Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gremlins on the Attack

I turned on the news Saturday morning and I heard a story that brought back to memory an old story. It was a frightening story that happened long ago which was both chilling and intriguing. This mornings news story is by no means as intense as the one from by gone days, but nonetheless quite frightening.

As you may have heard a Qantas flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne made an emergency landing in the Philippines on Friday (07/25/2008) after a hole appeared in the fuselage and the cabin lost pressure suddenly. One passenger as quoted by CNN reported, "There was an almighty crack, We dropped a bit in the air." According to the Associated Press the plane was at 29,000 feet when the incident happened and then the plane quickly descended to 10,000 feet. As of yet there is no explanation as to what exactly caused the hole to suddenly rip open at 29,000 feet but one report said that there might have been rust on the fuselage in a previous inspection. If you have not seen the report, here it is:

This brought to mind an old story that the late Charles Berlitz wrote about in his book “Charles Berlitz’s World of Strange Phenomena” on page 209 in the short article “A Massacre in Flight” Mr. Berlitz describes a story with an eerie similarity.

“Something terrifying happened in the air one day in the late summer of 1939-and to this day the incident is shrouded in secrecy.

All that is known is that a military transport plane left the Marine naval Air Force Base in San Diego at 3:30 one afternoon. It and its thirteen man crew were making a routine flight to Honolulu. Three hours later, as the plane was over the Pacific Ocean, a frantic distress signal was sounded. Then the radio signal died.

A little later the plane limped back to base and made an emergency landing. Ground crew members rushed to the craft and when they boarded, they were horrified to see twelve dead men. The only survivor was the copilot, who, though badly injured, had stayed alive long enough to bring the plane back. A few minutes he was dead, too.

All of the bodies had large, gaping wounds. Even weirder, the pilot and copilot had emptied their .45 Colt automatic pistols at something. The empty shells were found lying on the floor of the cockpit. A foul, sulfuric odor pervaded the interior of the craft.

The exterior of the airplane was badly damaged, looking as it had been struck by missiles…The incident was successfully hushed up and did not come to light for fifteen years, when investigator Robert Coe Gardner learned of it from someone who was there. They mystery of what the crew encountered in midair that afternoon in 1939 has never been solved.”

This book is a classic work with an incredible amount of intriguing short stories that deal with the paranormal. If you haven’t read it I encourage you to buy it here:

What is the connection?


No, not the fuzzy creatures you do not feed after midnight or throw water on.

Or the funky often maligned car from the 70’s.

Since World War 1 pilots have claimed to have seen strange creatures tinkering with their aircraft in mid flight. However the existence of such creatures never became widely known until British pilots in World War 2 began to make such experiences public record. The first published report of these creatures appeared in the April 18th 1942 edition 13 of The Royal Air Force Journal. You can read his account at this web site linked below

The knowledge of these creatures was popularized by author Robert Dahl in his children’s book “The Gremlins”. However Dahl’s creatures while annoying and destructive were cute little cartoon characters who were seeking revenge for the destruction of their home forest in order to build an airplane factory.

However, WW2 pilot’s descriptions of real encounters with Gremlins lack Dahl’s cute characterization. Many of them witnessed demonic creatures causing havoc with their airplane equipment. Many swore they saw these creatures maliciously tearing apart wiring or instruments before crashes during combat missions over Germany.

Famed folklorist John W. Hazen gave a personal experience with a Gremlin in the 1972 edition of Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend where he writes that upon inspecting a malfunctioning airplane, he witnessed “a parted cable which bore obvious tooth marks in spite of the fact that the break occurred in a most inaccessible part of the plane." Then he heard an unearthly inhuman voice that seemed to be rebuffing an associate which said , "How many times must you be told to obey orders and not tackle jobs you aren't qualified for? — This is how it should be done." Immdiately Mr. Hazen heard a sound that reminded him of a "musical twang" and before his very eyes another cable snapped apart with the teeth marks clearly visible.

But most of us know of Gremlins by the Twilight Zone story “Nightmare at 20000 feet” where a man sees a Gremlin tearing apart the commercial flight he is on and everyone thinks he is insane.

Ever since this episode hit the airwaves in 1963 there have been very few pilots who have come forth with eye witness activity of these creatures. Mostly for fear of ridicule, but many for fear that they will be grounded for a mental evaluation. But these demonic entities still have a fascination with dismantling aircraft in mid-air to this day.

I helped out in a Christian Bookstore owned by one of the members of my congregation for a few months a couple of years ago. His wife had passed away suddenly and he was overwhelmed. One night we began to talk about the paranormal. As an ex-naval officer during the first Gulf War he told me he had seen things he could not talk about. His quote was “I’ve seen things that come straight out of the X-Files.” while working on a certain Aircraft Carrier in the Gulf. I prodded and prodded but he refused to tell me any details about UFOs or what exactly he meant by the comment in connection with the Government conspiracy theme that ran through that Television program. But he did tell me that he and a few fellow servicemen onboard did have encounters with little creatures of amazing power who have a fascination with airplanes. He had never fully seen them himself, but one time he witnessed a little shadowy creature tear a hole in aircraft like it was made out of aluminum foil to get at inside components. The creature dashed over the nose of the plane and disappeared. A pilot friend of his swore that he saw a small impish creature trying to rip off a flap of a F/A 18 Hornet of his wingman on their way to a sortie over Iraq in the late light of the setting sun. One minute it was there and as he turned to double check what he had just seen the creature had vanished. Within a few minutes the co-pilot had to return to the carrier because his plane was becoming unresponsive.

He also told a me a few years ago that he had a few friends who had investigated the fatal crash of Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002 who noticed some very strange markings on the exterior of the craft. It was as if something with claws had torn open the plane in mid flight. Search as I might I can find nothing to back this claim up. But there are many on the web who see conspiracies of varying orders surrounding the Senator’s plane crash.

So what happened late Thursday night as this plane flew from London to Melbourne?

Shotty workmanship and maintenance on Qantas’ part?

Or something else?

Oh for the good old days when the only thing we had to worry about when we flew was the poor quality of the food being served in-flight.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Night Siege of the Serpentine Ghoul

