Thursday, October 27, 2011

Goblins and Ghost and Ghouls, Oh My: A Look at the Spirit (s)

10/27/2011 12:45 pm (et) Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 12:45 pm (et).
10/27/2011 12:52 pm (et) Susan: private message to Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 12:52 pm (et).
10/27/2011 12:57 pm (et) Laura S: private message to Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 12:57 pm (et).
10/27/2011 12:58 pm (et) LaGomez: private message to Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 12:58 pm (et).
10/27/2011 1:01 pm (et) Moderator: Welcome! This is Rebecca from the InterFaith Conference (IFC) and I will be your moderator.
10/27/2011 1:01 pm (et) Moderator: Today, our topic is ‘Goblins and Ghosts and Ghouls, Oh My!: A Look at the Spirit (s).’
10/27/2011 1:01 pm (et) Moderator: As always, I would like to remind you of the rules of our engagement. This is a respectful place where we come together to learn more about the religions of the world. Whether you agree or disagree, we welcome your comments and questions that are posed in a respectful manner. Please no profane or offensive remarks, they will not be posted. Also, this is a place of learning, so please refrain from ‘soapboxing.’ If there are any issues or questions about this, they can be submitted along with the comments pertaining to our topic. I am here to make this a pleasant and educational experience for all, so enjoy and remember there are no stupid questions, just hostile ones!
10/27/2011 1:01 pm (et) Moderator: Our chat window automatically refreshes to keep the flow going, but if you wish to view the whole of the conversation, just hit the archive button. And lastly, PLEASE do not use double quotes as it leads to some issues.
10/27/2011 1:01 pm (et) Moderator: Today is working a little differently. I thought in honor of Halloween we could explore what our traditions say about ghosts or spirits or demons or the like. Especially in my own tradition, this leads directly to a look at the spiritual realm in general. Now, I am posting a link where one can see some of the basic tenets of each religion, including some tangential reference to their view of the spiritual realm. However, I figured we could begin if someone would like to share what their tradition does say.
10/27/2011 1:02 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: logs in on 10/27/2011 1:02 pm (et).
10/27/2011 1:04 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I was surprised to learn in college that exorcisms really
10/27/2011 1:05 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: According to a professor of mine, they have a two fold purpose. In one way they are used to try drive out demons, and the other they are used to drive out 'ghosts' which he basically explained as souls trapped in Purgatory
10/27/2011 1:07 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I mean I guess that certainly says something about the spiritual life, there is something beyond the bodily life which is what demons are a part of and which is the subject of Purgatory
10/27/2011 1:08 pm (et) diggsj: private message to Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 1:08 pm (et).
10/27/2011 1:08 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I would start by stating that I am not here representing any particular faith tradition. But I do have my own personal beliefs about this topic. I am sure there may be many "spirit beings" that may interact with some of us. Some traditions call them angels or saints, others call them jinn or gods. That so many religions (even the monotheistis and non-theistic) talk about such beings, I do believe there must be quite a long history of experience with such. However, I also suspect that none of us really know just what these beings really are.
10/27/2011 1:09 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Not only do other traditions talk about them, but there are deep rituals in many traditions.
10/27/2011 1:10 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I think I've been told in the past that the quick burial and further death rituals of both Judaism and Islam are used to ward off spirits, although that was probably just one interpretation.
10/27/2011 1:12 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: As some of our listeners know, our offices are in the Gatehouse, just indie the main gates of the Rock Creek Cemetery! An African visitor asked why we were located in a cemetery. Then he added: 'Well, at least you have to tell the truth!'
10/27/2011 1:13 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: By the way, 'indie' is a terrible misspelling of 'inside'!
10/27/2011 1:14 pm (et) Clark Lobenstine: We're here because the St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Rock Creek Parish) which manages and owns the cemetery, brought the cemetery offices which had been i n this building for about a century, into the main church office building, and rented the Gatehouse to us three years ago!
10/27/2011 1:15 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: How would you say that interaction between the spirits and us works Laura? Do you think they were once us? In the Catholic traditions, demons are another thing entirely, but those ghosts were once human and are communicating because they need our prayers in Purgatory.
10/27/2011 1:17 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I know that Islam teaches that angels and Jinn are created beings just as we are but that each is a different type of creation. Just as there are various kinds of animal species, there are various kinds of spiritual 'species'. Humans do not become angels although Jinn can take on the appearance of a human.
10/27/2011 1:19 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I also find it interesting that Jinn can be either good or bad (just as humans can) because, like us, they too have free will. Angels, having been created to be messangers of God, have not choice to resist. Perhaps what Christianity calls 'demons' are the bad Jinn.
