The Magic in Words and Ceremonies.

Today there was a news story about a televangelist who ran into trouble with the law for hawking miracle water on the air.  Now, he sells the stuff on a web site.  If you buy and drink a little plastic bag of his water, you will get rich.  He posts testimonies.

Most devout Christians would not fall for such a shame.  But, they believe in something equally empty in power and substance, words and ceremonies.

From the attached post, I learned there is branch of the Catholic Church which is openly hostile to the new Pope.  This disappointment is from a branch of Catholicism that wants only “traditional” ceremonies using Latin.  They take this so seriously anything different is heresy.

Over on the Protestant side, I have seen Pat and Gorden Robertson instruct viewers on the precise words to use when they pray.  It is the same concept as Latin mass.

It is thought this notion words have magical powers comes from in human history.  Development of language allowed inner thoughts to be expressed with spoken words.  This gave language a magical quality, not unlike a god figure turning water into wine.

Pat Robertson recently said today’s public has become sophisticated and does not believe in miracles like it did during Biblical times.  He thinks God prefers simple and less educated people.

Pat should not worry.  The magic of Latin is there for many Catholics and saying certain words in English is the same to many Protestants.

Ironically, Jesus didn’t speak either language.

http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2013/hating-the-pope.html

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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55 Responses to The Magic in Words and Ceremonies.

  1. Dan says:

    Jon,

    On a more serious note, a controversial imam Shaker Elsayed of a prominent mosque in Arlington, Va., has urged immigrant Muslims in the United States to wage war for Islam. Your conclusion on protestants apply to Muslims as well. “They believe in something equally empty in power and substance, words and ceremonies.” Muslims account for 21.01% of the religion of the world. This is only 12% less than Christians. Muslims execute homosexuals, don’t allow women to vote, fly planes into buildings and call anyone who don’t believe as they do, infidels. In light of all of this, intollerance towards protestants runs high in the athiest community. Bill Maher (self proclaimed athiest) continually slams conservatives and Christians for their beliefs on his show yet he has never paid the same tribute to the muslim religion. You may state that the reason your intollerance is directed towards protestants is because they are the majority in the U.S. Well, the top five states with the most amount of mosques were: 1. New York-257 2. California-246 3. Texas-166 4. Florida-118 5. Illinois-109 5. New Jersey-109. As you attention is directed at protestants, the muslim community is growing exponentially. If imams such as Shaker Elsayed are preaching jihad against the U.S. in the U.S., shouldn’t the athiest community direct their attention towards this group? The Qu’ran is critical of anyone who does not believe God. They will not tolerate the athiest community like the protestant community does. So who cares if an evangelist is selling water, at least he isn’t learing how to fly planes into buildings.

    • entech says:

      I am a foreigner but I would suggest that if what you say is true the man should be jailed or deported.

      Statistics show that the Muslim population in America is about 2%, exponential growth would double the population about every 25 years. That would increase the population from about 7 billion to 14 billion, if the non Muslim population only increased by 25% in the same period this would be from 310 Billion to 387 Billion an increase of 77 billion as opposed to 7 billion. At this rate even with a greater birthrate they will never catch up.

      I would wager there was a time when the same things about population growth were said about the Irish Catholics.

      Between 1990 and 2008 the percentage of non-denominational Christians increased by by 3.4% while Muslims increased by 0.3%.
      And don’t forget it took Christianity 2000 years to reach 32% of world population.

      I would not underestimate the threat but we need to be sensible about wild claims of being out bred. The same claims are being made in Australia and Europe.

      Bill Maher on Muslims
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ipp-l_32M8

      • Michael Ross says:

        Just the same we need to bomb them over there to make sure they don’t come over here.

        • Avatar of realist realist says:

          Seriously? Did you see the Doonesbury cartoon series about the terrorist who followed one on the characters home. Trudeau, the cartoonist, was mocking the idea of terrorists, if they don’t get killed “over there”, automatically come over “here”. There really isn’t any rational reason for this to be true, and, of course, it isn’t true. It’s just one of those mindless and trite things people say in justification of invading a country for no good reason.

