According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ghost Sightings of the Third Kind - Are They Real Or Unreal?




Even though its fun to write and talk about the paranormal (which I occasionally have done) there are many reasons why its a created fabrication dependent upon our physical surroundings. In Gettysburg last year as evening stole into the depths of the once torn Civil War town and outlying battlegrounds run red in sadness and despair, I witnessed long lines forming by the hundreds as tourists gathered together to go on ghostly walking tours. Yes it can be fun, and spooky, and eerie, and even educational, to consider the realm of the dead. But caution is always advised.

Now lest Christians think they are immune because of the residency of the Holy GHOST (Spirit) in their lives let us also consider that to the standard, run-of-the-mill, ghostly sightings should be included any "angel or demon sightings," conversations with "dead saints," the devil, or even "sightings" of God Himself beyond the spiritual sense of conviction, worship, praise or thanksgiving.

The ancient cultures of the bible believed no less in the supernatural than our contemporary cultures do today. This phenomena can also be found in literature both old and new lending itself to the idea that our physical being is remarkably created in such a way as to be sympathetic to, or to sense in a "sixth sense" sort of way, our surroundings - both in what we see and what we don't see but feel or sense.

The reality is, though the human body is like a cosmic tuning fork sensing the unseen, it is well to remember that we are also susceptible to manipulation by our physical surroundings through invisible chemicals in the air, ultrasonic sound waves, "waking states" of sleep, and powers of suggestion by ourselves or others. What we think is there is really not - however strong its urge. And despite similar encounters by other people experiencing similar "unrealities" they too are more probably influenced by the invisible affects of our surroundings without realizing it.

To be fair, I believe God understands how finely-balanced our bodies, minds, and spirits have become over the many years of its long evolutionary development. We see God work time-and-again with all sorts of afflicted people through their stories in the bible. Even with the saints throughout the history of the church (the biblical prophets come to mind). It doesn't mean that our "ghostly sense perceptions" are any more real by default - it simply means we have an amazing constitution that differs little with our more recent historical/biological past and that our Creator God is intimately acquainted with us.

As the Psalmist would say,

"He hears the cries of the afflicted and grants heaven's peace; He attends to those broken in soul comforting their hurts and drying their tears; to the weak, the destitute, the overwhelmed He comes by night to minister to the broken heart; God is the Great Healer of mind, body, soul, and spirit."

Of course science fictions movies have taken this idea of the supernatural sense within our beings to a whole new level of perception when portraying storylines that allow us to "transcend" our earthly bodies into the heavenlies (consider movies like Phenomena, Transcendent with Johnny Depp, or Morgan Freeman's series Down the Rabbit Hole). These are pseudo-fictional movies and documentaries expressing the possibility of greater "there-ness" found in our human makeup. Its fun to imagine, and possibly even true (everything and everyone is connected in some sense), but it can also function as an escape-mechanism by transferring all our hurts and needs into an imaginary realm where we might find a kind of "spiritual" healing rather than to deal with the realities of our suffering in a real world which has so deeply harmed our souls.

And though its fun to imagine and believe (I certainly like to think about these possibilities myself), for some, its an invitation to explore what usually amounts to a fearful state of black darkness descending into the realm of the imagined "spiritual" or "ghostly/demonic/angelic encounters". Like the "demonics" of the bible, these sad souls were physiologically under the influence of suggestion, disease, or abuse. But when encountered by our gracious Lord and Redeemer their souls were miraculously healed of the causes of their affliction, grief, or madness.

In short, this is my armchair discussion of some of the many physical factors which can influence the human psyche to believe something that really isn't there, never was there, and yet seems to be real and present. I apologize ahead of time for my skepticism of the supernatural. Even though I sometimes write about it in my stories and poems it is but an attempt to communicate to those caught up in this "other worldliness" thoughts and convictions that might heal deeply held wounds. As such, I would use this kind of literary medium for that intended purpose while exploring my own consciousness of the "other worldly."

Certainly my Pentecostal friends would think me a poorer sort of Christian than if I were to join their circles preaching dreams, interpretations of dreams, sightings of the supernatural, and so forth. And without discounting their experiences I do question many of them and would urge greater caution to be careful to what you listen too. Not all of it is of God but illusions brought on by our exhausted spirits worn by life, tragedy, sorrow, and hardship. And so, in another "sense", our great God comes to us knowing all our constitutional frailties. He comes to minister as we are, where we are, and even how we are. Thank you Jesus for your grace and mercy.

