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.
Blatty tells me what he described was a "late-term abortion procedure plus the saline injection."
"I described late-term abortion procedures in which the abortionist plunges a surgical scissors into the infant's skull," he says. He talked about the brutality of the late-term procedure, one that LeRoy Carhart, a late-term abortion provider with a clinic in Maryland, has described in almost sacramental terms. "I think out of respect and love and honor for this baby that you've lost, you will find yourself being a better person," he recently told an undercover investigator from Live Action.
In 1977, Melissa Ohden survived a saline-infusion abortion. Her teen mom was at seven months gestation and Melissa survived, was delivered alive and cared for as the newborn she was by the doctors and nurses present. Today she speaks about late-term abortion in the most personal of terms. She started a group, The Abortion Survivors Network, for other women who have survived abortions, as babies who were supposed to be delivered dead.
It's hard to see no evil here. Even when there may be the best of intentions.
"Most women who come in for abortions, if they knew this, would never go through with it," Blatty believes. It's "demonic" to look away, to not confront it and insist on better, was his point.
Looking at my yellowed copy of the 1971 novel, I am reminded of the quotes with which Blatty chose to open the book. First there was Luke. Jesus approaches a man possessed "by a devil."
"Many times it had laid hold of him and he was bound with chains ... but he would break the bonds asunder.
"Jesus asked him, saying, 'What is thy name?' And he said, 'Legion.'"
Blatty is no newcomer to blunt descriptions of the evil men do. Dachau, Auschwitz, Buchenwald all get mentions before his novel begins.
Beyond ghoulish fascinations, there is good and there is evil. And for all our popular talk of "spiritual journeys," and of millennials being "spiritual but not religious," we're kidding ourselves if we think there is redemption in denial.
"There is no greater gift, I believe, that a woman can give, than a life to a child," Ohden said. Melissa's mother was pressured into an abortion that should have killed Melissa before she saw the light of day. "I soaked in that toxic salt solution," Ohden described at a rally earlier this year -- protesting an abortion-expansion push that New York governor Andrew Cuomo has considered a priority of his administration -- about the latter days of her fetal life. This is a window into hell. Want out? Acknowledge our radical abortion politics as being a debate about a right to dead babies and we just might break the chains of a grave ideology, as we work together for something better.