I’d like to share a story with you that I have loved for many years. I wish I could share it as a film, but I can’t. It is a feature script that I wrote a long time ago, the first professionally written script of my career completed when I was a grad student in screenwriting at USC. When it was finished, my prof, Jim Boyle, said to me, “Coleman, do not sell this script for any less than $400,000.00.” And you know what? I never have.
Where did the story come from? When I was a child, my father read books to me. (Thank God we didn’t have a television in those ancient days.) He introduced me to the great fantasy and science fiction writers. One of them was George Macdonald. You may not have heard of him. He lived in the 19th century and his novels were an inspiration to both C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. One was entitled, At the Back of the North Wind. It’s set in Old England and is about a little boy named, Diamond, who meets the North Wind and she becomes his friend. North Wind can appear as a lovely young woman, a charming little girl or a towering creature of darkness and terror that can engulf an entire land.
Macdonald’s book, for all of its charm, is not written in a modern form. Adapting it was a challenge. I added some elements that are not found in the novel. For instance, appropriate for today, the Black Plague comes to London, but Diamond is protected. Why? You’ll have to read to find out.
Over 20 years ago, I wrote about this experience relating it to America of that day. It’s time for a new telling.
I grew up in the Chicago area. In the mid-fifties I was in the sixth grade. During those years I had a paper route. Talk about anachronisms, newspapers were actually read back then. Anyway I had this paper route and it was a miserable job – dogs in the dripping heat of summer, freezing your tail off all winter long, and once a month I had to collect. That meant wandering up and down the streets on a Saturday trying to get jerks to cough up a couple of bucks to keep me in business. That’s right, payment in cash. But I was good at it. In sixth grade, I won an award. I’ve forgotten what it was for, but the prize I will never forget. It was an evening at Riverview.
Now anybody who grew up in Chicago during that period remembers Riverview. It was one of those great old sleazy amusement parks, a bloated carnival on a permanent location with a wooden roller coaster and a pot load of other dangerous rides that looked like they’d disintegrate the moment you sat down on them. All summer long Riverview advertised on the Chicago TV stations. Their main pitchman was a local personality named “Two-Ton” Baker, that’s what he called himself. He was a really large guy who did noonday programs for kids. All summer there’d be these commercials showing old “Two-Ton” taking up two seats on a roller coaster, yelling to display his sheer joy and probably to prove that if the thing held him it’d hold anybody. Anyway, you get the picture.
Riverview was the last gasp of an era. It died with the coming of the giant fake reality theme parks of today where everything is perfect all the time even the plants, which they change constantly to make sure everything is always blooming. Riverview was an honest straightforward temptation. It whispered to kids, “Come wander in my shadows. Come listen to my rats crawling around behind the boards. Come debauch.” We loved it.
Anyway I won this trip to Riverview and the greatest part of it was that my parents wouldn’t be going along. I’d be with a group of paperboy “winners” just like me, young delinquents in training. And, the peak of ecstasy? Our “chaperones” would be the paperboy “supervisors” from The Daily Journal. Now my parents didn’t know it but these guys were absolute losers, basically drunks who had been promoted far beyond their level of competence. Going with them was like going alone. They gave us cash and went off to a bar. Oh joy from heaven. Sixth grade. Money. And Riverview without adults.
Now when I say this was an old style amusement park I’m not joking. On the boardwalk it had a freak show. Can you imagine such a thing today? Try to picture a freak show at Disney World. So after you’ve gorged yourself on delicious little bags of dead meat euphemistically called “hot dogs” and braved all the dangerous rides at least six times, where’s an eleven-year-old boy gonna be found? I don’t need to tell you. So, I bought my ticket and walked in.
I found myself in a stark, ugly little room standing with a small crowd in a roped-off area. There was nothing fancy about this. It was as down and dirty as you can get. Three feet beyond the rope sitting on wood pedestals and little chairs were seven or eight freaks. And they were the real deal. Nothing fake here. It was a collection of poor sad human beings with bodies that looked like they’d been created in a Hollywood visual effects house. The instant you walked in, there was a seriousness about the place. Nobody laughed. Nobody talked. The freaks looked at you and you looked at them and then you left. But while I was there, something happened in that room that I will remember as long as I live.
One of the freaks was a little old woman, probably in her sixties. No more than three feet tall, her face was deformed beyond ugliness and all of her limbs bent in the wrong direction. She was just sitting there and you could imagine that she had done this all of her life. Suddenly into the room walked a man carrying a little girl about three years old. Why this idiot had brought her there no one could imagine. I was eleven and I was appalled. Of course at the time there was no rating system on freak shows so how could you blame him?
Anyway, the man with the little girl stopped in front of the little old woman. The instant the child saw this frightening creature she became terrified and started to sob. It was a horrible moment. Then, as I watched, that little deformed lady started to cry too. Quietly, without a sound, the tears ran down her cheeks. After all the years of being stared at, all the years of loneliness and pain, the humanity in her eyes was overwhelming. Then, that little woman began to talk to the little girl. Softly, with a voice like your grandmother and mine she tried to comfort her, to reach out with words because her arms weren’t long enough and they bent in the wrong direction. It was one gentle heart whispering to another. She said, “Don’t be afraid, sweetheart. It’s all right. Nothing is going to hurt you. See? I am crying too.” Eleven-year-old boys are not known for their deep sensitivity, but if I live to be a thousand I will never forget that scene.
Over 60 years have passed since that night. Riverview is long gone and I was thinking about freaks the other day. Often, we hear that we are a nation ruled by Laws. Untrue. We are a nation ruled by stories. The stories we love reveal who we are and what we are becoming. And, at this dark moment of American history our collective story should be titled, “Freaks Rule.” Not the good, honest freaks of Riverview, the true freaks. Us.
What is the story of our national freakhood? At its heart, is an addiction beyond politics and parties, beyond religion in all of its forms. It is the center of our lusts and aspirations, the hidden claw that rakes our lives, the chimera behind every lying story and every broken dream. Our money shrieks it to us, “In God We Trust” and money is the dark god in which we believe. Beyond all other gods we worship at its altar. From courtrooms to boardrooms, from churches to casinos, from shacks to mansions from whore houses to White Houses, without our green god, we are filled with fear. In money we trust and in our tattered freakhood, we pray desperately that the science money buys will save us from Covid-19. In this diseased and dying nation our doom is smeared on restroom walls. We have mocked the true God who loves us. We have mocked the Righteous Judge whose fingerprints of majesty are everywhere on earth. We have mocked the blood prints of His Dying and risen Son who came to save us and will return to rule.
In this awful year of 2020, to commemorate our mockery, I have written a new American Psalm. It goes like this:
Let’s all mock God together, as a pastime, it’s delightful, and there’s nothing more insightful than sleek souls that are self-satisfied.
Let’s all mock God together, some are sure He’s non-existent, so they disregard that strange, but very persistent, tiny, gnawing fear.
Let’s all mock God together, let’s trust in our blind science, to excuse our cold defiance, as we prepare for the living darkness that lies ahead.
Let’s all mock God together, obsessed with streaming distractions, to make us forget our evil actions, for certainly we answer to no one but ourselves.
Let’s all mock God together, in a culture dithering toward senility, we glorify scurrility, and claim every wretched sin to be a human right.
Let’s all mock God together, while black men die under bended knees and hang from barren trees, above their corpses flies our patriotic flag.
Let’s all mock God together while frightened families are torn asunder, we continue to oppress and plunder the poor who pick and carve the food that gives us life.
Let’s all mock God together, in our well-insured complacency, with frightening indecency, we watch sufferers without help go bankrupt and die.
Let’s all mock God together, while we FUND the skilled aborters, the dead baby sorters, who cut out souls, then chop and sell.
Let’s all mock God together, maskless shrieking offenders, freedom’s great defenders, infecting all with the spitting selfishness of hell.
Let’s all mock God together, toilet paper hoarders with excremental disorders flushed through texting fingers to screens throughout the world.
Let’s all mock God together, porno cyber suckers, groaning, spermy muckers with minds that reek of rotted flesh.
Let’s all mock God together, while wealthy men buy someone’s daughter, to use, abuse and slaughter, hell awaits their final day.
Let’s all mock God together, while we bloat like good consumers, pushing shopping carts of tumors, blind to the cancer that eats our souls.
Let’s all mock God together, with ventilators wheezing, millions go on pleasing the little god that gasps between their ears.
Let’s all mock God together, while patriotic churches worship mammon, their souls are starved in famine without a morsel that will save.
Let’s all mock God together, though His judgment is long in coming, we can hear the death march drumming for nations too evil to repent.
Let’s all mock God together, I’m sure He doesn’t hear us, and we have Amazon to cheer us while America grinds slowly to her grave. Yes, let’s all mock God together.
That, my friend, is our tragic national story. And stories rule. But in my heart I wish I could write a different story. It would be so radical that everyone would freeze in shock. It would start this way. Into the Oval Office, rancid as it is with tweeted droppings, I would bring a new person to lead our land. For her, the President’s chair would be too large and the desk would be too high. There would be no rose-garden signings jammed with the fatuous elite. Her arms would be too short and they would bend in the wrong direction, so putting her name on our great laws she could not do. When the TV cameras focused on her many would be filled with horror and revulsion. They’d demand to know why such an aberration had been allowed to live, why her mother hadn’t ended her in a merciful abortion. But she wouldn’t listen to the ranting rage. Every slithering insult, every denigrating whisper, she had heard a thousand times before. In fact, she wouldn’t talk to us at all. Instead she’d speak softly to our terrified little children. And with her words and tears maybe they’d be able to see beyond her ugliness into eyes filled with love, beautiful beyond comprehension, because in her suffering she had seen the Face of God.
If only we had a true, honest freak in the White House to lead us to national mourning and repentance instead of national death. It wouldn’t take long for that little grandmother to touch hearts that hadn’t yet turned to stone. I can tell you, at that freak show in Riverview so long ago, it took only five minutes for her to touch the heart of an eleven-year-old boy.
Cry for our beloved country. The evil freaks rule.
I have taken the Journal into video. Three entries are up more are coming. Take a look.
Something Very Strange Has Been Going On.
In 1722 Daniel Defoe published a classic novel entitled A Journal of the Plague Year. It purported to be an eye-witness account of what happened in London in 1665 when the Black Death struck. Though it was fiction, Defoe’s skill was so great that most of his readers thought the novel was an actual journal written by the central character. Over half a century had passed since the terrors of the plague, but the memories still burned deep. The novel is a harrowing account of what happens when the world turns upside down – when what seems like endless death strikes a city and no one knows where it comes from or how to stop it.
Over the years I’ve read a number of books about the scourge of disease and how pandemics have shaped history. In the mid-90s, I created a short-lived television series entitled, The Burning Zone that dealt with an unusual pandemic. A virologist was on our consulting staff and I learned a great deal.
As a novelist and screenwriter, I am fascinated by what happens when the thin veneer of socialization disintegrates and the truth about the human race bubbles up out of the darkness of our souls. In particular, plagues generate unreasoning terror that strips away every sophisticated façade. In its most virulent form, this terror can utterly destroy the very core of what it means to be human. In a blind rage of self-preservation, people do hideous things that would be unthinkable at any other time. Mobs attack innocent people, loving husbands and wives abandon each other, parents abandon their children and children their parents. Fear of disease can turn people into beasts.
At this moment, a virus named Covid-19 is destroying China and has spread to other countries. Warnings from the WHO and CDC tell us that very likely a pandemic is coming upon us and we should be prepared. At this time, it is unknown how lethal this virus really is. We hope and pray that measures being taken will stop the spread of this disease. Scientists working on a vaccine warn us that the earliest it could be available is sometime in 2021. So how should we prepare for what may be coming and I don’t mean stockpiling food and other essentials? Yes, those preparations may be necessary, but I mean preparing our souls. Witnesses speak to us from the past and we should listen to them.
During a plague, the response of brutal self-preservation is so consistent that when you find anyone acting against it for the good of others it seems almost a miracle. Right now brave medical teams are risking their lives to help sufferers. But that is expected of them and most of them, with great courage, expect it of themselves. What about others?
Let me tell you a story about one village.
In the year 1665, the Black Death was ravaging London. But in the little village of Eyam nestled in the fields of Derbyshire, the big city and its horrors seemed far away. 350 people lived quietly there and the church was the center of their lives. They had a new young pastor, William Mompesson, and their old pastor, Thomas Stanley, had remained to help in the transition.
Exactly how the Black Death was spread was not known, but everyone was certain that person to person contact must have much to do with it. No one in Eyam had contact with any Londoners so they felt relatively safe. George Viccars was the tailor of Eyam. In late August, he received one of his regular shipments of cloth from London. The material was damp so he spread it out to dry. In doing so he released fleas. Flea bites were a common nuisance, so when George was bitten he thought little of it. Within a week he was dead.
When the village realized that the plague had come there was panic. The first tendency of everyone was to escape from the town, to save their lives and the lives of their families. But very quickly there came a second realization. There was no plague in any of the surrounding villages. If they escaped into them very likely they would be taking death along.
As the dying continued in Eyam, the pastors called for a town meeting. Everyone gathered at the church. Together these brave men and women made an amazing decision. They would not run. For the good of the neighboring villages, they would stay, quarantining themselves until the plague ran its course. And this they did. Nearby villages left food and other necessities at the edge of the town on a stone called the Coolstone. Money that had been soaked in vinegar was left in payment.
For the next fourteen months the bubonic plague decimated the little village of Eyam. Church services were held outside in an attempt to mitigate infection. And no longer were there communal burials. Families became responsible for their own burials and these were not in the churchyard. Victims were interred next to their homes.
How the plague struck was without logic. For instance, in eight days Elizabeth Hancock buried her six children and her husband, but she herself was never infected. The young pastor lost his wife, but he lived. The stories of loss during those fourteen months are heartrending. Emmott Sydall and Rowland Torre were lovers. Rowland was from a nearby village. During the plague, they would meet at the edge of town and call to each other across the rocks. Then one day Rowland waited for her, but Emmott did not appear. She never came again.
Finally, the plague ended. Out of 350 people, only 83 were left alive, but the surrounding villages remained plague free. For 14 months these brave people faced both fear and death to save the lives of others. With broken hearts, they buried their loved ones outside their houses as they cried out to God. You can visit Eyam today. It’s known as the Plague Village. There’s a little museum and a walking tour that meanders past the old graves. On those fading tombstones, you can barely read the names of babies and little children, young people, old people, and lovers.
Eyam is a monument to selfless courage. Where did it come from? We need to find out.
Whether Covid-19 creates a worldwide pandemic or not, there is strong evidence that we are living in uniquely strange and horrifying times. What is the proof? Let’s look at four cataclysmic areas, war, pandemics, famines, and earthquakes. For the purpose of this study, we’ll establish a line of demarcation with the year 1900, what we could call the start of the truly modern era. I propose to you that everything that has happened since then has been moving us very quickly in a specific direction.
In the history of the world, from 1900 to the present day the wars that have been fought have been devastating on a different level than in the past. While war has been a constant in human history and millions have died over thousands of years, the modern experience in just over a century has taken us to a new level of horror. Needless to say, it is very difficult to accurately measure the number of deaths from war that have happened during the past 120 years. Historians estimate that the median number of people killed during 79 wars around the world from 1900 to the present time is 163,340,990. This counts only wars with more than 25,000 deaths. Dozens of smaller wars have taken place during this period.
How does it compare with the past? We need to do some calculations. Let’s start at 549 BC with the wars of Cyrus the Great and end in 1899. That is a period of 2448 years. Over that time, historians list 84 major wars that took place around the world each with over 25,000 people killed. In some of those wars, millions died. Historians estimate that in all of them the total median number of people killed directly or indirectly due to all the conflicts is 289,081,220. This gives us an average of 188,088 people killed in each of those 2448 years.
Horrible, but how does it compare with 79 wars over 120 years? The average estimated number of deaths due to wars during each of those 120 years is 1,331,174. (My source is the Wikipedia entry, List of Wars by Death Toll.) Of course, the world population was much smaller before 1900 at approximately 1 billion in 1804 and 1.6 billion by 1900. Prior to 1804, the world population was in the hundreds of millions. Right now in 2020, the world population is 7,749,798,739. Exponential growth in population has brought exponential growth in deaths from war over a vastly shorter period.
