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Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions and Healing Cures
 
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Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions and Healing Cures [Kindle Edition]

Joe Nickell
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The willingness of people to believe in magical icons, mystical relics, and miraculous pictures (like the Image of Guadalupe) is almost as curious as these phenomena themselves. Though they cry out for scientific investigation, millions of people blindly accept them as fact.

Historical and paranormal investigator Joe Nickell confronts such strange events, powers, and objects as the Shroud of Turin, bleeding or weeping statues, burning handprints, liquefying blood, ecstatic visions, miraculous cures, and people speaking in tongues in Looking for a Miracle. Departing from standard critiques of religion, Nickell carefully investigates the evidence relating to specific claims.

Religious believers and rationalists alike have much to learn from this revealing examination of the evidence for the miraculous.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3642 KB
  • Print Length: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (31 Aug 1993)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002KHOK0M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #544,323 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed inquiry 4 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Joe Nickell doesn't question anyone's right to believe what they want, he simply questions those who would manipulate the faithful with false religious tangibility. Religion is not tangible, it is based on faith, and those who would use that faith for their own ends need to be exposed. A previous reviewer asked what could possibly be gained by 6,000 years of religious fakery? The naivete of that question shows that it is obviously being asked by someone too fearful to question the validity of their own faith. Control, power, fortune...aren't those the things we fight for even today? why is the Catholic church so rich? Is it because they don't want to be? That they are indifferent to the wealth gleaned from their faithful? Joe Nickell is among the astute observers of human behavior who simply wants to point out that devout religious faith, to the individual, is a choice for them to make, but devout religious faith manipulation and chicanery are much more common and need to be exposed for what they are, methods of controlling those who would not otherwise ask if the emperor, pope, minister, or faith-healer has any clothes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Should be read by all "believers." 15 April 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Insightful and thought-provoking examination of the need of humans to believe in a higher power, even to the point of imagining and making-up miracles. In addition Mr. Nickell shows other less noble ideas of what caused a "miracle" such as greed. I think this book will get some readers to outwardly show anger. However, inside I bet they are questioning their beliefs. Afterall, a good book should give you something to think about for a while even if it scares you. Bravo!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book tells it like it is. 1 April 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
No amount of anecdotal evidence is proof of anything. The simple truth is that there is not one single shred of scientifically verifiable evidence for miracles which would have required a suspension of the laws of nature to be true. The chapter on miracle cures is especially telling; the charlatans that prey on the sick cause tremendous harm to individuals and society - and the author makes that point tellingly. My only criticism of the book is that it is too short. More please!
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars irrational and poorly written 25 Feb 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I used to think that new age books stretched the credibility of readers, but the award has to go to Nickells book. He claims that miracles, levitations, and the rest of the supernatural phenomena he critiques are the result of illusion, lies, and credulous or stupid people. The explanations he offers for miracles are so far fetched as not even to be considered. The history of religions stretches for thousands of years. Are all the testimonials of catholics, hindus, buddhists and the rest all false? What could possibly be the purpose behind so much fakery and illusion? Nickells claims its for money and fame. If that were true, monks and nuns are wasting their time in a monastery, they should go to Las Vegas instead. The book breaks the bounds of credibility. His explanations are so far fetched as not worth considering. He uses special pleading, begging the question, and arguments from ignorance among other fallacies. While it is true that cases of stigmata and other phenomena have been faked, even the vatican knows that. But their are genuine cases that are not disproven. To believe this book, we would have to believe that all religious phenomena have been faked or illusions for the past 6,000 years among hindus, buddhists and catholics. Amazing! This book is not recommended and offers a very poor critique of such phenomena. True believers are even among skeptics and such will not believe in the paranormal no matter what the evidence is.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed inquiry 4 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Joe Nickell doesn't question anyone's right to believe what they want, he simply questions those who would manipulate the faithful with false religious tangibility. Religion is not tangible, it is based on faith, and those who would use that faith for their own ends need to be exposed. A previous reviewer asked what could possibly be gained by 6,000 years of religious fakery? The naivete of that question shows that it is obviously being asked by someone too fearful to question the validity of their own faith. Control, power, fortune...aren't those the things we fight for even today? why is the Catholic church so rich? Is it because they don't want to be? That they are indifferent to the wealth gleaned from their faithful? Joe Nickell is among the astute observers of human behavior who simply wants to point out that devout religious faith, to the individual, is a choice for them to make, but devout religious faith manipulation and chicanery are much more common and need to be exposed for what they are, methods of controlling those who would not otherwise ask if the emperor, pope, minister, or faith-healer has any clothes.
