“Humbug and Chicanery”

girl appearing to float in front of a pair of wings painted on a wallH. C. Leupold’s old commentary on Isaiah mentioned the ancient people’s futile reliance on mediums, sorcerers, and the like. Leupold slammed all that as “manifold forms of humbug and chicanery” (p 312). Here are a few samples of things we moderns resort to.

  • Past Life Puffs was a snack that promised to help people figure out their past lives—as well as “center” themselves right now and find inner peace in the future (reported in The Southeast Outlook, 8/31/2000). Ironically, the product was later discontinued (and now it’s hard to find that it ever existed).
  • How to use a green candle to get money.
  • A visualization exercise supposedly cleanses the “third eye” (the presumed perceiver of things unseen, located behind the forehead).
  • Travel back to an event called the Angels and Nature Spirits Conference. At one point in the program, people held toothpicks that had been dipped in fragrant oils. They were to take whiffs of these “liquid telephone lines into other dimensions” (AP news article 8/19/93).
  • Longtime, famous psychic Jeane Dixon published Yesterday, Today, and Forever in 1976. One prediction: “The children of the future will be good and bad …” (p 429).
  • A longtime Baptist minister, Rodney Romney, wrote Journey to Inner Space. He quotes God speaking to him: “I love you … for I am you” (p 131). He also favorably mentions “the seven nerve centers (chakras)” and “corresponding colors of these centers.” Also refers to being transported into “expanded consciousness.” And says, “There is no reason for the Christian to be afraid of any of these” (p 93). Notice the subtlety there? If you speak against such teachings, maybe you’re just old-fashioned and fearful.
  • What struck me in one article about ghostbusters was that they seemed so sure of how to deal with the spirit they’d contacted in any given location—and sure of whose spirit it was. But then the piece finished up with this warning to the public: “Whatever you do, don’t turn to Ouija boards or seances. They offer no guarantee of the type of spirits you’ll attract.” Hmm. If the spirits can be tricky, what guarantee is there that the ghostbusters are contacting who they think they’re contacting? (This article was in USA Weekend, Oct 29–31, 2004, which had interviewed Dave Oester, founder of the International Ghost Hunters Society.)
  • The NXIVM group was billed as a self-improvement entity. Women who were convinced they were moving up in their journey allowed themselves to be branded (yes, literally and painfully) with the founder’s initials. Some were part of a “secret sorority”; that is, the leader’s sex partners.
  • A question in an online forum asks: “How can I tell if I am experiencing genuine kundalini or psychosis/schizophrenia?” Mercy! Kundalini means “coiled,” which refers to the supposed “serpent power” coiled at the base of each individual’s spine. Kundalini yoga’s goal is to “awaken” this energy and channel it up through all the chakras. A promotional site claims that this awakening will bring “total health and blissful enlightenment.” (They might wanna mention psychosis.)

“When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything” (widely attributed to G. K. Chesterton). But readers, let’s not just walk away, saying “Oh, how awful” or “Oh, how stupid.” The world is desperate for spiritual truth, for the Lord Almighty himself. There’s no need to be hesitant about showcasing him—especially considering the competition.


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