Like wars, famines have killed millions. It is estimated that since 1900 there have been 35 devastating famines causing the deaths of between 70 and 100 million people. Over half of those deaths were in China. In 1958-1961 it is estimated that 36 million died during Mao’s famine. In Stalin’s famine of 1932 to 1933 alone it is estimated over 5 million died in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. From 1970 to 1979 two million Cambodians starved to death. During 1984 and 1985 up to one million Ethiopians died for lack of food. In Somalia during 2011, 260,000 people starved to death. At this writing, 20 million people in Africa are in danger of starvation during the next six months as unprecedented swarms of desert locusts are completely devouring crops in dozens of African nations including Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya. These swarms threaten to decimate the Mideast. Also, they have entered south Asia. They are as large as major cities and are expected to increase 500 times by June.
Based on the number of deaths, the most lethal pandemic in history was the Spanish flu of 1918 which infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. This was even greater than the Black Death of the 14th and 15th centuries that killed 25 million people in Europe. Once again the exponential growth in population caused exponential growth in deaths. During the 1956-58 Asian flu epidemic, the World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people died worldwide with almost 70,000 of those in the U.S. The CDC estimates that in the U.S. approximately .1 percent equating to 61,000 people have died of the flu annually since 2010. At this moment we face Covid-19. It is clear that the death rate is significantly greater than the yearly flu. How much greater has yet to be determined but estimates put in the range of 2.5 percent which equates to almost 2.5 million deaths. In addition to Covid-19, versions of bird flu and swine flu are moving through parts of the world.
Since 1900, around the world there have been more than 10,000 “strong” earthquakes with magnitudes of 6 or greater, this is according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The record suggests that earthquakes are becoming more frequent. In a 2015 story, it is reported that a study by USGS researchers found that there were more than twice as many “large” earthquakes, defined as magnitudes of 7 or above, in the first quarter of 2014 than there were in 1979. During 2014 alone the planet saw a record number of earthquakes. 13 had magnitudes of 6.5 or greater. “We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,’ according to Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist at USGS. In December of 2014, NBC News reported that “great earthquakes” nearly tripled over the previous decade. And the devastation continues. In the past year, a 7.7 quake struck off the coast of Jamaica. Not long before that, a 6.4 hit Puerto Rico. A few years before that Haiti was devastated. In addition to quakes, there is an increase in volcanic eruptions around the world.
Clearly, something new and very disturbing has been happening around the world for over 100 years. Where is it leading? Let me propose a disturbing idea that many will think is insane. All of this was predicted by Jesus Christ almost 2000 years ago. How could I say such a thing? Read on. Let’s start with Jesus’ words found in Matthew chapter 24 of the New Testament:
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many and you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Over the 2000 years since Jesus spoke those words, there have been endless wars and rumors of wars. There have been famines, pestilences and earthquakes. Also, there have been many false teachers who claimed to be the “Christ” and such spiritual wolves continue to deceive millions. The center of the Covid-19 outbreak in South Korea is a cult in the city of Daegu called the Shincheonji. The Shincheonji Church of Jesus, formally known as the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, was founded by a false prophet named Lee Man-hee in 1984. Members believe that Lee, now 88 years old, is the second coming of Christ. The cult has 12 branches in South Korea and 150,000 followers. The 61-year-old woman who brought the disease into the church refused to be tested. Her reason? In this cult getting sick is viewed as a sin because it prevents members from doing “God’s work”.
Jesus said that though all these terrible things will happen the end hasn’t come yet.
However, there is a unique period that immediately precedes the End of Days. He calls it “the beginning of sorrows”. During that time, the scourges that have destroyed millions throughout history will dramatically increase. War will become even more hellish with nations and kingdoms rising against each other in new and terrible ways. I believe it is implied that in all the history of warfare these wars will be unique. Jesus doesn’t set a time period for the “beginning of sorrows”. He implies that the things that will be happening during that time will make it clear. I propose to you that the past 120 years fit the description that Jesus gave. And the sorrows are increasing.
The parallel passage to Matthew 24 is Luke 21. Here Jesus adds these words. Along with wars, pestilences, famines and earthquakes “…there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven…There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
If this is the “beginning of sorrows”, we can expect to see terrifying things happening in the cosmos, in the sun, and in the moon, that will have devastating effects on earth’s environment vastly increasing the “distress of nations”. I believe that the strange unidentified phenomena that are increasing in the skies around the world are part of the signs that are building toward terror.
As part of these warnings, Jesus says that His followers will be delivered to tribulation and death and ultimately all nations would hate them. In 2017 it was estimated that 900,000 Christians had been murdered for their faith during the previous ten years and the murders continue around the world. In many places such as North Korea it is impossible to know how many have died for their faith but according to those who have escaped there have been many thousands. Open Doors, an organization that tracks such numbers, estimates that EVERY MONTH 345 Christians are killed – often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; 180 women and girls are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage; and 106 churches are demolished.
Jesus warns, “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” The hate between groups around the world is growing with frightening speed. The United States is being torn to pieces by hate. False prophets and evil leaders are rising up speaking in every area from politics to religion. Lawlessness means the exponential growth of anarchy as people lose all faith in established governments and become laws unto themselves. Out of such hate grows violence.
But there is yet another vital prediction that Jesus made:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Over these 2000 years, the Good News of God’s Love through His Son, Jesus Christ, has been preached in all nations. The 20th century saw great movement toward the completion of that mission. His words do not mean that every single person will have heard the message, but that at some point every nation and ethnic group will have received the Good News.
There is one more prophecy that I would call to your attention. Strong words that predict the restoration of Israel as a nation are found throughout the Old Testament. Read this stunning prediction:
“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” (Isaiah 66:8-10)
In 1948, the Jewish nation of Israel was born in a day.
Never in history has anything ever happened like this before, a people dispersed across the world maintain their unique character and come together to re-establish a nation that hasn’t existed for almost 2000 years. And it occurred after a time of unprecedented agony, horror, and death. Truly fitting that it would happen during the “beginning of sorrows” that sweeps the whole world. According to the Bible, in the days ahead, terrible persecution will fall again on the Jewish people in Israel. It will precede the coming of their Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), the One who was rejected but who is the Chief Cornerstone of a new age.
So where does this leave us? History had a beginning, it will have an end. If you are controlled by the Normalcy Bias like the vast majority, you will disregard all that I’ve written as nothing more than fantasy. You will commit yourself to believing in the Steady State theory of global life. That is your choice, but you are disregarding Jesus’ words that the End is coming. What will happen when it arrives? He will return in power to this world and ultimately every person who has ever lived will stand before Him to be judged. Those who heard the truth about who He is and rejected Him will answer for it. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus, His return represents the ultimate hope and joy that far transcend all the horrors and heartbreaks that are coming upon us.
At this critical moment in history, the Good News is there for you.
As it says in the New Testament book of John chapter 3 verse 16, God so loved the world, He so loved you, that He gave His only begotten Son so that if you believe in Him you can have Eternal Life. What does believe mean? It means believe that Jesus is who the Bible says He is, the Son of God who came to take your sins and mine and pay the price for them by shedding His blood and dying for you and me on the Cross. All it takes is a simple prayer telling Him that you believe in Him, that you repent of your sins and want Him to be your Savior. It means giving your life to Him and making Him your Lord and King. My friend, whatever we face in the days ahead, the future can be yours.
How were the people in the little village of Eyam able to show such sacrificial courage even to death? In the middle of great suffering and sorrow, they had placed all their faith in the One who gave them Eternal Life.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” Jesus – John 11:25
In his book The Holographic Universe, author Michael Talbot relates something very strange that he observed in the mid-1970s. His father hosted a party for some close friends. For entertainment, he hired a professional stage hypnotist. Michael Talbot watched the performance. It began as expected with the hypnotist giving various tests to the group to determine who would make a good subject. A man named Tom was selected and he went into trance very quickly. It should be noted that Tom had never met the hypnotist before and did not know what he was going to do. What followed was the usual hilarious hypnosis show. Tom was convinced that a giraffe was in the room which caused him great amazement. He ate a potato and thought it was an apple. That sort of thing.
Then came the climax of the performance. It involved Tom’s teenage daughter. The hypnotist gave Tom the post-hypnotic direction that when he awoke he wouldn’t be able to see her. The girl was placed directly in front of him. When he was brought out of the trance he was asked if she were in the room. He looked around. Though she stood right in front of him giggling, he replied, “No. Not here. ” Over and over, Tom was asked if he could see her and over and over, while his daughter’s giggles grew louder, he said that he couldn’t. Now all of that is still typical Hypno show tricks. Then the hypnotist did something else.
He stood behind the girl so that Tom couldn’t see him. Then he took an object out of his pocket keeping it hidden from everyone in the room. Cupping it in his hand, he placed it against the girl’s back and asked Tom what it was that he was holding. Tom leaned forward, stared straight at his daughter’s stomach and correctly identified the object as a watch. The hypnotist asked him if he could read the name and inscription on the watch. He did it accurately. The person who owned the watch was not known to any of the guests in the room. Later when Talbot questioned him, Tom said that he never saw his daughter at all. It just looked like the hypnotist was holding up a watch in his cupped hand.
I have studied stage hypnosis and seen performances. I have never seen this test demonstrated. My first response would be that it was a trick. Stage hypnotists often use secret assistants from the audience. So the simple answer would be that Tom had been secretly recruited and knew what the man was going to hold up. But that explanation doesn’t really work. This was a small gathering of personal friends. Tom was a friend. Michael Talbot questioned him. Tom would have known that Mr. Talbot was going to use his experience in a book that he was writing dealing with quantum physics and paranormal experiences. It’s difficult to believe that Tom would have allowed a personal friend to use that experience as an illustration if it hadn’t been real. If it was real what are we to make of it? In some people, hypnotic trance can open the door to paranormal experiences and strange abilities.
The U.S. government has done extensive research into a paranormal ability called Remote Viewing. That is the ability of some people in a mild trance state to see physical objects such as buildings and other landmarks, many miles, even continents away. The research involved placing the remote viewer into a semi-darkened room then giving him map coordinates with the instructions to describe what he saw at that location. Some of those tested were very accurate in their remote observations.
Trance is a tremendous power and influence in our lives and all of us experience it.
It can make us see illusions that appear to be real but are not. Trance can be most dangerous when it is experienced collectively. Probably you have seen films of Hitler’s Nuremberg speeches. To us, they just look weird. They took place at night. Partial darkness can be important in inducing a collective trance. As the vast crowd stands watching, many of them in uniform and in rigid formation, the scene is lighted partly by searchlights and partly by fires. There is dramatic music that assists in mass trance induction. I’m sure if you had been there and spoken German it would have been a mesmerizing experience because Hitler’s speeches were carefully orchestrated grand dramas. He put an entire nation into a trance creating illusions of power and glory. From them grew a delusion that almost destroyed the western world and murdered millions of innocent people.
But it doesn’t take pageantry to induce mass delusion. All it takes is fear. Throughout history lying delusions have taken control of huge masses of people and those delusions have led to the most awful brutality, violence, and injustice. In reading the history of mass delusions, many of the things that have happened cannot be described except as Satanic in origin.
Most often mass delusions appear when there is a large-scale breakdown in a society.
People lose faith in formerly trusted institutions, leaders and each other. There is a breakdown in communication that creates an environment of deep and pervasive fear. Then suddenly, someone drops a rumor. It’s like a deadly virus in a weakened body. Almost instantly, it metastasizes. The rumor is everywhere and even worse, it constantly mutates into darker forms. The result is a vortex of fear that can lead to utter destruction. Formerly decent people become vicious beasts.
To study the evil effects of mass delusion, all you have to do is look at the plague years of the middle-ages in Europe. The Black Plague came in waves sometimes with decades in between. Fear of its arrival was constant and when it did arrive, terror took control. Rumors are like forest fires. They have specific points of origin. They don’t happen by chance. Some evil person concocts a lie and tells it to others who spread it. During the plague years, very often rumors had to do with blame. A group of people had brought the plague and were consciously spreading it. Jews have always been an easy target. For centuries during the Middle Ages, mindless hatred was directed toward them. In 1285 in Munich, Germany 180 Jews were burned to death because someone spread the rumor that their community had sacrificed a child as part of a satanic ceremony. So when the plague arrived the liars were ready to blame them.
In Milan, Italy in 1629 rumors spread at the highest levels of government that people were spreading the plague across Europe through sorcery and contagious poisons. When the plague arrived in 1630, someone started the rumor that Jews were poisoning the water supply. The rumors and terror spread faster than the plague stoked by stupid, evil people. One night in Milan, someone or some small group began smearing the buildings with an unknown substance. Here is an eye-witness description. When people awoke the next morning, “In every part of the city they saw doors and walls of the houses stained and daubed with long streaks of I know not what filthiness, something yellowish and whitish, spread over them as with a sponge.” In the ensuing fear and rage, many innocent people were suspected of spreading the plague. They were dragged from their houses, beaten, thrown into prison and killed.
Here is an example of the horror recorded by another eye-witness.
It happened in a cathedral. “An old man was observed, after kneeling in prayer, to sit down, first, however, dusting the bench with his dark cloak. ‘The old man is anointing the benches’ exclaimed some women who witnessed the act. The people who happened to be in the church fell upon the old man. They tore his gray locks, they heaped upon him blows and kicks and dragged him out half-dead, to convey him to prison, to the judges, to torture. I beheld him dragged along in this way, nor could I learn anything further about his end. Indeed, I think he could not have survived many moments.” This is what mass delusion can do and we see examples of it throughout history in every culture.
Very often in the cold light of day, the rumors and delusions are clearly ridiculous. In 1914, Canada joined in the First World War against Germany. But the United States didn’t join until 1917. During those years rumors spread through Canada that German Americans – at the time there were 10 million living in the U.S. – were getting ready to launch bombing and espionage raids from America. At one point it was rumored that 80,000 well-armed German-Americans were training near Niagara Falls for an invasion of Canada. This rumor was promoted by no less than the British Consul General in New York and prompted the Canadian Prime Minister to order an investigation. Quickly, it was discovered that the whole thing was bogus.
In Indonesia between 1937 and 1981, over and over, appeared the “headhunter” rumors and delusion. The idea was that a human head was needed to supernaturally strengthen various large construction projects and that the government had sanctioned headhunter teams to acquire the necessary items. People were terrified to leave their houses at night or to walk through the forest alone in the daytime.
From headhunters, we could go to the sublimely ridiculous.
Do you remember the “Paul McCartney is dead and replaced with an impersonator” rumor that began in 1969 and went on for years, bolstered by imagined proof – hidden messages in the Beatles’ music and album covers, etc. This was taken seriously enough by major newspapers that they sent reporters to investigate. It seems that the rumor was first published in the student newspaper at my alma mater, Northern Illinois University.
If you want to look more deeply into the insanity of delusions I recommend two books: First, an old one published in 1852 entitled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay and one published in 2015, A Colorful History of Popular Delusions by Robert Bartholomew and Peter Hassall. In our scientific age we are just as prone to illusions and delusions as in the past. The difference is that with “social” media they can grow to horrific, worldwide proportions in hours. The delusions of QAnon are a current example. Never in history has there been such a dark potential for manipulation, mind control, evil and violence.
So what patterns do we see in all of this?
Humans are very susceptible to outside control. This can come through trance, through misreading sensory illusions that have been presented to us. It can come through our own desperate desires that keep us from seeing the truth and it can come through belief in lies and lying rumors. Any and all of these can create powerful delusions that will control our lives and lead us to destruction both individually and collectively. Shock, terror, and desperation make us far more vulnerable to such delusions.
Remember that in the future God is going to send the most powerful delusion of all upon the Earth. It will be so convincing and overwhelming that if it were possible even the elect, God’s own children would be fooled by it. When it arrives, many people will fall away from belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Many will turn to false Jesuses. Based on the history of delusions, what can we imagine about this terrible period? First, it will have been prepared for a long time. As they sink into the delusion, people will look back and perceive what they consider evidence for the lie that has been overlooked or misunderstood thereby creating an historical basis for them to believe it. For instance, when delusions appeared about the Jews that led to violence against them, always they were based on centuries of lies and false evidence. When the people of Indonesia believed delusions about headhunters, those delusions were based on centuries of belief in the power of sorcery and evil spirits.
Destructive mass delusions do not appear out of nowhere.
They may be instigated by lying rumors that are presented as facts, but always they are based in some form of lies that have been seeded in history. So I think we can say that the lies upon which the Greatest of Delusions will be based exist right now. When it does arrive, very likely it will come at a time of worldwide terror and vulnerability. The human race will be in shock. The systems upon which we depend for order and survival will have broken down.
