In the “I guess everyone needs a hobby” department, I give to you Savannah Scherkenback, Tess Scherkenback, and Brynne Larson: three beautiful young ladies trained by Brynne’s father to rid the world of the demonic influences of Satan and his minions, one lost soul at a time.
I recommend you take a look at the videos, especially the second one. It’s some pretty weird shit. There they are, in the Ukraine, with Pastor Bob Larson whipping the crowd into a frenzy with the help of a translator, when all of a sudden a handful of “possessed” people come shambling forward. It reminds me of some of the old movies with the snake oil salesmen. Right after the guy on the stage finishes his pitch, there’s always a few people who come up and try the product, praising its miraculous efficacy only moments later. Whether the people in this crowd worked with him and the sisters, or whether they are so thoroughly entrenched in their belief that they are convinced they truly are possessed, I don’t know. What I do know is that these folks could probably use a little medical and psychological consultation before assuming there’s demons about.
Brynne’s mother Laura Larson, says the girls are sincerely trying to help people.
“This is a family who lives by what they believe,” says Laura, “and I think the teenage exorcists are making a difference, whether you believe in what they do or not, they are committed and they stand by what they believe.”
Am I the only one who looks at that kind of reasoning and thinks to himself, “who the hell cares??” What difference does it make that these kids share “strongly held beliefs”, and that they’re committed to them? It doesn’t make them any less delusional or the basis of their life’s calling any less nonsensical? If I had a strongly held belief that the Daedric Princes from the world of the Elder Scrolls series were real … so much so that I spent my life’s savings to set up a shrine to Azura in my back yard … does the fact that I am truly convinced of their existence take away from the fact that I’m flat wrong?
The young women’s mentor, Brynne’s father, disagrees with critics who say it’s dangerous to teach teenagers to perform exorcisms.
“We think it’s OK to train teenagers to get drunk and have sex, but to do moral things for God, oh let’s not train them to do that,” says Larson.
I hope he doesn’t mean comprehensive sex education. That’s at least evidence-based and a proven way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of disease … as opposed to the teaching that demons can enter the body and cause all sorts of bad juju because an old book had stories about them. We weren’t, however, ever taught to drink or get drunk. Maybe “Getting Shit Faced 101” was an honors course? I had to settle for numerous independent studies during my college years and between semesters.
Pro tip: do laundry first, then get drunk. I know what I’m talking about.
[Pastor Bob] asks for a voluntary donation of a couple of hundred dollars or pounds when he and the girls perform a one-to-one exorcism, and rejects the idea that spiritual services have to be free of charge.
“The average megachurch pastor in America, it’s not uncommon for them to make up to $1m a year. Well I can assure you we are nowhere near that.”
A few hundred dollars per private session? That’s it … I’m going to become a traveling exorcist. All I need to do is make sure I’m in the right part of the country and they’ll probably come pouring in.
Here’s the funny thing, too … I’m convinced that what they’re doing has no basis in scientific fact. BUT … the people who come to them are so thoroughly convinced of their possession that the only thing that’s likely to help them in the short term is someone like Brynne and her buddies. For the long term, I’d suggest therapy, but I’m forced to admit that there’s definitely a market for treating fictional illnesses with fictional cures.