Through a Glass, Darkly

The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Dominion of the Damned trilogy

Dominion news! New covers, and get Desolation for only 99 cents!

Hello hello!

I hope you’re all having a relaxing Thanksgiving week (those of you who celebrate it, at any rate). I’m taking it easy this week to rest up from a few weeks of keeping up with an intense freelance writing workload before I dive back in next week. But I wanted to tell you about some final tweaks I made to my Dominion of the Damned trilogy:

  • I updated the covers  (see below) — hopefully this makes it a bit clearer what readers can expect.
  • I merged the two parts of Revolution into a single volume.
  • AND I set Book One, Desolation, at only 99 cents from now until further notice.

Click here to find the complete trilogy on Amazon, and click here for links to everywhere else it’s sold.

Happy reading, and happy Thanksgiving!

Coffee Talk: Where did October go? Also, upcoming plans, Halloween, and getting your mind blown by the Bible

Image by Irina Kuzmina from Pixabay

October is, theoretically, my favorite month of the year. The milder weather, the turning leaves, the Halloween candy and pumpkin spice, the combo of spooky and cozy vibes… I love it all. And every year I look forward to it like no other month.

And every year, it seems, the month gets crazy, and I barely get to enjoy it, and it’s over and gone before I know it.

I’m in a weird, conflicted place right now of mourning the fact that October is almost over already and lamenting how busy this month was while simultaneously being pleased with how productive it was and being excited that we’re only a few days away from Halloween and the start of holiday season.

And it was certainly productive. We finished building the chicken coop, almost completely from scrap materials that were lying around the property, and got the chicks moved in, where they’re doing great. Our landlords came for a few days and together we knocked down some giant piles of limbs that were waiting for the right conditions to be burned and also cleared a lot of junk out of the warehouse. And we accumulated enough leaves to finally fill our empty hugelkultur garden bed, so those can be composting until next spring (we’ve still got to gather old wood to pile on top of the leaves). That’s a lot of work right there, but if the way our tomatoes have taken off in our first hugelkultur bed are any indication, it’ll be well worth it.

Here’s the finished coop:

And all that’s just on the homestead front. It was also a productive writing month. I FINALLY finished, AND revised, AND published Revolution Part Two! I cannot even begin to convey what a relief it is to finally have that trilogy off my plate (except for the paperbacks I still need to format and create covers for). And that’s not all! I also added a couple of new chapters to my sweet romance WIP. And this week I updated both Eucha Falls and Weather Witch with new titles and covers — all while keeping up  with a steady stream of freelance writing gigs. Here are the new covers:

What I Did Not Get to Do This Month

I had so many plans for this here blog this month. I was going to have so much fun with it being spooky season. I was going to continue my examination of the Biblical supernatural worldview by taking a look at what the Bible says about ghosts, I was going to get into the Satanic Panic of the ’80s and ’90s and whether that was real and still going on (short answer: yes on both counts — do a DuckDuckGo search on the Finders cult if you want to go down that rabbit hole, but cover yourself in prayer first and guard your heart and mind if you do), and I was planning a big post on the true history and CHRISTIAN origins of Halloween to combat all the rampant misinformation that’s either guilting or terrifying so many clueless Christians into shunning their own holiday.

Alas, I didn’t have time for any of that. I’m still planning to tackle the ghosts and Satanic Panic topics at some point (and also revisit the topic of goat demons), if things ever slow down to a point where I can devote time to this blog again, but as for the Halloween origins, I had to settle for throwing together an Instagram story, which you can view by clicking here. Just click and hold your button down (or your finger if you’re on your phone) on each slide to pause and read.

If you don’t want to wait around for me to dig into these topics, then I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking out the Blurry Creatures podcast, which I have been binging like crazy for the last couple of weeks (one of the perks of doing a lot of outdoor work). It started out as a Bigfoot / cryptids podcast but quickly took a sharp turn and became about examining the origins of everything weird and strange in the universe and how it all ties back to Genesis, and the theological and historical implications thereof. Start with the latest episode and work your way back if you don’t care about Bigfoot (although he still comes up in every episode). I’m dubious about some of the claims and theories of some of the guests, but even so, this podcast will blow your mind and rock your worldview.

What’s Coming Up

I’m not going to set a timeline on any of this, because we’ve still got a lot to get done around the homestead before winter hits (that fence around the chicken yard isn’t going to build itself), and I’m promised a steady stream of freelance work between now and the end of the year. But I still need to merge both parts of Revolution into one volume and then set up paperbacks (and maybe hardbacks?) for that whole series. And I’m about to start edits on the sleep paralysis story I wrote last year, which I think I’m going to include in a collection that includes all of my short standalone stories — that will also get released as both a paperback and ebook.

I’ll keep plugging away each morning on the romance novel, which I think is a little more than halfway done, and which I’m hoping to have ready in time for a spring release. And once that’s done I’ll take a break before starting the next book in that series to finally get back to the urban fantasy series I started last year.

I’m really chomping at the bit to get back to that series, but I’m glad I put it off. While it will be marketed as fantasy, the truth is that it will be thoroughly grounded in a Biblical supernatural worldview, which is very real. And while it was always my intention with this series to highlight the angelic conflict that’s happening all around us, I started this back before I’d been exposed to Dr. Michael Heiser’s work, and since then my worldview has vastly expanded to include a wide range of possibilities. Binging Blurry Creatures is also doubling as research for this series. And I’m realizing that there’s so much more I can communicate about this stuff, so much more effectively, through fiction than through a blog or podcast. I can’t wait to get into it, but at the same time, I need more time to process all of it.

So that’s what all is on the horizon. Oh, and I’m also planning (or hoping) to get re-focused on building my mailing lists and participating in some more multi-author book giveaways over the next few months.

But first, I’m going to enjoy a long Halloween weekend, watch some old school scary movies and try not to OD on chocolate. I hope you and yours have a pleasant and safe All Hallow’s E’en/Reformation Day/Fall Harvest Festival/candy day/it’s just Sunday you satanically-inspired heretic.

Peace.

REVOLUTION 2 IS HERE AND I’M TOO EXCITED CAN’T YOU TELL BY THE CAPS ABUSE

Hi guys. I know it’s been quiet around these parts lately. That’s because we’ve had our heads down finishing projects.

And one of those projects was Revolution Part Two and YOU GUYS IT’S HERE IT’S OUT IN THE WORLD AND YOU CAN GET IT AND READ IT RIGHT NOW OMG!

Please excuse my complete lack of chill. There were times these last two years when I thought this day would never come. But it did. It’s here. Dominion of the Damned is completely finished.