Very often mass delusions offer a kind of dark hope. If you kill these people or do this desperate act, the plague may stop. If you kill all the aristocrats, all the rich, with their greed and despotic governments, the common people can thrive. That delusion led to the bloody French and Russian revolutions and many more. So in the Great Delusion, we can expect to see horrible violence directed against groups of people who are chosen to be scapegoats. Being the Greatest Delusion, it will offer the greatest false hope. Destroy these people and save the planet. Delusions are most successful during catastrophes such as economic crises, wars, plagues, famines, and other disasters. So if it is the Greatest Delusion we can expect some of the most devastating catastrophes ever seen to be taking place around the world. Jesus predicted that just before His return there would be terrible wars, diseases and other disasters. People will be attacking each other, the perfect environment for illusions, delusion, rumors and false hope.
So what illusions and delusions are controlling your life right now? If you say there are none, perhaps you haven’t taken a close enough look. There are people today who have placed their hope in the delusions of a political party and philosophy. Others are controlled by delusions of wealth, prosperity and success. Many believe the delusion that there is no God and this life is all that exists. Others are enslaved to the delusions of false religions that have existed for thousands of years.
God is in the business of awakening us from our lying illusions and freeing us from enslaving delusions.
Sometimes it takes a brutal experience to accomplish that. What follows is the first-person account of a man named Athet Pyan Shinthaw Paulu, a former Buddhist monk. The account is dated 14 July 2005. His awakening from delusion was truly brutal.
“My name is Athet Pyan Shinthaw Paulu. I am from the country of Myanmar. I would like to share with you what happened to me, but first I would like to give some brief background information from my life growing up. I was born in 1958 in the town of Bogale, on the Irrawaddy Delta area of southern Myanmar [formerly Burma]. My parents, who were devout Buddhists like most people in Myanmar, named me Thitpin [which means ‘tree’ in English]. Our lives were very simple where I grew up. At the age of 13 I left school and started working on a fishing boat. We caught fish and sometimes also shrimp from the numerous rivers and streams in the Irrawaddy area. At the age of 16 I became the leader of the boat. At this time I lived in Upper Mainmahlagyon Island [Mainmahlagyon means ‘Beautiful Woman Island’ in English], just north of Bogale where I was born. This place is about 100 miles southwest of Yangon [Rangoon], our nation’s capital city.
One day, when I was 17, we caught a large number of fish in our nets. Because of the many fish, a large crocodile was attracted to us. It followed our boat and tried to attack us. We were terrified so we frantically rowed toward the riverbank as fast as we could. The crocodile followed us and smashed our boat with its tail. Although no one died in this incident, the attack greatly affected my life. I no longer wanted to fish. Our small boat sank because of the crocodile attack. We had to go home to our village that night on a passenger boat. Not long after, his employers transferred my father to Yangon City [formerly spelt Rangoon]. At the age of 18, I was sent to a Buddhist monastery to be a novice monk. Most parents in Myanmar try to send their son into a Buddhist monastery, at least for a time, as it is considered a great honor to have a son serve in this way. We have been observing this custom for many hundreds of years.
When I turned 19 years and 3 months old (in 1977), I became a normal monk. The senior monk at my monastery gave me a new Buddhist name, which is the custom in our country. I was now called U Nata Pannita Ashinthuriya. When we become a monk we no longer use the name given to us at birth by our parents. The name of the monastery I lived at is called Mandalay Kyaikasan Kyaing. The senior monk’s name was called U Zadila Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw [U Zadila is his title]. He was the most famous Buddhist monk in all of Myanmar at the time. Everyone knew who he was. He was widely honored by the people and respected as a great teacher. I say he “was” because in 1983 he suddenly died when he was involved in a fatal car accident. His death shocked everyone.
At the time I had been a monk for six years. I tried hard to be the best monk I could and to follow all the precepts of Buddhism. At one stage I moved to a cemetery where I lived and meditated continually. Some monks who really want to know the truths of Buddha do things like I did. Some move deep into the forests where they live a life of self-denial and poverty. I sought to deny my selfish thoughts and desires, to escape from sickness and suffering and to break free from the cycle of this world. At the cemetery I was not afraid of ghosts. I tried to attain such inner peace and self-realization that even when a mosquito landed on my arm I would let it bite me instead of brushing it off!
For years I strived to be the best monk I could and not to harm any living being. I studied the holy Buddhist teachings just like all my forefathers had done before me. My life proceeded as a monk until I got very, very sick. I was in Mandalay at the time and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. The doctors did some tests on me and told me I had both Yellow Fever and malaria at the same time! After about one month in the hospital I was getting worse. The doctors told me there was no chance for me to recover and discharged me to make arrangements to die. This is a brief description of my past. I would now like to tell you some of the remarkable things that happened to me after this time…
After I was discharged from the hospital I went back to the monastery where other monks cared for me. I grew weaker and weaker and was lapsing into unconsciousness. I learned later that I actually died for three days. My body decayed and stunk of death, and my heart stopped beating. My body was prepared for cremation and was put through traditional Buddhist purification rites. Although I faded away in my body I remember my mind and spirit were fully alert. I was in a very, very powerful storm. A tremendous wind flattened the whole landscape until there were no trees or anything else standing, just a flat plain. I walked very fast along this plain for some time. There were no other people anywhere, I was all alone.
After some time I crossed a river. On the other side of the river I saw a terrible, terrible lake of fire. In Buddhism we do not have a concept of a place like this. At first I was confused and didn’t know it was hell until I saw Yama, the King of Hell [Yama is the name ascribed to the King of Hell in numerous cultures throughout Asia]. His face looked like the face of a lion, his body was like a lion, but his legs were like a naga [serpent spirit]. He had a number of horns on his head. His face was very fierce, and I was extremely afraid. Trembling, I asked him his name. He replied, “I am the King of Hell, the Destroyer.”
The King of Hell told me to look into the lake of fire. I looked and I saw the saffron-colored robes that Buddhist monks wear in Myanmar. I looked closer and saw the shaven head of a man. When I looked at the man’s face I saw it was U Zadila Kyar Ni Kan Sayadaw [the famous monk who had died in a car accident in 1983]. I asked the King of Hell why my former leader was confined to this lake of torment. I said, “Why is he in this lake of fire? He was a very good teacher. He even had a teaching tape called ‘Are You a Man or a Dog?’ which had helped thousands of people understand that their worth as humans is far greater than the animals.” The King of Hell replied, “Yes, he was a good teacher, but he did not believe in Jesus Christ. That’s why he is in hell.”
I was told to look at another person who was in the fire. I saw a man with very long hair wrapped on the left-hand side of his head. He was also wearing a robe. I asked the King of Hell, “Who is this man?” He replied, “This is the one you worship: Gautama [Buddha].” I was very disturbed to see Gautama in hell. I protested, “Gautama had good ethics and good moral character, why is he suffering in this lake of fire?” The King of Hell answered me, “It doesn’t matter how good he was. He is in this place because he did not believe in the Eternal God.”
I then saw another man who looked like he was wearing a soldier’s uniform. He had a large wound on his chest. I asked, “Who is this man?” The King of Hell said, “This is Aung San, the revolutionary leader of Myanmar.” I was told, “Aung San is here because he persecuted and killed Christians, but mostly because he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ.” In Myanmar the people have a common saying, “Soldiers never die, they live on.” I was told that the legions of hell have a saying “Soldiers never die, but they go to hell forever.”
I looked and saw another man in the lake of fire. He was a very tall man and he was dressed in military armor. He was also holding a sword and a shield. This man had a wound on his forehead. This man was taller than any person I have ever seen. He was six times the length between a man’s elbow and the tips of his fingers when he stretches his arm out straight, plus one span of a man’s fingers when he spreads out his hand. The King of Hell said, “This man’s name is Goliath. He is in hell because he blasphemed the Eternal God and His servant David.” I was confused because I didn’t know who either Goliath or David were. The King of Hell said, “Goliath is recorded in the Christian Bible. You don’t know him now, but when you become a Christian you will know who he is.”
I was then taken to a place where I saw both rich and poor people preparing to eat their evening meals. I asked, “Who cooked the food for these people?” The King of Hell replied, “The poor have to prepare their own food, but the rich people get others to cook for them.” When the food had been prepared for the rich people they sat down to eat. As soon as they started a thick smoke came up. The rich people ate as fast as they could to ease their consciences. They were struggling to breathe because of the smoke. They had to eat fast because they were fearful of losing their money. Their money is their god.
Another King of Hell then came to me. This being asked me, “Are you going into the lake of fire too?” I replied, “No! I am only here to observe!” The appearance of this creature was very terrifying. He had ten horns on his head and a spear in his hand that had seven sharp blades coming from the end. The creature told me, “You are right. You came here just to observe. I cannot find your name here.” He said, “You must now go back the way you came.” He pointed me toward the desolate plain that I had first walked along before I came to the lake of fire.
I walked a long time until I was bleeding. I was hot and in great pain. Finally, after walking for about three hours I came to a wide road. I walked along this road for some time until I came to a fork. One road, going off to the left, was wide. A smaller road went off to the right-hand side. There was a signpost at the fork saying that the road to the left was for those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The smaller road to the right was for believers in Jesus. I was interested to see where the larger road led so I started down it.
There were two men walking about 300 yards ahead of me. I tried to catch up with them so I could walk with them but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t catch them up, so I turned around and went back to the fork in the road. I continued to watch these two men as they walked down the road away from me. When they reached the end of the road they were suddenly stabbed. These two men cried out in great pain! I also cried out when I saw what happened to them! I realized the bigger road ended in great danger for those who traveled down it.
I started walking down the believers’ road instead. After traveling for about one hour the surface of the road turned to pure gold. It was so pure that when I looked down I could see my own reflection perfectly. I then saw a man standing in front of me. He was wearing a white robe. I also heard beautiful singing. Oh, it was so beautiful and pure! The man in the white robe asked me to walk with him. I asked him, “What is your name?” but he did not answer. After I asked his name six times the man answered, “I am the one who holds the key to heaven. Heaven is a very, very beautiful place. You cannot go there now but if you follow Jesus Christ you can go there after your life has finished on the earth.” The man’s name was Peter.
Peter then asked me to sit down and he showed me a place to the north. Peter said, “Look to the north and see God create man.” I saw the Eternal God from a distance. God spoke to an angel, “Let us make man.” The angel pleaded with God and said, “Please don’t make man. He will do wrong and will grieve you.” [In Burmese literally: “He will make you lose face.”]. But God created a man anyway. God blew on the man and the man came to life. He gave him the name “Adam”. [Buddhists do not believe in the Creation of the world or of man].
Then Peter said, “Now get up and go back to where you came from. Speak to the people who worship Buddha and who worship idols. Tell them they must go to hell if they don’t change. Those who build temples and idols will also have to go to hell. Those who give offerings to the monks to earn merit for themselves will go to hell. All those who pray to the monks and call them ‘Pra’ [respectful title for monks] will go to hell. Those who chant and ‘give life’ to idols will go to hell. All those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ will go to hell.” Peter told me to go back to the Earth and testify about the things I had seen. He also said, “You must speak in your new name. From now on you are to be called Athet Pyan Shinthaw Paulu [“Paul who Came Back to Life.”].
I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to go to heaven. Angels opened a book. First, they looked for my childhood name (Thitpin) in the book, but they could not find it. They then looked for the name I had been given when I entered the Buddhist monkhood (U Nata Pannita Ashinthuriya) but it wasn’t written in the book either. Then Peter said, “Your name is not written here, you must return and testify about Jesus to the Buddhist people.”
I walked back along the gold road. Again I heard beautiful singing, the kind of which I have never heard before or since. Peter walked with me until the time I returned to the earth. He showed me a ladder that reached down from the heaven to the sky. The ladder didn’t reach to the earth but stopped in mid-air. On the ladder I saw many angels, some going up to heaven and some going down the ladder. They were very busy. I asked Peter, “Who are they?” Peter answered, “They are messengers of God. They are reporting to heaven the names of all those who believe in Jesus Christ and the names of those who don’t believe.” Peter then told me it was time to go back.
The next thing I was aware of was the sound of weeping. I heard my own mother cry out, “My son, why did you leave us now?” I also heard many other people weeping. I realized I was lying in a box. I started to move. My mother and father started shouting, “He is alive! He is alive!” Other people who were farther away did not believe my parents. I then placed my hands on the sides of the box and sat upright. Many people were struck with terror. They cried out, “It is a ghost!” and ran away as fast as their legs could carry them. Those who remained were speechless and trembling.
I noticed I was sitting in smelly liquid and body fluids, enough to fill about three and a half cups. This was liquid that had come out of my stomach and my insides while my body was lying in the coffin. This is why people knew I had indeed been dead. Inside the coffin, there was a type of plastic sheet fixed to the wood. This sheet is placed there to retain a corpse’s liquids because many dead bodies release much fluid like mine did.
I learned later that I was just moments away from being cremated in the flames. In Myanmar people are placed in a coffin, the lid is then nailed shut, and the whole coffin is burned. When I came back to life my mother and father were being allowed to look at my body for the very last time. Moments later the lid of my coffin would have been nailed shut and I would have been cremated! I immediately started to explain the things I had seen and heard. People were astonished. I told them about the men I had seen in the lake of fire, and told them that only the Christians know the truth, that our forefathers and us have been deceived for thousands of years! I told them everything we believe is a lie. The people were astonished because they knew what kind of a monk I had been and how zealous I had been for the teachings of Buddha.
In Myanmar when a person dies their name and age are written on the side of the coffin. When a monk dies, the monk’s name, age and the number of years he has served as a monk are written on the side of the coffin. I had already been recorded as dead but as you can see, now I am alive!” (End of statement.) Along with this statement came the following report:
Since ‘Paul who came back to life’ experienced the above story he has remained a faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Burmese pastors have told us that he had led hundreds of other monks to faith in Christ. His testimony is obviously very uncompromising. Because of that, his message has offended many people who cannot accept that there is only one way to Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. Despite great opposition, his experiences were so real to him that he has not wavered. After many years in the Buddhist monkhood, as a strict follower of Buddhist teachings, he immediately proclaimed the Gospel of Christ following his resurrection and exhorted other monks to forsake all false gods and follow Jesus Christ with all their hearts.
Before the time of his sickness and death, he had no exposure to Christianity at all. Everything he learned during those three days in the grave was new to his mind. In a bid to get his message out to as many people as possible, this modern-day Lazarus began distributing audio and video cassette tapes with his story on them. The police and Buddhist authorities in Myanmar have done their utmost to gather these tapes up and destroy them. The testimony you have just read has been translated from one of those cassette tapes. We are told it is now quite dangerous for citizens of Myanmar to be in possession of these tapes.
His fearless testimony has landed him in prison at least once, where the authorities failed in their bid to silence him. Upon his release he continued to testify of the things he saw and heard. His current whereabouts are uncertain. One Burmese informant told us he is in prison and may have been killed, while another informant was told he is now released from prison and is continuing his ministry. (End of attached report)
This near-death experience has been viciously attacked.
It has been called a lie, an illusion and a delusion. Very likely, this is because many people only want to hear messages that agree with them and make them feel good in whatever they have chosen to believe. Which could argue for their desire to maintain an internally consistent delusion themselves. In my opinion, the fact that this experience does not bring such comfort argues for its veracity. It is difficult for me to believe that it was fabricated “whole cloth” to prove Christianity. Such a lie would go against the basic tenets of the faith it was trying to promote. And what would be the advantage? It would not be a popular message in Myanmar and certainly could bring persecution and trouble in any Buddhist country.
The underlying reason for all the hate that has been directed toward this man’s testimonial is very clear. It stands against the most pervasive modern delusion which is this: If you believe in an afterlife at all you must believe that all roads lead to Heaven because everyone worships the same “god”. This is nothing but ignorance. The major religions of the world have diametrically opposed definitions and descriptions of who “God” is. They do not mesh. Also, foolish people choose to believe that Jesus taught nothing but “non-judgmental” messages of love that point to everyone worshipping the same “God”. Once again, this is nothing but deadly ignorance. He was very clear when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Heaven is where the Father is. To get there, belief in Jesus is the only way. That is the ultimate message of this former Buddhist monk. Do you consider that message to be true or false? Making the right choice means everything.
We live in a world awash in a mighty ocean of illusions and delusions, lies both monstrous and small. Yet, at the same time truth exists if we want to find it. But often the truth is very painful, that’s why we prefer our delusions. Giving up precious delusions can be one of the most difficult choices of our lives. As a professional storyteller, I have wanted to tell stories that are true, stories that do not spread delusions that lead to spiritual death and that is what delusions always do. As I have grown older, my great desire has been for wisdom. And that is quite different than knowledge. I know many people who have a wealth of knowledge but are not wise at all. Their life choices have brought disaster to themselves and those around them. Where does wisdom begin and how can we get it? When you give your life to Jesus Christ, true wisdom begins that leads to Eternal Life. In the days ahead, we’re going to need the wisdom and love of Jesus because the world is ripe for the Great Delusion. I’ve written about that in my four-part series, Dark Illusions.
