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Heebie Jeebies from the Pacific Northwest
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A Haunting in Conneticutt: A Mother's Perspectiv
Addressing the possibility of demonic possession is often a bold task. It's made harder by hacks like Bob Larson and the Discovery Channel's allowance of his income-concentrated mug and hokey form of mortal redemption to disgrace the tv screens of America. Thank God they've decided to counter the schlock with some hard-hitting specials such as this.
A Haunting in Conneticutt is based on a true-to-life incident that occurred roughly twenty years ago when a family of six moved into a renovated funeral home. I believe the family's real name was something like Snedecker, but I can't be too sure. In this special, they are the Parkers, and they moved so their oldest son, "Paul", could be closer to the hospital where he was receiving treatment for Cancer. The special runs close to an hour and a half. I watched it this evening closely, with the lights off, huddled over my laptop screen - one can download it from Google video - while pausing to make notes.
I ended up with twenty-two paragraphs of what I now see are mostly maternal outrage - if the Discovery Channel edited the show to elicit my maternal outrage, they did very well. Someone please give the Discovery Channel a cupie doll.
Throught the documentary-style special, one can expect to be wowed with gorgeous, panoramic overhead views of New England in the winter, the trees crisply dead amidst bright sun and snow. The shots present a drastic contrast to the house they chose for the special. It's simply gothic on the inside. Wood panelling adorns the front hall and most of the first floor; stark bedrooms, both upstairs and down aggravate one's sense that something is not complete in the home. While I was not impressed totally with the clarity of the download, the quality and obvious care shown by production more than made up for it.
When the family moves into the home, things begin to go wrong in the form of the most insidiously sinister kind. Mopwater turns red. Crucifixes disappear. The kids begin to see people that aren't there.
And through all this, I found myself time and time again coming back to the outrageous lack of maternal goodwill that seemed to be put forth by the mother.
During the special, the real mother narrates, as does the second-eldest son and a cousin who was visiting at the time of the spiritual attack. The father either narrated very little or was quoted by a male actor. I do not remember seeing his sillhouette on the screen. Very often society deems the mother responsible for much that a child will suffer, no matter what the cause. I deemed her responsible because of her own words and a lack of defense exhibited by the mostly-absent father. I found little comfort in either of them as parents.
From a mother's point of view, as described in the title, is how I found myself viewing the special. From the beginning, her lack of common sense overwhelmed me. We have a teenage cancer patient who, due to his state, might be susceptible to cold, drafts, and feelings of isolation. And yet, the parents insist on him and his oldest brother sleeping in the basement in a room separated from the embalming room by only a glass door. Call me crazy, but if I had moved into a beautiful home that had two bedrooms upstairs, and one of my children was literally fighting for his life, my husband and I would sleep in the basement and let - no insist that - our four children sleep upstairs. Regardless of the era, I cannot imagine a doctor knowing this fact and agreeing to it.
From their initial night in the basement, the two older boys found themselves questioning their own sanity as they reported visions of dark men in their room and the embalming room. They were rebuked time and time again by their parents when they asked for help. Even though they saw the same things, they were told they were dreaming or making things up.
Any parent might do the same. But these children had figured out they were sleeping in the basement of a funeral home by this point, and they were terrified. Throughout the first half of the special, the mother addressed again and again her exasperation with Paul and his brother, complaining about loss of sleep, arguements with the boys to get them to sleep downstairs, and finally the electric bill. It has skyrocketed allegedly due to the boys leaving the lights on downstairs when they slept.
Personally, I do not remember if a 60 watt bulb (or 2 of them) from that time could be the cause of such a spike in an electric bill - I am tempted to believe they were not used to heating such a large house. Nonetheless, the father's answer to the problem was not to purchase a low-wattage flourescent light for his own children, but to remove all but one of the lightbulbs in the basement, further isolating them from even the simple comfort of light. Such control tactics were surely common twenty years ago and might be so today, but I am again drawn back the the mental state of a child undergoing Cancer treatments and the ignored pleas of two boys obviously terrified nightly.
The mother showed even worse judgement when she ridiculed her one son for being afraid of going downstairs to get some bread for her. He had come up from the basement, insisting that something in the freezer had called his brother's name. I tried to remember once in the 15 years that I have been a mother that I ever mocked one of my 2 children for being genuinely terrified, and I came up with a blank.
Again, the mother complains of her stress, her lack of sleep, her irritation in a self-obsessed manor that belied any thoughts for her children's mental states other than how it affected her. The narrator expressed the mother's stress at having to hold down the fort while her husband moved up to the new home. I think she spent about a month on her own. My husband leaves for over a year at times (military reasons) and my first concern has always been my children. She mentions being worried about them very little if at all.
She mentions at this point that she decided the treatments were affecting her son's mental health but not a perceivably genuine concern for his mindstate.
During a re-enactment of Paul and his mother attending counseling, she narrates that he had become withdrawn from her, which was sad, because they had always "been so close". The remark was as many others in the special that came across as self-related. Her son's counseling upset her because they were no longer close, not because she was worried about his mental state or what he might be going through.
