So AMC’s “The Walking Dead” had its Season 4 premiere this month. The show’s success is not that surprising seeing as zombie flicks have captivated audiences for generations. I have been fascinated by this show since the pilot. The art design is incredible, providing cinematic visuals to chaos and destruction. There are character stories hidden in the set designs fueling the interest of the observer. The horror is displayed on two levels; human and zombie. Creator Frank Darabont is a master at revealing the inner revulsion of a human being consumed by fear. The surviving characters become intertwined in a struggle for power, leading to brutality, corruption, and injustice among a civilization ruled by the dead. In many ways, each character is challenged to face their own morality, some choosing good and many choosing evil.

The second element of horror comes from the zombies. These revolting mindless drones driven only by the desire to feed provide for effective nightmares…I've had several. There is something purely horrific about human bodies becoming reanimated after death. As a culture we are fascinated by it. Why? I believe it’s because a zombie represents a person’s greatest fear. Not bodily death, but eternal death.

In the show, several characters go through a denial process when a loved one “turns”, becomes a zombie. Morgan fights against his inability to kill his zombified wife, Andrea struggles to cope after she is forced to kill her “undead” sister, and the Governor keeps his daughter chained up in his closet after she has “turned”. Zombie grief is much different from regular grief. Regular grief consists usually of denial, anger, depression and acceptance. You may attend a funeral, visit a grave-site pray often, and continue to talk with the departed after their gone. There is usually no time limit.

The process of zombie grief consists of all those, but within a matter of minutes with the possibility of having to shoot a temporally resurrected body in the head. Recognizing that the spiritual element of a person no longer exists in their body is horrific in itself. Many of the kids in this current season begin naming the zombies because they can’t understand what they are.

"The Walking Dead" reveals some interesting Christian themes. The scariest part of  a zombie is the lack of a soul.  A zombie is a visual representation of eternal death, as presented in the Book of Genesis.

“The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.” Gen 2:16-17

Adam was commanded not to sin or else he would suffer death. How was Adam to understand death, when death did not exist yet? Furthermore, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree, they didn't physically die? Why not? It seems God was speaking of a spiritual death, not physical death. A zombie is the perfect visual for what spiritual death can look like. Without dying physically, one can die spiritually due to sin.

"Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness." - Rom 6:12-14

Christianity presents Jesus as the second Adam who absorbed this kind of death and redeemed mankind for those who freely accept it. Jesus's resurrection is the proof of eternal life and is offered to all. Death, in this case, does not have to be scary anymore; however, I believe there is a commonality in humans of a deep understanding of this spiritual death, having been passed down from our first ancestors. It is from this wellspring of fear that causes our fascination with zombies. Seeing a reanimated body subconsciously reminds us of what we have lost. It's kind of like that person who constantly brings up your shortcomings in front of others. You are filled with shame and fear. Yet, there is hope.

“The Walking Dead” presents us with a great opportunity to put together our own escape plan. Not to escape a real life zombie Apocalypse (Although it could happen…read here), but to escape a life of spiritual death.

What’s your escape plan?

 When I was ten years old I had a direct encounter with a ghost. My brother and I were playing in the attic of our three-story house on 2096 Wall St., Rahway NJ Google Earth it). The attic was our bedroom (Yup...this is already a horror story). Anyway, there were steep stairs leading up to the bedroom from the third floor walk way. My brother and I were playing Power Rangers as usual and I ended up pushing him down the stairs. He tumbled all the way to the bottom hitting his head against the door.

He began to cry and I, like any good brother, ran and hid from the impending doom that awaited me by my parents. My mother heard his cries and ran upstairs.
She opened the door and saw my brother crying, but with a pale white face. I felt the grip of her eye contact lock around my neck, but quickly release itself. For my brother spoke, "Mommy, a lady kissed me."

It was known that our old Jersey house had a ghost lady who walked the third story in a white night gown. She had been seen by my uncle, my grandmother, my mother, my cousin, my cousin’s friend, and now my brother. I prayed that I would never see her because I was too frightened, but my brother’s words were enough to send shivers through my body for years and instill the fear of sleeping in my room ever again. 

Was it a ghost? I've always ask myself that, if so how can I as a Catholic understand it? Does the Catholic Church even recognize the existence of ghosts?

I decided to do a little research using some great references.

What do you mean by Ghost?

First of all, when we talk about ghosts what do we really mean?  "Ghost" is simply the German-derived equivalent of the Latin-derived word "Spirit." 

