Ghosts is a graphic novel written by Raina Telgemeier.
My Review: My children really enjoy reading graphic novels. I am not a huge fan of them. I enjoy the art and the way the stories are told. However, due to the nature of graphic novels, the story’s characters end up being one-dimensional, and the story-lines never have much depth. I found this to be true for Ghosts. The author introduces many important topics, but in the end, she doesn’t do anything with them and it falls flat. This is a story about life, death, family, friendships, and the interactions between them and in the end, we were not given anything substantial to chew on.
Synopsis with spoilers: This story is about a family with two daughters, one with a serious case of cystic-fibrosis. They move to a new town with hopes their daughter’s health will be better. Everyone in the new town is obsessed with ghosts. Everyone believes in them, they all claim to have seen and interacted with ghosts. This intrigues the cystic-fibrosis daughter and she insists are meeting ghosts so she can discuss the afterlife with them. On the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos, there is a huge celebration with ghosts, which include talking, dancing, eating, flying, wrestling, etc. In the end, a ghost, who died at eight, meets with the cystic-fibrosis girl for a discussion. The ghost only offers her running faster, jumping higher, and dancing longer as the benefits to death.
Parental Discussion: Reading this story with your children will probably bring up the question of whether or not ghosts exist. I enjoy these types of discussions because we can discuss a lot of the supernatural happenings in the bible.
The bible does have some interactions with ghosts or the concept of ghosts is believed. The three main ones I know are:
- 1 Sam 28: Here, Saul conjures Samuel’s ghost to discuss war strategies as God was no longer talking to him.
- The Transfiguration detailed in all three Synoptic Gospels, where Jesus talks to Elijah and Moses. One may argue that Elijah is not a ghost as he didn’t die, but we know Moses did.
- The Apostles first thought the resurrected Jesus was a ghost (Lk 24:36-43). Jesus responds, “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
Two other interesting supernatural examples, while not ghosts, but interactions with the dead are in Ez 37:1-14 and Mt 27:53. In both examples, the dead get up and walk around.
Given these examples, I would argue it is not unreasonable for a Catholic to believe in the possibility of ghosts. BUT there are many things to discuss with your child about this idea.
First, I would argue it is unreasonable to believe God would allow our spirits to linger on earth or to believe that spirits can get ‘stuck’ here because of some unfinished business. This is not only unreasonable but unbiblical:
Jb 7: 9-10 As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more.
Ps 146: 3-4 Put not your trust in princes, in mortal man, who cannot save. When his spirit departs, he returns to the ground; on that very day, his plans perish.
Eccl 9:5-6 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.
Therefore, as Catholics, we don’t believe in lingering ghosts or that there are ghosts who need our help.
Second, there is no reason to be afraid of the possibility of ghosts or the reality of demons. They cannot hurt us. We only need to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. If afraid, my advice is to repeat the name of Jesus, say an Our Father, or a Hail Mary.
Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jas 4:7-8 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Third, don’t mess around with the occult, divination, astrology, or magic. We do believe in demons We are in a spiritual battle, and we can open ourselves to evil only if we allow it. It is best to stay as far away from these things! Even if perceived as silly, or little as in a game/movie/book etc.
Eph 6:11-12 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
2 Cor 11:14-15 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Fourth, messing around with the occult, etc. contradicts the honor, trust, love, hope, respect, worship, etc. that we owe only to God. These activities are also clearly detailed as sins in the bible.
See CCC 2115-2117, Lv 19:31, Lv 20:6-8, Dt 18:10-12, 2 Kgs 21:6, Is 8:19
Finally, the Catholic practices and traditions of praying for the dead and praying to the saints are not part of the occult. To read more on this see: