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Show Notes - Episode 105

April 3, 2022

https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/why-our-brains-see-faces-everywhere-350616#:~:text=%22When%20objects%20look%20compellingly%20face,all%20processed%20the%20same%20way.%22

 

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/nov/18/st-peters-bones-christian-relics

 

https://hl.nwaonline.com/news/2019/may/29/as-moses-lifted-up-the-serpent-20190529/#:~:text=The%20people%20then%20acknowledged%20their,and%20live%20rather%20than%20die.

 

https://www.livescience.com/19520-alleged-christian-relics-jesus.html

 

Dem bones, dem bones, dem... goat bones? Just a dead goat in a cave that people actually worship to this day in a story that will have you asking, “Where have you gone, Saint Rosalia???” Oh we're going to talk about her and the goat who stole her fame along with lots of other craziness in just a few. I'm Spider...

 

And tonight's topic is holy relics and enchanted objects. Yes, enchanted. Evangelicals don't like that word but tough shit, that's precisely what they are and we are going to talk about some of the crazy things people have found to venerate, sensationalize and profit from over the centuries in the name of Christianity. We're going to talk about fingers and goats (but not at the same time) along with some other wild and crazy tales of ecclesiastical chicanery but not before we dive into two heartwarming tales (I almost typed heart WORMING in my notes which seems more appropriate) of Christians behaving so badly it's leaving me without a pithy humorous descriptor so let's just go with Christians Behaving Badly: Heartworming edition... trigger warning for sexual abuse by clergy. I think that's warranted.

 

https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/portland-church-leaders-accused-of-sexual-abuse-forced-labor-and-fraud/

 

So a church in Portland Oregon that has been accused of operating like a cult actually manages to be WORSE than was originally thought.

 

“The saga involving Adsideo Church in Portland, Oregon became public last August, when a woman sued her former pastor Jimmy Ellis Wicks Jr. and that church, claiming he forced her to work for the ministry without pay and sexually harassed her along the way.”

 

The woman described the leadership of the church controlling her every move.

 

“[Her] brother tried to rescue his sister from the Adsideo Church, but she contends in the suit that she couldn’t leave the church home or businesses without an escort and was prevented from accessing her phone, electronics or other personal belongings.

She said most of her pay was taken by the church for what its leaders said was to cover her room and board, and “mandatory church tithing,” the suit says.

Wicks eventually started sending her text messages in which he implored her to masturbate as a form of therapy, demanded that she FaceTime with him when she did so and instructed her how to use sex toys, she alleges in the suit.”

Of course, as is usually the case, this woman wasn't alone. Other women have since come forward, telling the police similar stories. They were all afraid to leave because they might have been left homeless and they were also convinced that “no man would ever have them.” The church leaders involved themselves in the women's lives and then made themselves indispensable to them.

And that's just the contention in the original lawsuit, which asks for damages of 1.5 million dollars along with back-pay she was never paid, and 50 thousand dollars for medical costs.

The same plaintiff has now brought an amended lawsuit, that includes more allegations against Wicks and the church’s lawyer Jiung “John” Bang. It also includes more defendants—specifically, companies that may have been run by the church and that profited from her labor.

The revised suit accuses Wicks and Bang of conspiring to have church members work for the businesses for little or no wages and then using income and profits from the businesses to pay Bang’s and Wicks’ salaries, buy real estate and hide profits.

The suit also alleges that Bang and Wicks required members of the church and employees of the companies to apply for unemployment benefits, with Bang assisting members with the applications as their legal counsel, even though the members were working for the church-run businesses.

These remain allegations. Wicks and the other defendants continue to deny any wrongdoing. Because of course they do.

 

https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/send-me-to-war-jarrin-jackson-is-running-for-office/

 

For my next story, let's talk about the Republican candidate for the Oklahoma state senate, right-wing activist Jarrin Jackson. He'd made news last september endorsing the MAGA candidate for Senate, Jackson Lahmeyer. His comments were...concerning.

 

Speaking at the campaign rally, Jackson declared that he hopes to see the establishment of military tribunals that will send “godless commies” to “burn forever in a lake of fire.” And last September on Twitter, Right Wing Watch called attention to another comment he'd made: “Self-proclaimed "American Patriot" Jarrin Jackson would love nothing more than to shoot godless commies in the face, but since he's "a law-abiding patriot," he won't do that "because that's illegal. Or is it?"

