Monday, March 28, 2011

Link: Is the Paranormal Industry self perpetuating?

Pastor Baz from the Unity in Paranormal Community has another spot on article I would like to share.
As a spiritual person, no matter what your faith or creed, if you are SINCERE and truly looking to help others, you need to be sure you have a clear calling to help others to be rescued from dark entities.
If you are looking for fame or glory in the paranormal world, the area of demonology should be avoided. As a minister it has not brought parishioners running to my doorstep. And more times than not your collegues who have not been trained in this type of ministry think you are a loon.
Yet there are many who boast to be a demonologist or exorcist without proper training in pastoral counseling let alone psychology who attempt to claim fame in the paranormal community. If you deal with real people with real issues you need real training. Waving a cross, sprinkling Holy water and reciting a few prayers will do no good if you have no inner resources from which to draw upon if things go bad. You need to be called out from the crowd to minister to the oppressed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is a Demon?

Demonology is a hot topic in Fortean circles currently. With the advent of paranormal investigation becoming pop culture and the flurry of 'deomonologists' associated with them making a mark in paranormal media, the focus on demons would seem inevitable and logical. There is also the disturbing research of author Nick Redfern in his wonderful work 'Final Events'; which focuses on a possible Government cover up of demonic UFO activity for decades. In almost all areas of unexplained phenomena, investigators are linking Fortean topics to diabolic ethereal forces.

But what is a demon?

There are various theories by various experts with varied world views.

That tends to make it very confusing.

I'd like to make an attempt to look at the topic historically, theologically and practically in a series of posts here on my blog.

First, I think we need to look at the etymology of the word 'Demon' to give us a historical perspective on the meaning of the word. It is like many things an evolution and convolution of ideas philosophical and theological.

First, let look at the Hellenistic Etymology of the word.

The original meaning of δαίμων 'daimon' or demon in antiquity was far different than the meaning as we understand it today. Its overall meaning, according to its first use in the Homeric Epics is “a power that accompanies men and dispenses destiny”. Homer sees it as an impersonal power or one of a divinity that distributes incidents in the individuals’ life.

The term then becomes personified as Hesiod includes demons in his classification of rational beings, in which he categorizes them as men who have passed on into an immortal afterlife.
Plato later expands the meaning in multiple ways: by calling demons as the offspring of gods and other beings who become interpreters between man and the gods(Epinomis 984E); by classifying them as spirits akin to guardian angels that watch over cities and individuals(Phaedo 107D; Republic 617D; Statesman 271D, 272E); and finally as the highest and divine element in man(Timaeus 90A).

Plato’s student Xenocrates and others expanded these concepts even further by suggesting that there were three classes of demons: those that were eternally disembodied spirits, the disembodied souls of the dead and the soul or sentient force that abides in man. Within this framework the demon was also given human emotions and motivations as well as the moral distinction that some of these beings were good, while others were evil.

By the 4th century the word became associated with primarily evil or unlucky events, and the demon became a kind of scapegoat for the gods. Demons became the source of trouble and woe to the human race and eventually they were regarded as evil entities, even though the idea of both good and evil demons still remained in the philosophical debate.

Plutarch and Apuleius further developed demonology by determining that the individual was constantly surrounded by these unseen forces and they affected them on a daily basis. They developed the demonology of the early Christian Era, and Plutach postulated that the gods of the polytheists were in fact demonic spirits (Moralia 361C; 415A-419A). Judiasm in the Pre-Christian era had already adopted this philosophy that demons were evil intermediate beings, and the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian Church also attests that pagan gods are in fact demonic entities (1 Corinthians 10:10)

The belief in demon possession became widespread, leading to exorcism by pagans(Lucian, Lover of Lies 16; Philostratus, Life of Appollonius IV.20), Jews(Josephus, Antiquities VIII.ii.5[46-49], and Christians(Acts of Peter II; Justin, Apology II,5).

In the evolution of the concept of demons and demonology, it is interesting to see how analogous the original and primary concept of the term is with our modern notion of ‘spirit’. Being an ethereal but manifest force is of course the primary characteristic of demons as we view them today. However it is very interesting to see that the ancients talked about an animating force that was both outside of them as divine and internally as a guiding presence. According to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Empedocles believed that “daimon was a separate spiritual being, not the psyche which accompanied a man from birth” (Brown, 1979, Vol.1 p.450). This discussion itself shows that some may have thought that demons were also internal beings that also dwelt within men, perhaps producing unexplained feelings or emotions. This if true could be the basis for the concept of demon possession.

It is also fascinating to see that Plato’s students classified some demons as the disembodied spirits of the dead. Many Christians believe that ‘ghosts’ if real are demonic entities, and this would support that theory. However demon in our historical cultural context does denote evil primarily, and as we have seen ancient Greco-Roman culture did not adhere to that view exclusively. Therefore the theory cannot be substantiated by this historical anecdote. In our present philosophical understanding the 3 categories of demons proposed by Xenocrates and others can be distinguished as different and distinct phenomena. The soul “in” us is a different thing than a permanently disincarnate being; while they are both spiritual and ethereal in nature, it would seem theologically that they are distinct in substance. Also while Scripture does not specifically define what exactly a demon and a ‘ghost’ are in substance, it would seem by reference that they are also distinct from one another.Otherwise while during the storm on Galilee when the disciples though that Jesus was a ghost (Matt 14:22-32; Mark 6:45-52), would they not have tried to expel it from the area? After all they were trained and anointed to exorcise demons as they ministered in the area in the previous chapters (Matt 10; Mark 6:7-13). Thus this incident would imply that demons and ghosts are two distinct phenomena.

