Follow by Email

Search This Blog

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Lessons Can We Learn from the Ghosts?

Today there are several TV shows here in the US that deal with ghost hunting. . .Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Stories, Celebrity Ghost Stories, Paranormal State, and an occasional documentary about a famous exorcism or haunted house. Charismatic, TV-friendly hunters bring in high tech equipment such as digital recorders to record ghostly voices called Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). There are night vision TV cameras, computer monitors watching every room, walkie talkies, Electromagnetic Frequency monitors, and heat sensing equipment. There is the interview with clients: We heard children crying or giggling, we saw a lady dressed in last century's fashion, we were touched, we heard a voice telling us to get out, we heard footsteps, things fly off the kitchen counter, something appears to me at night, we feel watched all the time, a voice tells me to kill myself or kill my parents or my kids, etc. In a haunted home, people live in terror as things literally go bump in the night. If local research is properly done, the actual name of the departed spirit may be discovered.

Some ghosts turn out to be benign. When local research is done, it might turn out to be a mom whose three daughters died or a civil war nurse. It might be a sad ghost that was driven to suicide by malevolent voices of other spirits. It might be a woman who was murdered and whose body was never found to be properly buried.

In other cases, the spirits are not benign or harmless at all. There were people who were abusive and destructive in their lifetime who are still trying to control and terrify living family members. There are spirits who encourage those in the home to commit suicide, cut themselves, or harm others. These are often invited into the home space by family members dabbling with the occult or playing with Ouija Boards. Ouija (or Spirit) Boards are a guaranteed portal through which all kinds of entities can enter the home. People think they are a toy for children to play with. A parent may as well run out to the sidewalk in front of their home and invite in any stranger that they meet to come in and play with their children. No one can say for sure what or who is coming through the board.

It's not easy to get rid of such entities. Most ghost hunters don't even bother. The Paranormal State team does the most research to find out why the building or home is haunted. They usually uncover the root cause of the problem. The solution might be a baptism for a house member, an exorcism by a priest, advice to change the way the family relates to one another, an empowerment speech to the victims of the haunting, an empathetic burial ritual, or a priestly house blessing. They usually get positive results.

One thing has not yet happened in TV land. Hollywood has produced shows focused solely on miracles and now shows focused on ghosts. There is a fairly recent tidal wave of books, but no TV shows, about the afterlife. Some are all about reincarnation, while others are about near death experiences (NDE) or pre-death experiences (PDE). In those cases there is the out-of-body (OBE) journey through a tunnel or across a river toward a loving light being who shows the newly deceased everything they ever did or thought. There is no sense of anger or vengeance, but the soul feels its own disappointment as they see their life in a totally new way. They come back determined to change and do better. Some see deceased relatives or angels. Others glimpse a huge city of light or gorgeous vistas that await them. Their thrill is so intense that they often have to be forced back into the world of pain and uncertainty. Sometimes they are given a choice, and only the thought of loved ones brings them back.

So what is the lesson? Ghosts do not seem to have seen the face of God. They are often frightened and trapped. No angel, relative, or light being has come to scoop them up and convey them to Paradise. They can't seem to leave the arena where they spent much of their life. They hang around buildings that used to be alive with activity and are now abandoned or owned by others. They want their old life back and can't even touch it. They can't move on. They are alone. They try to inhabit human bodies to have the sensations that the living feel or they try to drive the living away from their old haunt so they can have the building to themselves. The addicted are still addicted. The abusers are still abusers. The angry are still angry and the depressed still depressed. How fun is that???

The lesson the ghosts would pass on to us is either, kill yourself and join me in my hellish misery, or quit living the life you are living so you don't join me here. Ghosts clearly fear the name of Jesus and they don't thrive where there is love and peace. You are not immortal. Your money cannot save you. Like Bernie Madoff, whose vast estate is being auctioned off to repay his fraud victims the billions he stole from them, all your worldly goods will go to others. Even if they are buried in the grave with you, it all dissolves and turns to dust and worms. Change your life! Not everyone goes to "a better place" as we all wish to believe.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Tree Planted by Water

Psalm 1 says, "Happy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers (NRSV).

A poetic metaphor, of course. But what does it really mean? That nothing bad will ever happen to a God-centered person? Of course not. We all know that such people can have car accidents, develop cancer, lose their homes, lose a child, wind up divorced, or become depressed and angry. Goodness knows Israel and every major hero and heroine in the Hebrew Bible had crosses to bear and trials to overcome. So what point was the author of the psalm making with such confidence?

The water represents God's presence in our lives... an otherworldly energy that brings them through all tests and trials stronger and wiser than before. There are trees that are potted and trees that are planted. Those planted in God's covenant grace will grow taller, wider, and older than the potted trees. They will bear more fruit, meaning that at life's end, the person will be able to look back and be content with what he or she produced with the effort of their life. They were a resource for others, a shelter in a storm, shade on a blistering day. At their funeral, people will line up to declare the wonderful aroma their life exuded.

In economic terms, it means that that person will inherit a possession that far outweighs what wall street has to offer. This is an inheritance that passes on to generations.

In terms of physics, the believer has laid hands on the ultimate quantum reality, the one that ultimately leads to green pastures rather than to spooky nonsense and spiritual confusion.

In mathematical terms, it is the overcoming of the chaos of the universe. The fractal begins to make sense; eternity and infinity are a source of peace and joy.

In psychological terms, it is the peace that passes all understanding.

In political terms, it represents submission to the Peace Child of Isaiah 9, the One who governs wisely, who was prophetically given 7 designations: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty, God, Eternal, Father, Prince of Peace.

The tree planted by the waters of God's Presence will experience storms and drought, but the leaf will not wither. This tree is an overcomer which passes on its strength and longevity to future generations.