Here here woofy.
All religions have the amazingly great stories. That missionary told the tale of how his priesthood blessing cured a cancerous brain tumor. What a fantastic claim to make! And it was made half heartedly. He threw out the disclaimer that he doesn’t normally retell that brain tumor miracle due to the sacred nature of it but… since he was, you know, among his home ward (Mormonspeak for a group of Mormons who meet together because of a geographical boundary)... he felt impressed to share the sacred event.
I kind of hate that I am so skeptical now sometimes because I instantly found myself discrediting his story. I am no longer capable of swallowing what is doled out from the pulpits anymore. Maybe I secretly (subconsciously?) enjoyed the euphoria of hearing such a tale and feeling god near me on account of it…
I wanted to see the pre and post x rays… was there a cat scan available? Wasn’t this in a remote area of Guatemala? Did they even have CT scans there? The missionary said that x rays revealed the tumor disappeared overnight—not CT scans or MRI. I am not a doctor so maybe I mispeak… but aren’t x-rays an archaic means of prognosticating brain tumors?? And what about the media??
This morning I searched the internet for some hubbub on this miracle. Surely if a brain tumor went away overnight on account of a Mormon blessing, it would have made national headlines.. eh? I did not find anything on it. I only looked for 15 minutes but this was in the last 6 months… perhaps the news missed it.
Or perhaps… there is a ready explanation for this miracle and it just was not so miraculous at all.
Bottom line, I sat there thinking of all the ways this yound man could be mistaken. Brain tumors just don’t disappear over night. Why Does God Hate Amputees flashed through my mind.
Then I recalled the various other miracles in nearly all other religions. I have debunked many of them to my satisfaction. These stories are fantastic. But they are told without any caution. Problem is, they are also potently galvanizing to those who read or hear them and do little research to validate them. We are such overly trusting suckers!!
Miracles are such a fascinating topic to me, mainly because I never see them but it seems quite frequent that they occur for others. Why not me? I don’t even believe in god. Don’t you think it would be in god’s interest to manifest some miracle every once in a while? I really do want to see miracles, but so far to no avail.
Back in August of 2006 my family and I were vacationing and during this trip my sister had a seizure in the middle of the night and I found her on the stairs during this time. My father picked her up and placed her on her bed. My entire family was now in my sister’s room and my dad says he wants to give her a blessing. By this time I’m watching how my sister is doing and it appears that she is coming around from the seizure. My dad proceeds to give her a blessing and while every one has their eyes closed during this blessing being given by my father, I just watch my sister to see how she is reacting to the seizure. When my father finishes the blessing she is in a state where she acts like she woke up from some heavy sleep and she can’t really talk any sense, but she’s there.
I remember my mom retelling this story to other people later after it happened. She would begin to tell how my dad gave my sister a blessing and that’s why she came out of the seizure. I can only roll my eyes every time I hear that. I watched from beginning to end and if the “blessing” never would’ve taken place my sister would have come around in the same amount of time. There was no miracle. But to my religious family there was because it seems they want to believe that there is this force that religious people/believers carry that can create miracles.
What I’ve realized is that it’s just an individual’s perspective if a miracle occurs or doesn’t. Even if the exact same thing was witnessed. People want to believe in something and they want reasons and validations for their beliefs, so in this case one was created to support their religious beliefs.
Now I’m skeptical of miracles but if I witness something that is of proportions that it borders being a “miracle”, then I wouldn’t disregard it. In fact, I would talk about it quite a bit. If my sister were to have had a seizure where she was having convulsions and was experiencing a very serious seizure and then a blessing was given and instantaneously she were to snap out of the seizure, then I would have been impressed. I’m not trying to disregard or turn a blind eye to any miracle, I’m just calling how I saw it is all.
From this event that I got to witness it became apparent to me that all “miracles” have two sides, just like every story. Unfortunately Noggin, you only get to hear one side because that Mormon missionary probably isn’t telling everything.
I remember a similar event happening to me such as the Mormon missionary giving a blessing to the individual with the brain tumor and “miraculously” the tumor is gone the next day. Back in my day of being a believer I came across an individual that approached me when I was a Mormon missionary and straight up asked if we (there was two of us Mormon missionaries) could give him a blessing. We said we would and he explained how he “might” (that’s the key word there) be diagnosed with skin cancer. We gave him a blessing and when he had a return appointment to follow up on whether he had skin cancer the results came back negative.
Now you can probably imagine how ecstatic us believers were to hear that his test results came back negative. Also worth noting is that this individual was told that he more than likely had skin cancer. So for his results to come back negative were excellent news since the odds were supposedly against him.
