The pastor of the church I grew up in died over the weekend. It’s sad. I really liked the guy. He was sincere and personable. He had been battling cancer for over a year. I would sometimes see their family’s updates on Facebook. Sometimes they would describe how he was getting some of the latest medical devices to shoot radiation into his brain, targeting the tumors. There was a string of bad news – they kept finding more tumors. The family would talk about how they needed to “fight the enemy”, by which they mean that this was a “spiritual war” against the devil who was attacking them. They had to keep praying for healing from God. The juxtaposition of modern medicine on one hand and the devil, prayer, and God on the other, seemed particularly bizarre. It was like the finest medicine of the 21st century meets a stone-age understanding of the world.
The notion of a “spiritual war” always seemed like an odd notion to me, since they believed in an all-powerful deity. How can you have a “war” when you have the ultimate trump card? At that point, it’s really just a “war” to convince God to arrive and do something.
Anyway, he died over the weekend. I listened to the eulogy that they posted online. The new pastor (who used to be the assistant pastor) said his last few days were painful – involving seizures and vomiting. When he died, they prayed over his body for God to bring him back to life. They called the new pastor on the phone, who had them put the phone the deceased pastor’s ear and prayed for God to revive him. It made me angry. I was angry that they are so deluded that they believed God would raise him from the dead. It made me angry that, despite praying for God to heal his cancer, despite praying for God to rescue him from his pain, seizures, and vomiting — none of which accomplished anything (which should’ve told them something about their God’s unwillingness to perform a miracle), they wanted to “bring him back” into this pain. I was shocked at their incredible level of self-delusion.
Then they said that he was in heaven now, happy and with God. Not only do I think that’s just another self-delusion, but I couldn’t help but think “if you really believe he’s in paradise right now, then why the hell did you pray over his body to try to bring him back into his painful life on earth?”
I’m still shaking my head over how delusional all of it is.