I came across a weird little item a couple of days ago and have wondered whether I should let it go or write about it. As you can see, I’ve made my decision. The item of which I write is entitled, Raising Dead People: A Tutorial. Well, hell’s bells – who could resist reading that? Someone is going to teach others how to raise people from the dead? This, I’ve got to see.
So, I saw.
And I learned that the author of the tutorial hasn’t actually raised anyone from the dead. But she knows enough about it to teach others how to do it, or at least exhort them to go out and try it themselves. Here’s how she described her failed attempt to raise the dead:
So, we all dug deep and held some non-stop vigil prayer, asking God to raise him from the dead as a witness to His power in the community where we worked. As we announced our plans, every crazy intercessor with a shofar came out of the woodwork and we started to worship and to pray–mostly all the scriptures where people were raised from the dead.
We tried to raise our game and also leave room for the will of God. A tricky business–expecting the miraculous and leaving room for God. We put his name down to preach at his own “life celebration” we were planning–which would have been the coolest preach ever. But after four days of non-stop prayer and a lot of shofar blowing and prayer walking the morgue seven times, our friend never got up. He was as dead as dead is.
Maybe I misunderstood the title of the piece. Maybe I was mistaken to think that a piece entitled Raising Dead People: A Tutorial would actually be about successfully raising people from the dead, not about trying to do it and failing. However, since the author couldn’t report a successful attempt at dead raising, she ended up writing a tutorial about some other religious/spiritual nonsense and giving it a catchy, if slightly misleading, title (I say slightly because she did come back to the idea that people can be raised from the dead by other than medical means; besides, for this one time only, I’ll err on the side of generosity :) ). I should have known this would happen when she inserted this little bit into the paragraph that preceded the excerpt cited above:
Anyway, years ago, a bunch of our community started watching these DVDs of a guy who taught people how to raise the dead…. In our community at the time, there was a man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. We were praying hard for his healing, but he succumbed to his disease. Because he was part of the group of people who had watched these videos and prayed that God would help us to at least try to raise our expectations of what He could do…
Did you catch the last bit? Notice how the goalposts were moved. We’re no longer talking about positively raising people from the dead. Now we’re talking about merely raising expectations that god could empower believers to raise the dead. If he chose to do so.
The author excused her failure with this caveat: The good news is that the guy who teaches the videos said that it wasn’t until he prayed for the seventh dead guy, that it worked. It took perseverance and a whole lot of humility.
Oh. man! I’ve got to hand it to the author of the videos! He scammed this lady and her friends beautifully. His schtick was basically, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And again. And yet again. That’s the perseverance part and it can actually be measured. One can count the number of attempts one makes to do something until one either succeeds or gives up. If one never succeeds, maybe one should have tried just one more time and he or she would have hit pay dirt. But, the person quit too early, so now we’ll never know. Even more cleverly, the formula for successful dead raising doesn’t end with a quantitative measure. Oh, no. It’s accompanied by something that can’t be measured, but can always be dredged up as the real reason for continued failure – lack of humility. Presumably, one may fail to raise the dead once, twice, seven times, seventy times seven times, whatever, and never succeed and believers will never know if the problem is that he or she hasn’t made a sufficient number of attempts, or that the person just isn’t humble enough to succeed. It’s a given that believers won’t consider the
possibility probability that prayer and religious rituals will never work because no gods are paying attention to them.
I wish I could watch the DVDs myself and see this con artist in action, but I can’t. The author of the tutorial didn’t provide any information about them. No link to a website. No DVD titles. Not even a name for this miracle working “guy who taught people how to raise the dead.” So, if you want to check her sources, you’ll have to do some digging on your own. If you find them, let me know. While you search, I’ll be walking the dogs (or washing my hair or something. Honestly, if I had seen videos like these, I sure as hell would have noted the titles, or at least the name of the guy! That’s more than a minor oversight, if you ask me.).
If you’re interested in reading the rest of what the tutorial author wrote, go right to her piece. She wrote some more interesting stuff, including an admission that she’s crazy for trying to raise dead people. What you won’t find is a surefire recipe for raising dead people to life. She doesn’t have it. My guess is, she never will.
– the chaplain