It was incredibly tempting to blame our heartache, delusions, and woes on others. On the system. On those within the system. B laming other people is way easier than taking responsibility for yourself. We wrestled with it for some time and discovered that it's not until you accept responsibility for where you are that you can start to move on. WE got ourselves to where we were. It was a pivotal moment. There have been things that have happened to me that I have had no control over.
I know that's true for all of us. But I still responded and reacted to those situations. I still had the power to get help or reject it. It's been up to me to continue living my life. Sometimes it's in the ability to slay our pride, lay it down in situations that are of our own doing, and those that have been the results of other people's choices. It's a miracle because it's a difficult, near impossible, thing to do. I believe change and transformation cannot truly take place until we take responsibility for where we are. The miracle of salvation is not a moment of exchange.
It's a lifetime of transformation; of being healed and made whole. The good, the bad, the unexpected, the deserved and the underserved, the fair and the unfair… The Christ is always there, with you, leading you, healing you, willing you on day-by-day. Sure, I believe that God heals and restores. I believe that amazing things can happen in a single moment of power. Henceforth, he was often regarded as a social undesirable, an agitator and a leader of a dangerous sect.
From Damascus, he traveled to Jerusalem, where his reputation as a persecutor of Christians preceded him and Christians there were unsure and confounded by his appearance. Here he met and spent time with Peter, becoming even more determined to serve his Savior. At the Council of Jerusalem, in the year 49, Paul successfully argued against the widespread belief that non-Jews seeking to become Christians would first have to convert to Judaism, which means comply with Mosaic Law, be circumcised and observe all Jewish dietary customs. With faith and courage inflamed by the Holy Spirit, Paul would spend the rest of his life going from country to country and town to town proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, organizing and encouraging Christians to be resolute followers of Jesus, and nonbelievers to open their hearts to Christ, repent and be baptized.
He would become known as the Apostle of the Gentiles non-Jews and his travels, letters and teaching changed the world. Often in trouble, Paul was confronted, jailed though angels rescued him , physically abused and repeatedly endangered and harassed for preaching the message he previously attacked. Despite all the dangers he encountered, Paul never faltered or failed his God. In the end, he would be taken to Rome as a prisoner and be beheaded for his teachings. Why would Jesus select the likes of Paul? There were certainly other devoted followers of Jesus available in those early days of the Church — followers ready to give their lives to proclaim Jesus Christ as savior of the world.
Certainly, our Lord works in mysterious ways. Following is the story of St. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe now. Send feedback to us at oursunvis osv.
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Customer Service. Renew Your Subscription. Pay Your Bill. Update Your Credit Card. Moreover, we are urged to consider that illness has a decidedly cultural factor; people in certain cultures tend to become ill in a particular zone. Another way of developing a taxonomy of illness would be to study the anatomical ex-votos left at various healing shrines. Certain shrines, moreover, contain a disproportion of organ-specific anatomical ex-votos , such as eye votives at the Athenian Asklepieion 85 or chest votives at the Amphiareion. This might be explained in several ways.
Certain ethnic groups tend to become "ill" in certain areas of the body or to describe their syndrome of symptoms in culturally specific ways, a fact well documented by medical anthropologists.
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The part of the body commemorated in an anatomical ex-voto need not reflect any precise pathology, but rather suggest the appropriate native way of thinking about the body and about illness. For example, hands and feet relate directly to labor and purposeful action, especially in a world of agricultural peasants.
If "many hands make light work," then one might expect the wellness of a peasant family to encompass members who can work and share in the farm labors. Lord Chesterfield defined dirt as matter out of place. This implies only two conditions, a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order. Thus the idea of dirt implies a structure of idea. For us dirt is a kind of compendium category for all events which blur, smudge, contradict, or otherwise confuse accepted classifications.
The underlying feeling is that a system of values which is habitually expressed in a given arrangement of things has been violated. Thus peoples in various cultures share a socially constructed notion of order, both in the macrocosm and in their own microcosm. It is the task of anthropologists as well as biblical interpreters to learn the natives' code or system of what is orderly, that is, to learn their system of classification.
The importance of this model for a study of illness and healing lies precisely in the clues in documents and inscriptions which indicate social attitudes toward ill persons. It matters that lepers were "unclean"; and so it is part of the interpreter's task to grasp how significant was Jesus' touch of the unclean person Mark ; since menstruating women and dead bodies were unclean, it matters that a healer is in direct physical contact with these "fathers of uncleanness" Mark When the cultural notion of order is applied to the physical body, as it will be in the case of healings, it will highlight a sense of wholeness and sufficiency.
People judge a body as "pure" which is whole and intact. This is at least dangerous and possibly polluting. Philo and Josephus both know of this tradition and comment on it. Philo states the matter abstractly, whereas Josephus gives specific historical illustrations. For example, Philo comments:. With regard to the priests there are the following laws. It is ordained that the priest should be perfectly sound throughout, without any bodily deformity. No part, that is, must be lacking or have been mutilated, nor on the other hand redundant, whether the excrescence be congenital or an aftergrowth due to disease.
Nor must the skin have been changed into a leprous state or into malignant tatters or warts or any other eruptive growth Sp.
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Josephus retells the story of Antigonus' mutilation of Hyrcanus:. Hyrcanus threw himself at the feet of Antigonus, who with his own teeth lacerated his suppliant's ears, in order to disqualify him for ever, under any change of circumstances, from resuming the high priesthood; since freedom from physical defect holoklerous is essential to the holder of that office War 1. Parah The Qumran community extended these rules to all who would enter their group and fight their holy war 1 QSa ; 1 QM And, I argue, this concept lies behind the cultural perception of ill people in Matt and Luke , In addition to the basic notion of bodily wholeness expressing bodily purity, the physical body must be pure in regard to its orifices and bodily exuviae.
