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Praying on the Weak

I'm from that old European stock that gets too muddy once the family blood trickles down my end. But our roots are deeply embedded in Roman Catholicism. My grandmother, like most Portuguese/Cape Verdean grandmothers, visits every holy site on the planet, collects holy water and buys every Franklin Mint edition of the Popes, Christ, Christmas or Bible scenes. So I know my religulosity when I see it.

I've sat on many a porch, with a lite beer in my hand and debated the Bible with learned friends too. We know who did what and when. The problem is comprehending the motivations of some of those people. But that stuff (if it happened), was ages ago. People will continue to argue about it all, and why not? If you're gonna believe Enoch met all those angels...then how the frak can you laugh at Betty and Barney Hill?

Like I said...religion...it's complicated. So, I steer clear of the hard stuff that's got PhD's stirring in their sleep, in favor of the lighter, fluffier holier than thou stuff. Like--- healing with prayer.

Jesus Christ did it. He raised Lazarus and cured a few other peeps (from leprosy, blindness and demons) here and there. He never did it quietly. He didn't have a special stare. He spoke and shit happened. It's a very old trick employed by the creator of the universe, some say. Hence the thing we call 'the word of God'. It's as if words once carried some sort of power. Some say vibrations can raise huge stones or dismantle molecules so some devious genius can walk through walls. Who knows.

It doesn't change the fact that old tales of sorcerers, wizards and witches all center around spells; words to be chanted aloud...so that crazy things can happen.

This brings us to prayer. Prayers are like wishes. Chances are we've all whispered or given the circumstances, fell to our knees and uttered a prayer or two. I've seen desperate people who've all but renounced their god, drop on all fours in desperate times. We've been biologically hardwired to grovel. If your gonna ask for a new job, mercedes or whiter teeth...might as well ask for a cure for Aunt Hazel's narcolepsy too.

There was a time (the 4th century) when illness was believed a punishment from God. So what would you have done given the circumstances? Prayed.

The idea of healing through prayer entered the modern age in the mid-19th century. Christians associated illness with bad spiritual energy and believed invoking good energy through prayer had healing effects.

In 2006 (on my birthday, oddly enough), the Washington Post published an article about the upsurge of prayer for healing. Professor Paul Parker said, "Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism--every religion believes in prayer for healing." Skeptics (because ya always gotta have outcasts), have rallied with unflinching devotion (as most cult members do) against prayers ineffectiveness in healing. Because if you think about it, prayer is supernatural in context...just like science was, once.

In the end, who's to say if it works or not? In 1999 I went to Fatima, Portugal. I walked on the same land where Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta saw The Lady of the Olives in 1917. Fatima is now a tourist destination. People crawl on their hands and knees in supplication to Mary in the hopes of being healed, physically, mentally, spiritually...

I didn't have a religious epiphany then, but I did realize that faith and belief carry a lot of power over mind and body. Lest we forget, there was a time medicine was seen as some kind of sacred, religious rite of passage. Modern medicine may have some really sweet technology to help give insight into the human body, but whether you live or not is up to something else entirely. Maybe you should start counting your blessings.

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