over specific counties, or cities, big cities, and then states and then countries and then continents, and then like going all the way up to Satan. Right? But but it's regional. It was it was like Avon, Satan. It's like, if like, like multi level marketing demons, that who are who are responsible, responsible for different regions. And so you know, when I was in London, they would pray against the demon of London, the Principality of London who holds sway over the city of London or when I was in Miami or in Bangalore in India, or Tian Jin and China like they would pray against the principalities that are controlling the states. It was super is really interesting. So it's like geographic, it's like the spiritual powers correlate to to here human inventions like state lines, I just found it so interesting.
Jonathan O'Donnell 45:05 Actually, this is really interesting because I think there's actually a really interesting shift that starts to happen in spiritual warfare like through the end of the Cold War, and particularly into the into the kind of War on Terror period. So, modern spiritual warfare, I mean, you could can trace it back to early Pentecostalism in the early 20th century. But particularly, it starts out in the kind of late mid to late 1980s, with people like Peter Wagner, and Cindy Jacobs, and kind of these evangelists who are coming up with what they termed kind of third wave spiritual warfare. And third wave spiritual warfare is highly territory alized. But it's also incredibly binary, you can easily see the way it kind of mirrors Cold War geopolitics, in the sense that it divides the world out into these two kingdoms, good and evil, light and darkness that are battling out for ideological and territorial control of spaces. And like, if you look at the spaces, they're vying for control over, particularly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the Middle East Latin America, East Asia, the places that were in a lot of ways like the quote, unquote, third world, like the unaligned territories, that that America and Russia, were also vying for control labor during this period, this, I think, shifts, it still exists, it's still a very big Finisher of contemporary spiritual warfare. But in the post Cold War period, and particularly in the war on terror, you start getting a reconceptualization of the demonic that I talk about in the book, through the lens of asymmetrical warfare, modeling that kind of War on Terror geopolitics of American kind of global hegemony, that is essentially being confronted by in the 90s rogue states, like individual states that exist within the kind of within the totality of American hegemony, but the on the line with it or against it. And then in the war on terror, kind of the terrorist cell like the the individual kind of networked groups that exist kind of within within American hegemony kind of opposing it. And this really feeds into the way that spiritual warfare I think, starts to reconfigure in the kind of 21st century some writers start explicitly using asymmetric warfare to talk about demons the idea that this this kind of totality of divine power, or even divine empire, that implicitly or explicitly maps on to like the us and like us Empire more like broadly, but the idea of demons is kind of waging this asymmetrical warfare from these positions of kind of as like regional cells that are like fundamentally weak, but are like working kind of weird, like networks with each other, like across geographical territories to kind of fight against divine power or divine omnipotence, which I think is like one of the problems that spiritual warfare comes into when it has this or mayhaps Christianity more broadly, when it has this idea of, of divine power or divine omnipotence is how does essentially a very movable object withstand an unstoppable force? Right? And the weird answer the spiritual warriors seem to come up with although they don't ever really articulate this is demons just work together really efficient? Yeah. Which kind of gets back to the point about hierarchy, like this idea of like, like Satan and demons are, they're not like the Holy Spirit. They're not conceptualized as omnipresent, are omnipotent, that contingent beings, they have limits that they delegate, like Satan might be at the top. But Satan is not really involved in these like small regional, like demonic conflicts, like he's delegated to the principalities who have delegated further to others. It's like,
Stephen Bradford Long 48:39 it's like a gigantic Silicon Valley Tech giant, it really is.
Jonathan O'Donnell 48:47 Which I think is actually interesting, because I think that's like, I think there's two different ways you can take it and me being the being the decadent socialist that I am, like, I ultimately kind of start to read it almost any kind of anarchist terms. It's these kind of almost like, like cells of leaderless resistance, kind of like divine power. That's kind of how the book ends to kind of
Stephen Bradford Long 49:07 that's fantastic. Well, that's, that's a very Anatole France. That's very Anatole France revolt of the angels.
Jonathan O'Donnell 49:13 But you could also read it. And I don't do this because because I'm a decadent socialist. But you could also read it like as a commentary on the corporation, like the idea of like, of the capitalist corporation that doesn't obey geographical boundaries, but that is, it is geographically situated, and it's kind of in this structure of verticality and hierarchy, but that is ultimately kind of diffused with different departments kind of doing their own their own thing within the corporate structure. I think you can kind of read them either way, depending on your political inclinations.
