Saturday, July 12, 2008
Here's a story that might tickle, though given the Associated Press' recent tantrum, I'll relate it in my own words and won't link to the AP piece:
A man alleges that he was so stricken by the Holy Spirit that he was caused to fall and be injured when his fellow congregants failed to catch him. Therefore, Matt Lincoln of Knoxville, Tennessee's Lakewind Church is suing the church for $2.5 million for injuries to his back and legs, supposedly resulting in two subsequent surgeries.
The Church's defense will apparently be that Mr. Lincoln didn't take care to insure that someone was behind him to catch him before he started praying (and that he wasn't really injured by the fall, since he was supposedly seen laughing afterwards).
In the law, we have a concept called "proximate cause." There is no exact definition but roughly it refers to those causes that people of ordinary sensibilities would consider to be the actual cause of an incident. An illustration might help: a person is driving along and a squirrel runs in front of her car. She swerves, loses control and runs down someone on the sidewalk. The victim doesn't have to sue the squirrel.
Now, it seems to me (but, of course, I'm no ordinary person) that, if Mr. Lincoln was really stricken by God's spirit, which is presumably unpredictable, it is God's fault for not waiting until someone was there to catch him and Mr. Lincoln has sued the wrong party. The congregation can't be expected to know the mind of God and anticipate His actions. On the other hand, if Mr. Lincoln was just playing a social game of demonstrating his "righteousness" to his fellow churchgoers by flopping about, then the onus was on him to make sure that the other congregants were ready for his act. In any event, the lawyers, if no one else, are going to have an entertaining time.
Finally, Mr. Lincoln was reported to have said that he was praying for "a real experience." Which makes this just another data point in favor of "be careful what you wish for."
P.S. The Ridger at The Greenbelt has an account from a less money-grubbing news outlet. Ridger has much the same reaction as I did to the story but makes an additional good point:
And his pain and suffering? I don't doubt it's real, like his lost income and medical bills. But isn't it the will of his God? Surely if his God had wanted to slay him in the spirit he could have done it without injuring his body. Lincoln should be looking for the purpose here, not seeking someone to blame. God's will, after all, is done, isn't it? This is just another of those mysterious ways, one of those crooked lines with which God draws straight.Oh ye of little faith!