“If you ever see a ghost, you can be assured it is not the deceased person you are seeing or someone who died that was unbeknownst to you; it is positively an evil spirit that is imitating the dead person,” writes Jack Wellman, Christian author and pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane, Kansas.
The King James Version of the Bible, published in 1611, refers to the Holy Ghost. The New King James Version of the Bible, published in 1982, translates Holy Ghost to Holy Spirit. As with so many Christian beliefs, there is much disagreement over whether the belief in ghosts contradicts Christian and biblical teachings.
If Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus after His death and if there is belief in life after death, then why would it be difficult to accept the idea that a ghost or a spirit could manifest its presence to a mortal? And, why would that contradict Christian beliefs?
I have heard credible ghost stories from people I trust are relating an honest experience and not an exaggerated fantasy. I do believe some individuals are more susceptible to experiencing spirits than others. I have had only one encounter with a spirit and it was a brief, but a very comforting moment. I am getting chills as I write about it now.
I am a deeply sentimental person and through much of my life I have lived apart – often in different cities - from the people I love most – my son, parents, family members, significant others and I had a longstanding tradition of not filling my apartment with pictures of those I love and miss. That was my way of dealing with a life that led me to be apart from loved ones. For me, the pictures only reminded me of what I missed. Of course, thinking of those I love and miss are a constant part of my daily life, but I just chose not to display a gallery of pictures that only reminded me that I was not physically close to loved ones.
One night, while I was living alone in Denver and my son and longtime girlfriend were still living in Portland, OR, I was working at my desk and realized it was my mother’s birthday – April 25. I started thinking about my mom and I remembered that I had her beautiful bridal picture in a small storage unit in the basement of the apartment building I was living in. I’m not sure why, but at that moment I decided to go down to the basement and get that picture of my beautiful mother.
I brought the picture up to my apartment and placed it on the counter just behind me and I continued working on my radio show. When my father passed away not long after my mother died, I inherited my Dad’s cat, since no one else in the family could take the cat at the time. As I was working that night, the cat climbed up on the counter next to my mother’s bridal picture and began meowing in a way I had never heard him meow before.
When I turned around, I noticed he was staring up over the picture behind me. And at that moment – I sensed the presence of my mother. It was as if I felt a hug from her, but more than that, a sense of comfort came over me. I grew up calling my mom “Hon,” and when I was convinced she visited me, I looked up at the spot where the cat was focused – spent a moment thanking her for being a great mother to me and I said, “I love you, Hon!” And with that – I sensed she left. I always believed both of my parents were with me after they passed away, but that night, I was reassured they are, indeed, with me.
Honestly, I talk to my parents every day. I may never feel such a physical presence again, but I believe, in some way, they are both still taking care of me.
When I read the comment that I opened this blog with, I immediately thought about that experience with my mother’s ghost that night. To suggest that any ghost you see is not the deceased person you know, but is definitely an evil spirit was proof to me that some people are possessed by such strict beliefs they would dismiss that wonderful moment I had when my mom visited me.
It is not my goal to tell you what you should believe about ghosts and Christianity or any other religion, but I personally believe for different reasons there are those who have passed on who feel the need to make their presence known to this world. Outside of the nightmarish scenes in movies, those who may still be part of this world don’t appear to be evil – mostly just visitors.
Believing in life after death is the foundation for believing in ghosts – or spirits, if you prefer!
One Halloween myth demonstrates that it is true - the media can easily start and perpetrate hysteria because people believe what they want to believe.
Every Halloween parents are warned that trick-or-treating is dangerous. Sinister people have been known to put poison in Halloween candy and razor blades in apples and treats given to children on Halloween night. The fear of children being poisoned or injured by sharp objects embedded in their innocent treats led to local hospitals offering complimentarily x-rays of trick-or-treat candy and many parents took advantage of the opportunity to have their children’s candy x-rayed.
The fear of evil people with the intent to harm or kill children fits perfectly into the mystery of Halloween night. But the truth is – there were never any actual cases of strangers tainting Halloween candy with poison or sharp objects. So, how did this widely believed myth grow to the point of being a credible Halloween threat?
In 1974, a Waco, Texas man named Ronald Clark O’Brien did purposely put cyanide in candy that he gave to his 8-year-old son, Timothy O’Brien. Timothy died as a result of eating the candy. It was later discovered that Ronald had a large insurance policy on his young son and the tainted candy was an attempt to collect the insurance money. Ronald Clark O’Brien was convicted of murder and executed by lethal injection in 1984.