One of the first paranormal Missionary tales I had ever heard was given in a Missionary meeting in late 1983. It is a tale that was told to the Missionary by a indigenous church leader shortly after the Missionary had witnessed a series of disturbing supernatural occurrences in a remote village. It is a very old tale of a Shaman who had amazing power. According to the indigenous Pastor this story supposedly took place in the middle of the 19th century.
Kafil was a wise and powerful Shaman in the Tanzanian town of Singida; for years he helped his villagers by healing the sick, mediating in disputes and offering help wherever he could. When Missionaries set up camp in his town he at first viewed them with distrust and as outsiders who were rivals and that wished to take away not only his peoples faith in his power but he felt they wanted his people to abandon their culture as well. He hated these Missionaries and often preformed rituals that would drive them away and cleanse the land from their influence. The Missionaries noticed some strange phenomena such as a massive invasion of insects, doors that would open by their own violation in the middle of the night, and a strange illness that afflicted the Missionary children. But no matter how hard he tried and whatever his ceremonies afflicted the strangers with, they just refused to leave. In fact although they were deeply affected by his attacks it seemed that the longer they resisted and rose above the calamities the more people listened to their message and converted.
Kafil decided that he needed some help. In a nearby village of Mgori there was a powerful wizard named Asani. The stories of his power were legendary in the area, it was said that he had made some dark deal with diabolic spirits of the underworld to gain unimaginable power. It was even whispered that he could kill an enemy just by speaking a single word. Kafil had made a choice long ago to avoid Asani and his malevolent ways for he wanted to help people and not destroy or control others like his dark counterpart. But the Missionaries had to be stopped. Not only were people flocking to the Missionaries to hear the story of their God of forgiveness, they were starting to believe and embrace this new religion and Amri was fearful that his power and livelihood would soon fade. Since he had no other training or skills Kafil feared that he would soon have to live the life of a beggar.
So Kafil made the trek to Mgori one afternoon to talk to Asani and to see what they could do to rid their land of the Westerners. Asani sat outside the doorway of his home drawing symbols in the sand, as Kafil approached Asani did not look up and before Kafil could say a word Asani spoke. “Our enemies do not fear common tricks. They will only leave when the power of our spirits are revealed by death and blood.” A bit shaken Kafil asked what exactly the dark sorcerer had in mind. “How it will be done is in my power, I only need you to bring me hair from one of the foreigners, a newborn calf and a cup of your blood.” The evil shaman stood up and finally looked at Kafil with a piercing gaze, “Until you bring me these I cannot help”. And after saying this he turned and walked into his mudbrick house.
Kafil knew these were to be the ingredients for a dark spell of tremendous power, something that he himself vaguely knew about but would never have involved himself with before this time because he knew that in unleashing such devilish power there is always unforeseen and dire consequences. But he was desperate. So he did as his the sorcerer commanded. He acquired a sucking calf that had been born only days before in a nearby village. He secretly paid a servant girl that the Missionaries sometimes hired for domestic help to attain the required hair sample. When he returned to Mgori he let the sorcerer take the last required element, a cup of his blood that was drained from a deep cut in his arm. That evening Asani had Kafil sit and chant in his mudbrick home as the wizard preformed the ceremony in the field behind the house. A few times he stopped his ritual chanting because of the unnatural sounds that he heard coming from the field. They were not just the sounds of a young calf being slaughtered or of the Shaman crying in ecstatic utterances. These sounds were otherworldly and deeply disturbing. Finally after the ritual was over he heard Asani’s voice speak to him with a strange resonance, “It is done. Return home. From this night forth there will be only one power in the region of Singida”. He did not see where the voice had come from, but he needed no further convincing to vacate the premises and ran home to his village wondering what forces the occult mage had unleashed and whether or not it would finally make these Missionaries leave.
The next morning Kafil arose and went to the market to obtain some herbs and vegetables for food and healing compounds. As he made his way to the opposite end of the town where the market stood he came upon a group of distraught individuals. During the evening an animal had made its way into a home on the outskirts of town and had carried away a baby. The trail of blood showed that whatever it was that did the attack had indeed killed the child, but the body could not be located. On the urging of some in the crowd who knew of his reputation as a healer and comforting counselor he went with him to this house to see if he could help in any way. When he arrived the scene was as it was initially described to him. The baby was just a few months old and was sleeping by an open window and although the entire family slept along with her in the same room, no one had heard a sound. Kafil saw the blood trail and noticed that even though the ground was hard because of the lack of rain for many days there still seemed to be a path of some sort that led from the house and headed toward the southeast. The path was a small trench as if something of great weight had writhed to and fro as it carried the child and it ended as the ground turned to rock.
But as he examined the scene and the direction of the path, Kafil began to feel a sinking dread. The path from the house pointed toward the village of Mgori. Saying nothing of this to anyone, Kafil did as much as he could to comfort the distressed family, all the while wondering to himself if he was somehow responsible for this horrible grief. Forgoing his trip to the market he returned home to meditate and pray to his gods for the safety of not only himself but the entire town. He wanted to go to Asani and confront the man to see if this had anything to do with the ritual that was preformed the previous evening, but he decided instead to leave the powerful sorcerer alone and see if the magic to drive the Missionaries away would eventually work.
The next night terror struck again. Another child was attacked and this time although the child was not rescued in time, the family saw what the attacker was. It was a huge snake at least 10 feet long. It slithered away with incredible speed but not before the rescuers saw that it was not an ordinary snake. It was not ordinary just because of its enormous length; the snake seemed to have hair on its head like a man and it had carried away the child in its arms. Kalif was roused in the middle of the night by the town’s people with this fantastic story who implored him to try to drive this devil snake away. He said he would do what he could and asked to be left alone while he contacted the spirit world so he could do mystical battle this abomination.
As soon as the villagers left he made his way through the stygian darkness of night to the home of Asani.
He did not announce himself but boldly walked into the Shamans home demanding what in the world he had unleashed upon his village. He froze in his tracks at what he beheld in Asani's house. There on the floor of the hut lay the half devoured bodies of both children in the middle of a circle of blood and symbols which Kafil knew had been drawn in order to gain power. Asani sat on the outer edge of the circle and smiled as he looked at the horror and disgust on Kalif’s face. The evil shaman spoke with a strange resonance as he told the frightened man once again, “The power of our spirits will be revealed by death and blood.” And throwing a mixture of some sort upon the dead bodies they began to wither and disappear.
Kafil ran from the wizard’s home in the dark of night in confusion and fear. As he entered his home he collapsed on the floor and cried in despair and guilt. He had swore to protect his village and now his selfish arrogance had helped to unleash some unspeakable horror upon the very innocents he had vowed to serve. He was no match in power against the evil Asani. He knew Asani’s goal was to cause as much chaos and horror that the villagers would in their terror and confusion turn on the strangers and blame the Missionaries for this supernatural abomination that had befallen them. And Kafil knew it would work. They would eventually be free of the Missionaries if Asani’s plan was left to continue on its inevitable course. But at what price? He could not live with himself if the death of one more person, especially a child,was in any way partially his fault.
Not knowing what he could do he turned to an unlikely source, but the only other spiritual warriors that he knew of. Late that night Kafil knocked at the door of the Missionary compound. He described to them of his fears of what they were doing to his village and his livelihood and with shame he told them of his wicked collaboration with Asani. He needed their help to stop this demonic wizard from summoning this beast again so no more innocent lives would be lost.
The Missionaries listened in wonder at the story and although they believed in the supernatural they did not believe in the paranormal aspects of the story. But they assured Kafil that they would do everything in their power to help and destroy whatever animal it was that was besieging the town.
The next day before sunset Kafil and two of the missionaries armed with rifles set themselves upon a small hill above the village of Mgori to be in sight of the house of Asani, for Kafil was sure that the evil Shaman had summoned this unholy creature from within the same circle where he saw the dead children’s bodies dissapear. They arranged to have another Missionary and a few volunteers patrol Singida in case this “Mchawi Nyoka” or “Wizard Snake” appeared from another location.
Late in the evening Kafil heard a strange noise from the distance. It did not come from the village of Mgori, but from the far side of the small hill where they were encamped. The sound was a rhythmic scraping as if something was crawling on the rocks below. Kafil and one of the Missionaries stealthfully made their way to the side of the hill to see if they could observe what was making the sound.
In the darkness of night the light of the waxing moon illuminated a shadowy figure of a large abnormal snake like creature quickly moving to the west-toward the town of Singida. They quickly alerted the other Missionary and all three of them speedily closed in on this demonic creature of death.
A few shots from their rifles made the creature turn and prepare to attack. But in the dull moonlight what they beheld froze them in their tracks. For even though they knew that they were about to face an animal of bizarre magnitude they were not ready for what they encountered.
The enormous snake had a distorted and demonic human face with a full mane of thick black hair as well as having thin arms with skeletal hands hanging on its sides. Kafil recognized the face even though it was distorted by the diabolical transformation that had forged this iniquitous creature. The creature had the face of Asani.
After a few seconds of astonishment Kafil let loose with a barrage of bullets as the Missionaries still stood transfixed at the abhorrently hellish creature that presented itself before them. The bullets seemed to have no effect and with a haunting laughter the demonically transformed wizard approached to assail them. As Kafil continued to fire round after round, the Missionaries knelt in prayer to break the evil power of invulnerability the wizard seemed to possess. As the Mchawi Nyoka slithered closer and closer Kafil joined them in prayer and as they commanded the evil to be broken they all shot in unison at the infernal creature.
It screamed and made a prolonged ear splitting shriek, and finally fell to the ground with an audible thud. Cautiously the three made their way in the dark of night to the wounded creature, weapons still ready if the need arose.
As they came to the fallen shadowy figure they found the dead body of Asani, with three bullet holes in his body. He was a completely human corpse, but with a snake skin pelt draped around his waist.
They burnt the body that night under the light of the waxing moon.
The snake wizard no longer plagued the town of Singida, and Kafil eventually became good friends with the Missionaries. He even converted and became a Pastor, performing the same duties he did as a Shaman while still upholding the cultural identity of his people. By trust and grace he accomplished the goals he had desired all along when he saw the strange foreigners come into his land. He deepened the spiritual roots of his people while helping them to avoid becoming ‘Westernized’ and forsaking their traditions. And by reaching out to those who he feared, together they destroyed a great destructive evil.
From this stories age and thus being unverifiable I would at first glance consider this to be a folk tale. But a tale that has a lesson we can learn from even today.
But in speaking with other Missionaries working in animistic regions there are still stories such as these where self serving and manipulative people are able to transform themselves by diabolical ceremonies and sinister arts. From Africa to the Philippines these stories are whispered as a warning to those who believe.
Even now in this 21st Century there are dark forces at work that have power beyond our comprehension.
Until next time,
Pastor Swope

