Author Archives: Newton Garner

Religious Ghost Experience

My family might not have one, but my friend’s dad is a very religious guy and he believes that he was slapped by a ghost. Would that work for what you need?


Do you think you could give me more about that, like who did he think was slapping him, why, what he thought after it?


Well here is the whole story…

It’s going to sound really ridiculous. But, I mean, what ghost story doesn’t?

Anyways, he said that he was just sitting on the toilet one day and he just felt a randomly slap to his face in the bathroom. After the slap his whole body went numb. He believed that he was paralyzed and his family brought a priest over to the house to analyze the situation.

The story didn’t say whether the ghost was malevolent or anything, but he came up with the conclusion that my friend’s dad needed to climb up this “holy” hill in order to get rid of his like numb/paralyzed state so his family took him there and he crawled up the hill really slowly until he reached the top and miraculously. He was able to stand when he reached the top and to this day he actually believes that this happened.

But obviously no one else does.

So he didn’t know if it was an evil or holy spirit? He just thought that a ghost hit him?


Yeah basically. I mean I’d guess he’d think it was malevolent by the way the story was told and ghost was used.


I personally cannot express much belief in this experience either, since it seems objectively just crazy. He even expresses a disbelief himself, and the circumstances of it – a ghost hovering over a guy making stink until it decides to smack him, which obviously calls for the involvement of clergy – don’t help any. The informant is not deeply religious, but has religion. If anything, I think that this showcases a movement towards more secular, scientific thought in regards to experiences once believed to be physical manifestations of religion. This also shows a divorce from the “Old Guard” of Eastern Europeans, as the informant is an American-born Armenian.  The informant confirmed later that many of his relatives in Armenia believe in some form of ghosts, while his immediate, Americanized family does not.

Armenian Greetings

Well I mean one tradition is touching basically.

The more a person is familiar, the closer they touch. Like with all my relatives, with each other they always kiss each other’s cheeks.

It’s never one cheek either. Always both. Unfamiliar people – it’s just a handshake.
Is this strictly an Armenian thing, though? How does it differ from other Europeans?

Well, not really, it’s kind of like a Middle Eastern-type of thing.


I found his response that it was more Middle Eastern in origin to be very interesting. He unknowingly showed a little bit of ethnic nationalism without realizing it. I’ve experienced personally this sort of greeting from Italians, French people, and more from Eastern Europeans, as well.  Just like earlier in this semester with the issue of “Who owns a song?”, I feel that it’d be really interesting to trace the etymology of this greeting. 

Lying Down

Three people in my dad’s side of the family have been killed in some way by people walking over them when they were lying down.

It’s kind of a taboo now.

That’s all I got.

We’re not overly superstitious.


Do you believe it? How does it impact you?


I don’t believe it, but walking over people is pretty dangerous/dumb to begin with, so I just tend to avoid doing it.

Maybe it’s a form of respect to those that have died in the name of saving time by walking over instead of around?
I can understand that; do you think it is in anyway linked to your cultural identity?

Yes, because my dad’s mom’s side has been pretty Irish Catholic and superstitious in general.

But my dad being an atheist, I believe, has stopped a majority of those superstitions from being passed down.

Sort of the end of the line, if you will. A cultural arbiter, placing his judgment upon the beliefs of his forefathers. Um, I dunno.
Please see my other entry on the Chinese fear of death for a better understanding of this post. The informant referenced his own parents’ upbringings as an example of why he doesn’t believe in superstition, which he ties to a belief in religion. I couldn’t believe the whole three people dying from doing something so trivial, and I really think that the informant should avoid lying down.

Chinese Fear of Death

Why do you think that there is such a focus on bad luck and death?


Stuff like not giving clocks because they are reminders of finality, not grouping in 4’s because four is vaguely homophonic with death in Chinese: (si^) vs (si-).

However, my mom was raised in Japan by her adoptive parents (aunt and uncle) and lived on her own since the age of 14.

She’s had a hard, unique upbringing and her values have been affected accordingly

She’s still fiercely Chinese but I think she’s been given such a harsh dose of reality that the superstition parts are a little less emphasized.
See post titled “Laying Down” for full story. The informant relayed and reinforced the notion that an individual’s upbringing can and does indeed cause them to challenge the beliefs that their culture might normally instill in them. However, he also attested to his mother’s remaining “fiercely Chinese,” which shows that – despite being raised by Japanese people – she still places an intrinsic value in her ethnicity. This, paired with my “Pepero Day” post, shows an Asiatic fixation on the idea of remaining young and fit, a natural fear of death ingrained into the culture.

Catholic School Rings

Okay, I have one from my old Catholic girls’ school. They have a ring ceremony where every junior girl receives a ring from a senior girl and they have to get it twisted around their finger 100 times plus the year they graduated times (so 2012 would be 112 times) by all different people or else they’ll die an old maid.


Is there any reason in particular that this is done? Do you think it ties into some kind of religious convictions?


No, it’s a silly girly superstition.


I have like two more questions about the ring tradition. 




So it was unofficial then? How do you think it started, did you participate in it, and what did you think of it?


Yes — it was totally unofficial, but everyone, including the religious staff participated in it. I guess it was harmless, since it promoted marriage, a Catholic/Christian imperative. I participated in it when I was younger, turning other girls’ rings, but I left the school before I could receive a ring myself.

I started out thinking it was funny and cool, but as I got older I saw it as a symbol of an extremely antiquated way of thinking, characteristic of the school.


I don’t know how to count. Also, my informant speaks with a little hypocrisy, at first claiming no religious ties and then that it does. It should be noted that the informant is an outspoken atheist, which is why she also has disdain for the ceremony. She sees the ceremony as a bit of indoctrination, an agenda hidden behind a “silly, girly superstition.” This isn’t too hard to see. Her story corroborates with an increasing distance from religion typical of this and future generations.