I want to leave you with a final and very serious warning.
There are many ways to make ourselves vulnerable to illusions and delusions. Certainly, drugs and alcohol can do this, but a life of foolish, selfish choices can do it as well, along with filling ourselves with lying words and images, pornography being a good example, but there are many others. With this vulnerability comes the greatest danger. We open ourselves to the influence and control of supernatural powers of evil. Of course, if you are a materialist you will think such an idea is ridiculous. I submit that your belief system makes you extremely blind and vulnerable. When we give opportunity to the powers of evil they will guide us to personal destruction creating in us hate, bitterness, lust, and rage that will grow more terrible year by year. They can even speak through us to those we love bringing damage and heartbreak. You will be made to say things that you never intended and do not believe. During sane moments of control, you will wonder where such evil words came from.
Not only can the Powers of Darkness speak through you, they can speak into you with lies meant to crush you into hell itself. Imagine that a dark power exists that can speak words directly into your mind and they come in the first person using “I” and “me” to make it seem as though they are your own thoughts. But they aren’t. What you hear is, “I am worthless. No one cares about me. I should just kill myself”, and they spew over and over filling you with mind cancer. You start repeating them and believing them. Playing into this is the materialist delusion that such an evil influence is impossible, so they must be your thoughts. Your mind becomes an echo chamber of lies. How can you stand against such evil? There is only one way, through the Power of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit that He gives to protect and heal you when you put your faith in Him.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” There is no greater slavish labor or heavy burden than to be dying inside under the raging lies, illusions, and delusions of Satan. I urge you to place your faith in Jesus Christ who loves you more than you could ever know and died so that you could be released from crushing burdens of fear, hurt and anger. What have you got to lose?
If I can be of help to you write to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I invite you to listen to my dramatic podcast Dagon’s Illusion with Coleman Luck. It is an on-going story about the invisible war.
Several years ago, I had some serious dental work done. I’ve experienced quite a bit of that in the past, but this time I tried something new. I went to a dentist who offered “twilight sleep”. Anything is better than a shot in the mouth with a needle that gets wiggled around while it’s stuck in your gum. An hour before the procedure I took a tiny pill. I live an hour away from the dentist so my son, Cole, drove me to the appointment. After twenty minutes, I was feeling very relaxed if a bit odd. Reality was taking a ten-degree turn away from my head. I remember getting to the dentist’s office and sitting down in the chair, but after that, I was out. When the procedure was over I don’t remember getting out of the dentist’s chair or going to the car. Apparently, I needed help getting from the office to the car, but when I was in the car I assured everyone that I was in complete control of all my faculties. I do not remember saying that, which may indicate a seriously flawed sense of over-confidence buried deep in my psyche.
They told Cole that I needed to eat something right away so we went for an In-N-Out burger. I’m pretty sure I remember eating one. Later I found food residue all over myself. Apparently, my drug-controlled mind is a slob. After that came the hour ride home. My son says we listened to a podcast and had some discussion about it. He reported that I was a bit “loopy”, but I was happy to engage in conversation. I don’t remember anything about that trip home, not a single word that was heard or said. Memory doesn’t begin until I was climbing into bed to sleep for a few hours.
So here’s the question, while my conscious or “executive” mind that controls everyday memory and (theoretically) makes rational decisions was asleep who was awake and conversing?
Many years ago, while I was in Vietnam, I had an officer friend who liked to drink. One night, at our base camp there was a party. We drove to it in a jeep. My friend took me along because he knew I didn’t drink so I was his designated driver. When we left the party he was drunk and his whole personality had changed. When I asked for the keys to the jeep, he refused to give them to me. When I insisted, he got in, started the engine and ordered me to get in. I refused, so he proceeded to try to run me over. I’m sure it was comical watching a captain in a jeep chasing a lieutenant around in circles, but it didn’t strike me as funny at the time. Afterward, he didn’t remember doing it. He was a very nice man…except when his conscious mind wasn’t in control then a different person appeared who was full of real viciousness.
So what was in control? We just accept that that’s the way some people get when they are drunk. But why do they get that way? It’s almost as though two different “people” live inside each of us. When one goes to sleep someone else appears, and sometimes “he or she” is rather evil and destructive. But taking drugs and getting drunk aren’t the only ways for this other “person” to emerge. I want us to think about illusion and delusion. The Bible talks about delusion. Let’s read a mysterious passage from the New Testament. It’s found in Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians chapter two:
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason, God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
That’s pretty clear and really disturbing. So God is going to send a strong delusion on the whole world. What is a delusion? A delusion is a belief or viewpoint that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument. In fact, those who are deluded think that any rational evidence that refutes their belief is itself a delusion. Delusion is considered a symptom of a severe mental disorder. So if God is going to send a delusion that will be accepted by the entire world as real, obviously that means that the entire world is suffering from a severe, collective mental disorder. Let’s put that another way. Because the entire world is insane, everyone will believe the same gigantic internally consistent lie. Insanity is always internally consistent.
Let’s understand something. God has not inflicted insanity on the world. That’s voluntary. People don’t need to be insane, they have chosen to be insane. Acceptance of this coming delusion will be proof of the true mental and spiritual condition of the human race. I’m an old man now, but one thing I’ve learned by my own bad choices. Sin makes you stupid. The longer you keep sinning, not only do you get stupider, you lose touch with moral reality. The longer you are out of touch with moral reality, the more you live in your own fantasies trying to create your own reality, until finally the whole mess comes crashing down. At that point, many people get angry and bitter at God and what they think “life” has done to them.
There’s another way to put this. There’s a strong relationship between illusion and delusion. Often one leads to the other. So let’s define illusion. An illusion is a specific figment of the imagination or hallucination that is perceived by the senses but is wrongly interpreted. Remember a delusion is a belief or impression that is maintained in spite of reality. Seeing illusions that are wrongly perceived as real often leads to believing a delusion, a larger idea that is firmly maintained in spite of reality or rational argument.
Here’s an illustration that I’ve used before: I’m a mentalist and a past member of the Academy of Magical Arts at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. From the time I was a teenage magician, I have been fascinated at how easily people can be fooled. As I have written before, for a number of years our family did a program of mental illusions. In the program we made it appear as though I could read minds, predict the future, control choices, etc. But at the midway point, I would stop and tell the audience that everything they had seen us do was a trick, an illusion, not real at all.
But even after saying that as clearly as possible, there were people who would come up when the program was over and tell me, “I know you said it was a trick, but when you looked at me that way, I could feel you entering my mind. I know it was real. I know you have power.”
Well, it wasn’t real at all and they wouldn’t believe me.
I had created a series of illusions, specific experiences that were misperceived as real. Together they produced a delusion, a strong belief based on false information. Once it is firmly implanted, it’s almost impossible to break a person free from a controlling delusion until some disastrous event occurs that brutally tears them loose. Sometimes even then they hang on to it. Why is this so? Where did our horrible human tendency to be deluded begin? I think it came when a particular choice was made a very long time ago. Let’s remind ourselves about that choice.
Genesis 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
This is a bare-bones account in very simple terms. You know the way it’s presented in pop culture. This beautiful, but stupid, naked woman — have you noticed in the pictures she’s always blonde — is wandering around in the forest. Suddenly, a fat snake dangles down from a tree and says, “You hungry? These apples look really good.” She, being blonde, gets sucked right into this trap. Later, her husband, who is a stud, probably a proto-professional jock but also stupid, goes right down the drain with her.
Let’s do some serious speculation. Underscore that word speculation. I’m not a theologian or professional Bible scholar, I’m a storyteller. Good storytellers search for motives. We search for logical causes and logical effects. So let’s speculate about what might have really happened there. An interdimensional being who appears in the form of a serpent, at that time very likely a beautiful creature, tells Eve that she isn’t all that she could be. She could be like God. She and Adam have spent quite a bit of time with God. They’ve walked with Him in the Garden. One thing she knows, there’s a big difference between them and God. He is beautiful, wonderful, powerful and all-knowing. They are way beneath Him. Certainly, she’d like to be like that.
Right there is the basis of all self-improvement courses that have ever existed. Now, she was told a lie that was mixed with truth (the best lies always are) and it offered a huge delusion. She could be illuminated, she could move to a higher plane of existence. She could be like God, knowing good and evil whatever that meant. Think about that. She didn’t know what good and evil were. The words were a fascinating mystery and people love mysteries. Not only would she be like God, but she would also learn secret powerful things to get there. Wisdom must mean having your eyes opened so you could see things that have been invisible to you. That is the very definition of the occult.
What happened when she ate that fruit? It was disobedience, the first sin with all the moral implications packed into it. But could something have happened to her experientially that to a large degree validated what this evil being had promised? Pure speculation, but a reasonable question. Was that just a delicious piece of fruit, or might it have had hallucinogenic properties? Might Eve have had an experience of overwhelming exaltation and supernatural awareness, of mind expansion, that made her feel like a god? She took it back to Adam. Now according to the Apostle Paul’s letter of II Timothy 2:14, Adam was not deceived. Which, in some ways, makes his sin worse. He disobeyed God willfully with his eyes open. Then, later he blamed it on his wife. What a hero. In so many ways, this paradigm is played out in relationships today.
What was the immediate result of eating that “fruit”? They knew they were naked and clearly felt vulnerable. So they tried to sew together coverings out of fig leaves. They weren’t covering their wrists and ankles, they were covering large parts of their bodies. They were covering their sexual organs. I wonder why? About hallucinogens used by shamans in South America The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances states, “The hallucinatory experiences…have a marked sexual content. Shamans…described hallucinogens as ‘all semen’ and the visions they induce are states of sexual arousal and orgasm often involving fantasies of incest.”
I think the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil having hallucinogenic properties is a reasonable possibility. If you look back into the history of ancient pagan religions, including, of course, shamanism, leading all the way up to our time, over and over you see at the heart of those religions hallucinogens used to acquire vision, wisdom and supernatural power. The evil Powers of Darkness work in patterns. I believe those patterns go back to the very beginning.
There has been a lot of study of hallucinogens, including LSD, etc. and how they appear to expand the mind sometimes giving what has been described as almost godlike awareness and exaltation. One of the most interesting scientific studies was done by a medical doctor named Rick Strassman. He did research on a drug called dimethyltryptamine, DMT. That is the basic ingredient of a shamanistic brew called Ayahuasca. Why is the human race so prone to believing lying delusions? Our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve, planted that destructive weakness in us. As a race, we are foolish, arrogant, fearful and prone to self-gratifying fantasies. We love to believe lies if they make us feel good and promise to give us what we want. That’s the basis of consumerism. All of this is quite bad enough. But we need to add another strange human trait that makes the whole mess even more lethal.
As a race, we are prone to trances.
Because of my interest in illusion and delusion, I’ve spent years studying hypnosis – not in order to do it but to understand the process. I’ve learned some fascinating things. To be under hypnosis means that you are experiencing trance. What is trance? Trance is the setting aside of the conscious or what might be called the “executive” mind that guides all our waking activities, so that the subconscious, or what I call the “childlike mind” can come to the surface and be revealed. This is a “person” within us who, under normal circumstances, remains hidden while at the same time deeply influencing our conscious minds. You might think of them as conjoined twins. The conscious and subconscious share the same body and brain, but there are real differences between them. They work together but for periods of time, they can be separated.
Now I’m not a psychologist and I have to be very careful about terms. The fact that we name something doesn’t mean we understand it or even that we have placed it in the right category. Conscious and subconscious are Freudian and “psychological” terms. I’m using them only to describe two very different manifestations of human personality that are deeply mysterious. We all know what conscious means in the popular sense. (In reality, no one knows what “consciousness” actually is or where it comes from.) The word subconscious is not so well understood. I use it to describe a deeper awareness within each of us that is both connected to and strangely separate from our conscious minds. Subconscious does not mean unaware or asleep. Quite the opposite. The subconscious or childlike mind appears to be the storehouse of memory. It remembers everything, often in great detail, that we’ve heard and seen throughout our lives.
While it’s a great storehouse, the childlike mind does not have the ability to make moral, ethical or complex decisions. It can’t even distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. It absorbs all information without making value judgments about any of it. It can be easily influenced and manipulated. But here is the striking part. In everyday life, the subconscious or childlike mind is the seat of creativity and imagination. When a problem is assigned by the conscious mind the subconscious mind searches for ways to solve it.
People talk about “sleeping on a problem”. During the night or in the morning often an answer appears. The subconscious mind never sleeps. In one case I read about, after a surgery a patient was hypnotized. Under hypnosis, this individual recalled everything that had been said in the operating room though she had been totally anesthetized throughout the procedure. All creative problem-solvers, whether in the arts, sciences, business or anywhere, have very active subconscious minds that assist them in finding solutions. All-day long, we feed information into those minds.
Have you ever been in a trance, a state where your subconscious mind was near the surface and the conscious mind had receded and was no longer in total control? I’m sure you have. There are different levels of trance. Trance isn’t going to sleep. Quite the opposite, trance is the extreme focus of attention to the point where everything else is excluded. The deeper the focus and concentration, the deeper the trance and the more the conscious mind is set aside. When you are engrossed in a movie or a book, even when you are driving down a long, straight road and lose all track of time, you are entering into a mild trance. You are experiencing a light form of hypnosis.
When you binge-watch a TV series or see a movie in a theater, you enter a light trance where your conscious mind is awake, but the extreme focus of attention brings the subconscious mind to the surface.
This childlike mind can’t distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. It accepts that TV series or movie the same way it accepts everything else in your life, as a real experience and memory. That means whatever values have been taught in those fabricated illusions called TV episodes or movies subtly influence and define your view of the real world. As you make decisions about how to live, about what is right and wrong, the values of those Hollywood created illusions are constantly influencing your choices and your morality whether you think so or not.
Now I want to be clear about Hollywood. No one is creating film and TV so they can put you in a trance and make you believe things. They’re just trying to tell successful stories, but they are doing it from their moral values and psychological baggage. And let’s be honest, some of those people are really screwed up. I don’t speak as an outsider about this. I spent most of my career as a writer and executive producer in Hollywood network television. For almost four years I was a writer and producer of a series entitled, The Equalizer. It was about a man named Robert McCall (played by the wonderful British actor, the late Edward Woodward), who had spent his life as a top operative in the CIA. During that time, he had done some terrible things. He carried a lot of guilt about what he had done. Leaving the agency he decided to spend his life helping people who were in deep trouble. He ran an ad in the newspaper that read: Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer. When people called, he would help them.
We shot our series all over New York City between 1985 and 1989. The show was very popular, especially in that city. When we were shooting on location crowds would gather. How much of an influence was our show? A few years ago, I received an email from a woman in Australia. She told me that when she was a little girl, only eight years old, she would watch the show every week. She said that her home life was so bad it was the only thing that gave her hope that somewhere out there could be a father who really cared. Our series entered her subconscious mind as reality and it was a positive influence. Others have told me much the same. That means a lot to me.
Collectively, when there are great changes in what our society views as right and wrong or acceptable/unacceptable behavior, often those changes can be traced directly to television, especially hugely popular TV series. We’re not aware of the influence these Hollywood illusions have on us, but they are powerful in restructuring all of our views.
But there are unpleasant ways for the conscious mind to be set aside and for the child mind to appear.
Extreme shock is one of them. It could be caused by such events as the sudden loss of a loved one or a traffic accident. The conscious mind freezes and for a period of time is set aside. After a terrible crash, people may wander on the road not understanding what has happened and not knowing what to do. In war, even if you are a trained soldier knowing the possibility of attack by an armed enemy I can tell you from personal experience when those first shots ring out your mind freezes. This will happen no matter how well-trained you are. How quickly your executive mind recovers and takes action means everything.
There’s another way that the conscious mind can be set aside and lose control. That is through various kinds of torture that may include hypnosis and drugs, which can lead to what has been called brainwashing. In that process, over time a person’s entire view of reality can be turned completely around. Governments of the world, including our own here in the United States, have employed this evil technology. Which leads us back to hypnosis.
What is hypnosis?
Formal hypnosis is entering a trance state guided by another person who is a hypnotic director or hypnotist. Here is where we delve into the real mysteries of the human mind. It’s well known that under hypnosis the subconscious mind can remove pain from specific parts of the body. The subconscious mind can take control of the autonomic nervous system and stop blood from flowing. The scientists at UCLA have done extensive research into the use of hypnosis instead of drugs during surgery.
