Vanity thought #1725. God learns about his own powers

The “Story of God with Morgan Freeman” is coming to an end and the last episode in the series is about the power of miracles. Clearly a topic that could not have been avoided in Judaeo-Christian view of religion. They need God’s physical presence in their lives and miracles provide it, otherwise it’s just “I believe that..” or “I have faith that..” Surely God reveals Himself to them according to their worship, which is a universal principle independent of their denominations, but with their sinful lives He is not going to reveal much, hence the need to complement their realizations with “miracles”.

Freeman starts with a personal story of a recovering from a disease and then jumps to a story of New York window washer who survived a fall from the top of 47 story building. Both could be considered miracles by people looking for those but otherwise the window washer was simply left puzzled by what happened and decided to move on with his life without finding all the answers. He visibly tried to explain it as a miracle and as God’s intervention but he didn’t look convinced, and then there was a question of his brother who died in the same fall and wasn’t saved by God. “Why me and not him?” is a tough question to answer for simple window washer so he just moved on without confusing himself any further.

In Freeman’s own case he concluded with “some say God saved me”, which isn’t much. What he astutely observed, however, is that believers need miracles as a proof of God, which I say is a proof that they do not have any actual realization of the Supreme, thanks to their degraded lifestyles. Otherwise Christianity has plenty to offer to its followers, people KNOW that Christ is real, they just can’t hang on to it and lose it with every bite of animal flesh or a sip of wine.

This was obvious from Freeman’s next visit, which was to a celebration of Passover with a Jewish family, and featured a rare female rabbi to provide explanations. Jewish diet, as any other cuisine in the region, isn’t heavily dependent on meat. I’ve heard that people might be genuinely surprised when someone adopts vegetarianism and can’t understand how it could be possible but when pointed out that most of their everyday dishes are already meat free they suddenly realize that it is actually true. There’s a lot of vegetables, bread, cheese, and chickpeas, all smothered in healthy olive oil, and meat is actually a treat, not a staple food.

I can’t say what they were eating at that dinner for sure, I bet vegetarians could have survived it, but they all clearly drank wine, except for children, of course. Wine featured prominently as part of the ritual, too. The point of this Passover dinner was to go through the story of Jews being saved from Egyptians and commemorate it with consuming relevant foods. The “Passover” itself refers to Jews smearing thresholds of their homes with blood as a sign to the angel of death who brought plague to the Egyptians to pass over houses of God’s chosen people. There were lots of other miracles as well, Moses parting the sea and then closing it after Jews have passed through etc etc. What I liked about this ritual is that Jews remember not only their own role in the story but also the role of Egyptians, God’s “other children”, who got all sacrificed to clear the way for Israel to rise.

What’s the spiritual significance of the story? I don’t know, intoxicated mind cannot perceive God in any way, and at one point someone said there that Bible stories are not literal but only the ideas to learn lessons from. Actually, it was the rabbi herself. I understand how to this female posing as a priest and enjoying a glass of wine Bible might appear only as a collection of myths, God isn’t going to actually reveal Himself to such a person.

Then there was a short talk with Vatican priest about miracles in Catholic church. All we learned from it was that the Church investigates these miracles very seriously, sometimes spending decades to confirm them. The most obvious question of whether Catholic criteria would satisfy scientists and doctors and whether there are other, non-miraculous explanations wasn’t even raised. Most of it revolves around people getting healed after praying to departed personalities. Two healings and such a person is considered for sainthood. In contrast with Jewish female rabbi the priest said that belief in Christ performing miracles, such as walking on water, is central to understanding Christianity. To Catholics those were not metaphors, not myths, not ideas, those were actual miracles.

On the science side of things we were presented with trivial facts about probabilities. Any combination of six cards coming in a particular succession has one in fourteen billion chance, meaning any draw of six cards is a “miracle”. He could have added that after a succession of, say, six tails, the chance of the next coin flip being a tail again is still one in two. It’s counter-intuitive, sure, but it doesn’t say anything about miracles.

Then the producers gently bent the narrative towards Eastern concept of karma and inter-connectedness of everything. They started with Romans who augmented their prayers to Gods for wins in gambling on horses with outright cheating. Once again – realization of God does not go well with gambling, whatever miracles happen their they won’t be proof of anything, no matter how much they pray for them.

Next we jumped to Daoist fortune teller and in their philosophy there are no miracles, just connections we can’t see. They do leave room for free will and divine interventions, however.

Then we had a story of a Christian dude who got cured from incurable cancer. Interestingly, it’s not the prayers that cured him but rather, as a result of community prayers, the God actually spoke to him and told him now it was the time to go to the hospital where chemotherapy miraculously dissolved all his cancer tissue, and his tumors were the size of apples, as he said himself. From the video they looked like the size of watermelons, though. I’d say it was clearly a miracle, a divine intervention (in the form of Supersoul, most likely), but the actual healing itself was unusual only from the POV of modern medicine. I mean it was as connected to God as any other process we observe, it’s just that most of the time, due to our upbringing, we do not see the universe as acting according to the will of God and imagine other driving forces instead. We think that if medicine can explain it then it’s not God whereas it’s God’s will all the way and nothing else.

To cement this point Freeman went to Gaya to talk to a Buddhist monk (of western extraction). The thrust of that conversation was that miracles are nothing, with proper training of the mind anybody can do them (or be born as a bird if he really wants to fly), and we’d rather should focus on God who resides within our hearts. Find a connection to this God and you can perform miracles, but that’s not what the world needs – healing, reconciliation etc. Levitating with your butt three inches off the ground might be a miracle but it’s stupid and it doesn’t help anyone.

Funny thing, when transcribing the video for subtitles people working on it produced this: “So then if you’re being inspired by your inner god, Buddha, Christ, you know, Christian or whatever”, but the monk actually said “Krishna, whatever”.

That was one and only mention of Kṛṣṇa, nice that they eventually did it, but they have also completely missed it, just like lots of topics discussed in this show missed the point and presented over-simplified materialistic or māyāvāda interpretations instead.

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