That's why the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the Holy Ghost. Originally in English "ghost" and "spirit" referred to the same thing. So if by "Ghost" we are referring to "disembodied spirits" the YES, the Catholic Church believes in ghosts.
One of the members of the Holy Trinity is called a Ghost!

Where do we go when we die?

The Church has always taught that there is a place that God has prepared for us after this life when entering death. Heaven was opened for all disembodied spirit
s who died prior to Jesus’ death when Jesus descended into hell and brought the awaiting spirits to his heavenly Father. After death, the body stays behind and awaits it’s resurrection at the end of the age, but the spirit, which is eternal, is accepted into heaven with the communion of Saints and the Angels.

 “For we know that if our earthly house this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Does the Sixth Sense make sense?

 Okay, if that is so, then what is the deal with all of these Ghost’s that are seen back here on earth? Are they spirits that are stuck between worlds, ghosts with unfinished business as seen in Casper, or energy fields left behind from deceased person? In the film “The Sixth Sense” we are introduced to a little boy who can “see dead people”, that is the invisible part of human being after death. The ghosts usually don’t know they are dead and seek him out for a kind of resolution to their after-life. Is this possible? Can a spirit still roam the earth after death as in the “Sixth Sense”? Well I picked this out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

(CCC 1021) Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul—a destiny which can be different for some and for others.

(CCC 1022) Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven—through a purification or immediately, or immediate and everlasting damnation.

So according to the Catholic Church’s teachings, there cannot be ghosts who linger around the earth lost, confused, with no place to go, or with a form of “unfinished business”. At the time of death, a spirit will know exactly where it should be based on their merits in the life they led. So how does that explain what my brother saw or what millions of others have seen throughout the centuries?

There are 3 Explanations the Church Offers

"Spirit is of three kinds: the human spirit which combined with body make up a human being; the defined spirit that has no body, such as angels; and the infinite Spirit, or God, of Whom the Third Person is the Holy Ghost" - Fr. John Hardon

#1 Angels and the Communion of Saints

The appearance of a Ghost could be a vision of an angel or a saint. Angels have the ability to appear to human beings with God’s permission delivering divine messages. Think of the Archangel Gabriel’s message to Mary in Luke 1 or the two angel’s appearance to Mary Magdalene in John 20.

(CCC 329)  St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'“
With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God.

So Angels are spirits and can also be called Ghosts. As defined by the Eastern
Church, a Saint is any person in heaven. If a Saint is in heaven and there body is still here on earth, they too can be called ghosts.

(CCC 956) The intercession of the saints.  “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness.... They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us.

Saints and Angels can communicate with human beings. These would be the friendly ghosts who are seeking to help rather than to harm.

“Christianity believes that God may, and sometimes does, permit a departed soul to appear in some visible form to people on earth. Allowing for legend and illusion, there is enough authentic evidence, for example in the lives of the saints, to indicate that such apparitions occur. Their purpose may be to teach or warn, or request some favor of the living” (Fr. John A. Hardon,

Ghosts and the Scriptures

The Bible has its very own Ghost story found in 1 Samuel 28:1-25. A brief overview: King Saul turned to the Witch of Endor to call upon the dead soul of the prophet Samuel. “Whom do you want me to conjure up?” the woman asked him. “Conjure up Samuel for me,” he replied... Samuel appears and tells Saul that God said he will lose the war against the Philistines and hand Israel over to David, the new King. Samuel appears to Saul as a ghost, but with permission from God to deliver a divine message to Saul.

“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."  Luke 24:38-40

Jesus even speaks about ghosts with his disciples. “When they saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:25-27

The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost and they were afraid. Why were they afraid? Because they believed in Ghosts. Jesus did not rebuke them for thinking he was a Ghost, instead he just calmed them down and let them know it was Him. If the concept of a disembodied spirit is so unbiblical why did Jesus let his disciples believe such things exist without correction? In scripture, Heavenly messengers always say “Be not afraid. Interesting.

#2 Purgatory

Purgatory is simple to understand, but I get why some Christian denominations dispute it. In order to purify flesh you must heat it. When you cook a steak, the fire kills the bacteria that is on it. Humans are not steaks to be consumed, but we are flesh to be communed. In order for us to get back into the full presence of God and the communion of Saints, we must first be purified with God’s love if we die with the stain of sin. Think of the Seraphim, the burning ones, who are noted to serve God in the Old
Testament. They are Angels that are so close to God that they are on fire.
Souls in purgatory have been reported to appear to those on earth in the state of purgation. Eyewitnesses, such as St. Faustina, attest to encounters of purgative souls ablaze in flame who come seeking prayers. Purgatory is a very hard concept for many non-Catholics and many Catholics, but it is one of the oldest teachings of the Church. The Magisterium and Tradition of the Church confirm the existence of purgatory. 

