Tag Archive | "Catholicism"

Paranormal State

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



“Despite thousands of years of theological study from every different form of religion, the duality of nature, light and dark, remains unfathomable.” ***


Everyone loves a good ghost story, particularly if the story bears evidence of a genuine haunting.  Born on Halloween and gravitating from earliest memory to “things that go bump in the night”, I relish true ghost stories.  Why, then, when I first tuned in to the A&E series, Paranormal State, was I not so much chilled and thrilled as I was thinking, “Hey, these kids are smart. They got the network to bankroll and film their paranormal investigations and made names for themselves. They’re probably theatre majors seeking careers in that vein.”


Although this reaction was probably the result of too much exposure to reality TV, Ryan Buell, founder and captain of the Paranormal Research Society (PRS), would probably appreciate my healthy dose of skepticism.  Ryan, you see, is a skeptic himself.  But he’s much more than that, and he and I have a bit more in common, as I discovered in reading his absorbing book, Paranormal State, written with Stephan Petrucha.


Tormented by paranormal activity as a child, Ryan’s nightly confrontations with things either beyond the grave or not of this world — or perhaps both — were met with confusion and ultimately, repression on the part of his family.  He grew up with these issues unresolved, turning inward for solutions that never quite materialized, as well as the writings of respected researchers and authors, which also left questions unanswered.  Driven to uncover those answers, while studying at Penn State University, Ryan founded the PRS (Paranormal Research Society) in 2001.  Its objective was to find the truth behind reported hauntings.


In establishing his core group, Ryan’s criteria was no less stringent than that of the classes created and taught by his professors.  He desired associates who were serious and hardworking; cohorts who did not frighten easily, and who could balance their course loads with the rigors of conducting investigations (primarily, long after the sun had set), gathering and documenting evidence, and arriving at well-supported conclusions, conclusions that either affirmed or refuted otherworldly activity in reportedly haunted settings.


What Ryan didn’t want were jokesters and thrill seekers, including students who showed up for investigations after getting tanked in the local taverns.  The resulting, well-culled group was a collection of unique, focused, dedicated, and interestingly diverse young people as thirsty for knowledge of the paranormal as their leader.


The team’s first cases were an old, unsolved murder that had occurred on campus and the 2001 disappearance of a coed.  For the latter case, the PRS collaborated with the local police, who welcomed the assistance.  Soon, the PRS was branching out into other cases, which people often brought to the team.


As word of their investigations spread, the PRS attracted the attention of A&E, which offered to craft a series (originally, 13 episodes) centered upon the investigations.  Contrary to my initial opinion of how the show was created, Ryan did not curry the favor of the producers or directors; they came to him.  When they did, he laid down the law.


The series, like the investigations themselves, had to be conducted with the utmost of integrity: no special effects, no coaching of clients, psychics, or anyone else concerned prior to the explorations, no subterfuge whatsoever for the sake of ratings.  The network’s onus was, essentially, to condense days’ worth of investigations into meaningful half-hour formats appealing to viewers.  In so doing, A&E financed more sophisticated equipment for the team, paid travel expenses, and perhaps most importantly, sought out and identified potential cases beyond the geography of Penn State and surrounding areas.  With input from his team, Ryan would have final say as to accept the cases or not.  And, all investigations, as they had from the inception of the PRS, were to be conducted without monetary compensation from the clients.


In crafting the series, Ryan Buell arrived at a deeper understanding of the paranormal, himself, and his talents.  He also became confident and courageous enough to share some very personal data with his readers.  Like me, Ryan was raised in a Catholic family and retains a strong faith.  While I walked away from the Catholic Church many years ago, and while I got the sense that Ryan no longer practices scheduled rituals as the Church demands, neither one of us threw Baby Jesus out with the bathwater.  We both honor the core of the faith while refusing to bow to manmade constraints that remove it from the teachings, and indeed, the life lived and the examples set by Jesus Christ.


But even with his roots firmly planted in Catholicism, Ryan is accepting of other religions — or the lack thereof.  One of his associates is agnostic; two are pagans (and before you conjure images of devil worship at the mention of “pagans,” please understand that paganism is an ancient religion that respects life in all its forms and those who created that life).  Ryan’s openness allows him to utilize the services of both priests and psychics, often simultaneously: partnerships never sanctioned by the Catholic Church at large.  (And this, I have always found odd, as 39 Books of the Bible mention prophesy, including direct references to it being a gift from the Holy Spirit).