Currently both this new release and Revolution Part One are 99 cents. In about a month I’ll merge them into one volume and unpublish the second part, and raise the price on the complete volume. That means two things: one, you’ve got about a month to grab both halves for under $2 and save a buck or two; and two, if you leave a review, please leave it on Part One’s Amazon page, because that’s where the complete volume will live, and Part Two’s Amazon page will be going away.

And in this day of rule by algorithm, reviews are very, very much needed and appreciated.

Phew! So what else is new? We finished the chicken coop and got the chicks moved in. They’re no longer chicks, really, but adolescent chickens. They’ve about got all their feathers and they’re starting to make clucking noises. It’s still pretty darn cute. AND I’m pretty sure we’ve got a rooster in the mix, which makes me glad we didn’t order one.

Now that things are calming down I’m hoping to get back to some kind of blogging schedule soon. Until then…

Happy reading!

 

Coffee Talk: More Chick Chat, WIP Progress and a Sneak Peek!

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Coffee Talks are where I chat with you as though we were sitting down together over coffee, updating you on my life, my work, and what’s been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you, as well, so keep the conversation going in the comments!

Welp, another week, and still no conspiracy post. I swear, you guys. Maybe Somebody’s trying to tell me I shouldn’t post that thing and get myself in trouble. But between a batch of freelance assignments and the new chicks, there just wasn’t time. I don’t really have time for this post, either, so I’mma try to keep it short.

Sadly, we lost the tiniest of our tiny babies, the rest of whom are getting less tiny by the day. One of our little speckled Sussex (naturally, the breed of which they only sent us three of the five we ordered) struggled from the start, and seemed to be underdeveloped compared to the rest. We isolated her enough to let her get plenty of food and water without any competition, and rest from getting knocked around and run over, and she seemed to be growing stronger, enough so that we were getting our hopes up that she’d make it. But sadly, those hopes were dashed by noon on Tuesday when I found her lying on her side in the brooder, having passed away after a morning of fooling us into thinking she was doing well.

The rest of the chicks are doing great, though–healthy, strong and growing like weeds. They’re already flapping their wings and trying to reach the top of the tub, so we’ll have to transition them to the big brooding box soon. Their individual personalities are starting to come out, too. They’re so much fun. If someone had told us that chicks were this fun and therapeutic, we’d have gotten some a long time ago.

Click here to see them in action.

As I said up top, my freelance writing picked up this week, but that hasn’t interfered with writing my novel, which I dare say is going great. This morning I had to stop midway between the big (spoiler alert) showdown between Hannah and Esme, but there’s not much of that scene left to go, and then I just need to write the denouement, and then it will be finished, save for typing up and revising all these handwritten scenes. Barring some major life circumstance stealing all my energy and focus, I really think I’ll reach the end by next week.

Making myself write first thing in the morning (well, first thing after letting Dixie pee and then making coffee) is really making all the difference. And it’s having a trickle-down effect, too, revving me up for the day and making me more productive in other areas. I really hope I can keep this momentum going.

With that in mind, I’m rethinking my previously stated plans to take an extended writing break starting in November, and just continuing on in the early mornings with my next project (though I may take a week or so to write up some of the longer blog posts I’ve had in mind first) so I don’t lose that momentum and then have to spend a lot of my energy getting started again. I guess I’ll play it by ear, and if I feel like I need a break, or I just end up not writing, I won’t beat myself up about it and I’ll just take a dadgum break.

Although last weekend ended up being more hectic than I’d expected, what with wrangling with tech support over losing access to my website and having to seize the good weather to get out there and work on the chicken coop, I did manage to get some time to strategize the next phase of my writing career and plan out my future projects. Although the Mae Bishop urban fantasy series I started early last year is calling to me, I think first I’m going to turn my focus to my sweet romance series and spend some time building up that pen name — mainly because I think it will be more marketable and stand a better chance of generating some significant income.

But probably what I’ll end up doing is alternating between them, writing and releasing a Mae Bishop novela in between each of my sweet romance books, and keeping both of those series going as long as I can. And then maybe, hopefully, on the side I can work on one of my stand-alone YA passion projects that have been brewing in my brain for a good long time. As grateful as I am for my freelance writing work and the income it brings in, I really, really hope I can finally get a handle on making my books work for me and replace that freelance income with publishing revenue so I’ll have more time freed up to write all the stories in my head. And also to focus more on growing our little starter homestead into a full-fledged dairy and fiber farm.

All of this is quite the one-eighty from a couple of months ago when I was saying I didn’t even want to write or be an author anymore, isn’t it? If you’ll recall, I prayed a lot about that, asking God to restore that desire and drive if that’s what He really wanted me to be doing with my life, and, welp, here we are. I saw this quote the other day, which I posted on my author instagram, and I’ll share it here, because it’s been true of me pretty much my entire life.

Oh, and while I’m sharing things here that I shared on IG, here also is a little sneak peek at Revolution Part Two:

Okie-doke, I’ve still got an article to write, so I’d best get to it. I don’t know how my weekend will shape up, but if it doesn’t rain too much, I’m guessing it will involve more coop building (we’ve got three sides up! We just need to install the nesting box partitions and roosting poles, then we can put the front and roof on).

Talk to me, Goose. How are things with you? (Bonus points if you can name that movie.)

Coffee Talk: Baby Chicks Doo Doo Do Doo! Also, Revolution Progress and Writer Self-Discovery

Coffee Talks are where I chat with you as though we were sitting down together over coffee, updating you on my life, my work, and what’s been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you, as well, so keep the conversation going in the comments!

Note: I wrote this post on Friday, but lost connection to my web host right as I was ready to post it. So that’s why you’re getting a rare Saturday post, following a lot of back and forth with tech support to fix the issue.

Happy September! So it’s basically fall now and also already Halloween. Yes, yes, the equinox is still weeks away and temps are still in the high 80s and 90s, but that’s a minor detail. Bring on them pumpkins and candy!

(Also, just so you know, Christmas this year begins on November 1st, so you should probably prepare.)

And now for our big news: THE CHICKS ARE HERE YOU GUYS!!!

And I’m going to be spamming all my feeds with unsolicited chick pics from here on out, so be warned.

Thankfully, they only had to travel from Missouri, and the weather stayed nice and mild for their trip, and they all arrived safe and sound. We’ve got three Speckled Sussex and six each of Buff Orpingtons and Easter Eggers (aka Americaunas — they lay blue and green eggs). We actually ordered five of each, but they were short on Sussex and substituted one each of the other breeds, which is fine.

We also ordered all hens, but I’m hoping a rooster made it into the mix. With fifteen birds, we figured there was a good chance that might happen, so we didn’t order a roo. But I’ve read that it can be hard to get an established flock to accept a new rooster, and we would really like to breed them and have a sustainable flock, so I’m a little apprehensive about that decision, and crossing my fingers that at least one of our new babies is a boy.