Church Fathers such as, Tertullian (Rome, 160 - 220?), Origen
(Alexandria, 185 - 254?), Cyprian (Carthage, 200 - 258), Ambrose (Tier,
340 - 397), Augustine (Numidia, 354 - 430), Basil (Caesarea, 329 - 379),
Gregory of Nazianzus (in Cappadocia, 329 - 389), John Chrysostom
(Antioch, 349 - 407), Gregory the Great (Rome, 540 - 604) all confirmed the existence of purgatory.

Council of Lyons II (1274) stated “We believe ... that the souls, by the purifying compensation are purged after death.”
Council of Florence - Repeated the Council of Lyons II.
Council of Trent (1545-1563) “We constantly hold that purgatory exists, and that the souls of the faithful there detained are helped by the prayers of the faithful.”

(CCC 1031) The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of cleansing fire.  As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

(CCC 1072) To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin.

Yes, even the Bible speaks of purgatory: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble – each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1 Cor 3:12-15

Could Purgatory explain the ghosts that appear in the Sixth Sense for example?

Visions of Ghosts in Purgatory

Many saints have attested to having visions of ghosts in purgatory. In the words of St. Faustina:

"One night, a sister who had died two months previously came to me. She was a sister of the first choir. I saw her in a terrible condition, all in flames with her face painfully distorted. This lasted only a short time, and then she disappeared. A shudder went through my soul because I did not know whether she was suffering in purgatory or in hell. Nevertheless, I redoubled my prayers for her.

"After some time she came back again to me during the night, but already her appearance had changed. There were no longer any flames, as there had been before, and her face was radiant, her eyes beaming with joy. She told me that I had a true love for my neighbor and that many other souls had profited from my prayers. She urged me not to cease praying for the souls in purgatory, and she added that she herself would not remain there much longer. How astounding are the decrees of God!"

Purgatory Museum

Okay, one of the creepiest things I have ever discovered is the Museo Del Purgatorio, or "Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It further explains the crossing over of Purgative souls into our realm, but still with the permission of God to deliver a message. The Museum is located in the back of the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio on the banks of the Tiber. What’s inside you ask? The museum showcases items that have been singed by human souls in purgatory. Bibles, clothing, and prayer books are some of the items on display.

IRONIC FACT: In 2007 the purgatory museum caught fire damaging a major painting and also “resulted in scorched fingerprints on prayer books, as well as singed clothes and burnt wood.”

For a good read and a further study on purgatory, check out Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from PurgatoryAfter a week of hearing ghostly noises, a man is visited in his home by the spirit of his mother, dead for three decades. She reproaches him for his dissolute life and begs him to have Masses said in her name. Then she lays her hand on his sleeve, leaving an indelible burn mark, and departs... Gerard J M Van Den Aardweg

#3 Demons

“There are no good spirits other than angels; there are no evil spirits other than demons.” Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist for the Vatican

The final explanation of ghosts is what Hollywood loves to make movies about, demonic activity. Demons are fallen angels. When a third of the angels fell from the great battle in heaven, the demons did not lose their angelic powers given to them by God. Therefore, they are defined spirits, the same as angels. Demons will use human loss to enter in and even take the image of a passes loved one. What one may think is the spirit of their father, mother, or spouse could actually be a form of demonic trickery.

The popular idea that ghosts are the spirits of human souls who have died and are trapped here for some reason is not possible. They are much more likely to be demons disguising themselves as the “ghost” or spirit of a human being for the purpose of leading people away from the true faith.

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” - 2 Corinthians 11:14

Fr. Gabriele mentions in his book “An Exorcist Tells His Story” that demons are fallen angels cast down to earth awaiting appointed judgment. So they maintain the power that God has given them if even for only a brief time. Demons could mask their appearance and take the form of a loss loved one urging you to communicate with them. I used to have really crazy dreams and weird things happen to me when I was sleeping. One night the covers would be thrown off of me and I would be freezing, another I would feel as if someone were standing over me and be unable to move, another night I would have dreams of Satan ripping a rosary from my hands and throwing it to the floor. I promise I’m not crazy. When I told this to a priest friend of mine, he told me to do two things.

