Labels

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Spirit to Spirit Healing


I call a certain form of intercessory prayer “spirit to spirit prayer.” It is generally long distance intercessory prayer of a special type. At times the person prayed for does not even know he or she is the object of the prayer. 


Related imageAgnes Sanford used this form of pray as her first inner healing prayer (c. 1946). The case was of Jewish American war veteran she had ministered to and converted while he was recovering from a serious combat wound.  After his physical recovery he was still seriously afflicted by memories of the torment he experienced as a young Jewish boy in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia.

Agnes tried praying for him in various ways, but to little effect. Then Agnes learned of a Catholic Medieval technique of praying and fasting for someone in distress, and then taking that person’s griefs, burdens and hurts to Holy Communion.  To be clear, this was a spiritual action, without the physical laying on of hands of normal healing prayer. The person receiving the prayer may or may not have known that someone was intervening on their behalf. I give a full description of this case in my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions.[1]

Agnes saw this as human spirit to human spirit intercession. The intercessor in the period of prayer and fasting often experiences the fears, emotions and burdens of the other person. (Gal 6:2) In a sense, the human spirit of the intercessor made intimate contact with the spirit of the needful person.  Agnes learned that the long period of prayers and fasting was really not necessary. What was essential was taking the person’s hurts and distress to Holy Communion. Agnes warned that using the prayer and fasting technique in its original form could open the intercessor to demonic spirits if this is attempted with a non-Christian.

Carolyn and I have done the abbreviated form of spirit to spirit intercession over the years, some very successful, others not so (healing is a mystery in any mode that you pray). In any case, I was intrigued by this form of spirit to spirit healing and intercession, and I ventured into and tested something I have not seen in the literature of healing (1 Thess 5:21).

As background, I normally use the “Hunter method” of arm and leg extension, etc., for physical healing. This method is especially effective in back problems and pain control. Several years ago I used the Hunter method via the telephone to contact a needful person, and prayed by using words and my imagination and asking the needful person to do the same. The person had, in this instance, a back issue but could still stand. I asked her to stand and interact with me as if I were right there. I told her to extend her arms in front, and I would do the same, as if we were touching arms, even though we were at a far physical distance. I then commanded in the name of Jesus, the extension of the short arm.[2] This does not make too much sense unless you know about the Hunter method, which reflects chiropractic understanding that an unequal arm or leg is a sign that the backbone is out of alignment, and often the source of much pain. I explain the Hunter method HERE.

I have done this at least a half dozen time in the last few years, mostly with excellent effect. And last year I tried a variety of it that I had never done before. The person who called for help (I learned about her from a Face Book healing page) was bedridden and unable to even put her arms out fully. All she could do was tap her cell phone on. I asked her to put it on speaker and follow my instructions. I told her to shut her eyes and in her imagination see herself standing and responding to my instructions. First, to extend her arms in front, as I imagine I was in front of her touching her arms. Over the telephone I then commanded her arms to equalize, in Jesus’ name. Similarly, I did the “pelvic thing” via our imagination. (Again, see my blog on the Hunter method.) She felt immediate relief from the pain she was suffering even though she was in bed, and had not physically moved her body. I do not know how much recovery she experienced, and if she ever walked again, but she experienced very substantial pain relief that she had not experienced before even though many Christians had prayed for her.

I believe the best explanation of her healing was that it was a spirit to spirit communication of the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus to heal. That is, by faith and through our imaginations her healing went to her spirit and cascaded down to her body.

What happens in these long-distance healing might be termed “spiritual entanglement,” which has a parallel in the science of physics called “quantum entanglement.” That is, the property of certain particles to interact instantly regardless of space between them, yes even faster than the speed of light.[3]

Paul talked about our spiritual entanglement as Christians in these terms:

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. (1 Cor 10:16-17)
Note also the lengthy description that Paul gives about the Body of Christ in 1 Cor 12: 21-31, as having various parts, but they “entangle” to the point that, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (v. 26)

It seems that the universe was created with the entanglement characteristic from the beginning to enable sacramental activity. Of course, this characteristic of the universe is also used by the Demonic realm, as in Voodoo dolls, etc., using the spiritual energies of the Kingdom of Satan.

But to our main point, and regardless of whether this explanation is true, close to the truth or not, Christians not only have the authority and power to pray for healing at a distance, but can use the very effective forms developed by the Hunters for physical healing without having to physically touch the other person.
 




[1] William De Arteaga, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015).
[2] I do not know who was the first to do the Hunter method via telephone. God knows. I learned of it 20 years back from a person in my Hispanic congregation shortly after I taught a class on the Hunter method. The lady, Rosa, had a special anointing for healing and had an aunt in California who was in severe pain, so she called and talked her through the arm, pelvis and leg extensions. I actually did not try it for over a decade.
[3] I explain this with more detail in both Quenching the Spirit (lake Mary: Creation House, 1992) and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions, in chapters on spirituality and quantum physics.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Praying for Revival Among the Kurds


Image result for Kurds

Recently, I have felt the Lord’s direction to pray for, and to urge others to pray for an increase in the  Christian revival among the Kurds. These people live across four nation states, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Many Kurds wish to consolidate the areas where they reside into a fully independent homeland. 

Kurdish-inhabited area by CIA (1992) box inset removed.jpg

That seemed possible several months ago, at least in the Iraq section of Kurdistan, but the Iraqi government clamped down hard on those ambitions. Similarly, the powerful Turkish Army has limited the substantial gains that Kurdish fighters achieved in the long and bloody Syrian civil war.

But actually, from a spiritual perspective, it seems that God’s providential hand has been on the Kurds. First, their long fought insurgency against the Turkish Army generated a radical revolutionary group, the PPK, which adopted Marxist doctrines and created a population that largely lost interest in the Muslim faith. These folks are now especially open to the Gospel, as their political and military ambitions have been crushed.

Interestingly, the PPK supplied fighters to rescue he Yazidi people (a non-Muslim sect) when they were threatened with massacre and genocide during the ISIS offensive that almost conquered Iraq several years back. Yazidi and Christian refugees from the ISIS areas of Iraq clustered in refugee camps in the Kurdish section of Iraq.  In these camps there is now an ongoing Christian revival where many Yazidis are accepting the Gospel and Christians coming into a more evangelical and Spirit-filled way.
   
Although the Kurds remain mostly Muslim, their fervor for that faith has considerably dampened in reaction to ISIS fanaticism, the secular propaganda of the Marxist PPK cadre, and the secularizing influence of having a thriving semi-independent state in northern Iraq.

Thus, all is in place for the Lord to use the Kurdish people in a mighty revival that will bring the Gospel to much of the near East.  With populations across four Muslim nations, Kurdish Christian missionaries are in position to spread the Gospel under the cover of family, commercial and business dealings (as the Korean Christians have learned to do).

Here are my prayer points. Please add to them as the Lord gives you wisdom and revelation on this issue:
  • ·    That the present Kurdish Christian Church in Iraq experience a great revival and increased evangelical zeal.
  • ·     That Bible colleges and schools quickly and effectively train many new Kurdish pastors, filled with the Holy Spirit, to minister to Kurds in the four nations they inhabit.
  • ·     That persecution against Kurdish Christians be ineffective, weak and confused.
  • ·     That a great revival quickly come to the Kurds in every nation where they live, and in their overseas enclaves also, as in


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Blended Ministry of Christian Counseling



Image result for christian counseling

I believe the Lord has given me a useful phrase to identify and describe what many of you already do – “blended ministry.” That is, many clergy and Christian counselors have some training in secular techniques of counseling and practice those techniques, but blend in prayer to the counseling situation. The prayers could be in the form of a short prayer at the end of the session, citations of biblical passages, specific inner healing prayer, or even deliverance ministry.

My wife, Carolyn, now retired, was great at this. As a licensed counselor for the State of Georgia she had to go every year to classes for “continuing education units” to maintain her license. She would often return from such courses well pleased that she had learned some new counseling technique or insight. But that never overwhelmed her sense that what she did was Christian counseling, which demanded attention to prayer and spiritual issues in her sessions with her counselees.

Carolyn’s “blended ministry” actually took many forms. She would on occasions pray in tongues for some especially troubled counselee as she drove to the office. Invariably, she would end counseling sessions with a prayer. It was what liturgical Christians of the Anglican or Catholic tradition would recognize as a “collect.” That is, a prayer summarizing the counseling session and asking God’s grace to help the counselee in carrying out the behavioral and spiritual adjustments Carolyn had suggested. On a few occasion she called me in to help do an inner healing session, or a serious deliverance.

Sometimes she would use the Sunday Holy Communion at our Anglican church to bring to the Lord an especially troubled counselee. The counselee does not have to know about it, as it is really a form of intercessory prayer that can be done in secrecy.  In fact, this form of Holy Communion intercession was the first form of inner healing prayer developed by Agnes Sanford, the great pioneer of Christian healing prayer. I wrote about this in my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions (Eugene:  Wipf & Stock, 2015).[1] It proved effective in breaking up psychological/spiritual impasses.

Other times Carolyn and I did a variety of this form of prayer in which the counselee was briefed on this form of communion intercession, and would attend Sunday church with us. At the communion rail the counselee would be between us and we prayed and laid hands on her and silently did prayers of inner healing and deliverance.  Or, alternately, the three of us would go back to a pew and do a “communion huddle” for the prayers.

In my years as pastor of a Hispanic congregation in Marietta, Georgia, I also used a form of blended ministry, but from the other end of the spectrum. That is, as a pastor I listened and then prayed for my parishioners, but sometimes used secular techniques of counseling that I had learned from my seminary course, readings, or from “table talk” with Carolyn and her counselor friends.

In any case,I am affirming that this combining of secular techniques and prayer, now quite common, should be given the name, “blended ministry.”  This would help Christian counselors in being more conscious of what they do, and describe what they do and how they do it. A quick Google search shows there is no such term in use now. Calling something “Christian counseling” is common and good, but can be overly broad. For instance, it may mean counseling that uses no prayer or spiritual insights, but is done in a church institution, or counseling that uses Biblical counseling principals and prayer, but disregards the wisdom of secular psychology and techniques.

Sadly, some church counselors, especially in the more liberal denominations, still do not do any form of blended ministry. Some time ago, I took a course at a major Southern (liberal) seminary on pastoral counseling. I was a lay person and a new charismatic Believer, but had already done inner healings and a few deliverances. In a conversation about counseling with my fellow students before the class began, I asked in an incredulous tone, “You mean, don’t pray with your counselees?” I received nothing but looks as if I were from another planet. Several classes later the formal class topic was on what it was that made a Christian counselor different for a purely secular one. The answers, if I remember correctly, was that the Christian counselor did his work in church, and sometimes shared Christian values. Sad. All of which is to say, some church counselors still do not use any form of blended ministry. So the phrase is a useful one in differentiating true Christian counseling from secular counseling that takes place in church.



[1] Available on Amazon in print of in the Kindle format. I have made available the story of how Agnes Sanford used communion intercessions for her first inner healing in my posting: “The Origins of Inner Healing,” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted Feb. 3, 2016.  http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-origins-of-inner-healing.html





Thursday, June 14, 2018

Doing the Stuff at St. John's





DOING THE “STUFF” AT ST. JOHN’S

A Play in 2 Acts

By
The Rev. William L. De Arteaga

©, 2012, 2016. By the Rev. William L. De Arteaga

































Cast of Characters:

Pastor George……………………….…..……….………An Anglican priest in his late-sixties
Tom O’Malley………………………………………….….Businessman same age as Pastor George
Mae…………………………………………………….……..The church secretary
Maria Ortega………………………………………...……Hispanic woman in her late-thirties
Jose Ortega……………………….………………….……Maria’s son, about nineteen years old
Liz Garner……………………………….…….….…….….She looks younger than her fifty-five years
Waitress…………………………………………………………………………………………………
Marci Donaldson…………………………………………Woman in her mid-thirties
Mrs. Watkins………………………………………….……Woman in her early forties
Louis Volk…………………………………………………….Man in his 40s, thin and frail
Fed Ex Man………………………………………………………...…………………………………


The Settings:

There are three locations represented in the play. The principal one is the St. John’s church office located in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. The office has a built in book shelf at the back wall filled with books – all in some disorder. Pastor George’s desk is also piled with books, including his well-worn Bible and a Book of Common Prayer, a bowl of candy, a picture of his wife, Nancy, with their 20s something daughter, and an open lap-top. On the edge of the desk there is a flower filled vase and a bottle of water and a small towel. The desk is to the left side, and Pastor George sits on a high backed swivel office chair at his desk, on the inner side of the desk, towards the center of the room. To the right is a couch, and closer to the desk a matching stuffed chair. The door to the outer office divides the back wall.

The second location is an Italian restaurant, and the third is Mrs. Watkins’ dining room. The backgrounds for each may be painted. The only physical props needed for the restaurant scene are a table, with appropriate table cloth, four chairs, menus and glasses for the drinks, silverware and dishes.

The third location is Mrs. Watkins’ dining room, and dinette set may be represented with the same table and tables as the restaurant, but different table cloth, and different background.

Time
The present.













ACT I

Scene 1:

SETTING:                                                      Pastor George’s office

AT RISE:                                                        George is seated on his swivel chair, reading a book.

                                    (knock on the door)
GEORGE
Come in.
(TOM opens the doors and enters. George stands, leaves the book on the desk and they exchange warm handshakes.)
Great to see you!

TOM
Too long, too long.

GEORGE
What is it, twenty years since we touched base?

TOM
About that.

GEORGE
If you would have given us a heads up, Nancy and I would have made up the guest room for you, and saved you some money.
(GEORGE returns to his chair and points to
the sofa, as TOM sits on the sofa)

TOM.
Thanks, I’m fine at the motel. Look, with this new account with Home Depot, I’ll be this way a couple of times a year, at least. So next time I come, you and Nancy can put me up.  How are Nancy and your kids?

GEORGE
Everybody fine. Nancy is looking forward to meeting you.  I am now a grand-pa. You look great. When you emailed me I was surprised to know that you are not retired yet.

TOM
Are you?


GEORGE
I couldn’t find the word retirement in the Bible. So here I am. What is your excuse?

TOM
No fun staying in the house without Mary.  I don’t like golf.  Work keeps me from grieving too much, and I like it anyway.

GEORGE
Are your kids OK
TOM
Great. John is about to graduate from Georgetown law. And Cecilia off to a job in Tennessee. And your daughter? What’s her name…

GEORGE
Terri. She is expecting twins in five months. We’re doubling the grandchild count in one shot. John has two and says they are through.

TOM
You’re ahead of me in this one. Now tell me, do you always do your work with flowers tickling your nose?

GEORGE
No, no.
(chuckle)
Those are the altar flower from last Sunday. When the new ones for this week come in, the last weeks are put here until Mrs. Johnson picks them up for the hospital visitation ministry. But she is out of town and will pick them up tomorrow. You know, we noticed that they… seem to have a healing charge after they have been on the altar.

TOM
You mean something like Peter’s aprons in the Book of Acts.

GEORGE
Oh…yes, exactly. That’s exactly right. You know it, was Providential the way the Lord taught us this. Sort of a Holy Spirit guided scientific experiment, or really, I guess a demonstration.

TOM
Oh?
GEORGE
Yes, really amazing. Back a year, one of our couples had their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  We did a renewal of vows service, and the church was packed with our parish folks and their friends. A very worshipful service. During the praise choruses, some folk were slamming down, like the Pentecostals say, “under the power.”

TOM
Did they get knots on their heads?

