Saturday, June 30, 2012

On Medjugorje

One of the true pleasures of being back online is being able to read Mark Shea again, and that great Catholic writer has added his voice to those expressing grave concerns over the validity of the Medjugorje apparitions

I'm sorry to bore readers by returning to the subject of neurology yet again and so quickly, but I'm afraid to say I think it may be of some relevance to Medjugorje. If I am wrong, I ask for God's forgiveness. 

In his book 'Migraines', his first major work, Oliver Sacks refers to the visions of Hildegard of Bingen as having been "indisputably migrainous". For what it's worth, I think I may have identified two other figures from history whose behaviours, and therefore also their experiences, might have been influenced by that condition; in his book 'The Classical Greeks', the late Professor Michael Grant referred to Socrates as having been inspired by an aura (clarification 01/07/12 - on p. 148 of that book, Professor Grant states that 'Socrates sometimes went into spellbound trances'), and in his monstrously big and thoroughly enjoyable 'The King's Reformation', G. W. Bernard makes a similar observation regarding The Nun of Kent (clarification 01/07/12 - on p. 88 of thst book, Professor Bernard wrote that '(s)he was certainly at times unwell (whether afflicted by epilepsy or hysteria)).

As Professor Sacks, a committed atheist, possessed the good grace not to discount the validity of Hildegard's visions on a purely neurological basis, it only befits me to follow suit regarding others. However, what is surprising about the Medjugorje events is the metronomic regularity with which some of the alleged visionaries claim to experience them, some of them at the same time of day every day of the year. This is eerily reminiscent of Sacks's observations regarding the extreme regularity of some of his post-encephalitic patients' neurological cycles as described in 'Awakenings'. Some would only speak at the same time of day, others would have crises at the same time every day or had had histories of doing so. One, I cannot remember whether it was Margaret or Martha, suffered what Sacks labels an 'Easter psychosis', going into a coma on Holy Thursday and coming out of it on Easter Sunday, year in, year out without fail. 

The chronology of the testing which the alleged visionaries has undergone does not immediately suggest that electroencephalograms have been performed on the alleged visionaries during those events that they continue to claim that they experience. If such tests have already been performed during any such event and no neurological irregularity has been determined then the chronology of testing which has been published should be amended as a matter of urgency in order to make this clear. One would imagine that nobody who is not under close medical care can be compelled to take an EEG; however, if this test has not been performed on the alleged visionaries and it is suggested to them that such a test might allay the concerns of the Church and the faithful and they refuse to consent to it, such a refusal might be considered relevant in helping to determine whether the histories the alleged visionaries have narrated should be considered trustworthy.

I for one am perfectly willing to believe that some kind of event takes place at 5.40 pm every day; however, from the available information the nature of such events does not appear to have been fully investigated, and as all other possible types of events have not therefore been excluded from consideration as causes of the events which the alleged visionaries claim to experience I remain disinclined to believe that they are supernatural in origin.

Migraines run in families; for all I know they might be subject to the operation of somatic compliance; and just because someone tells you they've seen an apparition doesn't mean you have to believe them, no matter how deeply you might want to.

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Blogger pilgrim said...

You’re forgiven! :)

30 June, 2012 23:28  
Blogger JOHN BOYLE said...

Until you have actually lived it, walked it, felt it and experienced things of such nature that no tool of science could ever quantify I concur whereas only the unlearned would deduce such things to be a headache.

01 July, 2012 08:10  
Blogger Martin said...

John, a migraine's not a headache. Great blog by the way.

Pilgrim, if you re-read my post you will see that I asked for God's forgiveness if I was wrong; but thanks for the thought.

01 July, 2012 21:55  
Blogger pilgrim said...

Hey, Martin, I'm only the messenger! :)

02 July, 2012 05:02  
Blogger pilgrim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

02 July, 2012 05:06  

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