Finding Francis

My overall feeling milling about the crowds was something I could only compare to, incongruous as it may sound, stories of Woodstock. The idea of teeming thousands sharing a weekend of peace and love without violence or major incident resonated with me. Granted the Papal visit was a family event and there were no apparently intoxicated people dancing around naked. No, I would soon find obscenity elsewhere.

Looking for the Pope in Philadelphia

20150926_100357On this overcast, blustery fall day I made a lone pilgrimage on foot two miles from my South Philly home to Center City for a chance at glimpsing Pope Francis, “the people’s Pope,” in person.  All the way up Broad Street, Army or National Guard soldiers — I’m not sure which — in green fatigues hung out casually in pairs on every other street corner. They’d been there since last night but I’m not sure why as no Papal events are planned this far south and barely a soul was out. The city seems apocalyptically deserted.

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Click to enlarge photos.

Eventually I came to barricades personed by police and military at every intersection to keep out vehicles but as a pedestrian I could pass freely. Finally, just south of City Hall, I reached one of the security entrances to the main event.  The lines were much shorter than I anticipated, and much friendlier.  Soon I was inside the secure zone.

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20150926_101707Although I’m not Catholic and have serious disagreements with the Catholic Church and its checkered history, the Pope is a major historical figure and he’s right here in my town so naturally I wanted to be a part of the event.  Like all these visitors from around the world I was one more gawking pilgrim eager to see “the people’s Pope” in the flesh.

Crossing Love Park I got my first glimpse of one of the Jumbotrons, on which the Pope was just starting Continue reading “Finding Francis”

Yoga Declared Satanic

Beware, yoga practitioners: it might lead to harder things like Hinduism. Father Francesco Bamonte, who heads the Italy-based International Association of Exorcists, warns the world that Yoga invites demonic possession. More in the London Telegraph’s ‘Rise of Exorcists in the Catholic Church’ in which we learn the Vatican is spearheading efforts to train a new generation of devil exterminators.

Pope Francis is rumored to have performed an exorcism during a Mass in St Peter’s Square last May. [Photo via telegraph.co.uk.]

Beware, yoga practitioners:  your sun salutations and downward dogs might lead to harder things . . . like Hinduism.  Father Francesco Bamonte, who heads the Italy-based International Association of Exorcists, warns the world that yoga is a gateway to demonic possession. More in the London Telegraph‘s recent article,  ‘Rise of Exorcists in the Catholic Church‘, in which we learn the Vatican has launched a program to train a global strike force of devil exterminators.

Don’t worry, you can always do Christ-centered stretching from now on to out-maneuver Beelzebub, like the kind offered at Christ Centered Yoga in Norcross, GA or Yahweh Yoga in Chandler, AZ.

I for one am eagerly awaiting Christ-centered Kama Sutra classes.

 

 

Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing

“I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.”- playwright and performance artist Jeffrey Stanley

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On Faith

Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing
by Jeffrey Stanley

These ghosts are primed and ready to provide a ghoulish Halloween on the 500 block of Summit Ave in Jenkintown.

I like Ouija boards. I’ve used them since I was a teenager.  More recently I’ve messed around with electric spirit boxes, also known as Frank’s boxes after their inventor Frank Sumption.  They’re radio receivers which allow you to listen to and record voices of the dead, also known as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or Raudive voices, after one of their early discoverers.  Over the past two years I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performance art, attempting to conjure up the dead as my co-stars before a live audience.  At one of the universities where I teach playwriting and screenwriting part-time I am also the faculty adviser for a student-led paranormal investigation club.  Friends and fans assume I am a true believer but the truth is that I am not.  I am a healthy skeptic.  And that’s depressing for me because it means that on some level I feel certain there’s nothing out there. I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.

Given the many millions of religious folks in the world (surveys tell us time and again that the vast majority of us believe in an afterlife) I am not alone in my desire for proof of a promise made long ago.  I don’t want to be told it by a clergyman or a book or a website. I want to see it.  Because of the world’s overwhelming belief in an afterlife I am always amazed at the number of people who are absolutely petrified of Ouija boards. Shouldn’t we be elated when the pointer, properly called a planchette, moves and spells out things?  Shouldn’t we jump for joy when a spirit box calls out to us?  Instead we flee in terror at the most innocuous of communications.  I’m reminded of my good friend Steve who received a strict Catholic upbringing.  Once as a teenager he played around with a Ouija board and it spelled out his dog’s name: HOBO.  He ran shrieking from the room,

Continue reading “Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing”