Friday, January 28, 2011

SME's Bizarre Book of the Month: Occult ABC


In the world of anti-occult zealotry, Dr. Kurt Koch is something of a legend. A Lutheran pastor and doctor of theology in Germany, he traveled the world addressing churches of nearly every denomination for over half a century, spreading his peculiar brand of superstitious crapola. He claimed to have counseled about 20,000 people by the late '70s.

I was *lucky* enough to score a copy of his most famous book, Occult ABC, at my local secondhand bookshop.

While it's hard not to admire Koch's deep religious devotion, it's pretty easy to hate this book. Originally published in 1978, it reads like it was written in the early '50s and consists almost entirely of anecdotes - mostly secondhand stories told by missionaries and pastors. You know the kind: "You wouldn't believe what these savages are doing!" Koch even includes the old legend of the Hippie Babysitter and the Roasted Baby, substituting devil worshippers for the hippie. He also promotes the b.s. stories of "former Satanists" like Doreen Irvine and Mike Warnke. A big part of the reason Koch falls for this blarney is explained on p. 229: "When people have been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and have received Jesus Christ as their Lord, they generally speak the truth."

As you've probably guessed, damn near everything that doesn't involve Bible-reading and praying to Jesus is "occult" in Koch's eyes. He devotes sections to acupuncture, homosexuality, porn, yoga, meditation, "descent from the ape", Freemasonry, and of course rock music. And Koch believes that any degree of occult influence can afflict multiple generations (the "sins of the father"), causing everything from skin diseases to demonic possession.

The wisdom Koch dispenses is often wildly contradictory. For instance, he maintains that all precognitive powers come from Satan, yet implies several times that it can be 100% accurate and that only a fool would ignore a warning from a psychic.
He stresses that some mental illnesses have natural causes and can be treated by psychiatry, while others are occult in origin and must be treated spiritually. But then he states that occult involvement isn't the cause of mental illness; it just paves the way for mental illness to develop.
He describes many cases in which occultists changed their evil ways because a spouse or parent prayed for their salvation for years. Later, he tells us never to pray for occultists unless they have explicitly expressed a desire to change, because it simply won't work.

Some of his examples are just plain creepy. Koch boasts that Mirin Dajo died because some Christians prayed for his sword-piercing trick to fail onstage, and it did. (Actually, it didn't. Dajo died after slipping into a coma, and he was not performing at the time.)
In another example, Koch writes of a man who foolishly yoked himself to a non-Christian wife and spent the rest of his life regretting it. His poor son-in-law got so tired of the woman's nagging that he boxed her ears until she shut up. The lesson seems to be that it's A-OK to smack your mother-in-law around if she's a non-Christian.
Once, when a woman with a nasty skin disease consulted him, Koch asked her "how she ever got married in such a condition." Nice.
Then there was the little girl who become "dreadfully depraved" after being treated by a nature healer. "At the age of ten she seduced a married man - not vice versa." Where have I heard that before? Oh, right, from child molesters.

Here are just a few choice bits from Occult ABC:
  • Christian Scientists ganged up to psychically murder a man who left the church, giving him a skin disease that caused him to shed his skin "like a snake."
  • Sorcerors in East Timor engage in "criminal activity" by projecting parts of their spirits into owls, which fly to the homes of enemies to steal pieces of the enemies' livers.
  • After signing a pact with the Devil, a German woman become possessed and was repeatedly squished by a giant, invisible snake. Koch recorded about 100 cases of such blood pacts, and states that in the previous 20 years, "tens of thousands of young people have signed their souls to the Devil in their own blood." As with every other statistic in the book, we have no idea where he got these numbers.
  • Elves are real.
  • All hypnosis is dangerous, even stage hypnosis. If you allow yourself to be hypnotized by one, you may become a drunk like this one chick in Argentina. Stage hypnotists are criminals.
  • If you go to an iridologist, you might become a wife-beating drunk like this one dude.
  • If an occultist becomes a Christian, the Devil will be pissed off. So you might become a wife-beater anyway, like this other dude.
  • UFOs are heralds of the Antichrist.
  • Gospel singer Henry Drummond, before becoming a Christian, could hypnotize people at a distance of 50 miles.
  • A woman with legs of unequal length went to a "spiritist healer" for healing, and the shorter leg magically grew. But when she became a Christian, it shrank.
  • You must never collect bric-a-brac from non-Christian cultures. "A minister's wife on Prince Edward Island had collected a whole table-full of figures of gods and cultic objects from the mission field. Today she is in a mental institution."
  • About 50% of the compulsive neurotics Koch counseled had connections with spiritism or magic in their backgrounds, hence these things cause compulsive neuroses.
  • Uri Geller is really psychic, and everyone who found their cutlery bent after one of his TV broadcasts had some psychic ability, as well. "Only the ignorant make fun of these things."
  • "Voodoo" practitioners drink blood and sacrifice children.
  • In his chapter on Freemasonry, Koch writes that "French historians like Abbe Barnuel maintain that the French Revolution" was engineered by Masons. First of all, it's Barruel. Secondly, he was not a historian. He was a conspiranoid priest who later rewrote his anti-Catholic thesis, shifting blame to the Jews.
  • Koch takes the view that porn is a Communist device to weaken the morals of Westerners. Perversion for Profit, anyone?
  • Anonymous psychiatrist: "The ouija board is filling our pyschiatric clinics in New York."
  • Koch on the manufacturers of ouija boards: "If the American government knew how much evil this one firm in Massassachusetts has brought on the American people, they would prohibit the production of these devilish boards at once."
  • Some Africans can turn themselves into leopards.
  • "I go to the dentist when it is necessary. But I always pray when I go, for dental treatment can last six months and cause much pain."
  • "Undoubtedly many diseases can be diagnosed by examination of the blood. I have had a blood test myself."
  • In the Arctic, archaeologists found bones that were said to be 20,000 years old. "I am somewhat skeptical about this claim."
  • At a Black Mass in West Germany, the Satanists placed bottles of schnapps on their altar. LOL.
  • On astrology: "There really ought to be a law prohibiting this and all other forms of fortune-telling. Astrology has been responsible for a number of suicides and murders."
  • You must not touch a practicing medium. You might get an electric shock, like this one guy.
And so on. From what I've seen, all Koch's books are like this one - so I won't be reading any of them.

6 comments:

tshsmom said...

I don't know how to break this to him, but Lutherans don't believe in the "sins of the father".

S.M. Elliott said...

Or elves, for that matter.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yoiks! Remind me never to invite this dude to a dinner party.

S.M. Elliott said...

He'd be an OK guest if no one else played music or talked...

Zyral said...

I think pretty much every one of these is an episode of X-Files or Buffy.

S.M. Elliott said...

We finally know where the writers got their ideas.