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The Message Through the Medium

A reader sends this most excellent Dreher bait: the story of Lisa Chase, a woman whose dead husband contacted her in eerie and undeniable ways. [1] Excerpts:

Up until a year ago, I’d never visited a psychic, never had my palms or tarot cards read. I wasn’t exactly a skeptic, but you have to trust the people who practice such things, you have to buy into their cosmologies, and I didn’t, quite.

But for a few years, in my thirties, I called an astrologer around my birthday. I had a hippie aunt who, when I was 16, gave me a present of an astrological chart. It was fun; it seemed to confirm who I am—a pragmatic Capricorn—and the ancientness of the art, the systematicness of it, the universality, appealed to me.

The last time I talked to the astrologer, I was told two significant things. One delighted me. The other I put deep in the vault of my subconscious. That’s how we in this Anthropocene era interface with the paranormal and the metaphysical. If we get a prophecy we like, we keep it at our fingertips, bring it out at dinner parties, tweet it to our followers: “@amazingpsychic told me I’d meet my soul mate next month. #cosmic #blessed.” If we get bad news, we can decide that it was delivered by a charlatan and disregard it. Because our navel-gazing, technology-is-God culture doesn’t fundamentally believe in anything bigger than ourselves (What could be bigger?), we don’t have any rules of the road to evaluate what we hear and who is delivering our para-, meta-messages. We’re each on our own recognizance.

It was a little over a decade ago. I was 39 years old, 10 weeks pregnant with my son—though after a previous miscarriage, I wasn’t telling anyone about this pregnancy. The astrologer read my chart and said, “You’re having a baby now or very soon.” Wow, she is good, I thought. We talked about how Aquarius was in my marriage house, and so it was no surprise that my partner was an Aquarius. She told me that he was “a difficult path.” Was I sure I needed to go down it? I assured her I did, because for all the difficulties, there were many more amazing moments in my life with him. Okay, the astrologer conceded; maybe he was my “destiny.” Then she told me that something “wild” was going to happen around the time I was 50. “It’s almost like someone around you is murdered.”

That’s the one I sent deep into my Gringotts vault, to be ignored and nearly forgotten.

Well, her husband Peter died of cancer. And then the crazy synchronicities began. You have to read the piece to see the screen grab of the time her phone sent a message to itself. They kept building up, and Lisa Chase couldn’t escape the sense that Peter was trying to contact her. On the advice of a couple of friends, she telephoned a medium named Lisa Kay. The widow was skeptical, but then things started pouring out of the medium, things she couldn’t possibly have known about him and his marriage:

Lisa would be talking to me directly, then talking to … Peter? And sometimes it was if she were Peter, talking to us both. Channeling would probably be the best verb. Sometimes she said things that made no sense to me. Maybe a third of what she said could apply to anyone who’d lost a spouse; things like, “I want you to marry again,” and “It’s okay that you cried in front of me.” But there were many more specific things she said that she couldn’t have known or Googled, as several people have suggested to me.

Anyway, try Googling the name of a person you know nothing about. It takes a lot more than five minutes to navigate to the page with the right information and absorb it all—the names and details and events.

LK: He says he controlled too much. He says, ‘Take the good with the bad. I had my faults.’ He’s learning to be better at not criticizing.

Then she said something that shocked me.

LK: ‘I’m a lucky guoy. I got the better end of the deal.’

What was amazing about this was the way Lisa pronounced it: “guoy,” not “guy.” It was precisely the way Peter said it, with an exaggerated Brooklyn accent. He’d use that expression when we were making up after a fight: I’m a lucky guoy…to have you. At this point I began speaking directly to him; I couldn’t help myself.

The story gets even weirder. Finally, Lisa Chase meets the medium, Lisa Kay, for lunch:

I began to ask her about how it works, the mechanics of reading, of seeing spirits.

“First,” she said, “I don’t talk to dead people. I don’t see dead people. I hate that.” It drives her nuts. “Spirits are energy—energy can’t be destroyed, just read the quantum physicists. Max Planck. They’re just on a higher vibrational frequency, and I have to tune in to that.”

