The Common Fascination with Ghosts and My Wonder of Why People are Afraid of Them

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

From Jesus’ disciples thinking that He was a ghost when He walked out on the water to their boat, to the tradition of people gathering around a campfire to hear a ghost story (in which one of the storyteller’s buddies is waiting in the woods to scream at the right cue), ghosts are a classic and preconceived idea.  The thing that gets me about ghosts is this: What are they actually going to do to you?

Yes, ghosts are spooky, creepy, and flat out scary in an old school kind of way.  But I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone in my life that has ever been injured, held hostage, or killed by a ghost.  In every ghost story I’ve ever heard, the worst thing about seeing a ghost is… well, seeing a ghost.  Even if ghosts existed, it’s no more threatening than paying $8 to go to a “spook house” and getting frightened for two seconds because a guy in a hockey mask jumps out at me with a plastic machete.  He can’t touch me, or hurt me.  At best, he’s just there for dramatic effect.

The fact that if ghosts existed they’re harmless is made obvious through the term itself “ghost stories”.  They’re stories.  Fiction.  They often involve a person who suffered a strange death in a house or in a field decades or centuries ago who can still be seen or heard on the right night.  Or like in the bed-and-breakfast where my wife and I stayed at out in Salem, Massachusetts, in which previous guests wrote in the sign-in book that they heard footsteps at night and heard the doorknob being jiggled.  Still though, even if that were true, I’m still here today telling the story.

A natural defensive response to this is someone telling me a “demon story”, which is totally different.  The movie Paranormal Activity is about a demon-possessed girl, not a ghost.  That’s part of the reason it’s so popular and so scary.  There’s a major difference between ghosts and demons, and a lot of people don’t realize that.  A ghost (or apparition) is the appearance of a person who has already lived and died.  A demon is an evil spirit which may inhabit a living person or animal.  (Surely a quick search on YouTube by typing in “actual exorcism” or “demon possessed person in Africa” is at least a little convincing.)

The New Testament is full of situations where people were possessed by a demon, so Jesus or His disciples casted the evil spirit out.  In particular, there was that one time where Jesus cast a multitude of demons out of a man into a herd of pigs, which immediately ran to the ocean and drowned themselves.  But even though I am aware of demonic presences in real life, I fully realize that the greatest concern of the satanic force is hinder me in my spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ and to prevent me from building up the Heavenly Kingdom.  Not to possess me.  Because they can’t- I’m already spoken for.

What truly scares me at night?  Being outside in the woods, knowing there could possibly be a mountain lion or a Copperhead snake that sneaks up on me.  (One of my current favorite TV shows is I Shouldn’t Be Alive, which comes on Wednesday nights on Animal Planet- I’m a little bit obsessed.)

A few times throughout my life I have been stuck in a heavy-feeling dream where I felt like something was oppressing me or weighing me down, where I even heard strange, slow motion voices that I can not distinguish. I tried to wake myself up, telling myself it was just a dream.  I tried to speak, but couldn’t.  Until I said, “Jesus! Save me, Jesus!” I immediately woke up to realize that I physically said those words out loud and that those spirits whispering in my ear or whatever they were doing had disappeared.

I take it I’m not a very well liked guy by the dark side of the invisible spiritual world, because never does a day go by where I don’t somehow publicly acknowledge that God is relevant in my life and that He is responsible for something good.  Instead of letting demonic forces trying to threaten my spiritual life, I do my best to live a lifestyle that hinders their mission. Some people are fascinated the possibility of seeing ghosts; I am fascinated by how through my relationship with Jesus Christ, I pose a threat to the wrong side of spiritual warfare.

“You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that- and shudder.” -James 2:19


LOST Recap: Season 6, Midseason- “Ab Aeterno”

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

After going on a LOST recapping hiatus since this season’s premiere episode, I came out of hiding to praise the job well done of the long awaited Richard-eccentric episode.  I feel so relieved, excited, and passionate about LOST again.  Because the show has finally stepped back into its former mystique while at the same time taking a giant step forward.

It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the flashes-sideways.  They were cool.  I liked learning where the characters would have ended up had things gone differently.  But after a few episodes, the game started getting stale.

Yes, I get it.  James and Miles would have been buddy cops.  Ben and Dogen would have known each other through a high school.  Kate would have still ended up helping Claire.  Jack would have meet Locke and offered to help him gain his mobility back.  (And I’ve read an interview with one of the writers that said Hurley and Libby have a baby together in an upcoming flash-sideways.)

The first half of this season, to me, has felt more like a group of forsaken bonus episodes.  I feel like last night’s episode was the first real episode of the season.

