Balancing The Christian and Paranormal in Books by S.C. Skillman

My good friend Sheila Robinson, who writes as S.C. Skillman has a brand new book out and I'm fascinated as to how she blends this with her Christian Faith. I was delighted when she agreed to guest post for the blog to talk about this subject, one which I feel needs discussion. Thank you, Sheila. I know this will be good. 


Thank you, Wendy, for offering me this space on your blog to introduce my books to your readers.

I am a Christian, and I write about the paranormal. Some may think it’s a bit odd for a Christian to be doing this, and a few have asked me how I reconcile my Christian faith with writing about the paranormal.

But they are indissolubly linked with one another. In fact, I would argue, who better to write about the paranormal than a Christian?

First let me define paranormal as strange events for which there is no scientific explanation.

For my new book Paranormal Warwickshire (published by Amberley on 15th November 2020), my initial interest was in the history of the places I describe, and what I call spiritual resonance, that is, the emotional atmosphere arising from a building and the sense of presence of some of those who have lived out their lives there. Later my publisher asked me to focus on the paranormal; and since I’ve long loved ghost stories, and the places I’ve described all do have such stories attached to them, I agreed to do so.

The Christian faith is a supernatural faith and rests upon several supernatural events; without them Christianity would fall, and we would never have heard of Jesus.

I am talking about the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would have a baby who would be the Son of God); the Incarnation (the Virgin Birth); the Transfiguration (when Jesus’s disciples saw him on the mountain surrounded by intense light); the Resurrection (when he rose from the dead 3 days after being crucified); the Ascension (when the disciples saw him being carried up into heaven) and Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, everyone saw tongues of fire appear above them, and they all spoke in different languages, which were understood by the many nationalities present.

Also scripture reports numerous events we would today call paranormal or supernatural – Elijah whisked up to heaven in a whirlwind; Lazarus raised from the dead, fire springing up on an altar soaked with water, numerous angel encounters throughout both the Old and the New Testament, and many other miraculous events.

Christians take the supernatural seriously. They are advised to be wary of having anything to do with the demonic. I understand that. However, I think it is a mistake to identify all paranormal events as demonic – according to the definition I give above. My book, too, is based upon a theme of Shakespeare’s ghosts and spirits, and I include a Shakespeare quote in every chapter. I love Puck and Ariel, who are Shakespeare’s two foremost spirits, servants of Oberon, the Fairy King; and Prospero, the Magician.

Paranormal experiences are a part of life, and I don’t believe Christians do themselves or their Christian witness any favours by ignoring an area of life or by not listening with respect to people who report strange experiences. In fact, a few of the stories I recount are from Christians; I end the book with one of these, and the story does involve prayer.

Regarding my duology of fiction books, psychological thriller Mystical Circles and gothic paranormal thriller A Passionate Spirit, I include elements of the paranormal and the supernatural in both stories, and they also have a Christian priest as a major character, interacting with and informing the action.

During the course of my research for the novels, and for my new non-fiction book, I interviewed a total of five members of the Anglican clergy at different stages of their careers: one ordinand in training for the priesthood; one retired priest; and three currently serving priests.

What they said directly informed my books. In fact, one story I was told during an interview, inspired a significant character and a major scene in A Passionate Spirit.

When it comes to ghosts, however, certainly I find it difficult to believe that the soul and unique identity of a person can remain bound as a restless spirit to the scenes of their earthly life. But an Anglican priest I spoke to believes otherwise. And the whole assumption behind the ministry of deliverance is indeed based upon this.

Vicars have written ghost stories, and reported paranormal experiences, and several ghost story writers have a strong connection to the Christian faith One of the greatest, M.R. James (1862-1936), was the son of Herbert James, an Evangelical Anglican clergyman, and he was born in a clergy house in Goodnestone, Dover, Kent. From the age of three, his home was at The Rectory, Great Livermere, Suffolk. His brother Sydney later became Archdeacon of Dudley. So M.R. James had a close relationship with the Christian Church.

The priest I spoke to about Paranormal Warwickshire, advised me to follow my instincts, to pray for protection, and if I find myself entering areas I feel uncomfortable with, to keep away from them. I have followed that advice, and if I feel something is demonic, I have not included it in my book.

Paranormal Warwickshire was published on 15th November 2020

I hope you will enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoyed researching them!

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Michael Spicer said…
An excellent and brave article for any Christian to write so very glad to read about your paranormal journey. I was a church goer for many years and still am on occasions but have always found many Christians’ attitude to spiritualism and the paranormal slightly off kilter. I am a skeptical person but l am occasionally amazed by readings from mediums or even how a place feels when you walk around it? These are difficult to explain and we use the term paranormal or supernatural but either way as you rightly point out Christianity is a faith which is rooted in these beliefs - that spirit exists holy or otherwise.
I’ve also practiced neo shamanic drumming and journeying too so have tried to gain some insights from my subconscious through drumming of so called haunted places and unexplainable happenings or insights. I think your vicar friend is right to ask for protection and to be open minded to things science or psychology are yet to explain.
Watching His Dark Materials yesterday was a wonderful explanation of perhaps there are parallel universes and worlds and there are points where we can hear or see other beings in those other worlds.
Lovely article and thanks for a great start to the week. I am planning to get your friend’s book when I’m next paid
Best Wishes
Mick Spicer
Anonymous said…
Thank you Michael and I'm glad you found my article thought provoking. Your background and past experiences sound very interesting. I too am fascinated by the many ideas Philip Pullman draws together in His Dark Materials. I read and was captivated by the trilogy and am following the TV drama adaptations. I love the idea of parallel worlds. I hope that you enjoy reading Paranormal Warwickshire.
Kathryn said…
it is reassuring to hear another Christian being calm about the supernatural. There are places that just feel scary - twice I have been in panic-stricken tears begging to be taken out of a place which was terrifying me, because of the bad feeling. And as a child, hearing that children had a guardian angel - if God 'lets them out of heaven' to help, what could be more compassionate than a supernatural encounter like that? = which I believe I have also experienced.
SC Skillman said…
Kathryn, if I felt that any place in my book had that kind of atmosphere, I would have kept well away. I do believe that for a Christian writing about this subject matter, it is important to have a gift for spiritual discernment. I do feel I have exercised this during my research for the book. But certainly you should be guided by your own instincts, and it is not an area for anyone who is spiritually or psychologically vulnerable.

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