          • Michael Ross says:

            We can’t take that chance, however slight. They would impose Sharia law on our women, have our kids reading from the Koran in public schools, and all of us bowing to Mecca however many times a day. That is what is at stake as I see it. I would almost rather have a 10 Commandants monument at city hall.

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            Please tell me you are trying your hand at satire.

        • entech says:

          Deuteronomy 21:11-14 and our soldiers can bring their trophies back with them.

    • Henry says:

      dan: “If imams such as Shaker Elsayed are preaching jihad against the U.S. in the U.S., shouldn’t the athiest community direct their attention towards this group?”

      No. The atheist is more concerned about directing their energies towards antichrist efforts.

      • entech says:

        Don’t flatter yourself Henry, you are an irritant and a potential threat to humanity; these guys are the real deal and should be on the top of everyone’s list.

        • Henry says:

          entech: “these guys are the real deal and should be on the top of everyone’s list.”

          Preach that to Jon. If “these guys” are at the “top of everyone’s list”, then he should talk about them with much regularity. He rarely discusses the Moslem. Perhaps they get a free pass from the atheist if they ride a bicycle.

          entech: “an irritant and a potential threat to humanity”

          That is really unfair. You need to be more tolerant and less disciminatory.

          • entech says:

            I am sure our Gay friends would appreciate your tolerance and non discrimination.

            Mind you, if you treated a few on either side of Leviticus 20:13 as seriously you would not sound so hypocritical. Not many children would reach adulthood, you would lose a lot of politicians and Preachers from verse 10; and all the people who write astrology for the papers and the mediums offering phony comfort to people missing their dear departed would have to die as well.

          • Henry says:

            Unatoned, they will surely be put to death, as will those who covet their neighbor’s bicycle. Think great white throne judgement. One need not worry if Jesus Christ is not rejected. Go and sin no more.

          • entech says:

            All you need then is a death bed conversion. I sometimes think that Christianity is the most immoral doctrine of all.

          • Henry says:

            entech: “All you need then is a death bed conversion.”

            Go for it.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Henry 12:34 “No. The atheist is more concerned about directing their energies towards antichrist efforts.”

        If abortion rights for women and equal rights for gay people are antichrist political positions, I’m guilty as charged.

        It seems just as logical to me the Christian right is the antichrist. They are driving young people away from the church with their attitudes of hate toward groups who are guilty of nothing but wanting equal rights.

        • Henry says:

          Jon: “If abortion rights for women and equal rights for gay people are antichrist political positions, I’m guilty as charged.”

          Ok.

          Jon: “They are driving young people away from the church with their attitudes of hate toward groups who are guilty of nothing but wanting equal rights.”

          It is not my position to change the Law. If the “young people” are driven away from the Law, that doesn’t compell me to change the Law. It is more about them, the cycle they are in, and perhaps generational upbringing that has led to this. To be honest, I wouldn’t lay it at the feet of the “young people” like you do. There are elderly and middle aged people that set poor examples as well. You need not pick on the young.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 3:42 “It is not my position to change the Law.”

            This dialogue started with the question, why do I write about Christianity, not Islam. You have answered it perfectly. It’s because there are enough Christians who want to take over our government and put their version of a god in it. I have plenty to do dealing with misguided Chrisitans.

          • Henry says:

            Your fear is misplaced.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 6:39 “Your fear is misplaced.”

            In fact, it is not. All one has to do is look at the North Dakota legislature and see the successful legislation that put religion into the treatment of pregnant women. Islam was not involved, only fervent, out of control Christianity.

          • Henry says:

            Jon, what denomination was the legislation? What bible verses were written into law?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 7:19 “What denomination was the legistlation? What Bible verses were written into law?”

