Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World Looks at Ghosts

I enjoy this show. Jimmy has a level head, but also a geek’s natural interest in fringy stuff, all while being a Catholic who looks at the world in light of the Church’s teaching (not just the stuff the Church say we must believe, which is not all that much, nor yet the stuff the Church forbids us to believe, which is even less, but the stuff the Church says you can believe and explore and think about all you like, just so long as you don’t try to ram it down anybody else’s throat).

Ghosts are one such item in the Church’s inventory of things the Church neither commands us to buy nor forbids us to believe in. It is one of the marks that Faith is a different thing from an ideology. Ideology tends to take one thing and expand it to being the All-Explaining Theory of Everything. Everything is evolution, or electricity, or economics to the Ideologue.

That Faith is more circumspect. It says, “It’s a big Mysterious World and there’s a lot we don’t know or understand. So let the experts and explorers poke around and find out what, if anything, God may be up to in creating the world. Find out if there are ghosts, or cryptids called “gorillas” in Africa, or whether we evolved, or if conjoined twins or dragons or pigmies or dog-headed men or ET or dinosaurs or relativity is real. There’s nothing to fear in them if they are, since the Lord God made them all. Meanwhile, while we don’t know much about all that and leave it to those with competence to work it out, here’s what we do know: [Insert Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed here]. I appreciate the intellectual modesty of that approach.

As to ghosts, although the Faith is silent on the matter, I tend to have great respect for traditions testified to by universal human experience across all cultures and ages, so think something rather than nothing is happening there. I know people who have experience “encounters” with ghosts. I have never “seen a ghost” but I have most certainly experience the presence of dead loved ones. I believe the Church’s one prohibition in this regard: namely, do not attempt necromancy, which is to say, do not attempt to access the dead by making an end run around Jesus who is the Lord of the dead and the living. Because I also believe that not all spirits are human spirits and not all of them are good. I believe in the demonic and have experienced it too. So I listen to God who knows better than I do what is and is not safe. But since I also believe that God in his wisdom, knows when the living may be vouchsafed an encounter with the dead, I therefore have no trouble buying it when people have such encounters. I do think prudence is required since “Satan appears as an angel of light” and can deceive the innocent and unwary. But I think the obvious good fruit and healing that often issues from encounters with the blessed dead is such that we can often chalk such experience up to the truth of the communion of saints.

At any rate, here’s Jimmy:


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