Monday, February 27, 2012

Top Ten Site! Thank You For Your Votes!

Top Paranormal Sites: Top 10 and Top 100
On the website, which is the best and highest quality site for ranking paranormal websites, N.A.P.S. is consistently ranked well within the top 100 of ALL genres of paranormal sites worldwide, including Ghost, UFO and Cryptozoology sites.  Last fall, we were running consistently around 70 to 80th in rank, which is very impressive. That has improved though, thanks to your votes for us, to where we are running consistently in the 50-60 ranking! More importantly, in our category of sites by Paranormal Investigation Teams, we moved from consistently running 8th or 9th in the world to where we now are consistently 3rd or 4th!!! We are proud of this because it means that our message and approach to the field is relevant, is heard, and people are hopefully learning and being educated about the after-life and how to understand it - at least in part. It also means that a significant number of people recognize are hard work and attempt to provide a quality site. It's always nice to know your work is appreciated. So, thank you very, very much for taking the time to vote for us!

Due to this consistency, this has earned us a Top Ten Site ranking by Top Paranormal sites, and our button reflects that status later in the week when voting begins to tabulate. 

Thank you to all of you who drop in and visit, and vote for us, especially our regular readers!  Please let us know how we can serve you better, and what you would like to hear more about! Please keep it up!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eola Hotel Apparition Photo (FLIR i7 Image)

The following photos were taken during a joint NAPS investigation with MPS out of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Photo at Left:
FLIR i7 image taken by NAPS investigator Adam Chapman in Room 410. You can see the female's shoulders, and the right side of her face, which is turned slightly away at a angle, as if she is looking to our right. The apparition is of her head and upper torso. Her nose is clearly visible, as is her chin. Her hair, which is long, is wrapped around her right ear and down her back, but her hair on her left side is flowing down in front. Her body is at a tilt to the right.

Photo Enhancement at Left:
This is the same photo, which has been cropped to the area of the apparition, gray-scaled and contrasted so the apparition will be clearer. This enhancement clearly shows her head, neck, and right shoulder. You can even see the neckline of her clothing at the bottom of her neck. Her right shoulder, at the corner, seems to curve up, as in revealing the way old-time dresses had trim, or puffed up, right at point of the shoulder ending and the sleeve beginning. If you click on the photo it should enlarge...and then you can then even make out her eyes, nose and lips.

What is interesting about this image is that history reports a long line of paranormal experiences by many people with the ghost of the daughter of the hotel builder. She died when she was only sixteen, and her name was Eola. Yes, the hotel was named after her.

Could this be the image of Eola? 

Eola Hotel Activity Log


Date:               2/25/2012
Day:                Saturday
Location:        Eola Hotel
Base:              In Room 701 Lounge Area
Time:              Military Time
Notes:             T1, T2, T3 refer to remote temperature stations 1, 2 and 3. These were set out in Room 702, the temp base station is at Base.
Logger:          Kim Frith
Additional:     Some camera activity is also noted on this log.

LOG OF Called-In Activity & Reporting

22:44   Going dark, investigation begins

22:46   Room 702, Ovilus X says “phantom” [From here out OVX stands for Ovilus X]

22:47   T1        70.5
            T2        70.8
            T3        67.8

22:49   Room 702, OVX says “yellow”

2250    T1        70.1
            T2        70.8
            T3        67.8

22:53   Room 702, Jo Ann’s daughter (Suzanne) is touched on the arm at the same time the OVX says “Pretty”. She is sitting in the chair in front of the bathroom door. (See Cam 02)

22:55   Mel 8704 goes flat to 0.0, at the same time Suzanne experiences a cold sensation. See Cam 02. This is the same area that Kathleen Clay felt a cold spot during set up. We did note that there is a central air vent in above the bathroom door that could explain this, although it is a cold night in Natchez and it is highly unlikely that the air conditioning would be on, but more likely the heating system would be on.

22:58   Room 410, Adam reports that when they entered this room to begin, the light to the room was on, which is unusual as it should have been off, as the room is unoccupied. They begin an EVP session and suddenly Michael DeLorenze was pushed. A common sensation    experienced by Hotel staff at the Eola is someone pushes them.

