Faith Healing and the Science of the Bloomin’ Obvious

You may have heard that Adrian Holloway is heading to Lancaster soon.  He’s a Christian fundamentalist celebrity who some people say has a ‘healing ministry’.  Indeed, if you go on his website, you’ll find ‘healing testimonies’ from those who claim to have been healed by God under his ministry.

But let’s just take a step back from all the hype surrounding Adrian, and guys like him, just for a moment.  Let’s apply some basic logic.  What I like to call ‘the Science of the Bloomin’ Obvious’.

In our globally-connected world, mobile phones with cameras are ubiquitous throughout the developed nations and increasingly so in the developing nations, too.  It has never been easier to capture a picture or video and publish it on the Internet.  Consequently it is now possible to see just about anything that happens anywhere in the world.  Want to see a cat climb vertically down a fridge?  Enormous pimples being squeezed? A real live beheading by an extremist group?  Any number of sexual perversions? Sadly, all these and more than we could imagine are available to anyone who wishes to go and look.  This level of access to all of human experience is the unfortunate downside to our technological advances.  In short: if it goes on, it goes on the Web!

So here’s the thing: try and find yourself a video of an irrefutable healing.  Now I’m not talking about ‘testimonies’ by people who say they’ve been healed.  I’m not talking about ‘internal’ healing, like the disappearance of a headache or other pain that someone has had (or claimed to have had) for years.  I’m not talking about people entering a meeting in a wheelchair and walking out without it (if you need me to explain why that one isn’t irrefutable, a healthy dose of objectivity wouldn’t go amiss!)  No, I’m talking about real live video footage of the type of events I’ve heard so often recounted over the years: fingers, toes, limbs growing back instantly, hair lips and cleft pallets disappearing in seconds, visibly-withered arms stretching and growing instantly strong and full-muscled.  All these and more are claimed by those with ‘healing ministries’ when they peddle their hype to bring the crowd into a state of mass hysteria.  And yet video examples of this ‘external’ healing are never seen. Oh, sure, you’ll find someone (deluded or worse) who says they’ve seen them.  But in an online world stuffed full of video evidence of just about every other aspect of human reality, not one such video ever made it to YouTube.  Why not?  Because it doesn’t happen.  Cats climb vertically down fridges.  Enormous pimples get squeezed.  People get beheaded.  Sexual perversions of any type you can imagine are going on right now.  But as the complete lack of video evidence from anywhere in our camera-swamped world demonstrates resoundingly, people do not get instant, irrefutable, external healing from God.  If that’s not ‘bloomin’ obvious’ to you, then you’re probably a Christian fundamentalist…

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt as far as fundamentalist, way-out, all-singing-all-dancing Christianity is concerned.  Before settling for the rather more sensible and worked-out theology of the Baptist church, for several years of my life I was thoroughly taken in by fundamentalism’s attractive blend of supernatural promise and feel-good fake love. I fervently hugged people I hardly knew, uttered any number of pseudo-Christian platitudes, regularly quoted Bible verses completely out of context to fit with my increasingly deluded view of reality and often prayed for instant healing, both for myself and others.  On one occasion I was even convinced that I had been instantly healed from pneumonia. (I hadn’t.)  Fortunately, by the grace of God I eventually woke up to the Science of the Bloomin’ Obvious.

When I did wake up to reality, having worked through the guilt and embarrassment of having spent a few years of my life spouting a right load of tosh, I started to become aware of a God who is infinitely more impressive than the snake oil pitch of the ‘faith healer’.  The undeniable truth is that God has given us bodies which are incredibly complex, wonderfully made, and designed with a bewildering array of built-in healing mechanisms, many of which are not yet fully understood.  Believe acupuncture will work?  Then your amazing brain will probably take care of the damage. Put your faith in homeopathy? Again, you may well find yourself getting better (despite the HILARIOUS science behind that one!)  Why?  Because when God made you, he not only put bodily functions inside of you that enable you to repair yourself, but also a fascinating array of psychological processes and abilities that connect directly to those physiological systems.  Putting your intellectual trust (faith?) in any healing method can help trigger those systems.  No surprise, then, that many who attend healing meetings find themselves healthier.  As if this gift were not enough, God also gave us developmental brains, capable of continuing to discover and advance new medical techniques to enhance the self-healing process.  So, is healing from God?  You bet!  He’s amazing!  But probably not in the way you’ve been taught to think, particularly if you go to the type of church that Adrian Holloway is visiting.  Isn’t it time to wake up to the reality of a God who is so much bigger than a healing meeting? (Where they’ll often take your money, too).

I know that some Christians will start quoting the Bible at me (mainly out of context like they do) in order to ‘prove’ I’m wrong about Adrian, about healing, about fundamentalism. But they will do this in desperation and/or denial because they have no logical argument or reply to the Science of the Bloomin’ Obvious.  To them I say this: show me your videos, then I will listen to your protestations.  Or better still, just be honest with yourself about why those videos don’t exist. Stop buying into faith healing, and instead just do what Doubting Thomas did.  Faced with a theological point (Christ is risen) he asked to see the proof, and Jesus gave it to him. If it was wrong to ask, Jesus would have refused.  God gave you the ability to reason – why be so quick to ignore it?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go and see Adrian Holloway.  But if you must, go with your eyes open with regard to him, his ‘ministry’, and the deluded and cynically-manipulated theology of some who will be there with you.  (Don’t forget your video camera.)