There are many myths about hypnosis. Are there people who simply can’t be hypnotized? From all of my study, I would say probably not. There are some who are much more difficult to hypnotize, but all it takes is the right atmosphere, the right attitude, and the right hypnotic “director”. The more intelligent you are, the more creative and imaginative, the more susceptible you will be to trance and hypnotic suggestion. (Hypnotherapists prefer to use the word suggestion for what they do because they don’t want to imply coercion. They will use the word “may” in the directions they give, such as “when you awaken you may want to do so and so”, etc. But they are implanting the desire within you to obey their instructions, so a more accurate word is direction.)
Under hypnosis, can you be made to do things that you would not do under normal circumstances? Hypnotherapists are quick to say, no. From my study, I say yes, but it would take a very skilled hypnotic director and multiple sessions over a long time to restructure your view of right and wrong and the desirability or importance of a particular action. In a hypnotic trance, the subconscious mind can be induced to create almost overwhelming desires that will deeply influence our conscious minds when those minds awaken. A skilled hypnotic director will place triggering words into the subconscious before waking the subject. Later, even as much as a year or more later, when that hypnotist speaks those words, most subjects will quickly enter a trance state. If the words have been attached to an action the person will perform as instructed without knowing why. If they have been instructed not to remember something with their conscious minds, they will not remember it. If they have been instructed not to see something, they won’t see it even if it’s right in front of them.
When we study the power of the subconscious under hypnotic direction, we must look at the work of a man named Milton H. Erickson. Dr. Erickson was a psychiatrist who was born in 1901 and passed away in 1980. Arguably, he was the greatest hypnotherapist who has ever lived. Erickson was trained in all the psychiatric schools of his day but he wasn’t happy with any of them. What he didn’t believe in was spending years in psychotherapy lying on a couch talking about problems. While he treated some people for long periods of time, his basic approach was to find out where an individual wanted and needed to go in order to have a fulfilling life. And then Erickson would determine exactly what barrier was holding them back. His therapies were designed to remove the barriers. And Erickson’s therapies are legendary. Whole organizations have been created to study and promote his work. However, some of the things he did in the 1940s and ’50s would not be considered ethical now.
What Erickson accomplished shows the deep strangeness and power of the subconscious mind.
A young woman came to him for help. Her problem was that she couldn’t form a relationship of trust with any man. Consequently, she couldn’t allow herself to fall in love. What she wanted was to be married and have a family, but it just didn’t seem possible for her. Dr. Erickson discovered that she had never had a loving, trusting relationship with an older man. From her earliest childhood, there had been no caring father or father-figure in her life.
After determining that this was the reason for her inability to form a trusting male relationship, he elected a most unusual therapy. Using hypnotic regression, over a long series of sessions, Dr. Erickson took this young woman back into her childhood to all the significant days of her life. These she lived again as though she were really there, birthdays, Christmases, etc. But there was one change in all of them. Erickson inserted himself into her subconscious memories. As though it were real, she experienced him coming to visit her at her home and bringing gifts. Over time, Erickson built into her subconscious mind memories of a caring, loving father-figure, who was there for her at all of her significant moments. As the unusual therapy progressed, she found herself able to establish a trusting relationship with a young man that led to marriage and a family.
There are many such stories in the books written about Dr. Erickson’s therapies. A few would be considered extremely controversial today. However, in the 1940s that wouldn’t have been the case. Dr. Erickson was not a moralist, he didn’t make moral judgments in one direction or another. He was a pragmatist dealing with the cultural environment of his time. Here is an example: A young man came to him who was a homosexual. He wanted to marry a woman and have a family, but he considered that impossible. He told Erickson that he was hopeless and not worth anything as a man. Over several years of unusual therapy, using hypnosis and other approaches, Milton Erickson changed his self-image and his sexual orientation. Eventually, he married a woman and had a family.
It’s clear from Dr. Erickson’s work, and the work of many other skilled hypnotherapists that built into all humans is a powerful ability to see things that don’t exist, but appear to be real, and not see other things that are totally real. When we are fooled by illusions, we can be controlled by delusions that grow out of them. And there’s something else very strange about the subconscious. Under hypnosis, it was discovered that the subconscious mind can weave stories that it thinks are real memories but never happened at all. Which means that we can create our own personal illusions and delusions about people and life that will deeply influence our conscious thoughts and actions. I think most people live their entire lives unaware that they are often in a mild state of trance with their view of reality entirely shaped by illusion and delusion.
Because of this, we are vulnerable to outside control by any force that knows how to construct and manipulate effective illusions. This is the heart of modern politics.
In the New Testament book of Ephesians 5:14 it says, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” It’s hard to stay asleep when there is a bright light shining in your face. The Light of Jesus Christ awakens us from our illusions and delusions. It shows us who we really are. It reveals the real world to us. While we live in a lying trance we are dying in our sins and delusions. This is why it’s so important to ask God to show you who you really are. We need to understand our true condition and who He has created us to be. When we see ourselves through the lens of God’s truth our eyes are opened. We understand how much we need God’s forgiveness for our sins. We repent of our sins and accept the gift of salvation given in Jesus Christ through His death on the cross.
As repentance becomes a lifestyle, as we examine ourselves each day, our eyes are open about many things in this world. The lying promise that Satan made to Eve, God actually gives to His children through His Holy Spirit. We do begin to understand the difference between good and evil and how horrible evil truly is. Though we will never be gods we gain much wisdom from God.
The longer you live in this world, one fact becomes ever-clearer. The human race is broken and blind, chained and enslaved, unable to live up to its potential. Spiritual darkness, sin, and evil have destroyed us. Dangerous doors exist within us that can lead to very disturbing experiences. I want to tell you about one in Part 2.
If you would like to listen to this instead of reading it go to this link:
There has always been evil in the world, but a specific evil has been creeping over human civilization for a long time. This evil will be at the heart of the period of history that the Bible calls the Last Days. At this moment, the evil I’m talking about is still largely invisible from our collective awareness. A better word might be camouflaged, hidden from view behind a million strands of distraction. When an element of it appears, often those who have seen it are intimidated into silence. Also, very often they simply misread what they have seen, attributing to it whatever meaning they have learned from their culture. So the truth remains hidden. This evil is like a monstrous spider’s web. You can’t see all of it, but after a few strands hit you in the face you know what you’re dealing with. The danger is to focus on a couple of strands and think you understand the whole web. A good example is people who become obsessed with conspiracy theories. After looking at them for years, I’m convinced that all of them are camouflage designed to hide the Great Conspiracy.
In examining what has happened and what is happening, we try to use patterns and paradigms. When patterns become visible we start searching for paradigms. A paradigm is simply a representative example of the pattern. In this essay, I’m going to look at some paradigms that I believe represent patterns in the way the Powers of Darkness and evil use physical healing to promote their agenda. From there, we’re going to project some possibilities about the future.
Imagine that it’s the year 98 AD.
You are a young woman living in a tiny village in Asia Minor, that part of the world now called Turkey. Several months ago your abdomen began to bloat. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t keep down any food. Day by day, you’re growing weaker. You’ve prayed and sacrificed at the local temple, but it has done no good. The wise women of your village have done all they can. Nothing has helped and you’re losing hope. It’s clear that you need a miracle. But they are in short supply. Maybe there is one last resort, perhaps there’s one god who might help you. But that means traveling to one of his temples. The closest one is in the city of Pergamon. The god is Asclepius and his temples are centers of healing. You must go there and plead for your life. You must make sacrifices to him. Perhaps he will hear and come to you.
In 98 AD something very strange and deeply supernatural was going on in the city of Pergamon and several other cities of the Roman Empire. And it had been going on for centuries. The power that was centered in them has appeared with great consistency in many places around the world. We could call it the Cult of Spirit Healing. At the end of the first century AD in the city of Pergamon, there was a little Christian church. In the New Testament book of Revelation, Jesus sends a message to that church. It begins this way: Revelation 2:12-13 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamon write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is…’
Pergamon was an amazing city, one of the most important in the Roman world. As our young woman sufferer arrived there, she would have seen a city built of white marble that shone in the sun. Its acropolis sat atop a thousand-foot mountain that overlooked the Aegean Sea. The temples and monuments of Pergamon were of the finest quality. The center of it all was the mighty Temple of Zeus. Within that temple was a gigantic magnificent altar the walls of which were covered with the most beautiful, Hellenistic sculptures that depicted the mythical war between the gods and the giants. Since the early 1900s, that altar has been in Berlin. There are some who believe that it’s the throne of Satan referred to in Revelation. I doubt it. I’m sure the throne of Satan was not visible. Rather it represents the unique power and presence of his evil authority and control. Pergamon was what I call a Satanic Throne City. I think there have been many other great throne cities, centers of dark power that have had a unique influence on the spiritual life of the world. They exist today.
When Jesus Christ walked in this world, what was the best-known representation of His power and authority? It was healing the sick, which included casting out evil spirits that were destroying people’s bodies and lives. In our day we are too sophisticated to believe in evil spirits. But, as I have written before, there is a very good reason to believe that they exist and are interdimensional beings. Quantum physics has opened the door to a bizarre universe of stunning strangeness where almost anything is possible. But words get in our way. Take the word “demon”. It’s a very ancient word. In our day it conjures up a Hollywood vision of ugly supernatural monsters, or maybe screaming schizophrenia. To many people it means irrationality. I’m going to suggest to you that all of those are distractions designed to camouflage the truth.
Many Christians who believe in evil spirits have a dangerously false idea about them. They think that everything coming out of a dimension of evil is going to be ugly and horrible. That’s one of the most important distractions that keep the truth camouflaged. The truth is that the greatest supernatural evil often manifests itself with scintillating beauty. It is deeply desirable and appears to be the answer to our most overwhelming needs. Very often, the hook that leads to death is baited with pleasure, beauty and even the deep emotion of apparent love.
Throughout history, the world has been full of suffering and death is always close. For thousands of years even to the present day, there has been a deep fear of the dead. The fear is that some might appear as ghosts, while others could come back in a physical form known as revenants. Whenever we say “rest in peace” we are acknowledging that ancient fear. In many parts of the world, the fear of the dead still exists. The dead must be appeased with sacrifices and gifts. To a large degree in the western world, we’ve forgotten what that fear was like for our ancestors. Illness brought the fear of death. When we get very sick today we’re desperate for healing. But what if there were no doctors or hospitals? What would you do to find healing for yourself or a loved one? You’d do almost anything, wouldn’t you? In your desperation, you’d be physically and spiritually vulnerable. Any examination of the Powers of Darkness, Satan and his Lords of Evil and their work in this world, including what they will do in the future, needs to look at miraculous healings.
So our young woman is in Pergamon to seek help.
The people of the city direct her to a lovely temple complex dedicated to the worship of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. Who is this god? In the preface to their classic scholarly work entitled, Asclepius: A Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies, authors E. and L. Edelstein make this remarkable statement: “The worship of Asclepius…came to play such a role in the religious life of later centuries that in the final stages of paganism, of all the genuinely Greek gods, Asclepius was judged the foremost antagonist of Christ.”
One of the best known gods of the ancient world is one of the least known today. Belief in Asclepius controlled the minds and spiritual lives of millions. Julian, the Roman Emperor who ruled in the fourth century after Christ, and who was called the Apostate because of his attempt to revive dying paganism, viewed Asclepius as the greatest gift of Zeus to the human race. He said of him, “He visits no one of us separately and yet he raises up souls that are sinful and bodies that are sick.”
Christian apologists of the early church lashed out at the cult of Asclepius. Every time Justin, a famous Christian spokesman of the second century, talked about Christ healing the sick and raising the dead, he complained that his hearers would counter with Asclepius. Whole cities such as Epidaurus, Cos, Tricca and Pergamon were dedicated to this god. Pergamon was so much associated with him that the people swore by Asclepius of Pergamon.
Who was Asclepius in mythology?
To the Greeks and Romans who worshipped him, he was a “half deity” at birth. That means that he was the son of the god Apollo and a human woman, perhaps a good example what I have called in my Dark Illusions series a “hybrid”. When he died it was claimed that he became a full god himself. Asclepius was a healer who could even raise the dead from their darkness, the founder of all the medical arts. His rod with a single serpent twined around it, influenced the medical symbol used today. The original Hippocratic Oath was sworn by Apollo and Asclepius.
The special appeal of this god was to the poor and sick of the world, to all those who were heavy laden and needed rest. His message reached out to them and from all across the Roman Empire they flocked to his shrines.
What would our very ill young woman have experienced when she arrived at the temple of Asclepius in Pergamon?
Like the other shrines, it was a beautiful tourist attraction with quiet, lovely grounds and landscaped groves of cypress trees. Worshippers would cleanse themselves in the many springs and medicinal baths and offer sacrifices on the great altars that stood beneath the open sky. To see it, you couldn’t have imagined that this could be part of Satan’s Throne. Unless he was in the health resort business. That’s what it looked like, a beautiful health spa with Greek architecture.
Each Asclepius shrine had its own character with libraries, theaters and gymnasiums. But one feature was the same in all of them. At the center of the complex was a strange temple filled with couches. This was the business end of the shrine. Soon after you arrived, you would begin to experience a bit of the real weirdness of the place. You’d discover that non-venomous snakes were crawling everywhere. They would be all over the grounds and inside the buildings, especially in the temple. And they were welcome there. This was their home. Beneath each temple were tunnels and labyrinths specifically constructed to house serpents. After every Asclepion was built, at the time of dedication, hundreds of snakes were brought in to be housed on the grounds, because a snake was the symbol of the god.
When she entered the complex, our very ill young woman would be assigned to a priest who would listen to the facts of her case. He might give her a regimen to follow, but this was not nearly as important as instructions that might come directly from the god. She would then be ordered to worship by making a sacrifice to Asclepius on one of the altars. In the evening, a draught of wine would be administered and then she would go to sleep on one of the many couches in the temple. It was during this period of temple sleep, called incubation, that the miraculous healings would take place.
Did actual, physical healings occur in the shrines of Asclepius? The archeological evidence is fascinating. These shrines existed for hundreds of years. Many thousands of sufferers in deep distress came to them. If no healings had ever happened, certainly they would not have drawn such numbers for so long. A record of some of those miraculous cures has been preserved in the form of stone tablets found at the Asclepion of Epidaurus in southern Greece. Very likely they represent only a small portion of the tablets that once existed. They purport to be the personal testimonies of eye-witnesses to the power at work in the shrine.
Here’s what might happen when you slept in the temple.
The healing would begin with a dream. Sometimes it would be of the god himself, who would appear as a bearded, scholarly man, the personification of the ideal doctor. But as he stared at you, somehow there would be a strange, faraway look in his eyes. He would seem to know all about your physical condition. Often, he would cure you right there in the dream. When you awoke, you would find yourself miraculously healed. The following are just a few excerpts from the many stone tablets found at Epidaurus.
A woman named Erasippa (perhaps our young woman) came to the temple with her stomach swollen with worms. She was burning all over and couldn’t keep down any food. In the temple, she had a dream. She dreamed that the god massaged her stomach and kissed her. Then he gave her a drug to drink and ordered her to vomit. In the dream, she vomited and covered herself with it. In the morning, she discovered that her dress was covered with the evil stuff she had vomited in the dream. From that point, she became well.
Euhippus – For six years he suffered with the point of a spear embedded in his jaw. In the temple, he dreamed that Asclepius removed it and placed it in his hands. The next day, he went away healed carrying the spear point.
A man of Torone – He came to the temple after having drunk a potion given to him by his step-mother. She had tricked him and placed live leeches in the drink which were living inside of him. He dreamed that Asclepius cut open his chest with a knife, took out the leeches and placed them in his hands. At daybreak, he left the temple cured, the leeches out of his body.
The mother of a woman suffering from terrible swelling in her extremities slept in the temple for her daughter. She dreamed the god cut off her daughter’s head, emptied out the diseased fluid and replaced the head on the body. The mother left the temple and found her daughter well. On the same night her daughter had had the same dream.
Agameda was having trouble getting pregnant. She slept in the temple, asking the god for children and had a dream. In her dream, a serpent lay on her belly. After that, five children were born to her.
And on and on the cases go. As in this last case, some didn’t see the god in a physical form. Some saw one of his servants. A man with a cancerous sore on his foot went to sleep. While he was sleeping, one of the sacred snakes crept out and licked it. The next morning he was healed after dreaming that a handsome young man placed a drug on the wound. Sometimes, instead of curing the patient outright in the dream, Asclepius would prescribe a simple regimen. When one individual came to the temple continually coughing blood, the god’s prescription was to eat pork for the rest of his life, constantly stuffing himself with it. This he did, believing that if he missed a single day for the rest of his life the disease would return.