For now we’ve set up a brooder for them in our master bathtub, one of those extra-wide and deep garden tubs that come standard in double-wides that we never use. It’s working great. When they outgrow that we’ll move them out to a transitional brooder in the warehouse until they’re big enough for the coop–which we’ve now got a definite deadline to finish building.

Oh! I got so excited about the chicks that I forgot to mention that Mr. B. and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this week. The chicks were something of an anniversary present for us both. I shared on my personal Instagram about what I’ve learned in all these years about keeping a marriage strong — you can read that here.

Moving on to writing news, I’ve found my groove again, and the last half of Revolution is chugging along. This week was the first week in I can’t even remember how long that I’ve written every day. I switched things up by going to pen and paper and also shifting things around so I can write first thing in the morning, and those two simple changes have made all the difference. This morning I brainstormed and plotted out the remaining scenes, which are four in number. The end is so very nigh, y’all!

I’d love to finish it next week, but even if I don’t, I’m on track to finish it this month. I would also love to release it in time for Halloween, and since I’ve been editing as I go, I think that might actually be a realistic goal. I’ve already got the cover ready so all I’ll have to do is format it, which is mostly a matter of pasting it into a template, and then proofread, and then it’s done! Yay!

Speaking of figuring out what works for me, this week I discovered The Quitcast by Becca Syme. Well, “discovered” isn’t really the right word, because Becca’s been on my radar for over a year now. But I finally got around to checking out her podcast, and now I’m kicking myself for not doing so a year ago. She’s a writing and self-publishing coach who centers everything around the Clifton Strengthsfinder, which is less of a personality test and more of a strength and aptitude test that’s based on actual science, and can tell you a lot about how your brain is wired.

I’ve taken the test before, some time ago when it was free, which is no longer the case. Out of curiosity, I took this free knockoff earlier this week, and my top five matched my Strengthsfinder results, which are Strategy, Empathy, Ideation, Intellection and Belief (Communication, Relator, Futuristic, Context and Consistency round out my top 10). Becca helps put all that information into the context of what it means for you as a writer, how you function, why writing advice does or doesn’t work for you, how to figure out what actually does work for the way you’re wired, etc.

While I’m sure her coaching delves a lot deeper into figuring these things out on an individual basis, her podcast has been giving me a lot of insights into my own writing habits, successes and failings. And while it hasn’t exactly taught me anything about myself I wasn’t already aware of, it has helped me come to terms with and accept that there are things about the way I operate as a writer that are never going to change. I’m never going to be the kind of writer that churns out several novels a year, and I’m only going to burn myself out if I try to work at that pace. I need LOTS of time and space to think and process, and I need a lot of time between big projects to recover my energy.

It’s also helped me understand that, as someone who has a high degree of empathy and is also future-focused and doesn’t cope well with uncertainty, these crazy times we’re living in are extremely draining for me. I’m spending tons of energy just coping with the way the world is right now, and that’s why I’ve been so ridiculously tired lately and why it’s been such a struggle to find the mental energy and the will to write. So that’s helpful. I think that’s why moving my writing to first thing in the morning, before I get on social media or get exposed to any news, has made such a big difference. And I’m going to spend the weekend thinking about ways to protect my energy from all the insanity and stress without entirely sticking my head in the sand.

Another thing it’s helped me realize is that I’m prone to magical thinking about the future–thinking things like, “Okay, that didn’t work, but next time will be different”–and that I need to learn from the past and adapt my behavior accordingly. For starters, I’m going to accept the fact that I never get any novel writing done from about mid-November until January 2nd. And instead of making plans to start a new novel during that time and then beating myself up over neglecting it, this year I’m going to be intentional about taking a break from writing during those weeks, and instead focus on other tasks that I’m more likely to actually do. For one thing, I’ll focus on ways I can repackage my Dominion trilogy, since it will be done by then — like finally getting the paperbacks done and putting together an electronic boxed set. And I’m thinking that would also be a good chance to finally migrate my mailing list from Mailchimp to MailerLite and create a new series of autoresponders. I’ll probably take part in some giveaways, too. And already, just thinking about not having to worry about writing during the holidays and getting to focus on these things I’ve been putting off for so long is getting me jazzed about the season.

That might be too much of a look at how the sausage is made for your taste. But even so, I highly, highly recommend checking out Becca’s work and her YouTube channel. She’s got a series of books for writers, too that are going on my wishlist (that’s an affiliate link, btw — if you use that link to make an Amazon purchase I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you, which I have to tell you because the FTC is extremely concerned that you don’t know how affiliate links work).

Before I sign off, I want to say one thing regarding current events. I think everyone who leans toward being apolitical or moderate or who prefers to stay out of the political debate has a threshold where they feel compelled to get off the fence and choose a side. While I haven’t exactly been moderate for a long time, I did generally avoid voicing my political opinions online for far too long. My threshold was crossed last year, and I found my voice and my courage to start using it to speak out against evil and stand up for righteousness and liberty.

I don’t know where your threshold is, friend. But if the recent actions of the current administration haven’t been enough to push you past your limit and compel you to choose a side, then I don’t know what it will take, and by the time you reach your limit, at this point, it might well be too late for it to make a difference. I’m not saying everybody’s got to start going to rallies or become keyboard activists. But if you haven’t already, now is a real good time to look around at what’s happening, at who is doing what, and make up your mind about where you stand, and what you stand for. Because in the immortal words of somebody famous and probably dead, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”

And that’s all I’ll say about that in this space, although I’ve got plenty more to say in my personal Instagram stories if you’re interested.

And now, I’m going to sign off and start my weekend. I’m going to take a break from writing and let these last four scenes percolate in my head while I spend time with our new baby chicks and watch a scary movie or two.

Have you taken the Strengthsfinder (or something like it)? If so, what are your Top 5?

Oh, and PS – I’m still working on that conspiracy theory post, which is seeming more relevant by the day. Watch for that sometime next week!

Goat demons in the Bible

Goat Demons? Azazel? Are We in the Days of Noah? I Have Questions About Leviticus.

This was not the post I was planning (that one’s still in draft mode, about halfway done), but in the vein of exploring spiritual beings of the Bible, a new one caught my attention this morning as I was reading through Leviticus: goat demons.

What now?

Here is Leviticus 17:7, which is in the context of forbidding the Israelites to kill animals outside the camp unless they then bring the animal to the Tabernacle and present it to the Lord as a peace offering. Emphasis mine:

So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.

So apparently there was a problem with people sneaking off to sacrifice animals to goat demons?

What’s really interesting is that this passage immediately follows the instructions for the Day of Atonement, in which the Jews were instructed to bring two goats before the Lord. One was to be sacrificed for a sin offering. As for the other, the priest would symbolically place upon its head all the sins of the people, and then they would take it outside the camp and release it into the wilderness, “to Azazel.”

