Holy Ghosts: How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night

Holy Ghosts: How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night

by Gary Jansen


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In this remarkable true story, the haunting of a Long Island household forces a respected writer and editor to reevaluate the mysteries of life and death as he struggles with the frightening truths of his childhood home and his town's past.

Growing up in Rockville Center, Long Island, Gary Jansen never believed in ghosts. His mother-a devoutly Catholic woman with a keen sense for the uncanny-claimed that their family house was haunted. But Jansen never found anything inexplicable in how their doorbell would sometimes ring of its own accord; or in the mysterious sounds of footsteps or breaking glass that occasionally would fill their home; or even in his mother's sometimes unsettlingly accurate visions of future events and tragedies. Though he once experienced a supernatural encounter in a Prague church as a young man, Jansen grew up into a rationalist, as well as a noted writer and editor.

Decades later, in 2001, Jansen moved back into the very same house where he had once grown up to raise a family with his wife. One day in 2007, he encountered a strange physical sensation in his toddler son's bedroom:

As I reached into his dresser drawer, I felt something very strange behind me. Startled, I quickly turned around, but there was nothing there. I shrugged it off, grabbed the socks and, as I was walking to the doorway, experienced an odd phenomenon-sort of like an electrical hand rubbing the length of my back. I stopped and stood transfixed. "What the hell is that?" I said to myself. The pressure then seemed to break apart and, for a brief moment, I felt like I had a million little bugs crawling all over my back. Within seconds, however, the sensation was gone.

This became the first step in uncovering a frightening, fullblown haunting in his home-a phenomenon that lasted an entire year and eventually included unveiling the identities of the spirits who occupied his house; discovering the chilling story of a century-old murder in his hometown; encountering mind-boggling coincidences between local history and events in his own family; and finally engaging in a climactic exorcism with the help of Mary Ann Winkowski, the real-life inspiration for TV's The Ghost Whisperer. The events of that year-in which Jansen's family was terrified of and terrorized by ghosts in their own home-forever changed how he viewed the mysteries of life and death.

Holy Ghosts is not only a gripping true-life ghost story but a funny and touching memoir, as well as a meditation on the relationship between religion and the paranormal, which are often considered at odds with each other but which the author shows are intimately linked.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781585428199
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/16/2010
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.96(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Gary Jansen is the senior editor of religion and spirituality at the Crown Publishing Group/Random House. He is the author of The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved and Exercising Your Soul: Fifteen Minutes a Day to a Spiritual Life. A frequent lecturer, he has appeared on  National Public Radio, The Huffington Post, CNN.com, Coast to Coast AM, A&E, the Sundance Channel and the Travel Channel, among others. His website is www.garyjansen.com.

What People are Saying About This

Jennifer Finney Boylan

Gary Jansen's Holy Ghosts is a haunting memoir of both the paranormal and the heartbreakingly down-to-earth. By turns scholarly, comic, and creepy, Jansen shows us the ghosts in his house as well as his heart. Spellbinding and wise, this trip to the supernatural eventually returns us home, providing a deeper understanding of our faith, our fears, and the people we love. (Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There and Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror)

Whitley Strieber

Holy Ghosts took me into a completely convincing but very different version of reality from the one we live in. It serves as a forceful and fascinating reminder that we do not see the world that is, but only the part we have chosen to see. There are dangers and wonders in the dark, and Holy Ghosts affirms that they are very real.

Beverly Donofrio

I have always believed in ghosts, paranormal phenomena, and miracles. But I've never read a book that tells of chills and ghosts in the house from a Catholic perspective. I read the book in a sitting. There are more than a few spine-tingling scares here, offered in such a benign, even life-affirming way, that we end up enlightened, entertained, and charmed. (Beverly Donofrio, author of Looking for Mary and Riding in Cars with Boys)

