The Church of the Paranormal

DESPITE OUR REPUTATION AS A SCIENCE-MINED SUPERPOWER, AMERICA HAS ALWAYS HAD A PREDILECTION FOR THE UNSEEN!

Don’t be shy. Depending on your poll of choice, anywhere from a third to nearly half of you either believe in ghosts or are pretty sure you do. And if not ghosts, then aliens, mediums, or astrology, for which belief has either held steady or risen over the last couple of decades. More than two-thirds of Americans hold at least one paranormal—unsanctioned by religion—belief, according to the Baylor Religion Survey. That’s more than voted in the 2012 presidential election.

It’s not just belief: everywhere you look in the United States today, the supernatural is more culturally important, more acceptable, and just … more than it’s ever been before. Paranormal-themed media of all types have surged, in fiction obviously, but also in non-fiction too, where the past few years have brought us everything from The Most Terrifying Places in America to Psychic Tia to The Monster Project. Then there are the Bigfoot hunts, the ghost hunting tool reviews, the UFO spotting iPhone apps—we can’t get enough of this stuff.

This should come as no surprise. Despite our reputation as a science-minded superpower, America has always had a predilection for the unseen. It has ebbed and flowed with us for as long as this nation has existed, in the form of the 18th-century pilgrim mystics, the domesticated poltergeists that knocked on command in the 19th, and even in the academically inclined parapsychologists of the 20th. Whether you believe in these ideas or not is almost immaterial: the paranormal is an inescapable ingredient in the American identity that has shaped and been shaped by our…

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Many a minister has been approached with “ghostly” stories before service, after service, during counseling, in emails and texts, on phone calls late at night, while street-side, at the coffee house, in the hospital, after funerals, everywhere and all the time. And no matter what the Sunday sermon is about, people come to church weekly, find their seats, and sit quietly with the following often on their minds:

  • Why do I keep having the same dream over and over?
  • I’m hearing strange noises at night. Doors open that were closed and locked; lights turn on and off.
  • My son swears his recently deceased wife appeared to him and encouraged him to get on with his life.
  • There’s a new coworker who is convinced she once knew me in a past life. Even though I don’t believe in that sort of thing, I can’t shake the feeling that we did know one another at one time.
  • One night, my uncle was blinded by a bright light. There was no sound; it just appeared, forced him off the road, hovered, and then disappeared in a flash.
  • My cousin is convinced there are aliens, and they’re on the planet right now! I don’t know what to say to her.
  • I’m hooked on a new vampire novel. It’s sucked me in and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Why do I like vampires so much?
  • My kids are crazy about fantasy movies and games with characters that have various magical superpowers. Actually, I like them too. Should I be concerned? Is this ok?

For centuries the Church has waged battle with these “spiritual” matters. More often than not, the terms “demonic” and “occultic” have been used to both…

The above excerpt is from L.A. Emrich’s BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS.  Download a FREE SAMPLE and read the rest of the story!

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Mermaids, George Washington & Queen Marie Antoinette

From the second chapter (SHIFT) in BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS:

I’m a Discovery and History Channel junky. I’ve been watching for years, and have observed how the content has gradually shifted. What used to be endless programming of whales, turtles, butterflies, sharks, WW1, WW2, and the Civil War, has been inundated with mermaids, ghosts, UFO’s, Bigfoot, lake monsters, giants, aliens, ancient astronauts, and the like. After watching countless Finding Bigfoot episodes, I’m still no closer to knowing if he/she/it is out there miraculously avoiding all those good photo ops. At this point, I wish the hairy beast would take a selfie and post it on Facebook. Lord knows, there’s plenty of lost cell phones laying around in the woods!

Why do we keep watching when we know Bigfoot and Loch Ness’s Nessie will continue to elude the limelight? Are we hoping that the mystery will be solved at 8PM tonight, or are we searching for something else? Maybe we really don’t care; it’s just fun to watch. Who knows? I confess, I’m not really interested in Bigfoot and Nessie, however, I really want to believe in mermaids. I’ve watched Mermaids: The Body Found a dozen times or more. I’m a grown man with adult children, but I want to think they existed, and still exist. There just has to be something to all those legendary sea stories from history past. And, no, I don’t think early sailors mistook manatee for mermaids. My wife tells me: “Guess what? They were drunk on rum!” I think she’s watched too much of Pirate’s of the Caribbean!

The lines between historical fact and legend have always been blurred. Did George Washington really cut down the cherry tree? Did he really never tell a lie, not even a little white lie? Did Queen Marie Antoinette really say, “S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“If they have no bread, let them eat ‘cake’”)?  The answer to these questions is…

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MERMAIDS & MERMEN: FACT AND LEGENDS?