Boris Karloff Drinks Tea wishes you a Happy Halloween.

I’m Haunting the National Catholic Register

I wrote a new article drawing on some of the research I published here:

Do you believe in ghosts?

You may be surprised to find out which Church Fathers and doctors did and which didn’t.

What’s clear is that, whether or not many Americans believe in ghosts, many clearly want to. Television and film are crowded with stories about ghosts and the supernatural. “Ghost hunter” reality-TV shows proliferate, producing no evidence to prove the reality of ghosts beyond a lot of grainy, green night-vision footage of people acting scared of the dark. Almost everyone has heard someone tell of an encounter that he or she cannot explain.

People want to believe in ghosts for a simple reason: It provides proof of the immortality of the human soul and the possibility of life after death.

The Christian doesn’t require this kind of anecdotal proof, but from the very earliest days of the faith, the Church has wrestled with the idea that the souls of the dead can make themselves known to the living.

Check thou it out.

A Compilation of My Dark and Ghostly Posts

My first writing was in the horror genre, contributing to publications like The Horror Show and Cemetery Dance, and writing entries for the encyclopedia Supernatural Fiction Writers. I even worked for George A. Romero’s Laurel Entertainment film and TV production company for a little while. I think there’s value in exploring dark themes, fear, and even revulsion in art. The medievals certainly thought so, or they wouldn’t have produced so much of it.

I had fun with this month’s two series: Dark Country and Ghosts in the Church.

I’m not going to link all the individual Dark Country posts individually, but you can find all all them here, from “Eli Renfro” to “The Man Comes Around.”

I’d been thinking about ghosts for a while now, and wondering where they fit in the theology and life of the church. I didn’t get as much written as I’d hoped because we had a family medical crisis while I was working on it, but 10,000 words is plenty for now. A shorter article will be published by the National Catholic Register.

Here are all the posts in the Ghosts in the Church series:

Ghosts in the Bible

Ghostly Visions in the Early Church

Tertullian’s Deceiving Devils

Three posts on St. Augustine’s detailed consideration of ghosts:

St. Martin and the Thief’s Ghost

St. Gregory the Great’s Bath-house Ghost

St. Thomas Aquinas Believed in Ghosts (True fact)

Do You Believe in Ghosts? (In which I answer the question: “Sorta, sometimes”)

I’ve also written quite a bit about Satan and ancient burial customs. And Boris Karloff. And MR James.

Have a happy Halloween.

Frankenstein color (220 x 265)

“The Man Comes Around” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries.

Johnny Cash: “The Man Comes Around”

Really, only one guy could have the final slot in this series: the man who made dark country his motif by dressing all in black. I wanted to end on a note of  hope, and Johnny’s song about the Last Judgement is the perfect way to go. It just doesn’t get any better.

Two more shots of Karloff in “The Lark”

St. Joan vs. Boris Karloff

Karloff in "The Lark"

Karloff in “The Lark”

I’ve loved the classic Universal monster movies since I was a kid in the 1970s. That was the decade of the “Monster Kids,” who became fans thanks to a combination of TV showings of classic films, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Castle of Frankenstein magazines, and endless parodies of the characters made famous by Karloff, Lugosi, the Chaneys, and others.Lark_2.inline vertical

Karloff was always my favorite, and not just for his roles. By the time of the monster boom, we had an image of him as a kind of gentle old uncle hosting programs like Thriller and telling stories on record albums and the occasional cartoon. To this day, Karloff films are still my go-to viewing to cheer me up, which I guess is pretty perverse. The pathos and humanity he brought to his characters gave me an escape from dark times, and they still do. I’ve been delighted to be able to share the classic films with my kids and have them become fans too.

I have quite a few monster sites, blogs, and pages in my feeds, and one thing that crops up again and again are picture of Uncle Boris sipping tea. Tumblr is kind of a mystery to me, so I thought I’d toss up some of these pictures and other Universal and classic monsterabilia for a lark at a site called Boris Karloff Drinks Tea because why the heck not.

Today’s shot has some Catholic overlap: it’s Karloff in Jean Anouilh’s The Lark, a play about St. Joan. He originated the role of Pierre Cauchon, the French bishop and English partisan who persecuted St. Joan of Arc (played by Julie Harris). The full text of the play is here. You can watch it here. Karloff was nominated for a Tony for the performance.

lark