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Holy Ghosts: How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
DeHomely More than 1 year ago
Gary Jansen writes with wit and clarity as he describes how he learned about the existence of Earth bound spirits living in his home for the most of his life. He struggled with the teachings of his religion, and the contradiction between what he was taught, and what he experienced. The book is hard to put down once you get started. It's an easy read, yet it is profound.
NanaML More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a rather short book, but it held my interest. I think it was well written and a very easy read if that is what you are lookihg for.
Liz-Noles More than 1 year ago
Born and raised in Rockville Centre, G. Janson hit it in the bulls eye with the village of RVC, and its history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nnnnnniiiiiiiiiicccccccccceeeeeeee???:-) .
saramllr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting, sometimes creepy account of Jansen's struggle to understand the paranormal phenomena in his home. It was not too over-the-top (don't expect the Amityville Horror), and there was a little too much theology for my taste. A decent read if you're into the paranormal.
khager on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my rare forays into nonfiction.Gary, his wife and their three-year-old son (and, by the end of the book, their baby) live in a nice Long Island town, in the house where Gary grew up.Their house also has two ghosts. One's a sweet lady who doesn't do anything to harm the house or its occupants. The other? Not so nice.This is a memoir about the year their house was actively haunted.It's relatively creepy throughout (although there's part where I seriously almost shrieked with terror) but it's also about the Catholic faith and the paranormal in general.I think what makes this book so creepy is that Gary Jansen doesn't come across as someone who's trying to get attention or as someone who's insane. He sounds like a million other guys, someone we all know and are friends with. And so as I was reading this, it was like it was one of my friends telling me about what was going on in the house, so I wasn't like, "Yeah, okay, idiot." It seemed very, very plausible.I believe in ghosts--I've seen one--and I'm not sure where I stand on demons. I don't believe in them, but if I believe in angels (and I do), then there has to be the flip side, right?This book will get you thinking and will make you wonder if, the next time you're by yourself in your home, you're really alone.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
25. [Holy Ghosts]: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump In The Night]¿ by Gary JansenSomewhat interesting non-fiction story of the Jansen families house and its hauntings. Jansen is a fairly religious and prayerful man who works in publishing. He and his family live in the home where he grew up. The book tells the tales of the bumps in the night and the fears faced by Jansen himself. The explanations that his father came up with did not really satisfy him then, and the more recent occurrences have him ready to stand up and face the problem head on. This is a fairly interesting read, characteristic of many books of this type. What interested me the most was the intervention and assistance of [Mary Ann Winkowski]] , author of [When Ghosts Speak: Understanding the World of Earthbound Spirits], [The Book of Illumination]: A Novel from the Ghost Files and [The Ice Cradle: A Novel from the Ghost Files] . The last two of these books I have read and enjoyed. I would give this one three stars..but barely. Note for those who do not care to have religion discussed in any form in a book.. there is plenty of it here.
izzysbks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I blew through this book over the weekend. I picked it up just by searching the library catalog. I enjoy a good ghost story but not a ghost story disguised as a book of religious discovery. I've had paranormal experiences and believe me those experiences are a lot more interesting than someone trying to convince themselves ghosts are real. The kicker is that the ghosts in the story aren't any big deal. The author tries to spice up this story with his internal struggles, but his spooks are so lame the super medium from the Ghost Whisper tv show only does her stuff over the phone. Even then the author goes on for thirty pages about how he struggles to even make the call in the first place. I never knew anyone that had to do as much research to make a single phone call. When it was all said and done I'm glad I didn't have to exert too much energy to get through this one. Production value increased the overall book.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have a fondness for ghost stories of all kinds - fictional or non-fictional. I think we all love the idea of haunted houses, of being scared by something not quite seen, but felt. If nothing else, the notion of the paranormal tantalizes our imaginations and gives us stories to tell about lots of things we may experience, but can't explain.Holy Ghosts is less a book about a haunted house, and more a memoir about the author's experiences while living in a haunted house and his struggle to integrate those experiences within his deeply held Catholic faith. Jansen, a successful writer and editor, encounters spirits when he moves his family back into his childhood house on Long Island. There are footsteps and wall tappings, the feeling of being watched, an electrical buzz, toys that move and turn on and off with no explanation until events are too apparent to ignore.A deeply felt and honest exploration of what it means to be Catholic, of childhood events and prophetic memories, of all the strange and wonderful things that can happen in old houses, Holy Ghosts explores a haunting from a unique perspective that is grounded in theology and religious practice. Mr. Jansen's paranormal experiences serve as a gateway towards a deeper exploration of his faith and the reader benefits from the scares, the education, and the author's insight. Not your typical haunted house story. Definitely worth the read.
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