A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: miracles

30 Jun 1999
I too, am a skeptic.........be that as it may, my firm stance was shaken a few years ago. Scouting the area around our new home in Texas, we discovered a monastery. Nondescript place, high on secluded hilltop....hours of driving to get to it.

The black and white brochure simply said it housed a 'weeping icon'....no fanfare, no expensive admission (free). What we saw, smelled and tasted defied my clinical and non-religious attitudes. In a tiny mobile home, plastic flowers in plastic vases, propped up on an easel...was an icon. Silence prevailed in the room, there were only three of us present...in no way could a tiny motor have been operating. The back was in full sight, no wires observed either. The icon was inches from my nose as I asked for a closer look...no pinholes , but oil saturated it.

Explainable by wishful thinking, by group hallucination, by greed on the part of the presenter...none of these criteria fit. I cannot say I had a 'religious conversion' afterward, although the very nice monk did use a cotton ball and blessed our feet and hands, however my normal cynicism was shaken to its core.

I am telling you all of this to remind you that , not often, but 'occasionally' there are things we cannot understand in our present containers as humans. I still question and most often find logic and scientific basis for things...however, in the back of my mind's eye...remains the image of that weeping icon.
Barbara Johnston

reply: As Joe Nickell so aptly put it, you are one of many who are Looking for a Miracle.

Non-drying oils, such as olive oil, have been used in the past to saturate statues that later appear to be bleeding or weeping. The monks count on your belief in their honesty and integrity, as well as your desire to see a miracle. Perhaps they justify their pious fraud because they think they are helping bring people to a belief in God. They might ask themselves, what kind of God wants admirers who must be tricked into admiration?

For more on the oil trick see Joe Nickell.


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