Read the whole thing. [1] It’s worth it. I don’t know what to make of it, frankly.

I certainly don’t dismiss it as false, though I do believe that we are strictly forbidden from trying to contact the dead. In my view, this really did happen. It’s only a question of whether it is what it seems to be, or if it is a deception worked by malevolent spirits.

If this account is valid, and I’m inclined to believe that it is, the story suggests that there is a transitional state, a kind of Purgatory. This would explain how Peter is “learning.” As a believing Christian, I am naturally troubled by the lack of any Christian content in this phenomenon, but I was just the other night talking with a group of Christians, including a Catholic priest, about stories like this, and I said that some of the things I’ve seen myself don’t fit easily into my theology. I mentioned that a well-known Catholic priest once heard a ghost story from me, then shared one of his own. That priest told me that he has simply accepted that there are some things from that world that are real, but for which our theology has no adequate account.

This story of Peter and Lisa could be one of them. I hesitate to endorse the story, not because I think it’s untrue, but because I have a strong belief that God forbids us to consult mediums (Witch of Endor [2], ‘memba her?). I don’t want at all to be read as endorsing that kind of thing. That said, a friend of mine once inadvertently found herself accompanying a friend to a consultation with a medium (my friend didn’t know that’s where they were going until they arrived). Things happened that opened the door to contact with someone they both knew well, who had died decades earlier. I can’t give more details, because my friend swore me to secrecy, but it all ended in an old abandoned barn, with something discovered buried where the spirit of the dead man said it would be. Except when my friend and those accompanying her stood on the indicated spot and felt the ground give way slightly, indicating that something was under the surface, they became terrified, and ran away.

They never returned. The barn was eventually torn down, and grass grew over the site. They couldn’t find it now if they wanted to. They never learned what was buried there. After that, the spirit of the dead man stopped coming to my friend.

I dunno. This is a world of wonders. I’ve told the story here many times of the Cajun Catholic grandmother who had a powerful gift of spiritual discernment, one that she only used in serving a priest as he helped people with supernatural, er, problems. In How Dante Can Save Your Life [3], I tell the tale of how she and the priest helped resolve the difficult situation of my grandfather’s spirit lingering around my father immediately after his death. I hadn’t thought of it till now, but that woman, who passed away years ago, was a medium. I wouldn’t have used that term to describe her, because she was deeply, deeply Catholic, and would have objected to linking her work to anything that smacked of the occult. She only used her gift under the direction of her priest, and then only in specific situations. Still, that’s what she was: a medium. And it was through her that my father learned that his father could not move on until he, my dad, forgave him for the way he mistreated my dad in the final years of my grandfather’s life.

I say stay away from this stuff if you at all can; this book, [4] about the spiritual darkness that enveloped a Greek man once he began fooling with the occult, is a very good reminder not to go looking for trouble. But sometimes, this stuff finds you. I once asked Father Termini, the old priest who ministered to people suffering from spiritual oppression, how he convinced people that these things were real. He said, quietly, “By the time they find me, they don’t need convincing.” True dat.

What do you make of Lisa Chase’s story?

UPDATE: A Twitter follower sends in this 10-minute short narrative film by the Dominicans, warning against opening doors that cannot be easily closed. It’s pretty scary:

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79 Comments (Open | Close)

79 Comments To "The Message Through the Medium"

#1 Comment By TJ On October 7, 2015 @ 1:42 pm

Calling James Randi…

#2 Comment By Rusty On October 7, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

Deuteronomy 18:10-13
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.

Turns out it’s not SSM that God is punishing America for: it’s Rod’s fascination with the Woo. ; )

#3 Comment By William Dalton On October 7, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

That people have experiences with beings in the “spirit world” I can believe. The Bible testifies to it, and warns us to stay away, as you note.

But no one can talk to the dead – or least not hear the dead talk to them. Jesus is clear that even the spirits of the dead who wish to communicate godly warnings to their kith and kin and not able to do so.