GEORGE
No, no. Doesn’t happen. Anyway, for the service, the children of the couple bought two identical and very expensive flower arrangements, one for the altar and the other for fellowship hall for the reception. Well, a week later I brought in the alter flowers and placed it next to the fellowship flowers because of a new arrangement for the coming Sunday.  So you had these two arrangement next to each other, altar and non-altar.  Well, the non-altar flowers started wilting normally, but the altar arrangement didn’t. Some people started making jokes about the souped-up flowers versus the drooped-down flowers.  Then Mrs. Johnson asked me if she could take the souped-up flowers for a hospital visitation. And don’t you know, the person got better quickly.

TOM
With flower power? Is that in the Bible anywhere? I mean specifically flowers?

GEORGE
No, but St. Augustine mentions something about that in one of his letters, if I remember right. Well, on that healing with our flowers…like anything to do with prayer, it is hard to nail down.  The man had a very serious kidney infection with one of those super-bugs and it was not responding to antibiotics. Now, Mrs. Johnson is a great prayer warrior, and she prayed for the man, and so did her prayer group, I went several times and laid hands on him, and the doctor was great. So the causality of why his kidney infection disappeared is ….
                                    (motioning with his hands a dubious gesture)
But I do believe the flowers had absorbed the energies of God and played a part. Anyway, now every week we rotate the altar flowers out to hospitals, nursing homes, wherever Mrs. Johnson feels they are needed most.

TOM
I wonder if my Fr. Mark at home would buy into this. Could you write him a note about this I could show him, and mention Augustine? He is very traditional, a mention of St. Augustine…

GEORGE
I’ll dig up the citation. Consider it done.

MAE
(offstage, in loud voice)
The Ortegas are[MM10]  here to say goodbye. They can’t wait.  They have to see you now.

GEORGE
                                    (shouting back)
OK. Send them in.
                                    (to TOM)
Providential, providential, they have a terrific story.

MAE
                                    (offstage)
I’m off to Staples.
GEORGE
                                    (calling out)
Watch the budget!
(To TOM)
Wait to you see our miracle boy Jose, a walking miracle. 

(MARIA and JOSE come in, JOSE, somewhat slowly. GEORGE and TOM get up to greet them. GEORGE hugs them.)

MARIA
Buenos dias, Padre.

GEORGE
Muy Buenos dias. This is Mr. Tom O’Malley, a good friend from my college days. We used to sit every day at a corner table of the cafeteria and argue about theology and history and politics.
                                    (TOM shaking hands with MARIA and JOSE)
TOM
It’s my pleasure.

MARIA
I’m enchanted. I hope you like here.
                                    (to GEORGE)
We have no time. We come to see you, Padre, to say thanks to you. Nancy not here?

GEORGE
She should be back any minute.  She’s showing our new children’s minister around in the education building.

JOSE
                                    (speaking slowly and deliberately – no accent)
We came… to thank…you.  And to say… I hope you can come to… to visit…or…we can…can…come.

GEORGE
Oh yes. I’ll sorry you could not wait to leave on Sunday. We would have given you a royal goodbye and blessing.

MARIA
I know it would be grande, but we have go right today. We late already.

GEORGE
But we’ll keep contact. So good you dropped in. Jose, your speech is getting better. Please everybody, there is coffee out there if you want. Keep you alert. Don’t leave without a hug from Nancy.

MARIA
We just say thanks once more before we go and get blessing. The U-Haul is stuffed like a… pavo on Thanksgiving, and I’m due in Bloomington tomorrow afternoon for the job.

GEORGE
I’m so glad that job came thru, even after it didn’t.
(chuckle).

MARIA
Yes, all of a sudden. It is because the church’s prayers. The man who got the job turned out not so good.  They call to tell me they fire him. So they tell me to come right away.  It’s a miracle. And more too. The prayer group, as soon as I told that I had to go to Bloomington by tomorrow, they made a “good by” pizza and taco fiesta last night and to load the U-Haul for us. They are wonderful.

GEORGE
I know they are. I’m sad you are leaving us, but happy you got such a good job, you’re a great worker.

MARIA
Oh thank you. Guess what? Jose will be help with me to drive. Isn’t that too good! We went on a drive yesterday so see if he could drive this big troca. He did great, even backing up.

JOSE
Thanks to…you…and the prayer group.

GEORGE
Hey, who did it?
MARIA and JOSE
                                    (together)
Jesus!

MARIA.
But the prayer team, Nancy, and you did la misa at the hospital and all that.

GEORGE
Hey, that’s what’s supposed to happen.  Jose, it is so wonderful to see you come this far.

JOSE
I still have… therapy …but things now …maybe… 80%.  I speak slow, but… can … do…most things OK.

GEORGE
You’re not afraid to drive?

JOSE
No. I… suppose…Jesus healed that…too.

GEORGE
We’ll keep praying for you here. But you need to find a good church that has the Holy Ghost!

MARIA
Oh yes. But it will be hard to find a church like this. We need to go now. Say adios to Nancy for us and a big kiss. Please, quick prayer for our going to Bloomington.

GEORGE
Sure
(taking their hands and moving to form a circle.)
Tom, join us.
(TOM takes JOSE hand to form a circle. All bow their heads.)

GEORGE
Father, we thank you for the miracles in the Ortega’s life. We thank you that Jose will soon be at 100% in spite of what the doctors said. Wherever you place him, please give him courage to witness to the great healing you have done for him.

MARIA
Amen!
GEORGE
Guide them to the church you have planned for them. And we ask for travel mercies, no annoying incidents. A happy arrival, and no problems in settling into a new place. Especially bless Maria in her new job. All this, in Jesus’s name.

MARIA and JOSE and TOM
Amen!
GEORGE
                                    (GEORGE gives MARIA and JOSE another hug.)
Keep in touch! You know our Facebook page.

MARIA
Amen! Bye. Another kiss to Nancy.

JOSE
Thanks… again… Padre Jorjito.
                                    (MARIA and JOSE exit and close the door)

TOM
So……… what was that about?

GEORGE
(motions to TOM to sit, as he sits)
One of the greatest healing miracle at this church so far… at least that I know of.

TOM
Tell me.

GEORGE
A year ago Jose was in a tremendous crash - a head-on with one of those really big pick-ups. Luckily, he was not killed on the spot.  No, wrong… He was spared providentially. But he left a piece of his skin and hair on the side door. That night I got a call from Maria, she was at the ICU. She wasn’t from our parish but heard of our church from a friend. She said the doctors advised her to pull the plug on the ventilator and let Jose die. There was absolutely no hope for him.

TOM
And you prayed him through?

GEORGE
The church. Well, I got the call from Maria at nine. At ten we had a prayer team in the hospital room. Enrique, my healing captain, beat me there and was already praying. The first miracle was he was allowed in the ICU without being a relative or ordained minister. I think the nurse figured Jose was going to die, so it didn’t matter. When I got there Maria explained what the doctor had told her, that the boy was brain dead. I had some doubts that anything could be done. But Enrique kept using the Hunter stuff, and another prayer team member, Juanita, showed up and joined in.

TOM
The what stuff?

GEORGE
Oh, yes, of course. Charles and Francis Hunter, a Pentecostal couple, wrote a book on healing in which they pointed out one of those things that are obvious after discovered, but none noticed before.

TOM
What?

GEORGE
That in the New Testament there are no “please-God-heal” type of prayers, or pleading for healing or exorcism. It’s all commands in the name of Jesus. Not only the Apostles, but Ananias of Damascus, the nobody, who commanded Paul’s sight to be restored.
(mimicking bending over and laying hands on someone’s eyes.).
“Receive your sight!”

TOM
Which means?

GEORGE
That that’s the biblical pattern. It seems to work better. Well anyway, when I got to Jose’s ICU, Enrique, was sticking his finger right close to JOSE’s unconscious face and shouting:
(with dramatic hand gestures)
“You will not die! Spirit of death leave! Brain, be healed and restored in Jesus’ name!” Juanita, started doing the same thing. She also starts pacing back and forth and praying in tongues, and saying, “Spirit of death leave this room!” In Spanish of course, then more tongues.

TOM
Tongues? Like the Holy-Rolling Pentecostals?

GEORGE
It’s more polite to call them “charismatics.” Juanita has a great gift in tongues and prophecy, really amazing. Hey, Tom, these folks are proper middle class folks, Enrique is a civil engineer and Juanita an accountant, both from Mexico. I know for a fact both of them attended Catholic schools in Mexico and went to mass for decades without once praying like that before they learned this here. Anyway, I was tickled pink at what was going on. I was also thinking and praying. “Lord, I taught them this stuff, it better work or I’ll have egg on my face, and You’ll have egg on your face too.”
(chuckles)

TOM
But you’re an Anglican priest. Aren’t you supposed to be in charge? So shouldn’t have you prayed for the kid?

GEORGE
Well I did. But you see…
(pause)
I understand it this way… I’m the orchestra leader, not the soloist.
                                    (waving an imaginary baton to an imaginary band)
Enrique has a stronger healing anointing than I do. Anyway, I did walk over to the bed, took out my oil and anointed Jose on the one patch of his head that was not covered with bandages, and proclaimed life over him. Then Enrique suggested we do a mass for Jose right there. So I said I was thinking the same thing. You know, it was real high church stuff.
                                    (chuckling).

TOM
High church?

GEORGE
Yes incense and bells. Ha, kidding. I stepped out to the nurse’s station and got a package of saltines and one of those juice boxes. It was cranberry.  I used the hospital plastic cup for the chalice.

TOM
Colorful.
GEORGE
Just a reading from Luke and the words of consecration…but the power and presence of the Lord was there… We all noticed it. I placed a piece of the consecrated cracker in his mouth, and a few drops of juice. Then we all then prayed for Maria and left. The next day Maria calls and says the brain activity line started acting up after we left. The nurse was surprised. Four days later, they took him off the ventilator, and he was breathing on his own. The doctor was astounded. The doctors kept on telling Maria that there was no real hope for recovery, he would never see, talk or walk again. He probably was not hearing anything. A day after that, his hand began communicating “yes” and “no” with squeezes. He was hearing fine. Our prayer team visited him once a week. Nancy was really good about visiting. She does that kind of stuff better than I do. Every home group in the church prayed. Plus, God knows how many telephone chains here and in Mexico. We even did an all-night prayer service for Jose on a Friday.

TOM
Wow, that was great.

Well, actually, we really knocked off a little after one, I’m getting too old to last longer. Anyway, Jose kept getting better and recovering one faculty after another, speaking came in last. The doctors were utterly astounded. One actually said to Maria, “This is a miracle. You must have a lot of people praying.”

TOM
Almost… unbelievable.

GEORGE
Ah, a trace of skepticism?

TOM
Look George, I know you don’t lie. But we were both trained in history. I have to go by the evidence I see, you just gave me a “secondary source,” so to speak. One that is reliable, yes, but I have never seen anything like that myself.

GEORGE
You have never actually seen a healing miracle?

TOM
Well, I guess nothing flat out miraculous. A lot of good things happen to our folks in church. Like they say, “When you stop praying, the coincidences stop happening.” But nothing like what you say about Jose.

GEORGE
I wish you could stick around for our Wednesday night healing service. You would see something miraculous, at the very least a back healed and straightened out.
(GEORGE’s cell phone rings, he motions to TOM)
Excuse…
                                    (answering phone).
Hi sweetheart.
                                    (pause). 
Oh too bad. You’re home already?
                                    (pause)
Yes, I can do that, we’ll all do lunch together.
                                    (pause)
Yes, love you, bye.
                                    (GEORGE hangs up, and places phone in his pocket.)
Nancy wanted to come to lunch with us, but she has to mind our grandchild - our daughter was suddenly called to work. But Liz, our new children’s minister is coming over. It should be a very interesting lunch. She is very country and very Pentecostal, and…ah…

TOM
Yes, go ahead and say it. I’m a stogy, ultra-traditional Catholic. So I like the Latin rite. Well, I’ll bite my tongue and not argue with her. 

GEORGE
Oh what a grace!

TOM
You know, once I had dinner with a client who was in his soul a 1960s hippy communist jerk, but had co-opted into Wall Street and made it big. Here he was wearing a thousand-dollar suit but talking like Che Guevara. And, I mean, I managed to be nice the whole time even though I had this gargantuan urge to pour my bowl of hot soup on his head and his thousand-dollar suit. Hey, but I got even. He signed a contract that kept our folks at work and gave me a good commission. Capitalism triumphant!

GEORGE
Great self-control. Well, Elizabeth, we call her Liz, is really a lovely lady. We are blessed to have her. She came to us partly to get out of Blueridge, a town up in the mountains, to get away from the memories of a bad divorce.

TOM
Oh?
GEORGE
Yeah. She was married to the local “Mr. Respectable,” who was deacon of the Baptist church there, and way up in the Masons.  Real nice in public, but a real SOB and abuser at home. Nancy counseled with them for some months, and finally, after she came in with bruises, advised her to get out for her own safety and divorce him. She did, but everybody in her church was upset. “How could she leave Mr. Respectable?” Well, I guess it is all Providential and our gain. Our own children’s minister married off and went to Wisconsin last month.

(knock at door)
LIZ
                                    (from outside, with a noticeable Southern accent)
Nancy told me to come right in, Pastor George.

GEORGE
Yes, come in!
LIZ
                                    (TOM stands as LIZ walks in.)
Hello ya’ll.

GEORGE
Mrs. Garner, this is Tom O’Malley, my best friend from back in college. He just finished some business with Home Depot Corporate, and dropped in to say hello. We hadn’t seen each other in years.

TOM
                                    (TOM and LIZ shake hands. Tom is thunderstruck
 and almost breathless)
My…pleasure, ah, Mrs. Garner, Mam.

LIZ
Just call me Liz. The pleasure is all mine.

TOM
And call me Tom

GEORGE
Please, let’s sit down.
                                                (all sit. LIZ and TOM sit down. LIZ on the stuffed
chair, and TOM back on the couch, but
facing LIZ)
How did you like the children’s rooms?

LIZ
                                    (looking at TOM)
Oh they are marvelous. But there are a few things I would add, when the church budget can afford it, I mean, like a sand table for one.

GEORGE
You need to make us a list. We have a tight budget with the repairs we have to do, but we haven’t spent anything much in the children’s department in a while. I bet we can swing at least that. The next vestry meeting is Monday, come with a plan.

LIZ
Sure will.

GEORGE
Hey, Is anybody else ready for lunch?

TOM
Yes. And I’m buying.

GEORGE
Oh I’m getting to like your new contract more all the time. Does everyone like Italian?

LIZ
Love it

TOM
My favorite.

GEORGE
                                    (to LIZ)
You noticed the fire station down the street?

LIZ
Yes.

GEORGE
Well next to it two stores down is Mama Maria’s. Why don’t you drive on ahead and get a table for us before the line gets long. I have to wait here until Mae comes back from Staples.

LIZ
Sure. See you then.
                                    (LIZ leaves, closing the door behind her.)

TOM
What a beautiful Lady.

GEORGE
And very gifted. She’s very Pentecostal.  So, you seem to have been attracted to her.

TOM
Wow. This is ridiculous. My hormones haven’t jostled like this in years. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. This… I’m too mature for this sort of stuff. Besides, Mary has been dead for only three years.

GEORGE
Hey, don’t sweat it.  She sees things from God’s perspective now. No jealousy in heaven. You know, the Puritans, who have a bum rap for being anti-sex, really had a great theology of sexuality and marriage. They believed in rapid re-marriage after the death of a spouse.

