A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Halloween Reading (Inevitable Ghost Entry, Part IV)

Some of you may recall that last spring, my husband and I were scared out of our wits by The Demonologist, a book about the experiences of Catholic paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. That book sparked an interest in my part on Christian views of ghosts and hauntings, and, like the good blogger I am, I've shared my interest with my readers. Since the first Inevitable Ghost Entry, I've gone on to talk about Christian theories of ghosts and bizarre connections between human spirits and demonic possession. But all of my reading at that time was based on Catholic sources. At last, I have the means of correcting this one-sided research, for I have in my hands Roberts Liardon's Haunted Houses, Ghosts & Demons: What You Can Do About Them. At last, a book with some practical information on dealing with those darn ghosts!

I don't mean to mock this book, but it's so hard not to. First of all, there's the cover, complete with a picture of a haunted house outlined against the moon, complete with airborne bats. That is, I assume they are bats, but they could easily be seagulls. Seagulls, however, are always depicted above the water. The presence of these airborne unknowns against the moon, at night, indicates that they are bats. See how useful a knowledge of graphic convention is, kids?

Next, the back of the book proclaims, in large red letters:


If you are at all like me, you may be wondering at is that you can be involved in the war without being part of it. Clearly, there is some subtle theological distinction here that I'm missing. I hope some of my readers can clarify the matter for me.

I'm also puzzled by one of the chapter titles: "Seven Steps to Demon Possession." I'm pretty certain that Roberts Liardon, the founder of Spirit and Life Bible College, did not intend this chapter as a "how to" guide. Nevertheless, that's what the chapter title seems to suggest. I can only hope that no one sues him for false advertising.

The most mysterious thing about this book, though, is that I don't remember ordering it. Really. I remember putting it on my wish list. I remember THINKING about buying it. I think I even remember thinking that this (October) was a good time of year to buy it, as I like to dig up spooky reading in preparation for Halloween. But I was very surprised to find it show up on my latest order, because I couldn't remember clicking the "Buy now" button. Most likely, my memory is at fault, but we shouldn't rule out the possibility that my new computer is possessed. It is, after all, a refurbished laptop, and I doubt that the refurbishing process includes an exorcism ritual.

Enough of that. I really don't want to mock Liardon's project itself, though I might have doubts about the packaging and the execution. I actually am interested in Christian explanations of the experience of haunting. Whatever causes it (whether it's psychological, physical, or supernatural), haunting is a real experience with a long tradition. I've known people who experienced it, though I have not experienced it myself. I'd like to have guidelines from the Christian tradition to help me understand what might be at work in the experience of haunting.

Sadly, though, it seems that there is very little serious work on the subject from a Christian perspective. Much as I enjoyed (and learned from) the Warrens' work, I can't take them completely seriously as investigators. Lorraine Warren claimed to be a medium, and though she viewed her gift of clairvoyance as a gift of the Holy Spirit -the gift of discernment- it's hard to square that with either modern science (which has shown no real support for psychic powers) or traditional Christian theology, which has viewed work as a medium as sinful.

Roberts Liardon's background and gifts are no more credible. According to the about the author page, "He was born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and called to the ministry at the age of eight, after being caught up to Heaven by Lord Jesus." At the time of publication, he "preaches and ministers under a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit." I suspect, though, that he'd be quick to deny that Lorraine's gift of discernment came from that same Spirit. Put the two in a room together, and we might have duelling charisms. But that's a subject for another day.

What concerns me today is this: I'd like to find a good, well-written, well-researched book about hauntings and the supernatural from an orthodox Christian theological perspective. And thus far, I've not found such a thing: the closest I've come is a book on poltergeists by a Jesuit. And you know you can't trust a Jesuit. . . .

So here I am, still looking for the Great Christian Ghost Book. Should you encounter it, do please let me know. In the meantime, I think I'll enjoy Liardon's book, but do pray that I enjoy it in a charitable way.


Blogger Leopoldtulip said...

"Seagulls, however, are always depicted above the water. The presence of these airborne unknowns against the moon, at night, indicates that they are bats."

Ah yes, NON-demon-possessed seagulls are always depicted above the water, but demonic ones AREN'T. That's how you can tell the two apart, you see.

6:07 PM  
Blogger La Mama Loca said...

How do you determine the difference between a demon-possessed seagull and a bat?

2:34 PM  

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