Q: I received an e-mail from a friend, warning me about psychics and mediums, quoting Bible verse after Bible verse. It doesn’t quite fit with my beliefs, but she’s pretty adamant. Do you have any thoughts on this?
A: Everybody grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy the show. Be sure to put on your seatbelts first, though – this could be a bumpy ride.
I want to say first that I think the Bible is a very lovely, inspirational book, and I’m not going to address (however I reserve the right to quote some of my own favorite verses) or try to refute anything written there. I WILL, however, address the practice of pulling out specific passages that “prove” a particular position, twisting those same beautiful words into words of condemnation and judgment.
I don’t think that’s ever a good or right thing to do, even if it has been done for a long, long time. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but don’t try to pull God into your argument and say that you’ve got the Big Guy on your side. It just doesn’t cut it in my world – everybody thinks they’re right, and anybody can say God’s on their side. Ultimately, I think God’s on everybody’s side (please don’t start with me about murder and violence, etc. – we just don’t have time to get into that here).
Here’s the first part of the e-mail passed on to me: “Are you aware that the Bible strictly warns people against acting as psychics or mediums? Here are two verses you will want to consider…” This kind of language just doesn’t lend itself to two-way connection and communication, does it? It feels to me more like, “I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s how I’m going to PROVE it to you.”
Now, you also have to accept the premise that whatever she’s going to quote is true and accurate, and well, how can anyone PROVE that? It’s pretty difficult. Now maybe your friend is operating out of genuine concern for you. Maybe she had some icky experiences with psychics or mediums in the past and wants to “save” you from that. If that’s true, then that’s sweet of her.
But later in her e-mail she says, “He (God) is really trying to reach you. Maybe that’s why He reconnected us. Remember, I was into palm reading and astrology, even dabbled in channeling. I know where you’re at because I was there.” Now your friend is trying to establish rapport with you, explaining that she knows best because she used to do what you’re doing now, and since it didn’t work for her, it won’t work for you. See? She “understands” you, so you really should believe everything she’s going to tell you.
I’m not sure what precipitated her e-mail to you. It sounds like you initiated contact with her after several years of not talking. If you were concerned about things happening in your life, and wanted some help, well, it looks like this is her best version of “help” she can offer. And if that’s her best, that’s really great. The best is all any of us can do. But in my world it still doesn’t sound very helpful or loving or supportive.
It sounds preachy and judgmental and rigid and narrow-minded, and inevitably not the kind of help you were looking for. When I was first teaching Reiki, I had a student who was a very fervent Catholic. She honestly shared with me her misgivings about Reiki, wondering if it ran contrary to her religious beliefs, etc. I appreciated her candor, and we had a lengthy discussion on it.
In the end she came to the Bible phrase in Matthew 7:15-20, which reads, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them… every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit… thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
I have held this particular passage in my mind when asked about my work. Even if you don’t quite understand what someone is doing, if you look at the results of their work, and they are good, then their work is good – it cannot be otherwise (according to the Bible). Even the word “occult,” which has received SUCH bad press, simply means “hidden.” And hidden isn’t necessarily evil, is it? It just isn’t seen, or revealed, or known yet.
So it makes some good sense to me, in all of this, that if people are willing to be open to more than their eyes can see, and more than what their pastors tell them is right or true, and actually discover for themselves what they think, the world may begin to make a little more sense to them and may even feel friendlier – everyone who doesn’t believe as you do isn’t automatically evil (why do I have a strong desire to type “Eeeeeeevil?”) – they’re just different.
My Work includes those above-mentioned things that are supposedly evil and wicked, yet my work comes out of love, and a desire to help and be of service to people, to help them feel loved and connected and empowered. According to Matthew (and my student who grappled with this), my fruits show me to be ‘good.’
You can apply this to yourself, and to others you know who are doing intuitive/channeling/astrology/mediumship work. I will be honest – I DO know others doing this work that I would NOT recommend to others because I do not resonate with their work. It is not in alignment with what I believe to be good and loving and honorable. But that is only my opinion. Can you see where this gets tricky? You can have an ethical lawyer, or an unethical one. But just because you’ve had a bad experience with one, you don’t need to say that ALL lawyers are evil and bad. That doesn’t seem fair. It depends on the person. And so it goes.
In Biblical times, I’m also thinking a couple of things may have influenced such strong feelings. Firstly, there were (maybe) more unethical people doing psychic work, and the references in the Bible were to comment on that. Secondly, maybe if the Christians damned other practices they could convert more people to Christianity.
Throughout the ages it’s been done with the Pagans, and the Celts, and the Druids (to name just a few) – most anything that wasn’t specifically Christian was either obliterated, discounted, or condemned. But that was then – we don’t NEED to slap that same label of fear of the unknown on everything we don’t understand. Everything we don’t understand is NOT evil (can you tell I have a strong opinion on that?).
Deep breath – what do YOU think? About your concept of God, good vs. evil, evil spirits, psychics, mediums, heaven, hell. When you are afraid, what do you do? Pray? Meditate? Call a friend? When you have a question, what do you do? Does it work for you? Does it make sense to you? Does it ‘fit?’ If what you’re doing works for you, congratulations! If something doesn’t work, go on an adventure to figure out what DOES work for you.
When I was younger I went to our Episcopalian church. I loved the stained glass, the carved altar, the hard prayer benches and traditional songs (I still do). But now I also embrace the Buddhist tradition of mindfulness, presence and meditation. I love the poems of Hafiz, Rumi and Kahlil Gibran. I love the Tao te Ching. I pray, I meditate, I do yoga and tai chi. On and on. Not specifically ONE religion or discipline, but a blend of different things that resonate with me. And it changes – I add and subtract, fine-tune from time to time.
Think about it – nothing stays the same – not our preferences, beliefs, situations, understandings. So why shouldn’t we keep trying to figure out what makes sense to us? If everything in the Bible resonates with you, and makes sense – that’s great. Go for it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to make sense to anyone else.
Just like the fact that some people may think I’m kind of strange because of what I believe – I understand that. But I think we all get the right to believe in whatever we want to believe in, and if we’re interested in genuine connecting and helping others we should strive to be respectful of others and their beliefs, even if we don’t understand them (especially if we don’t understand them).
And besides, I don’t think God is ever “trying to reach us,” because I think we’re always together. No separation. No distance. All One. But again, it’s most important what YOU think. No religion or government or institution can do that for you. That’s the beauty AND the challenge, I think.
I appreciate the enthusiasm of your friend who sent you the e-mail. She fervently believes what she believes, I can feel that. And she gets to do that. But YOU also get to firmly believe what you believe. And neither of you is more right or correct than the other. Nobody has the market cornered on divine truth for the whole world. Our best bet is just to figure it out for ourselves and then live in that truth, inspiring others with our words, our actions, our lives, and yes, the “fruit” that our work bears.
I leave you with my favorite Bible verse of all time: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” - I Corinthians 13:4-8
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