Nobody really knows for sure what, or who, Azazel is. Some say it’s a name for Satan. Some say it’s the name of a demon. Others say it’s just a word that means scapegoat. Now I’m wondering — could it be the name of a goat demon? Perhaps the one the Israelites were making sacrifices to?

The phrase “goat demon” also puts me in mind of Pan, a half-goat, half-man pagan deity and nature spirit, as well as Baphomet, the goat-headed hermaphrodite who is a symbol for Satan in all kinds of devil worship.

So goat demons definitely seem to be a thing that exists. My question is, where did they come from?

If demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim, the offspring of humans and fallen angels, then how on earth did we get goat demons?

Jesus said the last days would be as it was in the days of Noah — the days when fallen angels were mixing their DNA with humans and, according to Enoch, also instructing us in effective and creative ways to defile and destroy ourselves. It’s the DNA tampering that springs to my mind. In our own time, as I write this there are labs both here in the US and around the world that are combining human and animal DNA. In Arizona they’ve created humanized mice. In China they’ve been experimenting with humanizing the brains of monkeys, because they either haven’t seen Planet of the Apes, or it struck them as a brilliant idea.

It makes sense, in light of both the moral and genetic corruption wrought by the Watchers, why God had to wipe out humanity in the flood and start over. But why the animals? Could it be that the fallen Sons of God also played around with animal DNA? Could some of the Nephilim also have been part animal?

And could that be how we got goat demons?

And could this explain certain cryptid sightings?

Or maybe these all fall under the category of elemental spirits and have nothing to do with the Nephilim?

These are just some thoughts and observations from this morning’s Bible study, and I thought I’d submit it to you for discussion. So what do you think? Am I onto something? Am I overthinking this and taking it all way too literally? What’s your theory? Let’s hash this weirdness out together in the comments.

Coffee Talk: New Facebook, New Instagram, Novel & Coop Progress, and the Dangers of Making Plans

Photo by Mindspace Studio on Unsplash

Coffee Talks are where I chat with you as though we were sitting down together over coffee, updating you on my life, my work, and what’s been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you, as well, so keep the conversation going in the comments!

Let’s see. In my last Coffee Talk, I said I had a break from freelancing and made all kinds of personal writing and novel writing plans, didn’t I?

Reader, none of that happened.

Instead, the big client I signed on with last spring finally sent some work my way, which kept me busy for a solid two weeks. I’m not complaining and am in fact very grateful. But not a lot else got done in that time.

Well, not a lot… but not nothing, either. I launched a new Facebook Author Page, so please follow me there. I also revived my author Instagram account, partly because my personal account has gotten so heavy and serious and I need a space that’s just for fun. And I finished another chapter of Revelation Part 2. I think I’ve only got two chapters left to go. I wasn’t able to work on it at all last week, but later today I’m going to edit the new chapter and hopefully get a start on the next. I’m probably not going to finish it this month like I hoped, but I’m going to come very close.

Soon, y’all. Soon.

On the home front, we got the foundation of our chicken coop built. Or rather, Mr. B. did all the measuring and sawing and drilling while I held stuff. But it was a team effort. And now it just needs walls and a roof. And nesting boxes. And a place to roost. At any rate, it’s coming along. We put in an order for tiny baby chickies (eeee!), which are due to arrive mid September, so we’ve got some time yet.

Also, after being too busy for housework for two weeks, on Friday I sucked up five(!) Dyson canisters full of Dixie hair, and that’ll teach me to go that long without vacuuming again. Hashtag writinglife hashtag germanshepherdlife.

Speaking of Dixie, she’s not really growing like a weed anymore. At seven months I still expect her to grow a little more, but I think she’s getting close to her adult size. Here she is, sitting pretty (I had to bribe her with treats to get her to sit still for a few seconds):

As for what’s coming up, I hesitate to state any plans. A few weeks ago we watched the film Parasite, in which a character, rather cynically, warned his children against making plans. To loosely paraphrase, he said that plans always fail, so you’re better off never having a plan. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but he does have a point. I tend to do best when I take life one day at a time and hold my plans loosely, because rarely do things go according to plan.

I hope I’m going to finish my novel in the next few weeks, and get another long blog post up here later this week. But between the coop build, still needing to get our fall garden planted, it still being mowing season, and the unpredictability of my freelance work schedule, that’s about as ambitious as I’m ready to get right now on the writing front. In my ideal world, my books would take off and sell like hotcakes, I’d be able to retire from freelancing, and I’d blog here practically every day and probably have a podcast, too. But if wishes were horses, yada yada yada. Maybe someday. Until then, I novel 15 minutes at a time and blog when I can. Do what you can do, and leave the rest up to God.

Book talk: I gave up on Hero With a Thousand Faces. I probably would have appreciated it more when I was younger and more impressionable, but as much as the Hero’s Journey is a useful paradigm for storytelling, I mostly found the book to be a lot of secular-humanist pretension, especially in light of the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, and I was too irritated to continue. I’ll take Tolkien over Campbell any day. Ol’ J.R.R. knows what’s up.

I’m still reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I’d forgotten just how long those Outlander books are. Thank goodness for airplane mode on my Kindle that keeps the library from yanking it away after two weeks. I’m also wanting to re-read The Unseen Realm at some point, but that may wait until my novel’s finished.

Welp, I think we’re all caught up for now. Watch for a post here soon about conspiracy theories, if I don’t get led to write something else instead. Got a favorite conspiracy theory you’d like me to cover? Leave a request in the comments. Otherwise, how are things for you lately?

Is the World Under a Spell?

Somebody must really not want this post to be seen. Twice now it has completely disappeared from my site without a trace, which is the weirdest thing. Hopefully, this third time posting it will be the charm that makes it stick. If you’re a subscriber and you’re getting this in your mailbox AGAIN, I’m so sorry. Say a prayer that this will be the last time.

Image by ksyfffka07 from Pixabay

It’s interesting to me that New Agers and astrologers believe we either are entering or have just entered the Age of Aquarius, which is supposed to be this era of spiritual awakening for humanity. It’s interesting because that actually seems to be happening to a degree. More and more people are coming to a heightened awareness of spiritual forces at work in the world and of something greater than themselves. In this post-postmodern era, following a long post-enlightenment period during which even the Church-at-large mostly abandoned belief in the supernatural in favor of a materialist and naturalistic worldview, people both within and without Christianity are waking up to the fact that there’s too much that is left unexplained by such a worldview. And as things get darker and darker, both Christians and non-Christians are gaining a stronger sense of the reality of spiritual warfare.

