Monday, January 13, 2003

Have you heard the inspiring story of the twenty six angles that protected a missionary because twenty six men in Michigan prayed? I have, it's been read in my church twice. It appears in the book: Minute Meditations for Couples by Bob and Emilie Barnes. A woman on our worship team owns a copy and has read it in church as part of the the service. It's a great story. Problem is, it isn't true.

And that's too bad cause it makes people, well me at least, cynical about great stories like the ones Mike shared. One we know is true, cause Mike knows the woman, but the other I doubt simply because of the number of other "spiritual stories" that turned out to be junk.

I think we tend to like stories that agree with how we see the world and reserve our critical thinking for things we don't like. I'm not sure that's a healthy habit, it leaves open to all sorts of charlatans. Consider some of the stories told by WorldCom Executives for example. Lots of people wanted to believe that the net was doubling every three months, it made the Internet bubble easy to justify, but in the end it just turned out to be a nice sounding story, that cost investors billions.

What gets me about the 26 angles story is it's often used as an example of how important it is to yield the spirit urging us to pray. Why is it that these people who imply every Christian should be tuned in to God enough to know exactly when to pray for people half way around the world, aren't tuned in to the Spirit of Truth enough to see a hoax right in front of them?


PS How I know it isn't true

The time lines just don't add up. Most of Michigan is in the Eastern Time Zone, (GMT – 5h). Central Africa Time is GMT + 2. So at 6:00 (am) in most of Michigan it is 13:00(1 pm) in Africa, give or take an hour if you are in East Africa or West Africa. That's not the middle of the night as the story claims. There is exactly one verifiable fact in the story and it's completely off.

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