Chandler, Arizona, United States
There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .
The Televangelist With the Really Helpful Advice
with love from CRS @ 2:32 PM
this entry brought to you by gorillaz, "clint eastwood"
There was a television on in the break room, and the channel was set to some evangelist. I was eating an ice cream sandwich and thought, what the hey. I've got a minute.
"Let's answer some viewer mail," he said, and was handed a small pile of flash cards. He took the one on the top and read. "I keep hearing voices. I tried praying and they do not go away. They frighten me and I do not know what to do."
He then looked up at the camera without even the slightest hint of concern on his face and said the following, as if having said it for the millionth time, the way you do when you're an expert at something and you continually get asked the same question over and over again. He answered it the way I would answer if someone asked me how to throw a fireball in Street Fighter 2.
"Okay, here's what you do. You take the oils of our people, and hold them up and ask God to bless them. Then you anoint your head and above your door. Then the demons will know to leave you alone. Whatever you do, don't listen to the voices, and keep praying."
First of all, I'd like to point out that I have absolutely positively never heard the phrase "the oils of our people." In fact, I've never heard Christians referring to one another as "our people". You hear Jews referring to one another as "our people", and I've heard Muslims saying "our people", because they are an ethnic group as well as a religion. Christians are not. His phrasing bewildered me.
Furthermore, he said "the oils of our people" as if what specific oils he was referring to were common knowledge. What, exactly are Christian oils? I mean, I know what they meant by anointing oils in the bible, but I wasn't aware there was a specific oil that you needed to get, like, at the Christian book store. That kind of blew me away and, frankly, creeped me out. The oils of our people.
But yeah. Here's the thing. The man who wrote that letter is schizophrenic. One of the upsides with schizophrenia is that it's one of the psychological disorders that has the most concrete symptoms. When I told my wife the story she wondered if the letters were fake. But why would they write that specific letter if it were fake in exactly that fashion? Wouldn't they have written that there is a "demonic presence" in the house and wanted help? Why would they write the frighteningly specific question "I hear voices and I am frightened" unless the person writing it was suffering from a paranoid schizophrenic episode?
And you can still be Bible Churchy Guy and answer this question in a way that actually helps! All you have to say is, "Pray to god to give you strength and guidance, ask your friends and loved ones to pray for you, so that God can take your hand, and seek psychiatric help. Ask God to find the right doctor for you, that He may send you to someone who will help you in the ways you need help." It's that simple! And yet he went with this frankly bizarre "oils of our people" bullshit that will do nothing but make the person who wrote that letter even crazier when it doesn't appear to work.
To one extent or another, I understand that people in America largely do not understand mental health issues, so I understand that when you say "I'm depressed and suicidal and all I think about all day is killing myself," there are certain people whose answer is to pray. Of course, that doesn't help at all. If you're a Christian, the idea of praying is pretty much a go-to, and if you're suicidal enough to tell someone how you're feeling, then yes, you've probably already tried praying. It's kind of like complaining you have a screaming headache and do not know what to do and have some helpful idiot tell you to take an aspirin.
But my point is that I understand why this happens when people are suffering from your more common psychological ailments like depression or anxiety. People just don't understand what it means to be truly depressed or why it's such a big deal that it is literally a struggle to get out of bed. But "I hear voices and I'm scared" is not some common ailment that people just don't understand how crippling they are. Hearing voices is terrifying, and moreover, the idea of hearing voices is terrifying. We've all seen people on television who are suffering from this, and it never ends well. We have all seen movies and news magazines and read articles about this. It never ends with "Man, these voices sure are annoying! Gosh! I mean, shut up, voices! Why you gotta be such a pain in the butt?"
Telling someone to pray for a raise or telling someone to pray on whether it's a good idea to get married is slightly different than telling someone to pray because there are voices in their head because when someone prays on getting a raise they generally don't end up attacking their boss because he is an exact replica of boss, put there by the lizard overlords.