Archive for April 27, 2009

NY Times article

April 27, 2009

There is an excellent article about atheism in today’s NY Times.


Rabbi Confused by Wind

April 27, 2009

scary-ghostExorcisms and ghost stories aren’t unique to Christianity. A rabbi in North London is claiming a ghost resides at his flat.

The rabbi at Enfield and Winchmore Hill synagogue had recently moved into the accommodation attached to the synagogue when he found he had been joined by an unseen force capable of opening windows, as well as knocking at doors and making other inexplicable noises.

Inexplicable noise, huh? Those must have been pretty weird. I wonder what on Earth he could do about it.

“A man contacted him about a haunting in an office and the rabbi told him – and this is Jewish law – that no chimney, window or door should be completely sealed off, so spirits are allowed to move in and out.

“This particular man discovered that there was a sealed window and once he opened it up, the problem went away.”

So …ghosts can open windows to scare people, but can’t open them to get outside? Interesting rules these ghosts play by. It seems their behavior is completely driven by whatever happens to creep people out.

A spokesman from the Church of England said:

… the only case he had encountered in 18 years was of scratching and moaning apparently emanating from a chimney. It turned out to come from a trapped cat.

At least he’s a bit more sensible.


The reporter in the story makes a reference to the Pig/Legion story in the New Testament, which is one I’ve always enjoyed. In it, Jesus drives demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs. He then sent the pigs to jump off a cliff into the sea to drown (Mark 5:9). Problem is, Gerasenes does not have any steeps cliffs. Perhaps they gently waded into the sea?

Some scholars have proposed it’s actually a parable comparing Roman occupation (a “legion” of soliders) to demon possession, which makes sense, to me. It would essentially be calling Roman soldiers a bunch of swine, and that’s a better explanation than a god that can’t figure out a better way to get demons out of a man.