Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holy Ghosts How A (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became A Believer In Things That Go Bump In The Night by Gary Jansen

Gary Jansen spent his childhood in picturesque Rockville Centre, Long Island, a devout Catholic boy who grew up to be a book editor and author of religious books about the importance of prayer in daily life, but nonetheless a level-headed rationalist who believed there is always a logical explanation for things that go bump in the night. To him ghosts were the stuff of cartoons like Casper The Friendly Ghost and Scooby-Doo and of Stephen King novels

As an adult, a married man with a second child on the way, he and his family moved back into his childhood home. At first, he thought the peculiar sounds were due to the house settling, it was after all an old house built in 1904. There were creakings and bumps and sounds like footsteps on the stairs, the doorbell would sometimes ring when there was no one there, though it was harder to explain the inexplicable sound of breaking glass when nothing was indeed broken, and the feeling of being watched, and, worst of all, a feeling like an electrical surge was coursing through his body in his son's room, where battery-operated toys also mysteriously malfunctioned.

Through a connection in the publishing industry, Mr. Jansen contacted Mary Ann Winkowski, the inspiration for the television show Ghost Whisperer, and discovered that his home was haunted by two restless spirits, an elderly woman who died near the turn of the 20th century and an angry young man who died in a car accident the day Mr. Jansen's wife suffered a miscarriage. And with her assistance, he was able to help the spirits to "go into the light" and move on.

Although it lacks the spine-tingling drama and horrific and violent incidents of the kind of hauntings that inspire big budget Hollywood movies like The Amityville Horror, or that fill the pages of numerous horror novels, Mr. Jansen's book is an interesting account of an ordinary family dealing with a more mild-natured haunting of their home and their struggle to understand and cope with it. I am glad they found a solution and it ended happily for them and their resident ghosts.

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