Magician James Randi, whose daring escapes were later eclipsed by his work as the country’s foremost skeptic, has died. The Florida-based James Randi Educational Foundation announced its founder …
Obituary and Opinion:
Randi’s passing marks the end of an era. For me, Randi’s name conjures up images – no pun intended – of the early days of the web when New Age theories and sites were sprouting up all over the place. Earthpages too was a lot more New Agey back then. Not because I really believed that New Agey ideas were the apex of spirituality but because, by accepting almost everything, I was trying to subtly elevate people to my Christian faith.
I was “preaching among the nations…” or however the New Testament puts it. But in a – so I thought – very clever and subtle way.
Turns out that approach was a bit of a mistake. And I no longer hide or conceal my Christian faith. Otherwise, I just pick up too much spiritual junk or New Age goo… a price I no longer wish to pay.
In fact, if I just come out and say, I AM A CHRISTIAN it is a wonderful way to get rid of a lot of the IMHO misguided folk who would otherwise bring me down. Like a coffee filter. I mean, who wants to drink coffee grinds? You definitely need a filter for a nice clean cuppa joe.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some adherents of other faiths do not run and hide when I proclaim my Christian faith. And those are the people I can deal with. They seem more open-minded than most others.
Not surprisingly, a lot of non-Christians write me off as a stereotypical ‘narrow-minded Christian’ without ever really talking to me. On the other hand, some uneducated, regimented Christians see me as co-opted by Satan.
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you
I’m not sure how he stood on religion per se, but I do know that he was highly skeptical of some religious ideas—like, for instance, the Catholic belief in The Reading of Hearts.
Basically ‘Reading into Hearts’ means you can pick up what another person is really thinking and feeling, behind whatever mask they may be presenting to the outside world. Advanced Catholic mystics like St. Faustina Kowalska wrote that they could read hearts and minds at a distance. That is, miles away.
But any true mystic would also emphasize that it’s not really them who is behind the discernment.
Rather, God enables it according to the divine plan of salvation.
In other words, God is at the helm… or the switchboard, to use a more appropriate metaphor.
Instead of purposely focusing on another person and trying to read their minds like some kind of spiritual rapist, the genuine mystic is open to God giving them whatever information God deems appropriate and helpful.
This approach differs dramatically from say, Remote Viewing, where alleged psychics practice and train to apparently gain intel at a distance. That may be a thing – and perhaps even in line with another aspect of God’s will – but it is certainly not one of my gifts!
If I gain any valid insight about another person, I believe it is because God wants me to know and trusts that I will use that information in a responsible manner. It’s like a perfect teacher (God) telling a student about a classmate who may need some prayer. For me, this dynamic can happen anytime. Doing the dishes, vacuuming the floor. I don’t need any special ‘discipline’ or ‘breathing techniques.’
Now Randi would have seen all of this as total bunk. And in a sense, I don’t blame him. I believe most storefront psychics are either fakes or deluded. They rarely fact check or follow up on their grandiose claims. Instead, they just snap up the 100 dollars (or whatever they charge nowadays) from gullible clients.
However, I think Randi overlooked the possibility of genuine spiritual gifts. And by subjecting all supernatural activity to a “test” for a prize of a million dollars he entirely missed the point.
Randi’s namesake foundation later started a $1 million prize for anyone able to prove supernatural abilities.
It was never claimed. (Source)
Of course, nobody ever claimed that prize because charlatans are just that. And genuine mystics are dependent on God’s will, not Greed’s will.
This should make sense to genuinely spiritual individuals. And the rest, well, perhaps they are just the rest.
So I bid farewell to James Randi, and thank him for his thought-provoking work. My guess is he is now realizing in the afterlife that his views were both simplistic and extreme, if not entirely wrong.
And like most skeptics who pass on, I also imagine he’s happy to realize that he is still alive. And not just as some nondescript “energy” that disperses into the wind, water, or soil but rather, as a unique soul eager to explore eternity.