1)    Sleep with a St. Benedict cross

2)    Never communicate with the spirit (NEVER EVER)

3)    Pray “Hail Mary’s” while it happens to me

After following these suggestions, I have yet to encounter anything like that again. What stuck out to me was the fact that he told me never to communicate with any spirit that I thought was there. It is a way of letting something in that should not be. This goes for playing with Ouija boards, attempting sorcery or black magic.

(CCC 2117) We are never to never conjure up the dead, leaving room for demon trickery.

Haunted Houses

What about Haunted houses? In American Horror Story Season One, the entire house is haunted by the souls of those who died in there. This is what Fr. Gabriele Amorth calls Diabolic Infestation. In this case, the malefic activity is directed toward places (houses, offices, stores, fields), objects (cars, pillows, mattresses, dolls) and animals, therefore it only indirectly affects man. Therefore Haunted Houses can exist that are filled with demonic presences, not a trapped human soul wandering earth. If you ever seen American Horror Story, you will know that right off of the bat, those presences are completely demonic.  

If you believe your house may be haunted, don’t take it lightly. Get a priest or Deacon to clean your house!


Ephesians 6:11Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

You have probably read this passage dozens of times, but have you paid attention to what St. Paul lists as who we wrestle with? He says Principalities and Powers, two hierarchies of Angels. Remember that the fallen angels (demons) retain their power given to them from God. So we are indeed in a spiritual battle against them.

So, yes the Catholic Church absolutely does believe in a spiritual realm. This realm is inhabited by human spirits, defined spirits (Angels and Demons) and the infinite Spirit, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Does it explain it all? No, the spiritual realm is certainly a mystery and there may be more things at play that we do not yet understand. The Church’s teaching is based on Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. If we knew it all then what would we need God for?

Final Notes:

Judgment after death is immediate. God can allow, for various reasons, a deceased human soul to interact with living beings.

There cannot be souls who roam the earth with “unfinished business”.

We are not to seek out deceased souls.

Reflect upon: How would you interpret “The Sixth Sense” with the Catholic understanding of Ghosts?


 Cathechism of the Catholic Church
The Holy Bible
"An Exorcist Tells His Story" - Fr. Gabriele Amorth
The Diary of St. Faustina

Gungor - A Cinematic Experience

I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Gungor's new album, "I Am Mountain". Pacing back and forth the night before hoping I will be able to download at 11:59PM, like I was attending the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After being transformed by their previous albums, "Beautiful Things" and "Ghosts Upon the Earth", I was excited to delve back into the minds of these talented artists.
Since its release in September I have been able to spend some time absorbing it. This album is very different from their previous albums, in the sense that it is very cinematic and exploratory. It speaks about spirituality on a completely artistic level, never mentioning the name of Jesus. It is an album that speaks of the human relationship with good and evil through poetic verse. There is “Eternity within a man” as said in their opening song. This album is a beautiful reflection on spiritual warfare. I find that their first album “Beautiful Things” is a reflection on beauty, “Ghosts Upon the Earth” is a reflection on creation, and “I Am Mountain” is a reflection on destruction, that is, spiritual war that resides within every person.

Spiritual warfare is difficult to accept because it calls for attentiveness, readiness, and change. One must first become aware that they are in a war, learn how to train for it, then go out and actually fight it. “I Am Mountain” gives the listener the opportunity to meditate on their own spiritual doubt, fear, and temptation. It is put together as one seamless cinematic piece that reveals those intimate moments of fear, abandonment, rejection, denial, and loss of spiritual battles. At the same time, it is also telling of spiritual victories.

While spiritual warfare is very common to Christians, it can still be applied to non-Christians and non-believers. Essentially, a spiritual battle is one of the conscious, hearing your inner voice direct you on the proper course and choosing the opposite. It also reflects why many humans have such an intense passion for justice, mirroring the hidden image of their creator, Justice Himself. Spiritual warfare can create a misdirected Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., doing more damage to the faith then good. Ultimately, it comes down to ones willingness to fight. Our bodies are constantly at war. We have thousands of antibodies that fight foreign bacteria, viruses, and enemies that try to get in and harm us. If our body is constantly attacked imagine how often our soul is attacked. We would rather refute this idea because to fight the battle for our soul takes very different weapons, namely meditation, prayer, sacraments, optimism, generosity, hope, forgiveness, faith and love. It also takes honesty about one’s mistakes, attitude, and perspective on life. 

Gungor captures this war very beautifully, producing an oratory cinematic masterpiece. While I recognize that some of you may have a different take on this album, I would like to offer you the musical narrative that has developed in my mind as I meditated on the songs. I will start in order. Feel free to click on the links to the songs as to listen along while you read.  You can purchase their full album on Itunes , Google Play and Amazon.  

