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Free magic show after the service! October 20, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, backstory, family, friends.
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Remember when I mentioned how I went with a friend to their Protestant worship service and enjoyed it? And how, afterwards, my parents had banned me from ever visiting a Protestant mass again, in fear of my possible conversion? That happened about five years ago, and I’d always been secretly resentful of their narrow-mindedness with regards to that issue.

“I don’t care if you had a good time!” Dad had asserted. “The Holy Mass is not supposed to be a party!” (Yeah, because God forbid we actually enjoy praising Jesus. Singing and clapping is far too sinful, and don’t even think about air-conditioning. Air-conditioners are a work of the devil.)

Fast-forward three years, when I was still a believer, but increasingly unhappy with being a Roman Catholic. I’d finally mustered up the determination to have another whack at Protestantism, although I wasn’t ballsy enough to tell my parents. Instead, I went on a movie outing with some friends one Saturday, and then secretly accompanied one Protestant friend to their worship service.

Once again, I had a much better time there than I did in Catholic mass, and I even got a little teary-eyed while singing (damn you, Christian rock!), because I was going through this whole angsty “God loves me more than my parents do” phase. After all, when you’re starved for affection, your imaginary friend will never let you down.

That wasn’t the interesting part, however. The good stuff happened after the service, when the pastor/facilitator/whatchamacall’em asked the “newcomers” to stand up. I did, along with five or so other people who were within my age range, and we were all herded into a white room in the back where we were served refreshments. (Insert appropriate “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” joke here.)

We gathered in a circle as the pastor prayed to welcome the new sheep to the flock, or something like that. After the prayer, he notices a girl sitting sadly in the corner. He draws attention to her, all “Hello, and you are?” with a big ol’ smile, and asks her what’s wrong. She tells us about a condition that had rendered her legs useless since childhood.

Now here’s the good part: a couple of men prop the paralyzed girl up and hold her by the arms while the pastor lays a hand on her forehead and mumbles some unintelligible hocus-pocus. The girl starts sobbing and praying too, and then the pastor takes both her hands and oh my God she’s jumping up and down with him! Just like they do on television!

I didn’t know what to think, but I was scared shitless. Even though at that point, I was still pretty sure that there was a God (or hoping there was one, anyway), I already had my doubts about the genuineness of the “miracle” I’d just witnessed. The whole thing gave off a huge “Lookie what we can do! Aren’t we awesome and powerful?” vibe to me, and I remember thinking, “Good Lord, do they orchestrate this shit every time new people show up?”

Hell, even my fundie brother Pete, who is the kind of guy who would remind me endlessly about “Don’t use God’s name in vain” whenever I went “OMGZ,” didn’t buy it. Back then, we used to be best friends (yeah, rejection still hurts, y’all), so I told him about my Finding Jesus adventure and the girl who could walk again, and he was all, “They’re probably faking it to impress the new people.”

If I ever consider trying Protestantism again, I’m going to show up in a wheelchair.



1. Martin - October 20, 2007

If only my nontheism was as much of a party as yours…


2. jgrab1 - October 20, 2007

I can’t believe they still pull that “miracle” crap. They’ve been doing it for centuries.

3. Teen Atheist - October 20, 2007

Martin: If you’re looking for a party, you could show up at a worship service in a wheelchair. Let me know how it goes! 😀

John: I know! I wonder how they justify it, though. Deception in the name of the Lord?

4. Teen Atheist - October 20, 2007

Grace: Your comments aren’t welcome here because they would invariably lead to the tiresome, typical, theist versus nontheist discussion that I do not wish to propagate here. If you have a valid, logical argument to make, then I’ll allow your comment here, but otherwise, “What if it’s real?” and “you have no proof that it’s not real” just aren’t good enough, because we can say the same thing about your deity. And of course it’s my opinion, that’s why it’s on MY BLOG. Also, frankly, you can’t blame me for taking the easy way out, because it’s also a cop-out to just drink the Kool-Aid and then leave the investigation to the skeptics. That is, of course, the theist’s solution to everything, and that’s why I don’t like comments of that nature on this blog. If you don’t like me making fun of it? Go away.

Oh, and here’s John’s rebuttal to your comment:

Many have [investigated into the supernatural].

Harry Houdini wanted to believe in miracles and life after death and all that good stuff. He told his wife if there were a way to contact her after he died, he’d do it. Nothing, until a secret code he’d given her to identify himself somehow got leaked to the media in the early 60s. Suddenly everyone could now talk to Harry!

James Randi has spent his entire life investigating this stuff. He has a standing off of one million dollars to anyone who can perform a “miracle” under monitored conditions. No one has ever taken him up on it, much less tried and failed.

As Carl Sagan says, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

5. jgrab1 - October 21, 2007

I also might add something else, that Richard Dawkins and others have pointed out: those “cured” by faith healers, as well as those who go to Lourdes and other places to seek relief from their afflictions, experience relief from ills that can reverse themselves spontaneously on occasion, ie, cancer. But no amputee has ever gone to Lourdes, prayed, and regrown a limb. No faith healer has ever made a severed leg whole again. If they can do all this other divine stuff, why not that, something that would truly defy all medical explanation? Small percentages of cancers go into spontaneous remission whether people pray or not, and people in wheelchairs at tent shows can easily fake it.

What bothers me is not what people want to believe, but how easily they are swayed. This lack of even the simplest ability to reason is how citizens get snookered into wars (Iraq) and having their civil liberties taken away from them (it’s fighting terrorism; it’s to protect the children), among other things.

6. Stephen R(DaFatalGigabyte) - October 31, 2007

Yeah, it seems interesting that you won’t see any others healed after that moment in the back room. Have you seen the movie “Leap of Faith”? jgrab1 accidentally or purposefully referred to something in that movie when he said people in wheelchairs at tent shows can fake it.

I was prayed for twice at church, the first time being absolutely rediculous. My parents actually talked to a friend and asked that he pray to banish a demon from me. They said it was better that I sit because most people fall down when they are prayed for like this. Again, pointing at how it could just be a mind effect. I prayed another time, seemingly intent on finding God. All I did was cry and feel better that the bad things I’ve done are past and I can change. It’s like how Christians point at how Jesus said all these nice things, in order to convince you to believe in God. Just because he said those things doesn’t mean God exists, and just because I felt forgiven doesn’t mean God forgave me.

“You’re not thinking if you don’t think for yourself.”
Use small sentences lest they call ‘logic’ occult.

7. Philip and Henry Productions - January 17, 2008

Visit the site, you may just get a great show!

8. Denver Manning - April 23, 2008

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