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Not So Holy Spirits of the Church

Warning Christian Dogma Ahead!

The term spirit in paranormal circles is a little different from the term as used in Christian Systematic Theology. The term for spirit or ghost in the original ancient Koine Greek of the New Testament is the word Pnuematos, which literally means wind. It connotates an unseen power or force, and in the Christian Church it usually refers to the Spirit of God otherwise named the Holy Spirit. I like the old fashioned term Holy Ghost, it just sounds more mysterious, although I have never heard anyone speak of the Ghost of God. I think some people would be afraid of the Theological implications of that term.

But I digress. Pnuematos is not just limited as a term for an aspect of the Trinity, it is also used as a term for the unseen aspect of human personality akin to the soul. It also is used as the term for a disembodied entity or force that can harass or possess individuals.

In the Christian Church the Holy Spirit is the loving and empowering persona of God made real to the individual. Depending on the individual church’s doctrinal beliefs the Holy Spirit helps you to live a Christ like life or can empower you with supernatural gifts or the power of miraculous signs and wonders.

Funny thing is though, sometimes there is a spirit that embodies the congregation of a local church, but it is not the Holy One. I’ve been in a lot of different churches of various denominations. I’ve traveled all over the eastern United States in Christian drama groups and in special outreach teams to teach and council lay leaders of various congregations. I’ve had the opportunity to preach to thousands and to only a handful.

Sometimes you run into the oddest things…

I gave a Sunday Morning message to a church in upstate New York that had an odd reputation. The Saturday night before my speaking engagement after a dinner with a few fellow clergy, one local elderly pastor took me aside. He wanted to warn me.

“There is just something about that church.” He said, “Within the last five years they have lost two pastors to affairs with women in the congregation. And there have been three other church lay leaders who have been caught cheating with fellow congregants in the past few years as well.” I remember he grabbed my arm and leaned closer, “Watch yourself there, there is some sort of spirit at work in the congregation that seeks out church leaders and destroys them.”

I smiled at him and assured him that there had to be just some sort of coincidence, he shook his head as if I were a lamb going blindly to the slaughter and walked away. Later as I prepared for the next morning in my hotel room I laughed it off. You meet all kinds of people in the ministry and a lot of them can see a demon behind every bush.

The next morning the service went on fine with no eerie feeling or anything happening out of the ordinary or unusual. No one in the congregation fell asleep during my message, which is always a good sign. I stood at the back of the narthex afterward to shake hands with everyone and they all were glad that I was there and enjoyed the message. In the line there was one young lady in her twenties who was absolutely stunning. She was a beautiful curvy blond who’s looks movies stars would have envied. Her husband was definitely her equal in looks and style. As they approached they introduced themselves and shook my hand and that of the resident minister who stood next to me. As the young lady shook my hand she softly squeezed it repeatedly in a way that was provocative, with her middle finger swirling circles on my palm. As she did so she said with an overtly sultry voice, “I really enjoyed your message, I hope you can visit us again really soon.”

I sort of froze there, really creeped out. Then I gave the honorary smile and said thank you. She kept looking over her shoulder at me the whole time she was in the hall. It would have been unnerving had the elderly minister had not have warned me the night before. But because he did so, it was definitely a bizarre “Twilight Zone” moment. You could feel a presence there, an unholy spirit that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

It did not stop there though. I went to meet with one of the church’s governing board members at his home later that afternoon. As I drove up his 20 something daughter was sunbathing nude in the lawn beside the driveway. At first I thought I was mistaken and that it was a flesh colored bathing suit. But there was no mistake. Now they knew I was coming, so I doubt if it was accidental and that feeling was cemented when the board member had us seated by the window facing the lawn as we began to talk. I made it short and as I pulled out of the driveway I could not help but laugh at the pure insanity of the situation. It was like a bad B movie.

Some churches have unholy spirits abiding in their congregation. A lot of them are sexual it seems. I think it is because there is a lot of sexual suppression in the church, and it gives a gateway for manipulative entities to take control of normal urges and make them abnormal or obsessive. Is it mass possession? Generational? Those two families and the ones involved in the affairs with the church leaders were not related. A territorial entity then? I haven’t the foggiest. But sexual spirits abiding in Christian church congregations as a whole are not rare in my personal experience.

I served for a short while as an Assistant Pastor in a church that was infested with sexual predators and sexual problems. When I first started the person who had the position before me had this odd young man give children’s lessons in the morning worship. Within a few weeks I found out that he was a child molester. He had abused countless children in his extended family, many of whom attended this church. To make matters worse almost everyone at the church knew about this as, did my predecessor, yet they still allowed him to give children’s sermons! I was astounded. I went to the Executive Pastor because at the time the State law mandated that any such incident be reported. So I reported it to him as the law stated. His reply was, “Wow, I am not going to let him be around my daughter anymore.” And that was it! His family was prominent in the church and good tithers. So he pushed it under the rug.

