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Tags faith healers , glossolalia , speaking in tongues

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Old 1st November 2008, 12:52 PM   #1
Tumblehome
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Skepticism from the inside out

At my dad's nursing home, I've come to know another gentleman there and chat with him most evenings. He isn't a bible thumper by any means, but he was raised in a fairly serious Christian family, and the churches he attented included speaking-in-tongues and faith healing, and occasionally things like this come out: "You know, Jesus had siblings, and I hear their descendants are living in Manitoba. I'd like to meet them sometime."

He's in his seventies, but still has all his wits. In all our chats, I have never, ever, spoken out against his beliefs, and he doesn't know I'm an atheist. The only time I responded to one of his statements was when he asked why, if we came from monkeys, aren't monkeys giving birth to humans today? I just gave my layman's version: "Well, the way I understand it, evolution doesn't work like that..."

Lately, I can tell that he's been thinking about dying and death, and this seems to have led to questioning the beliefs he grew up with. The first indication was a couple of weeks ago when he wondered about the truth of faith healers. "They say the people are healed, but how do we know?" I said I didn't know much about them, but I wondered why faith healers don't go around to hospitals and nursing homes to cure all the afflicted.

A few days later, he confided that he didn't believe the people he'd seen speaking in tongues. "If God is talking through them, why doesn't he speak English so we can understand him? I never liked that. I didn't go to church to hear gibberish. I think it's all an act."

Last night, he wondered about all the different flavours of Xism. "This one says this, that one says that. How are we supposed to know which is right? I guess I just have to hope the church I went to is the right one."

Like I said, I have never spoken against his beliefs, and have no intention of robbing him of any comfort they might give him in his final years. I have no doubt that he's picked up subtle cues from me, but his questioning seems to be coming from within, without any prompting at all from me.

I don't know, or care, really, how this will turn out. He might end up fully rejecting religion or maybe he'll go back to full-blown belief, but watching one man's self-generated skepticism unfold is rather interesting.
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Old 1st November 2008, 01:02 PM   #2
X
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Jesus' descendants live in Manitoba, you say?

I wonder if I've ever met them...

And I agree. Watching a person involved in a religion his whole life ask the questions he's been bottling up for years sounds very interesting.
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Old 1st November 2008, 03:23 PM   #3
Tumblehome
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I've heard Manitoba described as God's country.

Just sayin', you know....

It's interesting, all right. After all the things he's come out with, the Manitoba story being just one, I never would have guessed he'd start to question his beliefs. There's always hope, I guess.

Last edited by Tumblehome; 1st November 2008 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 1st November 2008, 04:33 PM   #4
shadron
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It doesn't sound to me like he's nearing an end (unless there's something going on you haven't mentioned). My dad, in his seventies, cut a diseased hickory on his Ozark farm down. He split up a bunch of it and took it to town, and left it in a box on the town square "so the old folks will have some whittlin' wood." He's 91 himself now, and not living on the farm anymore, but not because he doesn't want to be; it has more to do with my mother's health.

Tell him he's got time yet, and encourage his investigations into his beliefs. He sounds like he's having a right good time - sort of like the old codger in Monster House, who is finally free to do what he wants.
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Old 1st November 2008, 05:46 PM   #5
Tumblehome
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I don't know of anything specific that's got him thinking about dying. I assume it's just the general pondering you tend to do once you realize you're much closer to the end than the beginning. He's not being maudlin about it, just bringing up the points and trying to work them out.

He still jokes about hooking up with a long-legged redhead, so I don't think he needs to be told there's lots of life in him yet. And I'm resisting the urge to actively encourage more questioning. I like the idea that this has come solely from within himself, and I'm kind of interested in seeing how far it'll go. My hunch, or my hope at least, is that it will lead to its logical conclusion.

............

I like your dad. I feel like going out and getting some whittlin' wood myself.
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