Books and a little story
I’m on deadline on an editing job this week, but I am also working on my reivew of Infidel, which I hope to post this weekend or early next week. I’ve contacted John Allen Paulos, author of Irreligion, and he’s agreed to do an interview — so we’ll read that book next! (The hamsters have been fossilized, after all, so they’ll keep for a bit.)
In the meantime, here’s a little story about faith healing from my book-in-progress for your reading pleasure:
The little dog was whimpering as he lay on the bed in the kitchen closet. Kimberly sat next to him on the floor, gently patting his head. The dog hadn’t been able to walk in the weeks since he’d been hit by the car. His gray fur was more crumpled than usual. He wasn’t eating much but he would lean over and lap up a bit of water from his bowl every now and then. Mostly he slept.
When Kim got up, Pastor Ernie came over and laid his hand on the dog’s head. “By the stripes of Jesus you were healed! You have already been healed!” he said. Helene said “Amen, hallelujah,” as she was stirring spaghetti sauce on the stove. Ernie picked up the dog and carried him outside so he could do his business.
Going to the vet â€“ or the doctor â€“ would have been an admission of doubt and failure. And if your faith faltered, there’s no way you could expect to receive healing. I knew the dog would be healed. After all, I’d been healed from my own illness last winter. And Ernie and Helene’s faith was at least as strong as mine.
“Is everything OK?” Ernie had asked me.
I’d been sitting in my folding chair in the back of the basement sanctuary, holding my open Bible in my lap. My throat was swollen and my face was burning. I could hardly swallow, but I could still talk.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m fine.”
He kept asking me, rephrasing his question but I refused to admit defeat, to admit that I was sick. By the stripes of Jesus I was healed, and no way was I going to say anything different.
At home, I read my confession out loud over and over again in my room, revising scripture verses so I could recite them in the first person, claiming them as my own:
“Proverbs 4:20 says that if I attend to God’s words and incline my ear to His sayings and let them not depart from my eyes, and keep them in the midst of my heart, they will be life unto me and health unto all my flesh.”
I knew that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and I had to hold fast and believe in my healing even if I looked and felt sick.
I’d asked my mother to pray for me at home. There was no need to talk to anyone else about my health. It was done. I was healed according to the Word of God. To say anything else would be a lie against the Truth.
Eventually my fever broke and my throat stopped burning. Eventually the little dog got up and walked out of the kitchen closet. I don’t know what my mother would have done if I’d gotten any worse, and I don’t know what Ernie and Helene would have told their kids if their little dog had died. At the time I gave the credit to God for healing both of us, today I acknowledge nature. We were both lucky that our ailments and injuries were the type that could heal themselves with time, rest, and lots of fluids.
So sad … fortunately I'm not coming out of QUITE that freaky a subcategory of the faith community, but I've got family members who survived it (more or less intact). My heart aches for the kids who get sucked into this, especially … forget squashing a child's naturally questioning spirit, this squashes rationality itself!
You grew up with this shit? That is way to much bullshit to lay on a kid or anyone
Not this bad, but my aunt was in one of these for a while. They were scary.
My upbringing was a little closer to garden-variety Bible church, but there was still a huge amount of "God said it, I believe it." (I can still sing the little song about it.) Since I didn't really start having serious doubts until I was already going to the Christian college my church supported, I kind of missed my opportunity to get my horizons broadened IN college.
Not all of it's bullshit, but enough is that I've had a very difficult last three years as I've gotten more deliberate about taking my brain back.
I was very lucky in that my parents never had anything to do with religion when I was growing up. Anything religious in my childhood was self-inflicted.
I gave several half-ass attempts at joining churches throughout my life because I felt that it was what proper people did. However, I can't remember ever feeling comfortable at any church. I really tied, but every time I went as visitor with friend, or joined a bible study, I felt like a liar. It really bothered me: why did I feel that way?
It took me 30 years to figure it out: I simply didn't believe a word of it.
I wouldn't normally be this pedantic, but it is for a book after all…
Fixed. Ah the artifacts of editing. :-)
Speaking of book-pedantery:
To my knowledge, the plural of “verse” is “verses”, not “versus”.
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