More importantly, be immensely  thankful to a God who loves you and doesn’t need Adrian or a big meeting to heal you: He loves you so much that He’s already given you everything you need to be as healthy as it is possible for you to be right now.  And if that isn’t as healthy as you’d like, there’s probably a good reason for it.

Royal Mail – a cautionary tale

I have to be a little careful here since I don’t wish to get into legal difficulties with Royal Mail.  So I’ll confine myself to the facts and to stating my opinions and beliefs as mine and mine alone…

My son and I have both used door-to-door leaflet distribution as a method to get new customers for our teaching businesses.  Delivering the leaflets ourselves (a laborious process) we have consistently obtained one new customer per approximately 1000 leaflets delivered.

We decided to join forces and contract Royal Mail Door-to-door to deliver over 26,000 of our leaflets to the Morecambe and Lancaster area. We printed our leaflets back-to-back, in the hope that we might double up our response, or at the very least get around 26 new customers between us, given our usual response rate.  The leaflets were due to be delivered by Royal Mail between a Monday and Saturday in early December.  By Sunday, I felt something was wrong, since neither of us had received any new customers.  As a precaution, I sent out a Facebook message to all my friends (most of whom are in the delivery area), asking if they had received the leaflet.  The response was overwhelmingly negative, the leaflets had not been received from Royal Mail by over 85% of the respondents.

I contacted Royal Mail Door-to-door and presented my evidence.  After a wait of over a week, they responded to say they had checked their delivery schedules and all leaflets had been delivered.  Royal Mail Door-to-door actually suggested that my friends had simply forgotten receiving them!

In total, my son and I have gained only 4 customers from this ‘delivery’.
Given all this evidence, my opinion is that Royal Mail Door-to-door did not deliver the majority of my leaflets.  They, however, deny this, and have offered me a £50 goodwill payment (the distribution costs were over £1500) and a 10% discount off another distribution! In my opinion this is a pathetic and dishonest response. I feel robbed and conned.

I have consulted with a solicitor, who sent them a letter, but to no avail.  I have started Small Claims proceedings against Royal Mail Door-to-door, but they have denied my claim and entered a defence that I have not proven any non-delivery.

I have spoken to some postmen and ex-postmen.  The impression I get from these staff is that non-delivery of leaflets by Royal Mail is a regular occurrence.  Understandably, however, they are not willing to put anything in writing.

I now have a choice: either accept my losses (including solicitors’ and Small Claims fees) or pursue the case at even more cost, and try to get enough of my Facebook friends to confirm the non-deliveries in writing to make a worthwhile case in court.

I am undecided.  But if you run a business and might consider door-to-door distribution as a method of advertising, I would invite you to consider the above.  Your response is, of course, entirely your own, and I cannot legally make any recommendations or otherwise.

A cautionary tale, perhaps?

Tail of a Dog

Maybe my wart-free dog email wasn’t so far off the mark after all.  For some considerable time we have been talking about having a dog, but never really got around to it.  There was always a reason not to – certainly while I was teaching in school full-time there was no way it would work.

Yet somehow the idea has crept up on us and taken us by surprise.  Without any huge discussion, I looked on the Lancaster Animal Care website and found a lovely terrier cross called Boco.  He’s 7 years old and in need of a second chance. He’s extremely well-behaved almost all of the time, except that when he’s out on the lead, he goes a bit mental when he sees another dog. Can you imagine how stressed he is in the kennels?

To cut a longer story short (that’s not like me) we rather fell in love with him.  We hope to have him here for a three-day trial this week, and if all goes well, we will adopt him.  We have to get past a few potential obstacles: does he like the piano? The ‘cello? The laminate flooring (slippy slidy doggy?). Only time will tell.

Oh, and I’ve checked.  No warts.

Spam, dogs, warts and all

My usual routine this morning: settling down in front of the computer after breakfast to catch up with news, email, etc.  As a fairly early adopter of PC technology, I have had one of my email addresses for nearly 20 years.

Over time, this old address gathers more and more SPAM (unsolicited junk emails). Fortunately I have very good spam filters, which dump at least 200 pieces of junk every day without me having to read them.  However, there are always several that get through and find their way to my Inbox.

These unsolicited emails range in subject matter from the irrelevant to the irreverent, from the weird to the wonderful.  My experienced eye usually spots them and ignores them in the space of less than a second.  On occasions, however, the subject line is sufficiently strange to attract my attention.  Today was one such occasion.  You might even say I struck ‘spam-gold’.

The subject line?  “The Secret to a Wart-Free Dog”.

An encouraging two weeks

There was a time when I swore I would never become self-employed again.  After 10 years in business, taking the good(rare) with the bad(often), the grass of regular employment seemed distinctly greener.

Yet, as with many things in life, not everything worked out the way I imagined.  After 10 years in teaching (there’s a 10 year pattern emerging here, right?) I find myself once more embracing a new challenge.

My first two weeks as a self-employed private tutor have been steady but hopeful.  It’s early days, but I already have three regular weekly pupils booked in and a strong possibility of another two or three shortly.  In addition, I have decorated and equipped my ‘teaching room’ (previously a bedroom occupied by our recently-married son) and distributed some leaflets advertising my services in the local area.  In between all this, I have found time to build my ‘first draft’ website at www.hendra.org.uk.  This will be improved upon and expanded over time with the help of my wonderful nephew who is a professional copywriter.

I’m also very excited about the strong possibility of picking up regular group tutoring work in computing at the local community centre.  All in all, an encouraging two weeks!