Name Dropping

The evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15)

If you’re going to crash a party, make sure you’ve got your bases covered or you may find yourself running through the streets buck naked and bleeding. Normally, dropping the right names can get you past the bouncers, but sometimes even that doesn’t work. Sometimes you get yourself drop-kicked out the door onto the asphalt and end up limping away with serious road rash and a majorly bruised ego.

I’ve met more than a few folks who think they have carte blanche to kick demon butt because they have a Jesus club membership card and a hyperactive Holy Ghost thyroid. But it’s one thing to be a fool for Christ and quite another to be an idiot in spite of him. Even the original Twelve found out that not every demon was a pushover. Once, when the disciples failed to budge a stubborn demon, Jesus had to do the dirty work for them. Later, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Jesus may have given believers a spiritual bazooka, but little good it does if you don’t know how to load it or where in hell to aim the sucker.

As a rule, demons aren’t all that impressed by subtlety. You can’t nuance your way around some badassed devil who’s already got a chip on his scorched shoulder and a humongous boot print on his sunburned derriere. These guys aren’t wowed by carefully crafted eviction notices or pummeled into submission by some rabid verbal spew laced with holy epithets. These bad cats only capiche one thing: power. If you aren’t carrying a big stick, you’re going to find yourself counting ceiling tiles in the ER, even if you do have an autographed 8 by 10 of Benny Hinn.

Still, dealing with devils isn’t all that complicated if you observe a few simple rules. First, make sure you’re actually dealing with a demon. Nothing’s more embarrassing than trying to cast out somebody’s personality. Second, call ahead. Demons are notoriously ill-humored when unprepared for company. Give them a heads up so they can at least put their faces on. Third, get to the point. Demons are terrible at small talk and will often resort to spitting, growling, or writhing when there’s a lag in the conversation. Fourth, be ready to negotiate. It’s terribly gauche to expect a demon to evacuate the premises with nowhere else to go. It might be a good idea to bring along a pig or some other farm animal as alternate lodging. Demons will appreciate the gesture though they are contractually obligated to put up a fuss. Fifth, if you’re dealing with a bunch of demons, look for the weakest one and isolate him from the pack. One way to do this is by asking for names. Avoid confronting demons with names like Climate Change or Fundamentalist; nine times out of ten they’ll have you for lunch. Instead, direct your attention toward demons with names like Muffy, Patches, or Glitter; they’re most likely despised by the other demons who may actually help you get rid of them. Leave the others in peace. It’s better to be successful casting out one or two dweebs than to get your face wiped by some dudes who are outside your league. Finally, if your exorcism happens to be successful, always leave a 15-20% gratuity—oh, and you might want to help clean up the vomit.

In general, demonology is best left to the experts, those professional spiritual wrestlers who know how to survive a body slam and can shout for hours at a time. They also have the right tools for the job, like crucifixes, holy water, rabbit’s feet, and, for very difficult cases, a few audio clips of Gilbert Gottfried whose voice gets on even the most obdurate demon’s nerves:

However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to confront some demonic rabble-rouser, stay calm. Keep in mind that demons have had a tough go of it since the Christianization of heavy metal music and have fewer and fewer social options left. If Jesus is a personal friend of yours, it’s okay to drop his name; but if it’s been a while since you and Jesus had a good talk, it’s probably better to take a rain-check. Just don’t try to bluff your way through; demons can smell a ruse a mile away. One more thing: keep your eyes open for a blue dress.

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