John G. Turner
While watching Bobby Jindal's Republican response to the unofficial State of the Union address tonight, I was reflecting on the joys that many of us might have writing about his religiosity during the 2012 campaign (having just started to recover from Jeremiah Wright and Sarah Palin). Fortunately, it's a long way off. However, today I stumbled upon an evidently somewhat well-known piece about Jindal's early years as a Catholic convert. Since it was new to me, it might be new to you as well. It's an excerpt of an essay Jindal published in the 1994 New Oxford Review. Evidently, the entire article is only available for a small fee; however, CBN's David Brody published an extended excerpt.
In the essay, Jindal describes a prayer session for a cancer-stricken friend, Susan, who has been behaving oddly. The prayer session occurs at a meeting of University Christian Fellowship at Brown University. Here is an excerpt of the excerpt:
A senior in UCF (University Christian Fellowship) and a leader of my Bible study group had once asked me if I believed in angels, spirits, and other such apparitions ... After I related my doubts, the senior proceeded to describe recent incidents involving mutual acquaintances -- e.g., a woman who claimed demons inflicted physical scars on her arms. I remained polite, but incredulous. The issue of spirits did not affect me, and I was thus content to leave its resolution to others. I had no opinions or feelings on the subject ...
After a period of group prayer, a student made a movement to end the meeting. Suddenly, Susan emitted some strange guttural sounds and fell to the floor. She started thrashing about, as if in some sort of seizure. Susan's sister must have recognized what was happening, for she ordered us to gather around and place our hands on Susan's prostrate body. I refused to budge from my position and froze in horror. I will never forget the first comprehensible sound that came from Susan; she screamed my name with such an urgency that the chill still travels down my spine whenever I recall this moment.
Maybe she sensed our weariness; whether by plan or coincidence, Susan chose the perfect opportunity to attempt an escape. She suddenly leapt up and ran for the door, despite the many hands holding her down. This burst of action served to revive the tired group of students and they soon had her restrained once again, this time half kneeling and half standing. Alice, a student leader in Campus Crusade for Christ, entered the room for the first time, brandishing a crucifix ... Surely Crusade's experienced leader would be able to rescue us and reaffirm our faith in Christ, the Bible, and everything good ...
While Alice and Louise held Susan, her sister continued holding the Bible to her face. Almost taunting the evil spirit that had almost beaten us minutes before, the students dared Susan to read biblical passages. She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence "Jesus is Lord." Over and over, she repeated "Jesus is L..L..LL," often ending in profanities. In between her futile attempts, Susan pleaded with us to continue trying and often smiled between the grimaces that accompanied her readings of Scripture. Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed "Jesus is Lord."
With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, "Has something happened?" She did not remember any of the past few hours and was startled to find her friends breaking out in cheers and laughter, overwhelmed by sudden joy and relief...
I left that classroom with a powerful belief in Mary's intercessions and with many questions about spiritual warfare; I also learned a lasting lesson in humility and the limits of human understanding. Was the purpose of that night served when so many individuals were inducted into the Church? Did I witness spiritual warfare? I do not have the answers, but I do believe in the reality of spirits, angels, and other related phenomena that I can neither touch nor see.
Wish I had gotten this into my Campus Crusade book, though my sense is that only a minority of Crusade leaders go about combating demons with crucifix in hand. [They usually brandish the Four Spiritual Laws]. I know the good folks at Daily Kos and Huffington Post would enjoy analyzing this sort of material during a 2012 Jindal campaign. However, I also reckon that a healthy percentage of Americans would affirm Jindal's final sentence.