Ghost stories

Ghost stories never go away. They just find new ways to haunt our minds, new terrors to inflict on our psyches. If you’re of a nervous disposition, maybe you should skip straight to the psychic challengeat the bottom of this column – some of my subject matter this week isgenuinely unsettling.


Two years after the Blair Witch Project scared us out of our wits, another Hollywood scarefest is unleashed. John Carpenter,creator of The Thing and Halloween, has made Ghosts of Mars with two little-known actors, Natasha Henstridge and rapper Ice Cube.
I saw it in the States a few weeks ago and was chilled that a movie feeding on our fear of spiritual possession, the nightmare that a ghost could take over your body, can be so potent in 2001. We have decoded the human genome, we have rationalised God into a Big Bang billions of years ago, but we still retain that primal knowledge that, at our centre, we are more than just flesh and bones.
We each have a soul. And the thought of anything taking over that soul is horrific.
Three years ago the Vatican issued new guidelines to priests faced with the ordeal of exorcising a demon from a human being.
These blood-chilling rituals are not confined to the big screen, such as the Oscar-winning The Exorcist. ‘The existence of the devil isn’t an opinion, something to take or leave as you wish,’ said Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez
In September 2000 the Pope himself performed an exorcism on a 19-year-old woman who began roaring incoherent obscenities in a deep, booming voice in St Peter’s Square. Whether her personal nightmare was rooted in possession or psychological trauma, the very real nature of the exorcism should be enough to convince anyone who is still uncertain after the tragedies of recent weeks that evil is not an imaginary concept in this life. It exists, and we must use everything in our hearts to combat it.


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