Let’s play Who Gets The Credit?

When looking for silliness to dismantle, one of my first stops is Mark Shea’s blog.  That well just never runs dry.

So I went there this morning to find a letter he posted from a priest by the name of Niall Sheehan who was talking about a surgery he had to remove a cyst from his brain stem.  I’ve recopied the letter here with slight changes: when he talks about something that came from humans, I highlight it in blue, and when he talks about something which was not conceived or done by humans (leaving only god, if you’re religious), I highlight it in red.

It has been awhile since I last wrote to you.

The neurosurgeons successfully removed the cyst from my brainstem and so far so good.

I had the operation – which lasted nine hours – and has left me with a Blofeld scar running the length of the back of my head. But a week later I developed complications; an infection akin to meningitis. So spent the whole season of Lent and more in hospital pumped full of antibiotics.  It was from my hospital bed I heard the shock of Pope Benedict’s resignation and the excitement surrounding the election of Pope Francis.

Double vision has been a problem, hence my inability til now to contact you.  In addition, my energy levels are very low.  Like a car battery that cannot hold its charge, I’ll probably fall in a heap after punching out this email to you.

I asked the neurosurgeons what was it.  Apparently the ‘cyst’ was ‘inflamed tissue’.  To be honest I don’t care.  I have another MRI in late May but God willing that it is the end of it.  The operation, the consultant told me, was very dangerous and that if anyone has had the operation (I suppose in the UK) then I am the second.

So here I am, still, thank God.

In my head I planning to join the Down and Connor pilgrimage in July to Lourdes, if I get the green light following the MRI in May.  God willing, I will get to fulfil my promise to return and hear confessions, without nodding off.

While in hospital I was able to listen to the complete audio recording of The Lord of the Rings on my iPod.  To be honest, looking back, I feel exactly like Frodo.  Having faced Mount Doom, I find myself now back in the Shire that has been scarred by Saruman’s fear and pettiness – particularly the machinations of the visigoths across the world and my own Weathertop melancholic weariness.  So the road goes further on… So please keep me in prayer, but one of thanksgiving.  Lest I forget I have passed through fire and death, in the hand of another.  Christ is risen, yes, Christ has truly risen!

In gratitude,

Fr. Niall Sheehan

The irony throughout this post is just phenomenal.  After benefiting from, and praising, the exact same medical technology that confirms that people don’t rise from the dead, he throws it all to the wind with “Christ has truly risen!”

Praying to the same god who conceived of cysts, inflamed tissue, scars, infections, meningitis, double vision, and more, clearly would not work on it’s own.  Why should it?  At best, you could say god invented all those terrible things only to torture us into bartering for their removal with our worship.  So he goes to the doctor, where trained professionals use the products of human intelligence to counteract all of god’s afflictions.  And yet, who gets the credit?

And sure enough, Niall Sheehan can’t wait to get out of the hospital so he can return to kneeling at the feet of the same god who thought cancer was a good enough idea to leave in existence.

Believers will call this backwards way of thinking “hope”.  Frankly, there are plenty of outlets for hope that don’t require us to submit to dogma or to sacrifice common sense at the altar of faith.  And I think it says a lot of religion that it can cause people to gloss over the inversion of reality that is kissing the hand of the architect of infection while calling it “hope”.

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That mugshot though.
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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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