July 15, 2012
Blinders. We wear them because we are scientific.
Sherry Weddell, Miracles, Healing, and Conversion. Are We Ready for This?:
The Catholic Diocese of Itanger in India has grown 40% over the past 35 years. Their secret? Miraculous healings apparently. Lots of them. Conversions because of an encounter with the healing power of Jesus Christ are occurring by the millions all over the world and is readily spoken of by other kinds of Christians but Catholics are often reluctant to acknowledge that it happens among us as well. And this reluctance is not just found among western Catholics.
Note the Vatican Insider title: India's "Impossible" Miracles. Note that the Indian priest telling this story says the stories “baffle me. I have a theological mindset and it is easy to become skeptical about this kind of thing. But the interested parties are absolutely convinced that what happened to them was real.”
Just when must a theological mindset be at odds with acknowledging the power of God to heal? That's not a "theological" mindset (think St. Augustine gathering stories of healing in his diocese), that's an Enlightenment mindset. And it shows a poverty of both imagination and spiritual expectancy that would be very foreign to most of the great Catholic missionaries and evangelists of the past.
An Indian friend wrote and shared his experience of the Catholic attitudes toward evangelization in India:
There is a strong emphasis on the narrative that "evangelization has not worked," that India is somehow inherently impervious to the Gospel. It is also ironic because Indian cultures are *very* religious, popular devotions are, well, really popular, there isn't this kind of skepticism towards and distance between the "ordinary" world and the supernatural/spiritual/numinous, there is a long and rich tradition of mysticism and so on. Stories like Arunachal Pradesh are a reminder of the sovereignty of God! And so inspiring!
And I responded: “Interesting - the "India is impervious to the Gospel" which I also heard in the 90's at my Jesuit grad school from a Jesuit. He told our class (seriously) that Francis Xavier went to India to get away from the Pope! Fortunately, I happened to have a grad background in Indian - specifically Jesuit - mission history as well as a much more accurate sense of the realities of global missions. He said that only 2% of Asians were Christian while I knew that the number was really about 7% then.” Today, that percentage is nearly 9%....
Maybe the real narrative should be that Jesuits are somehow inherently impervious to the Gospel!
That "Enlightenment mindset" is so bogus. All kinds of people "know" things such as that miracles don't happen. How do they know? Dogma.
Evidence that miracles don't happen? "We don't need no steenkin' evidence, we're scientists!" Actually it was Enlightenment thinking that divided the world into "normal" things and "miracles." But that was just an assertion. Which immediately became a set of mental blinders. It was and is a faith that people convert to. No one at the time said that Moses or Jesus worked "miracles." They spoke of "signs" and "wonders."Likewise the Enlightenment asserted that if mankind were freed of religion and superstition, we would become wiser and better. But this was never advanced as a hypothesis, as something that could be tested and falsified.
A real scientist should be a truth-seeker, and should be delighted to hear that the universe might possibly be richer and odder than he had thought.Posted by John Weidner at July 15, 2012 2:23 PM