When my mother bought a new Oldsmobile Intrigue, I was very happy, more happy than I should have been over an Oldsmobile. Why? Because it was The X-Files car from their 1998 big screen debut, that’s why! You remember, the scene where Mulder and Scully are following the train to the cornfield with the glowing bee domes? They were driving an Intrigue.

I loved The X-files. I loved Chris Carter’s other series, Millennium, the Lance Henriksen creased forehead vehicle. Heck, I even loved The Lone Gunmen. Add the metaphysical and abstruse to even the most mundane of procedural shows, and I’m in. With the advent of podcasting, a whole new chapter in the sub-genre has opened up. What The X-Files did for supernatural-detective TV series, serving as an influence on later shows like Lost, Fringe, and Supernatural, Serial has done for episodic non-fiction (and simulated non-fiction) story-telling podcasts. And like The X-files, has spawned its own supernatural progeny.

Most people have heard of Night Vale by now. If you haven’t, picture a radio station broadcasting in a small town near Area 51, populated by the citizens of Twin Peaks. But funny. For instance, a typical news announcement may go something like this:

“Breaking news. Despite the best efforts of the Sheriff’s Secret Police and citizenry, we have received confirmation that over a hundred children and adolescents have disappeared from their homes, beds, part-time jobs, or summer-forced labor-camps, and are now presumed to be inside the Night Vale Public Library, and subject to the Summer Reading Program. Unfortunately, it is my sad duty to announce that this includes Intern Paolo, a high school junior who’s been helping to organize the radio station archives over the summer months. To the parents and family of Paolo, our hearts go out to you in this time of fear and uncertainty, as in all other times of fear and uncertainty, which is all of them, really. May you find comfort in the knowledge that, though your son may have been lost in a library, at least he, unlike many of his peers, actually went inside one of those at least once.”

Other podcasts in the genre take themselves a bit more seriously, more self-consciously modeled off of Serial, like The Black Tapes, Tanis, and Limetown. I eagerly tune in each episode, waiting to see what progress has been made in the ever deepening mystery the Sarah Koenig surrogate is trying to solve. It’s not for everyone, but some of us like scary stories, mysteries, the esoteric and macabre. Much has been written and speculated about on the subject, but I think that’s just an overlay for something else.

Why do I care so much about what The Black Tapes’ Alex Reagan finds out about the professional skeptic Dr. Richard Strand’s paranormal past? What on God’s green Earth should interest me in the story of what happened to 300 fictional characters at an experimental neuroscience research facility in Tennessee called Limetown? But I am. Thinking about it today, I came up with one possible explanation. No, not fluoride in the water (that’s what they would like you to think it is) but the search for a denouement.

Literally, I want that knot untangled. I want answers. We all know life is more complicated than we can grasp, more complicated than a community, an ideology, or even science itself can hope to understand. But still we try. Maybe it is a bit like what Walker Percy says, rather Kierkegaardish, in The Moviegoer:

The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.

We know there has to be more. We see the knot, we see the individual threads right up until they lose themselves into the writhing mass of uncertainty. I listen to the fictional searchers, with their gumption, their curiosity, their derring-do, and imagine myself right along with them, or even as them. Then the Blue Apron or Casper Mattress commercial comes on, and the illusion is burst, and so is that aforementioned derring-do.

I want to believe, Lord help my unbelief.

The truth is not only out there, but He has a name. The knot is forever untangled on the Cross. The law of uncertainty is replaced with a concrete truth; Jesus cut the cord of death and replaced it with the deepest mystery of all, grace for me, a sinner.

Mary Epworth, found on Night Vale‘s weather:

Historical documents: