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That In Which We Live, Move, and Have Our Being

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Against the Darkness!

I know that many think there is no evil but I have experienced something that seems to feed upon negative emotions, suffering, and destruction and it hates the light, joy, and love. In its presence, the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand up and I feel cold, sometimes dizzy. Things that terrorize children and cause them to scream and point when adults no longer have the eyes to see, where animals brace and growl with the hair on their back standing up and they jump if you reach out to reassure them. Perhaps you want to call it something else but it seems to me that this is exactly what evil is and how it has been described for millennia.

I have performed a couple of exorcisms as a pastor and investigated infestations of an unseen presence. Besides paranormal groups, my youngest son and my wife have worked with me to investigate various unseen presences. I was contacted by some friends of a family member who needed a minister to accompany them to an investigation in Omaha. In this investigation, there were two children that had died but continued to come up and play with their toys. Their toys would roll, bounce, or otherwise go across the room, and it was a flat floor – the wind does not account for the ball bouncing down the hall toward us. However, the toddler girl who was still alive in the family was terrified of a “diamond man” who came into her room.

The investigation seemed to indicate that the deceased grandmother was present protecting the spirit children and the young girl who saw the diamond man. Both the husband and the wife had experienced the man’s mother (now deceased,) coming in and sitting on the edge of the bed, as she did when had been alive. They not only felt her sit down but when the lights were on they could see the indentation in the bed. She seemed to remain in the house and would hurry the spirits of the children into another part of the house when the “diamond man” showed up. Talking with the family we decided to cleanse the house with sage and prayers and try to get the diamond man to leave without banishing the children or grandma. As far as I know, it worked. I didn’t hear from them again.

This story about the grandma sitting on the bed reminded me of when I was just about to fall asleep, I was very depressed and down. My wife and I were staying in different places and were not getting along. I was lonely and I felt my German Shepherd get on the bed. I had two but the female seemed to have the idea that when my wife was gone that she became the alpha female and I woke up once or twice with the dog in bed with me with her head on my wife’s pillow. The dogs weren’t allowed on the bed because I had asthma back then. Anyway, the lights were off and I felt the dog climb up onto the bed, kinda surreptitiously like so that I wouldn’t notice. I did notice because I knew what it felt like and had caught her trying that before. “Claire get down!” I commanded as I sat up and turned on the light (we had named our dogs Francis and Claire after St. Francis and his sister in Christ. It was then I realized that Claire had died a couple of years ago and Francis was in the hallway and came to the door to see what I had yelled about. I shut off the light and lay back down. “Claire, you can get back on the bed if you want to. I miss you.” She had to be put to sleep due to cancer and as I held her when she died she licked my wrist. Kinda broke up my son, and me.

There are other times I know of spirits making a difference. I had a parishioner awakened once by her husband. “You need to get up the house is on fire!” She immediately got up and dressed and turned around, asking her husband what was burning. It was then she remembered that her husband had recently died. I could offer many other stories. Another parishioner feels she was warned by God that her husband was dying. She was alone in her house doing dishes and someone said “Go check on Verlin.” She was startled and thought someone was in the house with her. She searched the house but no one was there. She went back to her dishes and heard it again only louder and more insistent, “Go check on Verlin!” She got into the pickup and drove out to the field where he was working and his hand had been severed by the threshing machine. She drove him to the emergency room in Cameron, which was miles away, and they were able to save his life and re-attach his hand. He was in shock so he couldn’t have helped himself. The voice saved him.

As I told my son when he was little and came up and told me about a little girl he saw. With kids, you never know if it is an imaginary friend or what. But I have always believed the reason we don’t see things is we have been taught by society that this stuff isn’t real. So we come to dismiss the information our senses take in. Children don’t yet know this but I have become convinced that everyone has at least some potential in this area. (Army experiments reported in Military Intelligence magazine in the 80s – the unclassified experiments, obviously – demonstrate with 98.6 percent statistically significant results that everyone has some sort of psychic or telekinetic ability. But it’s like walking and running. Almost everyone can do it but that doesn’t mean everyone can be an Olympic runner.) Anyway, I asked my son to describe her. He did and I had seen her in the house too. (A friend told me she had known everyone who had lived in my house and no one died there. But the girl wore a shift that looked like it was from the 1800s and I venture to say that she couldn’t have been sure that no one had died in this spot then.) “Did she scare you?” I asked my son. “No, she wasn’t scary at all.” “I don’t think so either son. I think she is just someone who died and is here because we can see her. Maybe she’s lonely, I don’t know. But you tell me if it gets scary at all and then we can do something about it.”