Stephen Bradford Long 49:46 That's so fascinating. So let's pivot back to the Antichrist and yes and no, that was a that was a fantastic detour. Yeah. So so the Muslim Antichrist is situated specific typically within Islam, yeah. And to clarify, you are examining these themes from within spiritual warfare texts. And so I assume that they have, and I've experienced this because I grew up reading these manuals, they have a fixation on Islam. So so just start with that. And and why the why the evangelical fixation on Islam and how does that relate to the Antichrist?
Jonathan O'Donnell 50:27 Okay, so I guess I should have you read the Islamic Antichrist chapter. Yeah, I have read about half of it. Okay. Yeah. So, yeah, just, I'm just checking. But yeah, so essentially, I think one of the main reasons that there's this fixation on Islam is because it's because of the family resemblance. And the familial connection with the Christianity and Islam SHA Islam is very similar, but also different enough that it provokes anxiety. And I think the way that they use it is really interesting here. And this is kind of why I used the Antichrist specifically, you could also use ball as another figure that you could frequently crops up and be a pastor. Yeah, well, yeah, apostrophe Al, who I think serves a similar function in as the kind of negative reflection of, of Jehovah is within the kind of biblical narrative, essentially, it sets up this idea of mirroring and this idea of the kind of the abject reflection, the reflection that isn't quite quite right. And the way one of the ways that they do this, I think is really interesting is the way that particularly in the kind of post 911 period, a lot of Evangelicals start, I wouldn't say they started looking at Islam, but they start because it's very selective in the way they do it. But they start trying to integrate Muslim accounts of the end times and Muslim like scriptures and narratives into their own demonology is in a way that construct them as a kind of reverse mirror image of their own narratives of the end times. So for example, they claim that like the Messiah figure in Islam is actually the Antichrist
Stephen Bradford Long 52:08 and they being things like that be they being these spiritual entrepreneurs, folks,
Jonathan O'Donnell 52:14 the the spiritual instrument as the spiritual warfare ISIS. This was particularly popularized by a guy called Joel Richardson, although he wasn't the first one to come up with it. But his book he wrote a book called like antichrist, Islam awaited Messiah was the title of the book a thing and that book kind of seems to be where this idea was most popularized from although he was he wasn't the first person to come up with it, but Okay, so first, I should clarify that like, although the Islamic narratives that these people are drawing them like do exist, Islamic eschatology is a lot more nebulous than Christianity is, it's not systematized. So they're drawing on very selective readings of Islamic eschatology to read them as parallels of their own selective readings of Christian eschatology. But what I think is important here is the way that they are trying to assimilate Islam into their own tradition, in a way that accounts for it, because of course, historically, Islam comes off to Christianity, it you know, within within that narrative, it supersedes Christianity, in some ways, it comes after and it says, okay, they got some things, right. But ultimately, they got these things wrong. And we're coming along to correct the record for on on, you know, what actually happened and in the kind of biblical narratives, and so there's this anxiety about that, like, how do they account for this thing that comes after them ostensibly tries to correct them, so they then have to kind of try and integrate it and try and assimilate it into their own narratives through through, like, through these uses of the Antichrist and be like, Oh, Islam was explained within our own tradition, like through this kind of Antichrist figures. It's a way of kind of alleviating that anxiety by accounting for there's a difference. But of course, by doing that, I mean, by framing Islamic eschatology as a reverse mirror image of their own eschatology, they're also doing the opposite. They're also claiming that like, there's no reason here why the Islamic eschatology isn't the right one, like other than they've claimed that Christianity is true, but like, if you take their narrative at face value, then it's kind of a toss up. And but this kind of gets to the heart of I think, why this fixation on Islam, this fixation on Islam is because it it mirrors a lot of their understandings of I guess that the image of Islam, the image of Islam, which is different, I think, importantly, from Islam itself, because Islam is hugely diverse and exists in two different contexts. So that image of Islam is there isn't a kind of objects are twisted reflection of their own image of divine order. And to kind of go back to call back to just about briefly I think this is really the kind of narrative Have a kind of Western feminization and look I'm feral, the pharaoh of a so while Jezebel is highly feminized in spiritual warfare discourses, Islam as the opposite Islam as a very masculinized. In these narratives, it's constructed through the image of particularly the kind of De Vere, while threatening, particularly Muslim man who kind of is more masculine than the western man within within within the question within these frameworks, and indeed, within these, within these narratives that Jezza Bell's destabilization of the normative family of the normative American nation is seen as what allows this kind of Islamic Antichrist to kind of come into the nation and kind of take it over through these narratives of kind of masking of like the masculine threat and the kind of the feminization of the self. But I think this is really important. That image of Islam was this kind of hyper masculine patriarchal, kind of domineering, incredibly legalistic framework is exact replication of the very patriarchal order that they are trying to instigate. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 56:06 The thing that they are afraid of, is what they it's a mirror image of the kind of repressive regime that they are trying to create here.