The enlightenment was a real mixed bag, wasn’t it? It led to some great things, like a better understanding of science and physics and nature, and it led to the advancement of Judeo-Christian values and beliefs in human dignity and liberty and God-given rights that led to the founding of our nation. But it also led to humanism and secularism and atheism and the abandonment of belief in the supernatural, even in the Church.

I find it highly ironic that among his worshipers, Lucifer is heralded as the Light-bringer, the one who bestowed the gift of knowledge on humanity — yet he used, or perhaps even instituted this Age of Enlightenment, which brought us an increase in knowledge, to convince the world that he doesn’t exist, which may have been an even more effective trick than managing to convince so many that God doesn’t exist.

But after a couple hundred years or so of that being the dominant viewpoint, people are coming back around to belief in the supernatural, if not necessarily to belief in God. I don’t hold with the beliefs of astrologers and New Agers, but I absolutely believe that they are in touch with beings beyond this realm, demons and/or fallen Elohim, who are giving them factual information, albeit twisted facts that suit their agenda to keep humans as far from God as possible. Some of those beings may even be some of the Powers and Principalities who are allowed to direct, to an extent, the culture and the affairs of those who don’t belong to Christ.

And make no mistake: if you don’t belong to Him, you belong to them.

Sadly, because so much of the Church embraced materialism, local church bodies who know and understand what we’re dealing with and are equipped to instruct their congregations in how to deal with this increasingly more aggressive spiritual activity and deception are few and far between. Most churches also aren’t equipped to handle, say, an unbeliever who has a sensitivity to these things and who tries turning to the church for answers.

For something like 1800 years, the Church was able to provide a Biblical basis for understanding and dealing with the supernatural and paranormal and placing it in its proper context. But for the last 200 years or so, and especially the last hundred, a pastor’s response to someone dealing with demonic oppression or who has encountered something they can’t explain is more likely to be along the lines of, “You should probably see a counselor and maybe get on some medication.”

Of course, there’s the other end of the spectrum–hyper-charismatic and NAR-type churches who embrace the supernatural to an unhealthy degree, going way off the Biblical script in order to have experiences that prove how spiritual they are, emphasizing the Holy Spirit over Jesus, teaching unbiblical doctrine and dangerous spiritual practices that open them up to the same ungodly forces that New Age and occult practitioners flirt with on the regular. A close cousin to this is Richard Rohr’s brand of Progressive Christianity, with its meditative practices and spiritual disciplines meant to achieve enlightenment, and its gnostic and New Age panentheistic views of the Universal Christ Consciousness rather than faith in the person and finished work of Christ Jesus.

And then there are all of the non-Christians who are growing in spiritual awareness, who are turning to things like New Age and the occult, paganism and witchcraft in their attempt to grapple with, understand and dominate this new reality.

I think the Church’s failure to provide sound, Biblical answers to all of this, answers that don’t dismiss or redirect, but equip believers and affirm their experiences, is largely responsible for why we’re seeing such a rise in all of the things mentioned above.

I’ve taken in a couple of things lately, one a Christian podcast and the other a decidedly unchristian documentary, that discussed this idea that we’re going through a sort of re-enchantment. That the Enlightenment that was supposedly this great awakening to knowledge actually put us to sleep to the fact that the world is an enchanted place, full of magic and shared with otherworldly beings — the stuff of both fairytales and nightmares (and if you’ve read the Brother’s Grimm and the older versions of those stories, then you know that fairytales pretty much are nightmares). And now as things are getting darker, many are waking up to that sense of that which is other, and they’re hungry for it. They want answers. And they want to feel safe and in control.

I believe this is why we’re seeing such an increase, not only in attendance at the kinds of churches that emphasize spiritual experience over doctrine or that teach inner divinity and paths to enlightenment, but also growing interest in witchcraft and the occult. It’s why these things are going mainstream. It’s why satanists, who used to stick to the shadows and fringes of society, now feel comfortable taking out billboards to advertise their sick rituals as services.

And I think it’s why so many celebrities are coming out as witches and occult practitioners, and why, more and more, we’re seeing televised concerts and performances that look like pagan and occult rituals. And now we have former child Disney stars turned pop superstars singing about meeting the devil and inviting him to spend the night.

Which brings me to a question I’ve been asking myself for a while now, which I think in some way is related to all of this: is the world literally under a spell?

The Bible warned us that there would be strong delusion in the last days. Of course, the hardening of hearts of those who love the world and the culture more than Jesus has a lot to do with that. And we also know from certain passages that God has been known to send lying spirits to deceive the disobedient.

But is there something darker and more sinister at work, taking and holding so much of the world captive? Are these ritualistic performances that engage millions of viewers part of that?

Maybe. Or maybe those are just a symptom.

But one thing I’m sure about: social distancing, separation and isolation, masking and the dehumanization that comes with it, forced and coerced submission and compliance — these are all hallmarks of cult initiation rituals. And the true believers who have drunk the Kool-aid behave like nothing less than members of a cult.

I feel in my gut that there is something very, very strange and sinister about this whole virus and how the world has responded to it. That there is something happening on a metaphysical level that is fundamentally transforming not just society, but humanity, and not for the better or the good. And that somehow all of this ties together.

Of course, I know that all of this is God-ordained, that it’s setting the stage for the end times and the Tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist and the one-world government, religion and currency that he’ll control.

So how do we, as Christians, respond to all of this?

My sincere wish is that the Church at large would wake up, stop mythologizing and allegorizing everything the Bible tells us about the supernatural, and start equipping the saints with this knowledge and with the proper context and perspective to prevent us from falling prey to these beings and their deceptive practices. Equipping us for spiritual warfare. I know there are some small churches here and there who are doing this, but they are woefully few and far between. The Church has fallen down in their duty in this regard, and they need to step up and lead the charge.

But unless and until that happens–and I won’t hold my breath for it to happen–those of us who are aware need to connect however we can and support each other. We, the believing Church remnant, and the Holy Spirit who indwells us, are the Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2. We hold back these spiritual forces of darkness through prayer and through worship. We can do these things individually, but I believe they’re more effective when done corporately, as a body. Jesus said where two or more are gathered together, there He is in our midst. And I think that’s why churches have become such a target, why the Powers that Be are so dead set against the saints assembling together.

But we need to gather where we can, when we can, to worship together, and to pray. And we need to be willing to be true lights in the world, shining the light of Christ and of Biblical truth into this darkness, proclaiming Christ, proclaiming truth, refusing to kowtow to lies and deception. And we need to be willing to teach, to patiently, graciously and lovingly reach out to those who are curious and hungry for a world full of enchantment and magic and explain the source and powers behind these things and what the Bible has to say about it all.

We’re here to hold back the darkness, Christians, not to cower before it. We’re at war against an already defeated foe. Our greatest weapon is the Word of God. And we step onto the battlefield by getting on our knees.

