This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Monday, 26 November 2012
Looking For A Miracle
THE GRAND FESTIVAL OF GOD’S LOVE
WITH MIRACLE WORKER
REVEREND EURO PESETA
FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
COME ONE, COME ALL!
YEA, VERILY, IT IS WRITTEN THAT THOU SHALT EXPERIENCE MIRACLES
THE BLIND SHALL WALK
THE DEAF SHALL SEE
THE LAME SHALL HEAR
COME SAVE YOUR SOULS AND REJOICE IN THE GLORY OF THE LORD Entrance fee Rs 1000/- Tickets available at Glory’s Plaza shop No…,Aristo, Bawri Mansions,
OK, so that was a fabrication on my part, though not by much. Today, now, as I write this, a Christian revival function is going on in a field not far from my clinic. You probably know the drill as well as I do, not the least because I’ve talked about it before – the earsplitting music, the speaking in tongues, the laying on of hands, the “miracle cures”, and the compulsion, of course, to pay, and pay, and pay.
“Tune in to The Miracle Channel” (yes there is actually a channel called that) “Order prayers…send Rs *** by money order” (since relatively few Indians own credit cards) “to Box No 666, Calvary Road, Gehennah“ – and so on.
As most of you know already, I have little enough sympathy with Catholicism (in fact my sympathy would have a negative value if anything) – but where the Catholics stand against the Christian miracle-mongers, well, I stand right along with them when they condemn the latter for blasphemy. If one accepts, if only for the sake of argument, the proposition that Jesus Christ really existed, as a historical personage, and that his actions and teachings are substantially the same as have come down to us through the four “authorised” Gospels (ignoring the myriad of contradictions), well, Jesus clearly refused to perform miracles-to-order for no less a personage than Lucifer, Star of the Morning. And our televised miracle-mongers do so for much less – the equivalent of twenty dollars, perhaps.
And I don't want to go on about the mentality of people who want to make money out of the desperation of some terminally ill person or the parents of a hopelessly retarded child. If I began I wouldn't stop.
But this blog post isn’t actually an attempt to run down the miracle-mongers, absurdly easy though such an attempt is; I’m kind of tired of shooting sitting ducks. No, my purpose this time is slightly different: I want an explanation of just why people tend to visit in miracles, which both common sense and a modicum of logical thinking should inform us can never happen.
Oh yeah, I’m not discounting the power of thought and its abilities to produce physical changes in the body – my own experiences with psychosomatic phenomena are all the evidence I need. But psychosomatic cures to real problems aren’t likely, even if they exist, to be either permanent or even persuasive. If you have a leg that’s shorter than the other, lay hands on all you want, but that leg isn’t going to grow to normal size, nor is that terminal lung tumour going to shrink because you paid the Reverend Shilling Yen to yell prayers for you. And I don’t believe any of those who pay to line up and have hands laid on while they sway and shriek meaningless gobblings believe any of it either.
So why do they do it?
I may be wrong in this, but I feel it comes under two broad heads. First and foremost, these people are not very bright. Even if they are moderately rich, they are not very bright. All right, I do think no religious person is at all bright, but I’m talking about ‘not bright” as a subset of the religious category. So these “not bright” among the “not bright” are easily persuaded that miracles just might happen and they won’t be among the “saved” if they don’t give it a try. Like the other lot who visit astrologers, they want short cuts to whatever it is they seek – success, spirituality, whatever.
It’s a human thing to want shortcuts and something for nothing. How do you explain the existence of the phenomenon of the stock market and the lottery ticket, otherwise?
The other reason? Keeping up with the Joneses. The neighbours are going, the wife’s girlfriend is going, so how can you not go? Where will your social standing be then? How will the wife hold her head high in the community?
Ah – the clincher. Once you go, once you’ve committed yourself to the whole damned farce, you can’t even back off any more. Do you remember Huckleberry Finn? When the duo of crooks who befriended Huckleberry put on their performance of The Royal Nonesuch, the audience duped by them refuses to admit that it’s been duped. It goes and tells others how great the performance was. The purveyed of miracles are in exactly the same situation.
And like the Mark Twain characters I mentioned, the faith revivalists don’t hang around long. They lay on hands and let people make fools of themselves making strange noises and flinging themselves about, then they move on before the miracles began to wear out, and then a new set of characters appear after a few months and run the circus again.
Everyone has to live, I suppose, so there’s no point quibbling. At least they aren’t getting my money.
I just wish they went a bit easier on my eardrums, though.