It was that tragedy in 1974 that spawned the popular myth that evil people are lurking in neighborhoods across America with the malicious intent of poisoning and harming innocent children as they trick-or-treat Halloween night. We are all guilty of believing incredible stories that have been proven to be urban myths. It is human nature to be excited about sharing new information with others. So, when we hear a story that has all the elements of something incredible and we will get credit for informing others – the temptation to believe and share the story becomes overwhelming.
There are very credible “ghost stories” most of us have believed and passed on to others. We wanted to believe those amazingly haunting stories so we could be the ones to enlighten others with our knowledge of a scary story we know will be shared with many others. Our desire to believe bizarre stories overpowers our rational thinking.
But the media is also to blame for giving the public what it wants to hear rather than what it needs to hear. I’m not exactly sure how the incident of a father putting poison in his young son’s Halloween candy in 1974 evolved into a media frenzy about the new dangers of trick-or-treating, but it appears the media fed on the public’s willingness to accept as fact a threat that never was real.
As we continue to analyze the relationship between the media and the audience in our society on “The Scoot Show” on WWL, it is fair to place blame on both the media and the audience for the false fear that has been conjured up about the dangers of Halloween treats. It appears that a story legitimately reported in the media was misinterpreted as a widespread phenomenon, rather than an isolated case. And when one person tells a story to another person and that person tells it to yet another person, each individual adds something extra to the story until it becomes a story that instills mass panic and fear.
A simple warning that it is possible to taint Halloween candy with poison could easily have led to the belief that such incidents have occurred. When a simple warning reached the level of hospitals offering to x-ray children’s Halloween candy, the story became totally legitimate.
Both the media and the audience may be to blame for the perpetration of the poison Halloween candy myth, but it should be acknowledged that the media instinctively has more interest in a story that causes fear in the minds of Americans than in a story that defuses fear.
Over the years the stories that dealt with warning people about poison and dangerous objects in Halloween candy were much more high-profile in the news than any stories that attempted to set-the-record-straight that the fear is completely unwarranted and indeed a myth.
We all love to believe a good ghost story and society loved embracing a new fear that fit the ambience of Halloween night! Maybe the thought that there is really something to fear in the midst of the innocence of trick-or-treating on Halloween gave adults a reason to be afraid. And being afraid seems to be part of the human existence. Why else would we willing go to a movie we know will scare us?
The hate that is so present in the political battles between the right and the left in Washington, D.C., on talk radio and in daily conversations across America is rooted in the current divisiveness of partisanship. Bipartisanship has become a lost political art and rather than recognize that it is the missing link in the evolution of the political process – it is celebrated as a team sport. There is such a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions among both Democrats and Republicans that it is unrealistic to expect all of those who align themselves with one of the parties to agree with everything the party professes. Those who do are easily exposed as political hypocrites.
Conservative author and political commentator Ann Coulter condemned those Republicans, who were critical of members of their own party over the recent attempt to defund Obamacare that led to the 16-day government shutdown. Coulter is promoting her new book Never Trust A Liberal Over 3: Especially A Republican and she told HuffPost, “Look, if you’re a liberal, if your brain is wired that way, ya know – fine. But in the case of people like Rubio and McCain, Lindsay Graham, Huckabee, I think an awful lot of it is so they will get favorable press in the media.” Coulter said Republicans, who attack members of the Republican Party, should “just become a Democrat.”
Ann Coulter is wrong. The individuals of both parties should be encouraged to speak out against members of their own party, if they have honest disagreements. It is the blind loyalty to a party that gives the impression that both parties are only interested in advancing their own ideology and agendas, rather than doing what is in the best interest of the American people.
It would be nice, if we all could trust that people honestly believe in what they say. But, any scrutiny of the extreme voices like Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz or any of the far right-wing or left-wing pundits or politicians, reveals opportunistic motives behind their extremism. All of the aforementioned political pundits benefit financially from their extreme party-line positions. Having said that, there have been a few occasions when Limbaugh has disagreed with some extremists within the Republican Party and recently said that the government shutdown was the biggest political disaster he has ever witnessed. Over all, extremists have been rewarded by audiences that rally around the leaders of their flock. It is fair to question whether Ann Coulter is more interested in selling her new book than she is in speaking rationally about politics. To put forth the idea that any Republican, who disagrees with even the most extreme factions in the Republican Party, should switch parties and become a Democrat is similar to the mentality that led to the Republican Party’s failure in last year’s presidential election.