So, let us know when a visit to a mystic results in the actual discovery of buried treasure, or the revelation of a deadly crime that had long lay undiscovered. Until then, count their work for what it is – carefully, sometimes ingeniously, contrived entertainment.

#4 Comment By William Dalton On October 7, 2015 @ 3:09 pm

That people have experiences with beings in the “spirit world” I can believe. The Bible testifies to it, and warns us to stay away, as you note.

But no one can talk to the dead – or at least not hear the dead talk to them. Jesus is clear that even the spirits of the dead who wish to communicate godly warnings to their kith and kin are not able to do so.

So, let us know when a visit to a mystic results in the actual discovery of buried treasure, or the revelation of a deadly crime that had long lay undiscovered. Until then, count their work for what it is – carefully, sometimes ingeniously, contrived entertainment.

#5 Comment By Agnikan On October 7, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

So, which should be avoided: the study of astrology, or asking the advice of those who seem to have psychic abilities?

And what if the person with psychic abilities is a priest, a spiritual father, or a starets who has been given such gifts by the Holy Spirit?

On astrology, I think the [5] gave some pretty good advice:

“But the natal [i.e., astrological] chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are few….

The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasize fate – the result of past good and evil – but to arouse man”s will to escape from his universal thraldom. What he has done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place, and because he possesses spiritual resources that are not subject to planetary pressure.

Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The wise man defeats his planets – which is to say, his past – by transferring his allegiance from the creation to the Creator. The more he realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.”

#6 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On October 7, 2015 @ 4:14 pm

The short film above reminded me of this mock trailer for “HELL NO: The Sensible Horror Film”:

#7 Comment By mwing On October 7, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

jonathanjones02 says:
“And to any skeptical materialist reading this comment: how would you account for the many testimonies of medical professionals…such as patients returning to their bodies and describing objects stuck on the roof of the hospital?”

I’m not really 100% skeptical materialist (I don’t think anyone is) but am happy to play one.
So: why do they always float UP? Does anyone ever come back from a near-death experience to describe what was next to the boiler in the basement of the hospital? 😉 Or sideways: How about a traffic report on the accident 3/4 a mile to the West that happened while the poor fellow was being operated on? Do people still believe that Heaven is literally up in the air? Does the direction of travel experienced in a near-death experience foretell the actual direction in the afterlife? If so, nothing much to worry about, is there, because apparantly, EVERYONE GOES UP.
Cheers. This is way better than working.

#8 Comment By Eliana On October 7, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

Read San Juan de la Cruz.

Referring to St. Peter, he said, “Teling us to behold the faith spoken of by the prophets as we would a candle shining in a dark place, he asserts that we should live in darkness, with our eyes closed to all other lights, and that in darkness faith alone–which is dark also-should be the light we use.” (St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book Two, Ch. 16).

I’d say that covers Medjugorje & such, too.

Rod, book idea: St. John’s work, as above.

#9 Comment By FL Transplant On October 7, 2015 @ 6:07 pm

A famous science fiction author once wrote that magic and psychokinetic powers, if they did exist, must be so weak as to be meaningless and impractical.

I put the spiritual world in that category. If the best that it can do is tell a few of us about things in our lives that have already happened, or scare a few people who buy old houses, I don’t see much strength.

For all of those who are afraid to “walk through that door” because of the potential consequences, don’t you think that others have tried their best to so so, and indeed blast the door open? And yet, consequences for us?

#10 Comment By jaybird On October 7, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

Do people still believe that Heaven is literally up in the air? Does the direction of travel experienced in a near-death experience foretell the actual direction in the afterlife? If so, nothing much to worry about, is there, because apparantly, EVERYONE GOES UP.

Yes, they do. One of the sillier, yet commonly overlooked Christian doctrines. Many Christians rightly admit that the miraculous and fantastical stories of the Old Testament are allegorical and mythological, and do not need to be taken at face value. But they will then insist that the miraculous and fantastical stories about Jesus in the New Testament are reported pretty much as they actually happened: Virgin birth, walking on water, raising the dead, The Resurrection, etc. So by this standard, any plain reading of the ew Testament makes it clear that “Heaven” is conceived of as being an actual realm above the earth. Thus, if you take the Biblical account at face value, you have to believe Jesus actually flew up into the clouds like Superman, while the Apostles looked on, jaws agape. If you don’t take the account of The Ascension at face value, then you have to ask yourself what other miraculous and fantastical stories in the New Testament are not necessarily meant to be taken at face-value, and that way lies madness.

#11 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 7, 2015 @ 7:21 pm

Thus, if you take the Biblical account at face value, you have to believe Jesus actually flew up into the clouds like Superman, while the Apostles looked on, jaws

I’m not sure why this is difficult to believe, or why it implies that heaven is up in the air.

If I want to fly from Boston to Madrid, which are both around the same latitude, my plane is going to start by flying north. That doesn’t mean that Spain is north of Boston, it means there are good mechanical reasons for starting by heading north, which a lay observer wouldn’t necessarily get.

#12 Comment By Lord Karth On October 7, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

Sorry, Mr. Dreher, but I’d say you, like Lisa, got royally suckered. There is enough information available online about each of us to make these kinds of “encounters” fairly easily fabricated. Combine that with the Human will to believe what is comforting, and really good observational skills on the part of the con artist, and you have the makings of easy prey for the likes of this “medium”.

I detect consumer fraud here. Someone would do well to report this “Lisa Kay” to her provincial Attorney General’s office for fraud.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#13 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On October 7, 2015 @ 8:07 pm

@Hector_St_Clare, the great circle route will still take you roughly in the direction you plan to go. What is counterintuitive is why it is shorter than heading along a line of latitude.

If heaven is a real place then it is outside of our reality, so in a sense it is at right angles to all our physical dimensions. Going any particular direction (e.g. up) won’t get you any closer than if you were standing still.

tl;dr I don’t think there are any geodesics that lead to Heaven.

#14 Comment By dominic1955 On October 7, 2015 @ 8:15 pm

Other folks have already said it, but I’d just like to also say it-all such things should be looked at skeptically. That is what the Rituale says about demonic possession, that’s what St. John of the Cross (among others) say about visions and such, that’s supposedly what the Eastern Orthodox do as well.

Demons can do all sorts of things, they are angels after all. I’m not saying absolutely that all this sort of phenomenon is dogmatically demons but it shouldn’t be taken as proof that what is trying to contact someone from the “other side” isn’t a demon because they could tell you anything (and I mean anything and everything…) your dead loved one can-they have angelic intellects which allow them to know practically anything.

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 7, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

MH,

I didn’t say there was a geodesic. I don’t know why Jesus went UP to go ‘out’ of the physical universe, but there are any number of possibilities. Maybe he was modest and preferred to vanish out of the sight of his disciples. Maybe he wanted to stage his disappearance in a way that made sense to his apostles and their worldview. Maybe it was easier for him to, uh, vanish in a place with less air resistance. Maybe he wanted his disciples to admire the beauty of the clouds. I have no idea, but there’s no particular reason why it implies heaven is up in the sky.

Regarding your points about accounts of the supernatural being anecdotal: yes, they certainly are. Anecdotal evidence is still evidence though: it’s just the lowest quality and the least reliable category. (There is at least one scientific field in which interesting anecdotal evidence are actually publishable, that’s medicine, and the reason is fairly obvious: in medicine unlike most scientific fields, the doctor has an existential dilemma where he must do something, the choice not to treat or not to diagnose is a choice as much as any other, and the cost of a type II error is often as great or greater than the cost of a type I error. This is probably part of why the medical journals, or some of them, publish unreplicated case studies, and it’s one way in which medicine is very different than most scientific fields- but is actually, in this respect, quite similar to the existential dilemmas each of us face when deciding what god, or lack thereof, to believe in).