 

Sounds like a real cool considerate type of dude, right?

 

Well now he's running for state senate, bringing that type of sensible conservatism into that race as well. Here's how his newest campaign commercial goes:

 

“We are at war with communism,” Jackson says in the campaign ad, as he sharpens a knife. “Or I should say, communism is at war with us. This war is designed to not look like a war. They’re coming for our kids. They’ve destroyed the economy. They’ve hostaged the government. I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. I also think it’s the only way we overcome. I think it’s the way that we win. I know it’s the way that we win. I’m running for state senate, and on June 28, I’d like to ask for your vote and for you to unleash me.”

I know it makes me really comfortable with this guy, how he keeps using the terms of war.

He also calls his campaign donations “bullets” and says he wants to spread the gospel, “To spark a State sovereignty movement. To engage the godless commies.”

I wish I could just slap these people with a clue-by-four. They glorify war so much. And his idea of 'godless commies' are basically anyone who doesn't believe in his right-wing views.

 

PATREON

PROMO – Is Pornography Wrong? We're going to look at the pros, the cons, and give some advice on how to determine the answer to that question personally and situationally. Because I don't think there's a blanket answer to that question and there are a lot of nuances and ethical considerations that have much more to do with what's being consumed than is does the consumer. So make sure you come back for that.

 

The concept of objects holding spiritual power is far older than any judaeo-christian source, but since we're focused on how Christianity approaches this concept tonight, we're not going to look any further back than the Bible. And really, we don't need to. There is more than enough of a foundation laid for viewing objects as having powers they flatly don't possess right in the Bible to make the point clear.

 

 

Relics and anointed objects in the Bible

 

Genesis 28:10-12, 16-18 (NIV) “Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it…When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’ Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.”

 

So he slept on a rock, had a vivid dream and decided the rock was magical. Aight...

 

And there are many other examples of objects being imbued with power...

 

https://www.religioustolerance.org/divin_bibl.htm

 

Then there's Jacob's rod that budded and was placed in the Ark of the Covenant (itself a particularly badass relic, if you ask Indiana Jones).

 

We also see Moses lifting up an effigy of a snake in Numbers 21 as a foreshadowing of the Atonement. People were questioning god and Moses about whether or not leaving Egypt was a good idea, why it's taking so long to complete a two-week trek from Egypt to the Promised Land... you know, stuff like that. So God, being the practical-thinking, pragmatic, loving, caring father that he is without a trace of mental illness or personality disorder deals with the situation by sending fiery snakes to kill any motherfucker who dares to question him. The cure was found in this snake on a stick that Moses waved over the crowd and then foof! No more snakes and everybody is healed. Except the dead ones.

 

Touching the clothes of perceived holy men is a running theme in the NT...

 

Matthew 9:20-22 (NIV) “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.”

 

Acts 19:11-12 (NIV) “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

 

Oh are we gonna look at THIS one later on...

 

Catholic Relics

 

It took a while for this concept to catch on in earnest, but by the middle ages, the Catholic Church had truly adopted a “there's a sucker born every minute” attitude toward the populace and they knew that the more mystical and illusory the details, the more interest these things would pique. Most of the people they duped into doing things like paying for access to or the privilege of venerating holy relics had never read the bible (they couldn't since literacy wasn't a big thing in the middle ages). But here's the thing: many of the clergy (and even some of the endless parade of charlatans who knew a good grift when they saw one) had. And they knew the kind of power that can be wielded with fake snakes and magic rocks. There was also a lot of witchcraft in the middle ages. People were as much into magic and mysticism then as they are now.

 

In her 2019 article Blind Faith: Religious Forgeries From The Middle Ages To The Age Of Technology, Justine Damiano tells us that Holy relics “were thought to be religiously significant and were said to have magical properties, healing and helping those who possessed them. There was a thriving market centered on holy relics, and people jumped at the chance to spend money acquiring them. Naturally, they were a source of controversy and many – if not all – were fake. Sure, it was a lucrative – albeit unethical – business, but I’m not surprised that individuals took advantage of the market.”

