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How to see a ghost or how to play with fire?

30 May
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A comment to Rod Dreher regarding his post “How to see a ghost”:

Rod,

…[You said:]

“I should make it perfectly clear that I don’t subscribe to the pagan, animistic metaphysic Ross describes, but that it’s interesting to me to observe how much this overall outlook tracks with Orthodox Christianity and its belief in panentheism, which teaches that God is immanent in all creation. I have had trouble articulating to my Western Christian friends why Orthodoxy is so different from their way of experiencing life in Christ, but believe it or not, this focus on intuition is so consonant with what I’ve experienced.”

First of all, I appreciate what you say here.  There is a lot to it I think, and it is worthy of very serious reflection by more Western (evidently post-Dante!) Christians.

That said, I am a bit concerned with other aspects of your post here.  It seems that you could just as easily have titled “How to play with fire”.  Now I do not deny that there might really be ghosts (I always think about how the disciples thought Jesus was one walking on the water)- and again, I understand the wider point about our capacity for receptivity of the spiritual you are making – but I am also concerned about promoting an interest in these things that is more or less uncritical.

Do you remember how C.S. Lewis talked about the two opposite errors regarding demons: 1) don’t take them seriously ; and 2) unhealthy interest in them.

Now – is there a connection between ghosts and demons?  At the very least, I think this is likely true in many cases.  The Scriptures do say that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light – why not friendly and familiar spirits?  I do think that he is happy whenever he can pull us away from a focus on Christ as the center and meaning and hope in all things.

I’ve been listening to a series of interviews by the author of a book called “I am not afraid”.  The author is a traditional Lutheran pastor who has studied the crazy growth of the Lutheran church – traditionally liturgical! – in Madagascar (5 million serious Lutherans there).  He speaks of how the people there often feel that they are in bondage to the spirits of their ancestors, and must work to appease them and get their help.  When the Gospel comes about Christ’s deliverance from sin, death and the devil, many come to see their “ancestors” as imposter demons who simply kept them in spiritual (as well as economical) bondage.

Worth considering.  Here is a link to those interviews: http://issuesetc.org/guest/robert-bennett/

Blessings to you Rod.

+Nathan

UPDATE: I don’t think most Orthodox theologians would characterize E.O. belief as panentheism

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