Coffee Talk: a Blog Makeover, an Instagram Break and Upcoming Writing Projects. Plus Books!

Photo by Tarang Dave on Unsplash

Coffee Talks are where I chat with you as though we were sitting down together over coffee, updating you on my life, my work, and what’s been on my mind lately. I’d love to hear what’s been going on with you, as well, so keep the conversation going in the comments!

This week I’m taking a break from Instagram. And as usual whenever I take a social media break, I’m amazed to discover how much extra time I’ve got on my hands, despite the fact that I thought I had set healthy boundaries around how much time I spend on there. One thing I found myself with time to do was to finally make some tweaks to this here blog. I decided that a static website focused on my books wasn’t really doing much for me, so I made the blog the main focus, and gave the blog an official title: Through a Glass, Darkly. I also dusted off my rusty CSS skills and made some minor customization tweaks to the theme. This is all a better fit for the direction I want to take this blog in, and it also feels a lot more like me.

Why “Through a Glass, Darkly”? It’s a quote from scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 13:12 in the King James version:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The Apostle Paul is talking about how our understanding is darkened while we live in this fallen world. Only when Jesus returns will everything be made perfectly clear. It’s a good reminder to self to exercise humility as I discuss my own understanding of scripture and Biblical and theological concepts. But it also brings to mind Through the Looking Glass, which feels appropriate given how it feels like we’ve all collectively fallen through some crack into a bizarro, upside down world where we’re expected to comply with and see as reasonable things that are completely unreasonable and make no amount of sense whatsoever.

Anyway.

As for the new direction of the blog, I’m hoping to do more long-form content along the lines of last week’s post on the Biblical view of the supernatural, and to explore more of the implications of all of that on the Church, our modern world, and all the strange goings-on of these apparent last days. But I also want to post more frequently and intersperse the think pieces with shorter stuff along the lines of reviews, recommendations, quick takes on current happenings, and the like. Basically, I want to get back to my beginning-of-the-year goal of turning this blog into my main online hub and trying to grow a community, which got derailed by having to take a couple of months to round up some new writing clients, and then getting a puppy.

Speaking of freelance writing, I had a big batch of assignments on my plate, but I’m all caught up as of this afternoon (mostly; I’ve got my last two assignments written and ready, but a technical issue is preventing me from turning them in). There’s no telling how long it will be until more work comes in, but I’m hoping to use the down time to write some content for this blog, and also to revive my pet blog and start taking advantage of affiliate links to generate some extra income. Oh, and also to start posting on Medium again. I may actually set up a version of this blog over there and re-post my longer, thinkier articles–all of which is in the interest of helping to finance our hopeful future sheep farm.

So why the Instagram break? Despite all my reservations around everything to do with Facebook, which owns IG, that’s the only social media platform I’ve remained active on, and it’s become my main source for news and keeping my ear to the ground. It’s also where I’ve been feeling compelled to evangelize my heart out and do my part to combat false teaching. But lately there’s been so much doom and gloom, and I was spending way too much time scrolling for news and watching commentary about everything that’s wrong with the world. I just needed to step back and take a break from all that stuff to reorient myself to the good that’s still to be found in the world, and in this country. I also realized that a lot of that time I was spending scrolling through my feeds was time I could be using to pray.

So I’ve been praying more. And working on my blog, and also setting aside the heavy theology books for a while to read a couple of books just for fun. One of those books is Hero with a Thousand Faces, and if you’ve known me long you might be shocked to learn I’ve never read it, nor anything else by Joseph Campbell. So far, I’m feeling like I wasn’t missing much. When I’m finished with it I’d like to do a compare/contrast with Tolkein’s view of mythology and truth, that the reason there’s so much commonality in the ancient myths and stories throughout the ages is because the stories in Genesis are all true and those memories got handed down through the generations as humans multiplied and filled the earth, and also because God encoded the truth about himself and his moral code into our DNA (spoiler alert: I side with Tolkein on this). Nevertheless, the Campbell book is giving me some things to think about, and I’d like to read about the Hero’s Journey from the actual source.

The other book is A Breath of Snow and Ashes, picking up where I left off in the Outlander series after more than a year of not having library access. I put it on hold as soon as I finally got my Libby login straightened out, and it just became available this week. So that was good timing.

All in all, the ‘gram break is serving me well. I hate to admit it, though, but I’ve been a little antsy about it this time around. Usually when I get off social media for a while, it ends up feeling like a huge relief. But this time I’m feeling kind of anxious about it, like I might be missing important developments, and I have to keep talking myself out of jumping back on there. I figure I should probably stay off until this feeling goes away.

I’ve also been making headway on Revolution revisions (I’ve been talking about the book of Revelation so much that I keep wanting to call my novel that instead), and I’m almost caught up, which means I’ll have to start writing again soon and stop putting it off. I’m actually looking forward to getting back into it, though, and more importantly, to finishing it, which I’m really going to push myself to do by the end of next month.

I’ve realized that a big part of my lack of motivation to write is just feeling like this book is a big stopper in a bottleneck that’s keeping me from the things I’m truly excited to write. But I’m starting to love this story again, and I’m looking forward to finally wrapping up this trilogy and getting it off my plate for good. Then I can return to the Mae Bishop series I started last year, a dark urban fantasy that is going to heavily feature the Deuteronomy 32 worldview I talked about here last week (scroll back up for links to that post), and the sweet romance I also started last year, both of which I’m actually really excited to return to. I’ve also got another horror novella that I wrote last year right before the pandemic broke that I need to edit.

August is usually the point where I get a second wind and a burst of creative energy, so I’m gearing up to take advantage of it. I don’t know whether this is a holdover from its being the back-to-school month, or if it’s because we’re getting so close to fall that I get energized just by the anticipation (speaking of which, I’m thinking August is fall-adjacent so it’s close enough and I’m just going to go ahead and put out our fall decor. I might not even wait for August to get here, truth be told). It also helps that usually the rain slows down and so we don’t have to mow all that acreage as often, and it’s too hot for outdoor chores anyway. We’ve still got a few more days of July to get through, but I’m already feeling that August energy, and I’m ready to write my butt off.

Your turn! Are you as jazzed that we’re creeping up on fall as I am? What’ve you got in the pipeline? Any project bottlenecks that you just need to grit your teeth and muscle through? How do you feel about August? Oh, and how do you like my blog makeover (be sure to check out the homepage)? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

We’re Not Alone: Deuteronomy 32 and a Unified Theory of the Paranormal

Note: This post is a little different from what you’re used to, but it’s a taste of things to come. This has been on my mind a lot lately and I wanted to lay it all out and fully articulate it in my own words. This is all background for things I’ll be talking about here in the future. It’s an extra-long post, so if you’re on a computer, you might want to bookmark it and then come back and get comfortable and read it on your phone. If you enjoy this sort of thing, whether or not you agree with it, I’d really love it if you’d drop a note in the comments to let me know.