 

So the church itself along with a long parade of charlatans and peddlers made serious bank off the hapless public, especially the sick and infirmed and those who were down on their luck. Some relics came with promises of wealth and prosperity. Some promised healing. Most came with a hefty price tag and people would spend their last penny (or equivalent of) for the chance to turn their situations around.

 

And do I even need to clarify that pretty much all of that shit was fake? That it never came close to meeting the three-level criteria established by the church that made an object a relic? That's right – these things had degrees of relic-ness. No, I'm not kidding. It broke down like this:

 

First-class relics: items directly associated with the events of Christ’s life or the physical remains of a saint

Second-class relics: items that had been owned or used by a saint

 

Third-class relics: objects that have come in contact with first- or second-class relics

 

So I guess if you wanted, you could create an infinite number of third-class relics by simply taking an object and touching it to a first- or second-class object. I would imagine that no one peddling magic rocks or slivers of wood from some saint's walking stick ever bothered with that step.

 

 

So with that, let's take a look at some of the so-called relics that the Church has peddled over the years:

 

The Shroud of Turin

Discovered in 1354

Already under scrutiny by 1389 – The Bishop of Troyes dismissed it as a fake with no scientific anything to go by, just more common sense than average. The modern Catholic church refuses to take a side, but I see a distinct lean in this description by Pope Francis who calls the shroud “an icon of a man scourged and crucified.” Very slick. “We won't say it's Jesus, but it looks like a guy who matches his description.”

 

I do think that the shroud and its degree of detail, coupled with the fact that you can see the outline of an entire body and not just a face makes this example more than coincidental but definitely not authentic. Someone (probably some Catholic bishop or someone else in the church) saw the potential profitability of a relic like this. People would come from miles around to see it, venerate it... make offerings to it...

 

Very, very Catholic, that idea....

 

You know what isn't a Catholic idea? Forensics. And a recent study of the shroud debunks the shroud Dexter style by going after the inconsistencies in the blood flow patterns depicted therein.

 

Forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini and chemistry professor Luigi Garlaschelli used a live volunteer and a mannequin to study how blood from Jesus’ crucifixion and spear would have flowed onto his burial shroud. Using both human and synthetic blood, they were unable to find a single position in which the blood flowed onto experimental cloths to create the stain pattern on the Shroud of Turin. They published their findings in the Journal of Forensic Sciences on July 10, 2018.

 

 

It was someone's likeness on that shroud but it wasn't Jesus' likeness. That much is certain. And that face they chose sure does have a familiar look about it. The same sullen expression and enigmatically western european features that you see in so much medieval occult art... and while we're on the subject of Jesus' face, there are loads of examples of people seeing Jesus' face in places where it just isn't. But the reasons why they emerge are at the same time random and purely coincidental. When people see faces in a piece of cloth, it usually means that the fabric had been folded in a certain way, leaving creases in the cloth that, over time, revealed something that looks like a face and there are literally countless other explanations for why these things happen. Most of it has everything to do with our imagination and this little trick our brains play on us.

 

When faces show up in pieces of toast, it has far more to do with the texture of the bread and how it tends to toast more quickly in some spots than in others.

 

So why do we see faces everywhere? Why do we see them in the clouds or in the trees, or in the outlines of some houses and buildings, or in the grill of some cars? Science has an answer!

 

Neuroscientists at the University of Sydney now say how our brains identify and analyse real human faces is conducted by the same cognitive processes that identify illusory faces.

 

"From an evolutionary perspective, it seems that the benefit of never missing a face far outweighs the errors where inanimate objects are seen as faces," said Professor David Alais lead author of the study from the School of Psychology.

 

"There is a great benefit in detecting faces quickly," he said, "but the system plays 'fast and loose' by applying a crude template of two eyes over a nose and mouth. Lots of things can satisfy that template and thus trigger a face detection response."

 

There are multiple theories out there as to why we do this, some having to do with protection from wrongdoers, but with our ancient ancestors dealing with so many other predators in their environments, it isn't likely that it eventually coded into our DNA as a defense mechanism to recognize another person as a threat.

 

Another theory suggests that this is just part of our sexuality and that the first thing we notice about someone is their face. Our brains then send one of two signals to us: viable mate or not a viable mate. In other words we're all out there constantly DTF anything with a face that we can also use to make babies. Um... maybe? But I'm not convinced. I'm more comfortable with the “I don't know” on this one.

