How should one approach the study of demons and spiritual warfare? In this conversation with University of North Carolina, Charlotte professor Sean McCloud, demons, possessions, and exorcisms that might have once been considered fringe or marginal elements of the American religious scene are now part of a robust “haunted” or supernatural landscape.

About this episode

How should one approach the study of demons and spiritual warfare? In this conversation with University of North Carolina, Charlotte professor Sean McCloud, demons, possessions, and exorcisms that might have once been considered fringe or marginal elements of the American religious scene are now part of a robust “haunted” or supernatural landscape. Today the spiritual warfare movement that began in mission fields in South America and Africa is now institutionalized in the charismatic New Apostolic Reformation churches as well as popularized in film and cinema. Where should we place haunted objects in the world of religious studies? What do we do with figures like Peter Wagner who led the supernatural movement and then found himself attacked by his allies? What we find is a transnational interest with demons that has yet to be fully charted or explained. McCloud argues that rising supernatural interest coincides with consumerism and neoliberal capitalism. In the spiritual warfare manuals that serve as his primary data, capitalist and even therapeutic language seems to mark this as a product that borrows from a wide range of 20th century themes. Even perceived enemies of evangelicalism—like the soft metaphysical stylings of The Secret—become fodder for incorporation into the spiritual warfare paradigm. Welcome to the supernatural turn! You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.ca, or Amazon.com links to support us at no additional cost when you have a purchase to make.

This episode has not been transcribed yet. 

Consider a donation to pay for the cost of editing a transcript?

Related Resources

Philology and the Comparative Study of Myths

Podcast

In this week’s podcasts, Dr. Paola Corrente gives us insights in how the use of the philological approach can be beneficial for, not only providing a common and solid framework for comparative research but also, for providing more suitable ways of classification according to linguistic criteria. Her work on the “dying gods” –i.e. gods that die but come back to life– of Ancient Greece and Mesopotamia, which draws on the concept formulated by James George Frazer, provides a case for this exercise.
There be Spoilers Here: Durkheim, ‘Breaking Bad,’ and the Uncertainty of Religious Theory

Response

"When I think back on it, one thing I truly enjoyed about Professor Strenski’s book—as well as his teaching style—was his ability to tangentially veer off topic while not losing complete track of the subject at hand. Tangents, I have always felt, are the instructor’s greatest tool. Not only do they assist in keeping the student’s attention, but as metaphor, paint the instruction in different hues than mere black and white."
Patrons Special: RSP Discourse #2 (October 2018)

Podcast

Welcome to the second issue of “Discourse”, where our editors and guests take a critical look at how the category “religion” is being used in the media, the public sphere, and the academic field. This episode, Chris (Cotter) is joined by Chris (Silver) and Theo Wildcroft, both long-time friends and contributors to the RSP, for a cross-Atlantic discussion. After the inevitable discussion of US identity conflicts and terrorism, and ugly manifestation of the KKK in Northern Ireland, discussion moved on to the accepted protocols of trick or treating, and the use of patisserie in debates on LGBT human rights vs religious freedom.  Can’t access this episode? Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/projectrs

Responses to this episode

Demons, Exoticism, and the Academy

demons and spiritual warfare aren’t something that snake handlers invented just yesterday, it is a major thread woven through the entire history of Christianity, and one that continues to be woven through it today. Something that strikes me about contemporary spiritual warfare is how it’s not so radically different thematically in its interests and its languages than a lot of contemporary American religion.

Other EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY

Religion, Space and Locality

Podcast

Over the past decade or so, the academic study of religion has become infused with a (re-)appreciation of the importance and impact of space, place and location upon its field of study. Of course, scholars have for a long time been aware of the need to situate ‘religion’ in context, however, the spatial analysis goes far beyond mere description of physical or cultural spaces, ...
RE Commission report: A Way Forward?

Podcast

At a recent RE research and policy conference #2020RE, Dr Wendy Dossett had the opportunity to chat with two of the Commissioners and authors of the Religion and Worldviews report, Dr Joyce Miller and Prof Eleanor Nesbitt, along with Religious Education sociologist (and convener of SOCREL), Céline Benoit. Their conversation ranged over some of the following issues: the rationale for the move from calling the subject ‘Religious Education’ to ‘Religion and Worldviews’; the inadequacy for the classroom of a world religions approach; the degree to which faith communities are entitled to influence what gets taught in schools; and the anomaly of the so-called withdrawal clause.
Patrons Special: RSP Discourse #2 (October 2018)

Podcast

Welcome to the second issue of “Discourse”, where our editors and guests take a critical look at how the category “religion” is being used in the media, the public sphere, and the academic field. This episode, Chris (Cotter) is joined by Chris (Silver) and Theo Wildcroft, both long-time friends and contributors to the RSP, for a cross-Atlantic discussion. After the inevitable discussion of US identity conflicts and terrorism, and ugly manifestation of the KKK in Northern Ireland, discussion moved on to the accepted protocols of trick or treating, and the use of patisserie in debates on LGBT human rights vs religious freedom.  Can’t access this episode? Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/projectrs
Peter Collins on Religion and the Built Environment

Podcast

Buildings dominate our skylines, they shape the nature, size, sound and smell of events within their walls, they provide a connection to the recent and distant past, and they serve as a physical, material instantiation of any number of contextual discourses. But what about the relationship between 'religion' and these (generally) human-made structures?
Hindu Traditions in Contemporary British Communities

Podcast

This podcast explores how Hindu belief and traditions have been incorporated into modern western practices. An overview of the British kirtan community and the Art of Living movement is followed by a discussion of authenticity, reconciliation of tradition and modernity, and the influence of popular culture.
Religion After Darwin

Podcast

Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species was published in 1859, and had an immediate and dramatic effect on religious narratives. Traditional religions were forced to adopt an evolutionary worldview, or to go on the offensive; whereas New Religious Movements like Wicca or New Age adopted an environmental concern as a central part of their belief. And possibly, ...

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The views expressed in podcasts, features and responses are the views of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Religious Studies Project or our sponsors. The Religious Studies Project is produced by the Religious Studies Project Association (SCIO), a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (charity number SC047750).