The reluctance of the Republican Party to show solidarity in denouncing the extreme and absurd views on the issues of rape, abortion and birth control from ultra-conservatives, like senatorial candidate Todd Akin and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, so tainted the image of Mitt Romney and the party that reelection of President Obama was certain. If the extreme right, as Ann Coulter and others suggest, reflects the heart and soul of America – then how did Obama win reelection in the face of a down economy, high unemployment and low consumer confidence? Obama benefited from right-wing extremists.
After the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party was publically licking its wounds and many prominent Republican leaders warned that the party must change or face losing more elections. It didn’t take long for the far-right to again commandeer the direction of the entire Republican Party and bring the party’s image to a historic low.
So tarnished is the image of the Republican Party that Hillary Clinton has seized this moment to become visual and vocal as she positions herself as the candidate-to-beat in 2016. Clinton’s sudden presence on the political scene may not have been planned in advance, but is the immediate reaction to the public’s view of the Republican Party following the government shutdown.
Whether it’s fair to blame the Republican Party more than the President and Democrats is less significant in the minds of the American public than the perception that the Republicans were more to blame and appeared to be selfishly forcing their agenda rather than moving America forward. And, perception is reality.
Since it is obvious that America is not dominated by the extreme right or the extreme left, I am continually perplexed by how many of the extreme voices proclaim they are speaking for America.
Disagreement within the Republican Party or the Democrat Party may be the only evidence that everyone in this country is not a blind follower of their party – and that means some people are still courageous enough to express their honesty.
Adhering strictly to a party’s ideology makes one more of a cult follower than an independent thinker, and America was built on and has thrived on independent thinkers.
Are you a political cult member – or do you have the courage to disagree with your own party?
As speculation grows about Hillary Clinton seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, the pettiness of name-calling may be showing signs of increasing.
A few weeks ago, Bryan Fischer of the American Family’s Association, said Hillary Clinton would not only be the first female president – but she would also be America’s first lesbian president. Fischer also said on a radio talk show that Bill Clinton’s alleged ex-mistresses were told by Bill that Hillary was bisexual.
In her op-ed piece on the FOXNews.com website, Diana Falzone writes about the strong possibility that if Hillary Clinton does become the Democratic presidential nominee, there will be many attacks on here sexual preference and her appearance. A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle recently tweeted out a picture of an anti-Hillary button that read, “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs/2Small Breasts…left wing.”
Falzone believes the personal attacks on Clinton, as a powerful politician with the potential to become president, expose the “myth of gender equality in the United States.”
While I do agree that Hillary Clinton will be the target of crude and derogatory comments about her sexuality and her appearance, personal attacks do transcend gender. The personal criticism of President Obama that I witness as a radio talk show host ranges from his skin color to his alleged Muslim faith to his sexuality. Interestingly, there is absolutely no evidence that would suggest Obama is Muslim or gay – other than the nonsensical ravings of those who lack the intelligence to rise above petty condemnation.
Name-calling and personal attacks also reach across political lines. President George W. Bush was the target of extremely hateful and personal criticism.
Even if it is on a subconscious level, many Americans degrade and attack things they don’t understand and things that represent change. As a nation, we instinctively protect the status quo. The election of Barak Obama as America’s first black president was, and still is, a shock to many Americans. The thought of a woman being elected president is equally unsettling to many people in this country.
There will be those who will try to argue that they just don’t like Hillary because of her policies and would be excited to support a conservative female candidate. But there seems to be enough evidence to indicate that many Americans resist changes to institutional traditions.
The subconscious opposition to a black president, a female president, same-sex marriage or the legalization of marijuana is rooted in the fear that an emotional security blanket is being ripped from the hands of Americans. A president’s skin color or gender or same-sex marriage or legalized pot should be of little concern to any Americans who care only about the progress of our nation. And yet, there is an undercurrent of resistance that subtly supports opposition to change.
Malicious intent is not always behind resistance to change. Every day our world seems to be changing faster. The world we live in today barely reflects the world many of us grew up in and today’s young generations will not recognize the world as they mature. It may be human instinct to cling to what is known, but we should also recognize change is the result of the human instincts that have led to the changes that make life better on so many levels. The human instinct to change is the reason for our survival as a species.
Change is the basis of everything and we should not fear change just because it’s change.
The hate in America that I so often talk about on “The Scoot Show” on WWL inspires the personal attacks that have nothing to do with the content of a person’s character.
As adults, we have to accept responsibility for participating in the same type of name-calling that was part of our lives as young kids on the playground – and I’m not sure the current content of name-calling is any less juvenile.
Have you noticed how much bullying comes up in the news? It’s almost as if bullying is a new phenomenon that is suddenly plaguing a young generation.