 

But that IDK comes in handy in situations like religious relics. Because it's not just the shroud of Turin. It's the faces that show up on toast or on vegetables or in the decomposition process of a banana, all of which have been cited as “proof” that Jesus exists because Jesus-looking images appear randomly in nature... or, more to the point, images to which we assign that meaning as a base tendency coupled with religious indoctrination. We first see the face, then decide it's a familiar one and most of us have at least an amalgamated image in our heads of what Jesus looks like.

 

Ya know... I once saw Red Fraggle in a sweet potato. I didn't erect a shrine. Had it been during the information age it would've been Instagrammed, then buttered, then eaten. With all due respect, take a look at a pug's ass sometime. Behold, he is with us!

 

This facial recognition response happens lightning fast in the brain: within a few hundred milliseconds.

 

"We know these objects are not truly faces, yet the perception of a face lingers," Professor Alais said. "We end up with something strange: a parallel experience that it is both a compelling face and an object. Two things at once. The first impression of a face does not give way to the second perception of an object."

 

This error is known as "face pareidolia". It is such a common occurrence that we accept the notion of detecting faces in objects as 'normal' - but humans do not experience this cognitive process as strongly for other phenomena.

 

And this is a key reason why many pagans believe in a manifestation of the god as “the green man.” Stare at a tree or a bunch of trees for just a short period of time and you WILL see faces. Lots of them. In the leaves, especially, but you can see them in tree trunks, in mosses, hewn into rocks... they're everywhere and it was something that primitive humans viewed as proof that the gods were real and that they were everywhere. We see their faces throughout nature, they must be real.

 

But let's look briefly at a few more relics perpetuated by the Catholic church...

 

These next few come directly from an article in TheGuardian...

 

Blood of Saint Januarius

Worshippers in Naples gather every September to see a miracle at the southern Italian city's cathedral. The dried blood of St Januarius, martyred in the 4th century AD, is preserved there and has an organic connection with the city's wellbeing. Every September – and on two other days in the year – the red powder liquefies. It becomes living blood – and the city is safe from volcano, earthquake and plague.

 

Pagan as fuck and nothing more than carnival sideshow magic, if that. So they come to venerate St. Januarius in... September. OK. And, for the record, that's a neat trick. I wonder if anyone ever actually gets to WATCH this miracle happen. People are so gullible. Especially in matters that promise them eternal life...

 

The Head of John the Baptist

My but these people love their danse macabre, don't they? So many relics revolve around dead people, but I found this one particularly interesting...

Salome famously asked Herod for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. This most famous of severed heads had a long afterlife as a relic. Amiens Cathedral was built in the middle ages as a shrine for it. A replica of the baptist's head is still kept there, although the original was stolen in the 19th century.

 

Sounds legit... I mean it's not every day you see decapitated heads. This must be him. Oh wait... yeah, no. You could lob off anyone's head and say it belonged to anyone you want, especially with no forensic or DNA evidences getting in the way.

 

The Holy Foreskin

It is said when the young Jesus Christ was circumcised, his foreskin was preserved. In the middle ages it became a much coveted relic and several churches claimed to own part or all of it. The foreskin was held to have great powers. However, the various relics of it were discredited by the end of the 18th century.

 

Ew, ok? Just.. ew....

 

Oh but it gets better...

 

St. Rosalia

 

Saint Rosalia lived in Sicily during the 12th century. Among the interesting facts of Saint Rosalia’s life was that she wasn’t martyred, as were so many other saints; rather, she chose to isolate herself on Mount Pellegrino in a cave where she spent her last twelve years praying and devoting herself to God.

 

More than three centuries later, when a plague struck the region in 1624, villagers began receiving strange visions from the saint herself. In the visions, Saint Rosalia guided some of the faithful to the cave she once inhabited, where her bones were found. Villagers prayed to her bones and, shortly after, the plague ended.

 

Saint Rosalia’s bones were preserved in a shrine, in a local church, and were celebrated and honored for hundreds of years. The catch? They weren’t her bones. In 1825, British geologist William Buckland examined the relics and identified the bones as belonging to a goat. People weren’t too keen on accepting that news, and the church still displays the bones to this day. I suppose they’re historic now, regardless of their origin.

