Tonight at 8PM EST join me as I am a guest on the Eerie Voices radio show. Host Chad Cornell and I will discuss various paranormal topics and unexplained mysteries. And if you miss it you can always check out the podcast!
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Viral marketing is best when its not noticeable as viral marketing. That is what happened with the latest twitter trend, the #CharlieCharlieChallenge. It seems it was all a viral marketing plot to raise awareness of a new movie The Gallowsfrom Warner Brothers.
Many doubt that it is just a viral marketing campaign, and it is, in essence not just a viral marketing campaign. Anything that asks youth to summon a demon is not a great thing. Even if you do not believe in demons. Many people can be manipulated into believing supernatural forces are at work to ruin their lives, and it could be that Charlie Charlie is going to have an impact on the mental well being and emotional stability of a small but impressionable portion of the population.
Of course, tradition and experience tells me that if you open yourself up to demonic influence it can have a catastrophic influence on others. Real spirits can enter in and take that challenge even if it was not intended for them. Because you have announced that you want to play. And boy, they want to play as well. But you are the toy.
However, real possession or oppression is very rare, and the majority of those playing the #charliechalriechallenge will never have a problem and chalk the experience up as a weird trend they participated in, like the ice bucket challenge of last year. But because it never has affect you in a negative way, does not mean it could not affect someone else. It can be a trigger for an emotional incident, or it could be the opening of a dark portal for someone's sanity. We tend to forget we are not all the same and something that seems silly to some can be devastating to others.
I just hope this is the beginning of the end for the #charliecharliechallenge
In the past few weeks there have been 2 disturbing stories about people who were declared dead rising from the grave...so to speak. First there was the report that 2 Ebola patients from Africa rose from the grave, this first came to public awareness in this allAfrica news article:
Then just this week we hear another story from greece where a woman was buried only for people at the funeral to hear the woman screaming inside the burial vault, and there was an attempt to rescue her, but she had died of asphyxiation before they could get her out of the ground.
So what is going on here? Is a zombie apocalypse drawing nigh?
Throughout history physicians have made mistakes and patients have been prematurely pronounced dead. You still hear about it once in a while in modern times, when someone 'awakes' in the morgue. But it became so rampant and such a fear that in the 17th and 18th centuries many people were buried with what was essentially a premature burial alarm system.
If the person buried would regain consciousness, they would pull the cable and the bell would ring.
Can you imagine walking in a cemetery only to hear those bells ring? But according to various accounts, some were actually rescued by this system.
Today with our modern technology, a misdiagnosis of death is quite rare, but it still happens. Usually the patient's recovery is a short lived one. They awake in the morgue or embalmers table and are rushed to the Emergency Room at a local hospital, only to die soon after. The illness was mortal, but the doctors a bit premature.
So Zombie Apocalypse? Naw. But then again you never know!
summer of 1986, the time between my sophomore and junior year at Nyack College,
I went on a summer long missionary assignment to West Africa.
an exciting time; we travelled through the jungle and bush land to get to the
missionary compound in Burkina Faso. The culture was in the throes of change,
pro Khadafy militants had just seized the capital the year before and the
country was full of militants with guns. Even the children had guns! I remember
well our driver giving a ride to a girl of 8 or 9 who wielded an AK-47 very
nonchalantly as it bounced up and down with the barrel pointed toward my head
as we made our way down the pot hole littered dirt road in the wilderness. Yes,
these were exciting times indeed!
however chilling the civil turmoil was at the time, the real off putting situations
in which I found myself in that summer were in the realm of the supernatural.
I've talked about some of them before, most notably the encounter with a cryptid
worshiped as a god of fertility by locals around Banfora. But most of my time
in Burkina Faso was on the road, going from remote town to remote town to
preach, sing and show a movie on the life of Christ. We would pull into a small
remote town on the savanna which was home to a mere handful of mud brick
buildings in the afternoon and by evening the entire area was filled with
thousands of people. They had come from miles around just to see a movie and
hear songs songs and a message. In the evening, after the show, we often had a
wide array of hosts who gave us a place to sleep overnight. Some were
indigenous church leaders, fellow missionaries and relief workers.
one evening after a large gathering in a remote village that I had a very odd
and disturbing encounter at a relief worker’s home.
relief worker welcomed us into his small home. He was in the deep savannah to
help with agricultural and modern infrastructures for the many small villages
in the area. In this remote location, the well water was infested with
parasites. The outhouses were crawling with flying cockroaches that were a half
foot long. And the house itself was small, there was only one bedroom. So with
a group of our size, one person had to sleep outside and I volunteered. There
were rumors of bands of robbers that traversed the scant forested areas that
appeared hodge podge over the countryside. While they rarely came close to
these remote villages, I was told to take my bush knife with me as I made my
bed atop our aged and battered Land Rover.
village was located on the edge of one of the sparse wooded areas, where most
of the trees were cultivated bananas of various height. The dirt road where the
aid worker resided contained six to eight mud brick buildings and a few
concrete block houses. The wide road was one of two in the village and it was
on the main north-south highway that connected the larger towns to the south
with the capital to the north. The only electricity in the area came from our
generators which lay within the Rover that I slept upon, so the street was
darkness that you encountered at night in Africa is different than the darkness
which you encounter during nights in most American cities. Often in America the
light pollution dulls the brilliance of the night sky; but in Africa with there
not being a light for almost a hundred miles, the skies are alive.
lying back enjoying the view of the cosmos before me when I heard something
move at the end of the street. Lying flat, I tilted my head in the direction of
the noise and in the pitch black I saw movement. It was something BIG. A large
black shape meandered through the street, heading slowly in my direction. I froze
in fear as I realized this massive shape moved on four legs, with a pronounced
pelvic swing as it moved. If I was in North America, I would have sworn that it
was a bear that was moving through that deserted evening street in darkest
Africa. But it was Africa, and there were no such native creatures as this for
hundreds of miles. Lions once roamed the savanna territory, but the last one to
be seen in the area was over a hundred years before this. Whatever it was, it
made its way to the parked Rover and began to circle the vehicle. I barely
heard a thing, but I saw the shadow pace around the vehicle for a tense minute
or two. I had slowly pulled my bush blade out of its sheath, expecting whatever
animal it was to suddenly jump in attack. But it never did. Whatever it was
finally walked away and I heard the occasional ruffle slowly recede behind me.
it I encountered that hot summer in Africa decades ago?
Was it a
straying lion, roaming back into ancestral territory? Physically, that could be
the only explanation. However, there were old missionary stories of shaman who
could shape shift and prowl the savanna at night. Many had claimed to see a
shaman transform into a giant snake or jungle cat. Or could it have been a
territorial spirit, taking a shape to inspire fear? I had heard many stories as
such while in the area as well. Or maybe it was the specter of a long lost pride
of lions who had roamed the area for millennia until climate change had turned
their lush jungle into a dry desert borderland.
never know, but I am glad it went away. I had never prayed so hard in my life.
is a Writer and has been a Christian Minister for more than 20 years in both Mainline and Evangelical Denominations. He holds a B.A. in Biblical Literature from Nyack College and an M.Div. In Pastoral Ministry with an emphasis on Pastoral Counseling from Alliance Theological Seminary. He has served as a Missionary to Burkina Faso, and has Ministered to the homeless in New York City's Hell's Kitchen. He is currently the Pastor of St.Paul's United Church of Christ in Erie, Pennsylvania.
He is also a freelance journalist for Examiner.com, has a column in the Tri-State Senior News and has also written for Fate Magazine.
As a Seminary trained exorcist he has done consulting work with various paranormal investigators and television productions in the United States as well as investigators and writers across the globe