The folded T-shirt sat in the corner of my sofa. It was deeply special, carrying the name of state Trooper Kenton Iwaniec, from the 2013 run at St. Vincent College in his memory.
Kenton, 24, was killed by a drunken driver. He was from Ligonier, a St. Vincent graduate and an extraordinarily giving young man.
The shirt was a constant presence in the corner of the couch. Then, one day this past summer, it moved — from the corner of the sofa to the center. I was ecstatic. Another fantastic sign from Kenton, his most sensational yet to me.
I had connected with Kenton spiritually. Yes, I say this as fact. Other objects have moved in my home, the obvious actions of other spirits. What other possible reason?
Moving objects and other communication from the departed, though always stunning and thrilling, are common. Less frequent but spectacular are actual appearances of spirits, vividly present and even speaking.
Yet such events, recorded for thousands of years, are willfully ignored by those who dominate definitions of who and what we are. Atheists. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Krauss, Maher and others are celebrity genies of humans-as-material. Their soulless definition is that we are wholly physical, without any spiritual dimension.
If we are indeed just split-second synaptic firings, consciousness obviously dims and dies as our neurons cease their symphony of light. The hard problem with this brain-centric anti-dualism is spirits like Kenton Iwaniec.
We know from ages of undeniable extra-conscious experience — independent of religion — that consciousness extends beyond brain. It is almost surely a fundamental force that we permanently inhabit and to which our minds migrate upon physical end. The brain is a temporary interface for the consciousness field.
Without mind as brain, the materialist argument implodes. More important for religion, the spiritual is almost certainly not limited to a single level, that of us. There are almost surely ascending levels of spiritual existence and power, perhaps to the Divine.
There is also a science argument for dualism. How did Kenton move the shirt? Apparently by manipulation of fundamental forces. Seeming support for this emerges from experiments in physics where human observation, consciousness, astoundingly changes the nature of elementary particles. This advances the view that consciousness brought forth the material world.
But the smug apostles of materialism suppress discussion of extra-conscious events. Their ignoble disregard of the spiritual is an outrageous denial of our humanity. Our dual lives are clear: Here, we are matter, in space-time. In the spiritual, we are energy, beyond space-time.
At this time of year, we reflect on all that we are and remember those who are no longer with us. For many, such remembrances are painful. But I am convinced that our loved ones are joyful and fully alive and aware in spirit life, where they manifest any experience they wish simply by willing it. My religious friends call this heaven.
If you are religious or spiritual, keep your vision. Be confident in your views, in your singularly human intuitions and especially the expectation of joyous spirit life.
Oh, two mornings after this year’s Kenton run, his mom Debby and dad Ken heard a thunk in their home. They found Kenton’s hairbrush in Debby’s bathroom. It had been in an adjoining room. A powerful and loving spirit, that Kenton.
Hank Baughman, a former Pittsburgh TV news anchor, is a freelance writer and broadcast producer. He lives in Latrobe.