Thursday, April 19, 2012

Opportunity v. Karma

To the untrained eye, these stories from Associated Press and Bay Area News Group may seem unrelated:

·        Woman, 96, confesses to 1946 murder

·        Bishops work to meet demand for exorcisms

·        Town shaken over freakish coincidence:  Man whose dad was killed by lightning, suffers the same fate

·        ‘Coexisting with ghosts:’ East Bay society investigates the unexplained 

Taken singly and over time these stories might draw at best a cool, disinterested, even careless review.  The casual reader could easily overlook the silent current, the subterranean significance. 

Not to worry.  That’s what I’m here for:  To divine the subtext and make the connections.  I’m on the job for you! 

To begin:  Why would a 96-year-old woman confess to a murder she committed, and got away with, 66 years ago?  It’s not like she was going to get caught.  Not now.  Cold case detectives won’t find any DNA today to unravel the mystery six decades old.  The witnesses are long gone.  Heck, after 66 years, the victim’s heirs are long gone! 

She must have passed up countless opportunities to step forward.  Did she just wake up this morning in a fit of enlightenment and call the mayor of her hometown to confess?  Seems more likely that she’d been stewing for a while.  Something must have been nagging her to come clean.  Or else.

Hold that thought.

Next:  Why would the demand for exorcisms have surged to an all-time high?  The Conference of Roman Catholic bishops says the tiny number of priests trained to perform the ritual have been overwhelmed by requests for it.   

Neal Lozano, Catholic author of “Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance,” says an exorcist he knows in the church receives about 400 inquiries a year, two or three of which require an exorcism.  Bishop Thomas Paprocki, of Springfield, Ill., speculates people “wonder if some untoward activity is taking place in their life and want some help [from the church] discerning that.”   

Therefore the bishops scheduled a workshop, open to clergy only, offering instruction on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and reviewing the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism.  Fifty bishops and 60 priests signed up for the two-day training. 

Indeed. 

Next, a report that New Jersey resident George Rooney was struck by lightning while fishing from a boat 49 years ago when his son Stephen was 5.  Family members stated that often over the years since his dad’s death Stephen would say that lightning wouldn’t strike the family twice.  Then, at a family gathering with his cousins, he ducked under a tree during an electrical storm saying something like, “Don’t worry, you’re safe out here with me,” just before an electric fireball struck the tree, injuring his cousin and killing him. 

A person can’t help wondering who or what considered Stephen’s statements over the years a dare.  Who just took it and took it until that day, when all those circumstances converged too perfectly to ignore?  Did someone or something finally say, “Oh yeah?!”  Ba boom! 

And finally, more ghost hunters join the burgeoning preternatural industry responding to the plethora of unexplained mists and unearthly orbs populating the homes of the susceptible.  The East Bay Paranormal Society, perhaps the most recently formalized group of ghost hunters, takes a pragmatic approach to sightings of paranormal phenomena.  Their practitioners employ a range of equipment including infrared and night-vision cameras, a laser grid, an electromagnetic field detector, an ambient air thermometer, an ion generator, and a digital recorder, in an effort to confirm or deny the otherworldly experiences.  

An invisible internal force of conscience calls an elderly woman to confess to her decades-old crime; hundreds of seekers request exorcism of troubling demons from their everyday lives; man tempts fate with a repetitive challenge to a common sense saw – pays the ultimate price; and, ghost busters flourish in the ‘tween world of science and the  supernatural.  

The thread?  Unseen forces!  Unseen forces prompt the granny to come clean.  Unseen forces put fear in the hearts of the formerly fearless, prompting the church to respond.  Unseen forces take the dare.  And unseen forces float ectoplasm in the living rooms of the unsuspecting and spawn a cottage industry. 

For millennia humans have felt and acknowledged that added dimension.  We work with it or around it.  Some of us work hard pretending it isn’t there. 

Ignore it at your peril!  Opportunity knocks.  But karma will hunt you down.

*****

Have you had an experience with unseen forces?  I'd love to hear about it!