TOM
No, really?

GEORGE
Yes, really. Their novels are full of stories of distraught widows meeting this tall handsome, merchant widower…
                                   
TOM
Well, I’m a distraught merchant widower.

GEORGE
Listen, with the type of ogre her ex was, it’s not hard to be a knight in shining armor for her. This may be God’s providential hand.

TOM
OK. Hey but, is this Mama Maria’s a good quality restaurant?

GEORGE
Really, the best food around here.

TOM
I asked because… you know… you always had this tendency to be …ah… sort of cheap, back then.

GEORGE
Oh but the Lord has changed me by grace. I now have “divine thriftiness,” not cheapness. That’s what it is, “divine thriftiness.” But this is the best place in town.

MAE
                                    (shouting from the inner office)
I’m back. Didn’t spend much money. I got a lunch at Arby’s.

GEORGE
                                    (shouting back)
OK, good.  We’ll be out to shortly. If the plumber comes you know where the problem is.

MAE
Right.

GEORGE
                                    (standing up)
Let go to Mama Maria’s.
                                                (Tom stands and they both meet at the door)
Now, last time we talked, you were going to this traditional Catholic Church, with the Latin mass, and all that. Father Mark’s church?

TOM
Yes, the church is great. The people there really gave Mary lots of support during her last weeks. I mean, that hospital room was like Grand Central Station at times.

GEORGE
That’s great.  So you are well established there.
TOM
Going on fifteen years now. You know, even the grief I have for losing Mary…it’s been a lousy, awful three years.  The grief, it like, lifts when I worship there.

GEORGE
That’s the way it should be.
                                    (opening door, both leave)

BLACKOUT:



Act I

Scene 2:

Mama Maria’s Restaurant

LIZ, GEORGE AND TOM seated at a table

GEORGE
Is your favorite still Lasagna?

TOM
Yes. I’m hoping for one as good as the one Capali’s mom used to make for us.

GEORGE
I remember…
                                    (off stage, sound of breaking glass and splashing liquid.)
WAITRESS
                                    (offstage)
Oh! Owe! Owe…

GEORGE
Lord, let it not be serious…

LIZ
Amen

GEORGE
If I hear another moan, I’ll…
                                    (moment of silence)

TOM
I guess they have taken care of it. What are you going to have?

GEORGE
Humm…I like the spaghetti and meatballs here.

TOM
You’re not being thrifty with me, are you? I’ve done very well.

GEORGE
No, really, it’s one of my favorites, they all come with a nice salad. Liz, what are you going for.

LIZ
I like Tom, … I mean, like Tom, the lasagna too.

WAITRESS
                                    (comes in with left hand and forearm bandaged in a wash towel.)
Hi, what drinks can I get you folks?

TOM
 A glass of Red wine. The house stuff will be fine.

WAITRESS
And you, ma’am?

LIZ
Sweet tea.
GEORGE
Un-sweet tea, with lemon.
                                    (pointing to her bandaged hand)
It that where the, crash, “ouches and oohs” came from?

WAITRESS
Yes, I was pulling out a coffee pot, and spilled boiling hot coffee all over my hand. We got ice on it right away.

GEORGE
It hurts?

WAITRESS
It hurts bad. I think it’s blistering.

GEORGE
Would like me to pray for it?

WAITRESS
That can’t hurt.
GEORGE
(places one hand above and another below Waitress’ bandaged hand.)
Father, let your healing energies flow into this wounded area.
                                    (pause)

LIZ
(raises her hands shoulder high and prays in tongues softly as GEORGE continues. TOM stares open mouthed at the scene.)

GEORGE
I rebuke all damage, all swelling or blistering to this hand and wrist area. Swelling down! In Jesus’ name, pain, be gone!

WAITRESS
(with an astounded look)
The pain…has gone away.

GEORGE
Praise the Lord!

WAITRESS
                                    (un-wrapping her bandage)
Wow, look! The color is… almost normal, the swelling is down. How did you do that?

TOM
Jesus did it!
                                    (grins at LIZ)
GEORGE
Right on!

WAITRESS
Thank you, thank you. This is amazing. I thought all this was fake, like the TV fakes.

GEORGE

WAITRESS
Well, I’ve never seen anything like this. My aunt said she was healed once. But I didn’t believe her. Thank you for your prayer.  Ah…let me ask. Do you pray like this for really serious things? I mean, like… my sister has stage three cervical cancer, and the chemo is really awful on her.

GEORGE
We have miracles of healing all the time at St. John’s. Does your sister live nearby?

WAITRESS
In Acworth.

GEORGE
Bring your sister in to the Wednesday evening healing service.  But actually, any of our Sunday services have a good healing team too. We’ll give her the full treatment, laying on of hands, the way I just did for you, anointing with blessed oil, Holy Communion, the whole nine yards.

WAITRESS
We’ll come. Your church is that brick one just down the street?

GEORGE
Yes. Wednesday healing service is at seven.

WAITRESS
 I’ll have her there. Now, are you folks ready to order?

TOM
Yes, I’ll have the lasagna, and also for this charming lady.  He’ll have the spaghetti with meat balls.

WAITRESS
I’ll be back soon with your salads and drinks.
                                    (leaves)

TOM
Do you do this prayer thing everywhere?

GEORGE
Well, sort of, yes. Once my youth leader was having a bout of food poisoning, and was throwing up in the church men’s room. I prayed for him right there, over the potty. In principal, I guess there is no place where you shouldn’t pray.

TOM
What about a bar? Would you do the prayer stuff there?

GEORGE
Sure, why not? But I haven’t had the occasion yet…
                                    (chuckling).
Hey, you know, you just used the word “stuff’ for healing prayer. Reminds me of one of the great stories of modern Pentecostalism. This guy, called John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard churches.

TOM
Oh, there’s one down the avenue from us back home. But I never investigated.

LIZ
There is one in Kennesaw, not far from here, if you get a chance to stay over some Wednesday or Sunday evening I can take you to it.

TOM
Thank you, I’ll take you up on that.

GEORGE
They are usually really good churches. Well, John Wimber came from a family that didn’t believe in God. For three generations no one in the Wimber family had set foot in a church except for friends’ weddings. Anyway, John was having some marital problems and thought maybe some of this Christian “stuff” would help the marriage. So he goes to one of his next door neighbor’s home Bible study groups. They were Quakers. There for six months he learns the Bible, they pray for his marriage and it’s healed, and he gets saved. He even develops a gift for evangelization and starts leading others to Christ. Then he thinks, “You know, I should go to a real church.” So he and his wife up and go to a local Baptist church. Now, he was a professional keyboardist, a rock musician at the time. His band played warm up for the Beatles on their US tours.

LIZ
I didn’t know that about him. Oh, that’s why Vineyard music is always so… contemporary.

GEORGE
Yes, exactly. Very Providential. Well anyway, this is the first time they have been in a regular church service, ever. He notices the music is a generation old and badly played, the singing mediocre, and the sermon is repetitious and boring.

TOM
Sounds like the Methodist service I once attended.

GEORGE
Hey, hey, let’s not compare. Catholic priests don’t have reputations as great preachers.

TOM
You have a point. Actually, our Father Mark is pretty good.

GEORGE
Good for you. Well anyway, so after the service, Wimber and his wife go up to the pastor and he asks him, “When do you do the stuff?” The pastor asks, “What stuff?”
                                    (mimicking Wimber pointing to his Bible)
“You know, the stuff in the Bible, the casting out of devils, the healing of the sick. That stuff!” The pastor answers…
                                    (laughs)
This cracks me up every time I tell it. So the pastor answers,
(in a very serious voice)
Well, the church doesn’t do that anymore. But sometimes we sing about it.
                                    (laughs).
LIZ
                                    (giggling)
That must have been my old Baptist pastor.

WAITRESS
(comes back with drinks and salad and bread and places them on the table.)
Thanks again, I’ve never had anything like that in my life. I had a bad burn on my leg when I was a little girl, and it still has a scar.

GEORGE
That’s sad. I apologize that Christians are taking so long to learn this stuff.
                                    (WAITRESS leaves.)

TOM
Before we eat I need to go to the rest room. Excuse me
                                    (TOM leaves).

GEORGE
Liz, I see you have eyes for Tom.

LIZ
Oh I think he is sooo… cute. My heart is at a flitter-flatter every time he looks at me. Tell me, is he really very Catholic?

GEORGE
Yes, very.

LIZ
Well is he saved? I mean…

GEORGE
Yes, he is saved. He really is dedicated to the Lord. He’s a lay Eucharistic minister.

LIZ
What’s that?

GEORGE
That means he helps the priest distribute Holy Communion on Sundays, and brings it to people in hospitals or home bound folks.

LIZ
Oh. That’s a nice ministry. He seems like such a nice man, but I just don’t want to get interested in anyone who is not saved.

GEORGE
Was John saved?

LIZ
When we first got married he said he was. But he never walked a hundred percent with the Lord. He got involved in his business, and with the Masons, and didn’t have time for prayer or Bible reading.

GEORGE
Well, Tom has always been involved in his church, and has been on the church counsel and all sorts of activities, like assistant to the youth group. Besides, he was wonderful to his wife. Years ago I stayed a week with them in New York and observed how they loved on each other. Tom tells me they had a few squabbles about child rearing, but their marriage never got stale.

LIZ
Thanks for the info. Oh, now I need to go to the ladies’ room, excuse me.
                        (LIZ leaves, and moments later TOM comes back)

GEORGE
Liz’ll be back in a minute.

TOM
                                    (sitting down)
Oh. She really is good looking. Tell me about her. I mean, how Pentecostal is she? I mean, I see she prays in tongues, but does she do crazy stuff like roll over the floor and wrestle with snakes?

GEORGE
Well, I know for a fact she hates snakes and would never touch one. She spent most of her life in a Baptist church that never even prayed for healing with the laying on of hands, or any stuff like that. She went to a Pentecostal church only after her marriage got really rough a few years back. But on rolling around the floor, you’ll have to ask her. You know, once, about fifteen years ago or maybe twenty, I was at a revival, and I got struck down to the floor by the Spirit. The polite term is “resting in the Spirit.” 

TOM
Oh?

GEORGE
As a matter of fact a Catholic charismatic theologian thought up the phrase. Well anyway, I was on the floor, sort of softly babbling in tongues and rocking back and forth for about five minutes, maybe more. I guess a hostile observer would think,
                                    (mimicking outrage)
“This guy is a holy roller!”
                                    (chuckles)
But when I got up I was healed of a nasty arthritis on my left knee. But I haven’t done the “rock around the floor” since. You’ll have to ask Liz about how many rugs and carpets she’s experienced up close.
                                    (LIZ come back, nods hello. Tom rises and helps her into her seat)
Great. We’re ready to say a blessing and eat.
                                    (GEORGE’s cell phone rings, he takes it out).
Hi Mrs. Kramer.
                                    (pause)
Well thank you for offering to help.
                                    (pause)
I will need you for a house cleansing. All sorts of things are flying around, and I think it may be a ghost or demon, and you have such good discernment of spirits.
                                    (pause)
Yes, at three. The house is that two story Victorian house with the blue trim two houses down from “Eli’s Sea Food and More.” Number 144.
                                    (pause)
Thanks again.
                                    (pause)
God bless, see you then.
                                    (disconnects and puts phone away)

TOM
So you do the ghost busting routine?

GEORGE
The Anglican terminology is “laying a ghost to rest.” Yes. It’s a shame that in the popular mind it has been surrendered to the occult.

LIZ
Oh that is so right. But no one has ever explained it.

TOM
What do you do?

LIZ
Yes?

GEORGE
It depends. If the thing is a demon I speak the words of exorcism and command it to leave. Then usually I anoint the house with oil on the doors and windows. If it is a disoriented or attached soul I do a funeral service and commend the soul to God’s judgment and mercy. Usually I do a communion service. I think Catholic priests do some of this too.

TOM
I’ve never heard of it in our parish. So, you’re saying, ghosts are these lost souls in Purgatory?

GEORGE
Well actually, I think it’s better to use the Old Testament word sheol. Saint Augustine, decided that Sheol was Old Testament, and didn’t carry forward to New Testament times. A big mistake which has clouded Christian theology of the afterlife ever since.

LIZ
Saint Augustine?

GEORGE
A very important, big man for both Catholic and Protestant theologians. Calvin was deeply influenced by him. I have a great paperback on Augustine in my office if you have the time to read it.
LIZ
I’ll have time.

GEORGE
Well anyway, the theology of the after-ife really got messed up by making it doctrine that after death there is only heaven or hell, or heaven, hell and purgatory. I think understanding a ghost as a soul trapped in sheol is a good biblical fit. The important thing is that when we do this kind of service the strange sounds and flying stuff stop, and people can get their rest. And perhaps more important, we do this “stuff” in Jesus’ name and He gets the glory.

TOM
OK, I’ll buy that. But how do you tell the difference between a soul cooped up in sheol and demon?

GEORGE
Mrs. Kramer, lets me know. If I take Nancy with me, she has good discernment of spirits too. It takes the gift of the discernment of spirits. When I first did this stuff years ago I was still single and hadn’t met Nancy and so I had to do trial and error. I would go into a house and do an exorcism over the place, but nothing happened, and the dishes and pots kept moving around. But like I said, once in a while it really is a demon and the commands of exorcism are effective.

LIZ
This seems so right. I’ve never heard it explained.

TOM
How often do you do this sort of thing?

GEORGE
Oh…I’ve been at St. John’s now almost five years, we were in a trailer for a while. And I have done maybe two or three a year. One year I did five, I think. I haven’t counted them. Hey, we better eat, we need to be back at the office by one thirty. Let’s say a blessing. Tom, you go ahead and say it.

TOM
Hey, you’re the priest, no?

GEORGE
Yes, but I’m asking you.
(Lights fade as they hold hands for a blessing.)


Act I

Scene 3

(Pastor’s office: GEORGE is seated on his swivel chair, MARCI on the stuffed chair)


MARCI
I think so. I mean… if these people will minister to others… they should know, right?

                                    (GEORGE nodding assent)

And help others. Yes, I feel good about this.
                       
GEORGE
Yes, thank you. This is very good of you.
                                    (GEORGE goes to the door, opens it and speaks)
Liz, Tom, come on in I want you to help me minister to Mrs. Donaldson.
                                    (LIZ and TOM walk in)                     
This is Mrs. Marci Donaldson.

MARCI
Oh yes. How nice to meet you both.

TOM
Good to meet you.
LIZ
My pleasure.
GEORGE
Please be seated.
                                    (LIZ and TOM sit on the couch)
Could you tell Tom and Liz the brief version of what happened to you years ago?

MARCI
Well, yes.  First let me say that this happened over ten years ago. I am now married to the greatest husband in the world and have two beautiful kids.

GEORGE
Amen to that. Mr. Donaldson is our lead usher and a vestry person.

MARCI
This happened before I was saved.  Or, I guess, better said, I was backslidden. I was eighteen and living with this man. He was really good looking and big. He had played tackle in high school football. He was pretty nice - except when he was drunk. Well, I was three months pregnant with his child, and he came home really, really drunk, and got really, really mean.
                                    (biting her lip, holding back tears.)
He didn’t like the mashed potatoes… and… he started beating me. He beat the hell out of… oh, sorry.

GEORGE
Hey, OK.

MARCI
Yes, he beat me real bad. Left me on the floor unconscious. I came to later, made it to the bathroom and then the baby came out, just a little tiny thing. I flushed it down the toilet. I guess he knew I’d call the police. But he had gathered his things and left and I never saw him again. You know, I never even knew his last name or exactly where he worked.

