Orthodox America

 The Mystical Roots of Crime 

by Priest Alexey Moroz

THE SHARP RISE of crime and suicide is further evidence of the tragic influence of godlessness, materialism and occultism on contemporary society. Rooted in materialist doctrine, professional psychologists and sociologists have been unsuccessful in trying to explain the nature of this phenomenon. People who for the most part are financially stable and from what appear to be happy families, often commit outrageous, bloody crimes, shocking even those who know them well. While professionals conjecture as to its underlying causes, they deny the existence of the soul and the unseen world. And yet it is precisely here, in the human soul and the activities of the unseen world, that the answer to this quandary is to be found.

"A holy place is never vacant," and "... no fountain can yield both salt water and fresh" (James 3:12), nor can a man occupy two positions in the spiritual world. His ontological nature requires that he apply himself either to good or to evil, either to God or to the devil.

As a rule, a person who does not know God or His commandments lives in the world according to the law of his passions. He strives to do that which gives him pleasure. And this is basically to satisfy the demands of his physical/psychological requirements. This includes eating and drinking what tastes good, having various amorous relationships, getting lots of money, having a prestigious job, enjoying respect, glory, and so forth. All of these desires, if they are not checked by faith and a striving towards God, if they are not subordinated to the principal aim of spiritual perfection, become grossly amplified; they become a goal in themselves and turn into cravings. The person's scope of interests narrows to little more than the satisfaction of the ruling passion or passions: drinking, promiscuity, lust after wealth and/or power, etc.

The demons strive by various means to intensify man's natural passions, for through them they gain access into the soul of a sinner. According to the testimony of the Holy Fathers, St. Gregory the Sinaite specifically, each demon has his own "specialty"; he prefers to operate in a particular passionate milieu, feeding and strengthening himself on energy released by the passion. One type of demon fuels lust, another prefers alcoholism, a third arouses anger, etc.

According to patristic tradition, demons adhere both to a man's intellectual sphere-suggesting to him various thoughts and imaginings, and also to the sensual-by arousing feelings of physical passion, irritation, anger, grief, despair, etc. For this reason, every Christian who desires to lead a spiritual life must be sober, i.e., he must be vilgilant to all thoughts and feelings which come to him. One must not allow oneself to blindly follow after all feelings and desires which seem to be one's own. The touch-stone, on which the quality and origin of thoughts and feelings are tested and determined, besides the innate voice of conscience, is the Sacred Scriptures, Christ's commandments, the experience of the Holy Fathers and their teachings in such matters.

Unbelievers, non-Christians, depend for their moral orientation in life solely upon the voice of conscience, and it is fortunate if it is not distorted and obscured by improper upbringing or a sinful life. Etymologically the word "conscience" is derived from the Latin verb scire, "to know," and the prefix "con" meaning "with", "common" or "shared"; i.e., something from the beginning given to the entire human race, and bequeathed to each a individual at birth. In other words, this is the voice of God in man's soul, the spiritual/moral matrix, safe-guarding him from corruption and destruction. If a person disregards the promptings of his conscience and continues to do evil, then its voice, under the impact of sin, grows weak and eventually is silenced altogether; and the person is left without any spiritual/moral orientation.

A person who does not lead a Christian way of life is defenseless when confronted by the activity of unclean spirits, who, through the various channels mentioned earlier, find access into the soul and take control of it. As a result the person becomes possessed, i.e., submissively fulfilling the will of the demon-without even being aware of it. The degree of possession or, in other words, the measure of his subjection to another's will is directly proportionate to the degree of his passionateness which, at its apogee, becomes transformed into demon-possession, that state when a person no longer has any control over himself-his body, his words, his actions. The bond between soul and body is destroyed; a foreign, evil will wedges itself in and an unclean spirit begins to command the body. We find numerous examples of such cases in the Gospel (Matt. 8:16, 15:28; Luke 6:8, 13:11).

The second cause of possession is found in the involvement in the varied forms of occults. A fascination and involvement in astrology, extra-sensory -perception, an interest in contact with poltergeists, UFOs and extra-terrestrials open a person to mystical contact and action on the part of the spirits of wickedness, which ultimately leads to possession of the "contactees" and their spiritual perdition. There are proven facts concerning the growth in geometric progression of the number of UFO contactees. They have large gatherings, publish magazines, hold conferences. According to V. Davidovtsa, at a single conference in Kemerovo there spoke some three hundred "contactees" from the Kuzbask region alone. St. John Chrysostom testifies that a demon does not leave a man who has sold himself to him until he has consumed him or led him to suicide.

This thesis is well supported by our contemporary life. In criminal psychiatry there is a term "idée fixe," which is described as "forced inclination." In the textbook, Criminal Psychiatry: " we read, "One can attribute to the disturbance of the will those impulsive states characterized by outbursts of overpowering or hard to resist impulses to do certain things without forethought. It is customary to distinguish several such impulsive states: catatonic impulsive actions are most often characterized by senseless, unmotivated, aggressive and destructive acts. Frequently the victim experiences this as subjugation to a foreign will (the Kandinsky syndrome)."

But if a crime is committed contrary to a person's own will, at the irresistible promptings of something clearly foreign to him, i.e., an outside will, then the question is, whose is this hideous will? Does it not belong to that spirit which we call evil?