At this time he had been determined to be Cancer-free, but it was no relief for him or the family. Other problems had obviously taken hold. He ended up exhibiting such dangerous behavior that he was removed from the home, particularly after attacking his cousin. When he was no longer in the house, the entity involved began to attack the family.
By now, I was hoping that every time the mother opened her mouth that she would express guilt or remorse or even some empathy for her son for what he endured at the mercy of her and her husband's stupidity. I was consistently disappointed. She instead concentrated on her experience, which, while expected, came across to me, a mother of a 15 year-old son, as appallingly unmaternal and self-obsessed. Every comment made was yet another excursion into her own character, her experience. And because of this, the real Paul's absence from the special took a significance that otherwise might have escaped me.
During the attacks on the entire family, a shot was shown of the three remaining children sleeping on a pull-out couch on the first floor, with the "exhausted parents" nowhere near. This was the breaking point for me. Horrible things had happened to the family, including both parents, and yet it never occurred to them to have their children sleep in their room or for them to sleep with their kids? What was wrong with these two? It took one of the Warren's team to suggest that the famliy sleep in the same room. As a matter of fact, the niece seemed to have her own room upstairs before Paul was removed, as he attacked her in it, and no one else was present.
I should not divulge the ending of the special, or any more of the outcome. But, I would like to offer these points for consideration.
In many accounts of demonic infestation, the families are close-knit and religious. The Catholic faith is either present or is adopted by the end of the affair. I have come to seem this as more than coincidence. Something, somewhere, may hold these types of victims to be dear. Maybe their faith makes them choice prizes. Yes, it could also be that non-religous types would not accept such possibilities, but there are many, many cases of non-religious people converting to be saved in such occurrences.
I have no idea, really.
After viewing this special, I have another theory. The religious references shown in the story, depicting the family's familiarity with such, made the parent's behavior, or lack of behavior, worse. It seems so often that christianity melds more with following certain rules and not with following one's heart. Where was the needed bond, the needed compassion that should accompany a mother's love for her family? Where was that mercy? Where was behavior that Christ himself would have exhibited in such a crisis should he be mortal and have a child at risk? Was it indeed the Discovery Channel's fault, or did the mother hang herself with her own words?
For ages, the Catholic Church has been the ruling party in fighting demons and cases of possession. Their rite of Exorcism has been addressed and used throughout the ages as a textbook to fight evil. In this century, however, the church has turned its back on evil, deciding to take a hypocritical approach to it as a way to catapult their status into modern times. They address very little in public about such affairs; they almost seem to consider such things an embarrassment.
And by doing this, they have left many followers blind to the balance of our world. If good can affect us and change our lives, then evil must also be capable of such. Were you to have been able to interview Father Malachi Martin or Father Gabriel Amworth about such issues, you would address frustrated, tired men, men who have addressed the Vatican and headed programs at Harvard, men who see that this approach to the concept of evil is not only politically-motivated but useless. Men who have surely addressed issues regarding families in crisis because of such mistakes that this family made, the mistakes of purposeful blindness.
In their desire to not be ridiculed, the Catholic church has abandoned its followers to the real evils that lurk in the corners of our world, where dark becomes darker and things often look back at you if you stare too long. I have no doubt that the family in this special was attacked by something evil, and I have no doubt that it would have been easier to fight had the parents, practicing christians, been taught to listen to their children and not to deny evil as an entity out of their own fear of its true existence. Evil is as real as a murderer, as a rapist, as a world leader left without the ability to identify with his own people. It should be addressed as so.
Maybe my opinion is over-marred, if that is indeed a word, by the fact that I have raised my 2 kids without family help over the course of the past 15 years, and often alone. I consider my son one of my best friends and love my daughter more than I ever thought possible years ago - she was always a daddy's girl until recently. My daughter came upstairs crying her eyes out last year, defiantly assertive that someone had popped his head into her room. She thought it was me until she heard me moving upstairs. To this day, she is certain it happened. I don't think someone was in her room, but I believe she believes it, and that is more important than my sleep, my peace of mind, or my need for quiet time. I chose to have 2 children. I chose to raise them, love them, nurture them, protect them.
Incidentally, I let her sleep in my room.
Were things to escalate to her having horrifying nightmares or claiming a dark man was in her room every night, would I condemn her to her room every night? How the hell could I? Regardless of the age or culture, I know in my heart this would not happen. So, with this being so, is it right for me to condemn these parents for their lack of compassion, their lack of instincts that something was wrong? I don't know, because I can't see any other way to be.
The Discovery Channel has produced some awesome tv over the years. This show was a fantastically-produced special that left me feeling guilty in my judgement of the parents in question, and yet unable to do otherwise. I hope you can take my opinion as given thoughtfully and with an open mind while you view the special yourself, and remember that I attempted at all times to identify with the mother as she spoke, full-well aware of the extremely bizarre circumstances and the editing procedure television shows undergo before they are broadcast. It just wasn't happening.
This entry was edited on October 24, 2007, 3:14 pm.
10/24/2007, 5:45 am |
Rating: 0/0 |
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