Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During my morning walk I have been listening to a fantastic podcast: Jimmy Akins Mysterious World.
For those who don’t know him, Jimmy Akin is a convert to the faith and serves as the senior apologist for Catholic Answers—the apostolate that evangelizes through apologetics. “Apologetics” is the art (and science) of giving an answer. Christian Apologetics gives an explanation for Christianity and Catholic apologetics (more specifically) provides answers about Catholicism.
Jimmy’s Mysterious World podcast has over 250 episodes—each about one hour in length. In the episodes Jimmy and his host Dom Betinelli cover everything weird and wonderful from a viewpoint of faith and reason. If it is mysterious and curious Jimmy and Dom have discussed it—or soon will. They’ve covered aliens and UFOs, conspiracy theories, true crime, werewolves and vampires—in short everything from Apparitions to Zombies.
What I like about the show is firstly, that Jimmy Akin is amazingly knowledgeable. He’s researched the shows thoroughly, but his background knowledge is vast. Best of all, he takes a charitable view. No matter how weird or wacky the subject matter he treats it seriously. He never dumps ridicule or mockery on those who may hold an “unusual” opinion. Instead, he looks at the topic reasonably, searches for evidence and presents his conclusions.
As a Catholic apologist he reminds us that this is the position of the church when confronted with the paranormal, with stories of healing, miracles and the marvelous. We are always to look for the natural explanation first before jumping to conclusions. Put simply, we are to avoid the extreme of cynical doubt, but we are also to avoid the extreme of gullible superstition.
This has helped me as a pastor when I sometimes get a call to help a person who feels like their home is haunted or they are troubled by a diabolical influence. We always take the call seriously, but we also ask pertinent questions to determine if there are natural causes for the disturbance. This is not to doubt the reality of the supernatural, but to “test the Spirits” (I Jn. 4:1-6)
Jimmy Akin’s rational, but believing approach is also vital in all of our spiritual lives and in the opinions we hold. We should cultivate our spiritual awareness and learn to listen to the Lord, but we should also be aware that our lives might be touched by many different influences, and not all of them are from the Lord.