But Ryan himself was not keen on the use of psychics, as many of those with whom he’d had previous contact proved themselves to be charlatans and thieves.  Chip Coffey, a reputable, tell it to ya straight psychic, was more or less thrust upon him by A&E as, I suspect, was soft-spoken psychic Michelle Belanger.  Ryan grew to develop a genuine respect for, as well as friendships with, both of these individuals featured frequently on the series. Michelle, in fact, wrote the enticing forward to Ryan’s book.


Lorraine Warren, a psychic of worldwide renown, was not dropped in Ryan Buell’s lap.  Initially leery of an association with the series, Lorraine came around on her own, impressed by Ryan’s focus and commitment, and that of his team. Lorraine and her deceased husband Ed were, respectively, the psychic and demonologist who had conducted the most extensive work on the “The Amityville Horror” case.  Interestingly, I have a connection to that case via less than six degrees of separation.  My uncle, who passed over several years ago, was friends with the head of the household murdered along with the rest of the family in that infamous house in Amityville on Long Island, New York. Ironically, my uncle and the murdered man had been hunting buddies.


If you’re a fan of the series, Paranormal State, and have yet to read the book, you’ll want to know what cases the volume covers.  I’m not going to give you a lot of details. :-)  Life should hold a few surprises, and those in the book include some behind the scenes information that, because of time restrictions or other reasons, never made it to the screen.  There are a few horrific cases, not limited to those involving demonic activity, the investigation of long-lived urban legend, physical manifestations of spirits at a pub, and the haunting of an asylum whose departed denizens scared two former military men away from the place, with vows of never stepping foot onto the property again.


In the book, as in the series, Ryan and his team debunked a few of the cases as having no basis in the paranormal.  They always seek, first, to attribute unexplained activity to the here-and-now.  These include the creaking of an old house, vibrations caused by nearby train tracks, blackouts precipitated by a power company, or – most interestingly — the beleaguered emotional states of some clients.  Anything else must be proven to be paranormal, as far as one can prove things in an evolving science.


The book is a very basic primer for those uninitiated into matters of the occult; it whets the appetite of those who may wish to delve further into this broad and fascinating domain.


Initially a skeptic, I came away from the book with a much greater respect for Ryan Buell and his team.  This includes original members Elfie Music, who serves as spiritual advisor, Serg Poberezhny, technical guru, and Josh Light, another original member now acting primarily behind the scenes.  Heather Taddy and Katrina Weidman began as trainees assigned to conduct interviews and historical research prior to the investigations, and who became active participants in those investigations.  As with most casts in most series, Paranormal State‘s has gone through changes demanded, in part, by the graduation of the students from the university.


What began at first as a quest for the truth behind alleged hauntings or possessions wound up being exactly that — and much more.  For Ryan and his team’s greatest joy is to bring peace to their clients, whether by helping lingering spirits to  pass over, ousting demons from other realms, or assisting clients to purge themselves of their own, internal demons that prevent them from pursuing fulfilling lives.


If you’re looking for something different in your reading material, something that will leave you still wondering, but in a good way, look no further than this book.


***  Excerpt, page 220, Paranormal State by Ryan Buell with Stephan Petrucha (2010, A&E ibooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Nailed to the Cross: Christianity Under Attack

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Nailed to the Cross

In the latest annals of “Let’s get real,” we turn to the travesty that occurred recently in Italy.  Recently, an Italian court was forced to remunerate “moral damages” of 5,000 lire (approximately $7,400 in U.S. dollars) to one Soile Latusi, a Finnish immigrant who had achieved Italian citizenship and who had sued the nation for the right to remove crucifixes displayed in her children’s public school classrooms.   The ruling in favor of Latusi (who is not, as you may suspect Catholic) came not from an Italian tribunal but from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg. Said court declared that the image of Christ upon the cross sullied the principles of secular education, as per their following proclamation:

 

“The presence of the crucifix could be … disturbing for pupils who practiced other religions or were atheists, particularly if they belonged to religious minorities. The compulsory display of [such symbols] … restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”

 

How could this happen in Italy, a country so staunchly Catholic that the most pious of all earthy realms, the Vatican, chose to establish itself within The Boot’s own borders?  It happened, ostensibly, out of a need to shield young minds from iconography that differed from their own, from exposure to a religion not their own.  Beyond the ostensible, what really happened in Italy last week?  And what, in fact, has been happening to Christianity over the last decade?   Christianity is, in this writer’s eyes, under systematic attack.