22:59   T1        70.5
            T2        70.8
            T3        67.8

23:04   Room 410, Kimberly D. saw a figure turn the corner at the bed and go toward the door. She describes it as a “dark mass.”

23:07   Room 410, EVP session directed toward mirror in the bathroom. Mel meters suddenly spikes to 4.5 and 4.3, and Michael D. sees a figure behind him.

23:08   Room 410, All investigators watch as a head and full height of an apparition begins to
            “sparkle.” All of them say they are seeing it (Adam Chapman, Michael DeLorenze, Kim

23:09   Room 702, Josh reports the OVX says “Debra.” This is significant because earlier
            investigation in February in this room the OVX repeated that name several times.

23:00   Orb appears on Camera 3, which is Room 701, a room no one is in.

23:11  Room 410, KD reports a white figure walks out of the bathroom. The team goes and gets the FLIR i7 thermal cam to take photos if the apparition continues to manifest.

23:12   T1        70.5
            T2        70.8
            T3        67.8

23:15   Room 410, FLIR i7 photos are being taken because figure manifests again. Investigators see the head and upper part of the body. MD (a sensitive) can see full bodied apparition forming in the bathroom. [See FLIR cam photos)

23:15   At :45 seconds “bubbles” appear on Cam 02

23:19   Room 410, Jo Ann (who has gone to this room to join investigators) feels her hair pulled   while standing and looking in the mirror.

23:20   T1        70.5
            T2        70.8
            T3        68.0

23:21   Room 410, Jo Ann feels crawling sensation on the back of her neck.

23:23   At :40 seconds a multi-directional orb is seen on Cam 03, again Room 701 where no one is.

23:19   Room 701, MPS investigators here a “knocking noise” and loud “grinding noise” by the door in the right corner, at the same time a flashlight goes on and off by itself. They report this occurred 10 minutes ago. They forgot to immediately report it.

23:31   T1        70.5
            T2        70.7
            T3        67.8

23:34   Room 410, Mel meter at the sink and near the same mirror as earlier activity shows
            temperature changing from 72.8 to 73.0 back and forth several times.

23:34   At :59 seconds a significant orb appears on Cam 03.

23:35   Teams are switching locations: MPS from 702, 701 to 410; NAPS from 410 to 702.

23:36   Kim Frith at base getting nauseated (a common sign of paranormal activity).

23:36   At :50 seconds a flash of light on headboard on Camera 3, which is room 701.

23:44   Room 702, AC reports Mel meter spike to 0.5. Baseline has been 0.0 or 0.1 all night.

23:48   Room 702, AC Mel spikes higher to 1.2

23:52   T1        70.3
            T2        70.7
            T3        68.0

00:09   Room 701, MD and AC are in bathroom, light is blocked towards the shower (dark mass)

00:11   Room 701, MD and AC report light dimmed and both got chills, then the light dimmed again

00:18   T1        70.3
            T2        70.5
            T3        67.8

00:20   Orb on Cam 03, which is Room 701

00:23   KF at base heard 3 chimes or dings

00:27   T1        70.3
            T2        70.5
            T3        67.8

00:35   At :00 an orb on Cam 03, Room 701

00:38   KF at base calls for a 20 minute break

00:56   T1        70.7
            T2        70.5    
            T3        68.0

01:08   T1        70.5
            T2        70.5    
            T3        68.0

01:59   Room 702, investigators hear scratching noise on door to the Room

02:02   T1        69.9
            T2        70.1
            T3        67.8

02:10   T1        69.8
            T2        69.9
            T3        67.8

02:18   Investigation called and ended due to significant drop-off in activity.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Void

The Void
-Part 1-

There are two kinds of people in this world.
So, which are you?
Are you the kind that must see in order to believe,
Or, do you believe in order to see?

To whom do they turn?