Bullying has probably been part of human encounters from the origin of our species, but now that it seems to be a recurring element in an increasing number of news stories, we should analyze whether it is a new concern or a new media trend that has been instantly adopted by society. There is always the danger of new media trends creating hysteria that actually disguise the real problems.
This week there was another school shooting – it occurred at the Sparks Middle School near Reno, NV. A 12-year-old student brought his parents’ gun to school and shot and injured two students, killed a beloved teacher and then shot and killed himself. What made this tragedy so shocking was the 12-year-old boy was described as a “nice kid,” and one student said he was the kind of kid who would make you smile if you were having a bad day. She also said she witnessed the young student being bullied on several occasions and she believes that his actions were an act of revenge. Another student said the boy pointed at a group and said, “You ruined my life and now I’m going to ruin yours.”
Last week, a high school student in Austin, TX posted on Facebook that he was going to take his own life, and later that same day he took out a gun during lunch and shot himself in front of other students. Bullying was part of that story.
Also last week, there was a story about two teenage girls who were arrested and face a felony charge for constantly bullying a 14-year-old, who committed suicide in Winter Haven, FL.
And bullying was even part of a story this week about the father of a high school football player in Ft. Worth, TX who has filed a complaint accusing an opposing coach for bullying his son’s high school football team, because the final score in the game was 91-0.
These stories are just a few of numerous recent stories that include bullying as a contributing factor in senseless tragedies – or in the case of the football game – severe humility. But is bullying really to blame – or has it become a marketable tool that’s being used by the media to attract attention to stories by creating panic in society?
Asking the question – which came first – the public’s new belief that bullying is suddenly a new factor to explain tragedies, or is the media creating that new belief in the minds of the public – is like asking which came first – the chicken or the egg? It really doesn’t matter since we now have both chickens and eggs. If we can determine that a media trend is the result of the instincts of the media to attract attention by instilling hysteria and panic, then we are more certain to focus on the real problem rather than media hype.
In a recent Scoot Blog titled, “Is Bullying to Blame for Teen Suicide,” I wrote, “Since it is estimated that 90% of the teens who commit suicide suffer from a mental disorder, it may not be easy to determine how much episodes of bullying contributed to teen suicide.” Mental health issues are vague and complicated and the media loves stories with easily understood reasons for tragedies, but it’s just not always that simple. We want to know the definite reasons for tragedies and that makes us feel as if we understand the problem and therefore can prevent future tragedies. But that rarely leads to real solutions.
Bullying most certainly contributes to tragedies, but should not be blamed as the direct cause as so many stories seem to imply. When the father of a high school football player uses the term bullying in a complaint about an opposing coach whose team beat his son’s team 91-0, you can’t help but consider that bullying has become a new and convenient scapegoat for tragedies and human humiliation.
To put this in further perspective – the winning coach in the game that ended 91-0 actually pulled his starters after 21 plays and began to let the clock run uninterrupted at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. It doesn’t seem as if the coach was trying to bully the other team. And yet, because of the word bully in the story – it will attract much more attention as it feeds the new hysteria over something that isn’t really new.
Bullying is serious and with the ability to emotionally bully someone through social media – phones, computers, tablets, etc. – escaping the constant presence of bullying has become more of a challenge today than it was in the past, when you just walked away from the source of bullying. But there are ways to block and ignore bullying on phones and through social media that essentially amount to walking away. But the new panic over bullying is rendering a society that appears helpless to react.
As bullying has risen to the level of causing tragedies or humiliating situations, we should ask if society is too quick to embrace bullying as an excuse for failure. And if bullying is a new excuse for tragedies – then we, as a society, continue on a path of diminishing the importance of personal accountability, which is the foundation of a civilized society.
The biggest problems in America can be solved by returning to the time when individuals were held accountable for their behavior, their decisions and their actions without instinctively blaming another person or outside influence. Today, when something tragic happens, we are quick to deflect any blame from our children, or from ourselves as parents and adults.
There are now consistently stories in the news about groups that are promoting the idea that we must stop bullying. Since bullying exists everywhere – on the playground, in school, in the workplace and even in social settings like parties and bars – it would be better for us to focus on teaching a young generation to deal with bullying rather than naïvely think we can somehow make it disappear. And when a new young generation is taught to deal with bullying, as we were when we grew up, we will be teaching them a valuable lesson they will take with them throughout their lives.
Attempts to completely erase human actions that are inevitably part of the human psyche demonstrate our desire to find simple solutions to deeply complicated problems, when the real solutions are complicated and present greater challenges. And doesn’t this desire fit perfectly into the instant gratification mentality that is now such an integral part of America?
