Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

November 8, 2013

When do we call an exorcist?

It was irresistible.

On Halloween, The Drudge Report highlighted a Washington Post interview with the author of “The Exorcist.” William Peter Blatty had used the word “demonic,” and now there atop Drudge was a photo of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

It had been another week of the Obama administration having to answer for the political house of horrors that has become of its signature Obamacare law, the misnamed Affordable Care Act.

Blatty never called Sebelius demonic. But he did reflect on the American soul in ways deeper than most political analyses ever tend to, deeper than many public prayers about politics.

Sebelius came into the interview as Blatty talked with the reporter about his decades-long concern for the integrity of his alma mater, Georgetown University, as a Catholic institution. As religious leaders, including U.S. Catholic bishops, were protesting the White House insistence that an HHS mandated assault on conscience stand as a new health care regulation, Georgetown hosted Sebelius as a commencement speaker in 2012.

But this runs deeper than a cabinet secretary, a political debacle, or even one influential school. If people clicked on the Drudge link, they were issued an invitation into a contemplative life.

The Post piece notes that Blatty wore “a silver medal etched with the three crosses of Calvary, where Jesus was crucified in the Gospels. The medal belonged to his son Peter, who died seven years ago. One reason ‘The Exorcist’ has endured, Blatty thinks, is because it shows that the grave does not mean oblivion. That there is something after death.”

But even more interesting than what was printed in the interview piece was what it did not say.

The Washington Post tells us about Blatty’s choice of sweetener over lunch at the Georgetown-area Tombs restaurant, along with his mashing of meatballs, carving of polenta, and his swirling “them together with blood-red sauce.” And yet there is a ceiling on details in the piece. “He describes, his voice trembling, a particular abortion procedure in graphic detail,” the reporter writes. End of details.

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