I’m thinking “Wow, a blessing that actually is ‘miraculous’ and I got to be a part of it.” Upon investigation of the story one can realize that the blessing given does not support any evidence that it was miraculous. What a relief though to be told that “you don’t have skin cancer” is very rewarding of itself though.
So the way I see it Noggin, is that the Mormon missionary just didn’t tell “all” of the story. I’m very positive that he omitted or even possibly doctored up some of the events that took place for this miraculous event.
I mean hell, that’s what I did when came home from my mission. I told that skin cancer story and everyone was just in awwe of the whole thing. I didn’t add anything to the story, but I did make it sound as if it was a straight up miracle.
I know what I did was wrong, but I just felt pressure to tell at least one good story upon coming home from serving god for two years. So whenever I hear people tell of miracle stories, I can’t help but wonder “What’s the other side of this story?”
You aren’t the first person I have heard admit that a Mormon missionary miracle story was told in such a way so as to faith promote. I am completely convinced that it happens like that. Yours was kind of innocent, I mean, there is pressure to faith promote ever so slightly especially when people you haven’t seen for two years come up to you and excitedly ask with eager huungry ears..
Well? wasn’t it the greatest 2 years of your entire existence?? tell us EVERYTHING
And then what? If it just was what it was—ho hum and you just say things like “Well, I went through 15 pairs of thick soled shoes, I have callouses on my knees from praying 7 times a day, and really, uh, basically got rejected on a minute by minute basis… so uh, it kind of sucked in that respect” You’d get treated as if you had ebola. Okay so maybe that was hyperbolic of me to say it like that… but there seems to be a temptation to bring back the sensational to the home crowd. If you let them down it’s like:
whaaa? You did not have any spectacular experience? No demons cast out? No healed broken bones? No miracle family converting on account of the spirit being so strong you could taste it in the room??? whaaa?? No voice from the clouds directing you to TURN LEFT NOW!! KNOCK ON THAT DOOR NOW in order to find god’s elect?? huh? pffffft what a let down…
I had a few experiences while serving in Spain but really nothing to write home about as described above. I tend to laugh looking backwards at them. The first big miracle was that at 7 months in Spain, I still could not say that I knew that Mormonism was true..,. as in God’s only true church. I was with one of those power Elder’s… you know the type… overtly charismatic, extremely personable, born leader, yeah, I worshipped the ground he walked on. Anyway. I was this dumb greenhorn who was still trying to learn spanish and though young, I possessed the desire to work my guts out. He took that and ran with it. During one charla (investigator lesson) it was my turn to bear solemn testimony that I knew Joseph Smith saw god. It was always uncomfortable for me to do this since I could not actually say it truthfully. I was always caught in this schism of being forced to, well, lie about something I was not 100% positive. But this time it was different. I had struggled with this and talked to my overtly charismatic companion about it ad nauseum and he assured me that the Holy Ghost would eventually testify to me through hugely powerful feelings that what I was saying was indeed true. So (surprise) it happened like the next week. I was telling this investigator how I knew Joseph Smith saw god and I wanted it to be true so badly. I was so sick of being, I felt, the only one in Spain of my kind who didn’t know 100% that it was true. I distinctly recall choking up mid sentance. The eyes of the fellow I was teaching got big and I just started to cry. This feeling washed over me like a rush, I got cold sweats and I felt so euphoric that this experience was finally mine.
I knew! How cool was that? I did not have to lie anymore!
To the unintiated (read: skeptical), you might be saying “huh”?
And looking back it is so silly. Now that I have read a few textbooks on psych theory such as confirmation bias, authority bias, and cognitive dissonance… I can totally see what a set up I allowed myself to play into.
After talking to many missionaries and Mormon members, this similar experience plays itself out time and time again. It is important to note here that I understand NOW that I did NOT “know” the Mormon church was any more true than before the experience happened… in reality, the plague of doubting ceased on account of a battle between two highly conflicting cognitions. In a way, it was a nervous breakdown. Several times a day, I was commanded to basically lie about something I did not actually know… while simultaneously being placed under oath in the temple that I would keep all the commandments of God one of which included Thou Shalt Not Lie.
hee hee! crazy shitt.
Anyhow. I had a few more significant experiences but that one was the tide turner for me. I was completely locked in after that. Locked and Loaded… bullseye for the Lord! Oh you should have seen how bold I was. I’d walk up to any priest, any person, any thing and tell them Prophets walked the earth TODAY and God spoke to these Prophets TODAY and here is what the Prophets TODAY are saying… If god told you to get baptised into the Mormon church would you do it?? Invariably the Spaniard would shift his weight and look away uncomfortable
Well, uh, sure, if God himself told me that Mor…..
