Here’s a story from India about a statue of the Blessed Virgin that weeps blood. So what? Why should we be interested?
That’s what religion is supposed to be about. It’s not primarily about being nice, good respectable people. Yawn. It’s not essentially about religious arguments or religious rules and all that. Religion is about stuff we can’t explain. It’s about our neat little worlds with all our answers getting turned upside down. Religion is supposed to be about the Twilight Zone, the strange, the bewildering and the unexpected–what we call the supernatural.
Part of this whole bewildering thing is that you have crowds of ordinary people flocking to see the alleged miracle. Along with them you have crowds of so called sophisticated who mock the gullible crowds and sneer at the common folk. Maybe you also have trickery–religious charlatans who have conned everybody. Maybe someone comes along and exposes them. That’s also part of the intrigue.
Then again maybe you don’t have any trickery at all. Maybe they examine the statue to see how the magician did his trick and they don’t have any answer. Maybe it actually is a miracle. There have been plenty of bleeding and weeping statues and pictures. Some of them have turned out to be a hoax. More often the authorities don’t declare one way or the other.
This is also why this kind of event intrigues (and I have to confess) and delights me–because we don’t have any answers. Why should this statue weep blood and not a million other statues? Why in India but not in Indiana? Why blood and not tears? There were statues of Ganesh that drink milk. What’s the difference? Is there any reasoning behind the event? There doesn’t seem to be. There are more questions than answers. Does it prove the Christian faith? No more than the milk-drinking statue of Ganesh proved Hinduism.
This sort of thing intrigues and delights me because the rationalists, atheist and logical positivists who start with the assumption that there can be no such thing as a miracle have some explaining to do. The thinking Catholic steps back and says, “Hmm. Could be a miracle. We’ll check out all the natural explanations first, but could be. Could be a miracle.” The rationalist atheist is therefore forced to confront the phenomenon and offer an explanation. He can’t allow for miracles so the only answer he can give is, “It must be a hoax.” or “I don’t know.”
If he says it is some kind of trick. The Catholic says, “Maybe you’re right. Could be a trick. Could be a hoax. We’ll check it out.” But if there is no fraud, the statue is examined and there is no explanation what does the atheist rationalist do?” If he’s honest he’ll also shrug his shoulders and say, “I don’t know. I Guess there are some things in this world we can’t explain.” What he can’t do is be open minded enough to say “It’s a miracle” because he’s not allowed to believe in miracles. He’s not that open minded.
But let’s say he’s open minded enough to say, “I don’t know.” As this unexplainable phenomenon is a religious one, then he’ll also have to conclude, “I guess there are some things in this world we can’t explain and religion is perhaps one of them.” If he honestly comes that far, then he’s taken a step in the right direction, for if his airtight, rational explanation for the world is expanded even a little bit by something which he can’t explain then, he might just admit one day that there are many things he can’t explain and who knows, that might lead to a new exploration of religion–which is the one aspect of human existence that claims to know how to dialogue with whatever is out there that causes weird things to happen.