R.E. Slater
July 21, 2017

* * * * * * * * *


The Science of Ghosts: What's Really Happening When Your Brain Detects a Ghoul?
http://bigthink.com/philip-perry/theres-no-such-thing-as-ghosts-instead-one-of-these-phenomena-is-at-play

by Philip Perry
July 18, 2017

Once, in middle school, a gang of boys and I were lured to a spot behind the Dunkin' Donuts in our town. We went after dark, to a place where a kid from school witnessed a paranormal experience. Once there, we saw nothing. We chided our classmate until suddenly, a column of white light appeared out of nowhere. We scattered.

It sustained itself for a few minutes. Then suddenly, it cut off. A few moments later, just as mysteriously, it went on again. We stayed there quietly studying it, scared out of our minds. Until someone in our group finally pointed out a streetlight overhead. The bulb was getting old. That was the last time I believed in ghosts.

Do you? If so, you’re in good company. 45% of Americans do. In one poll, 28% of them admitted they’d had contact with one, personally. Senior research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Joe Nickell is the world’s sole, full-time, scientific paranormal investigator. After five decades of research, he hasn’t turned up a shred of evidence that points to the existence of ghosts. Magicians Harry Houdini and James Randi arrived at a similar place.

It’s not for lack of trying. In a video for Vox, Nickell says he’s employed blood pattern analysis, linguistic analysis, aspects of psychology, and more. It isn’t just him. Not one haunting or ghost sighting has ever rendered any evidence.

One of the problems is, it’s hard to grab raw data. All we usually have is a personal account. And these vary widely. One person will interact with an actual human figure, while another will observe mere objects flying across the room. There are a few grainy, blurs in some photos. But it’s hard to extrapolate from that.

Photographic evidence such as this isn’t enough to go on. Getty Images.

Though electromagnetic field (EMF) meters have been made popular by movies like Ghostbusters and TV shows such as Paranormal Lockdown and Ghost Hunters, there’s no scientific proof of any link between supernatural phenomenon and the magnetic field. Despite a general lack of evidence, such experiences feel poignant and real.

In a recent TED talk, Carrie Poppy explains her brush with the paranormal, how it made her feel, and later on, what she came to realize about it. She’s the co-host of the popular podcast Oh No Ross and Carrie, which explores and demystifies spiritual, religious, and paranormal topics, among others, through a scientific lens.

At the time her ghost sighting occurred, she was alone in her house. Suddenly, she felt a presence. Poppy felt like she was being watched. The feeling grew and grew and as it did, a pressure began to build inside her chest. The feeling increased slowly over the course of a week and rose to a fever pitch. She started to hear whispering sounds and became convinced that her house was haunted. Poppy tried to do a cleansing by burning a sage stick and other things. But no matter what she tried, the pressure on her chest got worse. It was also growing painful.

Finally, she took to the internet and arrived on a ghost forum for skeptics. She told them what she was experiencing and one of them said she had the symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning. These include pressure on the chest and auditory hallucinations. The utility worker who rectified the problem, told her that if she hadn’t of gotten it fixed when she did, she wouldn’t have been alive the next morning.

There are many scientific explanations for ghost sightings. Ghost. By: Jordi Carrasco. Flickr.

The process by which one experiences something that isn’t there is called misperceived self-representation. So what else might induce this, besides carbon monoxide poisoning, brain damage, or an episode related to mental illness? Well, several things actually. There is a condition called sleep paralysis for one, also known as waking dreams.

This affects around 8% of the population. It usually occurs in the twilight hours of the morning, when one is between a waking and dreaming state. You can’t move your body and sometimes experience visual hallucinations. Grief also tends to increase the chances of a ghostly encounter. Psychologists say it might be a way for the mind to process and deal with loss. Usually, the person they see is a comforting figure who appears serene.

Another ghost-inducing phenomenon is called infrasound. This is a vibration that occurs below our normal range of hearing. That’s below 20 hertz (Hz). Certain machinery (like engines), whales, and extreme weather can all cause infrasound.

Some studies suggest that it can result in symptoms including feelings of depression, the chills, and the sneaking suspicion that someone is watching you. According to Hayden Planetarium director and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, infrasound at 18 Hz vibrates at such a rate that the eye can pick it up, which might cause visual hallucinations.

So if you or someone you know claims to have seen a ghost, believe them. But also, look for what evidence or phenomenon might be behind the sighting. You could end up finding a faulty lightbulb was the culprit all along.

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