Excerpted and slightly edited from an email by Kristor:
Witchery and sorcery – black magic generally – is just intercessory prayer that is evilly intended.
And intercession needn’t be formal, or even conscious. If I’m envious of someone, or feeling glad about them, it seems quite reasonable that my feelings might have a concrete effect upon them, even if I never express my emotions to them, or indeed even become conscious of them myself.
Everything is connected, and not a jot or a bit is dropped from the signal, however obscured it may be. Every atom, says Whitehead, is a system of all things.
The feeling I have about you, and the feeling you have about me, are concrete, physical aspects of the world. They are not just epiphenomena; so, they must have their complete, due effects upon all other things.
If the world is to be coherent, there is no alternative; the momenta of feelings cannot simply disappear from history, without being accounted for by the rest of the causal order. This is why the very notion of an epiphenomenon is an insult to rationality.
Prayer then, sorcery whether white or black, is mediated by fields of mutual influence, of co-inherence and superposition. And in principle, fields extend without limit throughout all space, however weakly.
The body is contained by the soul, not vice versa; so also with physical objects and their fields. Physical bodies are the expressions of their fields, the fossils and artifacts of field transactions. In All Hallows’ Eve, Williams writes [p. 142]:
"The high thing which was now in his mind, [Lester’s] body that had walked and lain by his, was itself celestial and divine. Body? It was no more merely body than soul was merely soul; it was only visible Lester."
Lovely: the body as the soul made visible, tangible.
“Coincidentally,” I have just begun reading Morton Smith’s Jesus the Magician, which explores the whole faith healer/miracle worker aspect of Jesus’ ministry.
Lots of info here about the phenomenon of the miracle worker in First Century Palestine. Much (but not all) of faith healing is of course due to the placebo effect – “your faith has made you whole.” But that a man’s faith in a cure has made him whole does not mean that the cure was not objectively curative.
The placebo effect can after all just as easily defeat a cure proven to be effective, as promote a cure that is known to be specious. The most brilliant and incontrovertibly efficacious drug can be completely impotent when the placebo effect is negative, thanks to the patient’s disbelief in the efficacy of the cure, or of the doctor; or thanks to his despair.
If you believe you are beyond help, you probably are, because such beliefs tend to be self-fulfilling.
If on the other hand you believe God can cure you, why, you’re only talking plain common sense, right? Of course God can heal you. But, he can do so only if you turn to him in love and trust. If you don’t do that, you’re rejecting the cure.
So, faith healing is not rendered bogus or vacuous because the placebo effect is involved. That the patient’s willing cooperation in the procedure is needed to make it efficacious does not mean that the faith healer has done nothing at all, nor does it mean that the thing he has done is not really efficacious, any more than the fact that I choose not to notice a pinprick means I have not really been pricked.
Ought we, therefore, not to refrain from despair over the prospects of the West, not just because despair is a sin, but because our despair will tend to frustrate the cure that might this very minute be working its way through the dough like yeast?
Ought we not to have faith in a cure, so that we don’t get in the way of that cure?
A cure is possible, after all. Stranger things have happened.
Like the Church. There have been several Great Awakenings in the last 500 years. We could easily be on the verge of another; Great Awakenings are just the sorts of things that flaccid, desiccate, depraved, apostate ages tend to generate.