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As vacation time draws to a close we think of the various places where folks have traveled and it brings to mind an issue that we have occasionally sought to discern: why do certain places seem to have a "dark cloud," or at least a special indication of spiritual warfare, over them?

In Ephesians it outright says there are "powers and principalities" against which we war more than against flesh and before that in Daniel is the account of an angel held up because he had to do battle with a spiritual entity (the "prince of Persia").

Intriguing stuff. Also, not to play on words, virgin territory (she defeats the enemy wherever he is). You may be glad to know that there is no zip code of "66666"!

Nor is there a "666" area code.

Is "669" (San Jose) close enough?

More seriously: as we have noted previously, spiritual issues seem to plague certain places, and often for obvious reasons. There is a feeling of dark electricity and also untoward events in parts of New Orleans (especially in the French Quarter, where voodoo is prevalent), cities like Savannah (so famous for its "ghosts"), in the Chelsea part of Manhattan (even cab drivers speak of this), in San Francisco (we all know the various and sundry activities there), and around Orlando (where hurricanes seem to like passing over, where there are unusual accidents on a section of I-4, where lightning strikes are particularly aggressive -- in a part of Florida that leads the country in lightning -- and where there is a camp of spiritualists who each Halloween bring out a "wish bench" they call the "seat of Satan").

It is interesting. Spiritualists also have a camp in southwestern New York State -- and again here you find strong storms and from our experience unusual lightning!

Time and again, we have to admit, there seem to be problems around Indian burial mounds.

Some say this is superstition. Some say it is the restless dead. Some claim that certain tribes cursed territory out of resentment. You can discern all that!

In many cases it is as if Catholics and other Christians are placed in "hotspots" to do battle. The greater the evil, the stronger the spiritual warriors!

We have found that in San Francisco. We have seen that certainly in the Big Easy. It is true of Minneapolis. Do things like the occult, sexual immorality, abortion, and a history of, say, massacres and battle (see the "haunted" accounts of Gettysburg) cause spiritual residue?

If such things draw darkness to individuals and homes, one might ask: why not area codes?

In fact, at the other side, we have sensed special calm and anointing on areas where there are holy bishops and a history of devotion. We believe bishops have a real effect on an area. They can set the spiritual tone.

Not that we can blame them when there is darkness.

Sometimes there is, well: just darkness -- or call it a spiritual tension. Doesn't this appear to be true of Boston? It seems always to be in the midst of spiritual struggle, whether over its concentration of agnostic universities, genetic laboratories (see embryonic stem cells), liberal media outlets (the Boston Globe), pro-choice politicos (we need not revisit this right now), or Church scandals.

Why does a spirit hang over Boston?

Why are some areas like Western New York under what even secular reporters there have described as a "curse"?

A real hotspot: the New Age territory in Arizona of Sedona. The occultists claim it is a "vortex" -- as also there are "vortices, they would have us believe, in places like Egypt or Mount Shasta in California. In Canada, Vancouver Island seems like a magnet.

If you don't like the feeling of oppression, stay away from Salem, Massachusetts (especially at the end of October).

Every city -- every place -- has its issues, and the older the place, one might surmise, the more cluttered spiritually. Go to England. Or Israel (speaking of tension). The more occultists, adult businesses, tattoo parlors, or drug use, the more clutter also.

Some evangelists have even tried putting together "spiritual mapping" projects, which as one website explains "is used to identify the particular strongholds set up in certain areas. It consists of creating a geographical map which they can mark for their research.

"Those involved in this movement can then research a locations history and learn from its past what brought it in bondage as in certain false religions. By learning the details of the past and activities of the present it can give the prayer warriors knowledge to effectively bind the powers that be. Territorial spirits are considered to be in control over cities, schools, and religions. These territorial spirits are top-ranking principalities (demons) which 'attempt to keep large numbers of humans… in spiritual captivity.' (C. Peter Wagner Confronting the Powers pg.22). Methodology is used as in copying Joshua who marched with the Israelites around Jericho and blew the trumpet on the last day and the city crumbled. By prayer marching and shouting against the enemy singing and praying the walls the enemy has built will come tumbling down.There is also the element of hearing from God directly, Who gives the prayer warriors words of knowledge."

For our consideration!

Why is the South in the U.S. more "religious" than the north (at least for now)? Why are the coasts so liberal?

Not that the South does not have its issues. See: Charleston. See: central Virginia, such as Nelson County, where, we are told, occult-like institutes seem to congregate.

Wrote viewer Lisa Shelton of Altavista: "I believe that a physical area can have a certain spiritual dimension, but I have not as of yet discovered an event in Nelson’s County distant past that could explain the attraction of these various New Age groups. In 1969, Nelson County was the site of a horrific disaster when Hurricane Camille flooded the area, destroying lives and property. My intuition, however, says there is an underlying 'root' that would explain the attraction of New Age groups to the area. Nelson County, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a beautiful area, and many, like myself, are attracted to the area for its scenery. But the area’s beauty has also lured some rather strange spiritual groups over the years!"

The marker: repeated unfortunate events.

Can we root it out?

Of course we can. Spread blessed salt in your area. Like Joshua, encircle it with prayer. Say prayers as you drive. Whatever we believe or don't believe about spiritual "mapping," with prayer a home or neighborhood or city -- an entire area -- can be rejuvenated, cleansing it and perhaps also hedging it against disaster.

[resources: spiritual warfare books]

[Michael H. Brown, retreat Minnesota and Retreat and Mass in New Jersey]

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