 

Doubting Thomas' Finger

 

So there's a church in Gerusaleme in Rome called the Church of Santa Croce that claims to have the preserved finger of Doubting Thomas in its possession. This is the finger that was allegedly inserted into Jesus' wounds when Thomas had the audacity to ask for (and was subsequently scolded for asking for) proof. Jesus wasn't big on the concept of proof himself. No, not really. But that's what they think this is: proof that some dude's finger was preserved because it penetrated the wounds of Christ. OK. The same church claims to have three pieces of the original cross. I'm guessing there's no proof there either, however...

 

In an article on LiveScience.com I found this:

 

According to accounts by fourth-century church historian Socrates Scholasticus, the Roman emperor Constantine's mother demanded that the church built on Christ's supposed crucifixion site be demolished, uncovering three crosses below. True or not, hundreds of scraps of wood venerated as pieces of the True Cross spread across Europe. French theologian John Calvin of Protestant Reformation fame once dryly noted the sheer volume of these relics.

 

"In brief, if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load," Calvin wrote. "Yet the Gospel testifies that a single man was able to carry it."

 

I'm with Calvin on this one – there sure is a shipload of forgery surrounding this. I remember watching some movie in the 80s whose title I cannot remember where this guy was scamming people promising a piece of Jesus' cross for something like $20. OK it was the 80s so probably $19.99 and a SASE. He's sitting there with a pocket knife lobbing off pieces of his desk and putting them in envelopes. Cross relics are HUGE business and still are. As are pieces of Noah's Ark. People are so gullible...

 

And since I brought that up... The search for Noah's ark has been going on for centuries and more than one person or expedition team has claimed to find it or the site of it at the top of Mt. Ararat in Turkey. National Geographic has done multiple articles on it. The one I uncovered was from 2010 but I know there were others. I remember them covering this in the 80s too (along with the shroud of turin).

 

Here's the kicker, though... there's disagreement among evangelicals about this one. The 2010 article identifies an evangelical organization as claiming to have found it beneath “snow and volcanic debris” at the top of Mt. Ararat. Of course there's a dire lack of the one element to this that actually matters: a little thing called proof. And people have claimed to find the ark in other places, too. National Geographic even covered an expedition in Iran that supposedly “proved” the ark was there. Here's a little from the article:

 

Some archaeologists and historians [took the 2010] claim that Noah's ark has been found about as seriously as they have past ones—which is to say not very.

 

"I don't know of any expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn't find it," said Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist specializing in the Middle East at Stony Brook University in New York State.

 

What all of these things have in common is that they were all used to manipulate people and try to lend validation for beliefs that can't be proven to have any power or influence any other way. All holy relics are at least implied to have powers that prove the existence of god and the truth of the gospel.

 

So what we learn from all this is that none of these things have any power or validity behind them. It's mostly sideshow theatrics and trickery. “This way to the egress!” and people follow.

 

But there is one group that uses this concept of power objects to their advantage today even more than the Catholics. You guessed it: our very own evangelicals.

 

How Evangelicals Spin the “Holy Object” idea

 

If there is anything I can lend to evangelicalism's credit, it's that they dismiss a vast majority Catholic mysticism. The problem is that they replace it with their own. As evangelicals, we were taught to reject idolatry. We were taught that there really is no power in things like so-called holy relics. We didn't have to venerate statues. We didn't need to bless ourselves with holy water. No AG church that I'm aware of touts statues that weep. We were told the communion elements were emblematic, that transubstantiation wasn't a thing. We didn't have to pray the rosary and baptism was a profession of faith, not a magic ritual to remove original sin. All of that is wonderful until you realize that there are a lot of ways that they objectify “the power of god” and use physical objects for things like healing and prosperity.

 

Now I will offer this disclaimer: some of the more extreme examples revolve around fringe beliefs like word-faith but some do find their way through the doors of the average church, too. I knew plenty of people who believed that you could be healed by having one of the church elders anoint you with oil, for example. Let's start there...