            The religious idea of when life begins, and, the religious idea of what marriage, have both been written into law. These originated with a long ago Pope and Jerry Falwell. Jerry F. was the first protestant cele to jump on the right to life bandwagon. Before that, the prevailing Protestant view was choice. If you don’t know what Bible verses or denominations are represented in these political views, I’d suggest you should not support them.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “North Dakota legislature and see the successful legislation”

            I guess according to the atheist, Christians should not even have a political voice, even if they haven’t taught religion from their government pulpit.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “The religious idea of when life begins, and, the religious idea of what marriage, have both been written into law.”

            I don’t recall a bible verse being written into law. Like I said earlier, the atheist expects the Christian to check their ideals at the legislative coatroom. It is very apparent a religion is not being practiced at the government pulpit. An atheist ideal (baby slaughter) was shot down, and there is a little soreness from it. Much like I have to tolerate the vacationer/North Korea expert/community organizer. Sometimes it is hard to not get your way. That is life.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            I suppose it was 40 years ago I started conversing with right to life people about the definition of when life begins. In spite of the fact people around the world of different religions and philosophies see the time when human life begins differently, right to life people believe they have discovered a completely objective view of this.

            Unfortunately, they are so emotionally invested, they are unable to even recognize their opinion is one based on their religious views.

          • Matt says:

            you could always move to minnesota haaha

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; I’m not emotionally invested. Everything I presented today is based on the science and known facts of reproduction. I didn’t mention one word based on religion or the Bible. There does appear to be an amount of emotion on your side of the argument though.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Let’s see, Wanna says there is a full fledged human being the moment a sperm fertilizes and egg. Henry says a full fledged human being has arrived when there are brain waves. The N. D. legistlature says it is when a heart beat is detected. Opinions go on and on. New definitions arrive every year. All of them arbitrary.

            There is one best time we can establish that a new human being has arrived, the moment of birth. Even that is not agreed upon world wide. So, we need a definition that preserves as many women’s rights as possible and works legally. That’s what Roe did. My guess is the Supreme Court will not overturn Roe because they would have to come up with another definition that meets the above requirements.

            This will not stop those who follow the Pope and Jerry F from thinking their opinions are the only correct ones.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “I suppose it was 40 years ago I started conversing with right to life people about the definition of when life begins.”

            The atheist has been stating that brain waves can be detected at 24 weeks, therefore no life before then. I take this as the available technology back in 1973. However, today, brain waves can be measured 6 weeks following conception, yet the old standard of 24 weeks is being embraced. Therefore, for the atheist, this discussion is really not about brainwaves or science. It is really about ensuring that a baby can be cut and sucked out of the womb so that another wrong or inconvenience can be presumably satisfied.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; @1:19 —Sounds a little emotional to me.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “Henry says a full fledged human being has arrived when there are brain waves.”

            That isn’t what I said. You will have to re-read. I was pointing out the advancing science how the measure of humanness is scientifically ever advancing.

            A human occurs at conception. Period.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “There is one best time we can establish that a new human being has arrived, the moment of birth.”

            That is so course and unscientific. You are following a track of Dr. Mengele. Not good results.

        • Matt says:

          “If abortion rights for women ” just wondering about the babies rights???…oh well what the hell they are just kids…they dont have feelings anyway…(sarcasm just so we are clear)

          • Michael Ross says:

            That’s right Matt, only “consenting adults” have rights. Make that LIBERAL consenting adults.

        • Matt says:

          a woman has no right to take someones life just because that life happens to be developing inside her womb. that child did not choose to be conceived,whether by irresponsible actions or not that choice falls on the woman.(except in the case of a rape which accounts for something like 2% of abortions so lets not even go down that road)

          guess what…you have sex…there is a chance of getting pregnant…you cant say you didnt know. its realy quite simple- if you are not ready for a baby in your life…dont have sex…period!

          heaven forbid anyone ever takes responsibility for their actions now days.