There are key words throughout the album; light, shadows, fight, battle, wandering, heart, mystery. Pay attention to them.

The album’s title track kicks off the story. “I am Mountain, I am dust/Constellations made of us”. It is the recognition of unity among human beings and creation. We are carbon and spirit, not mere matter, but spiritualized matter. With this knowledge, we recognize we are in a battle against a force that wishes to make us less than what we are. Any spiritual battle begins with the awareness of the war. Without awareness, then one may be succumbed to either side, light or dark, good or evil. This song is a rallying of the troops, a mustering up of courage in order to fight against an injustice. The songs melodic “Ohh ohh ohh oh ohh” is a battle cry after Lisa calls out “As the light lights up the skies, we will fight for our lives.”

The song has the same effect as Cabaret’s “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”, but for the opposing side. “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” is a rallying song, sung by a Nazi youth with the intention of rousing patriotism for the “Fatherland”. “I Am Mountain” rouses devotion to the Father. As I listen, I envision thousands of people beginning to stand as Michael is singing, joining in the one song that unifies them in peace, love, hope, and justice. The war is about to begin and we are unified in song, being, and creation.

At first this song seems out of place, but in any good narrative there is always a back story. We need to know why we are going to war and who the enemy is. “Beat of her heart” provides the perfect back story for us. I see the troops gathering into their transports as a slow fade transitions across the screen into a musical telling of the Ancient Greek legend of Orpheus, a musician and poet known as “The Father of Songs”. Orpheus loses his wife Eurydice to Hades and must battle his way through the underworld to retrieve her.

With my song
I will charm Demeter’s daughter,
I will charm the Lord of the Dead,
Moving their hearts with my melody.
I will bear her away from Hades.(Orpheus)

When he reaches Hades, he is granted permission to bring her back to the mortal realm, but must trust Hades that Eurydice will be behind him the entire time of his departure without looking back to check. Unable to resist, he looks back and watches his wife vanish from his eyes forever listening to her last words, “Farewell.”

This is the beginning of the spiritual war. In Genesis, it is Eve who is first tricked by the serpent then Adam who eats of the forbidden fruit, resulting in spiritual death. In Orpheus it is Eurydice who is bit by a viper and poisoned. The serpent and Hades are symbols of Satan, bringing death to the living. We are reminded that our battle is with Satan and death. How do we recover what we lost, which is eternal life? This is our spiritual war.

How many of us struggle with temptation to sin as Orpheus struggled with the temptation to look back? The serpent will use the truth in order to instill doubt. A Christian view on this Truth is that Jesus destroyed the serpent and death by self-sacrifice, turning death upside down. Accepting this is not enough, we must fight our own battles every day in order to win the war for our soul. 
Now the we fade back to the troops huddled together in army transports.

Since we are now aware that we are in a war and why we are fighting, we must be truthful about our strengths and weaknesses. A soldier who has no knowledge about flying a plane will not sit in the cockpit. In a spiritual war, we must admit that we are indeed “A Long Way Off” from what we think we know. We are sinners, we’re not perfect, we make mistakes, we hurt ourselves and others. We are limits. This song is preparation for ones acceptance as a limit. It is a sort of spiritual "boot camp" where we receive training.  

When the Russians first rocketed into space, it is stated that one of the astronauts said, “There is no sign of God.” Humans are so concerned with finding the tangible evidence of the Creator, as if God were something to be seen, touched, or captured. We want to find the infinite being inside of His own creation, but forget that we are only finite creatures. God is the act of “to be” itself, in which all things find their creation. Therefore, we are a long way off when it comes to our knowledge of God, the universe, and ourselves. In a war we must know our strengths and weaknesses because only then will we know how the enemy will attack.

There can be many prisoners of a war, those who are captured from the opposing side and civilians caught in the crossfire. A spiritual war takes many prisoners, especially those facing an addiction or unhealthy habits. Addictions can be hard to break and can even be compulsory, forcing someone to do something that he or she does not really want to do. One can feel helpless, abandoned, and imprisoned. This is what “Wandering” presents, the image of the lost wandering souls on the battle field, searching for help.

I’ve been wandering through this world
Looking for an anchor to hold me

The song uses auto-tune in a unique way. It builds up with Lisa’s voice into an undecipherable cry. I can see the millions of souls reaching out to the sky, pleading for help. It is what I picture hell to be for all of its captives, a desert of souls parched of faith, hope, and love. It is a ballad in the middle of the musical reminding us of our own mortality. It is easy to imprison ourselves within our own sins.