33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable, well-researched study of questionable claims.. 24 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Depending on what side of the religious fence you're on, you can find this book to be either annoying and even offensive, or a great reference book about gullibility, to teach us how to think better. I have to confess I'm in the latter category.
What's often befuddles many devout believers is why someone would even analyze miracles in the first place. After all, life without belief in miracles seems to be empty. What Nickell points out, simply, is that before we jump to conclusions, and impulsively accept a supernatural "explanation" for such phenomena, we should at least take a look at NATURAL reasons why they occur -- or look like they occur. He provides one or more natural, logical reason(s) for every "supernatural wonder" he describes. What he's telling the reader is "Examine and test extraordinary claims". Even religious ones, taught to us by people we admmire. If we don't do that, then we're liable to be suckered into swallowing whole any belief system. And in doing so, we can lose touch with reality.
I don't get the sense that the author is singling out the Catholic Church as an evil entity, or that he's coming down hard, personally, on individuals in that organization. However, he uses Catholic claims of miracles as an illustration of the way in which beliefs, once they're given official sanction by authorities, are easily accepted. He might have used Hinduism, Christian Science, or UFO-ology, for that matter, to serve his same purpose. But traditional Catholicism is familiar to many Americans. For that reader, Nickell gives a different slant on a lot of beliefs they would be already acquainted with. He also aids the non-Catholic believers, and the non-religious, to understand Catholic (and some Pentecostal) miracle claims, in scientific terms. In other words, he scrutinizes them, to see if the claims actually have any common-sense or logical basis, and if there's really any proof to back up the claims. It's up to the reader to decide whether he's made a case against belief. I believe he has, based on his thorough research of these cases. Of course, you disagree. But I would invite you to read what he has to say, and make up your own mind.
As Nickell implies, there might be deception in some of these astounding instances. But that's not always easy to prove. In my opinion, his research has uncovered cases of blant trickery. Other times, from what I can see, they're just deeply-held convictions, in spite of evidence which refute the claims.
His arguments may never sway the most loyal religious folks. That's understandable. Faith is definitely a strong force in an individual's life. One thing is certain: faith in miracles is at least a matter of great sincerity.
But one problem with that sincere exercise of faith, Nickell shows, is that it doesn't guarantee truth. Very well-intentioned believers retain ideas they've held since they were kids. But Nickell's point is that we have to be careful about what we continue to hold onto, and take things with a grain of salt, when we hear about things like weeping icons or healings.
I think that the value of "Looking For A Miracle" is the lesson that faith in supernational powers, and magical thinking, isn't necessary for wholeness and happiness. From his many examples, it's obvious that such faith can instill a feeling of security and love. But Nickell says that isn't enough. He offers a different, more accepting view of life's varied experiences. His outlook, from what I gather, is that one can live in and appreciate the natural world, even with all of our limitations, like gravity, sickness and mortality. So it's a great book for helping us view life as thinking, realistic adults.
If you read it with that thought in mind, with a desire to learn a different point of view, you should get a lot out of it. Highly recommended!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of phonies and the piously gullible 18 Sep 2009
By Jean E. Pouliot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The good news about the book is that it assembles a wealth on information about the unseen side of what many call miracles -- incorruptible bodies, miraculous apparitions, and medically-inexplicable cures, and so on. He is very clear and convincing that much (if not all) of this material is either phony, or is a misinterpretation by credulous people hungry to get close to the divine. Incorruptibles -- saints who bodies do not decay -- are often no such thing. Saints who may have seemed to defy decay for awhile are no sheathed in obscuring robes and have had their skeletized features replaced with wax masks. Apparitions (the Marian apparition at Garabandal is a notorious example) feature sleight of hand tricks to fool believers -- a girl runs out of a meeting and lo! a communion wafer is found on her tongue! People "cured" of a disease are trumpeted as proof of the divine touch, only to ie of the very same disease months later.

