Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions and Healing Cures / Edition 1

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Do miracles really happen? What is the evidence for paranormal phenomena that demonstrate divine power, and what alternative explanations can be offered for such apparently miraculous occurrences? How does the earnest inquirer assess the conflicting evidence and reach a conclusion? These and related questions are answered in this illuminating examination of miracle claims by respected historical, paranormal, and forensic investigator Joe Nickell. Not a critique of religion but rather a careful examination of the evidence relating to specific claims of the miraculous, Looking for a Miracle investigates a panoply of strange events, powers, and objects that are at the center of the controversy between so-called miraculists and confirmed skeptics. Among the phenomena studied are "Miraculous Pictures," like the Shroud of Turin, the Edessan Image, and the Image of Guadalupe; seemingly "Magical Icons," such as weeping, bleeding, and otherwise animated paintings and statues; "Mystical Relics," including "burning handprints," the liquefying blood of St. Januarius, and ostensibly "incorruptible" corpses of saints; "Pentecostal Powers," such as speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy, taking up serpents, and other powers and immunities; "Faith Healing," including the reported miracle cures at Lourdes and the practices of evangelists, Christian Scientists, and "psychic surgeons"; "Ecstatic Visions," like the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima and Medjugorje; and such "Sanctified Powers" as luminosity, levitation, bilocation, stigmata, inedia (the going without food); and the ability to produce objects out of thin air. Looking for a Miracle is a wide-ranging investigative study of a controversial topic that has all too often been approached either with excessive credulity or a dismissive attitude. Religious believers and rationalist thinkers alike have much to learn from this revealing examination of the evidence for the miraculous.

Not a critique of religion, Looking for a Miracle is a careful investigation of the evidence relating to specific claims. Among the numerous strange events, powers, and objects discussed are the Shroud of Turin, magical icons, mystical relics, and Pentecostal Powers, such as "speaking in tongues."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nickell, a thoroughgoing skeptic, debunks Christian and non-Christian miracles alike, as well as alleged paranormal phenomena in this colorful probe. He attributes reports of weeping icons, bleeding effigies and the image of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin to faulty perception or recall, bias, hoaxing and the will to believe. He explains stigmata (the spontaneous duplication of Christ's crucifixion wounds upon the body of a Christian) as due to hoaxes, self-punishment or self-inflicted wounds. Nickell ( Mysterious Realms ) finds no compelling evidence for alleged cures at the French shrine of Lourdes, or for saintly halos, human auras, self-levitation or Pentecostal powers like speaking in tongues and faith healing. He gives flunking grades to Nostradamus, Jeane Dixon and Elizabeth Clare Prophet for their presumed clairvoyant abilities. A useful if one-sided cautionary survey. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Nickell's career investigating paranormal phenomena produced the earlier Inquest into the Shroud of Turin ( LJ 3/1/83) and Mysterious Realms ( LJ 12/92). His efforts include creating a process that he claims replicates the image on the shroud. His broad search, emphasizing fraud and unreasonable credulity, uncovers no credible miracles. He documents his sources extensively, though he mistakenly calls the Anglican writer C.S. Lewis a Roman Catholic and equates the Trinitarian Holy Spirit with paranormal spirits. His arguments, although not attacking the core tenets of the Christian faith, virtually bludgeon the beliefs of those not sharing his skepticism. For general readers.-- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573926805
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 253
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Nickell has been called "the modern Sherlock Holmes" and "the real-life Scully" (from the X-Files). He has been on the trail of mysterious creatures and phenomena for four decades. Since 1995 he has been the world’s only full-time, professional, science-based paranormal investigator. His careful, often-innovative investigations have won him international respect in a field charged with controversy. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently Tracking the Man Beasts; Real or Fake? Studies in Authentication; and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation. Among his other books are Psychic Sleuths, Looking for a Miracle, and Secrets of the Supernatural. See www.joenickell.com for more.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 5
1 Introduction 9
2 Miraculous Pictures 19
The Edessan Image 19
The Shroud of Turin 22
The Image of Guadalupe 29
Other Miraculous Pictures 34
3 Magical Icons 45
Weeping Icons 48
Bleeding Effigies 58
Other Animated Figures 62
4 Mystical Relics 73
The Blood of St. Januarius 77
Januarius and the Pozzuoli Stone 83
The Incorruptibles 85
Burning Handprints 93
5 Pentecostal Powers 101
Speaking in Tongues 103
Prophecy 109
Taking up Serpents 116
Other Immunities 121
6 Faith Healing 131
How Faith Healing "Cures" 133
"Healing," Hoopla, and Hoaxes 137
Lourdes 145
Prophets of Healing 154
7 Ecstatic Visions 167
Marian Apparitions 169
"Miracles" at Fatima 176
Hoax at Garabandal 181
Mystery at Zeitoun 185
Medjugorje Mania 187
Other Apparitions 194
8 Sanctified Powers 209
Luminosity 209
Levitation 211
Bilocation 216
Stigmata 219
Inedia 225
Exorcism 229
Apport Production 232
9 Afterword 239
Index 245
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2000

    When you only have a hammer everthing looks like a nail

    There was so little understanding of mystical phenomenon in this book that others should read Kevin Orlin Johnson's books for a reasonable overview of the Church's perspective on these matters. The position taken in the book reminded me of doctors and scientists who can only explain near death phenomenon in terms of the physical. I love the majesty, the mystery and the miraculous that is the Catholic Church. ....Pax Tecum

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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