While the Catholic world has been occupied with religious phenomena, such as weeping statues (and alleged visions), the secular world, including mainstream media -- which in previous years all but ignored unusual reports -- has been giving consistent and wide consideration to other sorts of oddities.

Throughout the popular culture are accounts of strange lights in the sky, circles around the sun [see here], and bizarre "hauntings." The paranormal (as they call it) is becoming normal -- at least in media coverage.

Signs of our times? Is a veil thinning? Or is it just a period of gullibility?

Only last week, broadcasters nationwide reported eerie, "unexplained" luminosities over St. Augustine, Florida, and Phoenix, Arizona. The lights had been in Phoenix several years before, witnessed even by a baffled mayor.

Each month it has been a different part of the world, and we have often warned (when there are not simpler answers) of spiritual deceptions.

Meanwhile, so pervasive is the interest in spirits that many major cities now have "ghost tours" and hardly a day goes by without a new account of a haunted house, especially in older parts of the U.S. and across Britain.

Most recently, there has been a booming that can't be immediately explained. Through the years, we have carried a number of reports whereby officials in cities around the United States have been mystified by what seem like loud subterranean rumblings.

In a few cases, an answer has been found. It some cases, it was a sonic boom, or an old sewer. Most cases are still unanswered.

One solved case is Pikesville, Maryland (near Baltimore), where officers had been investigating the bizarre and repeated phenomenon of a deafening explosion and a bright flash of light in the middle of night. "The bedroom actually lights up like day," one woman, Elaine O'Mansky, told a newsman. "It's instantaneous and wakes us up out of a very deep sleep."

Hundreds heard it. One woman hit the deck, it was so loud. It seemed to occur between midnight and seven a.m. Indeed, videotape taken at 3:34 a.m. on April 23 showed a flash of light that lasted a fraction of a second and lights up an area the size of a football field in the middle of the night. Three a.m.!

The theories were obvious ones: gas leaks, electrical problems. Some postulated electrical arcing, military tests, or even weather modification.

"It wasn't until we caught it on tape that we realized the magnitude of what they were actually talking about," said a sergeant who investigated. "The sound is almost deafening. You can't describe it. Seeing it on tape without hearing the sound doesn't do it justice." It seemed to come from thirty to forty feet in the air [see report]. Some said it had gone on for years. Alas, it turned out to be a reputed local drug dealer setting off fireworks to antagonize the community. A bail hearing was held Wednesday for him.

But in other cases no such solution has been found. The mystery of strange rumbling noises -- often subterranean -- has included towns or cities in Ohio, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Maine, and back in Maryland.

In other cases [see here, such as Indiana] it was clearly jets. In still others it has been aging sewers; or military tests have been suspected. In Scripture, rumblings symbolized a spiritual shift.

In Moodus, Connecticut, rumbling noises go back to the time of Indians -- who ascribed spiritual aspects to them (thinking them evil spirits). The very name "Moodus" in Indian means "place of noises."

We're interested because we have often reported on what we call the "1990 prophecy" [see Tower of Light] that included a prediction of "regional chastisements" and the arcane words that "in the period also will be a warning that involves not fire from the sky but fear of fire from the sky, and strange loud rumblings."

Might it have to do with seismic activity?

When a magnitude-5.2 earthquake jolted northern California Tuesday, eleven miles east southeast of Willow Creek, it was followed a magnitude-2.0 aftershock that was "sort of like a sonic boom," said Brenda Simmons of Sky Crest Lake. "It was a very loud noise before the house started shaking. It was pretty scary, the biggest thing Iíve ever felt here. (It) lasted ten seconds. I didnít feel the aftershock."

A strange loud rumbling.

Mysteries, mysteries.

Some answered. Some not.

Beware of "ghosts." When not the product of the imagination, or some other explanation, evil spirits can be involved (as opposed to spirits of the deceased). But the questions remain: is there simply more media interest -- more internet -- or is the spiritual world intermingling in unusual fashion with the physical one? We see miraculous healings as rarely before, remarkable near-death glimpses of the afterlife, and constant holy manifestations. For your discernment.

As for rumbling: might there be a sound one day that is heard in a much greater area than what we have thus far witnessed, and might it presage a vast seismic episode?

Or will it simply come and go and introduce events and pass unexplained?

[resources: Tower of Light]

[see also: Miraculous outpouring in Florida?]

[Other alleged rumbling cases (according to about.com):

[From Scripture:

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