Thursday, March 13, 2008

A New Church Take On Ghosts

Three Bryn Athyn College students recently made a short documentary about ghost stories called “Confessions of the Unknown” for their English class. They included in it interviews with Rev. Scott Frazier and Rev. Andy Dibb to provide a New Church perspective on ghosts. (You can buy the documentary at the new cafe in the Swedenborg Library.)

In the February issue of B.A.C.O.N. Bits, Bryn Athyn College's student newspaper, Rev. Don Rose provides a few more thoughts and passages on the topic; he writes,
A passage in Divine Providence mentions someone hearing “a few words.” The passage says that those who are permitted to say these words “never say anything that takes away the freedom of the reason” (Divine Providence 135). Another passage speaks of exceptional cases when people receive a kind of response in their thought, but these are “rarely by clear speech” (Divine Providence 321:3). A passage in Heaven and Hell speaks of rare instances of speech from spirits. “Some who lead a solitary life sometimes hear spirits talking with them” (Heaven and Hell 249). ...

There are spirits who are able to convince us that we have seen something. “For example, if the object be in a dark place, these spirits keep the mind of the beholder fixedly and continually in the thought of some one thing, be it an animal, a monster, a forest, or any other things; and so long as the mind is held in this thought, the fantasy is increased, and it grows to such a degree that the person is persuaded, and sees just as if the things themselves were there, whereas they are nothing but illusions” (Arcana Coelestia 1967).

3 comments:

Sylvia said...

That's interesting. I didn't know that there was anything specifically on ghosts, but I was surprised to read the claim that ghosts are only illusions. I thought they were more real than that.

Malcolm said...

I think that what the last passage that Don Rose quoted was saying is that sometimes when people think they see ghosts they are actually just illusions. But other times I think people really do see into the spiritual world and so do see spirits. The Heavenly Doctrines say that it only happens rarely but it does still happen.

In the documentary Andy Dibb and Scott Frazier go into more detail about what teachings in the Heavenly Doctrines might help us understand what's going on when a person sees a ghost.

Lois said...

Wonder if that could account for Joseph Smith's vision of seeing both the Father and the Son ...when we know that couldn't have happened... an illusion maybe inspired by what young Joseph wanted so badly to see that it became a reality for him. hmmm...