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            Women do not take a life; if they obey the current law as written and interpreted, they simply have an abortion. The courts have ruled that abortion is legal before week 24. Why did they pick that week? Because that is when a fetuses brain produces brain waves. In an emergency room, a person may have a heartbeat, but unless they have brain waves they are already dead and they can be disconnected from life support. If a fetus hasn’t a brain wave, then they can also be disconnected from life support. Why is this so difficult to understand?

            Regarding the “don’t have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant” argument, tell that to a horny husband.

          • Matt says:

            excelnt question…why is this so difficult to understand? the court also said it was ok to punch a hole in the back of a babies skull and suck its brains out while it was being delivered- so from that we can conclude that just because the court says so doesnt make it right.

            someone on life support from an accident or whatever the case may be is an entirely different situation…as wanna b sure pointed out, those 2 cells contain everything that person will be…including their soul. because of the deliberate act of taking a life abortion would be comparable to euthanasia, which is also wrong… and illegal.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Matt 6:20 “Including their soul.”

            Another perfect example of why I don’t have time to criticize Islam–there are so many Christians that want their version of religion put into our laws. There is no “soul”. It is a mythical religious idea that has no place in our laws.

          • Matt says:

            “There is no “soul”. It is a mythical religious idea”

            is it jon? how sure of that are you? i am 100% sure that there is a soul and we cant both be right…

            i dont think the nd legislature used the term soul(but im not sure on that) that was my addition.

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      Why should you care where Bill Maher directs his venom? Do you really believe that we do not have the right to decide for ourselves where we will direct our attentions? This idea that we need to conform to some outside standard of who or what group should be reviled first smacks of an authoritarian state of mind that I refuse to acknowledge. Who cares what target any one of us chooses to speak out against. Some people don’t like oil pipelines and others hate abortion. Others are happy with anything as long as they can have their cans of beer and their video games. Nobody needs to abide by your rules. Life is a lot easier if you accept this.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Dan 3:43 re: Growth of the Muslim population in the U. S.

      I agree the faith of Islam is growing in both Europe and the U. S. While there are troublesome teachings in Islam, there are also troubling teachings in Christianity. Hindus in India kill their political opponents. What faiths are all about is not necessarily what their imans or priests preach about. I have disagreements with other nonbelievers on this point as well.

      What religions are all about is what the people in the pews think they are about. It is often quite different than what a faith’s clergy think it is about. How about Catholics and birth control–the clergy preach it is sin, the laity ignore the priests.

      The reason I write about Christians instead of Muslims is to try, mostly unsuccessfully, to explain why Christians should keep their noses out of politics and government. Currently, that would be out of gay marriage and abortion. They should do this to establish and maintain separation of church and state. The reason they should be in favor of this is because one day they, or their decentants, will be in the minority. Then, if government is influenced by another religion, they will be sitting in the same place as atheists, and various different religions, are sitting today. The god, Allah will be in Pledge of Allegiance.

      When 9/11 happened, I thought now the Christian religious right will get it. Religion and a government combined to send those mem here. But, the religious right is a group very slow to learn. It will not understand the folly of mixing government with religion until they are actually under a different religion which is hostile to them.

      • Henry says:

        Jon: “Religion and a government combined to send those mem here.”

        Government? Really? I thought you said in the past that governments weren’t involved in 9/11 and that we invaded Iraqistan and Afghan under false pretenses? Which way do you want it?

      • Matt says:

        wether the people in the pews follow the teachings of the church or not has not affect on the teachings. catholic doctrine is the same everywhere in the world…every single church that is in union with rome has the exact same doctrine regardless of what the laity do or think.

        you can not compare muslims and hindus to catholics…apples and oranges jon. murder is nowhere in our teachings…in fact the exact oposite is true. we are one of the only institutions that, under all circumstances unholds life.

