The Right Coast

July 13, 2005
Thank God that's over
By Tom Smith

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading the Merrily Watkins mystery series by Phil Rickman. I have finished all but one and so I can stop now. The books should come with a warning label. They are good the way a giant bag of potato chips is good. You feel ill, your mouth is raw, you have consumed 1500 calories, yet you can't stop eating. The books are of no great literary merit. The characters are somewhat likable, but annoyingly PC. All the good men are weak and the strong ones evil, with perhaps one partial exception. The plots vary between unbearably slow and unbearably suspenseful. This last one made me stay up till 1.30 last night, and I feel awful today.

The genre is English procedural mystery with an overlay of supernatural thriller, where the supernatural element usually preserves its deniability. Was there really a ghost, or was Merrily just sleeping poorly? You usually never find out, though some events do not have any plausible explanation except a supernatural one, if that makes sense. You learn a lot about the underside of English village life and Herefordshire. Sounds like Appalachia has nothing on parts of old England.

The inspiration for the novels is partly that the Church of England has apparently recently decreed that every diocese shall have an official exorcist or deliverance minister to deal with the sorts of paranormal events that come up, you know, hauntings, curses, poltergeist activity, the usual sort of thing. Demonic possession as well, though that is very rare. I'm not kidding. Check out this web page from the official website of the Anglican Diocese of Worcester. They have this to say.

The purpose of deliverance ministry is to make real to those who feel possessed, oppressed or afraid, the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over all that is evil, so that his living presence may bring peace.

Many who seek deliverance ministry are afraid of being ridiculed; that their strange experiences won't be believed. It takes courage to overcome this fear. This web site may help those who are not yet ready to share their experiences.

Help is available and you are entitled to be understood. There is a real sense of relief once you have talked to someone who recognises that what you have experienced is real to you. Jesus is a friend to those who feel afraid or oppressed. In raising him from the dead God has given us a sign that our Lord Jesus Christ has overcome all that is evil. He is the source of healing and peace.

Maybe hauntings do happen more often in England. I had problems in my attic, but it turned out to be a family of skunks, and I would have much preferred ghosts. I did learn that skunks are the spawn of the devil. Story in a future post. I checked out the website of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, rumored to have three exorcists at work, but could find nothing. Possibly just RC secrecy, however. But now, at least if you're in the UK, you have an answer to that question-- who ya gonna call?

I warn you, however. The Merrily Watkins mysteries are evil.