I’ve been wandering through this world
Looking for a love that might free me

The song provides us with the weapon to fight the war, love. We must love others more than ourselves. "Nobody should be looking for his own advantage, but everybody for the other man's." - 1 Cor 10:24 

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. - 2 Cor 10:4

“Let it Go” is a battle song. The war is finally among us and we are engaged in a full blown "Lord of the Rings" type battle. Anytime you face an addiction you are ultimately faced with a choice. I used to suffer from a major pornography addiction and one night I fell to my knees in tears, begging God to help me let it go. I would pray over and over  as if I were pleading for my life. It felt like the scene from C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” where a man pleads for God to remove the red lizard demon of lust from him. God sends an angel to
remove the demon from the man and he is granted a victory. I too was granted a victory that night, it was a joyous occasion knowing that I won a battle of temptation. God did not just destroy the red lizard of lust, but he transformed it into a beautiful white stallion. God wants to transform our addictions, leading us to ultimate victory.

“Let it Go” is the most upbeat song on the album, it is the song that will be played at parties, the song that everyone will dance to, the song that utters jubilation. It is a victory song. I picture a grueling battle scene, the clashing of bodies, the cracking of sinew, the smell of death, but see the illuminate light of victory for our troops. In spiritual war, we must let go of the things that destroy us from within or else we will lose the fight.

If there’s anything that holds you down, just forget it
Keeping your feet on the ground, don’t you let it
Let it go

All great films use montages to show the passing of time and to compact a lot of narrative into a short section of the movie. “Wayward and Torn” is the war montage scene that reveals a steady fight against injustice. I can see the flashing images of battles, the rescuing of captives, the releasing of prisoners, the feeding of those in poverty, and the growing of an army who welcomes new recruits who wish to fight the good fight.

You walked this road a thousand times
You know exactly where it ends
Where it slopes and where it bends
All the camps have locked their gates
All the lines are drawn and clear
All who are worn
Wayward and torn
You’re welcome here

In a spiritual war, it’s all about evangelization. Bringing the good news to those who have never heard it and helping them discover their own mission and purpose.

You cannot have a film without conflict. At one point your hero must lose everything he or she has in order to discover something greater about themselves. “God and Country” is the image of a devastating battle that is lost due to pride. In a war one can quickly forget their reason for fighting, losing meaning and motivation. With these blurred lines it becomes necessary to create purpose. In a spiritual war, we can fight for a long time, forgetting who we are fighting, why we are fighting, and with what weapons we are fighting with. One can lose their faith if not careful or make an idol of their faith.

Gathered up our God oh we gathered up our guns
For the love of country
For our fathers and our sons

“God and Country” can be seen as a commentary on gun control as well as a symbol of pride’s impact on faith. When we combine faith with government it creates conflict. Who is then the voice of reason, God or Country? The slope is very slippery here and can be crossed back and forth. Pride can settle in and actually turn the soldiers against each other. Imagine two armies of soldiers running full force at one another, then all of a sudden half of one army turns against their own. Spiritually, we do this to one another all the time when we claim to know more than God and what is truly best for another person. We create cliques in our churches, judge others who do not give a certain amount of time, talent, or treasure, belittle those who are different, force out newcomers, and become Pharisees. We will switch sides without ever knowing it or intending to do so because of our own pride.  

Those who live by the gun
Live by the gun
Die by the gun.

Gungor then shows us the devastation we have wrought against ourselves as we reflect on our losses. "Hither and Yon" is like the aerial shot of a war film, capturing the bodies stacked up for miles around. There are no words.

Yesternite the gods they disappeared from sight
The angels flapped their wings and took their songs to flight
The shadows lift their hands and praise the light

“Yesternite” is a lonely cry of mourning in one’s soul. It’s the worst thing that could happen to any character in a film. In "Lord of the Rings", it’s when Frodo loses Gandalf to the Balrog. In "Harry Potter", it’s the death of Professor Dumbledore. It’s the infamous “Nooo” from Luke when he discovers that Darth Vader is his father in "The Empire Strikes Back". This is the moment where the soul is at its lowest point.
In a spiritual war you are bound to hit rock bottom. St. Teresa of Avila speaks of the Dark Night of the soul, a long dry spell of faith.  
The song explores the fear of abandonment, “The gods disappeared from sight”, but also the first light of a new hope, “And so the morning finally shed its light/the mourning of the loss/the sacred fight/sunbeams lift their hands and praise the night.”

