"Calling out" Richard Dawkins: The Intelek Domino Effect Associates (IDEAs) project #2

Intelek Int'l By Intelek Int'l, 15th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/62pgkbob/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Second article in a series on the Intelek Domino Effect Associates (IDEAs) project, which celebrates the extraordinary, even "miracle making" power of friendship.

This article picks up in the middle of a true story about a Barbadian friend of mine who was delivered from the "deathbed" that full-blown AIDS had put him in.

For the first part of his story, follow this link: http://www.wikinut.com/the-intelek-domino-effect-associates-ideas-project-%231/2b--ryzu/3hnaolip/

Healed of full-blown AIDS. The "miracle-making" power of friendship

When I heard that Steven was dying, I went to see him as soon as I could – possibly the same day.

News of the imminence of Steven's death filled me with anxiety because some years before I had lost another highly valued friend, Nigel (not his real name either), to AIDS and I had not gotten to see him before he died.

Apparently, Nigel wanted it that way – probably because he was gay.

Although he, my brother Wayne and I had been very close during our teen years at the Garrison Secondary School, Nigel apparently did not think he could tell us about that aspect of his life.

Even faced with death, he apparently could not bring himself to tell us what he was going through: to reach out to us for comfort in his final days.

This, for me, was probably the most tragic aspect of his death: that it was to some degree friendless.

I believe Nigel assumed that because Wayne and I were both confessing Christians – and evangelical, fundamentalist Christians at that – he could not share his secret with us.

Apparently, he thought we would be judgemental or scornful of him. I regret that, almost to the point of tears, to this very day.

I regret the role that religion plays in alienating people, filling them with distrust and fear.

I was determined that Steven was not going to die that way. I was determined that he should know that whatever his sexual orientation, he was still my friend. I wanted him to know that he could count on my friendship, no matter what.

Long before this, I had worked out that if Christianity is to mean anything at all, it must mean authentic friendship. It must mean the trustworthiness that can unite people between whom a true bond of friendship exists.

Crucially, I had also learnt, that friendship does not always mean agreement.

What I was yet to learn – and I mean learn in the most profound way - was the kind of miraculous outcome that is possible when friends agree fervently.

I am reminded here of that passage in the Bible which according to the King James translation (KJV) says “..if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

To make it more easily understandable, other English versions of the Bible, like the popular New International Version (NIV) put this important passage in more pedestrian, modern day language. Hence, the NIV says, “...if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”

However, I favour the KJV translation as the artistic eloquence of the language resonates with my poetic instincts.

Furthermore, while I am mindful that James I of England (James VI of Scotland) and his translators probably chose the beautiful language of the KJV as much to obfuscate or mystify scripture – to endow it with an aura of the “other-worldly” as anything else, and I am mindful of the religious exploitation that such mystification can facilitate - I also think that such mystification can be justified in this context.

That is to say, the by-product of Steven’s and my agreement, effected in our prayer for him to be healed of AIDS - the fact that he was healed and is still alive and kicking today - is nothing if not mystifying.

The doctors and other staff at Barbados’ QEH who tended him while he was a patient there are mystified; his neighbours in a largely rural parish of Barbados are mystified.

One of them confessed to Steven that he was so convinced he was a goner, he went out and bought a suit for Steven's funeral!

And I feel sure that when Steven’s story is finally, fully compiled, there will be several other tales of how people had given up on him.

The main point I am trying to make here though, is that this miracle has both extraordinary and ordinary features or characteristics.

Indeed, one can argue that such complementarity is a feature of every miracle there has ever been: one can argue that the nature of a miracle is merely to exaggerate or otherwise alter nature – that which is natural or commonplace.

What I am particularly keen to point out here is the miraculous, supernatural capacity of what can be the most natural of things: friendship.

The Intelek domino effect – the central focus of the Intelek Domino Effect Associates (IDEA) network I am currently developing (with the help of some friends) is the strategy or, if you like, marketing device by which I am seeking to share with the world the simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary, cheering and challenging, freeing and fraught phenomenon that is friendship.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. This is not a religious pitch. As previous comments in this forum, arguments in my book “The Bible: beauty and terror reconciled” and the experience of cherished friends like Zhivko Zhelyazkof (whose church I have visited only once in the three or so years I have known him) attest, I do not have a lot of time for religion.

As I was saying to an acquaintance just yesterday, you are more likely to find me chilling in a Norwich pub or “getting my groove on” on the dance floor of a Norwich night club than you are to find me in a church, these days.

I am not saying this is something I am particularly proud of. Nor would I say that I am ashamed of it. I’m just saying this is the way it is.

And, more to the point, I am saying that as far as I am concerned, the effectiveness of the Intelek domino effect that I am promoting is not dependent on one’s observation of religious rites, like church-going.

The effectiveness of Steven’s and my prayer that day had very little to do with our church attendance. As far as I am aware, while he and I had met and become friends in a church environment, neither of us were regular church-goers then.

In fact, based on what he told me before we prayed – about rededicating his life to God, and so on - it might be assumed that as far as he was concerned, he had “fallen away” from the faith or become a “back-slider”, as they say.

Personally, I have never accepted that assessment of my religious disillusionment or setbacks myself.

I have never considered myself a back-slider, and can’t see that I ever will. I am clear in my head that my abandonment of regular church attendance, daily reading of the Bible and similar external markers of religious devotion was a largely deliberate, progressive development in my spiritual journey.

My concern, to put it in biblical language (and I use the Bible with some reservation because it may be construed as a “religious” rather than a spiritual strategy), is to “worship God in spirit and in truth”.

I am not particularly concerned about whether that worship leads me to a church, a mosque, a synagogue, a pub, a nightclub, or a cricket pitch, for fellowship.

As far as I am concerned, the important thing is the fellowship: it is the peculiar blessing or reward of friendship – with God and man – that I am most interested in.

In fact, I can be just as comfortable in the company of an atheist, as I can be in the company of my deeply devout friend Zhivko.

And while I am on the subject of atheism, let me say that I would relish the opportunity to have a lively debate with evangelical fundamentalist atheist Richard Dawkins or any of the other supposed authorities on intelligence who emphasize the irrationality of faith.

I was not particularly impressed by the arguments that Dawkins advanced in his much publicized debate on religion with Tony Blair. But I suppose his performance there was constrained by the “limitations” of Mr. Blair’s arguments: the conventional limitations of the former Prime Minister’s faith.

I have no such limitations, so far as I am aware. So, I suspect that I might subject Mr. Dawkins’ views about theists’ “imaginary friend” to a more rigorous examination than that he experienced in his exchanges with Blair. I think I would rather enjoy that time of “fellowship”.

Am I “calling out” Richard Dawkins? That certainly was not the intention when I set about writing this instalment of the Intelek domino effect essays.

But what the heck. Let the dominos fall where they will.

I‘m up for it, Mr. Dawkins. Are you?

For article #1 in this series click on the link below:



Barbados, Dominos Pizza, Ideas Project, Intelek Domino Effect Associates Project, Intelek International, Junior Campbell

Meet the author

author avatar Intelek Int'l
"I think therefore I jam"
I'm a holistic communication and education specialist, trading as Intelek International (www.intelek.net).
I write about spirituality, science, philosophy, politics, love.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
5th Jul 2013 (#)

I actually love church my friend , with all its strange people , who are all like me who all need help and God's amazing grace . Like all families they can be hard work at times , but by the time we get to heaven the creases will all get ironed out , and we will all love one another . Wonderful.
God bless you .
Stella >I<

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