 

The cause for belief in the power of anointing oil actually comes from the Bible. James 5:14-16 says:

 

14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

 

15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

 

 

So we saw this a lot and the power behind the oil itself varied based on the opinion of the individual. My pastor told me that the oil itself didn't have any power but the act of anointing with oil was a matter of spiritual obedience. The Bible says to do this, so we do it. But... doesn't that assign power to it? The idea there is that eliminating the thing from the equation decreases the effectiveness of the action. So if it's only emblematic, why not just skip it.

 

We were told that the communion elements were only emblems, but we were also admonished not to eat and drink in an unworthy manner. I Cor 11:27-30 says:

 

27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

 

We were taught to believe this. And I did. And I took it seriously. When God and I weren't on the best of terms I refused Communion. “I know the state of my soul and I'm not going to eat and drink death unto myself.”

 

Now we're going to go back to Acts 19 and talk about one of the most exploited examples of enchanted objects that has made its way into evangelical circles, that being the concept of things like prayer cloths, prayer shawls, prayer blankets... applying Catholic logic to the situation, all of these things would be third-class relics – ordinary objects imbued with power from a higher source and its not like the Catholics haven't used this approach either. Everything that falls under this description has assumed powers like healing and protection and idiots like Benny Hinn and Robert Tilton have been using them to fleece the masses for decades.

 

But I saw A LOT of this in the local church, too. No, our pastor didn't hand out or sell prayer cloths but we were encouraged to pray over these things and use them for various purposes, most of which revolved around healing. Some were supposed to provide spiritual protection or “covering” so that the Holy Spirit could work within the soul of the believer without Satanic influences being allowed to gain the floor.

 

Now, none of these things were relics or associated with relics, but the notion of religious objects being imbued with power along with some of the biblical references we've looked at tonight that corroborate those beliefs all have the same origin. What's the difference between giving someone a sliver of wood and telling them that it's from the cross of Christ and giving them a prayer cloth? The expectation is the same: that the power of the object will prove beneficial to the believer.

 

Evangelicals may have toned it down considerably, but there is still a lot of exploitation of people's fears, wants, needs, and situations going on out there.

 

There are people out there who have tutorial videos on how to bless and anoint a prayer cloth. One in particular that I found involved a ham-handed attempt at organizing an MLM around prayer cloths. That one never seems to have... pardon the pun... “materialized” but there are plenty of other shysters out there who have made a business out of them. This is the most far-reaching evangelical manifestation of what the Catholic church (and loads of secular medieval entrepreneurs) made a practice of beginning in the middle ages and continues right into the present day. The local church doesn't usually try to make a profit off of prayer cloths but there are plenty of word-faith yay-hoos who do.

 

So, to close things out, I'm just going to apply a little bit of that there logic and reason to the situation. First, let's remember that most, if not all, Religious relics are fake. It makes no sense to think that Jesus' crown of thorns would be preserved for millennia and still be recognizable. It doesn't make sense that three churches all claimed to have Jesus' foreskin. As soon as the second one chimed in, that should have been enough to blur the lines of belief in that one. Someone's finger, someone's bones... please. Why even consider if these things are legit? People can tell you anything about any object and it's always a crapshoot whether or not you're going to believe. They don't care. If you don't someone else will and as long as there remains an infinite supply of splinters from the cross, they're happy.

 

If you need healing, see a doctor. A doctor has treatments and possible solutions. A piece of fabric? Not so much. If you're struggling financially, speak with a debt counselor. Don't carry magic rocks. And if you need something with tangible, observable proof to believe in, don't look at preserved fingers or random body parts that are alleged to belong to someone but probably don't and please don't kid yourself into believing that prayer cloth has any power in it.

 

You know where you should be looking in that instance? Start with a mirror. Because in this universe there are few things that you have that much tangible evidence to base a belief upon. Your existence defies probability. You were lucky enough to be born with a brain that's capable of reason. Before you sell your cow for a bag of beans, exercise your sense of reason.

 

Before you forsake medical treatments in favor of sleeping under a prayer blanket, before you take at face value anything anyone says about the “power” of any external, physical thing, consider the power that rests in you to reason through situations and make good, proactive decisions about your life, your health, your finances, whatever. That's real power. That's chain-breaking, mind-freeing, self-affirming power and that power when weighed against any mystical object is far more likely to keep you on a path of getting and staying unbound.