Drawn Towards Fear

“There are some people who love the adrenaline of being scared.”

— spokeswoman for Highland Paranormal, a paranormal investigation company

“With exposure of the paranormal, especially on TV, we have more people coming forward to talk about it and their own experiences without getting classed as a crazy person. It’s much more accepted today in our society than it ever was. I don’t think there will ever be a decline in the interest of the paranormal because lots of people – like myself – are naturally curious about such things. It’s in our human nature.” — Mary Cunningham, Scottish Paranormal

Why to humans like to be afraid?

Every year the number of “horror” (now packaged as “thriller”) movies produced increases and hundreds of millions of dollars are made by them. Costume sales are rising and makeup gets more gory each Halloween. Haunted houses? Becoming a bit outdated but still existent. It still baffles me to know that people paid good money to enter those establishments and get a good jolt of adrenaline and fear.

One year, many decades ago (30 years ago!) our church in Clearlake, Texas, put on a Christian “fright house” in which there were hatchets, coffins, blood, and all sorts of unpleasant things. The images are still scarred in my memory. The end message was probably one of, “If you died tonight, where would your soul be?” That has been the fearful message good-meaning Christians have used over the past 50 years to “scare sinners straight.” In college I went to a play at a church called, “Heaven and Hell,” in which four teens got involved in a car crash and died and the play was about what kind of lives they led and where their soul was going. It had an invocation at the end. I was glad when it was over.

Why are we humans so drawn towards the paranormal?

Every week in Edinburgh, Scotland, my adopted home, new ghost tours seem to launch from the side of St. Giles Cathedral, the symbolic center of Christianity in the nation. Skeptics are encouraged to sign up. These tours visit the darkest, creepiest, spine-tingling places in the old city, where disease, murder, and spirit haunting have left a chilling legacy. There’s a tour leaving every hour, it seems, but the nighttime ones are in biggest demand. When you can’t see what’s around you, the senses are heightened and the scare factor shoots up the scale.

I don’t like being scared.

I used to watch a program on Discovery Channel called Ghost Lab, about a team of paranormal investigators from Texas, “Everyday Paranormal.” When I watched the first episode, I was so creeped out by it that I didn’t watch another episode for months. The team, led by two brothers, used scientific instruments and reasoning to discover hauntings and voices from the past. It was fascinating but the program didn’t survive past its first season. Another similar program on the Travel Channel is a hit, though.

In the two quotes above, people from two paranormal investigation groups weighed in the subject of fear. Both groups receive calls every month from people reporting suspicious paranormal activity. Usually, this means that they think their house or business is haunted. so the teams set up a “sting” operation at night to try and lure the spirits out of hiding and into the “light.”

People seem to consume this stuff like it’s candy. Paranormal 1,2,3&4 have hit the movie theaters in successive years and people pay their hard-earned money each time to watch other people suffer against spirit forces. But why? Why are people so interested in the spiritual world and yet not interested in God?

I believe that deep inside all of us is an inherent desire to know God and to be known by Him. And our preoccupation with fear and ghosts and the paranormal is a twisted reflection of that innate desire.

  • It could be that we seek fear because it reminds us that we are not captains of our own ship, lords of our own domain, bulletproof and ten feet tall. And, somehow, we like knowing that.
  • Maybe we seek fear because we want to experience the Lord but not know him. So we want to come close to the edge of belief but back off to our sheltered safety of self.
  • Maybe we seek fear because we want to connect with the divine in some way and experience the chills that accompany human-divine interactions.
  • Maybe we seek fear because deep inside, past that skeptical layer, we believe there is more to this life than flesh and blood.

Ahhh… there it is. Every person believes there is life beyond the physical world. Even atheists acknowledge the existence of the human spirit. Not everyone likes what religions have to say about life outside this physical realm but they still believe it exists. It’s ingrained into our DNA. But how? By whom? Therein lies the stumbling block for so many.

The Bible teaches that there are fundamentally two types of fear: the fear of God that leads a person to fall on their face in respect, and the fear of man that causes a person to seek the highest cave and build an iron gate at the entrance. One is healthy, the other poisonous. The fear of God brings wisdom, Solomon would say, but the fear of man brings folly. When we fear God, we respect, revere and obey Him. We seek to exalt His Name and His reputation. There is a healthy balance between arms lifted high in praise and head on the ground in reverence. But the fear of man causes division, isolation, insecurity (paranoia), and hostility. Indeed, we are held captive by its influence and effect.

Are you drawn towards fear? Know this: fear is not a virtue, and the spirit world is not to be played with for thrills. Fear God and seek Him directly. He’s right there beside you, waiting to receive your questions, troubles, faults and give you faith to believe in Him and to trust Him. There’s no need to seek out contact with the dead or feel a ghost tug at your jacket sleeve to receive an “spirit experience” when the creator of all things is open and available and waiting. Oh, He’s loving, kind and compassionate, too. Kind of like a good father.

On Your Own:

  • Do a search of your online Bible for all uses of the word “fear.” How many hits does your Bible program register for “fear?” Now look at the context of the words. Feel free to skip around. What do you notice? What are the overwhelming biblical concepts regarding fear? In other words, what does the Bible teach?
  • “Fear the Lord. Fear Mankind.” Are these two fears the same? If not, what makes them different?
  • Have you ever been afraid for your safety or… your life? How did you overcome that fear?