With the publication of Birth Offering, I have had a couple of people ask me if I believe in the supernatural. The question makes sense since I have such a fondness for the genre. A fair number of these questioners are puzzled when my response is “no”. I explain that I am a natural skeptic when it comes to these matters. As a psychologist and a researcher I look for data and evidence. And, the evidence for things supernatural is sorely lacking, as far as I can tell. I don’t need to believe in order to enjoy being scared or unnerved by novels and movies. I don’t see this as any different from those people who like superhero movies or outer space science fiction movies. You don’t need to believe in those things in order to enjoy those films.
This is not to say that I am a skeptic in all things “otherworldly”. I do have a spiritual life. I am a Catholic who struggles with faith issues like any other person who has a faith life. I lean rather strongly towards the progressive or liberal end of the spectrum, which means of course that I feel frustrated with the church hierarchy and their actions and pronouncements over the last few decades. But, culturally I am firmly entrenched into a community of people who are important to me and who quite frankly are more spiritually supportive than the hierarchical types.
I digress, however. All by way of saying, I do have a spiritual life and have a fondness for horror novels. However, I am not a believer in the supernatural entities and events that make the genre so thrilling. For some, this may make no sense whatsoever. In fact, they may think these are conflicting states of mind. I suppose that could be true. I am very comfortable with it though. Living with this level of ambiguity is just fine.
There are realities that do scare or unnerve me, however. Much of them are internal – I am a natural at roller coaster states of anxiety. Adolescent OCD and life-long generalized anxiety make up part of my history. More importantly, external sources of distress also have played a big role in my life. Specifically, family medical crises (in the form of a series of critical health conditions striking my wife) have rocked my very life foundation to the core. The re-establishment of my own emotional equilibrium may be a lost cause. While the latter point sounds unsettling, it really isn’t. I have had to recalibrate my expectations and outlook – which is not a bad thing. Many people do it all the time. Why not me?
I will talk more about these topics in upcoming blogs.