Paranormal Activity & The Theology of the Body

I don't treat lightly of demons and demonology, so I may take a different tact than you might expect in this review of the movie, Paranormal Activity. Let's look to the Book of Tobit and Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

Biblical Demons: Get Down on Your Knees and Pray!
[SPOILER ALERT: I give away plot details of the movie!] There is a demon in the Book of Tobit that haunts a young woman. The demon of lust, a king of demons (whose name I WILL NOT mention) consumes the woman's seven husbands one-by-one as they enter the bridal chamber. It's a HONEYMOON MASSACRE! (of Biblical proportions)

Background on Tobit
Tobit, himself, is an interesting figure, with an interesting and seemingly boring vocation: burying the dead. He follows his vocation with a martyr's zeal. Providing respect to the bodies of the dead is a sacred duty in Hebrew society. Tobit (or Tobias) had plenty of work to do, also, because Sennacherib, the prince of the Assyrian Empire, is massacring Hebrews. Despite death threats, Tobit keeps on burying the his kinsmen's bodies. The king seizes Tobit's property and exiles him. 

His fortunes are eventually reversed when after Sennacherib's death he is allowed to return to Nineveh. Not long after, though, he is blinded when a bird's droppings fall into his eyes. DANG!! Enter the Angel Raphael. The angel, disguised as Azariah, protects Tobit on a journey to Media, through an attack by a strange fish, and guides him to Sarah, who is being haunted by the demon.

Okay, back to the demon: When a woman's husband dies in Hebrew society, she is forced to marry his surviving male relatives, one-by-one, if necessary. Sarah has already married her original husband's six closest relatives--poor girl! And since Tobit, too, is her kinsman, he also has a right to marry her. So he does.

What is Tobit getting into? Is he crazy??? Sarah's last seven husbands have been ripped to shreds by this demon of lust, one of the most powerful demons in human history. There's bound to be at least one or two gulps lodged in Tobit's throat. The rest of kinsmen are probably thinking he's insane...
But Tobit is a God-fearing man! Tobit seeks the salvation of his bride, and loves her even as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). Before he enters Sarah's bed to consummate their marriage, he pulls both of them to their knees. He prays that God will deliver them from this demon. God delivers. Raphael is standing by to bind the demon. Actually, the longer story is pretty interesting. Here's a snapshot: Raphael instructs Tobit to burn as incense in the bridal chamber the entrails of that strange fish that the two of them met on their journey to Media. I bet that aroma really set the mood! The incense casts the demon to Upper Egypt, where Raphael finds him and binds him.

Tobit and Paranormal Activity
While the similarities between Tobit's story and Paranormal Activity may now seem obvious, there are some significant differences. The young couple, Katie and Micah, make some serious mistakes that lead to Micah's ugly end:
  1. They're not married and they're living together!! Let this serve as a WARNING to all you young couples! The demon of lust is very much waiting to destroy your relationship.
  2. Katie keeps her haunting a secret from Micah. Oops! This is the argument Micah brings up when Katie forbids his camera in their bedroom.
  3. The demon of lust is slain in Tobit. It's the demon who does the slaying in Paranormal Activity.
Do you see the connection between book of Tobit and Paranormal Activity? The demon attacks Tobit and Micah both at their most vulnerable--in their own beds.

The Bedroom. What Happens While You Sleep?
What does this movie, Paranormal Activity, say about the morality and sanctity of sex and the bedroom? The Israeli director of this movie, Oren Peli, admits that the true horrific power of this movie rests in the vulnerability we feel as we sleep. What fuels this movie is "the concept of what happens at night when you're asleep in the dark and vulnerable. It plays on people's primal fears."(1)

What could have saved this young couple? Only the power of God and his angels. Not a psychic nor a demonologist, would have been as powerful as an exorcist priest or a simple prayer.

The Theology of the Body
Micah of Paranormal Activity was selfish and immature; his girlfriend, Katie, is quick to point this out. It's his job to protect his woman from evil, even as it was Adam's job to protect Eve from the cunning of the serpent. How did Micah fail? Alternatively, How did Tobit succeed?
All men everywhere, especially husbands, are called to love their wives, as Christ loved the Church, giving his very life for the life of the Church. This is what the controversial Ephesians 5:25 attests to. "Wives be submissive to your husbands"--okay, but husbands ... husbands! You better give everything, even your own life, to protect your wives from evil.

In the movie Paranormal Activity, Micah was clearly more concerned with toying with a demon that protecting his girlfriend, though his girlfriend, admittedly, wasn't too concerned with protecting Micah.

The goal of a relationship is to see God, himself, through the one you love. What else could so bring a man to his knees? It is the glory of God, Himself, at whose Name every knee shall bend.

Lastly, one final note ...
What's with the name Micah?
What should Micah have done? Call on the power of his namesake, the Archangel Michael, who defends us in battle.
It's interesting that the male lead in this movie is named Micah, pronounced (strangely) as MEEK-ah. Micha is a minor prophet of the Old Testament and that name appears in a couple other unremarkable places, save one. The name, itself, is significant. Micha is a question--the name is a question. It asks, "who is like God?" Also, when you add the theophoric suffix "-el" to the end of it, it names the commander of God's legions of angels, the demon-slayer, the Archangel Michael. The name changes from "who is like God?" to its answer: Michael "is one like God."

Also, Micah is the actor's real name, Micah Sloat. Maybe you can see God's protective hand reaching into this movie through the Archangel's name. It is unwise to treat the subject of demonology lightly.

Footnotes:
1. John Barber, "The Q&A: Oren Peli, director of Paranormal Activity" (Toronto, ON: The Globe and Mail, 2010) accessed January 1, 2010, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/the-qa-oren-peli-director-of-paranormal-activity/article1411783/

2 comments:

  1. Welcome to the Catholic Blogger Directory. I'd like to invite you to join us for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, a place where a bunch of Catholic bloggers share their weekly best with each other. This week's edition is at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com/2010/01/happy-new-year-to-another-edition-of.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. " Micah, pronounced (strangely) as MEEK-ah" Could this be a relation to "makkah"?

    ReplyDelete

Catholic Beard Balm