Tag Archives: The Resurrection

Guest Post: Why We Need Supernatural Fiction

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.

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Guest Post: Why We Need Supernatural Fiction

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.

Book Excerpt: The Resurrection by Mike Duran

“This is really unfair,” Clark managed to say. “I’m struggling with this, just like everyone else.”

“Yeah. The strugglin’s true. But you’ve got three churches in this city, and from what I understand,  none of them get along. They talk about love and unity and truth and blah-de-blah. Fact is, they spend more time swapping disgruntled members and bad-mouthing each other than doin’ anything constructive. And all the while, the poor remain unclothed and the hungry remain unfed.”

Clark mumbled, “We have a food pantry.”

“Reverend Clark,” Beeko chuckled, “you have the largest church in town, and we’re here debating whether or not God can perform miracles.”

“Listen, I’m not about to start a praise-a-thon because of some freak incident.”

“Yes, well…I can’t blame ya. Still, it lends credence to the theory.” Beeko walked to the desk, leaned against it, and folded his arms. “They say something evil’s over at Stonetree–something ancient, unnamed. By inference, you are all under its shadow.”

Something ancient, unnamed? The doctor was as mad as Keen!

“They can say what they want,” Clark grumbled. “Nothings forcing me to believe what I do. Besides, I thought you were middle-of-the-road. You know, uncommitted.”

“Yes. So I am.” Beeko sighed and eased up. “You’ve got something  there about not goin’ ga-ga over the unproven. Lotta bandwagon believers. But when it comes to religion, it’s not always cut and dried. When I was a boy, growing up outside Bwari, a traveling evangelist came to town and stirred up a bunch of hoopla. His tent meetings attracted big crowds, and many claimed to be healed. Newspapers and TV crews came askign questions, and all kind of wild stories emerged. ‘Course, none of it could be verified. Until one night a woman from the outback brought her dead son. Said the boy’d died that morning. She traveled all day to get there, and when she walked to the platform carrying him he started shaking and coughing. They said he came to life. Of course, nothing could be substantiated. Still, the crowds came, and the stories continued. The lady went back to her village and converted every last one of them. To this day that small village is a Christian village. And it can all be traced back to that one little boy and his mother. Did he rise from the dead? Was it a miracle or a medical curiosity? Perhaps they struck a deal with some tribal deity. Who’s to say? For me, I’ll stay in the middle.”

Clark shook his head. He’d given up trying to contain his skepticism. “Part of me wants to believe in miracles. Really. But there’s so much abuse. Heck, ninety-nine percent of what people label as miracles or healings is probably emotionalism or just wishful thinking.”

“Yeah, but there’s still that one percent.”

Clark looked at the floor. It was clean and cold–like him. He had no more rebuttals. The end of his rope was fast approaching.

“Look, Reverend Clark,” Beeko seemed to sense his turmoil. “There’s a lot of chicanery in religion. And mystery. Even in my field, with all its advances, some things still go unexplained. Maybe this is a case of hysteria. Or maybe someone made a mistake, and there’s a reasonable explanation. However, there’s another possibility which you and I must face–as uncomfortable and messy as it might be. Maybe–just maybe–we have a miracle on our hands. A modern-day miracle. If that’s the case, no word-swapping or mental gymnastics will change that fact. If something–someone–is invading the dead zone, we’d best stop debating and get out of his way.”

To buy the book, click here.

The Resurrection: Book Review

http://mikeduran.com/

The characters endeared themselves to me. It’s a week later and I am still thinking about them. I read this book one Sunday afternoon without stopping or pausing for refreshment. I thought of Ruby Case as I sat behind my desk in the Church Office. I thought of Mr. Cellophane in our meeting room of which is always cold. Many of the characters in this book could easily take on the image of someone we know in church.

A chill clung to the church office, as usual. Ruby Case shivered and yanked the sleeves of her sweat jacket over her wrists. Why was it always so cold in this building? Once again it was just the three of them, but Ruby didn’t mind. She had given up trying to generate enthusiasm in Canyon Springs Community Church. In a way she preferred the anonymity of her little prayer group. Vinyette, on the other hand, used it as motivation. “Goliath went down with one stone,” she’d say. “So’s the three of us should do some damage.” Vinyette was not one to aim low. For Ruby, it was more about doing right than getting payback. The fact that her two best friends shared the burden every Sunday morning before church made the commitment a lot easier.”

What was going on? A town with revival roots was now littered with occult shops. A veil of darkness eclipses the town; a malice that won’t go away. Ruby Case has a vision and one day at a funeral she gently touches the boy in the coffin. He rises from his coffin alive. The town erects a shrine on her front lawn bringing their sick and worshiping her as an unwilling idol. The deacons attempt to force the pastor to play down the whole affair, but what do you do when your pastor wavers between belief and unbelief? Typical church issues make them ineffective in the community. Secret occult groups work to keep it that way. Dark forces control this town. There are many subplots and plots in this book all working towards the explosive end.

He’s a man. At least, he might’ve been one once. He’s a puppet for those guys. The way they run that church is a sin.”

She leaned back and looked at him with eyebrows raised.

They don’t really help people, don’t get involved in the community.” Jack spoke as if he was beginning to run down a list. “They drove off old man Lawrence.”

You mean, Reverend Lawrence.”

“Yeah, Reverend Lawrence. They made him leave just because he started tellin’ the truth about you folks. And then those self-righteous morons–.”

Jack!”

The story fascinated me. I thought of my writing in speculative fiction and through Mike’s writing re-thought ghost stories. It’s not your typical ghost/other-worldly story. It’s a classic story of good versus evil and he really makes the villains real. We can relate to them and see them masquerading as members of our community. He shows us what a lukewarm church looks like. We have accepted the tarot cards and astrological signs as harmless, and we see evil as a reality only in books or television. It’s easy to grow lukewarm in our beliefs. He writes well and the action moves very quickly. As much as I tried, I could not find anything I didn’t like about this book. It’s earned a permanent spot on my library. Sorry, guys, no free book giveaway here.

One final thought: I miss Mr. Cellophane.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. My reviews are always objective. I am not in any way motivated to always give a positive review. Other participants:

Noah Arsenault
Brandon Barr
Red Bissell
Book Reviews By Molly
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Wanda Costinak
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Janey DeMeo
Cynthia Dyer
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Andrea Schultz
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Dave Wilson