The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; Lilith also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest (Isaiah 34:14).
Another possibility is that the human need to believe in the unseen world itself points to, while not proving, the reality of hidden dimensions. It could be that materialism — the philosophical assumption that reality is nothing but physical stuff — is a prejudice rather than a fact. Perhaps an unseen reality does exist, revealed in flashes that can be confusing or misleading, to which we sometimes give flaky designations. Like “Bigfoot.”
Religions used to confidently navigate this twilight realm. Some faiths still do, quietly. When Louisiana’s Catholic governor, Bobby Jindal, was being considered as a running mate for John McCain, the fact that Jindal once participated in an exorcism became a briefly sensational media story. As for the rabbi who presided over our twins’ bris, the evangelistic branch of Judaism to which he belongs, Chabad, stands out as bucking the trend elsewhere in Judaism toward a pallid rationalism.
The same trend is mirrored in other faiths, especially the shrinking mainline Protestant denominations. It may be that such pallidness helps explain why Americans turn to florid paranormal beliefs, as opposed to traditional supernatural ideas. Indeed, U.S. polling data from Gallup, reported by Baylor University researchers, shows that belief in the occult is more common among non- or infrequent churchgoers or those belonging to a liberal Protestant denomination than it is among frequent churchgoers and conservative evangelicals.
Religious leaders representing respectable faiths, intimidated by secular prejudice, may wish to take note as they scan the empty pews. The human hunger for a vigorous, unapologetic interface with the unknown can’t be entirely repressed. As Sigmund Freud knew, the repressed has a way of returning.