Now clearly, these stone tablets were a form of advertising for the temples. A skeptical view might say they were all fabricated. But that’s far too simplistic an answer. It cannot account for the centuries-long success of those temples and the untold thousands who came there. If no real healings were taking place they could not have existed for such a period of time. Others might say that healing happened, but it was just the Placebo Effect. People wanted to be healed and believed in the power of the temple, so they were healed. Once again, this isn’t an adequate answer. It might account for a percentage of the healings, but it couldn’t account for all of them. Also, the ancient world was a dangerous place. Many people came with specific physical damage, such as the man with the spear point embedded in his jaw. No placebo effect would heal that.
Some might say these testimonials were only fabrications of the priests who used the people’s faith in the god to get them to obey their own medical prescriptions. Sort of like having a deity in your pocket to lend authority to your orders. The idea would be that the only real power in the shrines was in the priests themselves and as they grew to be more scientifically sophisticated they came to realize this. Eventually, they stopped being priests and became “real physicians”. That idea doesn’t work either. In the shrines of Asclepius, the human physicians treated people and the god treated people and everyone knew the difference. The great Galen of Pergamon, one of the fathers of modern medicine because of his early use of scientific methodology, made this observation. “Even among ourselves in Pergamon, we see that those who are being treated by the god obey him, when on many occasions he bids them not to drink at all for fifteen days, while they obey none of the physicians who give this prescription.” Everyone knew the difference between the god and the men.
Something quite strange was happening in those shrines.
An encounter with Asclepius established a very firm religious faith. To receive healing from the god required sacrifices, the god demanded to be worshipped, which meant giving yourself body and soul to him. The Powers of Darkness have gifts to give, but always there are chains attached. Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, all He had to do was bow down and worship him. Belief in Asclepius and worship of him kept many people from believing in Jesus.
It is significant that Asclepius is associated with a serpent. Many pagan religions have given an important place to snakes. There was a shrine to Asclepius in Rome. Worship began there as early as 292 BC. According to Roman history, the god was brought in under the direction of the Delphic Oracle. What did everyone think was the ancient power behind that oracle? A python that Apollo was supposed to have killed and thrown into a huge fissure at Delphi. But the python’s priestesses were kept in charge. Many people believed it was fumes from the rotting body of the snake that gave these women their visions.
How did Asclepius come to Rome?
A plague had stricken Italy. A ship was sent to Epidaurus to receive the god and bring him back to the great city. It’s said that when the ship arrived in Epidaurus, a huge snake voluntarily crawled aboard. When the ship entered Italy, the snake slithered off on an island in the Tiber and immediately the plague stopped. The Roman shrine to Asclepius was built on that island.
As Christianity, the power of Jesus Christ grew in strength in the Roman world, worship of Asclepius faded away and his shrines fell into disrepair and ruin. But the power at work in them did not fade away. It simply found new names and new centers in which to express itself. That dark power entered the organized Christian church. With the Christianization of the empire under Constantine beginning in 313 AD, all of the pagan temples changed hands. The temple of Asclepius in the Tiber became the Church of St. Bartholomew and continued on as a mecca for healing under the direction of a new set of priests with people placing their faith in a saint instead of a Greek god.
Healing through pagan gods in the Roman Empire was not limited to Asclepius. Incubation was practiced in many pagan temples. As the church absorbed paganism in order to make Christianity more “palatable”, the power behind the healings of Pergamon gained many new avenues. People traveled great distances to countless other new shrines that bore the names and bones of saints. Many of the same healing techniques used by Asclepius continued in the Christian church. French historian of the sixth century AD, Gregory of Tours, records a number of examples of church sleep in order to find supernatural healing. This was just a Christianized form of ancient incubation.
The Greeks believed that Asclepios had once walked the earth as a man then became a god when he died. Praying to men and women who have died and are now considered saints is little different. When healings occur, what is the source of that power? If you consider yourself a Christian, a good test would be, does that healing draw a person into a deeper faith in Jesus Christ and gratitude to Him, or a deeper faith in someone or something else?
I want to suggest another pattern to you.
What I have called the dark Cult of Spirit Healing almost always requires a person to go to a specific location in order to meet the god or supernatural being in order to be healed. It may be a temple or a sacred grove of trees, or a mysterious place in a desert or on a mountain. Today, it might mean going to a faith healer at a big colosseum event or to a psychic surgeon at his or her retreat center. Almost always, it entails some form of payment or financial “contribution”. A big faith healer might engender a sense of guilt and fear. If you really want to be healed you must demonstrate your faith by putting money in an offering plate. With a psychic surgeon, there would be a direct demand for cash. Always it entails a form of worship and sacrifice, by that I mean submitting yourself body and soul to the power you hope will heal you. In various cultures, this could include sacrifices of plants, animals or money.
How does this compare with the record of Jesus’ healings when He walked in this world? There was no specific center where He did His healings. He went out to the people, traveling from town to town. He asked for no money or sacrifices. According to the record, people would be healed if they just touched Him. There were no gruesome dreams of being cut open or heads removed. He spoke a word or gave a touch and it was done. Healings that come from the Powers of Darkness enslave people to them. Worship of the deity must continue or the disease might return. Very often, Jesus didn’t even get gratitude when He healed sufferers. At one point He healed ten men of leprosy. Only one came back to say, thank you. When His disciples went out, they worked in exactly the same way. And so true healings have come to us down through the history of the church. They do not give glory to people either alive or dead. They do not give glory to a pantheon of false gods. They bring glory to the One True God, Creator of all who loves us and who cannot be represented by a statue. And they set sufferers free.
This Cult of dark Spirit Healing has been at work for eons. The physician priests of ancient Egypt were considered the most knowledgeable in the world. They were famous for their healing arts. Always those arts were deeply associated with Egyptian magic. Just as in the shrines of Asclepius, their work was done under the auspices of the gods. One of the most beloved and powerful of the Egyptian healing gods was Isis. This goddess has had a deep influence even down to our own day through the rise of neo-paganism, the freemasons and others. How were healings accomplished by Isis in ancient Egypt? Temple sleep, incubation.
Where do we see a modern version of this historic pattern? In the Cult of Spirit Healing that surrounds the work of Edgar Cayce to this present day. His techniques of diagnosis and cures through contact with spirits while he slept, bear a striking resemblance to the methodology, prescriptions, and cures of Asclepius. What Cayce entered into was a form of trance and spirit possession. Most of all, the Powers of Darkness want to enter the Christian church, to control and corrupt her worship. Many times they have used miraculous healing as their entry point.
In Cayce we see another pattern. He always presented himself as a Christian, a former Sunday School teacher. He said he believed in Christ. But the Jesus he knew was certainly not the Jesus of the Bible. Is it possible that there could be more than one Jesus being presented to the world, that there could be a fake Jesus who looks much like the real one but is from hell? Here’s what the Apostle Paul said about that in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it!”
More than put up with it, people are putting their entire faith in a fake Jesus every day. Those who came to Cayce for cures were led away from the real Jesus. Instead, they put their faith in a man and his unholy healings. That is the pattern that’s going on today around the world and in the Christian church through leaders who are conduits for the healing power of evil spirits who present themselves as angels of light.
In 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 the Apostle Paul warns specifically about this. He says: “For Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” Think about that. An angel of light that is really a powerful creature darkness. Satan creates Jesuses that look just like the one you expect to see from all the pretty pictures. But when the Apostle John saw Him as recorded in the Book of Revelation, he fell at His feet as though dead.
The Edgar Cayce example presents another pattern that correlates with the ones we have been discussing. Let’s redefine the word sleep. As I said, Cayce was known for sleeping to get his supernatural information, but it wasn’t sleep, it was trance. Trance is at the core of almost all of the healings that come from the dimension of dark spirits. So when some form of trance is necessary for healing to occur, that is a clear indicator of the source.
Now we have to be careful about how we understand trance.
To be in a trance doesn’t mean that your eyes are rolled back in your head and you’re mumbling gibberish. A person can be in deep trance and appear to be wide awake. In the trance state, strange powers have been known to appear. Let me tell you a very odd story. In France, in the late 1600s an unusual sect appeared in the Roman Catholic Church. It came to be known as Jansenism after its founder Cornelis Jansen. In several ways, it was a form of Calvinism that remained loyal to Rome. The Pope, the Jesuits and the King of France hated it, but it was very popular among the common folk and the parish clergy. The French mathematician /philosopher Blaize Pascal was a strong supporter of the Jansenists. The group is forgotten today, but in the 1700s they were one of the most well-known and controversial groups in Europe.
One of the reasons the Jansenists were so popular was because some of the leaders manifested unusual gifts of miraculous healing. Controversy raged around them. At the very pinnacle of their success, tragedy struck. One of their saintliest leaders died and was buried in a church cemetery in Paris. Very soon, people began making pilgrimages to his grave. And very soon miraculous healings began happening there. These healings included everything from cancerous tumors to paralysis to deafness to prolonged bleeding and on and on. As you can imagine, people thronged to that cemetery.
Then things got even stranger.
Some of the visitors to the tomb began to experience weird spasms and convulsions to the point that they had no control over their bodies. Their arms and legs would go through amazing contortions. This weirdness spread like wildfire. Soon the streets were full of writhing, contorting men, women and children in a trance-like state. It became so widespread that those who fell under the power of it were called Convulsionaires. While the healings continued, these people began to display amazing and disturbing abilities. In the convulsive trance, they could be tortured in the most awful ways and remain completely undamaged.
Many thousands watched as Convulsionaires were severely beaten with heavy and sharp objects and even strangled. At the end there was no sign of the slightest injury, not the tiniest bruise or wound. This went on for a long time. For decades the streets around the tomb were crowded with Convulsionaires. At one point it took 3,000 volunteers just to watch these writhing people to make sure they didn’t do things like remove their clothes during their seizures. This became so well-known all over Europe that people from every level of society, from the intellectual elite to the uneducated masses, came to witness the phenomena. Many enemies of the Jansenists came who wanted to refute what was happening. They went away confirming the miracles. A member of the Paris Parliament went to investigate. He wrote four large volumes describing the miracles he saw. They have come down to us in history. In his 1991 book, The Holographic Universe, author Michael Talbot lists some of those miracles:
A 20-year-old female Convulsionaire leaned against a stone wall while a volunteer, a very powerful man from the crowd, struck her 100 times in the stomach with a 30-pound hammer using all his strength. She was completely uninjured. An observer took the hammer and struck the stone wall where the woman had been leaning. On the 30th blow, the stone broke through, creating a large hole. Another young woman bent over backward with her lower back supported by a sharpened peg. A fifty pound stone was hoisted by rope to a place high above her and allowed to drop with full force on her stomach. This was done over and over without the slightest response from the woman except that she yelled over and over, “Strike harder, harder.” When it was finished, she walked away without the slightest scratch.
It is very significant that many of the Convulsionaires pleaded to be tortured because they said it relieved the agony of their convulsions. They were struck with metal rods and chains. The most powerful men couldn’t strangle them. Fire couldn’t hurt them. All manner of tortures were tried including crucifixion. When taken down from the cross there were no wounds. People tried to cut and pierce them, all to no avail. A sharpened iron drill was placed against the bare stomach of one man. Then another man tried to pound it into his body. He struck as hard as he could over and over, but the point wouldn’t pierce the flesh. Through it all the Convulsionaire looked enraptured and yelled, “It does me good. Strike twice as hard.”
But this wasn’t all. Some of the people developed psychic abilities during their convulsions. Some levitated. One man rose into the air and no one could pull him down. All of these events had many, many witnesses. Through it all the healings continued. The niece of Pascal had a very bad ulcer in her eye. A few hours after being with the Jansenists, the ulcer vanished.
People familiar with the phenomena associated with demonic possession will recognize some of the phenomena demonstrated by the Convulsionaires, the trancelike attitude, the desperate desire to be beaten and tortured so the pain of the convulsions could be alleviated, great strength, psychic powers. Certainly, the strange things that happened for so long at that grave corrupted the original message of the Jansenists who were concerned with holy living. The miracles became the focus and they caused tremendous dissension. What happened represents spirit possession and not by the God’s Holy Spirit. Did healings from God occur early on among the Jansenists? Possibly. But I would have no faith in anything that happened in the cemetery. Nowhere in the Bible do you see pain and torture presented as necessary in order to receive physical healing. But it is a strong pattern in the Cult of dark Spirit Healing. Shamans often abuse themselves because they believe it is necessary in order to receive healing power from the spirit world.
As we look for patterns and speak of brutality associated with spirit healing it’s time to talk about so-called psychic surgery.
As I write about this, I remind the reader that I am a mentalist and a past member of the Academy of Magical Arts at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. I’m extremely familiar with trickery and fraud. I do believe that 98 percent of psychic surgery is pure fraud and ham-fisted trickery. I am well aware of the magician James Randi and the million dollar challenge that he offered for several decades. And there are other individuals and organizations that have made similar challenges. To date no one has met those challenges. However, this in itself is not proof that psychic abilities do not exist. All it proves is that no one has successfully demonstrated them under the required conditions established by those skeptics.
In the future, I’m going to write about Dr. Robert Jahn who was a scientist and professor at Princeton University and the research he and his associates have done in the area of psychic abilities, including their work on the Global Consciousness Project. It’s quite startling. I want to suggest to you that there are two dangerous extremes to be avoided when we consider psychic phenomena, including psychic surgery. It is equally dangerous to believe that all of it is real or that none of it is real.
Biologist and anthropologist, the late Lyall Watson, author of the best-selling books Supernature and Beyond Supernature, spent much of his life researching paranormal phenomena all over the world. In the Philippines, he met a psychic surgeon who simply held his hand a foot above a specific place on a patient’s body, then pointed and moved his finger. Instantly, an incision would appear. Watson relates that at one point he placed his own hand too close to the patient. When the healer pointed and moved his finger, a cut appeared on Watson’s hand. The scar of it remained with him for the rest of his life.
Watson was a scientist. Consequently, like other scientists who have studied the paranormal and witnessed real phenomena, he attributed purely humanistic causes to what he saw. Humans have latent powers that need to be developed, etc. But there is another possible explanation. For that, we need to look at what I consider to be the paradigmatic experiences of Johanna Michaelson.
In the early 1980s, Ms. Michaelson published a book entitled, The Beautiful Side of Evil. It was a best-seller and, needless to say, it has come under tremendous attack ever since. If you do a web search on her name, you will discover that both she and her book have been vilified. Almost all of the critiques are purely ad hominem. The Beautiful Side of Evil chronicles Ms. Michaelson’s experiences working with a Mexican psychic surgeon named Pachita. The author has been criticized because, other than the psychic surgeon, she doesn’t name patients. Therefore, her report cannot be verified.
However, we do know that a woman named Pachita did exist and operated as a psychic surgeon in Mexico City and that her son carried on her work. The fact that Ms. Michaelson doesn’t name her patients is understandable. How many people would like to have their case histories written about with their names attached when they have gone to regular doctors much less psychic surgeons? I believe that Johanna Michaelson is telling the truth. Her book is the testimony of an eye-witness. More than that it includes the story of how she got deeply involved in the occult when she was young.
This involvement finally led her to become Pachita’s assistant in over 200 operations.
Ms. Michaelson reports that she saw great miracles occur and great failures as well. When she met her, Pachita was an old woman who had been doing spiritist surgery for many years. Here’s how it would work: Suffering people would come to Pachita’s home. Before a surgery was performed, she would enter a sacred room. There she would sit down and close her eyes. Soon a spirit who called itself Hermanito would take complete control of her body. Hermanito claimed to be the spirit of an Aztec healer who had died centuries before, killed by the Spaniards. After it took control of Pachita, her eyes would remain closed throughout the entire surgery. Yet, she could thread a needle with one try. The surgeries would take place in the crudest of circumstances with the patient lying on the floor or a table, and Pachita using a knife and house scissors. The only meager attempt at cleanliness was some alcohol poured on cotton.
Johanna Michaelson witnessed all forms of surgery including operations on the brain and spinal cord. During spinal surgery, Pachita would insert the bones from cadavers. And everything was done without anesthetic. The patient would enter a mild trance and would feel no pain. According to Michaelson, many people were healed in a way that had to be miraculous. But some were not. Some died after the procedures.
Michaelson tells the story of one woman who was convinced by her friends to let Pachita operate. For years, she had had great pain from spinal damage. Before the surgery, Pachita assured her that she wouldn’t feel anything. But that was a lie. Horrible stabbing cuts were made and bones were pulled out. Cadaver bones were inserted. And the woman felt everything. Through the entire surgery, she screamed in the worst agony of her life. Afterward, she was not healed. Her agony increased. Michaelson reports that during the surgery, she felt terrible hate pouring from Pachita/Hermanito toward the patient. The woman was a Christian.
