After watching an episode of the cheesy TV show Ghost Adventures with a group of friends last weekend, I drove home late at night to a dark, quiet house. I tiptoed to my room as my housemates slept, and I climbed under the safety of my covers, with scenes from the ghost-hunting show still running through my mind.
I’m usually skeptical when it comes to ghost stories or haunted houses. However, when you’re the only one awake in an old, creaky house and you just watched a moderately scary show, sounds that wouldn’t normally frighten you tend to seem a little more threatening.
Our dog knocking something off a table in another room and a roommate arriving home late left me lying wide awake and still, listening for unusual noises and watching for moving shadows on the wall – all thanks to a few bad actors and the special effects team that created Ghost Adventures.
The show features three men who lock themselves in “haunted” locations overnight, taunting the supposed spirits that dwell in attics and old plantation houses and encouraging them to show themselves. Highly edited footage and spooky music accompany the crew as they creep through houses and encounter spirits who don’t want them there.
Despite the unconvincing cases they present, this show – and other movies and shows with similar themes – are not only popular, but often taken for complete truth, as well.
The thrill of the spiritual realm has always been a draw for people of all ages, whether it is Ouija boards, stories around a campfire or exorcism-themed movies. With Halloween approaching and the movie Paranormal Activity playing in theatres, the topic of ghosts, hauntings and evil spirits are present in more places than reruns of Travel Channel television shows.
When this topic is discussed, the debate is always the same: do ghosts really exist?
Research, personal experiences, unexplained “spiritual” encounters and even Bible verses are used to argue they do. However, when it comes to roaming spirits stuck in an in-between world after death, I’m certain ghosts are nothing more than a result of imagination and coincidence. From a Christian perspective, the presence of ghosts means the absence of heaven and hell – which does not correspond with my beliefs.
However, ghosts are often confused with very real demonic forces, and the line between them has become unclear. Demons, or satanic spirits that have the power to possess individuals, appear in the Bible numerous times, suggesting their presence on earth is more powerful and authentic than noises in the attic.
The nonchalant attitude toward demons reflected in movies and TV shows suggests our society has muddled the reality of their existence and created our own watered-down version of something that should not be taken lightly.
While they shouldn’t be taboo or even eliminated as a lighthearted source of entertainment, ghosts should be recognized for what they are: imaginary. The attraction of movies such as Ghost Busters or Casper was that their innocent and humorous ghost stories were clearly false. Today, the subject of ghosts is used to thrill and inspire fear in a majority of people who believe they are real.
This is not to say we should be hiding under covers or checking our attics for demons instead of ghosts. Instead, we should realize ghosts are nothing to be afraid of, aside from entertainment purposes. Demonic forces, on the other hand, should be approached as an entirely separate – and very real – presence in our world.