Tag Archives: weirdness

281 – It’s All In Your Mind: The Paranormal Imagination of John E.L. Tenney

“What you think is weird is weirder than you think” – that’s the slogan that’s on the website of John E.L. Tenney and his weird lectures. That’s a fun turn of phrase but it took me a little bit to figure out what it means. We understand the idea of ghosts, we understand the idea of UFOs, we understand the concept of Bigfoot. Ghosts are the spirits of our consciousness surviving death after the physical body has died. UFOs are populated by beings that evolved on planets in some far off solar system and developed ships that can traverse the universe and they’re coming to visit. Just like us visiting the moon. Bigfoot is a kind of ape that we just haven’t been able to capture and put into a zoo yet. Even if we don’t believe in them, we grok the concepts.

But those explanations are fairly unsatisfactory because they don’t make a ton of sense. If aliens are just travelers from another planet, why are they so secretive? If our consciousness can survive bodily death, why do only some people show up sometimes? Where the #$%! are Bigfoot’s bones?! The way these things operate just doesn’t make sense with the rest of the way our universe works. So what we already think is weird (ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot) has to be weirder than we think (we don’t know how to wrap our heads around it!)

John explains his Near Death Experience

That’s why John Tenney is fascinating to listen to. Number one, it never sounds like he’s trying to get one over on you (he’s not selling salvation or life after death) and number two, he’s willing to entertain all kinds of ideas that you don’t usually hear from paranormal investigators because they don’t fit the established model.

While John has been researching the paranormal for over 30 years (his cut his teeth in the weird world by apprenticing to a Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theorist and then by becoming a researcher for Unsolved Mysteries), his interest was peaked as a young man by being pronounced dead in 1988 and then coming back. His heart stopped for two minutes and he was given a choice to either come back to earth or stay where he was. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital.

From left in the back – Robyn Davis and Ted Williams from Galena Haunted Tour Company, Lisa Van Buskirk from Madison Ghost Walks. From left in the front – Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin, and Wendy Lynn Staats from See You On The Other Side.

He had a show, Ghost Stalkers, on Destination America and you might have heard him on our podcast before right when the New York Times decided to get into the UFO business. But John really shines in person, when you just put a quarter in him and let him go. The very first time we met him, he was in a casino bar regaling us about witnessing an exorcism and had even met the notorious Father Malachi Martin and we were spellbound. We’ve seen his lectures before at the Michigan Paracon (he lives near Detroit) and when we found out he was coming to Wisconsin, we weren’t going to miss it!

John onstage at the Palace Theater in the Wisconsin Dells

In this episode, we take some time to talk to John before the show and then we take some of the concepts that he discussed in his lecture and try to unravel them a little bit for ourselves, including topics like:

And of course, John’s idea of ghosts as timeslips instead of disembodied consciousness leads “perfectly” into this week’s song. There are some moments where it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the rest of the world, there are some minutes that you wish could be frozen in time and you could slip back to, those moments are “Perfect”.

With flood insurance and bodyguards, 
Humpty Dumpty bought a house of cards. 
I put a heart on layaway, 
but now I think tomorrow may be too late. 
And I say late, and I say late, and I say late, and I say… 

It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, 
It doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe. 
The baby’s out with the bathwater, 
The Rubicon was crossed today. 
It doesn’t matter if we ever notice, 
That the stars have all burnt out. 
It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, 
as long as everything’s perfect right now. 

Some things are done before they start, 
Everything will always fall apart. 
The past is never that far away, 
but do you think that’s where I’m going to stay? 
And I say no, and I say no, and I say no, and I say I don’t think so. 

It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, 
It doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe. 
The baby’s out with the bathwater, 
The Rubicon was crossed today. 
It doesn’t matter if we ever notice, 
That the stars have all burnt out. 
It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, 
as long as everything’s perfect right… 

Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 
Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 

Be kind, take your time. 
Be kind, take your time. 

With flood insurance and bodyguards, 
Humpty Dumpty bought a house of cards. 
The past is never that far away, 
but do you think that’s where I’m going to stay? 
And I say no, and I say no, and I say no, and I say I don’t think so. 

It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, 
It doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe. 
The baby’s out with the bathwater, 
The Rubicon was crossed today. 
It doesn’t matter if we ever notice, 
That the stars have all burnt out. 
It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, 
as long as everything’s perfect right… 

Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 
Now, now now, 
I don’t wanna postpone my, 
Vow, vow vow, 
that this time I will own, 
How how how, 
I don’t care and I don’t know. Don’t know. 

Be kind, take your time.

0 – Make First Contact with Mike and Wendy, Your Haunted Hosts to the Weird Reality Between Paranormal Activity and Pop Culture

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