Robert Scott

Miracle Cures

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Catholic News Service, July 16, 2010, p. 22.

Reviewed by Brian Welter

Sociologist Robert A. Scott, author of "Miracle Cures". . . acknowledges the reality of miracles in the sense that they are real for the individual
and the society from which they come. Miracles play a central role in perpetuating the faith within that society, and the recipient becomes a kind of shaman between this world and the other.

Becket reliquary
Reliquary Chasse with Scenes of the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket

Yet Scott never gets beyond his sociology. Some medical, social or psychological explanation always exists. Causes of miraculous healing include: clean water and air and better nutrition available during a pilgrimage; an improved mental disposition caused by the belief itself; an illness clearing up naturally on its own; or an unconsciously staged illness, by which the person becomes ill so that he or she can then experience a "cure."

God plays no part in this deeply secular, politely atheistic worldview. Nonetheless, the insights into the power of belief and into the nature of religious societies, both modern and medieval, make "Miracle Cures" a fascinating read. Unlike the atheist fundamentalists of today, Scott does not attempt to argue readers out of their faith. He simply sticks to his story line.

Miracle Cures is one of three books reviewed by Brian Welter in this article. To see the full review, download pdf file.