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Religious Ghost Hunting

I freely admit I was inspired by Richelle’s recent Medusa’s Ladder column here at Binnall of America for this week’s Trickster’s Realm. I was going to write about MUFON’s official conclusion on the Stephenville UFOs, but just didn’t feel that jazzed about it. So we’re going ghostal instead.

Richelle comments in her article Get Thee Hence, Satan,on demonologists and the paranormal:

As interested as I am in ghosts and associated phenomena, I fairly crawl out of my skin when so-called "demonologists" worm into the scenario.

I agree. Lots of things bug me about a lot of ghost hunters, including the Ghost Hunters. (TAPS) There’s something about lugging around a lot of fancy and expensive equipment, making a bunch of noise, and demanding that a ghost show itself. Throw in Christianity, and I cringe. It’s funny, yes, to see "demonologists" doing their thing in haunted places, but it’s also rude. It’s intrusive. It’s horribly pushy.

Bad enough you’re banging about shouting at spirits to show themselves. Waving crosses around and sprinkling holy water and praying to Jesus adds insult to injury.

One program on ghost hunting that I saw some time ago had people reciting Christian prayers over Native American burial grounds. Unless you know for a fact those particular Natives were Christian, and that they were Christian by choice, not by force (forcibly imposed on them as happened in the boarding schools, etc. that kind of thing smacks of insensitivity.

For a short time I was involved with a state wide paranormal society. Ghosts were their main interest. They happily advised ghost hunters to sing Christmas songs as they walked about cemeteries or haunted houses because the spirits found the songs "comforting and familiar." I couldn’t bring myself to do it. True, I can’t sing worth a damn; as they say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. (And yet inside me is a Bernadette Peters just dying to get out. I know, I look more like Ethel Merman, but it’s my fantasy.) I’m not a Christian for one, not that it matters much when it comes to Christmas songs. Half the Christmas albums out there are made by Jews. But religious Christmas song, uh, no. Won’t do it. Anyway, how do we know if a Christmas song will be comforting to a ghost? We have no idea.

As to praying, waving rosaries around, holding up crosses, and other bad taste religious theatrics; how does the ghost hunter know the deceased was a Christian? Even if they were; how could one know what the person really believed or felt about such things?

I suppose some Christians would say it isn't about the ghost; it’s about the "power of Jesus" that will protect and guide both the living in said haunted place, as well as the ghost. That’s certainly presumptive, to say the least.

Richelle, in her column, asks ". . . why am I so dismissive and irritated by the devil, demons, and Hell in a paranormal context?"

I’ll ask myself the same question, and say that I find the whole Christian bias to be all the things I said earlier: rude, intrusive, presumptive, arrogant, culturally insensitive.

The belief the Devil is even "the devil" is silly, but more than that, it’s the narrow minded perspective about things we don’t understand that I find scary. There is evil to be sure, there are energies out there that are not well intentioned. But it isn’t so simplistic as an almost cartoon like image of "the devil."

The mirror to the devil image is the equally cartoonish angelic one: baby Jesus, God, angels, all hovering about to save and protect, comfort and soothe.

And then there’s just something about self-important religious people that ticks me off in general. They annoy me as much as the self-important ghost busters out there, with rules and assumptions and tons of equipment clattering around. Put the two together, and it often turns into a paranormal circus.

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