Anecdotal evidence is again the lowest quality, but in many situations it is the only kind we have, and when you’re deciding to believe or not to believe in a particular theological doctrine, anecdotal/unreplicable evidence is usually all you have, and you must choose how to weight it and how to balance it in light of your priors. Both of which are genuine choices. The weight of anecdotal evidence may be very low, but it’s not zero. Hume’s problem (as Alfred Russell Wallace pointed out) was that he failed to distinguish between a low and a zero probability, and therefore he was unable to account for how the likelihood of the supernatural being true might increase as more and more bits of (individually) weak anecdotal evidence accumulate.

#16 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 7, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

TL/DR: quoting from the Life of Pi:

“I believe in what I can see.”
“So do I. What do you do when you’re in the dark?”

#17 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On October 7, 2015 @ 9:46 pm

@Hector_St_Clare, as Rod has pointed out previously, many of the anecdotes about the supernatural tend to point in conflicting directions, and don’t fit neatly within his Christian worldview.

So it doesn’t seem as clear as many items small items of evidence mounting up to something larger. It seems more like noise.

#18 Comment By jaybird On October 7, 2015 @ 10:08 pm

Hector: I don’t know why Jesus went UP to go ‘out’ of the physical universe, but there are any number of possibilities. Maybe he was modest and preferred to vanish out of the sight of his disciples. Maybe he wanted to stage his disappearance in a way that made sense to his apostles and their worldview. Maybe it was easier for him to, uh, vanish in a place with less air resistance. Maybe he wanted his disciples to admire the beauty of the clouds. I have no idea, but there’s no particular reason why it implies heaven is up in the sky.

I think the first part I bolded answers the second bolded part – The ancient Hebrews assumed a three-tiered universe: Heaven above, Sheol below, and Earth in the middle. There are many,many verses that talk about Heaven/God being up in the clouds, above the earth, looking down, etc… So yeah, that’s the most straight forward way to interpret Jesus’ ascension, and that’s almost certainly how early Christians thought of it – just look at the all the Christian art and iconography that shows Jesus, God, angels, floating through the clouds. Of course, these days, no one seriously thinks that Heaven, if it exists, is to be found in the clouds or above the Earth, so Biblical verses that seem to claim as much have to be re-interpreted, and you have to start making guesses about what “really” happened: “well, it only looked like he went into the clouds”, or “he was doing it to humor his Apostles, who didn’t understand about extra-dimensional travel” or whatever.

But anyway, here’s the how the Book of Acts describes it:

Chapter 1, verses 9-11:
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

I think the reader can reasonably interpret these verses to mean that the author did in fact believe, and wanted his readers to understand, that Heaven was up in the sky somewhere. Just my 2¢, your mileage may vary, etc.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 7, 2015 @ 10:22 pm

he asserts that we should live in darkness, with our eyes closed to all other lights, and that in darkness faith alone–which is dark also-should be the light we use.

That’s repulsive. It reminds me of why I generally don’t read Stephen King, except for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

Many Christians rightly admit that the miraculous and fantastical stories of the Old Testament are allegorical and mythological, and do not need to be taken at face value. But they will then insist that the miraculous and fantastical stories about Jesus in the New Testament are reported pretty much as they actually happened: Virgin birth, walking on water, raising the dead

At risk of being mistaken once again for attempting to found my own religion, I think we can take a more nuanced view toward both the Old and New Testaments. A great deal is indeed allegorical, for the simple reason that the plain transcendent truth of what God is all about would literally destroy us, Cf. “you cannot see my face and live.” That’s not God being a high and mighty egoistic prick, its that we fragile biochemical organisms just couldn’t handle it. Much the same may be true of at least some of the material in the New Testament… but then the stories are there to illustrate something important, and should be told for that purpose, without either the pious or impious nitpicking of “it all happened just the way it says” or “that’s a pack of lies and delusions.”

