Unseen Worlds: Dealing with Spirits, Witchcraft, and Satanism
(by Bernhard Udelhoven)
Now available in two editions: the full edition (492 pages) and a study edition (188 pages) that introduces the case studies and the basic method.
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Witchcraft accusations and witchcraft experiences break down communities. In Zambia, as in other African countries, they give rise to much violence and abuse.
Christian Churches can play an important role in addressing witchcraft related violence, if they manage to enter the social, symbolic and spiritual worlds in which witchcraft plays itself out. However, they can also trap the helper in a maze of suspicions, fear and accusations. Church answers have often sidelined beliefs in witchcraft and spirits into the world of superstition. Or, to the contrary, they have magnified them within the idiom of spiritual warfare. Unseen Worlds offers a third way for the helper, which is person-centred, not demon-centred, building on people’s own experiences and concepts and moving towards transformation.
The book addresses pastors, teachers, counsellors, prayer companions, deliverance ministries, college students, historians, anthropologists, development workers and family helpers.
Unseen Worlds offers a culturally sensitive approach to spiritual healing and deliverance that does not divorce spiritual matters from corresponding human conditions, relationships and family issues. While categories of “true” and “false” are not easily applied to spiritual attacks, any experience that touches a person on a deep level always has a spiritual dimension that this book explores and responds to.
The approach was developed during a research period of eight years, commissioned by FENZA. It builds on relational experiences of life and Zambian notions of selfhood, going beyond the timeworn divide of the “superstitious” versus the “real”. Addressing the pastoral Christian ministry, the book proceeds from a Catholic and ecumenical perspective, while building on insights of the social sciences, of experienced charismatic ministries, but also of Zambian traditional healers, cultural experts and mediators in instances of witchcraft accusations.
Gap filled by the book: The reader will find concrete pastoral steps towards a deliverance ministry that work with African insights into the mysteries of life, not against them. The authentic case studies show the complexities of the deliverance ministry, which are rarely noticed in the available “prayer manuals” in which demons are but prayed away.
How will the book be read? The book covers seven topical themes: The first draws out the successes and failures of mainstream, inculturation and charismatic approaches of combating evil spiritual forces in Africa on the example of Christian Zambia. The second outlines the principles of the person-centred approach, with its demands of listening and empathy, and introduces the notions of “inner worlds” and “outer worlds” through which the healer/pastor can clarify different levels of truths and the scope for public action. The next three themes deal with helping people who see themselves as victims of spirits, witchcraft, and Satanism. Another theme concerns helping people who stand accused as witches, looking at possible interventions from the time that rumours are expressed up to the time that suspicions turn into witch-hunting. The last part introduces relevant biblical and theological reflections.
Author: Bernhard Udelhoven, Catholic priest working in Zambia since 1989, studied theology and social anthropology. He headed the FENZA research project on Satanism in Zambia, of which this book is a fruit. Presently he works in Lumimba Parish, Chipata Diocese.
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