By Jean / Lead Investigator / ECG Paranormal Research Group
I like to joke with my friends that one of the many benefits to having spent nearly five years in seminary, is the ability to watch Passion of the Christ without subtitles. While Aramaic is indeed one of the many skills I developed after years hunkered down and studying text – I also am lucky to be one of the few ghost hunters that have actually spent a significant amount of time doing original source work on ancient text.
This is useful in our line of work. Regardless of whatever your own theological underpinnings are, there’s no denying that an interest in the paranormal is, at least peripherally, somewhat tied to an interest in the supernatural.
On that note, I’ve been asked to blog a bit about the Jewish view of ghosts. And on concepts around Jewish demons. And possibly the historical background of some familiar names in our line of work. Like Azazel. And Lillith. Otherwise, any questions you may have for me, I am always happy to take!
But for the time-being, I’d like to start with a deeper theological question. One I don’t expect you to have an answer for. But one I think about frequently as it comes up. Namely: Do you believe that a loving God would allow souls to become trapped here?
Now there are a lot of theories out there about how hauntings happen. A soul is afraid to cross over and gets trapped. A soul doesn’t know they have passed on and gets trapped. A soul has unresolved business on this sphere and gets trapped. Or the haunting is residual. An imprint leftover. All of which make perfectly logical arguments for the existence of hauntings.
The problem is… there’s still a major beat missing for me. There are just too many stories of innocent souls, which should have passed on, but didn’t. And if we are to believe these stories – stories like the child who died of smallpox and still haunts her colonial home, the inmates at an insane asylum still haunted by the abuses they endured there, the woman who died waiting for her fiancé to return from sea – then we have to acknowledge that something about how we view the supernatural, in line with the paranormal, might need further examination.
Because if you were to ask me – that seems like a pretty sucky deal. I mean… what did the kid do? Should someone who was mentally ill, and had already suffered so much in life, really be punished in the afterlife? And that poor lady on the widow’s peak – can someone please help a chick out!
My colleague at ECG, Will, has his own interpretation of these events. “I don’t trust child ghosts,” he likes to say. Perhaps you’ve had similar feelings on investigations. But I think all these feelings, these trepidations and anxiety, relate to the same question. Why do bad things happen to good people?
In the theological world there is a space for this question. It is called theodicy. And theodicy attempts to answer the question of suffering, and evil, in the face of a loving God.
Personally, I practice a predicate theology. Which means I reject the notion of a supernatural God. But I believe we can act in Godly ways. It’s a much more pragmatic philosophy of the world. And one that, at least for the time being, I have grown comfortable with.
The irony of this belief system is that it stands in stark juxtaposition with my work as a paranormal investigator. After all, how can I reject a supernatural God while simultaneously confronting examples of the paranormal?
Which is why when I sit down to really analyze it, I find it to be the central question that led me to this work. Yes. I want to know if there’s an afterlife. I want to believe. But having to confront the paranormal, finding something I can’t explain — will force me to confront my relationship with the supernatural. And despite all my rational tendencies toward pragmatic philosophies, I want to believe in a supernatural God.
I doubt I’ll ever find all the answers to all the questions I’m seeking. But I pose the inquiry to you for the same reason I write these blogs. Because I think engagement with the question, and a discourse around the question, moves us towards a greater understanding overall.
So what do you think? Do ghosts get trapped here? Is there a connection for you between the paranormal world and the supernatural one? What led you to ghost hunting? Comment below and let us know what you think!