Mary (not her real name) was late for work – again. “I’ve got to get my act together,” she chided herself, as she hastily strode out of her master bedroom toward the kitchen. “Grab your purse, check yourself in the bathroom mirror one last time, and let’s get going!” She encouraged herself with the notion that with the kids already off to school, with just a couple of more moments, luck, and no traffic delays, she could arrive at her first appointment only fifteen minutes late. A single mother with a seventeen year-old son and eleven year-old daughter, Mary was a home-care nurse who had rounds to make with various patients every day, a tight schedule. She knew her patients depended upon her and looked for her to show up when she was supposed to. It frustrated her to let them down. “Okay, okay, let’s see, where did I put my purse? I know I had it on the table where I always have it.” Not on the table. She scanned the entire kitchen for the tan, leather bag that she had carried for the last couple of years. That’s odd. The purse simply wasn’t there…not on the table, not on the counters, nowhere to be seen. “I always leave my purse on the table, for just this reason! ” she told herself. She blew a sigh of frustration and stomped back toward the bedroom. “Great! This is just freakin’ great…I know I put my purse on the table…now I will be late!” She sped down the hall, angry at herself, rounded the doorway into her room…and froze. With a look of total horror on her face, she stumbled backward out of the doorway, her eyes locked on what her mind could not comprehend. Every single one of her drawers, all of them, was extended out to the point of falling. “This can’t be,” she thought, “That’s impossible!” The blood rose in her cheeks and her arms tingled. “No!” she whispered. She had just left her bedroom. Everything had been neat and orderly, as she always kept things. She was home alone, no one was there. She had heard nothing. How could she not hear that? Drawers make a lot of noise being pulled open. But, there was no denying it…now, her chest-of-drawers, both of her night stands, and even her jewelry armoire’s drawers were pulled all the way out. It was if something was mocking her, manipulating her, wanting her to fail.

Her mind reeling, she staggered back toward the kitchen. “I need some water, I need to sit down,” she thought. For the past several months, since moving into the quaint, two-story house in a quiet neighborhood, the kids had been complaining almost constantly about unusual things happening to them. She had told them it was just an old house, they creak, they move, they make unusual noises. Her two children had insisted that it was far more than that, but since nothing had ever happened to her, she brushed it aside. But, if she were forced to be totally honest, she did feel something was amiss. A deep foreboding inside her said that all was not right. It was simply that she so desperately needed for things to be good…to be safe…to be right. She just could not let herself think bad things anymore, not after what all they had been through the last few years. Now, as she staggered toward the kitchen, this foreboding feeling that she had ignored was no longer in her gut, but in her throat. She gasped for air, her hands clawing at the hall walls for support. She reached the kitchen, thankfully, and made it to the sink. Her shaking, trembling hand reached up and crudely flung open the cabinet door and grabbed a glass. She turned the faucet on and filled it halfway, and gulped the whole thing down. She wiped away her lips with the back of her hand and filled the glass again, more slowly and more under control this time. She slowly turned, beginning to feel better, falling back against the counter with her backside. She rested her weight against it, seeking relief because her knees were weak. Suddenly, the glass shattered on the hard tiled floor, the water splashing her feet and the bottom of her legs. Mary had lost the ability to hold the glass and again her eyes were starring, unable to comprehend what she saw before her. On the table, right smack there in the middle of it, as plain as the nose on your face, was her purse.

The situation I just outlined with Mary is very typical of the cases I work as a demonologist. A single mother with two kids…a dad and mom with two teenage daughters…a family of four adults living in one home…a mother with two adult children and their live-ins and their children all in one cramped trailer, and so on and so forth. Many and varied are those who come to us for help, with unexplained things going on that have them baffled, always anxious, and sometimes downright terrified.

To whom do they turn?

How do we answer that question? I know, as a fifty-four year old man who grew up in the Christian faith, who has served overseas – in Russia no less – as a missionary, served as an ordained associate pastor at a Church in Michigan, and who has always believed in Jesus Christ as truly the incarnate Son of God, that the answer should unequivocally be: the Church. They should be turning to the Church for help.

Well, they don’t.