GEORGE
Now tell Liz and Tom why you came today.

MARCI
Last week I read this book about a three-year-old boy who died on the operating table and went to heaven, and then was brought back to life. It was all very interesting about heaven and all that. Anyway, in heaven he met his sister, who had been a miscarriage years before he was born. But the girl had no name because the parents hadn’t named it. So it was in heaven without a name. Isn’t that strange? So I immediately thought, “Oh, maybe my first baby is running around heaven without a name.” I better talk to Pastor George about this. So here I am.

GEORGE
We’re going to do a proxy baptism of Marci’s child, and name it.

MARCI
Pastor George, suggested that and it’s OK with me. But I was raised Baptist and…I backslid bad I admit… and…

GEORGE
You would like a Scripture about this.

MARCI
Yes.

LIZ
I would too.

GEORGE
                                    (reaching over and getting the Bible from his desk)
I thought you might. It is very good you asked in fact. Let’s go to First Corinthians, fifteen. I think about twenty-seven, or something. It’s not the subject of many sermons, or any at all that I know of.
                                    (finding it,)
Ah, here. Verse twenty-nine.
                                    (quoting.)
“Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?”
                                    (looking at MARCI.)
You see the plain meaning? Christians in Paul’s church were baptizing their dead.  And most important, Paul does not correct them like he does in other sections when they were doing something wrong.  But to the contrary, uses the practice to back up his specific point about the Resurrection.

MARCI
But the Mormons do that. So isn’t this a cultic thing?

GEORGE
They take it to an extreme.  But, in this case, of your miscarriage, what we have is a good fit for what Paul wrote. You see, the Holy Spirit didn’t slip up and say, “Oops, I shouldn’t have allowed Paul to write that, it has no application, no time, nowhere.”

LIZ
Wow, I never thought of it that way.

TOM
Amen to wow. I mean really.
MARCI
Oh… Yes. This makes me feel better too. Do your stuff Padre George!

GEORGE
(GEORGE picks up a bottle of water and small towel  from his desk, opens the bottle and places the towel around MARI’s shoulders.)
Here, so your blouse won’t get soaked.

MARCI
No problem with that. You know, I…I ah…oh…
                                    (motioning with her hand, next to her.)
I feel a presence next to me, here.

LIZ
                                    (raising her hands and praying in tongues softly)

GEORGE
A-hum. What should we call your child? Did you know if it was a boy or girl?

MARCI
No, at the time it was too small and I was too sick to look or care. The baby just went down the toilet.

GEORGE
Well than, give your child a name that could be either male or female, like Billy or Jamie or Jean that could be male or female with different spellings.

MARCI
Oh, I like that. My favorite uncle was a Bill. Billy will be fine.

GEORGE

(TOM looks intently at the side of MARCI, leaning over open-mouthed)

Good. How about giving this child John’s surname? As if he were adopted.

MARCI
Oh, I think…that would be good, really good.

GEORGE
Child of Marci, your mother names you Billy. And now…we name you Billy Donaldson, after your stepfather, who would have taken you in and loved you as his own.

MARCI
(With her eyes closed, and inaudibly, crying)
Yes, he would have Billy.  I love you.

GEORGE
But wait, I did one of these years ago when I was a layman.
                                    (pause)
There is no pattern for it in the Book of Common Prayer, and my bishop might get upset about this.

TOM
Thinking you’re going Mormon?

GEORGE
Or something like that. He is pretty reasonable, but traditional too. Tom, why don’t you go ahead and pour the water and say the words of baptism. You remember from catechism instruction?

TOM
Yes, but lay folks like me are supposed to do it only in emergencies.

GEORGE
Let’s call it an emergency. Marci’s child is here, and will not stick around long.

TOM
Yes… I saw him…a nice looking kid, brown eyes and red hair. A boy.

MARCI
His father had red hair. I still feel his presence.

TOM
OK, wow…this is strange. OK
(getting the water bottle from the desk and pouring the water on MARCI’S head)
Billy, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

MARCI
I just felt this… incredible joy.

TOM
                                    (placing the glass and towel back on the desk)

LIZ
I felt it too.

TOM
Wow!

MARCI
Thank you all. This is real. This is wonderful.

GEORGE
It’s been our joy.

TOM
Yes! And as you guys say around here, praise the Lord!

GEORGE
You’re catching on. Now, Marci, I can’t legally write Billy’s baptism in the parish register, but you need to be assured that he’s part of your family and our parish. The parish register in heaven will show that.

MARCI
You think that?

GEORGE
Yes. You know, the Bible says we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. I don’t think we know the half of it, how much they pray for us and cheer us on,
                                    (looking at TOM)
In our sorrows and romances, and all the stuff of life.

MARCI
Do you think I will feel Billy’s presence when I come with John and my girls to church?

GEORGE
Now wait. This was very special. Probably not. You can ask the Lord, but don’t insist on it. Satan can tempt you into spiritualism if you demand it. New Age folks have all sorts of techniques of supposed “channeling” to contact the dead, but you wind up contacting demons. But the Lord might gift you with a touch of his presence now and them. I know that happens to widows or widowers with their spouses on occasion. They just don’t talk about it much.

(TOM drops his jaws, shakes his head yes, and almost says something but doesn’t)

So, just be thankful for the Lord permitting this visitation. But you’ll see Billy in heaven and have plenty of time to catch up.

MARCI
Thank you all so much. I need to be heading home.
(MARCI gets up to leave. GEORGE and TOM, stand up and both shake her hand to say goodbye.)

GEORGE
See your family this Sunday?

MARCI
No, actually we are going to Ashville, to John’s family. Davis is covering as lead usher. But we’ll be back next week.

GEORGE
Great. Now tell John I appreciate his pinch hitting at the audio console last Sunday. He did a great job.
                                    (MARCI leaves)

TOM
This is incredible. I never had a spiritual experience like that. I mean, I’m not into a lot of visions and stuff.

GEORGE
But you obviously have the gifting. I bet you’ve had prophetic dreams.

TOM
How did you know? You know, I never even discussed that even with Father Mark. A week before Mary died I had a dream of the funeral, just the way it was.

GEORGE
That helped you prepare…a bit.

TOM
Yes, sort of. At least it was not a total shock.

GEORGE
And now you know. And if you keep your gift hidden under a bushel basket you’ll have to account to the Lord.

TOM
Wow! Yeah. This is incredible. You know, being here at St. John’s is like a spiritual grad school.

LIZ
Amen!

GEORGE
Thanks. This should be normal stuff in church, but I guess it isn’t.
                                    (GEORGE’s phone rings and he answers).
Hallo.
                                    (pause)
Oh, how serious?
                                    (pause)
Well if she gets any worse let me know.
                                    (pause)
No, don’t worry about the house cleansing; it can be done tomorrow or maybe Thursday.
                                    (pause)
Don’t feel sorry. You take care of your granddaughter, and the ghost will wait. He’s probably been waiting for a long time already. Call if she gets worse and I’ll go over. Blessings.
                                    (closes phone.)
Shoot!

LIZ
Somebody is sick.

GEORGE
Yes, Melissa, Mrs. Kramer’s seven-year-old granddaughter. She was sent home from school with diarrhea. Her mom’s at work… Mrs. Kramer is my ace in discerning of spirits. Nancy is hung up too. But maybe this is… Providential.
(looking at TOM and LIZ, and pointing at them.)
Hey!...You guys just showed you have the gifts for this sort of stuff…

TOM
Wow, more grad school stuff. I’m game, let’s go ghost busting.

LIZ
Me too. Wait till they hear about this in First Baptist.

GEORGE
But wait Tom, you have a six o’clock plane to catch. What if you miss your plane?

TOM
I’ll catch a later one.

GEORGE
But that’ll cost you extra money.

TOM
Look, “Padre Thrifty,” it’s my money. It happens all the time in business. But I have never seen a real honest-to-God Christian ghost busting, or any ghost busting. This may be normal to you but it’s hot stuff to me.

GEORGE
OK, let’s go ghost busting.  Let me get my high tech ghost busting gizmos.
(picks up his Bible and the Book of Common Prayer).
Let’s go ghost busting.

BLACKOUT:

INTERMISSION

Act 2

Scene i

(The home of Mrs. WATKINS, TOM, GEORGE, LIZ and WATKINS are seated around the dining room table)

GEORGE
So when did you notice that you had abnormal things going on.

WATKINS
Well, actually, when Bob and I first came to look at the house I had this icky, creepy feeling – hard to describe. I mentioned it to Bob. He didn’t notice it. Everything else was perfect: five minutes away from work, the price was a bargain, a great school for our kids. It’s an old house, but really a beautiful with everything we wanted. But the night we first moved in things started to happen.

GEORGE
Tell us.

WATKINS
Well… even that first night… a cupboard door kept opening and closing without reason. I mean the house is perfectly level. We checked. Then, a few days later some of the plates started to jump out of the cupboard and break. Or a pot would move from the counter to the stove top by itself, and the food was burned. We weren’t sleeping well. As a matter of fact, Bob and I have tossed around the idea of selling. But also… and I don’t know if this is related. Now I often dream, I guess, a nightmare is a better word, of a weeping man, no one I know. He is…like dressed formally, with a top hat that Fred Astaire used to wear in his movies. He just sits and weeps. The dream doesn’t change. But sometimes I can hear the word “Helen” from him, or “Oh Helen, I’m sorry,” said in desperation. Then I wake up.

GEORGE
Ah hum…

WATKINS
It seems to have gotten worse lately, we now here noises in the attic. We had that checked for squirrels. Nothing. Yesterday a plate of my best china flew out of the cabinet and smashed.

GEORGE
Hum… That’ll get your attention. Now, you and Bob are Christians?

WATKINS
Yes, we have been life-long Presbyterians.

GEORGE
Were you even into the occult? Or New Age stuff?

WATKINS
No, nothing like that, ever. But when I talked to our minister about this, he seemed to hint we were having hallucination, or maybe a psychological problem. He didn’t help at all.

GEORGE
Sad. Now, this is what I think we need to do. We will pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show us if your dreams about this man with a top hat were accurate to the situation, and anything else the Spirit would want to show. So far, I believe we will be doing a funeral for this ghost, closing with a brief communion service. Let’s begin to pray. Mrs. Watkins, would it disturb you if we prayed in tongues?

WATKINS
No, not at all. A lady in our home Bible study does that. I’m fine with that.
                                    (phone rings off stage)
Oh excuse me. I have to answer that. My son has an emergency going on with his first girlfriend. For him it’s a big thing.
                                    (leaves)
GEORGE
Of course.

TOM
So this one is a ghost and not a demon?

GEORGE
I think so. But the Holy Spirit may show us different.
                                    (GEORGE’S phone rings, he looks at it.)
Oh shoot! Lucie. One of my extra needy sheep. Always baahhing….
                                    (presses the answer section)
Hello Mrs. Dubay.
                                    (pause)
But I am right in the middle of something important. Can I call you back in an hour?
                                    (pause, places the phone to his chest to cover the mike.)
I have to talk to her for a few minutes. I’ll go to the living room.
                                    (GEORGE leaves.)

TOM
Well, all of this is most interesting. Have you ever been at a ghost busting?

LIZ
Never. Never had any teaching on it either.

TOM
Are your kids coming down to live with you?

LIZ
No, one is in college, about to graduate, and go into the military. The other is in his last year of high-school, and he wants to finish there, so he will stay with his father.
TOM
Oh, rough.

LIZ
Not too bad. He texts me all the time, and I drive up there on Mondays and stay at a girlfriend’s house until Wednesday afternoon. Did you have children?

TOM
A girl, she graduated from pre-med, but decided to enter the business world. It was a part time job that kept on growing. She’s happy with that, and doing great. Now she has a good Catholic boyfriend and a ring on her finger.

LIZ
Nice.

TOM
So you had two children?

LIZ
Three. I lost my baby girl when she was two from a stupid accident.
TOM
Oh I’m sorry. That’s rough.

LIZ
Very. The closest I ever came to losing my faith in God
(TOM reaches over to touch LIZ’s hand. When they make contact they realize some sort of energy is going between them and twitch gently.)

Wow! Do you feel that?

LIZ
Of course.

TOM
Wow, this is strange. Could that be the ghost in the house?

LIZ
No, silly. It’s the Holy Ghost.

TOM
Oh, wow. Strange…and wonderful.
                                    (twitching subsides.)

WATKINS
                                    (enters)
Well my son will be alright, for at least a few hours. Where is Pastor George?

GEORGE
                                    (enters)

Here! Just calming one of my sheep. OK. I think we can start. Let’s pray.
(All seated. WATKINS and TOM bow their heads in prayer. GEORGE and LIZ raise their hands shoulder high and pray softly in tongues.)
Holy Spirit, lluminate the situation, so that Christ may be glorified, and this house rid of these bothersome manifestations.
                                    (pause, LIZ continues to pray in tongues) 

TOM
Holy Toledo!

GEORGE
What do you sense?

TOM
Like a pale movie. This older man, top hat. Hey… dressed in a formal suit of the 1900s, white tie, the whole bit.  He strangles this woman. I got the word, “jealously.” I saw him strangling this woman.
GEORGE
Good Tom, very good. Let’s see if there is more. Let’s continue praying. See if the Lord will show us his name.
(GEORGE and LIZ continue to pray in tongues, TOM and WATKINS resume praying. In a few moments)

LIZ
Fredrick. His name is Fredrick.

WATKINS
Funny, I got the same thing.

GEORGE
Good. Let’s pray again if there is anything else, the Lord wants us to know.
(all pray again, pause)
Lord we plead your blood over this situation. We cast out any deceptive spirit.
                                                (pause, prayers continue)
Well, I feel we have all that we need.

LIZ
Yes, that’s right.

GEORGE
Let’s shove open the gates of hades like Jesus said in Matthew 16 and snatch up Fredrick. We’ll start with a funeral service and commend Fredrick to God’s judgment and mercy. Tom, I want you to read one of the Scriptures on behalf of Frederick. Psalm fifty-one speaks of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Frederick needs plenty of that.

TOM
Sure

LIZ
Wow, Pastor George, my spirit is going, “Great!” But my head is saying this is funny theology. This Frederick, if that vision is right… he murders this woman, dies but doesn’t go to hell. You say he is stuck in shoel or hades?

GEORGE
I think that the best explanation for this ghost.

LIZ
And you’re about to do a funeral service, and send him to God for mercy. Sort of a second chance? Where does that make biblical sense?  It sounds like the New Age thing that all dogs go to heaven and nobody goes to hell no matter what they do.

GEORGE
Not by a long shot. But a great question with long history. For a starter, read First Peter three and four carefully. There is described how Jesus led some “disobedient spirits” out of hades. Then we’ll talk some more. Stay away from the standard commentaries. They go messed up by a false gospel called the Gospel of Nicodemus that was invented in the Third Century and screwed up the interpretation of First Peter ever since.  It said that Jesus released the Patriarchs from hell.  Nonsense, the Patriarchs were in the “bosom of Abraham” were Lazarus the beggar went.  The folks Jesus released were “disobedient spirits” not Patriarchs. Just read first Peter literally and naturally.  Then turn to Ephesians Four and you’ll get it right.

LIZ
That’s my homework?

GEORGE
Ah-hum. You know, back twenty years or so Nancy and I were watching a Jimmy Swagger program, he’s a great singer.

LIZ
He really was.

