Thursday, January 12, 2006

Reflections on Faith, Pat Robertson, and Nacho Trays

The denial of reason seems to be alive and well. Consider several recent articles.

Exhibit A. A news report out of Ohio tells the tale of a man whose truck fell 30 feet from an interstate overpass. How did he survive? In his words, it was by “God’s grace.” He says he prayed before falling onto the road below and, after he felt a sense of “peace,” he landed without major injury. Although physics can explain his survival, some would rather say it was the hand of God.

Exhibit B. In Oklahoma, Tina Womack found the faces of Baby Jesus and the Holy Mother on her ceiling. She cut the image down, only to find pools of water appearing wherever she placed it: “I have never actually witnessed the image crying, so I can't really be sure that is why all those water puddles keep showing up. But I can't think of any other explanation for it.” Hmmm.

Exhibit C. Believers have seen the Virgin Mary’s likeness in the bark of a tree at Eva Alejandro-Pena’s home near Dallas, Texas. Pilgrims—who clamor to get close to the tree to heal their diabetes, cancer, and myriad miscellaneous maladies—are even coming “straight from the hospital with bandages still on them,” according to Alejandro. The reports did not reveal if proximity to the bark cured any ailments.

Exhibit D. Restaurant workers in Jacksonville, Florida, discovered the image of Jesus in their nacho warming tray. A cook says he was preparing to empty the tray when he saw the Son of God looking up at him; the restaurant will retire the holy pan from its food preparation career.

I’m not making this up.

But, in news that tends to get less attention, there is a different side of divine intervention. Witness:

Exhibit E. In rural Malawi, at least 11 members of a church congregation died after a bolt of lightning struck their pre-Christmas gathering.

Exhibit F. Pat Robertson claimed recently that God punished Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a massive stroke because he had pulled Israeli troops out of Gaza. Mr. Robertson, you may recall, said last month that God might enact punishment on a Pennsylvania town because its citizens removed school board members who had placed “intelligent design” in public schools.

Compare and contrast.

Some people say that when a man avoids danger, God must have intervened. Or they see the hand of divinity in ceiling stains, a knot of wood, or a cooking pan.

That’s a lot of faith.

Yet when things suck—when, let’s say, eleven people die at a church from a freak lightning strike—there aren’t too many voices blaming God.

Color me confused. Should I see the hand of God behind every event, or only the ones that turn out well? What’s a man to believe in these crazy times?

Well, I’m going with what I see. And what I see is that sometimes men fall from 30 feet and live. Sometimes, a chunk of tree bark will look like a long-dead European painter’s representation of a Caucasian Jesus. And sometimes, just sometimes, an elderly Israeli leader will have a stroke—for purely medical reasons.

But we all might have a little more faith if Pat Robertson suddenly went mute.


At January 12, 2006 8:06 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Pat Robertson is like the crazy old uncle at family reunions. Most of what he says is gibberish and taken with a grain of salt... "Oh, that's just Uncle Pat, being his usual silly self."

And I tend to believe those who look for God or Jesus in such silly places are the ones with the weakest, not the strongest of faiths. If you look hard enough you can probably find "images" of Jesus or God anywhere and everywhere. But at the same time, if you're really a believer, if you really have faith... why should you need to look that hard for signs?

At January 12, 2006 8:59 AM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

Uncle Pat is finally completely over the edge in his dotage. At least back in the eighties he tried to give some semblance of normalcy. Now he just doesn't seem to care how crazy he is.

At January 12, 2006 9:39 AM, Blogger Mojotek replied to my musings ...

If Pat Robertson suddenly went mute, I would start going to church again in a heartbeat. My renewed "faith" would be unwavering then...

At January 12, 2006 9:57 AM, Blogger Kid Jacque replied to my musings ...

Having spent most of my young life in private Catholic school I have seen and heard worse than Pat Robertson.

Maybe this is one of the reasons I have fallen away from organized religion and have become more spiritual in my own way? Who knows.

I agree with Perplexo, someone that has to look so hard for a sign is someone that really doesn't believe whole heartedly in the first place.

The hypocritical stance that some religious people take is comical at best and can only be laughed at. It's obvious that they use and say what works for them at the moment.

I'd rather be more open minded to what the world is all about. Diversity and tolerance is what helps us grow. Life can only truly be lived if you are open to it...

At January 12, 2006 10:18 AM, Blogger goldmoon replied to my musings ...

Amen! (ha ha, that was supposed to be funny). Anyway, I completely agree. It especially bothers me when someone survives an accident, illness, etc. and people say, "It was because we prayed for him." So, everyone else who dies in such accidents, from such illnesses, one was praying for them?

At January 12, 2006 12:20 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I am a Christian, and unapologetically so. But I certainly do find it amusing that so many Christians believe in an interventionist God.

God didn't/doesn't f*ck things up, people have/do. I thought the whole premise of humanity was that we were given the gift of free will.

If we have free will, God can't be intervening, can he?

How can we have both?

At January 12, 2006 12:40 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Maybe God struck the church with lightning because they were off key when singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful."