The honest answer: because in main, the Church cannot or will not help them. By Church, I mean the local Church, by and large. Sadly, it simply matters little whether that Church be Protestant or Catholic, the result is rarely different. I will say the following in order to be a bit more discerning in this issue: their best chance for help when it does concern the Church lies in two seemingly diametrically opposed factions of the Body of Christ: either the Catholic Church or Protestant charismatic denominations. To look for help in so-called “mainline” Protestant denominations is tantamount to looking for that which simply does not exist. But their true best chance for help? It is my sad duty to inform the reader that their best chance lies outside the Church...any Church, and therein lies the crux of this article – this situation should not be.

The reason for this catastrophe is that in being unable to offer help to those experiencing what Mary is experiencing, a great void exists. Within this void or vacuum of the lack of the Church’s teaching and aid in such situations as Mary’s, exists the demonic world's rushing in to quickly fill with the substance of “help” of its own. It should make us all shudder to imagine how diabolical it is to think one is receiving help, when one is only receiving hell. It should also make those in the hierarchy of the Christian Church, no matter the denomination, bow their heads in shame at what they are ceding to the enemy of our souls. Last I heard, souls matter to God. Why don’t they to our leaders, our pastors, our priests? The clarion call has been rung by none other than Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, warning us clearly of the dangers of the devil and that he must be fought against. Why are those noble and godly Popes being so ignored? Why?

What are Mary’s options? Truly, what are they?

When the Church is no option, the “world” is turned to for an answer. In that world, is the morass and playground of such pseudo-solutions as psychics, tarot readers, mediums, spiritists, witches (no longer called witches, but wiccans – a much more acceptable term), occultists, faith healers, New Agers, Reiki healers, Zen masters, and even Satanists. And it is to these, so readily available and so very willing to listen, that the Mary’s of the world turn. Instead of the ridicule, disbelief and shame they would experience if they went to their pastor or priest, these practitioners of the above accept them with open arms and beguiling smiles, and are quick to validate their experiences as not only real – but positive. It is then that they portray and “spin” the person’s experience to their advantage, and the hook is set. Contrast that acceptance and welcoming aid with the stony silence that is met at Church when they even allude to something going on of a "paranormal" or demonic nature. The silence thunders and says it all. "They think I'm nuts...a psych job...or even worse, that I brought it on myself." Truth be told, the "victim" does know that deep inside, that very often they indeed have fallen away from the Church, or more importantly, their relationship to Christ; and so part of the problem is their own interior guilt and shame. So, back to the Church, why is the Church today in such an abhorrent position where it cannot or will not help the Mary’s of our time, or at least send out vibes that it is willing to at least listen? My take? It simply is a matter of the Church - that Body of Christ established by our Lord with the mission to go out and seek and save that which was lost - as tragically having become - in regard to this issue - one of three things: ignorant; opposed; or willing but ill-equipped. I will describe each of these “attitudes” in turn.

I will continue this article in a future post. Look for The Void - Part 2

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

by Mike Chapman

"Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father. But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” - Matthew 8:21-22

In my studies lately, which include a deep personal study of the entire rite of exorcism line by line, I have been deeply encouraged by reading the words, advice, and practices of several highly experienced exorcists with how they handle clients and people who come to them for help. It is never easy to hear words that shock, that dismay…even sting and hurt. I’m speaking of what we often must inform people as to their situation…what is causing it to continue and how they can get rid of activity in their life that is unwanted...and how sometimes they listen and change, and sometimes they don't.

For the client: the key to coping with words that we hear that cut and burn us, is to understand both the intent of those words and their content. That is the hearer’s (your) responsibility.  As to the speaker’s responsibility (the counselor – us), it is crucial; as we give clients our “findings” and suggest the action steps they must take within the context of after-care of a case, that we speak the truth to them in love. Our mission does not exist in giving them the words they wish to hear, but in telling them what they need to hear. This is not an easy thing to do, but must be done.

