The Adversary, by Mark I. Bubeck (2013)

The Adversary

Preparing for War Unlike Any Other War

(nb: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)

“The Adversary” would be a great name for a YA-Paranormal book. This book is most definitely NOT a YA-Paranormal book.

Another thing. It’s difficult for me to review this book, simply because author Mark Bubeck’s faith and interpretations are substantially different from my own. I am reviewing his book as a book blogger, not as a theologian. I was a Lit Major. If Dr Bubeck were writing an extended commentary on “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” I might feel compelled to chime in, but on the topic of Spiritual Warfare, I happily defer to him. Seriously. I’m very happy he is doing Spiritual Warfare, because I could never do it.

Anyway, the self-same adversary referred to in the title is none other than Satan, once among the most exalted of angels, until he developed an “I want to be just like God” complex, and was cast out of heaven.

Since then, Satan and his fellow outcasts–demons, et al (Bubeck describes a hierarchy and ranks, much like the Army or the Navy. Satan is Commander in Chief of the Fallen. He has Generals, Colonels, and on down the line.)

And Satan’s army marches among us, trying to lead us into evil, sometimes possessing us.

One thing I found interesting is that Bubeck specifically mentioned “The Exorcist,” and the controversy surrounding its release. (This book was originally published in 1975) His parishioners raised a fuss. My impression was that Dr Bubeck was dismissing “The Exorcist” out of hand as an evil force, because it exposed people to evil. There certainly was a lot of evil in “The Exorcist,” I’ll grant. In the end, though, it was two priests working like hell to drive this demon out of Regan MacNeil. They did so using a Christian Rite, interspersed with prayer and scripture.

My point is that “The Exorcist” absolutely confirms his theory: an unbeliever child starts screwing around with a Ouija board, and all hell breaks loose. Two holy men come in, say the right intercessory prayers, and the little girl becomes cute again. Rather than mention the film’s subject, he said that “The Exorcist” frenzy was inviting demons to take up residence in people.

Bubeck comes from the evangelical faith-warfare school. Basically, the idea is that we should arm ourselves with extensive prayer before going out each day. Demon attacks aren’t always as extreme as Linda Blair’s character anyway. They can fill the victims’ heads with violent thoughts–I should really kill my family with that knife, he offers as one example. Other manifestations are as simple as deep depression or anxiety.

The prescription is fervent, specialized prayer, mixed with memorizing certain Bible passages, so that we can ruminate on them wherever we are. Obviously, living a clean life is up there as well.

If you’re wondering, the best place to find Satan-fighting instruction is Paul’s Letter to The Ephesians. Indeed, there’s a lot of Paul’s work in the mix.

Bubeck recommends putting on your spiritual armor every day before you go out. This is another specific sort of prayer.

I won’t go on–you should get the picture. The primary weapon is “warfare prayer.”

As a reader, I learned a lot about the Spiritual Warfare movement, as practiced by evangelicals. One complaint I had with “The Adversary” is that many of the subjects Bubeck was describing as gateways to possession were very much mid-1970’s phenomena. He identified the great spiritual experimentation that went on then, and wrote about the increase in drug use in more of a 1975 way than a 2013 way (ie, drug use was a new phenomenon).

“The Adversary” was originally written in an era with Watergate, Vietnam, the tail end of the counterculture. The idea was to reboot it for today, and in my opinion, there should have been much more about the Internet. Yes, I can find porn in about ten seconds. I could find devil worship sites with a little work, but I could also find online communities of believers, prayer chains, evangelical outreach sites, 24/7, and accessible worldwide.

Dr. Bubeck is probably a spectacular minister. I do not doubt his sincerity for one second. His writing style is authoritative but friendly, like a good preacher should be.

As a guide to evangelicals seeking help with possession, this book will be a most-helpful tool.

Me? I’d still want Max von Sydow slashing my legs with Holy Water, and bellowing the demon out of me.


About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
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