        • entech says:

          Matt 7:48 we are one of the only institutions that, under all circumstances unholds life. Sometimes a typo can be humorous, even when the subject is serious. The lady in Ireland wanted to hold on to her life but was forced to unhold, in fact I think you could make a case for criminal negligence, perhaps manslaughter.

          Health authorities in Ireland are investigating the death of a pregnant woman whose husband says she was denied an abortion following severe complications.
          Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died of septicaemia a week after presenting with back pain on 21 October at University hospital in Galway, where she was found to be miscarrying.
          After the 31-year-old dentist was told that she was miscarrying, her husband reportedly said that she had asked for a medical termination a number of times over a three day period, during which she was in severe pain.
          But he said these requests were denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told at one point: “This is a Catholic country.”
          Medical staff removed the dead foetus days later after the heartbeat stopped but Halappanavar died of septicaemia on 28 October.

          You would think with all the scandal in Ireland over the last few years they would have been more sensible, you could probably argue that it would not have been an abortion just a medical intervention to speed up a miscarriage that was already underway, an intervention to save the life of the mother.

          • Matt says:

            ha that typo does change things doesnt it.

            it is sad that situation happened. i guess you could argue alot of things. honestly that is one life lost(one lost is still not good dont get me wrong)…in america we abort roughly 3000 children per day(i think that number is correct…close anyhow)…this is a sick and heinous holocaust that our society will have to answer for.

          • Matt says:

            i guess my point is the logic with your example seems to be you think it better to slaughter 3000 childen/day in order to save one person from dying due to complications. it just doesnt make any sense…sorry…

          • entech says:

            Matt, you are still trapped in your religious thinking.
            A miscarriage was under way, apart from the heartbeat, the baby was dead, the mother was acting as a life support system, speed up the miscarriage, complete it if it makes you feel better to call it something wishy washy. There was no chance of saving the baby and a good chance of saving the mother.
            mindless, stupid dogma played a large part in the death of that woman.

            This bears no relationship to the abortion laws in America, it is murder by Catholic Dogma. Never mind it was sad that it happened something could have been done to increase the survival possibilities for the mother.

            Now tell me what does the abortion statistics in America have to do with a case in a foreign country,a country that has a total ban on abortion, even to the extent of banning a rape victim from going overseas to get a termination. You can only be trying to take some of the blame and horror away from allowing a woman to die.

          • Henry says:

            The solve-all abortion. We are lead to believe that if the Dentist had an abortion, she would have lived. There is no evidence of that in the supposed world of atheist required evidence, yet the atheist clings to that story. Ironic. In fact, maybe the surgical procedure to remove the dead fetus was the source of the sepsis. We don’t know, and to lay that sad story at the feet of the pro-life people is reprehensible.

            Our family had a similar situation. The pregnancy was going horribly with illness beyond the usual effects. After the heartbeat stopped, our OB recommended inducing labor and deliver him naturally as opposed to surgically. He said it was safer and that we would appreciate it afterwards. We did.

          • Matt says:

            look, i dont know the situation in ireland, i am in no place to judge what was going on but it doesnt matter. it does not matter what country it is in, if we had the same laws in america maybe we would be fortunate enough to have only one death instead of 3000 per day! praise the Lord ireland has more brains than the united states!

            murder by catholic dogma? are you serious? look at how many lives would be saved if every one followed catholic dogma. you have no clue how different this world would be if everyone lived according to catholic teachings because you know nothing about catholic teachings!

            you think there was horror in lettig this woman die? let me tell you something about horror. a helpless defenseless infant who is fully aware of the world he is in(the womb) and can feel hot, cold, touch, and PAIN just like you and i can. it can suck its thumb and put its arms up to guard itself against the pressure of the ultrasound technicians probe. a living human being who knows and can react to the sound of its mother and fathers voice. for 40 years that same infant has been having its arms and legs violently ripped form its body, (fully aware of the pain just as if it were happening to you as you sit there) its skull crushed, its tissue sucked out through a hose and its body parts layed on a tabe for someone to count every finger and toe to make sure they didnt miss something.
            THAT IS HORROR!!!
            THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE DONE!!!
            and believe me…someday we will pay the price for that crime against humanity. then we might just be wishing we were a little more like ireland. Lord have mercy on our country!