10/27/2011 1:19 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Personally, I have not given enough thought to this topic to have a definitve belief about it myself
10/27/2011 1:21 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: It is interesting with Halloween around the corner, so many people think that its feeling is alien to religion, but in fact each religion contains something like it.
10/27/2011 1:22 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Just thinking about the Catholic tradition, yes something like The Exorcist is blown out of proporiton and wildly misconstrued but there is truth to it.
10/27/2011 1:22 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: And honestly looking at something like that does give way to fuller knowledge overall
10/27/2011 1:22 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I've had some interesting experience with a few Pentecostal students who resist my course requirement to visit a place of worship for a different religion. They have told me that they cannot do this as it might expose them to the 'evil spirits' that those other religions worship. I can see how Pentecostals, who open themselves to the spirit of God (Holy Spirit) would also feel that they make themselves vulnurable to being invaded (possessed) by any other spirit beings that might be out there.
10/27/2011 1:23 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: That's interesting, possession in Catholicism is a fully free decision, one basically needs to want to be possessed
10/27/2011 1:24 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: When I was growing up, my mom would not let us go trick or treating. One year I pressed her for a reason and she said it was a religious holiday for a religion that was not ours. Technically, it is a religious holiday - Pagan/Wicca
10/27/2011 1:24 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: And yet it is also a celebration in Christianity (well it must always admit of its roots in paganism though)
10/27/2011 1:26 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Susan, you talk of 'All Souls Day'?
10/27/2011 1:26 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Well, yes that is somewhat part of it
10/27/2011 1:27 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Pagans believe that this time of year the veil between worlds is thinest and thus spirits from the other side might mix with our world. The wearing of masks (if I recall correctly) is to frighten off the spirits.
10/27/2011 1:27 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I can't say I have ever known the actual pagan roots (I mean I know they existed, but did not know what the actual pagan holiday was about)
10/27/2011 1:28 pm (et) Leolyn: private message to Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 1:28 pm (et).
10/27/2011 1:28 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I guess that the giving of treats stems from the idea of making offerings to appease the spirits so that they will leave us alone
10/27/2011 1:29 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: Or leaving treats to earn favor.
10/27/2011 1:29 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Samhein (as Pagans call it) is one of their eight Sabbats (holidays). These Sabbats follow the solar calendar based abound the turn of each season and then mid-season. So Halloween is the mid fall Sabbat
10/27/2011 1:31 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: Samhain is also known as the New Year.
10/27/2011 1:32 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Could you elaborate on that Leolyn? What is the connection between a new year and what we generally associate with now?
10/27/2011 1:32 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: The Hindu new year fesitval of Diwali recently concluded this week. Thus another religion's holiday that falls around this same time of year
10/27/2011 1:33 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Also, leaving treats for favor or appeasement certainly is not alien, is sounds very similar to sacrifice.
10/27/2011 1:33 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: That's definitely a motif in Christianity
10/27/2011 1:34 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Most cultures tend to use the start of spring to mark the new year - that seems to make a lot of sense since that's when everything comes back to life (starts over again)
10/27/2011 1:34 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Chinese culture is very big on remembering and appeasing the dead ancestors or risk getting haunted by the 'hungry ghosts' (those hungry for attention?)
10/27/2011 1:34 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: Thank you for asking. Samhain as a new year is part of the Celtic culture where the year was divided between light and dark. This day (or time frame) started the darkness, the beginging, before light dawns.
10/27/2011 1:35 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I kind of like that Leolyn, starting in the dark means the end is light. It's a nice symbol.
10/27/2011 1:35 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Fall does tend to represent dying - as the plants seem to die and the days get shorter
10/27/2011 1:37 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: If one looks at it from a creation stand point we start with nothing,
10/27/2011 1:37 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: the idea to create something forms
10/27/2011 1:37 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: we are planted, we grow
10/27/2011 1:37 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: we die going into a darkened phase again
10/27/2011 1:37 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: The Christian/European culture uses the darkest time of the year (start of winter) to mark the new year (as well as Christmas) - when the light starts to return
10/27/2011 1:38 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: But this does follow closely to a reincarnation theme. Ironically starting with Halloween.
10/27/2011 1:38 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Being haunted is certainly a fear for many traditions, again haunting in Catholicism is just a call fro prayer, but you can see that fear in Judaism. They have the ritual where everyone washes there hands before returning to a house following a funeral.
10/27/2011 1:38 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: In a sense washingt heir hands of what has happened.
10/27/2011 1:39 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Well, death the world over is associated with spiritual impurity. Thus washing as a purification ritual.