AHA!!!! WELL THEN!! I’d say as if I’d snared the fattest rabbit in the forest…
Read this BOOK and pray about it and GOD will tell YOU to your heart that you should follow it!! I testify to you in the name of Jesus Christ.. blah blah blah…
I make myself sound like a nut. But I was. I even think I had the wild searching eyes and spittle formed on one side of the mouth. I am kidding about that. You don’t win converts acting crazy. (Actually you win a few crazies who are programmed for craziness already.) The message itself required humility and subdued expression of it (because it was so fantastic of a claim). I knew that and acted accordingly.
Again, long winded. apologies. My miracles were found in the 30 some odd people who listened to me and joined Mormonism. It was incredible to me to watch a father or whomever trust me enough to ask god, feel something, and actually commit his life to Mormonism by being baptised.
I know I’ve mentioned this to year before, but I want to say again that I identify in so many ways with your struggle and your regrets about the time you spent believing in Mormonism. I just wanted to let you know that your time in that faith was not completely wasted. People like you provide a very important rung in the ladder that leads down from the heights of crazy fantasies to the solid earth of reality. Your time spent in study, and preparing for your missionary duties—your dedication and diligence and learning—has not been in vain. As a matter of fact, it was the diligence and dedication and sincere earnestness of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that led me to study….truly, deeply study… the scriptures of the Christian Bible. And THAT, more than anything else, is what led me to the realization that…..Holy Crap! This book is complete nonsense!!! It is very easy to go to church on Sunday and hear the message of love and peace….It would be a very different thing if the churches of Christianity opened up their Bibles on January 1st of every year, and read the whole thing straight through, every page, every passage, until the end. Would the scales fall from the eyes of the devout? They sure did from mine. You have not wasted a single moment, as far as I’m concerned Noggin’. You know from thorough investigation and diligent study what your scriptures say. I think if more people studied their scriptures completely, COMPLETELY… they would have to admit to themselves that they don’t believe it. As a matter of fact, after reading just about any book of scripture… book of Mormon, Koran, Christian Bible…. it’s amazing that anyone can still claim to believe. It should be so easy to just say this is CRAZY TALK!!! But it’s not easy, is it? It took me (is still taking me), many years. Thank you for sharing your trials, Noggin’. It helps.
Thanks, woofy for the kind words and the ability to see what you see in my posts.
Another memory to jot down:
The last time I went to the third hour of church commonly called “Elder’s Quorum” for the males (or “Relief Society” for females) was about 2 years ago. I was assigned to give a lesson to the group on Joseph Smith. I had already revealed to my highest priesthood authority figures over me and the Elder’s Quorum President that I did not in any way hold any capacity to say that I knew Joseph Smith was any prophet of any god. I also had revealed that I was finding atheism or agnosticism quite plausible. I suggested to the EQP that he give the lesson on Joseph Smith instead. The EQP told me he felt “inspired” that I should give it, so I did.
My lesson was nothing more than a watered down tour guide throughout the history of the events surrounding Joseph Smith and how he restored The Church of Jesus Christ from the great famine of the word of god on the earth. The lesson suggested I bear testimony to Smith’s prophetic mantle. I did not do that. The lesson ended about 10 minutes early.
So the EQP stands up finding he has some time to kill before we are free to go back home and so he adds his thoughts to the lesson. He was obviously disturbed by my lack of enthusiastic presentation. He recounted the vision found in Doctrine & Covenants section 76 where Smith & his co founder Mr. Rigdon simultaneously saw many “marvelous things of god” while in the newly dedicated 1st Temple of The Lord. They remarked at seeing in vision angels and wondrous things. He recounted how Smith kept asking Rigdon if he saw what Smith saw and then the EQP began to weep almost uncontrollably as he recounted Rigdon’s words
I see it too dear Joseph! I see it too!
The EQP then bore his solemn testimony through tears that held no room or capacity for the smallest doubt about the prophetic mantle of God that Smith bore.
It was sickening to sit there and have another grown man weep like that over something so one sided and demonstrably dubious in origin. It was almost as if he was trying to show me “This is how one should talk about Brother Joseph”. This approach of weeping through delivery is one of the ways, surprisingly common, that a Mormon orator can effectively bring about powerful emotions on those in attendance. Think back at the last time you identified with another person who started to cry (maybe a recent movie you saw) and you can see the emotions that stirs in you. Well, that—according to Mormonism—is how Truth is discerned. That is the Spirit of God resting upon you bearing testimony to you that what you are hearing is True… and therefore you are obliged to follow it.
I don’t think I ever went back to another Elder’s Quorum meeting after that. Maybe I did a couple of times. I don’t know. I do recall asking to be released from my responsibilities shortly thereafter. I distinctly recall feeling strongly that I no longer belonged in that group of fellowship… that for me to be there smacked of hypocrisy.