 

Before anyone snatches up a sword and a shield to set off on a Crusade, bear with me while I make this honest confession, prior to supporting my convictions with further proof.  Born into the Catholic faith, I made a well-considered decision to leave the Church many years ago.  I hold no allegiance to the Catholic Church, or rather, to the men designated by other men to direct the faithful here on the earthly plane.  I do, however, hold fast to my intelligence as well as my spirituality, the latter of which is defined by my personal relationship with God, and not by any organized religion.

 

What occurred in Italy recently had its precedent established in October 2003 when a zealot, Mr. Adel Smith of the Union of Muslims of Italy, demanded that the crucifixes hanging in the secular classrooms of his child be removed.  In addition to the elimination of the crucifixes, Smith (a convert of Islam hailing from a Scots heritage) insisted that prayers from the Koran be displayed in his child’s school.  He made additional demands deeply insulting to Catholicism, Italian culture, and Renaissance art, demands that were refuted.  The victory that he did win, however, was the obliteration of Christ, hanging in silent effigy over the school children, depicting the moment after he commended his spirit unto the Lord.

 

Hold onto your outrage for one more moment, please, because what happened on our own shores surely must have put the wind beneath Adel Smith’s wings along with the bats in his belfry.  In the summer of 2000, a court in Wyandotte county removed a statue of the Ten Commandments adorning a public area in Kansas City.  The court took this extraordinary action so as to waylay a lawsuit threatened by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), which was once, in my estimation, an organization of integrity and good intent.  The ACLU, you see, asserted that since the Commandments violated the Constitution’s edict of separation between church and state, God’s law must topple from public display.

 

Applying the Wyandotte wedge, the ACLU later achieved the same dismantling at a courthouse in Miles City, Montana (September 2003).  Two month later, it repeated this act when it convinced U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to remove the Commandments in the State judicial building in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence, who chooses to read the Ten Commandments objectively rather than as a religious manifesto, can see that they represent a code of honor, a code upon which our justice system is based — particularly the directives that address theft, slander, and murder.

 

The Bible postulates that the Commandments, emblazoned on two stone tablets, were handed down directly from God (Yahweh) to Moses.  If we remove the Commandments as Commandments, we thus remove God from the equation.  And if we remove God from the justice system as well as our school systems — if we, in effect, obliterate a higher power — to whom, then, are human beings accountable?  To each other?  To those who wage war upon each other in the name of religion?

 

Islam, for those uneducated in is tenets, is not a violent religion; Mohammed never established it as such.  He founded the Five Pillars of his religion upon the Golden Rule manifested in the Ten Commandments and further strengthened by the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Mohammed urged his followers to honor the prophets of both Judaism and Christianity; for upon the beliefs of those faiths, he created his own.  Any disciple of Islam who truly follows the Koran, as opposed to propaganda that oppresses and twists its truths, knows this to be true.

 

Christianity was born out of the belief in a God that did not judge; a God that forgave.  No records exist of Jesus Christ’s whereabouts between his 30th and 33rd years upon this earth (the 33rd being the year that he was crucified). Conjecture has it that during that time, Jesus made a pilgrimage to the East, to study religion there.  The very principles of Christianity seem to support the thinking that this faith is based not completely, but largely, upon the doctrines of Buddhism.

 

If the world’s great faiths are truly interrelated, if all of them honor a being or beings greater than ourselves, what then, is all the fuss about?  In honoring Mohammed as well as Jesus Christ and Buddha, the crucifixes must remain in place, as must the Ten Commandments.  If the human race cannot see past the icons and rituals of individual religions to the very heart of each faith, and the increasingly pressing need to live by that Golden Rule, we are forever doomed to wage jihads and crusades.  We are forever doomed to walk this earth in a deep-seated mistrust, resentment, and ultimately, hatred of each other.  We are forever doomed to a world besieged by violence conducted in the name of religion.  Is this the world that we want to leave our children?

 

For those interested in my sources for this article, I provide you with the following few links:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8340411.stm

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/03/italy-classroom-crucifixes-human-rights

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j7ePwV7h1sb1YI9XU_nt7Ui3m_iAD9BO3LR01

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1103/p06s24-woeu.html

 

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/10-26-2003-46959.asp

 

http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/08/27/ten.commandments/

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,98267,00.html

 

http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=5235

Site Sponsors

Site Sponsors

Site Sponsors










RSSLoading Feed...

Live Traffic Feed

RSSLoading Feed...