The youth group at this church had many sexually active young teenagers and 13 to 15 year olds having babies. I used a seminary curriculum that I was trained on that step by step formed the foundation for a healthy self image then positive relationships between others and eventually responsible and healthy human sexuality. Everything was fine until I got to the human sexuality part and then suddenly there was a rumor going around the church that I was teaching the teens Sex Ed! We didn’t even get to reproduction yet! Their children were becoming parents right before their eyes and a sexual predator was teaching children’s church, but we could not even hint about morally responsible sexuality to the youth group without it being a major issue.

Finally I had enough and in less than a year I moved on to another church. Guess who they hired to replace me as Youth Group Leader? A young man who’s family was one of the pillars of the church. He had been a girls swim coach and gym teacher at a local High School until he was caught having an affair with a 16 year old student. The girl’s parents kept it quiet and did not press charges. But the whole church knew about it and welcomed him as the new leader of their young people. I never looked back and I have lost touch with the church, so I don’t know what eventually happened with this new Youth Pastor. I would wager the outcome would not be encouraging to rationally minded souls.

But not all unholy spirits that abide communally in a church are sexual ones.

I came to the church in New Castle Pennsylvania seeing it as a challenge. The church had been there for almost a hundred years, and had started as a small group in the early 1900s. From 1940 to the early 1960s the church had seen growth until the congregation was in the hundreds and the church building was always filled to capacity. When I came in the fall of 1993 the average Sunday attendance was 12. They explained that over the years people just didn’t want to go to church anymore. They described in detail how they had in loving care reached out to so many to bring them back. If only the other Pastors who had come before me were real men of God and took the effort, then the church could once again be filled. So I took the challenge. If there is one thing I have learned, if you let people know they are loved and accepted for who they are, then if there is any spiritual curiosity in their hearts they will seek it. If not, just be their friend.

Within a year the congregation grew to about 40 with attendances at Christmas and Easter over 100. That is where I met my friend who was a self proclaimed Satanist that I mentioned previously on this blog. He was the son in law of one of the church members and a former glam rock band member. He rocked pretty hard and taught me a few cords, when he showed up one Sunday I was glad- not because I had a Satanist at church- because I had a friend in the congregation. Gradually we had more people show up, but there seemed to be a problem. Not many came back. Even my glam rock friend. I came to find out that many of the initial 12 would point of the “sins” of these new guests and urge them to get their lives right with the Lord. Be it smoking, drinking, dancing or dating anyone who did…all of it was evil. And it was their duty as God’s anointed to make sure the sinners knew it. The pinnacle of this spirit of judgmentalism raised its ugly head in a board meeting. I’ve told this tale in the comments section before. We had a country and western family band attend the church for a few months. They offered to play in the morning worship. Now, to be honest I really really do not like country music. Well, except for Johnny Cash, he was the Man. But of course I was thrilled that they would offer and so I told the board this exciting news at the next board meeting. But the problem was, the board members attested, that they had played at a Country Bar a few years ago. That would send the wrong message. The church had to stand for something after all. When I told them that it didn’t matter if they had played in a bar the Saturday night before church we should still have them play, the Head Elder who was an old steel worker, jumped across the table with his hands sprayed out as if to try to strangle me. A verbal battle ensued which focused on who was holy enough to sing in church. I asked them how we were supposed to measure that. They gave a litany of things that would bar someone. Only those filled with the Holy Spirit could sing at church they said, someone who has consciously given themselves to God and is living a ‘Holy’ life. So I asked them, what about children? They are too young to make a decision about such deeply religious things, you can not verify that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They thought about that for a moment. Then they made an official church ruling that children were no longer allowed to sing in the worship service. I held a vote, out of the seven of us only myself and an elderly Sunday School teacher voted against this ridiculous decree. That was the day I made up my mind to leave. The church had died because they had judged others and forced their views on guests instead of lovingly opening their arms and accepting those seeking spiritual growth. Even their own family members no longer attended.

Funny how my friend the self proclaimed Satanist was more Christlike than the Christians.

The most dominant unholy spirit in the church is the spirit of judgmentalism.

I could go on to other spiritual deficits that are obviously apparent to any, but you get the drift.

Are these just collective attitudes? I think they are far too destroying and powerfully pervasive to be just a collective blindness to moral equity.

There are spirits that hang over a church like a dark cloud. Sometimes you can feel them just when you enter the door. There is a lurking evil that thrives on destruction that manifests itself in so many negative ways. These communal spirits are just as dark, powerful and malicious as any demonic force that can harass or possess an individual.

And their deeds are more obvious.

I know a lot of you readers who dislike Christianity have been burned by the fire of these evil forces from the Pit of Hell.

I have too.

In these churches people might wear pins or have bumper stickers that say WWJD? What Would Jesus Do?, but in reality it should be WWSD? What Would Satan Do?.

At least then people would be actually doing what the phrase implies.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The UFO Flap Over Bucks County, Pennsylvania

It seems like regional UFO flaps are all over the place recently. While many times when Unidentified Flying Objects make recurring appearances it is over remote or third world areas, recently there they seem to be picking out highly populated cities to visit.

Take the massive amount of sightings over the United Kingdom for example. While many skeptics would as explanation point to the ordinary like wedding balloons or just plain ordinary aircraft, the sightings continue to remain unexplained.

I have always thought that in order to have a UFO flap people just have to be looking to the skies and watching. Like most of the unexplained all you have to do is just take notice of what is happening around you. I remember in the 80s during the Hudson river flap I saw a triangular formation of UFOs fly over the Hudson very close to the Tappan Zee Bridge. I stood there amazed and pointed it out to other students walking by and they just looked at it, shrugged and walked away. I knew what I was seeing was not normal though, since I grew up practically in the runway of an International Airport. They were not planes. They were silent and did not have the lighting pattern of any aircraft that I knew of.

As many of you know we have been having a flap of sorts here on the East Coast of The United States as well.

There have been a lot of reports of UFOs over Bucks County Pennsylvania. The buzz started hitting the national news earlier this month with reports of sightings that happened months ago. The local news has of course jumped on these sightings in order to ridicule them:

If you are a UFO aficionado and the only information you relied upon was the ‘reporting’ of the conventional media you would think that there were only 4 sightings in this latest flap. However upon investigating the MUFON cases you find that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here is a chronology of the reported sightings in Bucks County this year according to the MUFON case management system, you can find the full reports there:

1) January 27th. Don Pablo’s Restaurant 2763 East Lincoln Highway, Lanhorne PA.

A 911 call from an anonymous source reports a craft being sighted hovering over the restaurant that looked like a huge octopus. Falls police officer Jeffery Omler was dispatched to investigate but he saw nothing to corroborate the report.

2) January 27th 11PM . Vermillion Hills Area

A pizza delivery man sights a craft flying over the tree line that had blinking red, green and white lights.

His report in brief:

It was around 11o clock on saturday night. I had just gotten done my delivery job at the local pizza shop. I pulled up on Dunbury Road, in Fairless Hills to pick up a friend of mine. As i pulled up to his house, pointed east, he got into my vehicle and something over the tree line of Vermillion hills woods caught our eye. It was a plane that was flying towards us that made us look, but the funny thing was, after we realized it was a plane flying next to a distant star we no longer had our sites set on the plane, it was the star that appeared to be blinking. Red, white and green lights. To see the rest of report go to MUFON, it includes photo evidence.

