An Angel in a Priest Collar?

Photo By: The Wandering Angel (Flickr)

Amazing things happen every day. People do amazing things every day. Doctors perform seemingly impossible life-saving surgeries every day. Drugs cure illness and disease and make people’s lives better every day. Why isn’t this enough? Instead of thanking the doctor and being glad there is an education system that trained her, why do so many people insist on thanking a god? Or, conversely, instead of acknowledging that shit happens when the person on the operating table doesn’t survive or the drug doesn’t work, why do so many people insist on blaming a devil or worse, blame the person for their lack of faith? (Isn’t it “interesting” how god gets the thanks when things go right but never the blame when they go wrong? I wish I was allowed that kind of leeway.)

Humans Make Bad Choices

My home was broken into earlier this week. A human being made a choice – motivated by a host of reasons I’m sure – a choice to climb through the tiny unlocked kitchen window and proceed to steal valuable items from my home. Our peace and sense of safety was fractured. My young children have felt the effects the most. It makes me angry. But I’m not angry at the devil. I’m angry at myself for not locking the window and most of all, I’m angry at the HUMAN BEING who CHOSE to commit a crime. I’m also thankful to the kind and and sensitive Vancouver Police Officers who took my report and spent a lot of time in my small home looking around, attending to every little details. I’m thankful to the CSI with the great sense of humour who let my kids help fingerprint my husband (for elimination purposes) and pulled a viable print from the window glass. I’m happy we were gone when it happened. I’m relieved nothing more valuable was stolen. I’m cognizant of the reality that this sort of thing happens regularly. We aren’t cursed. We’re not being punished. Things like this happen and there are only a limited number of things one can do to prevent it. Our life goes on and for that, I am glad.

Humans Make Decent Choices

Recently in Missouri, 19-year-old Katie Lentz was hit head-on by a drunk driver. After an hour and a half, pinned inside the crumpled mass of her car, she was near death. The firefighters’ equipment wasn’t working and they had made a call for backup. While the emergency professionals were doing what they could, she apparently asked the people around to pray. Witnesses say a man in Catholic Priest garb “appeared out of nowhere”. He had apparently managed to get past the cordoned area, prayed for the girl, put anointing oil on her, told the people nearby that the equipment would work and left. The equipment didn’t start working, but very soon after, firefighters from a nearby department arrived with their jaws-of-life. Lentz was extricated and is now alive, in critical condition at a nearby hospital. This is the most accurate account of the story I can gather from multiple sources online. It’s possible new facts have emerged that I’m not aware of as this is an evolving story.

This is an example of a shitty situation that makes us sad and mad. It’s also an example of professionals doing their jobs, jobs I’m very glad exist. The emergency personnel at the scene used their skills and fabulous inventions to save Lentz. The doctors are now working to keep her alive and repair the damage to her body. These are all amazing things that have nothing to do with a god, angels, satan, demons or a priest.

Can’t We Just Leave Well Enough Alone?

Why does this matter? Why can’t we just let people believe what they want? What harm is there in believing that a priest prayed and a miracle happened? At a personal level, I suppose it doesn’t matter. But group/societal delusions start with individuals and large scale delusions quickly become problematic to everyone. The same beliefs that make people feel better about unfortunate situations are the beliefs that spill over into other decisions that affect us all. The really important issues that humans deal with can quickly get overshadowed and even completely buried by conversations, stories and questions about things like mysterious angelic apparitions. On a personal scale, I’m not going to be the asshole who tells a firefighter he’s delusional for thinking some priest was a supernatural being and that his appearance saved a girl’s life. But on a larger scale, I think it’s important that we at least raise a questioning eyebrow at the assertion.

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