            you talk about one life…and every life is equally important…but open your eyes…look at what is really going on…it is terrifying.
            Lord have mercy and God Bless.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Matt 2:05 I really don’t see how you can consider yourself a defender of human life when you stand on the Christian faith as the source of morality. God really doesn’t care about human life. The recorded number of people he killed in the Bible is 2.5 million. If you were sincere in your concern for human life, you would urge people to stop reading the Bible and going to its churches.

          • Matt says:

            jon i think it best if you leave interpreting the bible and and the actions of god to the proffessionals…i think you would find you are a little out of your league. i have another book that you are not going to read “The Healing of Families” by fr. yozefu b. ssemakula. its pretty dificult to explain…especially to someone who doesnt even believe in god. think of it this way- a. god allowing satan to do his work or b. god allowing our own sin coming back to bite us in the rear…his ways are hard to understand sometimes i know, i have stuggled with it myslef…. but then you will just tell me thats all crazy talk because you are a very blinded individual who cant come to terms with the fact that there is more to life than just your little world and that you are not in control. your view of the world is very narrow my friend.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Matt 5:11 “Jon, I think it best if you leave the Bible and actions of God to the professionals…your view of the world is very narrow.”

            I do, in fact, consult professionals. These are people who have spent their professional lives combing over the Bible and the history that surrounds it. They come to conclusions exactly the opposite of yours–it is doubtful there was a Jesus of Nazarath, there is no evidence of a God and the concepts of sin like abortion and same sex marriage are arbitrary rules made up by individual groups, not collective society.

            You have made suggestions of material I should read. I can return the favor. Stop in at Barns and Nobel, buy Richard Dawkins The God Delusion. It would lift a lot of guilt from you. You would not have to feel guilty for the 2.5 million people God killed.

          • Matt says:

            haaha whierd…i get my information from people who have spent their entire lives sutying god and the bible as well…again…they cant both be right:)

  2. Wanna B Sure says:

    Ah ys Peter Popoff from Canada, and his miracle spring water. About 6 years ago, I saw his pitch, and just for fits and giggles, I called his number indicating interest. About every two weeks thereafter for over a year, I received letters, and other trinkets to rub on, put under the pillow, etc, etc if I remember right. Virtually every letter could easily be considered to be intimidating and accusatory if you didn’t follow the instructions to receive money, healing, and of course the constant reminder of “the prophet/profit Popoff’s authority. If one was a vulnerable adult, they could easily be sucked into his scam. Check him out on U-Tube, along with Robert Tilton. In the end, I had a stack of material from him that filled two large manilla folders. I filed them under B/S. (And I still have them somewhere. He just wouldn’t let up. Along with the mailings, there were also computer generated phone calls constantly ringing. All in all, it could be considered herassment. I shudder to think what I would have received had I sent him a dollar. It was an experiment.

  3. Avatar of realist realist says:

    I meant to mention the link at the end of this piece; I enjoyed reading it and it confirms what I had heard. Not that that is a reason to like the link. :)

  4. Wolfy32 says:

    Ironic how an article on “magical” words turned into a written frenzy on mostly abortion… I Have to say I enjoyed reading the highly emotive arguements from both sides.

    However, there’s no such thing as magical words even though there’s several pages of words trying to argue very serious issues.. Words can instantly instil a very deep and powerful emotion. Words… Probably close to one of the most powerful and magical things about humanity.. So much so, that in Babylon God made it so people couldn’t understand each other and gave them numerous languages… Words… Way more powerful and magical than anything else within the human race..

    Athiest and the religious alike proved their power just in all the comments.

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