It appears that in a number of cases, the healings of Pachita would hold until a person became a Christian, then the original problem would return. Interestingly, Pachita/Hermanito would tell people to pray to God and Jesus during these surgeries. But it was clear to Johanna Michaelson later that this god and this Jesus were not the ones of the Bible. Johanna Michaelson became so concerned and terrified that she left Mexico and went to Europe where she spent time at L’abri Fellowship, with Francis and Edith Schaefer and Os Guinness. There she gave her life to Jesus Christ. But before that happened, she went through real terror as the spirit world tried to maintain its control. Finally, she was freed from the darkness that had been enslaving her for years.
If you have never experienced such evil spirit terror, you have no idea what it’s like. Members of my own family have experienced it. I believe that when it’s real, psychic surgery in all of its brutish and bloody manifestations is just a physical extension of the brutish and bloody hallucinations that were such an integral part of the healings that took place in the temples of Asclepius. They are part of an ancient pattern. In those temples why couldn’t the “god” have simply healed people with a word or a touch as Jesus did? I am convinced that psychological and physical brutalizing are a part of the spiritual enslavement that such healings are meant to establish.
So what patterns have we seen?
First, the cult of spirit healing wants people to come to them, I believe the physical travel required represents a journey of the soul into their darkness. Sometimes the locations are places where these beings have established a kind of throne center of power. Second, their healings are most often associated with some level of trance. This may be induced by anything from temple sleep, to drugs and potions, to direct hypnotic control. Third, very often they are brutalizing in some form, whether in a vision or on the physical body of the sufferer. Fourth, those healers that claim to be “Christian” present a different god and a different Jesus than the Ones in the Bible. The false Jesus speaks of universal love and total acceptance without any need for repentance and salvation from sin. He presents enlightenment as the highest goal. The need for the forgiveness of God is not part of the message. Nor is taking up the cross and following in obedience as the real Jesus taught.
Fifth, and most important, the healing establishes the authority of the dark spirit world in the life of the sufferer.
This may be focused on a human being who gets the glory and through whom the spirits speak. That authority and the messages communicated through it supersede the authority of the Bible and the Holy Spirit guided teachings of the true church of Jesus Christ. Through healing, a new god is established in a person’s life.
It is very important to understand that this power can manifest itself and gain tremendous control within the Christian church. Any miraculous healing or supernatural manifestation that transfers focus and gives glory to any person other than Jesus Christ is from the Powers of Darkness no matter how wonderful it may appear. This includes preachers, faith healers, the saints and Mary. I know there will be many people who are offended by that statement, but I see no way around it if we are going to be faithful to the Bible. Evil loves to appear with amazing, spiritual beauty. Do not be fooled.
What about the future? What’s going to happen? As I have said many times, I am not a prophet, only a storyteller. But stories rule the world and every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story of dark, spirit healing has been going on for a very long time. But it will have an end. That end is coming. I think it will come when science and the spirit world of the supernatural become one. You say, how is that possible? Much of what we call science had its foundation in occult and esoteric activities. One of the fathers of modern medicine was Galen of Pergamon, who certainly believed in the supernatural. Galen was one of the first to use scientific methodology. Yet, he began studying medicine at a young age because Asclepius came to his father in a dream and told him that’s what Galen should do. As we know, chemistry and metallurgy began in alchemy. Scientific materialism, the idea that the only thing that’s real is that which can be tested and retested in a laboratory, is becoming less and less satisfying as a philosophy. Particularly as quantum physics reveals the deep strangeness of the universe, scientific materialism seems simplistic and almost quaint.
I believe that amazing discoveries will be made in the near future that will appear to bring science and the supernatural back together, to make them one as they were so long ago. Included in this will be the ultimate manifestation of the ancient Cult of Spirit Healing. If I were writing this story, the greatest convergence between the scientific and what we call the supernatural would come at the time of greatest need. In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus made some startling predictions about what the world would be like just before His return. Here are His words:
Matt 24:21-28 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
So there are going to be many false Christs and false prophets and they are going to do amazing signs and wonders. But they will be lies designed to mislead. Clearly, many, many people will be drawn to them and believe in them. Why will they be drawn, why will they believe? What was it that drew the majority of people to Jesus during His ministry? It was the healing. Healings represented most of His signs and miracles. People were desperate for help and they couldn’t find it anywhere else, so they came to Him from great distances. The same has been true with the Cult of Spirit Healing down through history. People have come in great numbers to the place where they thought healing would happen.
During the terrible time that Jesus predicted the strong implication is that the same thing will be true. Diseases and injuries will appear that medical science cannot treat, either because it does not have the skill or because it is overwhelmed and unable to deal with the massive crisis. People will be desperate and searching. They will be told that “Jesus” has returned. He’s out in the desert healing people or in some inner sanctum. Thousands will flock to these false Christs and they will be healed.
Think about it. Something has happened. You or your loved one is desperately ill. There is no help. They are dying in agony. Word comes that healing is available from someone who claims to be Jesus. Thousands are being healed. The truth is right before your eyes. Don’t you want healing for yourself and your loved one? How much spiritual strength would it take to turn away from that and die? Jesus says that the signs and wonders will be so strong that, if possible, even the elect, those who know and trust the real Jesus, might be fooled. In Luke 21, the parallel passage to Matthew 24 Jesus predicts that one of the signs of the end will be plagues. Now we’ve had plagues down through history, but I think the implication is that the plagues of the end will be unique.
One of the amazing things about the period in which we are living has been the absence of a truly devastating, world-wide pandemic.
The last time that occurred was the Spanish Flu of 1918 and 1919. That disease killed approximately 50 million people worldwide. 20 million died within an eight week period alone – this out of a world population of only 1.8 billion. For decades virologists have warned that a pandemic like the Spanish Flu or one that’s even worse will come again. It is certain. We just don’t know when or the level of severity. It’s impossible for us to imagine what such a pandemic would do to modern society. When the Black Death struck Europe in the 1300s between a third and a half of the entire population died. It changed the course of history. Whole towns and sections of countries were left empty. Society was never the same.
Such a disaster is coming. When it comes, I believe it could be in the time just before the return of Jesus. And the Cult of Spirit Healing will be ready. The False Jesus Healing Team will spread out across the world. They will work in their ancient patterns. “You come to us, to our new sacred place and we will heal you.” The journey will lead you into spiritual darkness and enslavement. When you arrive where the false Christ is you will be amazed at what you see. You will experience fear and some form of psychological brutality in order to receive your healing. You will need to sacrifice, presenting your body and soul to this false messiah. After you are healed, you will belong to the darkness. You will be its disciple and witness, calling others to the same experience. Only those who truly belong to Jesus, the Messiah, and are filled with His Spirit, will be able to stand against this evil power. And they will pay a terrible price for doing so. But Heaven and the eternal Kingdom of God will belong to them forever.
Which leads to the most important question? Do you truly belong to Jesus Christ, God’s only Son? Is He your Savior and Lord or are you worshiping false gods?
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In 1528 a small collection of Spanish galleons arrived off the Gulf coast of Florida. On those ships were 300 men. They were professional soldiers, conquistadores. Second in command was Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. His surname name means Head of the Cow. It’s not a name that I would want, but to him, it was an honor. The King of Spain had conferred it on one of his ancestors for bravery in battle. The goal of this military force in this strange, unknown world was to establish a Christian colony that would provide riches for the monarchs of Spain. In the process for the soldiers, it would be fine if they got rich themselves. These were hard men, seasoned war veterans, expecting danger and difficulty. Well, they found it.
The ships landed in what is now Tampa Bay. They got there purely by accident. The men with them who were supposed to be skilled pilots had no idea where they were going. Like many military leaders, the man in charge of this expedition was utterly incompetent, in fact, stupid in the extreme. Military stupidity gets people killed. I could tell you a lot about that from personal experience. This leader decided that most of the force should go on foot up the coast. The ships would meet them on the Florida panhandle. Exactly where that was they had no idea, but that was the plan. So the soldiers disembarked and the ships sailed away never to be seen again.
In that day there were no retirement communities or miles of fast food joints on the Florida gulf coast, just swamps, rivers, bogs, mosquitoes, disease, and very unfriendly tribes. The men slogged their way through it with no maps. Their guides didn’t know where they were going. The miserable journey took months and along the way, many of them died. When they reached the panhandle they were deep inland, starving and under constant attack by angry locals. Finally, they made it back to the gulf coast, where more of them died. They knew they had to escape this hellish land and it was clear that the ships weren’t coming. Their only hope was to get to New Spain on their own, that’s what they called Mexico. It’s a long way from the Florida panhandle to Mexico.
One of the men on this expedition was a carpenter. Under his direction, they cut down trees and built barge rafts. This took several months. During this time, they were constantly starving, bitten by millions of mosquitoes and fighting off tribal attacks. They ate the few horses they had left. The horses were in such bad shape they were of no use for anything but food. Finally, after months of preparation, they shoved off into the gulf. Of course, they had little food and almost no drinkable water. They tried to store water in horse hides, but the hides rotted. The horrible trip across the gulf took months. There were storms and the barges got separated. Ultimately every single man on the expedition died except four. Cabeza de Vaca’s barge finally came to shore probably on what is now Galveston Island in Texas. The men were in terrible shape, starving and exhausted.
You think things were bad up to that point? Well, then they got really bad.
Galveston Island wasn’t where they wanted to be. They weren’t in New Spain yet and they knew it. They needed to get back out into the Gulf. But their barge got stuck in the sand. They had to push it off, so to keep their clothes dry they stripped naked. With their clothes and weapons on the barge, they jumped into the water. When they started to push it off the sand, suddenly a giant wave came and swept it out to sea. They were left standing in the ocean stark naked. Watching them on the shore was a large and very unfriendly Indian tribe. These people were totally naked and starving too, but they had weapons. So the great conquistadores arrived in Texas. No clothes. No weapons. No way to defend themselves. The tribe took them prisoner and the conquerors became slaves.
Over several years that followed, all the things the Spanish were doing to the people of the New World were done to them. They were beaten, starved and forced to do hard labor. They slept naked without shelter in the cold and heat. Here is a strange reality. All of these men were Roman Catholic Christians. One of the goals of the Spanish conquest of the New World was to plant Christianity among the natives. This was done with brutality, raping, pillaging and forcing people to be baptized, which is the exact opposite of the way Jesus wanted it done. It was the way Satan wanted it done. Well, Cabeza de Vaca and his friends couldn’t do it in the typical Spanish manner. They didn’t know it, but in their suffering, they were becoming like Jesus Christ Himself, who long ago was beaten and hung naked on a cross.
The slavery of these men went on for several years. For years they lived naked, starved, brutalized, and constantly afraid that the tribes were going to murder them. When things couldn’t get any worse they did. Years ago I told a friend, it’s always darkest before it turns totally black. The tribe was stricken with disease. People were dying. The leaders came to them and said, “You are from far away. You know things. You heal us. And do it now or we will kill you.” How would you feel? I’m sure their response was, “This is insane. We’re powerless, naked with nothing, and we’re soldiers, not doctors. But if we don’t do something, we’re dead.” In their desperation, there was one thing they could do. They could pray. So they did that. They prayed. They laid hands on the sick, made the sign of the cross and breathed on them in Jesus’ Name. Doesn’t that sound foolish? What a waste of time.
Now we come to the truly strange part of the story.
All of the people they prayed for were healed. Needless to say, the word got out. Poor sick people began to flock to them from all over. They prayed. They kept on praying. And the sick kept on being healed. I don’t have to tell you that their status among the tribes changed radically. They weren’t slaves anymore. They were honored. But they were still half-starving and naked just like everybody else. And they longed for home. The only way to get home was to get to New Spain. But not by water. They had had enough of that. It would have to be overland. How far was it? They had no idea. They didn’t know that they would have to walk across all of Texas and New Mexico and down through Arizona.
So Cabeza de Vaca and his friends began one of the most amazing journeys of history. Totally naked, with no maps, no weapons, no guides, and almost no food or water, they started wandering through this new world. Wandering? No. I think they were being guided by an unseen hand. Do you know what those men did? They healed their way across the Southwest – the first Europeans ever to be there were healers. Often thousands of tribal people followed them. Runners would stream ahead. They would enter villages and the sick were waiting for them. The stripped conquerors from Spain had become the Healers from Heaven. In the process, they carried the message of Jesus Christ and His love, to people who had never heard His Name. In one tribe they asked the leaders who they worshipped. They replied that they worshipped a man in Heaven, but they didn’t know who he was. Cabeza de Vaca and his friends told them.
Their journey through the southwest was horrific. Many times they went for days without food or water. People from one tribe would lead them to the next, suffering deprivation with them along the way. They were loved and because they had the power to heal, they were feared. Cabeza de Vaca and his friends never took advantage of that power. When they were given gifts, they gave them away to people in need. Finally, they made it into Northern Mexico. There they met the Spaniards, their countrymen, who were burning, pillaging and enslaving the tribes. Cabeza de Vaca tried to stop them. He tried to make them treat the native people with kindness. His own people hated him for it.
Only a few of the Spaniards listened to him and changed their ways. Most did not. Even worse, these evil men did their best to get the tribes who were loyal to Cabeza de Vaca to turn against him by telling them that he was just like they were. The reply they got from the tribal leaders was amazing. They said to the Spaniards, “You came to us with horses and weapons. You attacked us taking what we have and making us your slaves. These men came naked, with nothing, just like us and they healed our sick. They gave back everything that was given to them. No, they are not the same as you.”
Cabeza de Vaca went back to Spain and wrote a military report for the king.
What was the heart of that message? “Please your majesty, treat the tribes with kindness. They are so poor. They have nothing. They’re in so much need. They are ready to hear about the Love of God. Kindness is the only way to victory.” In this, Cabeza de Vaca failed. But he and his friends, rough soldiers who had suffered so much, had planted the message of Jesus like seeds in a wilderness. And God had been with them, the God who heals.
How do we know about this story? We have the report that Cabeza de Vaca wrote to the king. It has been translated, published and is available to you to read. You can buy it on Amazon. In that report, he gives detailed information about the land and the people. It is of tremendous historical importance because it is the first such report of a European who traveled through the southwest. Yet rarely do you hear it mentioned? Why? To tell that story truthfully, you must tell about the supernatural power of God. Many people including many historians today, don’t want to hear that.
In the days before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ made some very important predictions about what would happen before His return to earth. Those predictions are found in the New Testament book of Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21. One of His predictions was that the good news about Him, who He was and what He had come to do, would be told to all nations. He didn’t say to every single person. He said to all nations. It took a long time for that to happen, but in our day, that prophecy has been fulfilled. Cabeza de Vaca and his friends helped fulfill it when they landed in Texas and walked across the southwest, healing the sick and telling them about Jesus, how He had come to save people from their sins and give eternal life to all who believed in Him. Of course, living naked and healing people was not their original plan. God changed their plans because he wanted the message to go out. There were thousands of Spaniards, robbing and brutalizing the tribes. Those murderers and robbers claimed to be Christians. God wanted the world to see what real Christians look like.
But what are we to make of all this supernatural healing?
If you are a materialist you would say it was purely natural, what’s called the Placebo Effect. You would say these simple people were desperate. They wanted to believe the Spaniards could heal them, so their bodies responded to that intense belief and made them well. It had nothing to do with God and prayer at all. And there have been striking cases that would seem to support this hypothesis. Let me tell you one of the most famous of them. It took place in Long Beach, CA in the late 1950s and it is very well documented.
At that time there was a cancer patient who is called in the literature, Mr. Wright. This man was dying from advanced cancer in his lymph nodes. Tumors the size of oranges were all over his chest, neck, groin, and abdomen. His spleen and liver were massively swollen and the doctors reported that between 30 and 60 ounces of fluid had to be sucked out of his chest every other day just so he could breathe. This man was dying. It was obvious to everyone that he wouldn’t live much longer.
Then something happened. Mr. Wright got information that filled him with hope. His own cancer specialist was part of a team that was testing a new cancer drug called Krebiozen. Initial tests had been very promising. He pleaded with his doctor and convinced him to give him the drug. This specialist, named Dr. Philip West, thought, “What is there to lose? The man is going to be dead in weeks. Let’s let him have what he wants.” So on a Friday afternoon, he gave Mr. Wright an injection of Krebiozen. What happened was amazing.
On Monday morning, Dr. West came into the hospital and found his dying patient up and around, walking the corridors and joking with everyone. When West checked him, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The huge tumors were dissolving away. Over the next ten days, Mr. Wright received more treatments of Krebiozen until almost all signs of cancer were gone. They discharged him and he went back to his normal life.