Mythology, in its highest sense, is not a synonym for “lie,” it means something symbolic and pregnant with meaning, but not a material, verifiable account of exactly what materially happened. That said, a transcendent deity might well be capable of inducing miraculous events to make a point, and no, they would not necessarily leave behind a complete trail of evidence to identify scientifically exactly what happened. But those who have faith should be cautioned… don’t try this at home.

#20 Comment By jaybird On October 7, 2015 @ 11:30 pm

Siarlys: Mythology, in its highest sense, is not a synonym for “lie,” it means something symbolic and pregnant with meaning, but not a material, verifiable account of exactly what materially happened.

I have no issue with this – I just think most of the Bible is mythology in this sense.

#21 Comment By dominic1955 On October 7, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

jaybird,

“I think the reader can reasonably interpret these verses to mean that the author did in fact believe, and wanted his readers to understand, that Heaven was up in the sky somewhere. Just my 2¢, your mileage may vary, etc.”

That is one problem with vernacular scripture, anyone can just come in and say, “See, look here in PLAIN ENGLISH exactly what it says!” Its goes even worse when you have what basically amounts to the one night stand lovechild of Fundamentalist biblical literalism and secularism.

Its better to look at it in Latin (though obviously that isn’t the original language either) but it gives a better idea.

“Et cum hæc dixisset, videntibus illis, elevatus est: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum. Cumque intuerentur in cælum euntem illum, ecce duo viri astiterunt juxta illos in vestibus albis, qui et dixerunt: Viri Galilæi, quid statis aspicientes in cælum? Hic Jesus, qui assumptus est a vobis in cælum, sic veniet quemadmodum vidistis eum euntem in cælum.”

The word “caelum” can certainly be translated as “heaven” or “the heavens” but it also wouldn’t be wrong to simply translate it as “the sky”.

Angels are depicted with wings, not because we think they have feathers, but because the sky makes for a good symbol of the metaphysical state of being we refer to as “heaven”. The abode of God and his spiritual servants is not simply the sky and the clouds and all that. Other than the unwashed masses, much like the roundness of the earth, folks “in the know” even way back then wouldn’t have asserted that the metaphysical reality we call “heaven” is simply in the sky without any qualifier.

#22 Comment By MikeN On October 8, 2015 @ 2:25 am

“And to any skeptical materialist reading this comment: how would you account for the many testimonies of medical professionals…such as patients returning to their bodies and describing objects stuck on the roof of the hospital?”

The famous Maria’s tennis shoe.
Maria, undergoing an operation, went through a Near-Death Experience in which she claimed to leave her body and float around the hospital, most notably describing a tennis shoe on a third-floor ledge. Her social worker maintained that the shoe could not have been visible from outside the hospital, and visible only with great difficulty- scrunching up against the window and twisting the body to see- from inside.

A pair of skeptical observers checked the story out and found that a shoe they placed in the same position was easily visible from both outside and inside- in fact the shoe they used to check the story had already been spotted and removed by a member of the hospital staff by the time they came back a few days later

[6], p4-9

So far there has been no evidences of out-of -body experiences that have passed careful scrutiny.

#23 Comment By jaybird On October 8, 2015 @ 7:08 am

Dominic:
Other than the unwashed masses, much like the roundness of the earth, folks “in the know” even way back then wouldn’t have asserted that the metaphysical reality we call “heaven” is simply in the sky without any qualifier.

The ancient “in the know” crowd may not have believed heaven was “just” or “only” up in the sky, but I think it’s pretty plain that the ancients thought you necessarily had to go up to/through the sky first in order to get to Heaven. God got annoyed at the builders of the Tower of Babel in part because it would “reach into the heavens”, Moses had to go up a mountain to talk to God, Jacob had a vision of a ladder reaching into Heaven, Jesus will come back “in the clouds”, etc.

The word “caelum” can certainly be translated as “heaven” or “the heavens” but it also wouldn’t be wrong to simply translate it as “the sky”.

I think that would make the reading of the passage even more literal: And while they looked steadfastly toward the sky as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into the sky?

