Religious Dementia

That’s the only term that I can use to describe what we see here (hat tip Stageleft).

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The girl’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to “apparently they didn’t have enough faith,” the police chief said.

They believed the key to healing “was it was better to keep praying. Call more people to help pray,” he said.

The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said.

I am a religious man, so I find the following joke (and old joke, most recently resurrected for an episode of The West Wing) a little humorous, precisely because it’s true. Would that more religious people take heed of its message.

A religious man is sitting in his kitchen and he hears a report on the radio that there’s a terrible flood happening in the area. So, he says to himself, “I’m not worried. I am a religious man, and I’ll pray. And the flood will not hurt me.”

Well the flood waters rise and sweep into his home. He’s standing at his second floor bedroom window when he sees a man in a canoe rowing by. The man in the canoe shouts, “hey! You’ve got to get out! The flood’s getting worse! Climb aboard my canoe, I’ll take you to safety!” And the religious man shouts back, “No, thank you! I’m a religious man. I’ll pray, and the flood will not hurt me.”

Well, the flood waters rise higher, and the man retreats to his roof. Another man in a helicopter arrives, drops a rope ladder down and shouts, “hey! You’ve got to get out of there! The flood’s getting worse! Climb aboard and I’ll fly you to safety.” But the religious man shouts, “No! I’m a religious man. I’ll pray, and the flood will not hurt me.”

Well, of course, the flood waters rise higher, and the man drowns. When he goes up to heaven, he meets God and confronts him. “God,” he says. “I am a religious man. I prayed. But you didn’t help me. Why?”

And God says: “What do you mean I didn’t help you? I sent you a radio report, a man in a canoe and a helicopter! So, what the Hell are you doing here?”

In an even more sinister case, let’s not forget the case of Deanna Laney, who believed she was called by God to kill her children. This prompted Erin to compose this poem for her second book of poetry, Seal up the Thunder

It got her hate mail.

How even the holy cover their faces
(poem on the Sacrifice of Isaac)

“Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” —Genesis 22

Deanna Laney, called by God,
gave up her children. This is not a story. Testimony:

How she woke near midnight and took the oldest first
onto the lawn, how the sprinklers came on, how they ran
to the rock garden. How she had decided
on stones.

How the Lord put a stone at her feet as a sign,
how she put a stone in the crib
as a sign, how a baby’s head fills the hand
like a stone, how sleep fills it with heavy
decision, how she woke near midnight
with her heart filled up and heard:* it’s time,
it’s time —*

How she heard it first when the baby
squeezed a frog, how gold its eyes bugged out
clear as a message. How he toddled to her,
stone in chubby offering. How his name
was Aaron. How her boys were Joshua, Luke,
and Aaron.

If the ministry of death, says the Word, came in glory,
how much more, then *— How God sent the ram.
*How you can’t see why
, she testifies. You’ve just
got to.
How in scripture, they say
Here I am.

How her boys were Joshua, Luke, and Aaron.
How she took the oldest first
into the garden. How she
smashed. How she pulled
the body by beloved feet
into the bushes. How she looked
for the ram. How her robe
and white pajamas. How her wet feet
and hands.

God created this reality. I think he expects us to live in it. It’s tragic when we don’t.

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