GEORGE
So sad he got caught up in that sex thing. Well anyway, he was preaching 1 Peter, and in his usual style acted it out, the messed up version of the Gospel of Nicodemus.
(imitating Swagger)
And Joseph, you are now released!
                                    (in his normal voice)
But he made it rhyme.
                                    (imitating Swagger)
And Abraham, you will come with me…
                                    (shrugging his shoulders in disgust)
It would be interesting to look at the commentary he consulted for that sermon. You would trace it back to this Third Century fraud that circulated in Catholic monasteries. Ironic, since he really, really disliked Catholics.                                           

TOM
Hey, this is graduate school.

GEORGE
At no extra cost. But for now…look at it this way, Liz. What did Paul say was the minimum for salvation?

LIZ
Well, I guess it’s in Romans ten, nine: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

GEORGE
Yep. Now consider your ex, John.  He was “saved” as a teen ager and walked the walk for a few years.

LIZ
Oh, I’ll say. When we were high school sweet hearts he took me to youth retreats as sort of the big date.

GEORGE
But after a while he lost that passion for the Lord.

LIZ
Back back-slid real bad.

GEORGE
So let’s suppose you hadn’t providentially met Nancy back months ago, and had not gone to her for counseling. He might have killed you by now in one of his fits.

TOM
Like Frederick

LIZ
He came close.

GEORGE
Again supposing, after he strangles you, or shoots you, whatever, the demons in his head convince him to commit suicide, like so often happens. Now see, he is saved, but demonized, the product of a Christian life that misfired.

LIZ
Yes.

GEORGE
But according to some Protestant theology, “Once saved, always saved.” So, like Paul, he goes straight to heaven. Right?

LIZ
Oh, I see. I never thought about that.

GEORGE
You see the logic that drove Catholic theologians to invent purgatory? But really, a biblical understanding of hades would have been better.

LIZ
(exhaling deeply)
Wow, this is heavy, all of a sudden.  So you think Frederick is in hades because he was a Christian and couldn’t go to hell, but couldn’t slip into heaven either?

GEORGE
I don’t really know for sure, but this is as close to the truth as I can figure out this side of heaven.  I do know that the traditional theology of the after-life was badly bungled by Catholics in the Middle Ages, and the Protestants didn’t notice. They were fighting other issues, like faith and works, and accepted the Catholic confusion about hell and Hades. 

LIZ
Wow…

TOM
Graduate school stretches the brain…

LIZ
Yes. And to think, five years ago I was a Baptist who thought speaking in tongues was of the devil.

WATKINS
Pastor George, can you come to our church and explain this to us. I’m fascinated.

GEORGE
If they’d have me, sure. 
                                    (looking at his watch)
Oh, we’ better not waste time. Liz, you have that meeting with the children’s volunteers?

LIZ
At four thirty.

GEORGE
OK then, let’s get Frederick out of hades. Tom, get ready with Psalm Fifty-One, and I’ll follow with the funeral service for Fredrick.
(TOM begins searching for Psalm 51 and LIZ  helps him find it and smiles. GEORGE opens his Book of Common Prayer.)

TOM
                                    (reading from the Bible)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

BLACKOUT:


Act 2

Scene ii

(At the pastor’s office, TOM and GEORGE seated.)

TOM
Well, what else have you going? How about resuscitation from the dead or walking on water? You have a pond out back.

GEORGE
Gosh, Tom, I really wanted to practice resuscitation from the dead today, but I have no volunteers to do the dying. You know the problem, everyone wants to go to heaven, but not just yet.
                                    (chuckle)
Well, actually, if you could stay till Tuesday I have a man coming in from out of town who needs some serious deliverance prayer. I have a team lined up for that. The case was referred to me by a minster who didn’t have experience in this stuff.  But I give him credit that he just didn’t chalk it up as a psychological problem.

TOM
Do you do those often? Like, will you have another one going the next time I come down?

GEORGE
No guarantees, but they pop up more often now. I sort of have a reputation for it. Nancy says living with me is an adventure. But doing this stuff should be an adventure in every church.

TOM
I can see that. Hey, but, do I get a ghost-busting pin or something for this afternoon? Like, I have a nice certificate and lapel pin for being a Eucharistic Minister from my church.

GEORGE
No, but you know?
                                    (stroking his chin)
I was thinking of something similar. We are always handing out these certificates, like for being a Sunday School teacher, or usher, and kitchen volunteer. Hum…
(raising his hands as if picturing a frame on the wall, and in mock serious voice)
“For distinguished service of hades emptying, and of the harrowing of hell.”  Hum… Not a bad idea. I have a good certificate generating program… put the parish seal on it, sign it and send you one.

TOM
I’d love it. 

GEORGE
Done. I think Mrs. Kramer would get kick out of one too.

TOM
Seriously. Why don’t other churches do this stuff?

GEORGE
As I said, the Catholics invented Purgatory, but forgot about hades, and the Protestants didn’t like it either. So ghosts don’t make sense, and they’re abandoned to the occult or shoved over to the dust bin of demon activity.

TOM
That’s right. You know, some time ago my wife and I went to Vermont at this bed and breakfast.  And the place was sponsoring a ghost tour of the local villages. Weird. But what would happen if the priests up there started to make the ghosts take a hike, like you do?

GEORGE
Well, they’d have to do something else for the tourists. Maybe they would hang up plaques, like the ones you see that say, “Washington slept here.” These would say “There was a ghost here,” or “The resident demon got kicked out.”

TOM
… By Padre George.
(both Laugh)
I’m taking this all in. So you don’t like purgatory?

GEORGE
Purgatory is fine for Catholics, if they want to go there.  Hey, we’ll settle this argument when we meet in heaven.

TOM
But maybe you’ll still be in Purgatory for skipping out of the Catholic Church.

GEORGE
 Could be, Tom, could be.

TOM
Seriously, being here is like going to spiritual graduate school. I wish we could re-convene our lunch group at Fordham and have you show them this stuff.

GEORGE
Oh so do I. Let me know when the time machine is invented. Sad, sad, one dead of alcoholism. Bill an atheist. What about McGovern?

TOM
You know, I met up with him in a wedding in Long Island a couple of years ago. Apparently that’s the only time he sees the inside of a church now.

GEORGE
Oh… It figures, but just look at the junk we were fed in theology and philosophy classes. Oh how the professors wanted to be modern and catch up with the poison they were teaching at Protestant seminaries. So Avant Garde. Oh…Tom, remember that awful book, Honest to God, we had to read. Everybody thought it was so cool.

TOM
Honest to God? Oh, yeah, now that you mention it.

GEORGE
I mean, look, back in the Seventies there were plenty of Pentecostals around, and healing evangelists like Katherine Kuhlman were doing great healing crusades. But they were written off as impossible, because they were “Holy Rollers” and lower class. Pure snobbism, an awful, stupid methodology.

TOM
We never took Oral Roberts and those folks seriously, did we?

GEORGE
Yes, exactly. A theology built on data avoidance.  It made the cover of that terrible article in Time Magazine.  Horrible.  Ignorance dressed up as modern and scientific.

TOM
It was called… ah...

GEORGE
“Death of God” theology, after the phrase from Nietzsche.  You know what? I call it by its acronym.

TOM
What?

GEORGE
Its acronym, Tom - “Death of God.” Hint, they were barking up the wrong tree.

TOM
                                    (chuckle)
Oh, that’s good.

GEORGE
So much damage, for… such a longtime. You know, for thirty years Catholic seminaries taught nothing about exorcism. Gloriously imitating the… BS of Liberal Protestantism and the DOG theologians.
TOM
Hey, but they’re doing it now again.

GEORGE
Thank God. But you know, the mainline seminaries were even worse hit by DOG theology, and never really recovered. Tom, how did you escape back into orthodoxy?

TOM
Well, you know, I guess ultimately, it was God’s grace. But I remember I was suspicious of how this eh… this DOG theology was playing out. So I found my way to one traditional parish after another, and I’m glad I did.

GEORGE
I’m glad for you too.
TOM
And you George?

GEORGE
Well, I followed the logical path of DOG theology and became an atheist.  Tried to live the swinging life, but was miserable. Then fell into the occult.

TOM
The occult?

GEORGE
Yeah. But it taught me that the spiritual world was real. I saw a levitation and séances and that sort of thing, and understood that the spiritual world was real, and thus, God must exist. I think when I visited you years ago I was into that, but didn’t mention it, as I didn’t want to start an argument.

TOM
That’s a rough way to come to faith in God.

GEORGE
But then I was led Providentially into a Catholic charismatic home group… and the rest is history!
                                   
TOM
You know, I went to a Catholic charismatic meeting back in the late seventies. They even laid hands on me for the baptism of Spirit. I didn’t feel anything. They wanted me to start jabbering in tongues. They kept on insisting, so to please them I mumbled a few words in Latin, and they went bananas. So I never went back.

GEORGE
Oh, that bit. Oh…Oh!  But that also explains your gift of discerning of spirits during the ghost busting. You got that gift, and not tongues, but they didn’t know, and you didn’t know.

TOM
Well maybe, you’re the expert on this stuff. So how did you become an Anglican priest?

GEORGE
Well the long and the short of it was that I got married to Nancy who was divorced, and could no longer legally receive Holy Communion. But I noticed a really good Episcopal Church in the neighborhood that was charismatic. This was over thirty years ago.  So Nancy and I went Episcopal until the Church became too far gone into heresy - the result of all those DOG theologians peeing on the basic doctrines of the Church and pooping on the scriptures.

TOM
(chuckle)
That’s good. And now an Anglican priest. Neat.

GEORGE
Oh, this is really a wonderful church. The volunteers here are incredible.

TOM
I’ll make sure my next trip down starts on Friday so I have to layover.

GEORGE
And now you have another incentive.

TOM
You read my mind. I’m going to emphasize to my boss how competitive this Home Depot account is, and how I have to be here to tweak it. Hey, this is graduate school. I’m taking in everything you are saying. But…But I wonder. I’m thinking after what I have seen today… that Mary… might have been made well with this Pentecostal prayer stuff you guys do?

GEORGE
Well just remember we combine Pentecostal and the sacraments.  But it’s kind of hard to say definitely. Scripture says that our days are numbered by the Lord. But on the other hand… I think Satan often takes the Saints before they finish their work.

TOM
So if your man Enrique had been up there in Mary’s hospital room, shouting and sticking his finger in her face? And this other lady hopping around shouting “Spirit of death, take a hike!” Then maybe…

GEORGE
Maybe. Look. Any of a dozen intercessors we have here would have prayed for Mary that way. But the results are always up to God. There was really a special presence and anointing in Jose’s hospital room that night that I have not experienced since.  Here I have had people cured of cancer, but some die of cancer and other things in spite of all our prayers.

TOM
Even after tongues and shouting and jumping around? 

GEORGE
And fasting, and all night prayer vigils. Just last month the wife of my Junior Warden died after five years fighting breast cancer.  She was a wonderful Christian and only in her forties, with three children with one at home. We did a tremendous prayer campaign for her. I don’t understand. I filled a complaint with the Lord.

TOM
But maybe even the loses are providential, in a way you don’t understand?

GEORGE
Good, good. Or maybe the churches still have more things to learn about healing. Hey, change of topic. When Liz comes in from her meeting, how if I make some excuse for why I can’t take you to the airport and she has to drive you instead.

TOM
Hey, I love that one. But that’s devious and untruthful.

GEORGE
Oh no, I never lie! Watch.
                                    (pulls out his phone and punches a digit, pause)
Hi sweetheart.
                                    (pause)
Yes we had a great lunch, I’ll tell you about it. We missed you.
                                    (pause)
I need a favor. I want you right now to ask me to come home and help with Shannon.
                                    (pause).
Will you please just do it?  No I am not really coming home.
                                    (pause)
I’ll explain it tonight. Please do it.
                                    (pause)
Listen, I’ll take you Friday to Mama Maria’s.
                                    (pause)
Thank you, love you, bye
                                    (hangs up)

TOM
Devious

GEORGE
Slightly, and it cost me an extra dinner I can’t charge to the church. But no lie is involved, you see?

TOM
Devious.

GEORGE
You want me to get Liz to drive you to the airport or not?

TOM
Bring devious on! Hey, you know I better get rid of some of the wine and coffee before the drive to the airport.

GEORGE
The restroom is to the left two doors down. Liz should be here any minute now.
                                                           
(TOM leaves.  A moment later, a knock at the door.)

MAE
                                    (from the office side)
Can you see a Mr. Louis Volk for a minute? He is referred from the Methodist church. He wants to speak with you.

GEORGE
Sure.
(VOLK comes in)

VOLK
How do you do, Pastor George?

GEORGE
Yes, I’m great. My pleasure. Have a seat. We can get you coffee or tea if you want.

VOLK
                                    (sitting down on the stuffed chair)
Thank you, no.

GEORGE
How can I help you?

VOLK
I’ve been referred to you by Mrs. Buchman of Methodist Church who told me you might help me better than they could. I mean, the problem is that for some time now, I hear voices. Sometimes they tell me to do terrible things, like kill my neighbor’s dog. Do you think I’m going crazy?

GEORGE
No. We’ve helped people with that type of problem before. It’s not difficult to send the voices away.

VOLK
That’s good to know. Sometimes they don’t let me sleep too well either.

GEORGE
They tell you, you’re no good, and a total failure?
VOLK
How did you know?

GEORGE
It’s always the same.

VOLK
Sometimes I lose time. I mean, I don’t remember what’s been going on for some time, or I’m some place and I don’t know how I got there.  And the strangest thing that happened to me last week. I found myself standing in my back yard, and my neighbor’s dog was at my feet, with her neck broken, dead. It was a really cute dog. Frisbee was her name, and I liked her, gave her snacks and tidbits every day. But she was dead at my feet. I don’t remember anything. I couldn’t explain to my neighbor how she wound up in my yard with a broken neck.

GEORGE
Well, this needs to be attended to right away.
(standing up and opening the door and speaking to Mae in the inner office.)
Mae, as soon as Liz comes back send her in. Also call Claudia Jimenez and see if she can come in immediately, like in five minutes. Tell Tom when he comes back, to stay out here but keep his ears open. I may need him, and your prayer help too. I am leaving the door open.

MAE
OK, got it.

GEORGE
                                                (GEORGE goes back to his swivel chair)
Let me ask some questions, some of which may be personal.

VOLK
Anything that can help.

GEORGE
Were you sexually or physically abused as a child?

VOLK
No, my parents were really great, I got spanked a couple of times, but not bad.

GEORGE
That does not count.

GEORGE
Do you go to church?

VOLK
Not as often as I should.

GEORGE
How often?
                                    (LIZ enters)
Mr. Volk, this is Mrs. Liz Garner, our new children’s’ minister, and my prayer assistant.              
                                    (motions to LIZ to sit down on the couch.)
VOLK
Howdy.
                                    (LIZ smiles and sits on the couch.)

GEORGE
So how often do you make it to church?

VOLK
Oh, I guess not often. Since my wife died I guess I have been going much less than I should. She used to get me to go. But I go to the Lutheran church in Clearwater when I get down to visit my son and daughter-in-law. But you see, the voices give me a hard time if I plan to go to church, and sometimes a headache too.

GEORGE
I’m sure.
LIZ
                                    (begins praying in tongues softly.)

GEORGE
Yes, thanks Liz. Mr. Volk, were you ever into the occult, or metaphysical movement?

LIZ
                                    (continues to pray in tongues and motions with her head “yes.”)

VOLK
No, never. Nothing like that.

