It may not look like much to you, but to me, it’s magic. Last night, my sponsor introduced me to quite a few people, explaining that I am a non-believer. I was interested in seeing how each of them tried to effect a change in my status.
The man who delivered the speech asked if he could pray for me, and I said that would be fine. (Saying magic words or chants has always been part of religion.) Both my sponsor and the speaker put their hands on me. (Many religions believe in the power of “energy transfer,” “laying on of hands,” and the like.)
Afterwards, a very kind woman gave me this little bit of olive oil, advertised as coming direct from the Mount of Olives. I was a little shocked to get a magic charm, since the Bible is pretty specific in its prohibitions on magic and witchcraft. But the lady assured me that if I just keep it, something wonderful will happen to me. I asked her if I should drink it, or put it on food, or on myself, and she assured me that I need do nothing other than keep it as one of my possessions. I thanked her profusely and assured her that I will. (Hey, if it works, I’m a winner, right? Maybe I’ll win the lottery.)
I’m often surprised at how blithely members of one religion dismiss other religions’ practices when it is pretty obvious to an outsider that they are doing exactly the same kinds of things. I showed my new magic charm off to my dinner hosts, and when I described it as a lucky charm, they were quick to warn me that True Christians™ don’t believe in magic charms.
And that highlights an interesting trend. I was told that this conference is a shining example of what True Christianity can do. And even between these devotees, I’m finding as much disagreement as agreement. One man assured me that Catholics are certainly not True Believers. Another averred the love of Jesus for anyone who calls on his name, regardless of doctrinal “anomalies.” Yet another told me that Catholics had it right until the middle of the second millennium, until Martin Luther took the torch. One woman gave me a magic charm. Another woman disavowed magic charms.
Funny, isn’t it?
Oh… speaking of magic spells and witchcraft:
The Test for an Unfaithful Wife
11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure- 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah [a] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt.16 ” ‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband”- 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath-“may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. [b] 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away. [c] ”
” ‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”
23 ” ‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, [d] and she will become accursed among her people. 28 If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.
29 ” ‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’ “