When I was young I explored the occult and summoning things from other realms. That didn’t go well. I left for the Army but people complained about things in my folk’s basement where I had lived. When I came home on leave I woke up and saw an evil-looking face staring at me. I told my sister who was a pastor and had first taught me to meditate and who was “powerful in the Force.” But we didn’t do anything since we decided it must have been a dream. But, we noted, that my German Shepherd at the time, refused to go downstairs to my bedroom and living room. He stayed on the landing. He always slept on or at the foot of my bed between me and the door. Always. But not here. We went out to dinner and left him downstairs since my mom didn’t like dogs or animals in the house. When we came back he had tried to get out of the basement landing. We knew that because of this 120 lb. The German shepherd had gouged scratch marks a quarter inch deep in the door leading to the upstairs. Curiouser and curiouser. He never had had such anxiety before…maybe it was the new place? Later, my mom called a furnace repair man. She took him downstairs and showed him the furnace. She was then working in the kitchen at the top of the stairs when she heard this man run up the stairs and slam his way through the door to the outside. She followed him out and he was trying to light a cigarette but his hands were shaking. My mom asked him if something was wrong and he said, “No, I’m alright I was just startled. You didn’t tell me you had a dog it surprised me and I guess my imagination ran away with me.” He smiled uncertainly. My mom was confused. “I don’t have a dog,” she said. “Do you have some kind of pet, grey and black, furry, and about yay big?” He held his hands about 2 feet apart. “No,” she said. He didn’t say anything. She went back inside as he looked away and smoked his cigarette. After a while, she thought she should see if he was alright. He had left leaving his tool bag and a thick binder downstairs. She called him up and reminded him he left his stuff and asked if he wanted to get it or if she should send it to him. He said no. He didn’t want anything to do with anything that is or had been in her basement. Then my mom finally decided maybe there was something going on. She called my sister and my sister went downstairs and investigated. She wrote me that I had opened a portal and when we got back she would help me with how to do, and close those things.

The darkest encounter I had, besides my portal, was ironically in a church. The thing I exorcised was the darkest encounter I had experienced up to that point. As I said, when the pastor told me they thought there was something in their church and God seemed to tell her in prayer that I could help. While I thought that it was odd since I had always thought that demons couldn’t enter hallowed ground I thought perhaps some parishioners had brought negative energy in with them and that was why she said she couldn’t feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in there. She could feel it in prayer and preparing for her sermon but when it came time to preach she said it was like there was a heaviness upon her and she had trouble just getting through the service.