LIZ
(Still speaking softly in tongues, shakes her head “no.”  VOLK is looking at GEORGE and does not notice LIZ.)

GEORGE
You never fooled around with pendulums or Ouija boards or that stuff?

VOLK
Well… not much. When I was a young lad I used to go to my friend’s house across the street and he had a Ouija board.  It was fun, and… very strange. It would really answer our questions. But after I told my mother about it she forbade me to go over and I never did it again. That was over forty years ago.

GEORGE
A hum.
LIZ
                                    (nods “yes” as she continues in tongues.)

VOLK
(in a deeper and harsher voice, which continues)
What’s that crazy mumbling she is doing over there?

GEORGE
Oh, you’ve never heard tongues before?

VOLK
Whatever it is, it’s annoying me. Have her stop that mumbo-jumbo.

MAE
                                    (in loud voice from inside)
Emergency, emergency! Water is gushing out of the men’s rest room and soaking the rug in the sanctuary like crazy.

GEORGE
                                    (stands up, says to LIZ)
I need to attend to that. 
                                    (in a whisper to her)
Keep it to small talk. I’ll be back as soon as I shut the water valve.
(leaves in a rush. He meets TOM in the outer office. From the outer office.)
Stay here close by. Mae, grab the duct tape and the wrench from the supply room and meet me there.

VOLK
(to LIZ)
You know, those flowers really stink. So you have trouble with English?

LIZ
No sir. It’s a special prayer language.

VOLK
Oh? So God is too stupid to understand English?

LIZ
No sir, but I’ll be happy to explain it to you.

VOLK
I don’t want to hear anything about any of that crap! Those flowers stink!

LIZ
Tell me about your son in Florida, and his family.

VOLK
                                    (standing, and now speaking in a loud, gruff voice).
And if you say one more word of your gibberish, I’ll break your neck.

TOM
                                    (rushing in)
What is going on here!

VOLK
Well, here is prince charming. You jerk. I’ll break your neck too!

TOM
(approaches VOLK and places his hand on his arm.)
You need to leave now, sir.

(VOLK pushes TOM away with easy. Tom is astounded by Volk’s strength)

VOLK
I’ll kill you easy if you touch me again.

TOM
Holy cow!

LIZ
It’s a demon, Tom, a demon.

TOM
Holy cow!

VOLK
                                    (approaches LIZ)
No one can stop me. I can break anyone’s neck!

LIZ
Jesus!

TOM
No you don’t.  Jesus is King! You sit down!
                                    (coming between VOLK and LIZ,  and pointing his figure at VOLK)
In Jesus’ name you, whoever you are, sit down! In Jesus’ name!

VOLK
                                    (stops, and with less strength)
I’ll break…

TOM
No you won’t. In Jesus name, SIT DOWN!
(VOLK falls back in the stuffed chair, heavy breathing, VOLK and TOM eye each other.)

LIZ
                                    (begins praying in tongues again and lifting her hands).

VOLK
Cut that crap!
                                    (GEORGE returns and peers in the door, but does not come in)

TOM
                                    (pointing at VOLK, and speaking forcefully)
What is your name!

VOLK
Playing priest? Isn’t that nice.

TOM
I asked, WHAT IS YOUR NANE! I command you to tell me in Jesus’ name.

LIZ
The Lord gave me his name. Aldango, or something like that. Voodoo spirit of some sort.

TOM
Alright, good. In the name of Jesus, Aldango, take a hike! Get out!

VOLK
                                    (jerks)
I’m not leaving. You’re no priest.

TOM
Get out now! Take a hike!
                                    (noticing GEORGE at the door)
Oh, you’re here. Take over.

GEORGE
Why? You’re doing it right. He’s handing you a lie. You have all the authority you need to kick his butt out. I see the Holy Spirit all over you and Liz. Keep it up. I’ll support with prayer. Go on!
(GEORGE begins praying in tongues softly and extending his hand in benediction towards VOLK).

TOM
                                    (astounded)
You’re the priest!

GEORGE
Orchestra leader. Right now you two are doing a duet, and have an anointing for this that you are discovering. That has priority. Go on.

TOM
Wow. OK.
                                    (pointing to VOLK) 
Take a hike now! In Jesus name!

LIZ
                                    (forcefully)
In Jesus’ name, go to the dry place assigned to you, and do not return!

TOM
Get out now! In Jesus’ name. Now!

VOLK
Nooo…I’ll leave later.

TOM
Hey, this is not plea bargaining. You take a hike now, in Jesus name!
                                    (rummaging through GEORGE’s desk).

LIZ
Out! In Jesus’s name, to a dry place.

TOM
Father George, don’t you have a cross somewhere?

GEORGE
In the trunk of my car. But you don’t need it. You two are doing fine. Keep going.

TOM
Shoot!
                                    (pointing to VOLK)
You go! Take a hike! In Jesus’ name.

LIZ
To a dry place, in Jesus’ name.

VOLK
                                    (weakly)
I’ll leave tomorrow.

LIZ
Go! To the dry place, in Jesus’ name.

TOM
Leave now! Take a hike in Jesus’ name! Out you go!

VOLK
Nooo…

TOM
(TOM pulls the flowers from the vase on Pastor GEORGE’s desk and places them on VOLK’s head, and they cascade down.)
Take a hike!  Out, Out in Jesus’s name!

VOLK
(loudly)
Ahhh… Ayh, ayh!
                                    (collapses in his chair, unconscious).

GEORGE
It took a hike. Good job you two.

MAE
                                    (from back in the inner office)
Shall I call 911?

GEORGE
No, just a demon leaving.

MAE
Oh, OK. From Mr. Volk?

GEORGE
Yep.
MAE
Sorry I missed this one.

GEORGE
                                    (comes fully into the room)
Mr. Volk will come to in a moment. You guys did great. Tom, how did you know about demanding a name?

TOM
Fr. Mark had us read some stuff on exorcism for the lay Eucharistic office – just in case he needed an assistant sometime. But I never did get a shot at this thing before today. You know, as a lay Catholic… I’m not supposed to do the lead.

GEORGE
I won’t snitch to Fr. Mark, or your bishop, whoever he is. I promise. So now you know you have an anointing for this too.

LIZ
A very strong anointing.

GEORGE
I felt it. The Holy Spirit was all over you two.

TOM
Wow, what a graduate seminar.

GEORGE
Exactly right. You know in a real graduate seminar the professor usually learns something new from the papers the students do – like I did today.

TOM
Like what?

GEORGE
                                    (chuckle)
Like the use of flowers. Somehow flowers and exorcism don’t naturally go together. But I’m always learning. And the phrase, “Take a hike.” It’s not found in any of the literature of exorcism that I know of. Is that from Fr. Mark?

TOM
No. I…I was caught up in the thing I wasn’t sure exactly what I was saying. Are you sure Mr. Volk is OK?

GEORGE
Oh yes. Just like in the Bible. This is like a diabetic coma. He’ll be up and asking what happened and be fine. Liz, had you done this before?

LIZ
First time, Pastor.
GEORGE
A great job you two.

VOLK
                                    (stirring awake)
Oh… Have I lost time again?

GEORGE
You sure have. But this should be the last time that happens.

VOLK
Did I do anything nasty? These flowers, did I do something bad to them?

GEORGE
No, you might say just the opposite. And now you are free of the demon that did the nasty stuff.

VOLK
Oh gosh. You mean like I had a devil in me?

GEORGE
Yes, but it’s gone.

VOLK
But there not supposed to be demons. That was the mythical part of the Bible.

GEORGE
That’s DOG theology.

VOLK
What?

GEORGE
That’s all liberal theology nonsense. The demons would love to have you keep on believing that. Who do you think killed Frisbee?

VOLK
Oh my God! Will it come back?

GEORGE
Worse, if you are careless.

VOLK
What do I need to do?

GEORGE
Go to church every Sunday. Read the Bible every day, and join a good Bible study.

VOLK
Starting this Sunday, you bet.

GEORGE
You won’t get a headache.  You need to check in with me sometime the next few weeks. Are you hungry?

VOLK
Yes, famished.

GEORGE
I bought in a meat-ball subway for lunch that I didn’t eat.  It’s in the fridge. It’s yours.

VOLK
Oh thank you. I really am famished.

GEORGE
I bet. Come on, I’ll show you the way.
(to TOM)
Are you tired?

TOM
Yes, really, like, all of a sudden. Wow!

GEORGE
Sit down. When I come back Liz and I will lay hands on you to replenish the energies the demon sapped from you.

TOM
Oh wow! That’s what happened?

GEORGE
No big deal. The Holy Spirit has all the energy in the universe to give us.
                                    (VOLK and GEORGE leave)

LIZ
Mr. Exorcist, you need your energies recharged. I’m going to lay hands on you starting now.
(Liz goes to the couch, touches TOM and he begins kissing her.)

BLACKOUT:

Act 2

Scene iii:

Pastor’s office:
(The flowers are back in the vase. GEORGE is arranging the files on his desk, and closing his laptop. TOM and LIZ seated very close on the love seat)

GEORGE
I didn’t mean to break anything up. Especially, the…ah, laying on of lips.

TOM
Hey, my energies are way up.

GEORGE
Good. Liz, I have one more job for you today.
LIZ
Yes, Pastor George.

GEORGE
Nancy asked me to help her at our daughter’s with Sharon this evening. I had planned to take Tom to the airport for his flight.

LIZ
I’ll take him.

GEORGE
Good, thank you. You have more than enough time if you leave now, and even stop for a bite to eat.

TOM
You chose the place Liz.
LIZ
I know a nice place on the way.
                                    (Liz and TOM get up to leave)

TOM
Padre George, this has been wonderful, a real graduate degree. Like I said, I’m going to emphasis to my boss how this Home Depot contract needs to be watched over diligently.

GEORGE
Ah, devious, but good. I’ll make sure the guest room is ready. You can tell him you have an old friend here and the only expense when you come here will be airfare.

TOM
That’ll be an easy sell. Hey, I really am thankful.  Hey, I mean, I need to give this church a gift out of the commission I just got. Sort of a tuition.

GEORGE
I don’t want a slice out of what you planned to give your church.

TOM
No way. I had already promised Fr. Mark that if I got the Home Depot contract I’d buy the church a new keyboard, with all the bells and whistles. I’ll do that. But for you guys I want to buy Liz’s sand box for her kids. What else?

GEORGE
How big?

TOM
Try me.

GEORGE
Well, really big. We had a conversation the other night at the vestry meeting about eventually buying the property next door. A guess was about a hundred thousand dollars.

TOM
Way too big. Try again.
GEORGE
Well, I have a wish list of books from “abebooks.com” for our library that would be maybe two hundred, or two hundred and fifty dollars.

TOM
Too small, but you got it. Try something more.

GEORGE
Hum…You know, my lead musician was saying that he wanted one of those electronic pianos.

TOM
Like Goldilocks said, “Humm, this is just right!” Hey, I saw a really good electronic grand piano the other day at a church I was visiting.

GEORGE
That’s too big, way too big. We looked at upright Yamaha on the web that fits our needs.

TOM
Hey it’s my money. Are you being “Padre Thrifty” again?

GEORGE
No, honestly. Look, a grand piano would crowd out the drums, which we would have to put to the side, which would make our drummer pout and feel slighted, and maybe leave. He’s a great drummer, but a prima donna too. I need him. A Yamaha upright will fit nicely and keep everybody happy. And it come in at about a thousand dollars and change.

TOM
You got it. Send me the receipt and I’ll send you a check. Hey, this has been amazing. I am so thankful I thought of dropping by.

GEORGE
It was Providential, all Providential.

LIZ
Amen to that.

GEORGE
Just look at how the Holy Spirit set you guys up.
                                    (pointing to his desk)
Flowers, candy, and an opportunity to do…
                                    (an exaggerated wistful voice.)
 a romantic exorcism together.
(Everyone laughs. TOM and LIZ leave hand in hand, GEORGE follows them to the door and looks at them as they walk off.) 

GEORGE
                                    (calling out)
Liz, remember, he has to get the seven-thirty flight, the seven-thirty flight. He needs to be fed on the way.

TOM
                                    (from a distance)
Hey, I’ll take the red eye! Thank Mr. Devious for me.

GEORGE
I will.
                                    (chuckling and closing the door, and speaking to himself.)
Providential, all Providential.
                                    (goes to his desk to pack up his laptop. Knock from the inside office.)
FEDEX
                                    (FEDEX enters)
I need a signature for this.

GEORGE
Sure.
                                                (FEDEX hands GEORGE a FedEx tablet)
Oh good, we need this for Sunday.

FEDEX
                                                (takes it back after GEORGE signs)
Thanks. Did you have a good day?

GEORGE
It was a splendid day! Absolutely splendid! Had a visit from an old college buddy who had just made a bundle on a contract from Home Depot. He wound up buying us with a new piano, books and things for the kids. We have a budding romance on staff. Also, we did a healing and an exorcism, and I had a splendid free lunch at Mama Maria’s.

FEDEX
For real? That’s rare isn’t it?

GEORGE
Yes, free lunches are very hard to come by.

FEDEX
I mean the other thing, the exorcism.

GEORGE
Actually, more common than free lunches around here.

FEDEX
Man! Do you guys also do the normal things that other churches do?

GEORGE
Oh yes. Sometimes I give a dull sermon, and occasionally the musicians are too loud or off tune. Often there are too many deserts and not enough veggies at the covered dish dinners. Today, we also did a funeral and a baptism – the normal stuff, one may say.

FEDEX
I’ll have to come to visit - when you give a good sermon.

GEORGE
Oh please do. This Sunday should be very good.
                                    (FEDEX person leaves. GEORGE looks up to heaven.)