Sometimes, the client refuses to listen, and even can lash out at what you have to tell them. This was the case in a situation I once had, where I gave a client some counsel into her situation that she needed to hear. She rejected it and even complained that it “hurt her.” She refused to see the bigger picture, and refused to accept the gift she was given. She sulked off and her situation remains unchanged, as I understand it. She refused to take part in the after-care we offered, and even violated very fundamental rules we gave her to avoid, that encouraged the activity to start up again in her home. That’s a shame, but just goes to point out that all we can do in cases with clients is to give them our best. It is up to them to take the actions and attitudes necessary to succeed. If a person insists on leaving a doorway open, then that is an exercise of their free will. Not even God will violate that, because He created a world for love, and love is only possible if freedom is there to be able to choose it. The other option is also not choose it. 

I’m sure many of you have seen clients who get caught in a psychological spiral where their identity becomes, to a degree, wrapped up in the phenomena of what is happening. They just can’t “see” themselves healthy, clean and clear of the mess that has been part of their lives for so long. It is, sadly, easy to remain a victim, and not seize the responsibility that is ours to move our own lives forward and see the best in what is happening to us. Strong winds and storms are not pleasant, but they cause the trees to grow stronger and put down more solid and stable roots. They also show us that clearly we cannot live life in and of our own strength, but must depend upon a much higher source than ourselves (God) to get by in this world. What leaves me shaking my head is the number of people who absolutely refuse to change their ways, want to live “like hell” and when hell breaks loose they seem dumbfounded as to why this happening to them! Never before in all my years have I seen people so detached from their own reality, narcissistic, hedonistic, who abhor responsibility and any pain or suffering whatsoever. People seem to think there are no consequences to negative lifestyle and behavior, and have no clue as to spiritual cause and effect. We want heaven and to name ourselves Christian, but at the same time we will be damned if we are going to change how we want to live. But, that’s the problem, we just may be damned.

The bottom line is we give our clients our best, but it is not us that get them through. They must help themselves as we come alongside to lead and guide them. Sometimes that includes telling them things they don’t want to hear…warning them of things they must change in their lives and attitudes they need to adopt in order to move forward. Sometimes they accept it, other times they don’t. But in the case where they do not, you as a paranormal investigator and counselor have to move on. You have done your job and your part, now they must do theirs. 

Yes, it may seem like a hard or cruel thing, but it certainly is NOT. You have other clients waiting on you, people who need you to turn to their case...people who are going to listen if only you are there to speak to them, investigate their case, and give them your counsel. You have no time to waste on people who will waste your gift. What is cruel is to waste your time on people who refuse to see, and not get to those who would see if they only had someone to clear their eyes. Christ told you about throwing your pearls to swine, and he also told you the words at the top of this post...sometimes you simply have to move on, and let the dead bury the dead.

Suggested Reading:
An Exorcist: More Stories, by Gabriele Amorth. This book, which I read and studied recently, has immediately zoomed to the top of my list. It is an amazing treatment and explanation of exorcism and its surrounding, peripheral issues. In my opinion it is far better than his first book (below), which is excellent.
An Exorcist Tells His Story, by Gabriele Amorth
Interview with an Exorcist, by Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea
The Roman Ritual: Volume II, in Latin and English

Monday, February 6, 2012

Where Do Souls Go When They Die: 53 Miles West of Venus?

by Demonologist and N.A.P.S. Team Leader Mike Chapman

The infamous B52’s (no, not the bomber) had a song on one of their first albums entitled, “53 Miles West of Venus.” Frankly, it’s not much of a song, even though I liked it. As a tune, it is raw but simple rock-n-roll, a very basic example of the early B52's punk genre. It is mainly an instrumental, and the only lyric in the song is that of the title, “fifty-three miles west of Venus.”  Interestingly, I often think of that song when I hear people talking about human spirits – the spirits of the human dead. I’ve even begun to use that concept - of being fifty-three miles west of Venus - in my lectures and teaching on the subject of the afterlife, as an object lesson for the mistake that I believe many make: that of mistaking “state” with “place.”
As human beings born of and into a material-physical world, we find it very difficult to get away from thinking of things in terms of physicality. When it comes to thinking about spirits of the human dead, so often we think that their soul leaves their body and goes “some place.” Most often, in the culture I grew up and now reside in once again (after many travels to far off places), people think grandma died and “went to heaven” and is walking around there with others. They may think of the unblessed dead (say, perhaps Hitler and Stalin), as having died and now are in hell, burning away. Most, not being Catholic, only have a two-tiered conception of the afterlife, and do not include within their view, the “place” of purgatory - the third rail of the afterlife. This was how I grew up thinking.

