Tuesday, July 28, 2015

M is for Miracle Max

Miracle Max, perfectly played by Billy Crystal,
is my second favorite miracle worker of all time.

            If you don’t know Miracle Max, you haven’t watched the Princess Bride dozens of times. If you haven’t watched the Princess Bride dozens of times, what’s wrong with you?

            To review:  Inigo and Fezzik bring Westley’s dead body to Max for a miracle, and after Max diagnoses Westley as “only mostly dead,” Max prepares a chocolate-coated pill to revive Westley, and sends the three heroes off to “storm the castle.” 
A Marvel superhero I hadn't heard of?
            M is also for Miracle Man. I don’t mean the Marvel comic superhero; I didn’t know about him till just now, and that’s saying something, because I grew up in a comic book family, as my brothers will attest. No, Jesus is the Miracle Man.

              In JesusQuest, my Gospels course for high school students, we color code miracles in red. If you do this in any of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) the number of miracles is staggering. 

               A few years ago, I found this definition of a miracle, and I’ve taught it to my students ever since:  An unusual event, requiring a supernatural agent, that authenticates the message or the messenger. (I would credit the source, but I don’t remember it.)

             In plain English that means a miraculous event is not an everyday ordinary event. It’s not accomplished by humans alone without God's help. It’s done to reveal the identity of the miracle worker or the truth of his message.
            Of course we toss around the word “miracle” in everyday language. That’s okay so long as we recognize that’s not how it’s being used in the Bible. People gush over the miracle of a new baby. Um, we know what causes that. And it happens a lot.
   Now when Mary conceived Jesus without Joseph’s help, that was a miracle.
            We also gush over the miracle of modern medicine. Believe me, I am very thankful for the brilliant, skilled doctor who put two titanium plates and ten screws in my right ankle in November of 2013. However, I believe he went to medical school to learn how to do that. Now if the second set of x-rays had revealed no fractures, that would have been a miracle.
            If everything is a miracle, then nothing is a miracle. It’s like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” If all the children are above average, there’s a new average, and none is above average.
            So, because of my preference for precise language, and because of my compulsion for correct theology, I tend to be a skeptic about miracles, especially televised or big rally miracles. Or miracles that happened to your cousin’s brother-in-law’s paperboy’s step-grandmother. In other words, miracles that can’t be validated. 

            But when I know the person? And I know how sick she was? That's a miracle I can believe. I will not attempt to recount Susan Swan’s miracle, but instead send you to her blog, where she has four posts about it, starting with http://susanreithswan.com/2014/08/03/god-still-works-miracles-part-one/

            If you made it back here after visiting Susan’s blog, treat yourself to a this video, depictions of Jesus’ miracles, accompanied by a calm, uplifting song. 

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