Where do you place “The Best Part” among the visions of this spiritual war? It’s musically haunting, yet lyrically hopeful. What I think it represents is the descending of love itself in the heart of the war. Christ came to suffer with his bride, to die in order to save humanity.

I have seen it all
Oh, I have seen it all
I’ve felt it all
Life is running swift now
Like a raging river, how it runs out
Please don’t go

It has the eloquence of a psalm, which according to many theologians are prophetic songs that almost sound as if they were coming from the mouth of Jesus. Especially Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”

"The Best Part" is like the motivation for the soldiers to keep on fighting, despite their failures. It’s what causes Sam to pick up Frodo and carry him to Mount Doom in "Return of the King", it’s the courage that causes Harry to meet Voldemort in the woods in "The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2", it is what fuels Bruce Wayne to make the jump in Bane’s prison in "The Dark Knight Rises". This motivation eventually leads to the hero’s victory.
Every film has a third act, which is when the hero discovers a way to defeat the enemy.

Call me back into the silence
Into the sunlight
Every breath a standing defiance
Of death and of clamor
Let darkness be scattered now

The remaining soldiers are ready to fight, knowing the enemies weakness and recovering the tools to defeat it. Harry destroys the final Horcrux to defeat Voldemort, Frodo destroys the ring to defeat Sauron, Batman flies the bomb away from gotham City. The final battle ensues, leaving behind a carnage of destruction, damage, death, and finally victory.

All the stars fall in line
And the seas bow their heads
We remember our dead and we sing another day
As the silence it grows and the worlds fade away
All the sons empty their graves
We will sing another day

One’s spiritual war will end at their own death, where they will either rejoice in victory or wander eternity in defeat. Gungor is imaging this final battle in victory, “We will sing another day.” How did we win? What is the enemies weakness? Gungor reveals it in the final song.

“Upside Down” is a prayer. It is very short, simple, and to the point. It is the resolution of the film, how it all ends. At the same time it is the ultimate result of a real spiritual victory, conversion. At the beginning of the album there is a rallying of troops with “I Am Mountain”. Thousands of people stand firm in unity, but later on most of them fall. Why? They did not experience real metanoia, conversion. Authentically, they must choose to be in a relationship with their Creator in order to sustain their faith. It is the same idea of children who grow up in the religion of their parents. They do not own their faith or experience conversion by blindly following their parents, but find their mission through a personal relationship with God.

Upside down
Upside down
This world is upside down
Do you see
Do you see us
Do you hear us
Make it right
Make it right
Let the sun rise

Wars have peace treaties in order to prevent further war from breaking out again. This song is the peace treaty in spiritual warfare because it reveals prayer. Prayer is what will keep you out of the darkness, help you maintain the peace in your soul, defeat the many attacks that will still come. It is through prayer that victory is sustained.
The song builds to a beautiful crescendo. I envision the heavens opening, light flooding the human soul, darkness being vanquished, and the dead being resurrected to new life. At the end of the song there are faint voices speaking. This is what they are saying:

"Prayer is AT LEAST a form of mediation that encourages the development of healthy brain tissue, lowers stress and can connect us to God. EVEN IF that is a comprehensive definition of prayer, the health and psychological benefits of prayer justify the discipline."

"God is AT LEAST the natural forces that created and sustain the Universe as experienced via a psychosocial construct rooted in evolved neurologic features in humans. EVEN IF that is a comprehensive definition for God, the pursuit of this personal, subjective experience can provide meaning, peace and empathy for others and is warranted."


God is not for Christians only, but for all and can be met on every level. A spiritual war is going on inside all of us and we have the weapons to win. Gungor’s “I Am Mountain” is a beautiful reflection on the spiritual life of a human being. Listen closely, carefully, and intently. I’m curios to hear your interpretations on the songs. Please feel free to comment below on any of them and be sure to purchase the album!

The crowd saw Moses enter into a blazing cloud of fire on top of a mountain. Confident that the newly freed captives of Egypt would have faith in the God of Abraham after witnessing undeniable miracles like cutting the sea in half, Moses stayed in the cloud for forty days. God was transforming him into a spiritual leader for all of the Israelites, but that wasn’t what they really wanted. After a few days when Moses didn’t return they lost faith and wanted to build their own God. So they combined all of their gold and molded a Calf to worship. Why? It was pretty. It was tangible. It didn’t expect anything from them, especially suffering. So the Israelites became idol worshipers.  

Sofia Coppolla’s “The Bling Ring” can be analyzed from many perspectives and will most likely be scrutinized as a film about the dangers of celebrity obsession. Yet, I wonder if the average viewer will question the deeper psyche of the film’s content.