3) April 20th Evening. Falls Township

A woman sees an object hovering and moving in the sky after her dog rouses her in the night.

Her report in brief:


4) April 23rd Newtown

People attending a baseball game see an orange fireball falling out of the sky.

5) April 24th Target Parking Lot 2331 Lincoln Highway, Langhorne PA

Egg shaped UFO in a V-form flew over as the witness was out on his deck smoking a cigar. The craft was flying flat & straight. It stopped and did not twist or tilt and came straight down like an elevator. It stopped below the clouds for a second and flew off. The craft was a steady white light which was very bright.

6) Late May between I-95 and Route 332

Police Officer sees a black object shaped like a sideways comma that changed shape and flew without a sound.

7) June 6th. Unidentified location in Bucks County

Anonymous person sees disk fly out of clouds from apartment window.

8) June 20th. Oxford Valley Mall area

Person sees egg shaped object hovering over mall.

9) June 22nd. Unidentified location in Bucks County

Three people see bright star like object slowly move across sky

10) June 25th. Station Ave toward Bristol Pike

Witness observed a bright blue ball with a white tail streak across the sky.

11) June 25th 1AM . Unidentified location in Bucks County

Boomerang shaped object flying close to the ground with blue, white and green lights.

Report in brief:

On June 25th Between 1-130am i was on my front porch when i noticed a strange sound. sounded very similar to a passenger jet but not as low in tone and at a higher pitch. As i heard the sound i took a peak up in the sky and saw a boomerang shaped object fairly low to the ground roughly 1000ft off ground. it had white lights from the points of the boomerang spaced evenly to the middle of the boomerang and had a football shaped body with mirrored lights on both sides of the body with the back light being red the middle white and the last being green. It moved at a fairly slow pace. if you put your arm up at a 45 degree angle and move your arm right to left slowly for 1 second then from fingertip to fingertip it would have been 6 inches the boomerang shaped object moved. More at MUFON.

12) June 25th. Don Pablos sight on Lincoln Highway

Boomerang craft hovering over Restaurant.

13) June 29th. Levittown.

Witness at fair sees Orange light with white tail.

14) June 30th . Unidentified location in Bucks County.

Boomerang shaped vehicle sighted with red and white lights.

15) July 1st 9PM. Oxford Valley Mall.

Boomerang shaped vehicle with red and white lights.

16) July 2nd .Oxford Valley Mall.

Witness sees hovering lights over Mall.

17) July 2nd 9:50PM. I-95 between Bucks County and Philadelphia.

Reddish orange light is seen falling from the sky.

18) July 8th . Unidentified location in Bucks County.

Two orange lights of different size sighted in sky.

19) July 8th 4:10AM. Unidentified location in Bucks County.

Pink light with blue fog and three other bright lights sighted in air.

20) July 10th Unidentified location in Bucks County.

Strange object that emitted ‘fairy dust’ seen multiple times.

This is quite a flap. Various objects but many appear to be the same thing sighted at different times.

The funny thing is when I first started this blog last month before all these sightings became public, a close relative told me “Remind me to tell you about the time I saw the UFO earlier this year.” She lives in Bucks County.

In April (specific date unknown) she was sitting at a window enjoying the panoramic view of the Delaware River close to Trenton when a huge solid blue-green oval shaped object flew down the river at incredible speed. It was around 10:50PM. The night was clear and she had an unobstructed view. She is a rational person and has never seen anything like it before. She wants to remain anonymous but I have urged her to contact MUFON.

So make that 21 sightings.

We have a huge Boomerang shaped object with lights that approximate an aircraft of some type. An unknown aircraft, to be sure . This seems to generally appear over the Oxford Valley Mall. MUFON received an interesting letter claiming that there has been suspicious airplane activity over the Mall for quite some time.

Next we have fast moving orange lights with white tails that look like comets falling from the sky at regular intervals.

Finally large blue or blue-green glowing craft that can hover or burn up the sky with incredible speed.

So what is happening? Is the military using experimental craft? I would bet the boomerang shaped vehicles have human occupants. There are 4 army installations in the area and 4 Navy so it would be a logical assumption these are some type of unknown military craft. But what are they doing?

And what about the other objects? The fast moving illuminated bluish vehicles? Do they have human occupants? Nothing like we have ever seen put forth from any aircraft contractors, that is for sure.

Then there is the reddish orange white tailed objects that are streaking across the sky or making sounds that are interpreted as crashing. To me they sound like projectiles of some sort.


Landing vehicles ala “War of the Worlds”?

Perhaps there is more going on over the skies of Bucks County than we know.

Has the military been prepared for some kind of encounter over Bucks County in the last few years, and is that why the sighting of unusual aircraft activity over the Oxford Valley Mall been so frequent? If so, how did they know?

Has the military rolled out one of its top secret aircraft over Bucks County to interact or intercept these other vehicles from beyond? Given the dense population of the area there would have to be a pressing reason for the use of such covert vehicles out in the open where hundred of thousands could spot them.

If this hypothesis is true, it sounds like an act of desperation on the military’s part.

And it sounds a little scary.

Perhaps we are better off not knowing.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Ghosts of the Asbury Church Graveyard

For a few years in the 1990s I was involved in The United Methodist Church. One of the positions I held during this time was as “Lay Ministry Coordinator” at Asbury UMC in Erie Pennsylvania from fall 1996 till the almost end of 1997. I ran the Education Department and Youth Groups with the goal to train leaders who would eventually take over my various positions and responsibilities.

I had some great times at Asbury UMC, some of them were a bit bizarre and a few were paranormal.

The Pastor that I worked with had a young teenage daughter who loved spooky stories, and I told her some of the strange experiences that I have had over the years while I worked with her and the other kids in the Youth Group. After a few months the other Pastor asked me not to tell these tales to her anymore. He thought they might be having an impact on her.

And it was beginning to frightened him.

For she was beginning to see ghosts in the Church Cemetery which was adjacent to their parsonage.

I could have dismissed this as youthful fantasy if there were not so many other stories to back up her claims.

Asbury Methodist Church is one of the oldest churches in Erie. It began as a small meeting house in 1819 and relocated to its current location next to the graveyard in 1823. Over the years as the church acquired more land, buildings have come and gone. In the 1940s urban expansion and the building of a local airport increased traffic drastically. This meant a widening of the area roads and since the church graveyard sat at the corner of the major intersection, a sizable chunk of the graveyard had to be plowed up and what remains that were found had to be relocated.

Many of the older members of the congregation told me that some of the older graves whose occupants and coffins had long ago dissolved into the earth were plowed flat and paved over for the widening of Asbury Road. The old wooden crosses that once marked their graves had become indiscernible wooden posts and were discarded by the crew working on the road. A few weathered pieces of marble tombstones were tossed aside as well for the road widening project. These aged graves were no longer remembered and their families long gone. And the remains of the former occupants which were too minuscule to see were scattered and pounded into the earth under the asphalt.

The older members always talked about this incident with pity and disdain, but the State was in control of the project. Even though the tradition handed down from generations within the church told that there were graves at those locations, the State said there was no real evidence to support that claim since there were no bodies or coffins to be found. So the project proceeded as planned and the earth was leveled and paved.

Within a few years sightings and strange happenings went on in the cemetery and the old church building.

