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The God Squad: Some words on angels, demons, ghosts

December 10, 2010|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

Q: Most people avoid looking at the proof of ghosts. There are some that are stuck in time, some that interact with the living, and some that are not so good. The point is, there's overwhelming proof of ghosts out there, as well as my own experiences.

Every time I bring this up with my Christian friends, however (along with the possibility of purgatory), they deny everything. I call purgatory "the waiting room," harboring the spirits of people who can't let go of what they once had. I feel these spirits have yet to repent and move on. Any thoughts? — D., via

A: I waited until after Halloween to answer your question. I didn't want to add to your creepy premonitions on a vulnerable day! First, let's sort out our psychic phenomena.


Angels are not ghosts, nor are they good dead guys. Angels are spiritual beings who help God run the world and keep track of our lives. Angels have rankings. Ministering angels, like Gabriel and Michael, hold the highest rank. Guardian angels are with each of us, cheering us on or ratting us out, depending on how we act.

Angels represent the idea that God appears to us in forms we can comprehend, but ultimately, angels are just part of the complex mystery of God's providence. One can believe or not believe in angels and still believe in God. I believe in both angels and God.

Demons are spiritual beings who were never people. They're the seducers of people and our enemies because, according to legend, they were the angels who didn't want God to create us in the first place. Demons can possess a person's soul and cause all sorts of havoc.

I believe in demons, but I also believe that in more primitive times, mental illness was seen as demonic possession. The main religious teaching about demons is that you have nothing to fear from them because they were made by God, and if you just stay on the yellow brick road and don't wander into the magic forest with the flying monkeys, you'll be fine (or something along those lines).

I believe in both angels and demons because I believe God's presence in the world is a source of both life and death, fear and salvation.

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