So we see that the term 'demon' has undergone quite an evolution in concept over its course in history. However, since the Christian Era in Western civilization the meaning has changed little. It is rather the theory of their origin and order that has changed greatly over the past 2,000 years as church Theologians and Rabbinical Kabbalists have tried to unravel the mystery of these ethereal entities. That topic will have to be addressed in a future part of our discussion.

For another interesting look at the demonic and the supernatural in Fortean studies I advise you to read: The source of the supernatural - A question that is not easy to answer By Rev. Barry Porter

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The UFO-Bigfoot Connection

This October 22-23rd, the PA MUFON and the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Soiety join efforts and hold a convention near Pittsburgh. I interview Stan Gordon on the real life connection that sometimes arises with both phenomena His new book "Silent Invasion" highlights the Bigfoot-UFO connection in a series of bizzare incidents in Western Pennsylvania.

The article is on my Examiner page:
Remember to pray for Japan!
Pastor Swope

Pray for Japan

Just a note for all to please pray for Japan in these dire hours.

No matter what your religious affiliation, faith or belief system we all need to reach out to God (or higher power of your choice) and ask for intervention in this time of nuclear crisis.

I truly believe if we do make a concentrated effort to pray, God will answer.

I have seen it countless times before. From children being healed of deadly diseases, to miraculous interventions of for safety, health and distress; God does still work miracles.

All we have to do is take a moment or two out of every day for the next week and pray for Japan.

Together we can see a miracle happen.

It's up to you.

Please join me this next 7 days in praying daily for Japan.



Sunday, March 6, 2011

Of Weeping Statues, Past and Present

In late January of this year a 'visionary' visited the "Our Lady Queen of Reading" in Reading, Ohio. Not soon after the miraculous began to happen. In the back of the shop, a statue of the Virgin Mary began to weep. Then a statue of Jesus on a stairway also began to produce miraculous tears. Here is a local report of the phenomena as reported by WCPO channel 9:

Such accounts of weeping religious statues are not limited to Roman Catholicism; throughout history there has been accounts of weeping statues in various religions from ancient Greco-Roman paganism to modern Hinduism.

Dio Cassius in his 'Roman History' talks of not only a statue of Minerva weeping blood and milk, but also of a statue of Vibius moving on its own accord:

"While all this was going on, portents of no small moment again occurred, significant both for the city and for the consul himself, who was Vibius. Thus, in the last assembly before he set out for the war a man with the disease called the sacred disease fell down while Vibius was speaking. Also a bronze statue of him which stood in the vestibule of his house turned around of itself on the day and at the hour that he set out on the campaign, and the sacrifices customary before war could not be interpreted by the seers by reason of the quantity of blood. Likewise a man who was just then bringing him a palm slipped in the blood which had been shed, fell, and defiled the palm. These were the portents in his case. Now if they had befallen him when a private citizen, they would have pertained to him alone, but since he was consul, they had a bearing on all alike. So, too, these portents: the statue of the Mother of the Gods on the Palatine, which had formerly faced the east, turned around of itself toward the west;that of Minerva worshipped near Mutina, where the heaviest fighting occurred, sent forth a quantity of blood and afterwards of milk also; furthermore, the consuls took their departure just before the Feriae Latinae, and there is no instance where this has happened and the Romans have fared well" ( Roman History: Book 46 Chapter 33 Pararaphs 1-4, Leob Classical Library, Translation by Earnest Cary)

According to Lucan, the statues of the gods were weeping and sweating as Ceasar advanced on Rome:
"We have heard how the native dieties wept, and how with sweat the Lares attested the woes of the City" (Pharsalia Book 1 Vesrses 556-557, Translation by H.T. Riley)

And a statue of Apollo wept for four days according to Julius Obsequens in his "Book of Prodigies" (Chapter 12)

In a reverse action, statues of Hindu gods in from Ganesh to Krishna drank up milk by the gallons in India for a few days in September 1995 and again in August 2006 and September 2010.

What are we to make of these incredible feats of what would appear to be the miraculous from ancient Rome to humble Ohio?

Of course such feats can be easily faked. To make a statue weep, one needs only a hallow statue filled with liquid and pin holes made in the enamel paint at the corner of the statues eyes. Allowing for time and temperature, soon the statue will seem to cry. Add food coloring and it will look like blood. According to those who doubted the eating idols of India, the statues were filled with kitty litter and likewise had holes in strategic places for the milk to be absorbed.

But is that what was happening, or is the miraculous manifesting itself in these phenomenal iconography? Vatican authorities are very cautious when lending credence to such phenomena, often they steer clear of any such claims and let the religious fervor of these incidents work themselves out.

Unless there is thorough analysis of these weeping objects of adoration, we cannot know if it is a product of a supernatural manifestation or but cheap and contemptible chicanery.

When it all comes down to it, I guess it is a matter of faith...

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope