A Ghost Story

By Robin Schumacher

Originally posted at The Christian Post

Let's be clear about something: there are no such things as ghosts. Instead, there exists something that is much worse.

My first experience with personal evil began when I was very young. My family moved into a big house on a fairly large piece of ground that was set back far from the main road. There were only two homes back in this section of land: my aunt's that was fairly close by and ours.

The house had a detached garage that was a short walk from the main dwelling, and in the back of the garage was a big room that my parents christened my "playroom". The only problem was one of the walls had a large picture of the devil painted on it, evidently done by the home's previous owners. As you might expect, as a kid I wasn't too keen on being in the room, even after my father painted over the image.

I never felt comfortable in the house and things only got worse one day when my family thought it would be fun to pull out a Ouija board we had. They put my little nephew and me in charge of holding the board's pointer, and it wasn't long before it began to move.

My older sister (my nephew's mother) was an intense skeptic of everything and chided us to quit pretending that something was moving the pointer. To prove we were faking it, she began asking the board to spell out very complicated words that were far beyond my nephew's and my capabilities.

And the pointer did. Every time.

After that both my mother and I began to experience things in the home — things that I'm still too hesitant to explicitly talk about today. It wasn't long before we decided to sell the house and move, with the sale being made to a pastor and his family.

That's when literally all hell broke loose in the house.

After the family's first night in the home, my uncle walked over and asked them how the evening went. "Fine," said the dad, "except someone ran up and down the stairs all night long."

From that fairly benign event, things proceeded to go downhill for the family, and each day they would relate to my uncle something new that happened to them.

Strange writing would appear on the tables that they couldn't identify. When rubbed off, it would return. Fresh towels would be placed in the bathroom, and a minute later when the wife would return, smeared fingerprints would be found dragged down through the towels even though no one else was in the house. Odd smells would appear in rooms and follow the family to locations outside the house.

Other events then began to happen with the impact being that the wife would not venture down into the basement or be in the house alone, so they ended up being driven from the home and sold it.

What Was It?

Such stories are fairly common on shows like Syfy's Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channel's, Ghost Adventures. Even networks such as the Weather Channel have gotten into the act lately with their American Supernatural show. As in the past, it seems many today are interested in a good ghost story.

When you watch these shows it seems like most times what the hosts are chasing with their green lights/night vision goggles are their own imaginations as they seldom turn up any real evidence for their viewers. But that's not always the case.

Take, for example, the accounts relayed by journalists David Kiely and Christina McKenna in their book The Dark Sacrament. Kiely and McKenna researched ten different encounters in Ireland relayed by Canon William Lendrum and Father Ignatius McCarthy who personally experienced each situation.

What makes Lendrum's experiences particularly interesting is that he was initially a skeptic where the idea of a personal evil was concerned. Lendrum says, "I have to admit that there was a time in my life when I might have agreed with removing the Devil from the official teaching of the Church. I'd been brought up with a scientific worldview. I had never found it easy to grasp the concept of a being whom we call Satan". [1]

That changed when Lendrum encountered a young girl, living with a couple he knew, who one night displayed a grossly altered physical countenance and began ranting terribly while referring to herself in the third person. After working with professionals to rule out physical and psychiatric causes for the experiences, Lendrum was forced to conclude that the girl exhibited classic symptoms of demonic possession, something the priest didn't think was possible.

In Father Ignatius McCarthy's case, he admits he is "old school" where the idea of the devil and demons are concerned. The highly educated monk's personal experience with demons came when he helped cleanse the parochial home of a fellow priest. The clergyman began to have encounters with apparitions in the home that began attacking and defiling his religious objects. Once McCarthy performed an exorcism in the home, the activities ceased. [2]

The truth is, the activities described by Kiely and McKenna in their book, and the experiences I had as a young boy, are caused by the same type of being, and it is nothing as tame as a ghost.

The Real Deal

The Bible documents the existence of both a fallen angel named Satan/the devil (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:11-19) and the fall of countless other angels who joined him in his rebellion against God (Revelation 12:4). The New Testament in particular reports numerous encounters that Jesus and his disciples had with demons, and also details how both Satan and his demons will work in the end times to deceive and destroy people's lives.

While it might seem odd that demons would manifest themselves through episodes that are reported as "ghost stories", the truth is that it forwards their agenda quite nicely as C. S. Lewis notes in his work The Screwtape Letters: "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." [3]

Perhaps this is why when the true person of Jesus, the Bible, or requests to tell the truth in Christ's name are brought up in séances, Ouija board episodes, and other such occultic scenarios, the true colors of the "spirits" behind the scenes come out.

The Wrong Path

My early experiences with evil cause me to have great concern when movies such as Ouija (released this month just in time for Halloween) appear. I know these films will move many people to try out Ouija boards and other occultic devices, which will do nothing but open up their lives to entry by the enemy.

Why does this happen? It occurs because people instinctively know there is more to life than the material universe around them, and they go searching for it. As Canon Lendrum says:
If people do not find what they are looking for in the Church, they will look for it elsewhere. This is a serious indictment of today's Church because it means that we have failed to get our message across that Jesus is the Light of the world, and that those who follow Him have the light of life. We have failed to convince people that He is the bread of life who satisfies the deepest longings of the human heart. [4]
Again, there are no such things as ghosts. But there is something that is much worse.

However, the great news is Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, which means that you and I can be free from the enemy and never have to fear the entities behind any supposed ghost story. If anything, such things only glorify God in the way one anonymous writer penned years ago: "Darkness cannot put out the light. It can only make God brighter."

1.David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna, The Dark Sacrament (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), pg. 2.
2. Ibid, pg. 157.
3. http://goo.gl/5dV6dN.
4. Kiely and McKenna, pg. 3.

Published 10-22-14