As I said to Siarlys, I don’t have a problem reading the account as mythology. But I don’t think there’s any reason to insist that it must also necessarily be an accurate historical account on some level then either.

#24 Comment By Junior On October 8, 2015 @ 7:50 am

“I hadn’t thought of it till now, but that woman, who passed away years ago, was a medium.”

We are ALL mediums. Some, like the woman Mr. Dreher discusses, are just more in tune with it than others.

The article that I’ve posted below explains it in more detail and I hope that people check it out to find out more about the subject. It’s from Christian Rationalism, which is a philosophy whose principles I try to apply in my life.

[7]

#25 Comment By Captain P On October 8, 2015 @ 9:32 am

The New Testament shows that demons can do some pretty crazy stuff. Paul said “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14). To the extent that these stories are not hoaxes, and show spirits harassing people or asking them to do strange things, I’ll go with demons as the explanation, not disembodied spirits, which is never suggested by the Bible (with the sole exception of the Witch of Endor, where the witch herself was surprised to see her conjuring actually work).

#26 Comment By dominic1955 On October 8, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

jaybird,

“As I said to Siarlys, I don’t have a problem reading the account as mythology. But I don’t think there’s any reason to insist that it must also necessarily be an accurate historical account on some level then either.”

Depends on what one means by “mythology”. To me, it is not problematic that Christ ascended from earth to heaven. I already believe in God, I believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity etc. so what if he wants to go up to heaven? Sounds like a piece of cake to God.

But that goes to Apostolic Christianity (Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy) being “incarnational” religion. Our imagery belies a basic fact about our human nature-we need some way to wrap our minds around the Mystery. Yes, we are well aware that angels don’t really have wings or that God the Father isn’t an old dude with a flowing white beard, the Holy Spirit isn’t really a dove or even that heaven isn’t really “up” if you get down to it. OK, great. But they are images, icons, symbols etc. into the larger Mystery.

Did Jesus really need to ascend up to heaven? No. But the human mind has connected “up” and heights and such as where the Divinity is at. That sense is a symbol or an icon of the vast Beyondness that heaven is in relation to this world so it was fitting that Jesus would ascend up.

The other path, as you seem to have chosen, is the Bultmannian path which seeks to explain away the miraculous as something “obviously” not real. Whatever, but that’s a big assumption in itself and one that guts Christianity of any real meaning. You take the Divine and the miraculous out of Christianity and all you have is some historical movement that is played out.

#27 Comment By jaybird On October 9, 2015 @ 5:56 am

You take the Divine and the miraculous out of Christianity and all you have is some historical movement that is played out..

That’s fair… I do think it has pretty much run its course, at least in The West. Christianity in the next few centuries will be primarily an African and Asian religion. It remains to be seen whether that’s a good or bad thing.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 9, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

I think it’s pretty plain that the ancients thought you necessarily had to go up to/through the sky first in order to get to Heaven.

Well, any astronomer will tell you that if you wish to leave Earth, any direction you go for that purpose will be “up.”

Of course the gate to heaven could be the door of a stable also. (Admitted, I’ve been re-reading The Last Battle.)

By and large I agree with dominic at this point. Christianity will prove to be far more lasting in the west than either Agnostics or the more fearful Christians imagine, because it would leave a gaping hole in our lives to lose it entirely. While we will not have the sense of immanent miracles in our lives, for the most part, we will have stories that are plausible for a transcendent God to accomplish, that convey a mystery we will never fully comprehend.

#29 Comment By JonF On October 12, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

Re: why do they always float UP?

Freedom from absolute dependence on gravity (or the perception thereof).
The same thing happens in OBE that are not NDEs. Heck, I occasionally have dreams (just dreams– nothing mystical about them) in which I am– not exactly flying– I don’t have wings– but I am buoyant in the air and can soar upwards.
Gravity is the most constraining force we experience*. Is it a surprise that people who experience out-of-body events as freedom from gravity?

* We only occasionally experience electromagnetism in any noteworthy way. The nuclear forces are entirely beyond our perception.