Do you believe in ghosts, Faithful Reader?
I do. There are a number of reasons for that, but I'm not going to get into that in this week's column.
Suffice to say, I think that ghosts are in a state of being which we Catholics call purgatory.
It's a belief held by many Eastern Catholics, meaning members of the Eastern Catholic churches, the Melkites, the Byzantines, the Syrics, the Chaldeans, etc. There are 23 distinct Eastern Catholic churches that, while they are their own churches, are nonetheless in communion with Rome. They are not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox churches, which are not.
Anyway, it's something that many of my Eastern brethren and sisters believe, and I think it's spot on.
And no, this column is not going to be an explanation of the doctrine of purgatory either.
It's going to be a (joking) hypothesis about where ghosts come from.
It's remarkable to me just how many people think that just because they don't believe that something is true, that makes it untrue. As if their belief determines reality. It is something that has amused me for a long time. Even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, people will persist in believing something. And sometimes they'll get mad at you for challenging that belief or say that you're persecuting or oppressing them by doing so.
With that in mind, I came up with this imagined exchange between one of the recently deceased and a death angel who has come to guide their soul Beyond. Keep in mind, of course, that this was conceived as a joke:
"Death Angel: Hello. You're dead. I'm here to take you to the afterlife.
Dead Person: I'm not dead.
Death Angel: But there's your dead body, right there.
Dead Person: I'm not dead.
Death Angel: Yes, you are. Don't you see your dead body right in front of you?
Dead Person: Fake news. I am not dead.
Death Angel: See, they're zipping you up in a body bag right now.
Dead Person: Did you not hear me? I said fake news! That means I'm not dead.
Death Angel: No, those words have no effect on reality. You are dead.
Dead Person: You are entitled to your opinion, but I am not dead.
Death Angel: It's not a matter of opinion.
Dead Person: You can't just tell me that I'm dead. Whether I'm alive or not is up to me. I know my rights.
Death Angel: A discourse on the natural law is not going to help you at this point. You just got hit by a bus and you are dead.
Dead Person: You're violating my rights!
Death Angel: No, I'm just here. You have been hit by a bus and are dead. Your rights have nothing to do with it.
Dead Person: I do not believe I am dead.
Death Angel: Your belief is irrelevant. You are dead.
Dead Person: Stop attacking me!
Death Angel: I am not attacking you. And I mean, there's not much else anyone could do to you if they were attacking you because you're dead.
Dead Person: I saw on YouTube where some people survive being hit by a bus.
Death Angel: Yes, some people do. But you didn't. You are dead.
Dead Person: STOP ATTACKING ME. THIS IS ERASURE.
Death Angel: If by erasure you mean the end of your mortal existence, then yeah, I suppose it is.
Dead Person: STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT.
Death Angel: Seriously?
Dead Person: You have no right to tell me whether I'm dead or alive!
Death Angel: I quit. I have other appointments today.
* * *
Dead Person: I've been going around for a week now trying to talk to people but they all just run away, shrieking in terror. It's like they're all acting the same way. This... can't be a coincidence.
This can really only mean one thing.
There must be a conspiracy! And I'm gonna figure it out!"
And a new haunting begins!
Caleb Baumgardner is a local attorney. He can be reached at [email protected]