Monday, June 21, 2010

Spiritual Placebo And The Truth

Some people claim they can channel Jesus.

For example, there is "Anne," a lay apostle of the Catholic faith who passes along messages from Heaven in a series of booklets published by Directions for Our Times. On the back cover of one booklet appears this statement:

"Anne, a wife and mother of six, reveals her journey to the heart of Jesus. The messages she hears in her heart, which she believes are from Jesus and Mary, reveal the tender, solicitous love that our Saviour has for each one of us."

I think of the Bible and its warning against false prophets and not allowing a witch to live. What if this "Anne" is in error?

Apparently anticipating such concerns, Directions for Our Times includes a special statement in its booklets. The publisher acknowledges that the Holy See of Rome has to make the final decision about the validity of private revelations. Then Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini; 1568-1644) is quoted:

"In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe than not to believe, for if you believe, and it is proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true because you believed it to be true."

It's like the doctor who tells a patient that there's a special pill to treat the patient's particular ailment. The patient takes the pill and later he feels better, even though the special medication is nothing but a sugar pill with no healing properties. The Placebo Effect. If it works, give the deception a pass.

There is a fascinating aspect to Pope Urban's quote: there is debate about whether or not he made that statement.

But if you still believe it and he never said it, what's the harm? Just ignore the fact that all churches are supposed to be about The Truth.

(Historical footnote: Before Maffeo Barberini become pope, he had a patron-client relationship with the astronomer Galileo. But there was a dispute between them and Pope Urban III refused to pardon Galileo after the astronomer was found "vehemently suspect of heresy." Galileo's freedom was severely restricted by the church, even though he was correct in his observations. Like I said: The Truth.)


"Heaven Speaks to Victims of Clerical Abuse"
(Booklet. 2005)


Doug said...

What's this about churches and The Truth? When did that happen?

(Let's not go off on the philosophical tangent about all truth being relative.)

X. Dell said...

Many understand truth as paradigm, or dogma. Such isn't just the reality of religion, but of politics and social life as well. Empirical truths (whether or not we can actually see or understand them) are kinda like a buzzkill, whenever they raise their ugly heads.