The Pastor would come to the church Sunday morning only to find all the doors unlocked, even though he had been there the night before and had secured the building before leaving. Visitors in the building late at night would swear they heard bells ringing somewhere, but the source was never found. Candles would seemingly light themselves at the Altar. Hymnals used by the choir were often found in the back of the church instead of the front where the choir had left them. Only later did someone remember that until the end of the 19th century the choir area was actually in the back of the church- in the area to where the hymnals had been inexplicably moved. One lady told me that during a church dinner in the early 1950s she had noticed a strange old lady in Victorian clothing sitting alone at a table drinking tea. She turned to the Pastor to ask who the visitor was and as they both turned to where she had been seated there was no one there. There was however a spoon on the table, but no tea as well as no Victorian garbed lady.

But the most frequent occurrences of the paranormal occurred in the graveyard itself. Passersby traveling on Asbury or West Ridge Road would see mists or glowing lights in the cemetery area in the late night and early morning. Someone had asked one of the parishioners why the church had a burial at 2 o’clock in the morning a few nights before. While he insisted that there was no such service the person was sure he saw a large group of mourners gathered by the roadside late at night carrying a casket through the graveyard. Perplexed they both examined the grounds which proved to show no signs of a new grave or any other recent activity.

In 1965 the old church building was torn down to make way for a new facility that was completed in the 70s. While the new building does have its occasional unexplainable occurrences (strange sounds, lights on and off for no reason) it cannot compare to the activity at the former church edifice. The church parsonage stands next to the graveyard and the top northeast bedroom has a window peering out at the lawn full of century old headstones.

That was the bedroom of my coworker’s daughter. She was seeing things from her bedroom window at night. I asked her what exactly she had been seeing. She swore that she would see different people standing in the graveyard late at night. There was an old man in work cloths of a different era that would just stand in the cemetery staring out over the hillside above the airport runway. He would just disappear and reappear out of nowhere. There was also a lady that she repeatedly saw walking back and forth in the graveyard with flowers in her hand who seemed to be made out of mist. Her translucence would vary every time she was observed. And the young girl told me that a few times in the summer she would be jarred awake in the middle of the night by the laughter of a child coming from the cemetery. Only one time had she seen anything after hearing the laughter, late one evening she beheld a little boy in lederhosen running back and forth between the tombstones. He ran behind one large marble slab and never appeared coming out the other side-he simply vanished.

When I asked some of the elder parishioners about these apparitions that the girl had experienced there were a multitude of responses.

Some gave names to the specters, for they had been around for years having been claimed by various families.

Others dismissed it as tricks of lighting or pranksters fooling around in the graveyard at night.

I stopped telling her my own stories, but she did not stop seeing these nightly other worldly visitors and telling others about them.

I never saw any of these spectral visitors myself, although I did have some strange occurrences in my office. Things would disappear and appear elsewhere. One of my walls was an old sliding partition that only opened from my side. I often found it opened a crack, and I was the only one with a key to my office to access the inside latch of the partition.

Then again I did have a lively group of youth back then. They even wrote my Alma Mater and claimed to be my widow. You see I had died in 1997. Imagine my surprise when I received the condolence cards from fellow College Alumni later that year after my service at the church was complete. It wasn't until around 2003 that I convinced the Nyack College Alumni Association that I was still alive.

Darn kids.

But the most unexplained thing I ever encountered at Asbury UMC had to do with the living . Arriving early one morning to ready the gym for the youth group I opened the gym storage closet only to find a drunken wino passed out on the closet floor. He scared me half to death. All the doors and windows had been locked with the only exception being a small window over the kitchen’s dishwasher one foot high and two foot wide that was six feet off the ground on the inside and well over eight feet off the ground from the outside. He must have really needed a place to sleep it off for the night. But he wasn’t an apparition unless there are ghosts that smell like MD 20/20 and run away real fast when they see a frightened minister. If anyone has encountered any such entity please let me know. But I think the only spirits on the premises that morning were rotting a liver.

Too bad, I’d like to have had tea with that old Victorian lady. Make mine Earl Grey.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Attack of the Monkey God

His name is Hanuman and he is one of the most popular gods in Hinduism. He is one of the key figures in the Hindu epic poem The Ramayana where he leads a monkey army to defeat the evil demon Ravana and rescue a princess. To Hindu worshippers in Thailand the epic is called The Ramakien and since 1902 the story has become a part of the Thai school curriculum. To many Thai the spirit of Hanuman is not myth, he is the living embodiment of Shiva who still wanders the earth looking for those who are pure of faith. He is a schizophrenic god who at one time can be peaceful and kind and the next be mischievous and violently unstable.

My Missionary friends the Parker’s told me that in many rural and pastoral settings there are sometimes manifestations of Hanuman reported by the local villagers. Sometimes he is bringing gifts to the devout. Other times he comes at night and attacks for no reason. They always took these stories as colorful folklore until they met Nittaya, a teenage peasant girl from a village in Prachinburi province. She was brought to them one summer evening with an incredible story, one that was both disturbing and quite unbelievable.

It had all started while Nittaya and her brother Sanun were out in the forest looking for Mangosteen trees in order to harvest some of the rare fruit. Black market traders would pay handsomely for this rare commodity and Sanun had met an elderly gentleman who had told him that long ago this section of forest once had a grove of the trees that no one knew about. But the grove was deep in the jungle. The teenagers’ father had passed away years ago and they did what they could to support their mother and two younger siblings, and the trip while dangerous was too good to pass up. However the journey was a long one through the dense black foliage and soon they found themselves unquestionably lost. As they hacked their way back to where they thought they might have entered they found themselves face to face with a large wild Boar, who charged them. Sanun pushed his sister back and though he knew he would be no match for the charging animal, he drew his home made machete from his side and took a defensive stance. Try as he might Sanun barely gave the Boar a glancing blow and the fierce wild beast tore into his abdomen with its curved tusks. Just as it seemed that all was lost and the Boar heaved its body for another blow, something swung down from the trees.

She described it as a large monkey clothed in common villager’s garments with a small cane in its hand. It landed on the Boars back and proceeded to pummel the beast furiously. As it did so it emitted a scream that seemed to cry out in an unknown language. The jungle canopy seemed to rustle with life as hundreds of monkeys of all shapes and sizes scampered down to the clearing floor and assisted their garbed master in the attack. Confused and panicked the boar squealed loudly and violently ran into the immediate undergrowth trying to knock off its persistent assailants. The horde of monkeys followed after hooting and hollering as they continued the insistent molestation.

The large clothed monkey stayed in the clearing however and examined the gaping wound in Sanun’s abdomen with what looked like purposeful intent. He had a small hat tied around his neck and he fanned the air over the wound warding away the swarming flies that were beginning to take notice of the opened flesh. Nittaya was frozen in shock at what she had just witnessed and she wished to attend to her brother but was afraid the monkey might attack her as well. As if sensing her anxiety the monkey looked up at her and stared her directly in the eyes. It was then that she noticed that this monkey had a face that looked more like a little hairy man. She was sure she saw intelligence in those eyes as they held her own, and she began to tremble as she beheld the strangeness of the creature.

Then amazingly it spoke. In a growling mutter of grumbled syllables that she barely recognized as a broken Siamese dialect the creature mouthed the words, “Save him for a price.”

It was only the love of her brother that kept Nittaya from running away at that moment, she stood statue like and gaped at the simian.

