The Power Of Christ Compels You!

21 Oct

Greetings from somewhere over Kansas or Nebraska or one of those flat, expansive states where, from what I can see, no one lives for miles and miles. Today is my first travel day with the company of Evita and we’re traveling from St. Louis, Missouri, to Los Angeles, California for the next three weeks. I was in St. Louis in January with Flashdance, so I did most of the touristy stuff then, not realizing I’d be back for two weeks a few months later. I did return to the St. Louis Zoo because, well…I love zoos and that one is free (and quite excellent). I’m glad I went to the top of the Gateway Arch in January because it was closed for the first week or so of our stay because of the government shutdown, but I had an amazing view of it from my hotel window .There’s nothing much more inspiring that looking out your window and seeing a national monument gleaming in the sun with the Mississippi River flowing beneath it.

A St. Louis sunset as seen from my hotel room window. Not a bad view...

A St. Louis sunset as seen from my hotel room window. Not a bad view…

I got to spend some time with friends from college and even a former co-worker from New York who relocated to St. Louis a couple of years ago. I was taken out to lunches and treated to a fantastic game night of “Cards Against Humanity” that made all of us laugh so much that we had to take a break – and some Aleve – because our faces hurt. This is what touring’s about for me – reconnecting with the people that matter in my life.

Of course, it’s also about experiencing the city in which you happen to be working. Because I had already done pretty much everything I wanted to do in St. Louis the first time I was there, I had to find new things to do. I don’t remember how I discovered it, but I learned that St. Louis was the city in which the events occurred that inspired “The Exorcist.” In 1949, in a small house in a lovely little suburb of St. Louis, a Jesuit priest performed an exorcism on a teenaged boy. The exorcism took over a month and actually was performed in multiple locations, including a hospital at St. Louis University, but the house is the only remaining building associated with the event, so of course I had to do a drive-by to check it out.

My first time seeing “The Exorcist” was in graduate school. The film was being re-released and for the first time, some cut material was being shown, including the famous spider walk down the stairs. My friends and I went to a late showing and we arrived to find the theater absolutely packed with people. We ended up having to sit in the third row, which is way too close in my opinion, but it was the only available option. I had a hard time getting into the film because the four guys in front of us were distracting me. One guy was on his phone through most of the movie, actually answering it and saying, “I’m at a movie! Listen…can’t you hear it?!” as he held the phone up to the screen. His neighbor had put his arm around him and was lighting the tips of the next guy over’s cornrows on fire with his lighter. Anytime anything remotely gross or disturbing happened, they shouted at the screen and then would laugh at themselves or the people sitting around them. Who could focus with all that going on? There was also a baby crying somewhere behind us. Yes…an infant at a midnight showing of “The Exorcist.” When security finally asked the mother to leave the theater, someone in the back row started clapping, which led the mother to come back into the theater with the baby in her arm and she started threatening to fight people. There were a good three or four minutes of shouting back and forth before security finally dragged her out of the building, so I missed a lot of what was going on. But if I have to be honest, the parts that I did see I thought were hilarious. Her spinning head and the awful things poor little Linda Blair had to say and do. I simply didn’t get why people thought it was the scariest movie ever made. When the movie was first released, people actually fainted and threw up during the movie out of fright and shock. I didn’t get it.

I was not brought up Catholic and in my church we were taught that miracles and demon possessions didn’t happen anymore, so the very idea of demonic possession was as frightening to me as the idea of an alien invasion. I thought the movie was fairly shocking, but because I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t be afraid of it. After falling into a YouTube “Exorcist” wormhole late one night and watching video after video and reading article after article about the Exorcist House, though, I felt a little uneasy driving up to it. I don’t think my belief about possession has changed, but…you don’t want to tempt fate, right?

The Exorcist House in St. Louis, MO. The exorcism apparently happened in the upstairs bedroom - directly above the living area with the bay window.

The Exorcist House in St. Louis, MO. The exorcism apparently happened in the upstairs bedroom – directly above the living area with the bay window.

The neighborhood is quite unassuming and, honestly, so is the house, but there’s something very creepy about the place – especially the upstairs window of the room where the exorcism supposedly occurred. I was surprised to see a car in the driveway – I don’t know why I was surprised that people live there, but I suddenly felt very awkward coming to gawk and take pictures of their house – the house where the Devil slept, as it is called in some news articles. I have a healthy appreciation of the macabre and I can totally appreciate and understand spending the night in the Lizzie Borden murder house or spending a weekend in Salem, Massachusetts, but living in the house where the Devil may or may not live…? That’s a bit much for me. And surely they must be bored with all the gawkers like me who want to see “The Exorcist House.” In any case, I took a couple of pictures and got the heck out of Dodge. That night I went home and downloaded “The Exorcist” and watched it alone in my room. I still think “The Silence of the Lambs” is far scarier because I know that there are crazy cannibalistic murderers out there in the world, but I have a healthier appreciation for “The Exorcist” now, too. I still can’t imagine it making me want to vomit, but it did give me a great idea for a Halloween costume…

Jasorcist

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2 Responses to “The Power Of Christ Compels You!”

  1. Erik Reid October 22, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    Nice Jason, Let me know if you get to Phoenix.

    • jasonhbratton76 October 22, 2013 at 1:37 am #

      I’ll be in Tempe in December! The 3-8th, I think!

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