Monday, August 24, 2009

916th Post - The Amazing Randi!

We discuss the oddest things during our coffee breaks. Today, during the same break, we told dead hooker jokes (not to be repeated here!!) and talked about the Amazing Randi, or James Randi as he was born.

Kevin brought up Randi. We exchanged knowing glances. Not intimate, knowing glances, ok? I don't want to start any rumours. They were just knowing glances. Knowing. Glances. I mean, there's nothing wrong with intimate, knowing glances in the right context between two people who love each other. But these were not that kind of knowing glance. You understand.

Off topic. I'm sorry. I do that too much.

Anyway, James Randi spent many years as a professional magician. Contemporaneous to that, he was also going around debunking soothsayers, psychics, Nostradamus, evangelical "Christians" who use God to steal money from their parishioners, and the like. He is the author of many books about such things. I still have most of those books. Let me know if you want to borrow any of them.

Randi retired as a magician a number of years ago, selling his effects and his show to a young magician. He has continued to write books, articles for "The Skeptic" magazine, and founded JREF, the James Randi Educational Foundation, a fund devoted to exposing these people once and for all. He does the Lord's work.

He has been sued many times, and it has cost him a great deal of money to protect himself from people like Uri Geller, whom Randi has railed against for decades now, to little avail.

I don't have a lot of heroes in my books. My dad is one. A few teachers in high school, and professors in university. But Randi has been a hero to me for a long time now. It is a pleasure to right this wrong, to write about this great man.

A quick word in defense of some psychics, if you don't mind. I went to junior high school with a guy named... well, never mind what his name was. He is dead now, and I don't want to speak or write ill of him. You'll see why in a moment. He had cystic fibrosis. He was on plenty of drugs just to get through the school day. Teased mercilessly by fellow students, hounded by teachers because he had been too ill the night before to complete all of his home work, he was not destined for a strong post secondary education. He was not going to be a doctor or a lawyer when he grew up. He'd be lucky to live to be 40 (he was 39 when he passed).

I left that hellhole of a school after 3 years and lost touch with him for a long time. After university, I'd see him around, delivering auto parts to shops that needed them. I found out later, and saw for myself, that he was reading palms at a flea market.

A few months before he died, I saw he wasn't busy with a client and chatted with him. We recalled those painful years at that God forsaken school, remembered our tormentors, and chuckled over some not-so-shabby times we had shared. He alluded to the years since high school. Unable to hold down a regular job because of his c.f., he did what he had to do to put food on the table for his wife and step child. That included reading palms for gullible people who wanted to hear what he had to say.

A client was coming over. I shooked his hand, and wished him well. I promised to keep in touch.

A few months later, requiring a double lung transplant, he went to the hospital. I am a little sketchy on the events, but he died shortly thereafter. Like I said before, he wasn't even 40 years old.

I am down on these fake psychics. I don't like them, or what they do. However, my friend had a crappy life, folks. He didn't have it easy. If he could make a few dollars, a very few, reading palms, then who am I, who are you, to deny him that?

Let's get back to Randi.

There are many youtube videos about and with Randi. I have chosen this one, from a tv special first broadcast in 1991. Please watch it and let me know what you think via a comment to this post.

Now, about those dead hooker jokes...



Reg Schofield said...

I would not use "evangelical" to describe the charlatans that bilk money by twisting the bible. In fact many within the true evangelical church have exposed them for years long before the Amazing Randi.
Plus I cannot say I have the same respect for him because he constantly mocks my faith as if I'm an imbecile who can't read the back of a soup can.

Bevboy said...

The people who bilk others of their money in the name of God often call themselves evangelists, Reg. If you prefer another name, let me know what it is.

And, in the 30 years or so I have been following Randi, I have never heard him say, or read something by him, in which he mocked religion. If you can cite an example or two, once again, let me know.


Reg Schofield said...

The word evangelical has been used by many who are not . In its classic meaning an evangelical is one who holds to the basics of the Christian faith.The christian term for those who are false teachers are heretics . Walter Martin , a christian apologist well known within Christian circles , spoke out against these charlatans starting back in the 70's when they started becoming popular.

As to the Amazing Randi his essay called "Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I'm a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright" , he clearly mocks some of the basic tenets of the faith(virgin birth,Jesus miracle and the resurrection) .Plus he includes the outrageous statement The Wizard of Oz is more believable than the Bible. Plus the fact he calls himself a "bright" , referring to the fact he is a Atheist , as anyone who has read much of the Atheist mantra of late , knows its a clear insult to anyone who happens to believe in God and more specifically the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I get as frustrated and angry when I see people used by false teachers but I also know they make up a very small portion of dedicated pastors and missionaries who give much but get very little recognition.

Bevboy said...

Yeah, well, Randi is a hero to me. He doesn't put up with b.s. from anyone. He is openly skeptical about everything. It doesn't mean he is not willing to believe; it just means he needs convincing. The last time I checked, he had as much a right to those beliefs as you do to yours.

I have not checked out the source you sent me. Probably won't. I do distinctly recall Randi saying over and over that he is not on a religious witch hunt. People can believe what they want. So will he.

We all have to be tolerant and accepting of other people's opinions, Reg. I learned that a long time ago. I have friends of all religious stripes. I know people who are wealthy, middle class, and poor. I like them all. I have gay friends and relatives. I do not think what they do is sinful or wrong in any way. To each his own. That's what my God taught me.

If Randi and having gone to university have taught me anything, it is to keep an open mind for pert near anything. I try not to be dismissive of anybody or anything. That attitude has stood me in good stead for a long time.

Keep reading the blog! Thanks for writing.