The monkey pointed the small stick at Sanun who was writhing in pain as he bled to death on the jungle floor. It repeated its statement, “Save him for a price.”

Nittaya told the missionaries all she could do was nod her head in agreement as she stared at her dying brother. The monkey seemed to nod in agreement as well and turned to the boy once again. He pulled some leafs and powder from his pocket and applied it to the wound. With a high pitched warble the monkey man began to chant in an unearthly dialect as it rocked back and forth in unison with its vocal tempo.

After a few moments that seemed to drag on forever the creature stopped and backed away from the boy to let Nittaya see that the wound in Sanun’s abdomen had miraculously vanished. The impish being hopped away and seemed to laugh as it pointed to a barely discernable path to their left. “Home,” The creature said and then it quickly jumping into the trees above vanishing from sight in the dense overgrowth of the jungle covering.

With a tired moan Sanun feebly attempted to stand upright on the jungle floor. Quickly Nittaya came to his aid and asked if he was alright. Examining his stomach earnestly he said that he felt fine and asked what had happened. Quickly his sister told him the bizarre story and asked him if he had heard the monkey man talk also. He gave her a queer look and replied that all he remembered was the Boar attacking him and then the pain. Then suddenly there was a wonderful music and he felt strange warmth envelop his body. He neither saw nor had heard any monkeys.

Nittaya was ecstatic, she was sure this was a manifestation of Hanuman who had heard their desperate prayers for help and had appeared to save them. To prove her point she showed him the path that the monkey man had pointed to and sure enough within minutes they found themselves on the small road where they had initially entered the forest. Excited for this miracle she told everyone in her village the incredible story. Sanun’s blood stained shirt was proof of the astounding healing he received from Hanuman.

But within a few weeks strange things began to happen in the sibling’s household.

Nittaya began to have disturbing dreams of the monkey god visiting her in the night as she slept. Kissing her and telling her that she was to be his bride. Soon she would be like him and they would live in the wild as animals. In the dreams as she protested he reminded her of the debt she owed him for saving her brother. This was the cost of the miracle and there was nothing she could do about it. A few of the dreams ended with the god screaming manically as she transformed into a monkey herself, and she awoke in a panic. Sometimes she awoke to find the Plexiglas window to her room had been opened when she knew it was closed beforehand to prevent small animals or large bugs to fly into her room.

One night she awoke to find a necklace made of interwoven vines and flowers lying on her bed.

Slowly over the course of many days Nittaya began to have trouble speaking, until she was only able to communicate with only the most rudimentary of language as if she was regressing to the verbal capability of a small toddler.

Strangest of all the hair on her body began to thicken and spread until her arms, legs, back and neck were covered in a coarse black hair.

It was only after this that Nittaya’s mother and brother brought her to the missionaries to seek help. They were sure that the encounter and dreams that Nittaya had were true and the monkey god was turning her into his mate just as she envisioned. They believed the Missionaries had the power to combat this magic and set their daughter free.

Of course the Parkers were skeptical of this fanciful tale and took her to the clinic on the mission compound to see if the nurse had any answers. But the nurse could find no easy answers for the young girl’s maladies. Perhaps it was a hormonal imbalance or rare disease that was causing these symptoms but in order to be certain she had to take samples and send them off to a lab in Bangkok. The results would be back in about a month.

In the meantime Nittaya’s family begged the Missionaries to let her stay in their compound, for they were sure that the girl would get worse if she would be in her own bed. The Parkers agreed to this in order to calm the mother who seemed overwhelmed with emotion. Nittaya could stay in the guest room of the main Mission house until the test results came back.

During her stay Mrs. Parker would check up on the girl before she would retire to her own bedroom in the evening. On the first night she was terrified when she opened the guest bedroom door to see a monkey on the bed bending over the young girls face. Of course she screamed and the monkey stood up and gave off a guttural hiss.

That was when she noticed the monkey was clothed and held a small stick in its hand like a staff. With a mix of fear and rage Mrs. Parker picked up a pitcher of water that stood by the doorway and threw it at the creature on the bed. In a quick jump it dodged the projectile and landed on the windowsill of the open window. It made a last squeal that almost sounded like a crude language of sorts and then it disappeared in the night.

Nittaya had remained asleep and unaware of these bizarre events, and as quickly as she could Mrs. Parker closed the window that she was sure had been latched before the girl was put to bed. She roused her husband and they furiously prayed over the girl that night repelling any spiritual force that might be at work and exorcizing any demonic force that was meddling in the girl’s affairs. There were no supernatural events during the course of the prayer; in fact they reported that the young teen had drifted naively in and out of sleep through the whole deliverance session. No strange voices echoed from her mouth as one possessed might and no paranormal activity appeared in the room as they battled in prayer.

But whatever they did seemed to work Mr. Parker reported modestly. There was never again an unwanted visitor to the girl’s bedroom. Within a matter of weeks her speech improved so that she was talking normally by the time it came for her to go home. She no longer had nightmares and the hair stopped its abnormal growth over her body. The family was grateful to the Missionaries and had a conversion of faith because of what they believe is a miraculous deliverance from a evil spirit. Nittaya’s mother reported that within a few months almost all of the hair that had grown on the girls body was gone.

What happened to that young Thai girl during those weeks? Was it the spirit of Hanuman that saved Sanun only to demand the life of the girl as payment for his actions? Were her dreams coming true, was she turning into a monkey like Hanuman as her family believed?

The blood work was normal, although she was a bit malnourished. There was no apparent cause for her symptoms.

Was it all a psychosomatic delusion on Nittaya’s part, and was the blood on her brother’s shirt the blood of a Boar? Was the appearance of the monkey at her bed a coincidence?

Mrs. Parker was sure of what she saw, the monkey was clothed.

Every once in a while the Parkers hear more stories about the appearance of the “monkey man” in various parts of the country and all the stories are in the context of a supernatural apparition.

While the Western world might scoff at these fantastic stories, in many parts of the Earth the spiritual world is just as real as the physical. And it can often manifest itself in the most astounding ways.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Curse of the Beijing Olympics

If you have watched any news programs or read the newspapers lately you have heard about the claim that there is a curse on the ’08 Beijing Olympics. Recently there has been Internet buzz and claims within the Chinese citizenry itself all relating to the Fuwa’s which literally mean “Dolls of blessing” and the many calamities that have befallen the country within the past few months. Despite the stalwart efforts of the Communist government mind police and their “Great Firewall of China” to delete any online references to the "Curse of the Fuwas", the rumors about the cursed mascots have unrelentingly spread across China by text messages. The problems as you may have read all coincide with the Fuwas and what they represent. Each Fuwa is a mascot for one category of Olymic sport and is a visual icon to the many cultures within China’s empire. They each also have an association with an aspect of nature.

First the Fuwa “YingYing” who represents the Earth is a male and is the mascot for the track and field sports. He is a mixture of the Tibetan antelope and Xinjuang ethnic costumes. This doll of blessing has been connected to the continued uprising by the Tibetan populace against the stifling Communist rule within the last year.

The second Fuwa “HuanHuan” represents fire and is also male. It is the mascot for the ball sports. His costume is derived from the the Olympic Flame with a stylistic flare from the Mogao Grottoes. Of course the Fuwa is linked to the constant problems and protests that followed the Olympic flame as it crossed the globe on its way to Beijing.