Last May when I did my Season 5 finale recap, I predicted that Richard came to the island as a Spanish explorer in the 1600’s and was killed by the Smoke Monster.  So I was a little off.  He was a Spanish slave in 1867 from the Canary Islands (Spain) who became shipwrecked on the island.  I also predicted that the whole premise of LOST was a game between Jacob and the man I still refer to as Esau.  It now clearly appears that is indeed the case.

On a side note, the actor who plays Richard, Nestor Carbonell, is a Spanish-Cuban American who does not actually wear eyeliner, despite popular assumption.  He just has really thick eyelashes.

While some Losties are disappointed that the six seasons of the show have all led up to a moral chess game between two spiritual beings, I think it’s the only plot that the series could have that is grandiose enough to pull this all together.

Because just like real life, when all it’s all over with, it will be apparent that we were all participants in a sci-fi story alongside a spiritual war.  Yes, our life matters and is real, but ultimately we have a spiritual audience watching us and even influencing our personal decisions.  Brilliant.

Read “SCIence + FaIth = Sci-Fi” http://wp.me/pxqBU-1N

As for who and what exactly Jacob and Esau are, here is my guess.  Jacob is an angel and Esau is a demon.  Here is why they are not God and Satan.  When offering to grant a wish to Richard, Jacob says he can not raise the dead nor absolve Richard’s sins.  God would be able to.  But as an angel, Jacob is restricted by what God allows him to do.

Jacob’s gift of everlasting earthbound life is interesting.  It keeps Richard from going to hell, but makes his earthly life a form of hell by keeping him trapped on Earth while still not reuniting him with Isabella.

“Ab Aeterno” (the name of the episode), which is Latin for “since the beginning of time” or figuratively “since a very long time ago”, was by far the most blatantly Christian episode to date:

Richard learned to speak English by reading the Bible and carried around his wife’s cross necklace.  When Richard was shown to us in the prison, he was reading the 4th chapter of Luke which tells about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan to turn the stone into bread (the lust of the flesh), to worship Satan in exchange for the domain of the world and all its glory (the lust of the eyes), and to attempt to commit suicide knowing that God would save him anyway (the pride of life).

This concept was later reiterated in 1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

I wonder if this was intentionally (and loosely) played out with Richard through the episode:  Esau granted Richard the lust of the flesh when he freed him from his chains and gave him food and water.  Hurley enabled the lust of the eyes to Richard through his vision of Isabella.  Jacob granted Richard the lust of the pride of life by giving him earthly eternal life.  That could all be a coincidence, but maybe not.

In other Christian elements, Jacob asked the priest, “What can I do to earn God’s forgiveness?”, which is a pointing towards the need for God’s grace.  Also, there was the use of the word “sin” by Jacob when he quoted Esau, “Everyone is corruptible because it is in their nature to sin”.  Explicitly New Testament Biblical.

So far, Jacob has not yet been able to prove his case to Esau, that a person can ultimately choose good over evil.  He continues to bring people to the island to find someone who will be his representative of righteousness (symbolizing followers of Christ), since Jacob himself refuses to force his will upon anyone.  And of course that’s another obvious reflection of God and his relationship with humans: The granting of free will.

Esau/Billy Joel

As for my predictions for the last half of the season:

Ben Linus: I stand by my belief that he is ultimately good.

The Smoke Monster (Esau): It is a “soul train” that collects the spirits of those it kills, so that it can take the human form of them once they are dead.  Sometimes it “takes pictures” of their good deeds when it flashes the light at them to decide whether to collect them (by killing them) or keep them alive, like it did with Eko in the first season and with Richard back in 1867.

The List:  Jacob touched 7 potential “saviors of the island” back in their past including Kate (as well as Locke, Hurley, James, Sayid, Jack, and Sun/Jin), but for some reason Kate’s name wasn’t written on the cave ceiling when Faux Locke took James there: Kate somehow disqualified herself.  Also, no one knows whether it’s Jin or Sun that is on the list because only their last name shows up- but I predict it’s their kid instead, not either of them.

The Flashes-Sideways:  Not what actually happens, only glimpses.  The island is reality.

I will close with a few other quotes from the season so far that really stood out:

“I am not a zombie.” -Sayid

“John Locke was a much better man than I’ll ever be and I’m sorry I murdered him.” -Ben Linus

“I’m the smoke thing.” -Faux Locke (I like this name for him best because it rhymes with “Mohawk”.)

Read LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 1- “LA X” http://wp.me/pxqBU-vo