Jonathan O'Donnell 56:16 Yeah, which is the thing like it's exactly the same, but it's wrong, because it's Muslim and not Christian. That's the intrinsic difference. That's the essential difference. I think that's why they have this fixation on it, because they've constructed this image. And it is it is essentially, exactly the kind of thing that they are trying to create. But it's also wrong. It's also not, there's something intrinsically not right about it. Because it because it's seen as rooted in Islam, which is coded as demonic which is coded as, as other as lacking this kind of essential, essential truth within their narratives. But yeah, they, they, they, and this is why the Antichrist the Antichrist is is Christ's mirror image is like the object reflection of Jesus in a way that and this is why I use the Antichrist to talk about the way they talk about Islam, because it is this to this narrative of doubling of replication of of mirror that is destabilizing of the order they're trying to construct because it is essentially that same order, but not fitting their vision of what kind of utopic perfect society should do.
Stephen Bradford Long 57:28 You know, what this is reminding me of is what our mutual friend John Morehead calls heretical disgust. And I think he got that from some other scholar, but heretical disgust being the idea that we have, we reserve our greatest disgust and resentment and hatred for people who are just like us, but not quite, and how we, and how we tend to the people for whom we we, we tend to reserve the grade, our greatest hatred are those who are quote, unquote, like us, but just different enough to fall into that uncanny valley. To to spark this revulsion. And you know, I experienced this all the time. I think that there are people in my life who are relieved that I am no longer a Christian, I think that there are Christians in my life who are relieved that I am no longer a Christian, because they could not stand the fact that I was a Christian, who was gay and affirmed a gay marriage. Right? That was more of an abomination to them than just being an atheist gay person, right?
Jonathan O'Donnell 58:38 It's like, they can just go then they can just other year like complete? Yes. Because they have a separate category. That's exactly right. Yeah, exactly. Have to try and reconcile the difference exact like, because of course, like, if, you know, if you're a Christian, and you're gay, and you affirm gay marriage, and they don't, then they're like, oh, is this person a Christian? Am I really a Christian? Like, it promotes that anxiety that they need to reconcile? What they see is this intrinsic difference, you they either have to judge you or they have to judge themselves. If you're, if you're completely outside of the fold, they can just kind of like write you off.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:15 That's exactly it. That's exactly it. And so, you know, I think we see the exact same thing with, you know, the long history of Catholics and Protestants, for example, or what you're describing of the family resemblance between Christianity and Islam and how that just provokes such massive anxiety in people.
Jonathan O'Donnell 59:34 On this note, it's worth noting that historically, Islam was initially conceptualized within Christian like European Christian discourses as a Christian heresy. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Rather than was like a separate tradition. It was it was framed as a question heresay
Stephen Bradford Long 59:49 Well, unfortunately, I think we're coming to the end of our time. But I think that there's so much more to talk about, and you're welcome back anytime. So if ever you have a new book, yeah, so So if ever you have a new book that comes out or a new article or you just want to come on and chat, please just let me know. And you're welcome back anytime to wrap this up what is one book that you would suggest on this or any subject that you would recommend to my readers or to my listeners rather
Jonathan O'Donnell 1:00:13 on on Spiritual Warfare or or anything? Any,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:17 any religious scholarship, new religious movements? Spiritual Warfare, anything?
Jonathan O'Donnell 1:00:24 I mean, I can plug my own, but that's probably because
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:26 let's play passing orders. Go buy it. Go buy it. It's fantastic.
Jonathan O'Donnell 1:00:33 Yeah. So there are like, I'm trying to think like, one of the books that's on Spiritual Warfare in America, which touches on areas that I don't talk about is Sean McLeod's book, American possessions, which is another academic work, which is specifically on Spiritual Warfare in relation to ideas of property and possession in America. Although, yeah, so that would be one. Oh, Adam, Kent skies, the prince of this world. Very good. And the follow up neoliberalism is demons.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:04 There you go. All right, perfect. Everyone, go buy those books, read them and talk about them on my Discord server, which you can find in the link in the show notes. All right. Well, it's been great talking to you. It's been great talking to you. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. And that is it for this show. The music is by the jelly rocks and 11 D seven. You can find them on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. This show is made possible by my patrons go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for $1 to $5 a month you get extra content every week and you ensure the long life of my work. This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and Dante salmoni. And as always, Hail Satan, and thanks for listening.
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