Next we have the Fuwa “NiNi”, a female who represents Air. Nini is the mascot for gymnastics whose costume is derived from the Swallow and Beijing’s shayan kites. The Swallow is a traditional messenger of spring and happiness in Chinese culture. She has been tied to the horrible train accident in the spring month of April in the city of Weifang whose close connection to the shayan kites has made the city nicknamed the “Kite City”.

Fourth is the Fuwa “JingJing”, a male who represents wood. Jinjing is the mascot for a variety of sports including weightlifting and Judo. He is in the guise of a panda with a lotus around his head to represent the Song Dynasty’s famous lotus porcelain. When severe earthquakes hit Sichuan province in May of 2008 the connection to JinJing was made. Sichuan is the native home of the endangered panda and in Wolong the panda “MoaMoa” was killed as the walls of her enclosure collapsed during the quake.

The fifth and final Fuwa is “BeiBei”, a female who represents water. She is the mascot for aquatic sports and a mixture of a Neolithic fish design mixed with the lotus which is traditional Chinese New Year décor. She has been connected to the worst floods in 50 years that forced the evacuation of almost 2 million people in the provinces of southern China in June of 2008.

With the connection of BeiBei to the severe flooding last month, many have said the curse of the Fuwas has been completed. But now comes a new plague of almost Biblical proportions that plague the Olympic games next month. Within a few weeks the city of Qingdao is suppose to host the Olympic sailing regatta and it has been assaulted with a massive red tide algae bloom off the shores of the Yellow Sea that posses a threat to the sailing competition. The city of Qingdao has employed the help of over 20,000 people and 1,000 boats to try and clean up the mess. BeiBei headgear with patterns from artifacts found at the Neolithic city of Banpo of the Yangshao culture, a culture that existed extensively along the Yellow River.

Perhaps the plague of the Fuwa curse is yet to be resolved. Perhaps the Fuwa Beibei and her connection to the water might have struck again? Striking to me is this blue water motif of this Fuwa with its green lotus accent that seems to float in her wavy hair. Consider that with the picture of the algae bloom in Qingdao.

And now as of this writing on July 5th 2008 there comes news of a plague of locusts invading the northern province of Inner Mongolia. The Xinhua News agency reports that they have come within 267 miles of Beijing and have so far infected an area of 5,000 square miles. The province has mobilized 33000 people to help combat this latest curse. With a cooler than normal summer so far the locust eggs that are closest to Beijing will now hatch in late July or early August. Just in time for the Olympic Games to begin.

Is there a connection to a Fuwa? Perhaps YingYing the yellow Fuwa that represents the Earth is the origin of this plague? The locusts destroy the fruit of the earth. Or is it the fact that the Wuhai Municipal Industry and Commerce Bureau located in the city of Wuhai Inner Mongolia Province, raided local businesses and found garments beings produced and sold on the black market that infringed the copyrighted Fuwa and Olymic logos.

I may be wrong but I feel the “Curse of the Fuwa” is going to continue to plague the Beijing Olympics. With the connection of these “Dolls of Blessing” to wood, air, water, fire, and earth along with their being mascots to various games and representatives of various aspects and provinces of China there are undoubtedly going to be more “coincidences” to occur.

But are these incidences mere coincidences or is something else going on?

Actually I think there is a spiritual dynamic going on. On many levels.

The Chinese government has long repressed and persecuted religious and spiritual movements, long before the recent uprisings in Tibet. The main reason for this is the Marxist maxim that “religion is the opiate of the people”. I have personally known many former missionaries to China before the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao Zedong who has recounted the horrors inflicted upon the churches of China in the 1950’s. Pastors were dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night and executed. Whole families were sent to prison. Torture and coercion were implemented to devastate and demoralize the Christian Church in China as a whole, with no division between denomination and sect. But instead of crushing the church this persecution only led to a spiritual revitalization of the underground church and the faith of many grew as they faced harsh repression. Prayers of the faithful are continually offered up to shatter the suppression of religious beliefs in China.

The same is true of Tibetan Buddhism. After the Dalai Lama and 100,000 fled Tibet in 1959 from the Chinese persecution, the dispersion has led to not only a revival in the religion but the Dalai Lama has become an international ambassador of peace and love to the world. And an almost comical attempt at religious control the Chinese Government announced in August of last year that any living Buddah must obtain Chinese permission before they reincarnate. The nonsensical audacity is beyond hilarity and borders insanity.

Things happen when people of faith are oppressed.

You can look at it as negative energy causing a backlash that affects the Earth itself.

You can perceive it as the build up of spiritual power unleashing itself as the Communist Government of China denies the very existence of the citizenries’ spiritual nature.

You can call it God unleashing nature’s wrath to prove His existence to a humanistic totalitarian regime.

No matter what religion or faith when people who believe pray to God while being persecuted, God does answer. Sometimes He answers with wrath upon the oppressors, sometimes in plagues of Biblical proportions.

Now I do not mean to sound like Sharon Stone. There have been innocents hurt by these incidents, and I will bet my bottom dollar that many of them are of the same faiths that have been oppressed. Is that the Will of a God of love? No. But neither were the plagues of Ancient Egypt. Theologically there is a difference between God’s perfect Will and the natural dynamics that He lets happen because of the will and actions of men who rebel against nature. I believe it would be the perfect Will of a loving God to have the people of China freely embrace any faith they wish. I cannot help but think there is a connection to the oppressive Chinese Government’s dreams of global legitimization with the ’08 Olympics and the resulting frustration of those dreams by recurring events.

So what is going on?

Consider these quotes from various world religions:

Nagarjuna the Buddhist Monk, Philosopher and Founder of the Madhyamika school, who lived 150-250 CE. Once said:

Neither from itself nor from another,
Nor from both,
Nor without a cause,
Does anything whatever, anywhere arise.

Confucius once said:

"To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right."

Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible is quoted:

The triumph of the wicked is short…though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, and his head reaches the clouds…the heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him.
Job 20:5a,6,27

The Koran’s Book of Jonah 10:101:

Say: Consider what is it that is in the heavens and the earth; and signs and warnings do not avail a people who would not believe.

Flower Newhouse once said:

God consciousness is the need and goal of our existence.

Is there a supernatural connection to what is happening in China?

I tend to think there is.

And I would venture to gamble that it is not yet over. The Fuwas blend many aspects of nature along with cultural significant icons of Chinese society. They are also mascots for various Olympic sports. I am rashly going to say this imbalance of spirit resulting in the curse will manifest itself in many ways until the end of the Olympics. Fires? Toxic air? Strange occurrences within the games themselves?

I have read a statement lately that wonders why we have no UFO reports from China with the current flap that we are experiencing. I would bet that there are sightings but they are never reported due to fear of government reprisals. I know from letters of those of faith that are smuggled from within China that miracles still happen, even though never reported. Though the strong arm of China would strive to quench it, faith abides in various forms.

Just as the ancient plagues of Egypt were a sign to oppressive government that they should “let my people go” I would modestly speculate that these plagues are a sign to the repressive government of China to stop its persecution of faith and let its people embrace their spirit.

Will the Chinese government hearken to the call that the Earth cries out?

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

Update: Don from 2008 china Olympics has asked us to link to his site.

Please visit it to see updates on what is happening in the games: