I'm going to play Shirley McClain and go out on a limb. I think Roman Catholicism is going to be in for a rough ride in the future and not just because of liberal dissent, and the culture wars in which it has chosen to engage. It is going to be in for a rough ride because it is deafening in it's silence about paranormal psychic activity and the influence of reincarnational thinking in the West.
This morning I was reading on article on Inside Catholic.com entitled "12 Myths Every Catholic Should Be Able To Answer". The twelfth myth was reincarnation, and the refutation was absolutely pathetic. Anyone who does even the most simple of Google searches will find website after website of scientific investigation on life after death, and website after website of both anecdotal and more stringent scientific verification of past life experiences and information.
The author of the refutation of the reincarnation myth chose to focus on the story of Bridey Murphy, a story which was thoroughly debunked in the sixties. Much has changed and developed in this field since the sixties, not the least of which are sophisticated genealogical sites which can be used to verify past life information.
Reincarnation poses significant theological challenges, especially to notions of atonement theology and definitions of heaven and hell. Reincarnational explanations for the presence of evil in the world make more reasonable sense than resorting to the machinations of demons and an indifferent and vengeful God. They also threaten the theology of the ordained cleric as a necessary intermediary between man and God. The power of Catholic clericalism is fully vested in the notion of human life as a one time shot. Human life as a multiple life time spiritual learning experience doesn't carry the same fear based obedience as single shot Christianity feeds on.
For these and other reasons, I was shocked with how the notion of reincarnation was dealt with in this article. I strongly suspect that many Catholics find reincarnation a far more palatable belief system than the Church wants to admit.
Christianity and reincarnation don't have to be mutually exclusive. Clericalism and reincarnation may be a different story. After all, if we actually got what Christ taught about the spiritual aspects of humanity and how these are to be acted out, reincarnation would be a moot point. We'd be enlightened enough to have finished the temporal learning curve and on to bigger and better things.
On the other hand, I often wonder how many women who feel called to be priests are actually remembering in some way, a lifetime when they were a priest. Maybe there is something to that theological notion that one is a priest forever and carries an ontological mark on their soul.
More on this tomorrow, and some thoughts about mediums and people who have crossed.