while i was christian, i had a friend who had cancer. not really a “friend,” but someone close to me. anyway, he wasn't christian at the time, and i didn't think it was his time to go yet. so, i prayed very often at night for him... and here's the “crazy” part. i used to pray that, instead of him, i would have the cancer... that somehow, God would transfer his cancer to my body and let him live ... to give him more time to become a christian. because, for me, it was no big sacrifice. i mean, granted, i was only 20-something, but i wasn't afraid of death. my family might be hurt, but they would understand, in the end. and chances are they would have become christian too if something of this magnitude happened. it was a win-win situation (in my mind at the time).Doesn’t sound “crazy” to me at all, A. :) But perhaps I'm biased; many people I know live lives that seem to be aggregations of staggering improbabilities. I know survivors of “terminal” illnesses, “fatal” accidents and have experienced firsthand mind-boggling coincidences that defy explanation.
but, in the end, the friend passed away. i couldn't believe it. i really thought that my faith in God would have healed him. hm... that's pretty pompous of me, huh? but, afterwards, i believed it was my lack of faith that could not heal him.
What are we to make of it?
(continued from main journal)
I guess it depends a great deal on how we define “miracles.” Back in college, I had a close friend who firmly believed that the world is a fluid arena that can be bent to the will of a sufficiently strong personality. He could be dismissed as a kooky eccentric except for the fact that, time and time again, the world did seem to fall in place for him in dozens of ways – in work, in academics and in social interactions. This was a guy who routinely bought one-way tickets to 3rd world nations whose language he doesn’t speak … yet always always managed to find shelter, food, fascinating local artifacts (he collects tribal musical instruments) and safe passage back home.
The most memorable thing about Jeff in retrospect, was his total absence of fear in the face of long odds; he never gave himself an fallback or safety net in anything he tried. Failure did not exist in his world – and he never spent a moment planning for such contingencies. The only kind of failure, in his view, is the failure to believe.
As an introvert, he rarely talked about his zero-safety-net approach to life with most people (he was highly self-conscious in not wanting to sound like a braggart) – but just watching him over the years regularly catch one improbably “lucky” break after another (example: in spite of graduating into a horrible economy, he applied to just one job after graduation … and scored an offer over about two-dozen other final candidates) seriously rattled my view of a universe indifferent to sentient will.
I remember what Jeff told me once about belief and the capacity for a strong-willed mind to shape reality (I’m paraphrasing here): there’s two kinds of desire/will: the desperation-filled, sickly wishes like people buying lotto tickets, of women who go crawling back to abusive partners expecting things to magically change, etc. They are doomed to failure, because in the most essential core of their being – they don’t really expect their desire to be fulfilled. The kind of will I’m talking about is a quiet understanding of your desired outcomes – a calm, certain knowing that circumstances will work out to your designs.
“What are you trying to tell me … that I can dodge bullets?” I replied.
“No, PJ. I’m telling you that when you’re ready … you won’t have to.”
Ok, ok … so he didn’t say that.
But kidding aside … what if his theory was true?
What if the world could truly be bent to the matrix of our will if we just believe hard enough, desire a specific outcome with enough passion?
I’ve beaten spectacularly improbable odds in a multitude of events in my life … and living such a life can’t help but make you wonder. Is that perhaps the secular explaination for why “prayer” works?
Jesus answered and said unto them: Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. - Matthew 21:21
Do you believe reality can be shaped by conscious will and imagination?
a. Yes, I've experienced it firsthand
b. Yes, I haven't experienced it firsthand, but I've seen it happen for others
c. Maybe, though I've never witnessed it
d. No, the universe is indifferent to sentience