Lord, pass on a message to the Rev. Wimber in his mansion up there, that we are doing the stuff.
                                    (as he leaves he flicks off the light switch
and closes the door)

END







Postscript: “Doing the Stuff” at St. John’s
This postscript is intended to lay out the Biblical and theological rational of the phenomenon played out in the three plays presented. Many readers or viewers of these plays may be incredulous, astounded or disturbed by the spiritual phenomenon and events described, especially in “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s.” This is true for both the secularists (including non-practicing Christians) and persons from the more traditional main-line churches such as the Baptists or Presbyterians, whose theology downgrades the supernatural in everyday life.
For many Christians, spiritual phenomenon such as healings and exorcisms and apparitions are fine in the Bible, but not in everyday life. This attitude is the result of the theology of Cessationsim, which was discussed in the introduction.[1] In any case, Christian healings, exorcisms, apparitions, and the release of ghosts are not the usual subject of Broadway plays. Sadly, and unfortunately, these things are not often descripted even in the Christian theatre, where producers are wary of offending the theological sensibilities of cessationist believers.
As an Anglican Pentecostal by calling, and contrarian by temperament, I relish every chance at picturing spiritual events and phenomenon in my works. Cessationists will have to get used to the fact that they have largely lost the argument, and now even many Baptist churches practice healing prayer with the laying on of hands –  unheard of fifty years ago.  Spiritual phenomenon will increasingly be shown in Christian movies and plays in the coming years. 
For those Christians who have had little or no firsthand experience with any of the spiritual phenomenon depicted in “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s,” let me affirm that it is all based on true ministry events from my years of ministry. More importantly, it all has Biblical basis, although some of the events, as in the ghost release, are alien to majority Christian theology.
Let me begin by citing the least controversial spiritual phenomenon of “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s” and going on to the more controversial. Miraculous physical healings are now widely accepted by most Christian in the United States, many have experienced it or have stories of how it happened to members of their families.
The astounding healing of the Hispanic boy, Jose Ortega, in “Doing the Stuff is an accurate redaction of a miraculous healing done about 2000. At the time I was the Hispanic minister at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Marietta and had a congregation of about 300 where everyone was encouraged to do healing prayer for their own friends and neighbors. The description of the lady prayer-warrior in the ICU unit praying in tongues is an embellishment. The lady in the real case, Rosa, had a great gift of healing, but did not exercise tongues at that point. My Hispanic congregation was made up of mostly Mexican and Salvadorian ex-Catholics, and unlike Hispanic Pentecostals, are often reluctant to practice tongues, although that is now changing.
The description of the healing at Mama Maria’s is an accurate description at what happened at a restaurant over thirty-five years ago when I was on a date with Carolyn Koontz – later my wife. Unlike Liz in “Doing the Stuff,” Carolyn was not experienced in healing prayer and did not assist, but looked on in astonishment, like Tom in the play.  Carolyn’s description of the waitress’s healing is recorded in her work, Watching God Work.[2]
The flowery finale to Mr. Volk’s exorcism is fictional but it has Biblical and historical basis. One of the most serious exorcisms I ministered was of a lady, then a faithful Christian and regular parishioner, who suddenly manifested demonic activity in the middle of a Sunday service. I commanded the demon to leave, and she fell on the floor, just as in the Bible.  It turned out that the lady in question had played with an Ouija board as a little girl, and the demon entered at that time.  I believe that the praise and worship of the service aroused the demon which had been latent.  This process of demon manifestations and exorcism during a service is not uncommon in many areas of Africa where witchcraft is common, and is considered a sign of a successful worship service. 
But back to the flowers. It is clear that material objects can carry the energies of God to do healing and exorcisms. The energies of God is a theological topic slighted in Western theology and has often been confused with the grace of God. I have dealt with this lack in Agnes Sanford and Her Companions, and in an earlier blog posting. [3] We see these energies active in Acts 19: 11-12 where we read:
 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
Can flowers carry the same God-energies to do healing and exorcism? There is no biblical citation for this, but St. Augustine would answer yes. In his last major work, the City of God, where after years of espousing Cessationism he finally embraced the healing and exorcism ministry for his day, he reported that a major healing took place with flowers:
When the bishop Projectus was bringing the relics of the most glorious martyr Stephen to the waters of Tibilis, a great concourse of people came to meet him at the shrine. There a blind woman entreated that she might be led to the bishop who was carrying the relics. He gave her the flowers he was carrying. She took them, applied them to her eyes, and immediately saw. Those who were present were astounded, while she, with every expression of joy, preceded them, pursuing her way without further need of a guide.[4]
I should also mention I got the idea of the two bouquets of flowers from a brief article in the journal Fist Things which described an incident where one bouquet which was watered by Holy Water and stayed fresh much longer that the other which was not given holy water.[5]
Some persons may object to the lack of solemnity in the exorcism scene, expecting perhaps that all exorcisms are done in the somber and liturgical way depicted in the famous movie “The Exorcist.” In fact, some very intense exorcisms are performed in that solemn, liturgical and formal manner, but others are not, and are done in a more informal mode. Pentecostal exorcists tend to be of the informal variety. I tend to the latter also.
On the issues of the energies of God, another incident in the play may puzzle the reader. The occasion when Tom and Liz first hold hands. Their experience of energies going through their bodies mirrors the account that happened to Charles and Francis Hunter, the famous Pentecostal healing evangelist couple, when they first met.[6]
This leaves two of the most controversial elements of the play, the issue of the ghost release, termed “laying the ghost to rest” in the Anglican tradition, and the apparition of the small child who was baptized by proxy.
I have done close to a dozen ghost releases and house cleansings in my ministry career. I know of other priests who have done many more. The baptismal apparition happened only once, but I believe it was a valid spiritual experience. It may have important implication for the millions of women who have had abortions, natural or induced. The Biblical and theological aspects of these incidents need to be explained with some care, as there is little consensus theology on the issues involved.
The ministry of “laying a Ghost to rest:”
First, to the ministry to ghosts. Classical Christian theology of the after-life makes no room for ghosts even though they are assumed to be a real phenomenon in Scripture.[7] We have to recap some Church history to understand how this came about.
Western Christendom’s theology about the afterlife has been dominated by two traditions that sought to interpret select Scriptures about the afterlife into a sensible system. The first, that of the Roman Catholic Church, was codified by Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), but later expanded by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).  The second tradition, that of the Protestants, developed both in reaction to, and out of, that Catholic tradition.
In the official Catholic view, the afterlife is divided into several “locales” or spiritual states. There is heaven proper, which is where the saints and angels worship and experience the presence of God. (But with no serious consideration of the levels of heaven as mentioned in 2 Cor 12:2) Then there is purgatory, where those who are destined for heaven must be purified through suffering in order to become eligible for the heaven state. There is hell, where the damned reside in agony, awaiting the final judgment and the confirmation of their status. Between purgatory and hell traditional Catholicism believed in “limbo,” named in Latin, Limbus Infanturn, where the souls of unbaptized infants reside in comfort, but without the experienced presence of God. Catholic theology also affirmed that there was formerly another limbo, one in which the souls of Jewish patriarchs and other righteous souls of the Old Testament stayed until they were freed by Jesus’ descent into the underworld described in 1 Peter 3 and 4 (upon which we will comment below) called Limbus Patrum.
The Reformed Protestant view developed out of Catholic theology, but with careful attention to avoid anything that would make credible the Catholic practices of prayers, indulgences, and masses for the dead. Thus, both Purgatory and the Limbus Infantum were discarted. But interestingly, many of the Reformers continued to accept the Catholic view of a former Limbus Patrum.
However, both the Catholic and Protestant theologies of the afterlife share an inadequate and a highly selective Biblical base. They concentrate on Luke 16 (the story of the rich man and beggar), Mark 9:43-47, and the Scriptures about the Last Judgment in the Book of Revelations. Ignored are the Scriptures about the afterlife found in the Old Testament, as for instance the phrase “gathered to his people” found multiple times in the Old Testament (Gen. 25:8 &17, 35:29, 49:30, Num. 20:26, 32:50). Also, traditional Catholic and Protestant theologies tend to confuse man's ultimate destiny as described in the Book of Revelations, with the after death state until the Last Judgment, which has been more precisely called the “intermediate state.”
The theological bottleneck about the afterlife began to be clarified and relieved in the two decades preceding the turn of the 20th Century. The new paradigm was led by, but not limited to, scholars and ministers of the Anglican Church in Great Britain. These scholars sought to avoid either the dogmatic assertions of the Roman Catholic Church or the reactive anti-Catholic theology of the Reformation.
F. W. Farrar (1831-1903), Canon of Westminster Cathedral and chaplain to Queen Victoria, was one of the first, and perhaps the ablest, of these scholars which we will call the "Victorian re-examiners." These theologians and scholars reexamined the doctrines of the afterlife as well as the ultimate destiny of mankind. They had the advantages of the system of rigorous elite Victorian education, which meant mastery of Greek and Latin (and the ancient Church writings) as well as the fruits of then recent and revolutionary discoveries in Biblical scholarship. These included the rediscovery of many inter-testament writings that had been lost for centuries and which helped to explain the developed and varied ideas about the afterlife in the New Testament that were not found in the Old Testament.[8]  
As in any group of scholars, not everyone came to identical conclusions, but there was uncommon agreement on some basic findings that are especially important for any discussion of the afterlife (and of ghosts). It was agreed that the King James translation of the Bible had additionally muddled the theology of the afterlife by using one word, "hell," for sheol of the Old Testament, and hades and gehenna of the New Testament. "Hell" is a proper translation for gehenna, a place outside Jerusalem where garbage was burned, but it is a decidedly poor translation for sheol or hades which signified the afterlife place in the Old Testament, and the New, but did not necessarily connote a place of punishment.
The Old Testament uses the word sheol often, but we are never given a precise description of what it is. It was presumed to be under the earth, and most passages described it as a place that is dark and gloomy, a joyless place, and a mere shadow of life on earth. Not even God can be praised there, and the person's consciousness is much reduced (Ps. 6:5, Ec. 9:5-10). In Job 3:13-19 it is lamented that all men, good and bad, come to the same fate in sheol, apparently there being no system of rewards or punishment in sheol. These Scriptures indicate that sheol has much in common with the Greek conception of the afterlife, “hades.” In fact, in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was in common use at the time of Jesus, sheol was translated as hades.
However, a few passages in the Old Testament hint that there is more to sheol than just a neutral gray area. In 1 Samuel 28:8-20 it is also reported to be a place of "rest," as the dead judge and prophet, Samuel, complains that his peace has been disturbed by a medium's conjuring. On the negative side, in the book of Isaiah, there was described a section of sheol more ominously called the "pit" (Ish 14:15).
The idea that sheol is divided into different sections was greatly elaborated in the books of the inter-testament period. Many of these books were influential in both Judaism and early Christianity, though they became canonical in neither. The book of Enoch was especially influential in establishing the afterlife as a place of rewards and punishments according to the righteousness, or lack of, the person's life. By the time of Jesus, much of the rabbinical literature advocated a belief in an accountable and multilayered afterlife. The names gehenna, "Bosom of Abraham," and “Paradise,” were all from the rabbinical literature of this period and utilized by Jesus to talk about the afterlife.[9]
Again, Canon Farrar was a pioneer in suggesting a partial solution to the apparently contradictory nature of the afterlife Scriptures in the New Testament. It was to understand that there is a difference between man's intermediate after-death state and his final destiny which will be determined at the Last Judgment.[10] New Testament writers were so sure that Jesus' second coming was imminent that they often did not discern the difference between what was revealed as pertaining to the afterlife in the intermediate state, and the afterlife after the Last Judgment.[11] The lack of a developed theology for the intermediate state combined with a disregard for the distinction between sheol and hell makes ghosts incomprehensible within a Christian scheme of things.[12]
After almost a century, the scholarship of the Victorian Re-examiners still stands as a major achievement of Christian theology. Since the 1920s liberal Protestantism increased in influence, and interest waned in the purely spiritual (including afterlife) aspects of theology in favor of the more "practical" and social-action issues. The “demythologizing" movement in Liberal Protestantism reached a point where many of its theologians reduced all spiritual phenomenon to psychology and even denied the concept of personal survival after death.[13] More modern works on the afterlife, such as John A. T. Robinson's In the End God,[14] and John H. Hick's Death and 'Eternal Life[15] tend to be heavy on philosophy and light on Scripture. Fortunately, some advocates of "process theology" popular two decades ago, rediscovered much of what the Victorian re-examiners said about continued growth in the discarnate state, and affirmed the same Biblical and Patristic positions asserted by the earlier scholars.[16]
The Church's Ministry to the Dead: A Biblical Perspective
A modern theology of the afterlife should begin where the Victorian Re-Examiners left off. It should be recognized that there is no Scriptural evidence for believing that the sheol levels described in the Old Testament were emptied. Passages in 1 Peter 3 and 4 describe Jesus preaching in hades, not hell, after his death, and Ephesians 4:8-10 suggests that many in hades responded to his preaching and followed him to heaven.
This is why it says:
   “When he ascended on high,
   he took many captives
   and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
But note, there is no indication that hades was itself destroyed. Indeed, there is Scriptural evidence to the contrary. In Revelations 20:14, we are given an image of the events after the Last Judgment, and hades, personified as a person, is cast into the "Lake of Fire," either ending hades by destruction or converting it into the "hell" we are familiar with. (Rev. 20:14) Further, there is no indication that when Jesus preached in hades his audience was suffering the torments of the rich man described in Luke 16. It is more logical to assume he preached to those in the gloom that Job saw. Further hints in the New Testament verify that the multileveled structure of the afterlife continued after the resurrection and ascension. Paul had a vision of the third heaven, (2 Cor 12:2) implying that there are at least two heavens at a lower level.
All of this leads to the important issue of ministry to the dead. Is it valid or not? The trigger that impelled a young Augustinian monk named Martin Luther to challenge the authority of medieval Catholicism was a fund-raising drive by a Dominican preacher, Johann Tetzel, in which indulgences (prayers for the dead that released the person from purgatory) were sold for a price. Tetzel had an advertising jingle for his product which rhymes even in translation from the often quoted:
As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,
The soul from purgatory springs.
Let me suggest that in spite of the depths of demonization to which the indulgence system sank, at its root is an entirely valid Biblical principle: ministering to the dead in prayer and sacrament.
This is a ministry that is confirmed by early Christian documents and by continuous practice since then. The Victorian re-examiners studied the problem of ministering to the dead and came to the unanimous conclusion that it was a sound doctrine, though they did not endorse specific Catholic practices of multiple masses and indulgences.[17]
In their research they found that among the Jewish groups in the century before the Christian era, one idea that received wide credence was the belief that the sins of the deceased could be atoned for by the prayers of the living faithful. This is specifically recorded in 2 Maccabees 12:38-45 (canonical in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Catholic Bibles). The Reformers believed that this book did not deserve a place in the Biblical canon and assumed that the passage in question was an aberration of Jewish custom. The Victorian re-examiners had access to the rediscovered inter-testament writings and realized that praying for the dead was indeed a widely accepted Jewish practice.[18] Additionally, nowhere in the New Testament is that practice rebuked.
With regard to the New Testament, there is an important passage addressing this issue, one found in the first letter of Peter. Like Paul, Peter's literary style leaves much to be desired, and the passages in question are sandwiched between moral exhortations. But the central meaning is sufficiently clear:
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is eight persons, were saved through water. ... For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God. (1 Pet. 3:18-21; 4:6)
What Peter describes is Jesus' preaching ministry in hades (called a spiritual prison in this passage) and this is corroborated in Ephesians 4:8-10, as there it is revealed that Jesus succeeded and led "a host of captives" into the heavenly realms.
This is why it says:
   “When he ascended on high,
   he took many captives
   and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
There was little confusion among the earliest Christian writers about the meaning of these passages. Between his death and resurrection Christ preached to the dead in sheol/hades, and those who accepted his word ascended with him to heaven.[19]
Several traditions in early Christian literature elaborated this revelation. For example, in the Shepherd of Hermas, which was held as scripture by many churches in the second and third centuries, there is the assertion that the Apostles followed Jesus' example, and at death they too preached to the heathen in hades, and baptized them!
"Because," he said, "these apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, after falling asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, preached it not only to those who were asleep, but themselves also gave them the seal of the preaching. Accordingly they descended with them into the water, and again ascended. [But these descended alive and rose up again alive; whereas they who had previously fallen asleep descended dead, but rose up again alive. ][20]