Even God can be a harsher judge than Simon Cowell.

At January 12, 2006 12:40 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

A good discussion here on the issue of faith and divine intervention--good points, all.

Well, except for you, Pat Robertson. I know you're lurking here ...

-- david

At January 12, 2006 1:00 PM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

I've never heard of Pat Robertson. I guess he must be one of these TV evangelists you get in the States, who appeal for money for their church.

The British are traditionally,

a) Mistrusting

B) Tight as Ducks arses with money

Evangelists would soon give up and bugger off.

At January 12, 2006 4:53 PM, Blogger BuffyICS replied to my musings ...

Pat Robertson's contract probably stipulates that he must make one outrageous statement every month or so.

At January 12, 2006 5:09 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Pat Robertson isn't as bad as most televangelists when it comes to begging for money. In fact he's rather tame.

That being said, he says some kooky shit that you might expect from that mysterious "uncle" whom neither of your parents want to claim as coming from their side of the family.

He's not a beggar, just a kook.

At January 13, 2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

I know Pat Robertson all too well, living in the state of Virginia. Kook is being kind here...the guy is a fucking lunatic.

At January 13, 2006 7:43 PM, Blogger siren replied to my musings ...

It always bothers me when people refer to death as someone's "time", or an untimely death is somehow "God's plan". Like we're all in this divine puppet show. Not to be crude (but I will be anyway), shit happens and will continue to happen with no rhyme or reason to it. Just like Pat Robertson.

At January 14, 2006 1:33 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

It took me a long while to find my faith and it came from looking within myself and knowing that there is a higher power. I think that's the only way a strong bond is created with God is by knowing inside about his existance. If you are looking for visual evidence then you are still thinking in terms of human "logic". Faith is not a mystery where you really need physical evidence to support your claim. You either beleive or you don't and it may take time to come to one's decision on that. I will step off my soapbox now.

At January 15, 2006 12:50 PM, Blogger The Pagan Temple replied to my musings ...

About the guy who went of the by-pass in his car and fell thirty feet, it's possible that once he gave up,resigned himself to his fate during prayer, he became so relaxed to such an extent his body was able to better absorb and withstand the fore of the impact.

This is the reason a lot of drunks walk away from wrecks where their cars have been totaly decimated. It's also similar to the lady recently whose chute didn't open while sky-diving. Not only did she survive relatively unharmed (in fact she just needed plastic surgery and she was good as new)but so did the infant she was unknowingly carrying at the time.

According to her,she just gave up and more or less resigned herself to her fate.

As for what that guy saw in the tree, I remember this tree in this park in Covington that had this knot that looked just like a-err, never mind.

At January 16, 2006 1:02 AM, Blogger Black Eyed Gurl replied to my musings ...

I long for the day an artist or actor/actress after an awards show, after losing tells a reporter 'God just doesn't love me' or 'I blame god for not winning' cos they always thank god when they win, but never blame him when they lose. Why can't people just take credit for their actions? I mean we're supposed to take responsibility when we fuck up but when we do good so many pass it off on god. I think that's how it gets all that good PR.

At January 16, 2006 4:19 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

I don't think the question here is of faith. A person can have spiritual or even Christian faith...but still not attribute every single thing to God.

You think God busies himself moving us like chess pieces?

God may have created the universe, but he also created Mother Nature - which includes chaos and time. Both are in a state of constant motion, and we're along for the ride.

At January 16, 2006 5:42 PM, Blogger Crazy Dan replied to my musings ...

You think all those diet pills and coke has messed with his head?

At January 16, 2006 6:57 PM, Blogger RT replied to my musings ...

Nah, they don't blame God for anything, they just say the bad stuff is 'God's Will'.

God may have given us free will, but religion took that away.

Personally, I'm not buying any of it anymore. I went through my strong religion phase, then a strong faith without religion phase, and now I'm satisfied that there's not a god at all but a strong bond between people. It's nice not to feel guilty about caring for all of those people that religion -or if you believe the Bible, God- tells me I shouldn't care for... Which is a whole other subject I know, but hey, you started it :p

At January 17, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Laurie replied to my musings ...

Pat Robertson may be like your "crazy old uncle", but since when does an average "crazy old uncle" get the media attention that Robertson does?

He's a whack-job.

I agree w/what Phoenix said:

"God may have created the universe, but he also created Mother Nature - which includes chaos and time. Both are in a state of constant motion, and we're along for the ride."

At January 18, 2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

Some people actually praise God for giving them a good parking spot. They think he is that in tune to their daily goings on. People need some common sense.
If you are gonna praise God for everything, than you should also blame him for everything.

At January 18, 2006 5:38 PM, Blogger An80sNut replied to my musings ...

I actually have a multitude of beliefs. One that is growing more and more in me is that Pat Robertson needs medication. Looking for faith in common occurrences are alright if it enables you but pushing that onto others smells of snake oil.

At January 30, 2006 7:53 PM, Blogger jay lassiter replied to my musings ...

full of grace!


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