In our country there has lately been a noticeable increase in the number of unmotivated murders. It seems that one man kills another for no evident reason whatsoever. In an article, "Who will kill me tomorrow?" author V. Kalita describes three frightful crimes. In the first, twenty-year-old Skorobo-gatov beat up his mother, wounded his father with a knife, and five days later killed a youth trying to defend his father, whom the killer was deriding. The second case involved a tractor driver, Radopupov, who in a drunken stupor monstrously cut up his acquaintances, Anna and Alexander, for no apparent reason. In the third, a certain Zavaruyev took two young children for a drive into the forest, where he was prompted to kill one of the boys in revenge for his older sisters' refusal to marry him. He monstrously killed both children.

The author, after studying Zavareyev's personality, writes: "He lived and grew up like many rural youth. He went to school, served in the army, then worked in various capacities on the collective farm 'Rodina'. Never and nowhere did he spend time with killers or criminals. He was never in prison or in a penal colony or corrective labor camp... And suddenly such a twist of fate: a killer, a criminal. Apart from the shock of the crime, what is even more appalling to me is the ordinariness of the killer; he's like so many other people. It's frightful to think that these 'many people' live right next to us: they walk around, look, talk... And suddenly, for no reason at all, some hateful feelings 'find place' in them and they take a knife and cut the throat of one of us or one of our children."

Commenting on these cases, Kalita writes further that "society is burning in a blaze of crime. What is frightening is that "it is so pervasive; it has taken on the dimensions of an outright civil war (son against father, mother; brother against brother; friends killing one another), when each man wars against the other." The author cites chilling facts, from which he draws accurate generalizations: about the lack of motivation behind killings, about the appearance of a new class of criminals, "who only an hour ago were ordinary people and suddenly-they are murderers." But Kalita cannot explain what has caused this phenomenon. And this is understandable, because it can only be explained from one point of view-mystical.

As has already been pointed out, someone who is not protected by the Christian faith, sacraments and prayer, is defenseless when faced by the net of temptations laid out before him. He falls into one or another mystical trap and, living in this world according to the law of his passions, he is readily controlled by unclean spirits.

As dreadful as this sounds, a majority of people in our society are zombies-that is, people who submissively fulfill the will of an unclean spirit dwelling in them, and this frequently leads them to commit horrible crimes or suicide. The degree of their possession is directly proportionate to the person's passionateness and lack of faith. Take Kalita's cases cited above: people who have lost control of their senses, for reasons they themselves cannot explain, decide upon barbarous, senseless acts; into an alcohol-inflamed brain comes an imperative whose voice has long become familiar, identified with the person's own awareness, whose whims have long ago been uncontrollably and unconditionally satisfied. And here is the result-an irreparable act is committed. We find clear confirmation of the aforementioned thesis in the article, "Bowing to the Devil." Here is what it says. Four fifteen-year-old juveniles in the city of Chikment went for a walk to the river with a female classmate. There they cut her with a kitchen knife, drained her blood, and killed her. They buried the body and for a month calmly walked about before the murder was discovered. The youths were all from well-to-do families; there were no alcoholics or criminals among their parents. What were the motives behind the crime?

It turns out that all four were engaged in occultism. To one of them there appeared "a man in black" who ordered the killing of the classmate-a girl who went to church and to Sunday school. The four juvenile zombies executed the order unquestioningly.

As we see here, young souls unprotected by faith and a Christian conscience, as a result of their involvement in occultism became possessed and obediently fulfilled a monstrous order. And this is not an isolated case. We can often observe cold, senseless cruelty; bestial malice; blind indifference towards another's sufferings. Alas, all this has become the principal trait of our irreligious society.


We know that man is created in the image and likeness of God; he is called to the lofty aim of love and endless perfection. And when he isolates himself in the depraved circle of satisfying his passions, when he becomes purely carnal and egocentric, his spiritual and physical destruction become inevitable, for in falling away from God he chooses nonexistence. "...even one, who fulfills the will of God, is better than a thousand unrighteous ones," testifies St. John Chrysostom. "Saints are the salt of the earth; they are the meaning of its existence; they are that fruit for the sake of which it is preserved. And when the earth ceases to bear saints, then that force which holds the world back from catastrophe will be taken away," states the righteous Silouan. That is, when the measure of evil surpasses the admissible limit, then the society and the people where this occurred will perish. An example of this is the destruction of early humanity from the flood. Likewise we recall Sodom and Gomorrah and their destruction for rampant profligacy. We recall Abraham, who implored the Holy Trinity to spare the city for the sake of even ten righteous men, and who received a promise that if there should be found ten, then for their sake mercy would be shown to that city (Gen. 18:32). But ten were not to be found. Righteous Lot was leaving with his family, when the city and its depraved inhabitants were destroyed.

Are we not standing on the brink of such destruction today? That measure of lawlessness which is filling the cup of God's long-suffering and, when it overflows, will call down upon us the inevitable wrath of the Creator of the world-is it not reaching its limit? Will there be found among us ten righteous men able to stave off that retribution ready to pour forth upon our earth on account of man's wickedness?

Look around. Malice, disorder, the spectre of famine, ecological catastrophe, nationalist discord, and so on. Are these not generated by our spiritual bankruptcy, our godless lives? Are these not signs from God that ought to make us stop, think and change ourselves? And if this is so, then without spiritual rebirth neither ecological reforms, nor a wise leader, nor occultists with extraterrestrial beings will help us.

But our faith in Christ the Saviour, our repentance and amendment-this is what can bring Russia out of her spiritual and moral crisis and give the Light of life to our future.