I had never felt anything when I had visited but I tend to shut off my feelings so I am not bombarded by things day to day. Since I am used to closing off my feelings day to day I hadn’t felt anything and I thought there might be some residual negative energy there from a family with a bad attitude maybe some generational stuff and just some “bad vibes.” But I had written a prayer naming who I thought the chief actor was. And prepared by a ritual bath, prayer, and meditation, and blessing of my accoutrements and garments. When I got to the church I entered and stood in the foyer and opened my awareness up. It was like I was hit with a wall of dark energy so powerful and malignant that I staggered backward as if I had just been hit by a wall of wind from a massive storm. My wife steadied me and kept me from falling over, yes, I was literally staggered. With god’s help, I rallied and started reading the prayer I had prepared. As I read my prayer it was difficult and when I came to the part where I named the person I suspected and the forces of darkness my throat closed and I couldn’t speak the words. I could only read part of it invoking God’s presence but not the power phrase that would banish any evil and darkness. I determined to do what I could read as much as I could I began blessing every room, every window, and every doorway. I blessed the pulpit, lectern, and the chancel area especially thoroughly with holy water, incense, and prayer and visualizations. I finally came to an ancient full-length mirror in a children’s Sunday School room I looked into it and immediately felt as if I was falling into it like a vortex, it felt like some sort of portal. I gave it some extra attention and closed it as I had been taught. Anyway, at some point I somehow knew for a fact two things: 1) I could now read the whole prayer, including the banishing commands; and 2) whatever was there in that church and watching me did not know that I was able to complete it. So I kept this information to myself and did not change anything I was doing until I reached what I had determined was a key room for this dark presence and then finished the entire prayer giving the banishing commands in a loud command/drill sergeant voice. Instantly we heard a door slam. We had opened every door in the church and I thought someone had come in and ran out in a huff during the ceremony and prayers. It would have had to have been someone with a key because all the external doors were locked. No one was outside and no one had left the building. We went through looking to see what door had slammed but they were all open and the external access doors were all still locked. But the door slamming was so loud it echoed in the church. Years later I was talking to someone who said, condescendingly, “Yeah, we tend to find what we think we are going to find.” “Yes we do,” I agreed. “But that is not relevant here. EVERYTHING I have ever read and believed said that demons and evil presence cannot stay on holy ground that has been blessed. This was a church and I didn’t think this evil presence could be there. It was absolutely NOT what I was expecting. I expected a vaguely uneasy feeling, not a presence more powerful than I was.” Later, I reflected upon it and realized that in the mainline denominations there are a lot of ministers who say the prayers and go through the ritual but don’t speak with their hearts and emotions in it. So they are just repeating empty words and not actually blessing anything. Prayers from a priest like this are of little use. One pastor came to the aid of a family and prayed for them, apparently thinking it was just psychological and if he went through the motions they would be better. It got worse. He came back and almost through a Bible at them and said “This stuff isn’t real. You need to read your Bible and come to church.” I found that interesting since, if HE read his Bible, he would find that stuff in there. As he would in nearly every other single religion in history if he read their scriptures. An angel destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, another killed all the firstborn of Egypt in a single night. Even fallen and cut off from God the fallen angel or demon would be…something people on their own cant deal with. Fortunately we are not on our own.

Oh, I forgot to mention. One of the neatest things I have seen: the tech guy was setting up the equipment for the above house investigation. One of the things he used was one of those sensors that are used in VR gaming so that you can move and act out in the game. The leader of the investigation was a musician by trade and a song came on the radio he liked. He started dancing in the kitchen, by himself, to the music. The tech guy motioned me over. We looked on the sensor’s screen and you could see a stick figure of the guy dancing. The amazing thing was there were two little kids (presumably the ones who had recently died and were still playing with their toys,) dancing with him. One on either side. It was fascinating to look at the man, dancing alone, and then to look at the screen and see the three dancing together.

After this event, I began to think that I didn’t want to deal with this stuff but also that God had raised me up to deal with this stuff. I was praying to God about it and saying that I am not the best person for this spiritual fight because everything says you must be pure and holy and I was “just me.” In the midst of my prayer time, there was a knock on the door. It was someone I didn’t know but she said, “I don’t know if you remember me but you are my sister’s pastor and I heard you once. This may sound really weird to you but I was praying and God gave me a message for you and he won’t leave me alone until I deliver it. I don’t know what it means but maybe you do.” That was different. “OK, what is the message?” “You need to accept the power that God wants to give you.” When I was twenty-one I had a near-death experience and almost died in an army hospital. The angel told me I could come into heaven if I wanted but that God sent me here for a purpose and I had not yet accomplished my mission. It was up to me whether I returned to Earth or entered the kingdom at that time. I had a parishioner tell me once I had great faith. I said “no I don’t Faith is an assurance of things unseen. I have been to the gates of heaven and seen it. So I cannot claim to have faith. I’m too stubborn and I had to be shown.” This stuff is all very real.