Too often we hear about the obnoxious and classless behavior of sports fans and players, but we are occasionally reminded that some do have class.
At the Jets/Patriots game over the weekend in New Jersey, a video shows a man wearing a No. 80 Jets jersey punching a woman, who appears to be wearing a red and blue Patriots shirt. The video-taped incident occurred either during the game or shortly after. I know fans can be antagonistic after a visiting team comes into their home stadium and beats their team, but the Jets beat the Patriots in overtime. So why would the man punch woman, who appeared to be a Patriots fan? The assault is being investigated by the New Jersey State Police.
In the news, there have been reports of a rash of altercations at professional sporting events in San Francisco. Over the years, a few Saints fans have been the victims of aggressive behavior from opposing fans in away stadiums. There are plenty of examples of poor sportsmanship, but what happened at the beginning of NBC’s Sunday Night Football last night in Indianapolis is a reminder that there are still classy players and fans in the sports world.
Last night’s nationally televised game between the undefeated Denver Broncos led by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts provided the backdrop for the much-anticipated return of Peyton Manning to the stadium that was his home stadium during his 14 years as the QB and spiritual leader of the Colts.
When Peyton Manning spoke to the media during the press conference to announce he was being cut by the Colts, Peyton defined the word “class.” He spoke with great respect and appreciation for the Colts team, management and Colts fans. It’s not always easy to be classy when you are being replaced, but Peyton was the epitome of class.
As the Broncos ran out of the tunnel at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last night, Colts fans began the ceremonial “booing” that greets opposing teams in every NFL stadium around the league. But, when #18 came into view, the boos turned to cheers for Peyton…even though he was now dressed in the uniform of the enemy. And, to accent and reflect the class of the fans in Indianapolis, the Colts organization presented a video tribute to Peyton Manning when he was wearing a Colts uniform. The video played throughout the stadium as Peyton warmed up on the sidelines. The crowd rose to its feet to give Peyton a standing ovation. As a way of saying “thank you,” Peyton removed his helmet, smiled and gestured to fans, who still loved him and all he did for the Colts and their city. That moment showed 360 degrees of the meaning of “good sportsmanship!”
I personally witnessed a similar display of sportsmanship in 1997 at an NHL playoff game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburg Penguins in Philadelphia. A star player for the Penguins, who was also one of those beloved fan-favorites in his sport, Mario Lemieux, announced he was retiring at the end of that season. Much was publicized about Lemieux’s final game on the home ice in Pittsburg during the playoff series, but the Philadelphia Flyers were dominating the series and it seemed inevitable that Lemieux would play his final NHL game on enemy ice in Philadelphia.
Imagine the rivalry – Pittsburg sits in the western part of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia in the eastern part of the state. It is not an understatement to describe Philadelphia sports fans as among the most unforgiving and brutal sports fans in the nation. As it appeared the Flyers would beat the Penguins in Philadelphia, I was consciously thinking about how those die-hard Flyers fan would react to the final game of one of the league’s most celebrated stars in their stadium. It was a sports moment I will never forget.
The Flyers did win that game and eliminated the Penguins from the playoffs. When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd naturally cheered for the victorious Flyers, but there seemed to be a moment when Lemieux was still on the ice…and remaining on their feet, the crowd began cheering for Lemieux. The Philadelphia fans were asking Lemieux to skate around the ice. Understanding how rough the Philadelphia fans could be to opposing teams and their visiting fans, I got chills watching the Philadelphia fans give a standing ovation to an opposing player and showing respect and good sportsmanship to a player, who meant so much to the game they loved!
Standing there in that stadium at that moment, I knew I would always remember the message about how respectful sports fans can be. Watching the respectful greeting of Peyton Manning last night during the Sunday Night game in Indianapolis, I was again reminded that “good sportsmanship” is still alive and we should always take note of those moments to counter the many times the sports world is exposed to “bad sportsmanship.”
But, in the spirit of competition – it was only the Indianapolis appreciation for Peyton Manning that was cordial. The Colts knocked the Broncos from the unbeaten ranks by beating Denver 39-33.
After the Colts scored and went ahead 19-14 in the 2nd quarter of the game – a network camera focused on a sign a fan was holding that seemed to sum it all up: “WE MISS OUR MANNING – BUT LUCK IS ON OUR SIDE!”
It’s important to remember that we can be passionate about the Saints or our favorite sports teams, but we also need to put into perspective it’s just asport and the hate and ugliness for opposing teams and fans should never be disguised as simply showing love for your team.