Well, a couple of months later something terrible happened. Mr. Wright read a newspaper account about Krebiozen. It reported the next stage of research. Krebiozen wasn’t proving effective in the treatment of cancer. Almost immediately, the tumors came back and Mr. Wright went back to see Dr. West. West was horrified by the almost instantaneous return of the cancer. So he decided to do something that was unethical. He decided to lie. First, he told Wright that the news reports were not correct. Krebiozen was effective in curing cancer. The reason the cancer had returned was because the batch they had used had been sitting around in a pharmacy and had lost most of its strength. But West assured his patient that the hospital had just received a new “super-refined, double-strength” batch. He suggested that they start a new regimen of injections. Needless to say, Mr. Wright agreed.
So they started the treatments. Mr. Wright received injections of distilled water that he thought was Krebiozen. The results were just as amazing as they had been with the actual drug. The tumors disappeared. A few days later, Mr. Wright left the hospital symptom free. Everything went well for several more months. Then there was another news report. This one from the American Medical Association. The final test results were in and they were conclusive. Krebiozen was worthless, totally ineffective in curing cancer. A few days after reading that report, a very distraught Mr. Wright was readmitted to the hospital. Two days later, he died of cancer.
What is going on with our brains?
This is far from the only example of what researchers call the Placebo Effect. Truly believing that something is going to happen makes it actually happen in our bodies, when there is no other operative agent than belief. But I want to suggest to you that we’ve named it wrong. It isn’t the Placebo Effect. It is the Faith Effect. For some reason, placed within us is a tremendous power called Faith. It can do amazing things in our lives, but it works in two ways. It can heal you, as it did Mr. Wright for a period of time, or it can kill you.
I want to suggest to you that God has placed the Faith Effect in us as part of His gift of free will. Now we can use free will, our free choices, for good or for bad, can’t we? The same is true for the Faith Effect. It can make us strong, or it can kill us. It can guide us toward life or toward destruction. And you are using the Faith Effect one way or the other every single day you live.
Think for a minute, what if Cabeza de Vaca and his friends had not had enough faith to pray for those suffering and dying people? They didn’t know what was going to happen the first time they did it. But they had enough faith to try. What if they had said, “Hey, sorry, we’re not doctors. We can’t help you.” No one would have been healed. They would not have been freed from their slavery. Very likely, they would have died hopelessly where they were. We wouldn’t have the record of their amazing journey. Most of all, thousands of people would never have heard about Jesus.
We don’t know how many people were healed by the prayers of Cabeza de Vaca and his friends. Certainly, it was many hundreds. It could have been thousands. He wasn’t concerned with such numbers in his report. But in an official report to the king, he was concerned about truthfulness. Reporting these healings didn’t get him any extra favor. There is no record that he did any healing when he was back in Spain.
One other thing. The Placebo Effect might account for a small percentage of those healings. In blind studies, percentages of placebo cures are not large. There is no way that the Placebo Effect could account for all of the healings that took place. It wasn’t the Placebo Effect, it was the Faith Effect. It was the faith of Cabeza de Vaca and his friends that made the difference. Your faith is essential in accomplishing what God wants to do in your life and in the world. How do we know that God insists on human faith being present for Him to work? The Bible says so. Look at these mysterious words in Mark 6:1-6. It’s about Jesus.
“Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.
A question: Did Jesus suddenly lose his power because people didn’t believe in Him? Not at all. Why didn’t He use His power? Jesus did only what His Father wanted Him to do, what He saw His Father doing. He says in John 5:19, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” Because there was no faith in His Son, right there in Jesus’ home town, God the Father in Heaven refused to work in that place.
What is unbelief? Unbelief is a form of faith.
When you don’t believe one thing, it’s because you are believing something else. You may have convinced yourself that there is a body of evidence to support your belief, but the truth is almost all of that evidence was acquired second or third hand from what you consider to be reliable sources. That is faith. God insists on working hand-in-hand with our faith. But when we don’t want His involvement, there is another supernatural power waiting to work. It uses our faith as well. There are false teachers who will tell you that faith is like a bucket. If you don’t have enough faith in your bucket, God won’t work. So if you needed healing and it didn’t come, you just didn’t have enough faith. But Jesus said in Luke 17:6, all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed.
I don’t believe in professional faith healers. Anybody who announces that he or she has the gift of healing and wants crowds to come, well, automatically, I question who they really are. I have no respect or belief in the big “dog and pony show” faith healers, the ones who fly in private jets and perform on TV. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. However, I didn’t always feel this way.
Back about 1970 my wife, Carel, and I were living in the Chicago area. In our church was a man who was very ill with a degenerative disease. Medicine was not helping him and he was in need of a miracle. At the time, there was a major woman faith healer operating in the country. Our friend learned that she was going to be at Notre Dame University having one of her meetings and he wanted to go. I had an open mind about all of it. Anything we could do that might help him, we wanted to do. So a small group of us took him to Notre Dame.
I had never been to such a meeting before. It was held in the enclosed stadium at the university. When we got there, thousands of people were pouring in and many of them looked very unwell. On our way in, we met two elderly parents. With them was their beautiful daughter, a woman in her early 30’s, and she was in a wheelchair. They were spending their life savings following this faith healer across the country, from one city to the next, desperately hoping that their daughter would be healed. I felt tremendous compassion for them. But spending your life savings this way? What dark responsibility would fall on that faith healer to influence people to do such a thing?
We found our seats and the stadium went dark. A large choir began to sing that great old hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” Suddenly, a single spotlight flashed on illuminating a woman dressed all in white. Her arms were raised and she was twirling, dancing down one of the aisles. For all the world, it sounded like the choir was singing to her. I had come with an open mind, but, quickly, it began closing. There was no way around it, I understood production values and the power of spectacle. This was the glorification of a woman through music and technology. Then the show got underway. A major element of it was this healer proving that she had spiritual power. This she did by what is called slaying people in the spirit. Groups were brought onto the platform. One by one, she would touch them and they would fall into the waiting arms of catchers, knocked out cold with a Holy Spirit punch.
There is a dangerous psychological vulnerability when humans are in large crowds.
A crowd mentality takes control and under the right circumstances, a skilled speaker with a powerful personality can get them to believe and do almost anything. All of the people who came forward to stand on that woman’s platform knew what was expected of them. She was going to knock them over with a touch of her hand. When everybody else is falling over in front of thousands of people, you’re going to do it too. And this was a crowd desperate to believe that she had real power.
To be honest, as the show progressed it was sickening and I grew furious. I had no faith at all in the healings that supposedly took place. And there weren’t any healings among the wheelchair folk who were gathered in a large group at the far side of the platform. Nowhere in the Bible do you find slaying in the spirit. Jesus didn’t do it. Neither did any of His apostles. When you see anyone slaying people in the spirit that is living proof that you are seeing a spiritual wolf, a charlatan, a false teacher. Any teacher or leader, healer or not, whose work focuses the glory on himself or herself and not on Jesus Christ is a servant of darkness.
I’m telling you this for a reason. Jesus predicted that in the days of the end just before His return, there would be many false teachers and false Christs. There would be people doing fake miracles. And they are everywhere right now. Needless to say, at the end of that woman’s dog and pony healing show at Notre Dame, my friend had not been healed. But I had received an important education. Do people get healed in meetings like this? Yes, some do. But that’s not because of the charlatan at the front collecting the big offering. It’s strictly because of God’s mercy and grace and His love for suffering people.
After saying all of that, I’m going to tell you about something that happened to me personally a few years ago that was very strange.
When it comes to the miraculous and the supernatural, I look at things from a somewhat skeptical frame of mind. Not disbelieving or believing until there are enough facts. I believe that God does heal people miraculously. It does happen. But it’s always been a rather theoretical belief for me. I pray for people who are sick and I am so glad when they are made well. God does miracles through medical science. As far as direct healing from prayer and the laying on of hands, I’ve always believed it is possible. Certainly, it’s taught in the New Testament. Jesus did it. His Apostles did it. And it’s happened since. It happened with Cabeza de Vaca. But once again my belief was theoretical not based on any personal experience. I had never seen it happen until one night in a private home.
When Carel and I moved to the mountains of California we began attending a local church. There we met some wonderful people. They invited us to be part of a little fellowship group that met each month. About twelve or fifteen people were in the group. We’d meet, share a meal, have a short Bible study and a few minutes of prayer together. The leader of this group was a retired pastor named Earl Kuester. He was a widower. For many years he had pastored an American Baptist church in southern CA. But when we met him, he had been retired from that position for quite a while. Upon retirement, he and several members of his church had all moved up to the mountains at the same time. Those people were in this little fellowship group.
As we got to know them all, we began to hear a strange story. In the late ‘50s and early 1960s, Earl was pastoring this church, when his wife came down with cancer. They had five small children so you can imagine the agony this brought not only to their family but to the entire congregation. Everyone was praying and back then medicine couldn’t do very much. Earl really didn’t know anything about miraculous healing. It wasn’t a subject taught at the seminary he had attended. In his desperation, he began to do serious research. He read, he prayed, he took courses at a local Christian graduate school. He began to believe that God was giving him the gift of healing. With real faith, over and over, he prayed for his wife. Well, she wasn’t healed. About 1962, she died.
Even though he had experienced such great sorrow and lack of success, Earl continued to believe that God had given him the gift of healing, the ability to pray for people, lay hands on them and see them made well. At his little church, they began having Sunday evening healing services. It was never a huge event. They didn’t start a TV show. A few people would come and there would be prayer. The people in our fellowship group who had been there said that real healings took place. But it wasn’t anything like you see with the big faith healers.
Here is how Earl told me it worked. On Sunday afternoon, he would spend time in prayer for the evening service. While he was in prayer, very frequently he would get a pain in some part of his body. He felt that God was telling him that someone in the service had a problem in that area. So during the service, he would stand up and ask, “Is anyone having a problem here?” and point to that place on his body. Apparently, many times it proved to be true, a person would come forward for prayer and would be healed.
Now all of this had happened many years in the past. By this time, we had been in his fellowship group for several years and nothing like this had happened there. My attitude was, I don’t need to make a determination about all of that. He is such a good man, so humble and giving, whatever happened back then, or what he thought happened, that’s fine. It doesn’t relate to now. So when he talked about it, I would just smile, nod and say, “Wonderful”. Then one fellowship group evening, something happened.
After dinner Earl said, “The Lord told me this afternoon that somebody here is having trouble with their foot.” He pointed to a specific place on his foot. “If there’s somebody like that let us know so we can pray for you and you can get your healing.” I looked around. Nobody responded. Suddenly, I got a very strange feeling. About 30 years before, something had happened to me. My wife and I and our little children were living in the Chicago area. I was finishing my undergraduate degree and working full time. One holiday we took our kids to Starved Rock State Park. We had a great time. There was a kids’ play area with a little merry-go-round, the kind an adult has to spin while the kids ride on it. I was spinning it with my little boys riding when suddenly, I stepped on a root that was sticking out of the ground. I felt terrible pain. I thought I had sprained my ankle. Actually, I had broken a bone in my foot, but I didn’t know it.
We didn’t have any money and no health insurance, so in spite of the pain, I didn’t get it checked out. I just wrapped it tightly with an ace bandage and hobbled on it. It hurt for months, but finally it got better. However, my foot was never the same. It didn’t bother me unless I walked for some distance on rough ground. Then it would really hurt. Thankfully, I’m a writer. I work in offices so I didn’t have to do a lot of walking. I would go for weeks without any pain at all. But eventually, it would come back, and I did have to be careful about the kind of shoes I wore. That night Earl Kuester pointed to his foot in the exact place where I had experienced pain for 30 years even though I wasn’t experiencing it at that moment.
My first thought was, okay this is crazy. Could he be talking about me? What am I going to do about this? No one else stepped forward, so rather sheepishly I said I’d had trouble there. I was a little embarrassed as he prayed for me in Jesus’ Name with his hand on my foot. How much faith did I have? Not a bit more than a mustard seed. I had acknowledged the problem and accepted the prayer, that’s all. But almost my first thoughts afterward were, “What am I gonna do when this doesn’t work and I still have the pain? I’ll just be very quiet and hope he doesn’t ask about it. He thinks he’s got the gift of healing and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” So much for my faith.
Well, that was fifteen years ago. The pain has never returned. Something happened and I guarantee it wasn’t caused by the Placebo Effect. Nothing like that ever happened again in that fellowship group. The odd thing? One of our friends in the group had been having serious problems with his feet for years. Over and over we had prayed for him. But the healing came to me. I would have been happy for him to get it instead. Earl Kuester and several other members of that little fellowship group are in Heaven now.
We rely on modern medicine and we should. I view it as one of God’s gifts to us. But in the dark time ahead that Jesus predicted is coming we may very well get to the point where modern medicine is no longer available or doesn’t work. So forget the big dog and pony show faith healers. When God chooses to give that gift, it will come because He wants to bring glory to His Son Jesus and it will come to humble people like Earl Kuester. And it isn’t going to be something they can control and use whenever they want. It will come in specific cases when God chooses to give it. It didn’t come when Earl prayed so desperately for his wife.
How much faith will you need?
Not the kind those wolves, the prosperity teachers, blather about. At one point Jesus stood in front of a man with a withered hand. He was having one of his regular confrontations with the Pharisees about healing people on the Sabbath. He told the man to stretch out his withered hand. As he stretched it out, it was healed. Jesus could have healed his hand while it dangled beside him, but He demanded that the man take the tiny step of obedience and faith and reach toward Him. If he had refused to do that, I’m sure he wouldn’t have been healed. If I had remained silent that evening, my foot would still be in pain.
But there is a much deeper step of faith. And those who follow Jesus are called to it. It is the willingness to say to God, “Your will be done even if it is not what I am praying for so desperately right now.” Earl Kuester came to that place with his wife. After her death, he went forward seeing other people healed, but not the one he loved most in this world.
What should we look for to prove that any supernatural manifestation is really from God? The first evidence of real spiritual power that comes from Heaven is a deep love for Jesus Christ and a desire to bring glory to His Name. If that is not present, no matter what supernatural power is being displayed it will be false. The second evidence is humility. I don’t mean the chest-beating public kind. I mean the kind that has humbled itself beneath the Mighty Hand of God. Usually, that kind of humility is the result of suffering. The third evidence is compassion that comes from a broken heart, a heart that knows the true meaning of repentance and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. If these are not present, no matter what the miracle might be, even if you see a person raised from the dead, do not follow the one who has done it.
Let me conclude with another story. It is a strange case that happened in 1982 in Pakistan.
It was originally examined and reported by Dr. Rex Gardner who was a researcher and physician at Sunderland District General Hospital in England and it is recounted in Michael Talbot’s book, The Holographic Universe.
In 1982, in Pakistan, an English physician was working. Her name was Ruth Coggin. One day, as she was treating patients, a woman named Kamro came for help. She was 35 years old and eight months pregnant. For most of her pregnancy, she had been experiencing bleeding and frequent pain in her abdomen. It was clear to Dr. Coggin that something was very wrong. She told Kamro to go to a hospital right away. Well, the woman didn’t want to do it. But a couple of days later, she had no choice. The bleeding had greatly intensified. Coggin examined her again. She had lost a huge amount of blood and her feet and abdomen were dangerously swollen. The next day in the hospital there was an episode of bleeding that was even worse. There was no choice but to remove the baby immediately by Caesarian section.
When Kamro’s uterus was opened a large amount of dark blood flooded out and continued flowing. It was clear to Dr. Coggin that the woman’s body had no clotting ability. After the baby was delivered there were deep pools of blood filling the bed and the incision was still flowing. The situation was desperate. If something wasn’t done immediately, Kamro would die. Coggin managed to find two pints of blood for a transfusion, but it wasn’t nearly enough to replace the huge amount that had been lost. With that, all options were exhausted. Well, all but one. Prayer.
Here is what Dr. Coggin wrote in her journal. “We prayed with the patient after explaining to her about Jesus in whose Name we had prayed for her before the operation and who was a great healer. I also told her that we were not going to worry. I had seen Jesus heal this condition before and was sure He was going to heal her.”
After praying, there was nothing to do but wait. Kamro kept on bleeding but very strangely, her general condition didn’t get any worse. It stabilized. Dr. Coggin reported that she visited the patient that evening and prayed for her again. The bleeding continued just as heavy as before, but the woman didn’t seem affected by it. 48 hours after the surgery, the blood started clotting and she began a full recovery. Ten days later, Kamro and her baby girl went home. Dr. Coggin reported that, though she had no way of measuring how much blood had been lost during the surgery and afterward, she was certain that it was more than Kamro had in her whole body.
So if you don’t believe in Jesus and His ability to heal, this presents a serious problem for you. Humans can’t produce blood fast enough to replace such a catastrophic loss. If we could, nobody would ever bleed to death. So where did Kamro’s new blood come from with such incredible speed? The doctors who examined the case had only one answer. Her new blood came out of thin air.