But before you cry ghost or demon you should always try to rule out every single logical explanation that you can think of. My son has always liked ghost hunting shows and I am very critical of them and skeptical. That may seem odd considering my experiences but I think some of the shows are hilarious and fake…a few are not. Some of it is my experience as a counterintelligence agent and security director. I have done over 3000 investigative interviews and have both experience and training in investigation and reading the body language of liars. Sometimes it is apparent in these shows. But I greatly respect Ed and Lorraine Warren as well as the clairvoyant Derek Acorah and the work they did in their life. But, as my pastor friend said, “Fr. @@@@ has told me that out of hundreds of cases in Nebraska the Catholic Church has only acknowledged a few as demonic. We were talking and he didn’t believe in demons except as a psychological construct. I responded, “M., did you hear what you just said? A few ARE demonic.” Please don’t experiment with this stuff. Someone I know brought into their life something I call efreets by experimenting with psychic phenomena and astral travel, they appear as a smokey column with red eyes. The family started all sleeping together because their toddler was terrified. I don’t know that these ARE efreets. That is just the creature of myth that most closely resembles it.) It terrified the family until I got rid of it. At some point, the most logical explanation IS that there are ghosts or demons.

People, please do not try to deal with any of this on your own or treat it like a game. Don’t read this and think, I want to experience stuff like this! These things can scratch you, pummel you, and even hurl you against the wall. And, as some investigators have found out, sometimes, once you get their attention. They focus on you. People I know who have paid for their mistakes.

Pray that you don’t find out this is real. But if you have, I would like to hear about it below in the comments.

Of Nature’s God

Here we are talking about whatever it is that is out there that gives meaning, life, stability, patterns, and some semblance of order to the Universe. It has been called many things, “Das Ding an Sich” (the Thing in Itself), the Ground of All Being, the vast otherness, the Divine, the Force, the Living Force, the Ancient of Days, Fate, Destiny, the Universe, YHVH, Allah, the God of Nature (or Nature’s God), or simply God (and for some this concept is a unitarian one, for others a trinitarian one, and still others a multiplicity. )

I believe in Panentheism. Most people understand pantheism and many confuse these two terms just as so many confuse cavalry and calvary. Like the two “c” words the two “p” words are very different.

Panentheism is the belief that the divine is in all things. Not just reflected in all things but it is what Paul TIllich said is what we live in, move in, and have our very being. That is another word for God I forgot…Being. What Moses was told when he asked what God he was talking to he was simply told “I Am” or “I Am That I Am” or more colloquially “I be what I be.” Obi-Wan, in a galaxy far far away and a long time ago described it as an energy field that surrounds all and connects all living things. It can and will guide us if we let it. Master Yoda said it surrounds us and protects us from harm.

Some people have trouble separating these two thoughts: that everything is itself divine of its own power and might, and that everything is infused BY divine power and might. Saint Paul in the Book of Romans says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the God’s Spirit dwells in you.” God is not only close but part of us. If you look at The Call you will get an idea of some of what I am speaking of here.

But why bring up Yoda and Obi-Wan they are fiction. Be serious. I am. The Force was developed when George Lucas spent long hours of conversation with a great scholar of gods, heroes, and myths named Joseph Campbell. The roots of the Jedi lie in ancient Eastern Culture and it is no accident that they resemble the mystic masters of antiquity in powers and attitude.

But I’m a Christian and that was developed in the West not some Eastern religion, some would argue. My Bible instructor at Seminary would have disagreed with you. He would have said that Christianity is largely Western Greek Philosophy artificially grafted onto an Eastern Religion and to properly understand the Bible you have to understand that the Bible came out of the Middle EAST and they had a more Eastern than Western mindset in the Old Testament while the New Testament was a mix.

For me, it is a vast mystery that we can interact with and I have no interest in arguing whose God is better or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I am interested in exploring what people have said about this bewildering vast presence and expanding my knowledge of it. I invite you to come along. I will often refer to this power that created the Universe, Natural Laws, and the fascinating pattern that underlies all existence at the micro and macro levels as The Divine, God, the Force, the Living Force, Tao, Nature, the Universe, Nature’s God, or by the name that is used by whatever source I am quoting to give knowledge.

In general, I honor the ancient scriptures and will try to meet them where they are, mediated by my own experience of the divine, my powers of reason, and tradition.

I invite you to come along.

I am Rivan Ělän’. (Prounced Rivǝn Ělän´)

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