By Mike Duran
America is incurably spiritual. Polls continually reveal that the majority of U.S. citizens have some belief in God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil. Fox News, reporting on a national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, put an interesting spin on these stats. For instance, more men believe in UFOs than women (39 percent to 30 percent), and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in reincarnation, astrology and ghosts. In another poll, American Atheists, Inc. found that one in five Americans claims to have been visited by an angel. The same poll gives us this helpful statistical tidbit: “Income was another factor affecting responses. Eighty-three percent of those earning below $25,000 per year believed in angelic beings, while those earning over $80,000 were less likely (64 percent) to do so.” In other words, the further you get from the poverty line, the less you need to be touched by an angel.
Suffice to say that we are fascinated by—if not downright favorable toward—the supernatural. UFOs, psychic phenomenon, ghosts and angels are practically American staples.
Hollywood knows this. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative and supernatural themes. Films like The Sixth Sense, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, seem to capture something about the American zeitgeist. The box office is a great barometer of our fascination for spiritual things. Movies like The Rite, Hereafter, Paranormal Activity, Legion, The Last Exorcism, and Ghost, are ever-present reminders of our belief that “something” is out there.
This trend is not limited to Tinseltown. In literature, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have sold gazillions of copies. Recently, on the NY Times’ bestseller list, you could find such books as Angelology, Paranormalcy, and A Discovery of Witches.
Point is: Pop culture is a reflection of our fascination, however skewed it might be, with the supernatural. What often gets lost in the statistics and commercialism is the implication of it all. I mean, what does it say about us that we are so interested in invisible entities and dwellers of exotic worlds? Are we escapists, dreamers or just plain primitives?
C.S. Lewis argued that the hunger for heaven is evidence for the existence of heaven. In other words, all cravings have a correspondent fix. Like a missing puzzle piece, we instinctively seek the “shape” that will complete us. Likewise, our unshakeable, intuitive sense that powers greater than ours lurk on the fringes of the everyday, may be the best evidence of their existence. Of course, believing in ghosts or extra-terrestrials does not make them so. Nevertheless, it is the consistent hunger for a “superior mind” and a perfect world that we can’t seem to shake.
Frederick Buechner tells the story of the young man who shot and killed his father in a fit of rage. Later that evening in his prison cell, the boy was heard crying, “I need my Dad. I need my Dad.” It’s very likely that what is going bump in the night is our eternal longings flailing against the void; we’ve evicted God, and we miss Him. America’s hunger for the supernatural is evidence of this spiritual vacuum.
Some theologians have called this the echo of Eden: the spiritual ripples of a world that once was. Because of it, we can’t stand at a graveside without asking where the departed went. We can’t look to the skies without asking if there’s anybody out there. The unseen realm resonates in us, because we are part of it; it is our home away from home.
In his work, True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer said, “The Christian life means living in the two halves of reality: the supernatural and the natural parts.” Demons and angels are real—not just for those who make less than 80K a year. As Christians, we should seek to affirm and reclaim this invisible realm, live in both halves of it.
Writing Supernatural Fiction is one of the ways I try to do that.
This is a part of a three-day blog tour for his debut book, The Resurrection. You can visit his blog here.