Also, this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. Using those links to purchase the items mentioned, or any other items you could use, will also help support this site and make more content like this possible. Thanks and happy reading!


Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

If you’re new around here, you probably don’t know this about me: that I’m a weirdo who’s into weird stuff. By that I mean that I’m the odd Christian who enjoys horror and tales of the paranormal, folklore, Big Foot and Mothman, urban legends, conspiracy theories, and just generally weird and unexplained phenomena.

Except that this stuff does have an explanation. The Bible gives us a solid one. A lot of people realize this, but they don’t really know the full extent of it–that the supernatural worldview presented to us in the Bible goes beyond simply angels and demons.

In his book The Unseen Realm, Bible scholar and ancient Hebrew expert Dr. Michael Heiser lays the foundation of understanding this worldview. He points out that the First Century Jews and Christians would tell you that there was not one great Fall that corrupted humanity, but three. The first is, of course, THE Fall, when the Serpent tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s only commandment in the Garden of Eden and sin first entered the world as a result.

The second is one that a lot of people really struggle to wrap their heads around and accept as reality — the events described in Genesis 6, when the Sons of God–i.e., angelic beings–left their heavenly abode to take human wives and father children with them, producing the Nephilim–a half-breed race of giants.

This one was a doozy. This story is expanded upon in the Book of Enoch. Although that book is not viewed as inspired scripture, Dr. Heiser points out that it records a lot of Jewish tradition and that it was a popular work in the first century that helped to shape the worldview of the New Testament writers. Some validity is lent to Enoch by its being quoted as fact in the epistle of Jude, and Peter also refers to it in his epistle. The Enochian writers tell us that the great sin of the “angels who kept not their first estate” is that they wanted to be like God by creating a race of their own, and that they also taught humanity a range of self-destructive knowledge, such as the art of warfare, seduction, sorcery and drug use, in the hopes that we would wipe ourselves out.

As punishment, God imprisoned these rebellious Sons of God under the earth and sentenced their offspring to die in the Great Flood, along with corrupted humanity. He preserved for himself a small remnant, Noah and his family, who kept themselves righteous by not mixing with the angels or participating in their dark arts (apparently, however, one or two of Noah’s daughters-in-law must have had Nephilim DNA, because a remnant of them managed to somehow survive the flood [there’s also the possibility that it was a local flood, but I’m not here for that debate right now]; these were subsequently wiped out during the Canaanite conquest and, later, by David and his armies).

Again, a lot of people just can’t accept the idea that angels produced offspring with humans, and they explain this away by insisting that “Sons of God” refers to the godly line of Adam’s third son, Seth, despite the fact that the term is used throughout the old testament exclusively to refer to heavenly beings. According to this theory, the “Daughters of Men” are in the line of Cain, and the Nephilim are simply warriors and influential people, and have nothing to do with giants (this theory and the people who hold to it can’t explain where the giants, like Goliath, came from — I guess they just think he was an abnormally tall guy).

Before I get to the third fall, we need to spend a little time on the Sons of God. For the full background on this, I highly recommend that you read The Unseen Realm (or read Dr. Heiser’s alternative book, Supernatural, which is a less scholarly version for people who don’t like footnotes). You can also get the gist of it by watching his Supernatural seminar on YouTube. The quick and dirty version is that these Sons of God are depicted in places like Psalm 82 and Daniel 10, among others, and they are members of God’s Divine Council. Passages in Job and 1 Kings show God involving these entities in decisions and in carrying out assignments on the earth. Lest you have palpitations over the thought of our sovereign God needing angelic beings to help him make decisions, relax — he doesn’t, any more than you need your kids to help make household decisions. But you still involve them, because they’re your kids, and they can learn and grow from it. Anyway.

Psalm 82 pulls something shocking by not just referring to these beings as Sons of Gods, but as gods themselves. This is because the Hebrew word for these beings is elohim, a term that’s often used to refer to God Himself. But elohim is actually a generic categorical term encompassing all supernatural beings. God is an elohim, but he is the only elohim who is God. He’s unique among the elohim and there are none like him or beside him. He created them, and he’s sovereign over them, just as he is over us. Got it? Good, because this is important.

This brings us to the third and final Fall — the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11 tells us how, when humans once again multiplied after the flood, they did not disperse and fill the earth as God commanded, but instead rebelled and decided to band together in the area that would eventually be known as Babylon (modern day Iraq), where they built a tower, a ziggurat that would allow them access to the heavens to reach God. Again, this is where ancient Jewish tradition can fill in some gaps. According to such, humanity was led in this effort by Nimrod, who we meet in Genesis 10, which tells us he was “a mighty hunter before the Lord” who founded and built many cities, including Babylon. Tradition also holds that he was himself a Nephilim (he also appears to pre-figure the Antichrist, but that’s a topic for another post). And their intention in building the tower was not simply to reach God and be close to Him, but to overthrow Him and set themselves up as their own gods.

How did God respond? Genesis 11 goes on to tell us that he struck them and confused their languages, removing their ability to communicate and organize and forcing them to disperse and fill the earth as He had originally commanded. This, according to scripture, is how we got different nations.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Deuteronomy 32 sheds more light on this strange episode. Again, you can get all of the details from Dr. Heiser’s material, but in short, this passage informs us that when God divided the nations at Babel, he also disinherited them and turned them over to the Sons of God. Apparently, these Divine Council members were supposed to benignly steward the nations while God created a new nation for himself–Israel. But some, possibly all, of these lesser elohim grew jealous and rebelled, threw their lot in with the original rebel, the Serpent, aka Satan, and convinced the humans entrusted to their care to worship them instead of God. Psalm 82 further tells us how they abused their delegated authority, and how they have been judged by God and sentenced to die like men.

The implications of all of this is that there are real, intelligent spiritual entities behind idols and other so-called gods, going by different names throughout history, who are hostile to God and who oppose Him. And that they hate our guts and want to subjugate and/or destroy us. Not only that, but they wield a certain amount of power, authority and influence over our culture, governments and world affairs. These are the powers and principalities Paul talks about in Ephesians 6. This is where you get the Prince of Greece and the Prince of Persia spoken of in Daniel. These are the beings who God’s loyal angels, like Michael and Gabriel, stand in opposition to. These are primarily who and what our spiritual warfare is directed against.

And whether you worship them or not, whether you believe in them or not, if you don’t belong to Christ, you belong to them.