There are times when Joe takes his arguments too far. He does not find fakery on the part of the recipient of the apparition of La Sallette, but is upset that other pious layfolk use the occasion for making a buck or to persecute doubters. While Joe has found a way to duplicate many of the features of the Shroud of Turin, he stretches credulity himself by claiming that it shares features with similar images. Part of the problem is that he offers so few pictures in the book. We are asked to believe Joe as he tells us not to believe the miracle peddlers.

The pious (especially Catholics) come in for plenty of critics. Of course, we are heir to many pious if not outright superstitious traditions from the pre-modern period. From Marian apparitions to self-flagellants to incorruptibles to medical miracles to Padre Pio's bilocations, we have been inundated by the miraculous from an early age. Joe's book brought me some of my first experiences with contemporary reports of these phenomena. There is no question that much of this activity is self-serving -- attempting to persuade Catholics that theirs is the true faith. But Joe sometimes misses the point theologically by assuming that way a divinity ould act, and ten comparing events to this self-imagined benchmark. It may seem silly for Jesus to allow his face to be seen in the humble lines of a spaghetti ad; is it less silly for him to have born in a humble manger? A God who incarnates can most certainly show himself wherever and however he chooses. Let the smarties scoff and the humble be glad.

Still, I liked the book and found it valuable. Better to be on the lookout for the self-serving and the venal than to assume that very pious event is a message from God.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They done it with mirrors? 19 May 2000
By Nightreader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you like the "they done it with mirrors" literature, this is good reading, although author Joe Nickell deliberately picks the silliest "miracles" and debunks them, thus showing how stupid belief in the miraculous is. And while he sniffs at the faulty recherches of the "miraculists", he himself cites an example of an old "folk tale": "For example, there is the story of castle Lockenhaus in Austria, whose sixtenth-century-owner, a countess Bathory, was rumored to have murdered young girls and drunk there blood." Quite right! Only it wasn't Castle Lockenhaus, but Castle Tzetsche, which isn't in Austria, but in Hungary, Countess Erszebeth Bathory was not "rumored" to have killed young girls, but was convicted in public trial before the Hungarian King Matthias (the case of the Blood Countess is famous in Austria and Hungary and much written about by scholars) and she did not drink the blood of sixhundred servant maids, but, being a sexual sadist and a lesbian, tortured them to death. So much for thorough investigation, Mr. Nickell! Still, the book makes interesting reading, especially for a Protestant like me who has always looked askance at weeping icons und "holy" relics, and the scientific explanations of how some miracles are done are most interesting. And, I must admit, Mr. Nickell is fair in so far as he notes that the Catholic Church is not always happy with such miracles. Still, I feel this is the counterpart to the miraculist who will believe anything, proven or not. Joe Nickell disbelieves in anything, proven or not.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book tells it like it is. 1 April 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
No amount of anecdotal evidence is proof of anything. The simple truth is that there is not one single shred of scientifically verifiable evidence for miracles which would have required a suspension of the laws of nature to be true. The chapter on miracle cures is especially telling; the charlatans that prey on the sick cause tremendous harm to individuals and society - and the author makes that point tellingly. My only criticism of the book is that it is too short. More please!
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