Ideally, all matter should remain "in place. Hence great concern surrounds the bodily orifices, with particular attention to what goes in kosher foods and what comes out bodily exuviae. Philo reflects this perspective when he urges strict bodily control: " For Moses says Num He then identifies each bodily orifice and indicates what control is appropriate to it Det. This material on purity, wholeness and bodily control suggests the following questions in regard to a cultural reading of healings.
How might this be perceived?
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We must distinguish from the beginning a status transformation ritual from a ceremony. Victor Turner described the difference thus:. I consider the term "ritual" to be more fittingly applied to forms of religious behavior associated with social transitions , while the term "ceremony" has a closer bearing on religious behavior associated with religious states.
Ritual is transformative, ceremony confirmatory. In the following diagram we can schematically distinguish the elements of rituals which transform status or role and ceremonies which confirm them. Certain pauses occur irregularly sickness, uncleanness , which we call rituals , that is, pauses which allow us to assume new and different roles and statuses.
Other pauses occur routinely in our lives, meals, birthdays, anniversaries, festivals ; we call these ceremonies , not rituals , for they do not effect change of role or status, but confirm them. Some rituals are unrepeatable status changes, such as birth, coronation, death and the like. Conversely, ceremonial pauses, which occur on fixed calendar dates, such as Sabbath, Passover, and Pentecost, we anticipate and plan for.
Ceremonies look to the past and celebrate its influence on the present. Past roles and statuses retain their importance in the present and influence present social dynamics. Professionals physicians, prophets preside over or direct status transformation rituals; society allows specified persons to deal with marginal people as they cross fixed social lines.
For example, birthdays, anniversaries, pilgrimage feasts and the like confirm the roles and statuses of individuals in the group as well as the group's collective sense of holy space and holy time which pertain to its festivals. Ceremonies look to the stability of the lines of society's maps. Conversely, rituals attend precisely to those lines, but focus on their crossing.
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Rituals are stable ways of dealing with necessary instability in the system: a boy and a girl cross lines to become husband and wife in a marriage ritual; sick people cross lines and become healthy Lev 14; Mark ; sinners become purified Luke The status of those who cross lines is thereby changed, and so these rites are called "status transformation" rituals. The issue of who presides over the ritual professional deserves closer attention, for it may happen that the authority or legitimacy of certain healers or workers of miracles is contested. One thinks of phrases such as "False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect" Mark Accepting the inevitable social tensions between the "great tradition" and the "little tradition," with the resulting conflict between aristocrat and peasant as well as city and countryside, we might schematize the issue thus.
How will they shift as the medium of exchange varies? This might be because of the clash of interests of institutions kinship and politics or the perception of limited good. Thus in studying a miracle or healing, we should attend to the social institution where the healing occurs family or fictive family vs political institution. Moreover we should ask whether our narrative records any rivalry or envy, normally in the form of an honor challenge.
Who benefits from the labelling process? The treasure of examples across times and cultures has allowed anthropologists to describe the typical stages in ritual process. In general, rites of passage or status transformation rituals generally contain the stages of: separation, liminality and re-aggregation.
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They enter a place and period of seclusion, which is called the "liminal" or threshold stage, during which time. Considerable interest developed over the characteristics of the liminal stage. Comparing and contrasting the properties of liminality with those of the status system, Victor Turner listed the following: transition vs state , totality vs partiality , homogeneity vs heterogeneity , communitas vs structure , equality vs inequality , anonymity vs systems of nomenclature , absence of property vs property , absence of status vs status , nakedness or uniform clothing vs distinctions in clothing , sexual continence vs sexuality , humility vs just pride of position , disregard for personal appearance vs care for appearance , no distinctions of wealth vs distinctions , unselfishness vs self-interest , total obedience vs obedience only to superior rank , silence vs speech , sacred instruction vs technical knowledge , simplicity vs complexity , and acceptance of pain and suffering vs avoidance of pain.
Finally, initiated persons who have experienced a status transformation return to their familiar homes and villages, but with a new role or status. A "role" is defined as "the socially recognized position of a person which entails rights and duties. Fortunately we are able to reconstruct the outlines of the typical process of a person seeking healing at the shrine of Asclepius in Epidaurus. Epidaurus early developed the regimen of incubation in the sanctuary that was widely used throughout the history of the cult. Typically a pilgrim might undergo a 3-day period of purification with baths and abstinence from sexual intercourse and certain foods Afterward, he brought an animal sacrifice to Apollo and offerings of honey cakes to other divinities.
He then might sacrifice a piglet to Asclepius and give an offering of money appropriate to his wealth. As he entered the sleeping chamber abaton or enkoimeterion , where he hoped and expected to receive either immediate healing or some helpful prescription from the god in a dream, he would bring offerings of cakes to Fortune, Memory, and Law. The person slept wearing a sacred laurel wreath and left it behind on his bed in the morning. The process climaxes with a night in the sleeping chamber, during which their illness status will be changed in some way. In conclusion, they would be presented in public as people healed or blessed or gifted by the gods.
This new status entails certain duties, such as rendering thanks to the god. This study has attempted to outline a formal method for interpreting miracles in terms of their social and cultural background.
Admittedly the categories for interpretation and analysis are not those typically found in traditional treatments of Jesus and his miracles. But in light of modern trends to investigate the social, economic, political and religious aspects of behavior and thought, interpreters of New Testament and early Christian miracle stories can benefit from the analysis outlined here.
In the light of these materials, then, the relevant social-science questions for interpreting miracles can be summarized. What are the expectations, behaviors and techniques appropriate if an illness is dealt with by a physician, a temple priest or a folk-healer?