I recently watched Ghostbusters for the first time in a long time. It has to have been at least 25 years since I had seen it, largely because it was so ubiquitous in my youth. In addition to be a smash hit in the theater, it did heavy duty on the TV movie circuit and of course was a popular video rental for parties.
Don't get me started on the theme song.
At any rate, I was pleased to see that it holds up pretty well and being much older, I got some subtle jokes that evaded my younger sensibilities.
Of course, I also approach the subject matter of the film vastly differently than I did as a teenager, particularly after spending the last two years listening to the Lord of Spirits podcast. Part of why I was willing to watch it again was that I wondered what Ghostbusters looks like through the spiritual lens.
Despite its nominal topic, the film presents a very secular version of the spirit realm. The protagonists famously use mad science to capture and contain ghosts and it is the application of technology that "saves the world."
To be sure, religious people are seen praying for them, but that's part of the spectacle. In the end, technology - not prayer - is decisive.
That being said, it is interesting that one of the assumptions of the film is that ancient gods can be real and inflict physical harm. Since God has often various means to achieve His goals, having the Ghostbusters thwart Goser or Zuul or whoever could be seen as a dismissive wave on the part of the Almighty.
One of the key concepts of the Lord of Spirits is that the ancient gods were in fact real entities and that the sacrifices offered produced tangible results. As a recent episode pointed out, the rise and fall of various cults is in part explained by the success of the people who worship them. Wars between the various city-states and later empires were at the time seen as struggles of their gods as well. The Trojan War was famously a contest that divided the Olympian gods, who repeatedly intervened.
In our modern secular worldview, we see gods as a purely cultural matter and in our contempt for our ancestors assume that the temples and rites were no more than superstition by ignorant savages.
However, as I've mentioned before, cause and effect are not a modern invention, and given the amazing sophistication of ancient metallurgy and architecture - that is, the stuff that has survived - it is the height of arrogance to assume we know more than they do. In fact, I think we are far less logical, since many "rational" people rather irrationally refuse to consider even the possibility of the Unseen.
It's interesting that Ghostbusters also prefigures the later "ghost hunter" reality TV shows, which clearly seek a secular answer for a spiritual problem. After I became more aware of the spiritual realm (and the fact that most if not all "ghosts" are likely demons), I asked my wife (who was an avid watcher for a while) how many of the shows were still on. She replied that many of the first generation had stopped and that the cast had complained that "their work" tended to follow them home.
Well, yes. Absent a "trap" and a containment field, mucking about looking for the Unseeing armed only with an voltage meter, shotgun microphone and a thermal camera is remarkably stupid.
If only they'd watched Ghostbusters, they'd have known better.