10/27/2011 1:41 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: That is an intersting thought, Laura. Death as spiritual impurity. Can you elaborate?
10/27/2011 1:42 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: True, I just had one rabbi (one who definitely leans towards the mystical) tell me how it also was about in a way throwing odd the spirit of the dead, trying to make sure they would not follow you back from the gravesite.
10/27/2011 1:44 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: I guess its nice to think about though, I mean all the talk of ghosts after death, reassurance or reinforcement of the immortality of the soul.
10/27/2011 1:45 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: For most I think it shows a common theme that SOMETHING happens after death.
10/27/2011 1:46 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Death is a spiritual impurity, I imagine, because we value life. Life is sacred and we fear the unknown that is death. Also perhaps because things that are dead are decaying and harbor disease that might threaten our own lives. But it is a fact of cross cultural studies that dealing with dead bodies is an impurity that we must either avoid (Shinto), ritually cleanse ourselves from, or leave to the lowest in society to handle (Hindu untouchables)
10/27/2011 1:47 pm (et) Moderator: Leolyn said: Thank you, Laura. I understand what you mean now.
10/27/2011 1:48 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: The Japanese religion of Shinto is so focused on life that they do not even perform funerals or bury the dead within their sacred shrines. Typically, they let the Buddhists deal with death
10/27/2011 1:48 pm (et) RevMark2U: private message to Moderator: logs in on 10/27/2011 1:48 pm (et).
10/27/2011 1:49 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Laura do you know what the Shinto tradition has to say about the after life experience?
10/27/2011 1:49 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: I have a friend to sincerly believes in ghosts but not the common understanding. What we call ghosts are simply energy signatures, left over from certain people who have died. Perhaps because they died suddently or tragically, or reluctently or even don't know they are dead, or had very strong personalities
10/27/2011 1:50 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I just had a call from a friendly ghost - Dr. Clark L
10/27/2011 1:50 pm (et) Moderator: Just thought that was funny...
10/27/2011 1:50 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Shinto (like Judaism) does not really say much definitive about afterlife beliefs
10/27/2011 1:50 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: At best, I've read that they believe the spirit of the dead become part of the Kami - the realm of the gods
10/27/2011 1:50 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: So for your friend, those ghosts are just imprints whereas much of what we have been talking about implies something of a continuation of the person?
10/27/2011 1:51 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: imprints is a good word for it
10/27/2011 1:52 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: He also believes that our own life energy is bound to our bodies. Thus if any part of our bodies were to remain alive after we die (our spirit leaves) the spirit might be bound to earth and not allowed to move to whatever the next level of existence might be (as such, he would most definitely reject having any of his organs donated)
10/27/2011 1:53 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: It is interesting that the Shinto tradition would be so adverse to death, I would think being incorporated into the godly realm would be something to be celebrated.
10/27/2011 1:53 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Or maybe that is just because that is the way Christianity thinks of it
10/27/2011 1:54 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: I think Clark called me because, when I still worked there and we moved into the cemetery grounds that IFC might sponsor a "Day of the Dead" on the grounds, and then a live and lively (no pun intended) dialogue around these matters might be held. Has anything ever come of that idea, or is this the closest?
10/27/2011 1:54 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: Well, I think what they are adverse to is the dead BODY, not the still living spirit
10/27/2011 1:55 pm (et) Moderator: Laura S said: The Japanese inherited from the Chinese the idea of reverence for the ancestors
10/27/2011 1:55 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Ah, I get it a little better now
10/27/2011 1:56 pm (et) Moderator: Well as long as I have been here, all of a year, this is the closest we have had,
10/27/2011 1:57 pm (et) Moderator: RevMark2U said: Sorry I got in so late, and at this point any comment I make is surely a "thing that goes bomp in the night."
10/27/2011 1:58 pm (et) Moderator: Yes, we are coming to the end of our time today, so please finish any closing comments.
10/27/2011 1:59 pm (et) Moderator: Susan said: Well, maybe Halloween instead of having to be a scary time or even antithetical to religion is actually a time to contemplate the spirit, and that certainly is a way to fuller knowledge of whatever truth there may be
10/27/2011 2:00 pm (et) Moderator: Thank you for your participation today. I hope everyone enjoyed it. Next week our chat is a ‘The Role of Religion in the Political Process.’ We hope to see you there! If you would like to contact or guest, please contact me at
10/27/2011 2:01 pm (et) Moderator: Also, this is a new effort on our part so we welcome your feedback! Any comments will be helpful. If you have any suggestion please feel free to email me at
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