I no longer believe in such a concept.

I also have come to understand such a concept is NOT rooted in scripture or Christianity, and is especially not rooted or sourced in Catholic (orthodox) Christianity. It is rather a concept concocted from a variety of sources and mixed together. But, that is an entirely different post for another day (the influences of hyper-science, materialism, the Enlightenment, Greek Classical philosophy, and simplistic, cultural Christianity). Stay with me as I explain what I mean by all of this; and, breathe easily. Of course I believe in heaven and's just that I believe in the biblical concepts of those places, not a cultural, secular, pagan, or humanistic one. You see, the Bible teaches that upon death, the human soul is separated from the physical body. The old physical body is left behind to corrupt and decay. However, the soul and spirit live on as the part of us that is immortal.

As a side-note:
Notice that I said “soul and spirit.” There should be no big confusion here, because, as the Bible was mainly written in Hebrew and Greek, both cultures had their own conception of the view of the immortal aspect of humans. The Hebrew concept was that man was bi-partite (existed in two parts): the physical body and the soul/spirit. In other words, the Hebrew concept combined the “invisible” aspect of humankind – his soul and his spirit. In contrast, the Greek conception was to be a little more detailed – that humans consisted of a body, a soul, and a spirit. Thus, the Greek conception was that humans are tri-partite beings (three-part). It really doesn’t matter, because the Christian concept simply separates, upon death, the physical body as the visible from the other part (or parts) as the invisible. The Hebrew concept of soul-spirit is the same as the Greek concept of spirit and the soul. I personally prefer the Greek concept, because I like the aspect of explaining the human spirit as consisting of conscience, intuition and the capacity/need for worship, and the human soul as containing our mind (intellect), emotion (feeling) and volition (will).    

So, whether it is the Hebrew or the biblical Greek concept (not to be confused with the classical Greek concept) that human beings are either three-part or two-part, the fact remains that the visible (the body) dies and is left behind to decay, and the invisible (the soul – spirit) moves on.

Obviously then, as a disembodied soul the human now exists in a “state,” not in a place. It is a physical body that occupies space or place - as it indeed does in this world in the here and now. A spiritual "body" (better said to be "an entity"), such as an angel, demon, or the spirit of a dead person, exists rather in a state. These entities do not occupy space. As exorcist and hagiographer Father Jose Antonio Fortea has said, it also does not mean that they are in some other physical dimension. Fortea says, “They are not anywhere. They exist, but they are not “here” or “there” in a physical sense.”

I agree. I further agree with Fortea’s conception that spirits (angels and demons) are properly said to be in a place when it acts in that place. If a human spirit manifests over by the door, then that is where that human spirit is at that point, in the state of being that it happens to be in – a deceased human soul/spirit who has left its physical body and exists in a non-material state and happens to be over by the door in that particular moment in time and space. It also, in the case of a deceased human spirit, is either in a blessed state (bound for heaven) or in an unblessed state and bound for hell. Another way of putting it, in a Roman Catholic sense, is that the soul is either in a state of grace when it dies or it is not (the particular judgment - Catholics will know what I am talking about here). The Catholic Church teaches, and I believe, that one day, Christ will return again and the blessed in Christ (those that died in a state of grace) will receive a new body – a resurrected body at the Last Judgment– and at that point will once again be united with a material - physical human body. Then, at that time, those persons who receive such a body, will exist in the new heaven and the new earth and have geographical locality in a “concrete place.” In other words, they will occupy a place. But, that is then, in the meantime, they exist in a state of being - not in a place of being.

