and things that go bump in the night, Dear Lord, deliver us.
This ancient and entirely respectable prayer comes to mind as I read Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s reflections on his time doing front line work in the realm of spiritual warfare, exorcism and so forth.
I’ve always accepted the biblical and ecclesial teaching on the reality of the demonic. Indeed, I’ve always found it difficult to understand why anybody would find it difficult. I don’t see how anybody could look at the 20th century and not come away persuaded that devils exist.
Ghosts also fascinate me, largely because they are a classic example of something from the fringes of the tradition. The Church basically doesn’t deal with the question, either pro or con. But in the trenches, what you find are lots of priests with stories like Fr. Dwight’s. Somebody calls and asks for them to come and “do something” about the Thing that is creeping them out in their house. So they go, do the exorcism or blessing or whatever, and it leaves. That gives me pause.
This, plus the fact that ghost stories are one of the things that every nation, tribe, language and tongue from every age of the world unanimously attests, give me pause. I have a very high regard for broadly attested human tradition and hardly anything is more broadly attest than this. So I tend to think that something, rather than nothing, is behind it.