A small group of parishioners at St. John’s Cathedral have started gathering around the Crape Myrtle tree on the front lawn, claiming that the liquid falling from the branches is nothing less than the tears of God Himself.
Boy … first kangaroos, now trees. Unfortunately, as with every single phenomenon given the label of “miracle” since the dawn of time, this has a perfectly reasonable, rational, and natural explanation:
“The aphids will suck the sap, the sap goes through the aphid and then it is a honey dew excrement from the aphid and it gets so heavy in the summertime that it will drip down,” Reelhorn says.
He calls it a natural process. He also found another tree dripping across the street. And like the honey dew rolling off its leaves, clinical therapist Mark McOmber says the way people choose to interpret it can also be attributed to nature.
These people are worshiping bug poop. This is almost as bad as the statue of Jesus at Our Lady of Velankanni in Mumbai, except there it was raw sewage seeping out of the statue and not nectar. There, despite the evidence that the water was severely contaminated and not safe for human consumption, people were still drinking it … and punished the man who tried to warn them for hurting their religious sensibilities.
Here, it’s a little less extreme … but even after being told the actual explanation, some just want to keep on thinking whatever makes them feel better.
Maria Ybarra was the first one to feel the drops this Wednesday and whether they are aphid waste or water, she believes they’re divine.
“I can tell you looking at it from a scientific standpoint and a spiritual standpoint it is the work of God manifesting here on earth,” Ybarra said.
This, in a nutshell, is the problem. The scientific standpoint says it’s aphid poop. If the conclusion she made after seeing this phenomenon was that it’s an act of God, then she clearly didn’t look at it from anything other than the standpoint of blind faith.
Most of the time on this blog, the topics I write about generally involve religion as they relate somehow to public policy, i.e. the legislation of Christian morality or the teaching of creationist nonsense in public schools. For the most part, I feel that if you are the kind of person who wants to bow his or her head and pray to a higher power in the privacy of your own home as a way to connect with some sort of sense of the “divine” … that’s fine. I may not agree with it but I’m not going to beat you over the head for it either. It’s a natural human thing to do.
Well, in moderation. In the final analysis, strongly held belief in the supernatural is inherently irrational, and eds up giving people a pass to engage in bad thinking … even if the irrationality is compartmentalized into the “religion” portion of the brain. It’s one thing to occasionally entertain the notion that the universe could be far larger and more complex than we could possibly imagine … or that there might be something more to existence after death … or that we may eventually find something that will receive the label of “god” one day. Who knows? It’s another thing entirely to deny obvious, rational explanations for natural phenomena in favor of these beliefs whenever it’s convenient.
As with the residents of Mumbai, I feel kind of bad for Maria. The people around her (at least those they interviewed in response) seem to be treading carefully to not hurt her feelings … but in this case, I think they should be hurt. No one should be going through life allowed to subject themselves to this magnitude of self-deception just because it makes them feel better and gives them comfort. I’d recommend people have some kind of gentle intervention, but it would likely do more harm than good. The only hope I have when I see stories like this is that the younger generations are not showing nearly as much of a tendency towards this kind of blind faith.
So in the meantime … if you happen to be standing under a tree, and start getting wet … you can feel free to think it’s God as much as you like.
… but just to play it safe, don’t look up with your mouth open.