The catechism of the Church states that heaven, hell, and purgatory exist now only as states of being (see CCC 650, 1005). In the eschaton, after the Last Judgment, heaven and hell will be physical, material realities, but not until then. This fact escapes even many Christians, and thus, we fall into error when trying to understand or explain the afterlife (and manifestation of the afterlife into our present physical - material reality). As it is, the dead are all around us, in the state of being alive, but not in a physical sense. I love what one Church Father once said (I’m sorry but I can’t recall his name): “All who ever lived, are still alive.” We die physically, but we live on, just not like before. So, these humans live on in either a state of grace or not. Also, as a Catholic who believes in purgatory, I believe that some exist in a third state, a purgatorial state. Technically, purgatory is a part of that group of people who have died in a state of grace, just not in the fullness of grace. This is because they, while not evil, are not yet perfected in the sense that they can immediately enjoy God's closeness upon death. Their souls have to be refined more - perfected - before they can enjoy His close presence. Those in this state of purgation are people who will one day end up in heaven but first have some work to do in their spirit/souls in order to be holy enough to enter into the very presence of God. In other words, they are in the state of purgatory.

Such a concept helps to explain the amount of spiritual activity that surrounds us, both in the human spirit sense and the sense of angels and demons (evil spirits). Human beings do not die and go off to a place located fifty-three miles west of Venus, never to be seen or heard from again. [Can you see now how people who believe in such a place for the dead have such a difficulty believing in ghost or spirit manifestations?] That is why, I believe, the bible speaks of "this great cloud of witnesses that surround us" (Hebrews 12:1). Why else would the Bible say that those who have passed on still surround us, if indeed they go off somewhere, as if they were sent to a "colony" or "holding area?" 

So, when a person dies in a state of grace and is blessed (like Grandma, for example) she exists in the "state" of paradise. That is "where" Grandma is right now - in a state, not a place. Later, after Christ's return, she will have a resurrected physical body and exist in and on a new earth and a new heaven. If Uncle Bill believed in God but really didn't live quite right - had committed no mortal sin but plenty of venial ones - he exists in a "state" of purgatory right now, but one day like Grandma will be in heaven with a resurrected body. Stalin and Hitler will one day be "in" hell (assuming they died without conversion). Right now they are said to be in a "state" of sheol, or hades.

Heaven and hell, biblically, are much more relational concepts than geographical or locational ones. Again, we have traded a state of relationship for a cheaper, reductive place of gaudy physicality. How tragic and absurd. For an example of what I am talking about, read Christ's prayer to the Father in John 17, which includes, "...this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Notice he did NOT say that eternal life was Graceland times 1000 - a place with gold faucets and an awesome jungle room and streets of, rather than some gaudy place or location, he describes eternal life as knowing the Father and the a close, intimate relationship with Himself and the Father. In the Greek, the word for "knowing" that he uses here is genosko - to know experientially and closely, not just a head knowing. There is another word for knowing in the sense of knowing data, such as "I know the Great Wall of China exists because I was told that." In contrast, genosko is a knowing like you grew up right beside it, played on it every day and crawled all over it or even help build it, so you know every nook and cranny of it - you don't just "know" it as a piece of information in your head as truly know it. To know Christ and the Father that way, and them to know you that way, is truly relational, intimate and "paradise." That is what eternal life is.

The bottom line, as human beings our physical bodies die and what is left - our spirit and soul - enters a state of existence wherein we are still "alive" - just not in the physical sense. The dead are simply wherever they are, and that can be anywhere. This does not mean that those who are dead in Christ are not happy, or in a state of grace with Christ - they are - they are just not located and tied down to some specific location. The same is true for those in purgatory or hades. Sometimes, they are very close by and we catch “glimpses” and “evidences” of them – whether it is a sound, a slight touch, a smell, an intuitive impression that cuts through the chatter of the mundane…or for those of us who are most lucky and blessed, it is allowed for us to actually see them.

So, upon describing or thinking about souls of the human dead, do not confuse place of existence with what should be understood as a state of existence. If you stubbornly refuse to do so, just do not say you got your concept from the Christian Bible, because you simply did not.

Grandma is not “53 miles west of Venus”...she may be right beside you.

Suggested Reading:
The Holy Bible, RSV Catholic Version
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Interview with an Exorcist, by Jose Antonio Fortea