Few books address supernatural experiences through a Christian perspective. Gary Jansen’s Holy Ghosts or How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night is a fascinating read about his journey from skeptic to believer and how the paranormal now meshes with his religious beliefs. While I’m Protestant, I found the book to shed light on areas of interest to all Christians.

The ghost story

Gary and his wife move into his childhood home after his mother fails to sell it. Everything appears normal until March 2007 when Gary experiences chilling electrical sensations in his son’s room. Shortly afterwards, strange noises and activities occur. Footfalls. Talking toys (that weren’t turned on). Ominous sounds of shattering glass.

A friend recommends he call Mary Ann Winkowski (the inspiration for the TV show “Ghost Whisperer”), but Gary puts it off for months as he feels his faith incompatible with working with a medium.

Older Catholic writings support the existence of the paranormal

This leads him on a quest to research the writings of Catholic scholars (Father Alois Wiesinger, John Bosco, John Hardon and more) regarding the supernatural. Almost everything he finds was written prior to the Second Vatican in the 1960s, but what he reads intrigues him: documented cases of saints levitating, one appearing in two locations at once, apparition sightings, prophesies and clairvoyance. Through this research, he realizes the supernatural can be positive as well as negative.

His home grows more menacing. His son refuses to sleep in his bed or even enter his room. Out of ideas, Gary calls Mary Ann for a phone reading to determine what’s haunting his house. She finds two spirits inhabiting the dwelling: an older, more docile woman and a young man with a penchant for mischief. Together Mary Ann and Gary work to send the spirits to divine light.

What you say matters

Gary learns he attracted the male ghost to his home by complaining about the spirit’s recklessness when he was living. Moral: our words have meanings and can bring negativity into our lives.

My favorite passage from Holy Ghosts:

“I had used skepticism as a mask for cynicism for most of my life. One was life-affirming, the other was life-threatening. And I was a product of my environment. Maybe the reason miracles don’t seem to happen as much today as they had hundreds of years ago is that none of us can muster a fraction of an ounce of faith in ourselves or others.” 

Holy Ghosts details the various twists this haunting entailed, including the history behind the entities wreaking havoc in the Jansen household. Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction. And to find out, you’ll need to read his book.