Angels and Demons

Notice that I’ve mostly avoided referring to these beings as angels. That’s because our English word “angel” comes from the Greek word “angelos,” which simply means “messenger.” So angel is more of a job description than it is the name of a race or species. That word really doesn’t tell us much about them, other than how God has used some of them to interact with humanity. The Bible tells us that there is a variety of beings within this classification, including cherubim, seraphim, and archangels (or perhaps just one of those — Michael is the only one with that designation in the canon of scripture). There are angelic armies that include chariot drivers and soldiers. It also tells us that there are rankings among them. It tells us that they can take on human appearance and even become corporeal.

What about demons and fallen angels? The traditional Christian belief is that demons are fallen angels. But–and this is a huge but–while Revelation 12 describes a celestial battle in which Satan and a third of the angels who followed him were cast out of Heaven and banished to the earth, it doesn’t describe that event as taking place until sometime after the birth, death and resurrection of Christ–and it might not have even happened yet. Depending on how you read that passage, this event might not take place until the Tribulation.

So then, what are demons, and where do they come from?

We don’t see a lot of references to demons until Jesus begins his ministry and starts casting them out of people left and right. The Gospels often refer to them as “unclean spirits.” In the Old Testament, what makes something unclean? There are a few things: coming into contact with a dead or diseased body, coming into contact with blood and other bodily fluids… and mixing things that don’t belong together.

Let’s look at Isaiah 14:9 (ESV):

Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations.

The Hebrew word for “shades” — rendered in other translations as either “the dead” or “departed spirits” — is Rephaim. The Rephaim appear elsewhere in the Old Testament as a race of giants, descendents of the Nephilim, who were indeed leaders of the earth before they were destroyed. That’s not exactly conclusive, but it’s highly suggestive. Besides, Jewish tradition at the time of Christ held that demons were, in fact, the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim, which actually makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. It certainly explains why they’re so hell-bent (no pun intended) on possessing human bodies. Again, Dr. Heiser’s materials go a lot more in-depth into all of this.

Elemental Spirits

So we have Elohim, consisting of various types and ranks of angelic and spiritual beings, many of whom are in rebellion and led by Satan, who have power and influence over the world and have their own agenda that’s antithetical to God’s. We have the fallen angels who fathered the Nephilim, but they’re bound in chains and off the playing board. We have the Nephilim, who were wiped out long ago but are apparently still active and generally menacing people and wreaking havoc as disembodied spirits, known as demons.

But wait, there’s more!

In both Galatians 4 and Colossians 2, Paul talks about the “elementary principles” of the world. In some translations, however, this Greek word, stoicheion, is translated as “elemental spirits.” Naturally, most modern scholars who are heavily influenced by modernity and materialism–often the same people who reject the supernatural reading of Genesis Six, Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 82– say that the first translation is correct, because Paul is talking about philosophical principles.

Looking up that word in the concordances and lexicons (which you can do on Biblehub) seems to support that… at first. Stoicheion means something along the lines of rudimentary knowledge, or basic, fundamental principles. But it’s also used in Greek writings outside of scripture to refer to heavenly bodies. And then there’s this note in HELPS Word-studies:

The RSV however renders stoixeia as “elemental spirits,” i.e. spiritual powers or “cosmic spirits.” This views stoixeion (“elements”) as ancient astral beings associated with the very beginning (make-up) of the earth.

Honestly, it seems to me that Paul could be using this word both ways. For example, in Galatians 4:3, the first meaning seems to make more sense. But a little further down in verse 9, the second meaning better fits the context. And in Colossians, it seems like it could go either way (FWIW, the ESV translates it as “elementary principles” both times in Galatians, and as “elemental spirits” in Colossians).

At any rate, it seems highly suggestive that this is yet another class of supernatural beings, which would explain a lot. It would handily explain things like faeries, goblins, sightings of mysterious little people and the like, as well as ghost lights and at least some UFOs. It might even explain cryptids like Big Foot and Mothman. Things that many Christians are quick to either chalk up to demons or to hallucinations, fakery or some other material or scientific explanation.

What About Ghosts?

The Bible does mention ghosts, but only vaguely and in passing. For example, Jesus’ disciples first thought they were seeing a ghost when they spotted him walking on the Sea of Galilee, and after his resurrection he had them touch him and give him food to prove to them that he wasn’t a ghost.

The best argument for ghosts is found in 1 Samuel 28, when King Saul has the Witch of Endor, a known medium, summon the spirit of the recently deceased prophet Samuel to ask him for advice. Samuel’s spirit does indeed appear, not to advise Saul, but to proclaim judgment upon him. But the reaction of the Witch of Endor when Samuel appears is very telling. She’s completely freaked out, which suggests that successfully summoning a human spirit was a brand new and frightening experience for her. The implication is that either she was a con woman, or she was used to having another type of spiritual entity appear to her.

At any rate, while the oft-misquoted 2 Corinthians 5:8 doesn’t actually say “absent from the body, present with the Lord,” it does imply the principle, at least for Believers. More convincingly, the many OT passages about Sheol make it clear that it’s not a place where the dead even have consciousness, let alone are able to leave (the departed Rephaim, on the other hand, appear to be an exception to both those rules). Based on all of this, I believe the most likely explanation for ghosts is that they’re demons impersonating human spirits. As for poltergeists, apparitions and other types of hauntings, this could be either demons or elemental spirits.

A Unified Theory of the Paranormal

As you can see, the Bible offers us an unambiguously supernatural worldview with a wide range of supernatural beings operating both in the spirit realm and in the world. Apparently famed paranormal researcher John Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies, was putting together a sort of “Unified Theory of the Paranormal,” in which he postulated that everything from ghosts to UFOs and alien abductions to cryptids had a common source, some kind of interdimensional race of intelligent beings operating in our world. He was very close to the truth. The Bible fills in the gaps and provides a way to explain all kinds of paranormal phenomena.

More importantly, it also warns us that these things are not out for our good and that we should refrain from attempting to contact them or have anything to do with them. It warns us that these entities are capable of appearing as benevolent angels and beings of light, and of speaking very convincing half-truths, even quoting scripture out of context in order to deceive us. But their end is our destruction, and to lead us away from the truth of the Gospel that has the power to deliver us from their domain and reconcile us permanently to God through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

I think this worldview can also explain a lot of conspiracy theories and a lot of what’s happening in the world right now. I’ll be exploring all of this more in future posts, as well as philosophical implications and what all of this should mean for the Church at large. In the meantime, in addition to Dr. Heiser’s work, I also recommend checking out the Sword and Staff podcast, especially everything from June 24, 2021 onward, which covers a lot of this same ground.

Thanks for sticking around to the end of this ridiculously long post. I hope you enjoyed it, and I would LOVE for you to share your thoughts in the comments. And don’t forget to like and share!

 

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