Based on the true story of a group of high school students who went on an illegal
shopping spree of celebrity homes in Los Angeles during the late 2000’s, “The Bling Ring” is creative film making. While maintaining its simplicity, the film honestly depicts an obsessed generation in search of false idols. Real life and social media are juxtaposed by showing an Emma Watson selfie (a picture one takes of his or herself...your welcome Generation X) in one scene followed by the immediate social activity the pic receives online. The film focuses on how we are more involved with social media than we are with our social lives. Follow me, re-tweet this, check out my vines, subscribe to my Youtube channel, “like” my page, read my posts, comment here, make me feel alive. I don’t discount myself, this is my generation and I love social media (Please subscribe to this blog!), but there comes a point when one must choose to be controlled or take control. Social media should be an outlet to express individuality, but at times really becomes a crowd pleasing device towards self-fulfillment. While it can empower individuality, it can also create false idols. This is the world of “The Bling Ring” where individuality means desiring to be someone else.  

Pop Culture
We love our celebrities, their marriages, their babies, their divorces, their DUI’s, their super human bodies, and their drama. It’s easy to gossip about the life of another in order to mask our own hurt. The film itself acts as a mask, revealing superficial personalities that bury one’s authentic self. The kids in the film seek to image the very gossip they read about. One girl is arrested for a DUI and brushes it off as normal with
her friends, after discussing Lindsay Lohan’s numerous DUI’s. The two leads played by Katie Chang and Israel Broussard relish in the victory of robbing a celebrity by snorting cocaine, driving recklessly, and passionately spewing out pop songs from their intoxicated voices.  
Fashion is a character in this film that the kids relate to, communicate with, and express real emotions towards. The first time we see Paris Hilton’s home (yes, they shot on location) it shocks the audience. The amount of clothes, jewelry, shoes, handbags, etc. is uncanny. There are pillows with Hilton’s face on them. (Why would you want to sleep on your own face?) The kids find their golden calf then loot it. They continue this process throughout the movie, tracking down all of their celebrity idols and robbing them, building up to their biggest idol, Lindsay Lohan. 

What Coppolla did so well was reveal the solitude behind celebrities. We watch as the kids enter the homes of Megan Fox, Orlando Bloom, Brian Austin Green and so on, and each home is filled with dead silence, low lighting, isolation, and OPEN DOORS! Yes, this was my biggest problem with the film, except that it really happened. These celebrities would just leave their million dollar mansions unlocked without an alarm. It proves that money cannot fulfill a person’s deepest desires. Paris Hilton lost two million dollars of things before she realized she was being burgled. It is truly a saddening image to see a gorgeous mansion filled with beautiful adornments sit in uninterrupted silence. It’s a lack of life. There are no families there, no children running down the halls, no lights on in the dining room, no music coming from living room, no children’s voices. Even though these celebrities were known to be out of town at the time of the robberies, the film still presents their living space as empty, despite being filled with luxurious objects. Sondheim says it best in Company, "Alone is alone, not alive."

Being Alive
It ultimately comes down to fulfillment. The Bling Ring kids were not dying of hunger, facing foreclosures, living on the streets, or desperate for money. They were desperate for recognition. Emma Watson’s character was based on reality star Alexis Neiers, who had her own show at the time called Pretty Wild, though it was not filmed until her arrest. She was acculturated in the celebrity scene and didn’t need the money. Yet, these kids still felt entitled to the lifestyle and all that comes with it of their celebrity idols. Being surrounded by the objects of the rich made them feel alive, but it would be a temporary feeling as they were caught and sentenced to prison time, some longer than others. Money cannot bring ultimate fulfillment, just like the Israelites in the desert. A golden Calf cannot bring them true recognition because a calf cannot love them, suffer for them, or heal them. "The Bling Ring is about authentic relationships and the lack thereof. These kids did not have healthy relationships with each other and with themselves. For the Israelites, their relationship with God was supposed to be their true fulfillment, but they rejected the love that freed them from persecution. For the Blingers, their ultimate fulfillment was a false idol each of them created for themselves. Our true self is found by living for the other not desiring to live as the other. 

Think. Become a child again. What does the world look like? Is it full of hopeless depression or wondrous opportunity? Who do you want to become, not “What” do you want to become, but who? A professional athlete, an animal activist, a profound speaker, a contemporary artist, someone who fights against poverty or injustice, someone who saves lives or uplifts the human spirit? Travel back to the present. Are you satisfied with yourself? Are you fulfilled? Are you alive? Or do you worship a calf?


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