The Parsonage in Munfordville: A Minister’s Home

In the mid-to late-1960s, my parents lived in Munfordville, Kentucky. My father served as the minister of the Munfordville Church of Christ. As a result, my parents and my young sister resided in a residence known as a “parsonage,” which belongs to the church where a minister serves. Munfordville was my father’s second full-time “located work.” Their sojourn in Kentucky lasted only four years but was full of memorable events.

Repairs and Unexplained Incidents: October 1967

When the church-provided home was undergoing repairs, one such incident occurred in October 1967. One of the church’s members was a carpenter. He and several other members were working on the house, and he kept calling out to my mother for things like coffee refills. One morning, when this member had left to buy supplies, my parents heard a voice calling my mother’s name. “Brenda.” My parents were perplexed. No one other than my father and baby sister was present to call out my mother’s name. Added to this mystery was the fact that the voice sounded feminine. My sister? My sister couldn’t have been much older than a year. So, even if she had somehow called my mother’s name, she would not have been able to annunciate it.

Exploring Scientific Explanations: Hypnagogic Hallucinations and Pareidolia

Even now, when I hear that story, it sends shivers down my spine. It makes me think about the mysterious things we may never know the answer to on this side of eternity. To be sure, there are a few scientific explanations. But do they adequately explain what my parents went through? Hallucinations can fool our senses of hearing and vision when waking up from sleep or falling asleep. These are called hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations. But my parents were both rested and had no illness affecting their sleep cycles.

Was it pareidolia, in which the brain tries to make sense of something random? We usually think of pareidolia when we see little bunnies in the clouds or a person’s face in the wood grain of a door. I’m prone to pareidolia. However, there were no ambient noises or radio or television transmissions in this case. It was quiet, except for the voice calling my mother’s name.

Debunking Electromagnetic Interference Theory

Could electromagnetic interference have been the cause? Perhaps the electromagnetic fields produced by nearby power lines or electronic devices interfered with their brain’s neural circuits, causing auditory phenomena to be perceived. That is unlikely because electromagnetic interference in the brain is only a theory that has yet to be proven.

The Supernatural Question: Could it be a Visit from Beyond?

But what about the obvious? There was a supernatural activity that produced the unembodied voice. While I believe in the afterlife, I am not convinced that the dead can visit us. God’s word shapes my beliefs as a Christian.

Insights from Biblical Narratives: Lazarus and the Witch of Endor

I remember Jesus telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, in which both men died and went to Hades (Luke 16.19-31). In anguish, the rich man wished that Lazarus be summoned from the dead to warn his brothers. Abraham did not say such a thing was impossible, but he did say that the brothers would probably not believe it even if he sent Lazarus back from the dead.

When the rich man asked for a drop of water, Abraham explained that God created a great gulf between the two places, making travel between them impossible. If there is such a chasm between paradise and torment in Hades, why should we not expect a similar chasm between the living and the dead?

In the Old Testament, the witch of Endor summons Samuel to meet with King Saul, and he is the only biblical figure to rise from the dead other than Jesus and Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (1 Samuel 28.3-25). However, Samuel’s summoning seemed to surprise the witch of Endor. Indeed, God permitted her to do so for Samuel to inform Saul of his impending death. God has that power over death. Jesus was raised from the dead by His power, and Jesus used that power to raise Lazarus from the dead.

If such things exist, an explanation is likely rooted in reason arising from a cause we have yet to understand.

Seeking Rational Explanations: Auditory Hypervigilance and Stress

There is one final and most plausible explanation. Could my parents have been suffering from auditory hypervigilance? Sometimes, stress, anxiety, or a history of trauma increases someone’s sensitivity to stimuli. This truth immediately brings to mind the feral cats that roam our property. The cats constantly scan their surroundings and become startled by the slightest noise. People can be like that as well. So, even if such people are mentally sound, stress causes them to experience things that aren’t there.

Living in a Glass House: Stressors in the Parsonage

Could my parents have been under such stress? Living in a “parsonage” is the epitome of living in a glass house for those who have never been in that situation. Plus, my parents were young and inexperienced. The place the church provided was being renovated, with several members doing the work. My parents continued living in the house during its renovation. As mentioned earlier, a particular member was persistent in requesting something from my mother, such as coffee refills.

The Unanswered Enigma: What Did My Parents Truly Hear?

So I’ll leave it up to you. Exactly what did my parents hear? Why did it sound so similar to my mother’s name? In such cases, I frequently refer to Deuteronomy 29.29, which states that the secret things belong to God. We want an explanation for everything as humans. However, there will always be mysteries that no one can fully explain.