Unfortunately, quite early in church history the good news of Christ's (and the Church’s) Lordship in hades became adulterated. Late in the Second Century a spurious gospel, the Gospel of Nicodemus, was written which describes Jesus' arrival at hades. There Jesus saves Abraham and the Old Testament saints from Satan's dominion and leads them to the gates of heaven.[21] This view of what happened in hades influenced medieval theology.  It assertion, that the "spirits in prison" described in 1 Peter 3-4 were the Patriarchs of the Old Testament was widely accepted. This is of course unscriptural. Peter clearly defines the spirits to whom Jesus preached as the ones "who formerly did not obey.” Further, the famous passage in Luke 16 of Lazarus and the rich man mentions a heaven like place called the "Bosom of Abraham" where that Patriarch resided in obvious comfort with Lazarus the just beggar. This quasi-heaven could not have been the "prison" mentioned 1 Peter.
In their passion to overthrow corrupt Catholic practices of multiple masses for the dead, indulgences for money, etc., the Reformers rejected too much. Luther accepted the concept of private prayers for the dead, though masses on their behalf were definitely forbidden. Calvin was adamant against any form of ministry to the dead. Significantly, in his massive Institutes of the Christian Religion, he skips commentary on the two critical passages of 1 Peter 3:20 and 4:6 and then posits the interpretation from the bogus Gospel of Nicodemus. The conservative commentators of Protestantism, in following Calvin's exegesis, are often finessed into an unbiblical assertion that because the dead were not, and cannot be preached to or ministered to, the Scriptures in 1 Peter 3-4 do not "make sense" and can be disregarded.[22]
I recall watching, sometime in the early 1980s, the famous TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggert preach a sermon about Jesus’ descent into after-world.  Swaggert imitated Jesus approaching each of the Patriarchs such as Abraham, Moses, Joseph etc. To each one he said something that rhymed about their life of faith, and released them to heaven. It was all very impressive. Whether the Rev. Swaggert got his sermon idea from Calvin’s Institutes, from a Bible commentary, or lecture notes from his Bible college days was not mentioned, but it ultimately came from the bogus Gospel of Nicodemus via medieval Catholic monasteries.
If 1 Peter 3-4 were the only Scripture on this matter there would be serious problem in affirming a continuing ministry to the dead. It could he asserted that what happened in hades after Christ's crucifixion was a unique event. In that case the living Church would have no role in this type of ministry. Several Scriptures indicate that this is not the case, and that the Church on earth does indeed have a legitimate hand in this ministry.
Busting the gates of hades:
The first Scripture passage concerning this issue is one of the most widely known and quoted, Matthew 16:18. It is used by Roman Catholics as proof text for the establishment of the primacy of the Papacy. Protestants use it as proof text for the importance of faith in the individual believer. In all but the most recent translations its meaning has been seriously distorted by the use of the word hell instead of hades as in the Greek text. The newer New American Standard Bible which strives to be literal, and as close as possible to the Greek text reads: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” The translation in the Jerusalem Bible is perhaps best: "And the gates of the under-world can never hold out against it."
A common mistake in interpreting this Scripture, based on less accurate translations, is to assume that this is a defensive commission, that is, if demonic forces attack the church, it will have the power to stand. That is incorrect. Matthew 16:18 is an offensive commission. In warfare the "gates" of a fortress do not move and attack, they are not tanks, as in modern warfare. Rather, gates are designed to resist assault. This passage means that the strongly fortified points of hades (including that part within Satan's dominion) cannot withstand the assaults of the Church. Thus the Church is commissioned to attack and destroy the gates, that is, to penetrate and overthrow Satan’s section of hades - just as Jesus did for the three days between his death and resurrection.
One more confirmation for this last point must be noted. It is among the most controversial (or most disregarded) Scriptures in the whole of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15:28-29:
When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to everyone. Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
Neither Catholic nor Protestant commentators like this passage. For Protestants it implies a baptismal ministry to the dead. For Catholics it is a ministry for the dead that has no ongoing "tradition" behind it – no liturgy or Second or Third Century document for this sort of work. This peculiar ministry of the Corinthian congregation must have been short lived. Only in the modern times the Mormons took this Scripture literally, and developed an ongoing ritual for the baptism of their ancestors – and everybody else’s ancestors.
In spite of a general reluctance to accept it as meaningful, the passage is there - like a piece of undigested meat disturbing a good night’s rest. The Christians in Corinth were ministering to those who had passed away, and, unlike some of the other practices of the Corinthian Church, Paul does not reprimand or criticize it. Rather he cites it as a positive practice to buttress his own argument.
The famous Biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann noted that in spite of the strangeness of this passage, it represents the authentic sacramental viewpoint of Saint Paul and of the earliest Church.[23] The contemporary Evangelical scholar, D. A Carson, writing briefly on the issue in Christianity Today, echoes Bultmann’s position. He asserts that because such a ministry is only mentioned once, it does not negate its importance. But being prudent, he did in not actively suggest such baptisms be performed.[24]
With regard to the practice of the Early Church, there are several documents that indicate that ministering to the dead, in the form of prayers, was a customary practice. This would have been well known to the Jewish Christians as continuity with First Century Jewish practice, and possibly modeled by them to the Gentile church. Among the earliest Christian documents is an apologetical work by Arnobius of Sicca, called The Case Against the Pagans, written about 305. In it the author protests the destruction of Christian churches under Roman persecution and describes their prayers:
Why should our meeting places be savagely torn down? In them the Supreme God is prayed to, peace and forgiveness asked for all magistrates, armies, rulers, friends, enemies; for those still living and those freed from the bonds of the body .... [25]
A second, and more often quoted source, and one written about the same time (and possibly edited by Tertullian) was a description of the martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas. This account describes how Perpetua received a vision about the sufferings of her brother in the afterworld, and after several days of earnest prayer had a dream signifying that he was now with Christ, healed and happy.
This type of travail for others in the afterworld occurs periodically in Christian literature of all ages. It happened to Mrs. Agnes Sanford as a little girl in China. After she saw the execution of a Chinese criminal, she had a dream in which he was pleading for her prayers. She did so, not knowing that as a Presbyterian she was not supposed to pray for the dead, and the next night she saw in another dream the same criminal happily waving to her with Jesus by his side.[26]
The apparition of the un-baptized child:
The last unusual spiritual phenomenon we need to discuss is the apparition of Marci’s child as he was being baptized in proxy. The incident in the play is a creative redaction of an incident that occurred about thirty years ago when I was a lay person, but several years into a healing and inner healing ministry. The lady in question was older than the Marci I created for the play, but the story of the beating induced abortion is true, as well as the momentary apparition of the child. In the original case, the mother saw the child right next to her, and Carolyn (by then my wife and healing ministry partner) also sensed the presence of the child.
Some Evangelicals would say that any communication between the living and the dead is a sin of mediumship and cannot possible be authentic. Certainly mediumship is sin, but that is not what is in question. Mediumship is communication of some spirit via the voice box of a medium, nowadays called “channeling” to bring messages for the spiritual realm. Sometimes mediumship occurs with various instruments, as in an Ouija board. Some New Age groups suggest special meditations with mirrors or other gadgets to regularly communicate with the deceased.  These communications are invariably demonic counterfeits.
An apparition is the unexpected appearance of a spiritual being, possible a person who has died, or an angel. Such events are not caused or “called in” by the living as in mediumship, but originate from the spiritual realms. Apparitions can be from the heavenly kingdom or Satanic, so discernment must always be involved in evaluating an apparition. The Bible records that Peter, James and John saw the apparitions of Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus at the event Christians call the transfiguration (Matt 17:1-8) That certainly shows that apparitions can be heavenly.
Apparitions between the living and the dead occur more frequently than religious literature would indicate. This is partly due to as the Evangelical suspicions of anything supernatural, and that all apparitions are demonic or the product of psychological abnormalities.  Those attitudes dampen the public’s willingness to talk about such experiences, even among friends.
In 1973 Andrew Greeley, a Catholic priest-sociologist, added a question of contact with the dead to a sociological survey he was conducting and received a surprising response. One-quarter of Americans had experienced some contact with the dead. The contacts spread across all religious and denominational boundaries. Unfortunately, the survey did not distinguish between mediumship and spontaneous contacts such as dream contacts and visions, but certainly very few Americans have been to mediums. The vast majority of cases reported must have been in the category of the spontaneous visions or dreams.[27]
In the Eastern Orthodox churches there is a better understanding of the legitimate boundaries of communications between the dead and the living. They have a long tradition in their literature that the deceased may communicate with the living in dreams of comfort and guidance.
A classic example of this is seen in the advice Father Zossima gives to the grieving peasant woman in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.[28] A more detailed example of this type of dream contact is found in another Russian spiritual classic, The Way of a Pilgrim, written in the 1860s. In this book the Christian disciple and pilgrim is encouraged and given direction on such practices as Bible reading through dream contact with his deceased spiritual director (starets).[29]
Dream contact with the dead also been reported, though with much less frequency, by Protestants as well. For example, Corrie ten Boom, the great saint of the anti-Nazi Dutch underground who saved the lives of many Jews in World War II, had a beautiful and vivid dream about her great-grandfather who lived in the times of the Prince of Orange. In her dream she met the old gentleman and he exhorted her to trust the Bible. For, he added, by the time she is born many things from his age will have changed, but the Word of God is changeless and absolutely reliable.[30]
This gives me an excuse to tell of an incident in my life. It relates to a time when I was deeply depressed. I had finished writing a large book, out of which was eventually taken what became my recent work on Agnes Sanford.  The manuscript had been accepted by a major Christian publisher who sent me a contract with a promise of an advance, and then refused to sign his copy (something few secular publishers would do).  After much searching, a second Christian publisher gave me an oral agreement to publish the book, but also negated at the last moment. I was despondent for weeks on end.
But then I had a dream. I was seated in a chair, head down and feeling miserable and hopeless. Behind me came up N. F., the mother of my first girl-friend (back fifty years). She laid hands on my shoulders and prayed over me (perhaps in tongues – I am unclear on that). In any case when I awoke the depression was completely gone and I quickly formulated a “plan B” which resulted in my recent book. I have not experienced any depression since.
N.F. had died at least ten years earlier than the dream. I believe the dream was an authentic spiritual event that demonstrates how the “cloud of witness,” which Catholics call the “communion of saints” cheer us on and pray for us. Why N.F. came I have no idea. She always liked me and saw something good in me, even though at the time I dated her daughter I was self-centered and immature.
The laying to rest of Ghosts:
The research of the Victorian re-examiners bore fruit in the Church of England where there evolved a more Biblically mature theology of the afterlife. This is reflected in pastoral practice by the fact that the Anglican Churches are the only modern Christian Church that have suggested rites for dealing with ghosts and haunting apparitions. The rite is called "laying a ghost to rest." The assumption is that a ghost is an earthbound soul, trapped in a sheol/hades state, and it does not need to be cursed as in exorcism, but instead needs prayers to assist it in reaching a better place in the afterlife. To this end, prayers are said for the forgiveness of its earth-life sins, and at times a communion service is offered for this purpose right at the place of the hauntings. All of this is pictured accurately in “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s.”[31]



[1]William L. De Arteaga, Quenching the Spirit (Lake Mary: Creation House, 1996) and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015).
[2] Carolyn Koontz DeArteaga, Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles. (Alachua: Bridge-Logos, 2013) 19. The details are slightly different, as normal to human memory.  Biblical scholars may wonder if there is a “Q” source for this story.
[3]“The Energies of God – From the “Fallings” to the Jerusalem Syndrome.” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted November 8, 2013.  http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2013/11/energies-of-god-from-fallings-to.html?_sm_au_=ijHqQWbv0tSFfRW7
[4] Augustine, City of God, book 22, chapter 8
[5] Wesley J. Smith, “The Holy Water Flowers,” First Things. Posted 1/24/14. http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/01/the-holy-water-flowers
[6] Francis Hunter, My Love Affair With Charles (Glendale: Regal, 1971) 3.  The Hunters are famous for introducing the “command mode” of healing to the general Christian public as is normative in the New Testament and described in the play.  Their seminal book, How to Heal the Sick (Kingswood: Hunter Books, 1981) ranks along with Agnes Sanford’s The Healing Light (St. Paul: Macalester Park, 1947) as among the most important books of the modern Christian healing movement.
[7] See Matt 14:26 and Mark 6:49, for instance.
[8] F.W. Farrar, Mercy and Judgment (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1881); E.H. Plumptre, The Spirits in Prison (London: Wm. Isbister, 1885); Arthur Chambers, Our Life After Death (Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs, 1902); Lars Nielsen Dahle, Life After Death and the Future of the Kingdom of God, Trans. John Beveridge, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896); Lewis Muirhead, The Terms Life and Death in the Old and New Testaments, and Other Papers (London: Andrew Melrose, (1908); and, J.H. Leckie, The World to Come and Final Destiny (Edinburgh: T. & Clark, 1918). Note that all except the Muirhead volume have been reprinted in modern editions and are available at moderate costs. Some can be downloaded for free on the web.
[9] J. H. Leckie, The World to Come and Final Destiny (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 19I0), pp. 68-102.
[10] See, for example, J. H. Leckie, who expanded Farrar’s insight in: The World to Come and Final Destiny (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 19I8) 68-102.
[11] Farrar, Justice and Mercy, 13.
[12] Among modern Christian writers in America I knew of only one, Dr.Morton Kelsey, who passed away recently, who believed the present "sheol' state of the dead and integrates that belief into his understanding of the afterlife. See his, Afterlife: The Other Side of Dying (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), and especially his tape series "Healing and the Afterlife" (Pecos: Dove Cassettes, 1981). An earlier classic study, done in the 1940s by Fr. Herbert Thruston, a Catholic Jesuit, concluded only that some ghost and haunting phenomena were not demonic; see his Ghosts. and Poltergeists (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1954) Available as modern reprint.
[13] See: Russell Alwincle, Death in the Secular City: Life After Death in Contemporary Theology and Philosophy (Grand Rapids: William b. Eerdmans, 1974, especially chapter 3, “Theology without hope.”
[14] (New York:  Harper & Row, 1968).
[15] (New York:  Harper & Row, 1976).
[16] See: Norman Pittinger, The Last Things in Process Perspective (London: Epworth Press, 1970).
[17] Farrar, Mercy, and Dahle, After Death.
[18] Lackie, World, 73.
[19] Farrar takes special pains to show this: Mercy, 76 ff., and also see: Plumpter, Spirits in Prison, 78 ff.
[20] Anonymous, Shepherd of Hermes, chapter 16, Roberts-Donaldson translation. On the web in various places.
[21] Gospel of Nicodemus, chapters 16-19, available on the web at various sites. Also in: Lost books in the Bible (New York: New American Library, 1974).
[22] See for example: Nelson B. Baker, What Is the World Coming To? (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961) 91. Baker was professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
[23] Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, (New York: Scribner, 1955), vol. 1, 136. Butlmann was of course a theological liberal who did not believe in the miracles of the Bible, etc., but as a careful scholar who mastered the documents of Early Christianity he well understood the beliefs and mindset of New Testament Christians.
[24]D. A. Carson, “Directions: Did Paul Baptize for the Dead?” Christianity Today. Posted August 10, 1998.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1998/august10/8t9063.html?start=1
[25] Trans. By George E. McCracken (Wesminster: Newman Press, 1949)
[26] Agnes Sanford, The Second Mrs. Wu. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincourt, 1965).
[27]Andrew Greely, Death and Beyond (Chicago: Thomas Moore Press, 1976), chapter 4.
[28] Part One, book II, “The Peasant Women Who Have Faith.”
[29] Anonymous, Trans. By R.M. French (New York: Seabury Press, 1965).
[30] Corrie ten Boom, Father ten Boom: God’s Man (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1979) 152-154.
[31]For the Church of England's ministry to ghosts see Fr. Michael Mitten, Requiem Healing: A Christian Understanding of the Dead (London: Darton, Longman & todd, 1991). Mitten’s work gives the best over-all explanation of the laying of the ghost. The original classic of this genre is Kenneth McAll’s Healing the Family Tree (London: Sheldon Press, 1982). Two older works by Dom Robert Petitpierre are still valuable, Exorcism: The Report of the Commission Convened by the Bishop of Exeter (London: SPCK, 1972), and Exorcising Devils (London: Robert Hale, 1976).