Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Magic Power of a Mustang Key Fob

It was a truly magical day in Atlanta, when so many exciting things seemed to go right - a fabulous day at work, a marvelous experience with a friend with an atheist upbringing in which I got to share a Book of Mormon and my thoughts about God and Christ, followed by including a marvelous Shabbat dinner with a Jewish family featuring some of the most loving, talented and impressive people I know. This amazing day concluded with a quirky moment in the parking lot at my hotel. I walked away from my rental car -- a sizzling red Mustang, of all things, randomly assigned to me by Hertz -- without having locked it. I realized my mistake and stopped, about 20 feet away, pointing my wireless key fob at the car. As I pushed the "lock" button, I expected the car lights to flash to acknowledge that it had been locked. Instead of a response from my car, at that very a street light directly above my car turned on with a "pop." I hadn't noticed that it was there, off, in spite of the darkness (this was after 10 pm). I took one more step toward the car, clicked the key fob a second time and now got the flash of lights from the car as it locked.

Wow, I thought, could this key fob control a street light? Did it have magical powers that extended beyond my uncomfortably flashy car? Chances are that the surprise activation of the street light was entirely a chance event. The street light was about to flash on at that moment, for whatever reason, and I must have been a few feet too far from my car for it to read the signal. It only seemed like there was a cause and effect relationship.

These kind of coincidences do occur sometimes, purely chance events that can seem to imply mystical powers. That's why it's OK to be skeptical about some apparent miracles, and why it's dangerous to assume that strange coincidences somehow reflect God's will for you. Like wondering if you should quit your day job to become a pro golfer, and seeing a sign with Tiger Woods on it moments later. Or praying if you should marry a girl you just met when she suddenly calls you out of the blue - was that a sign? Or was it just a phone call? (Perhaps the tenth one that day?)

At the same time, I believe there are miracles that can look like coincidences, and that we should acknowledge the hand of the Lord in the many ways he blesses us and the many things He does for us. I think it's often helpful to look for confirmation beyond mere coincidence, and to consider the significance of an unusual event from several perspectives. Any thoughts?

Well, the key fob thing was definitely just chance, not mystic power. I pressed it a couple more times just now and no more lights went on.

So, what I'm trying to say is -- sorry, got to run. I just noticed this incredible meteor shower that I can see from my hotel window. And fireworks just started, too! Cool!

8 comments:

kidd05 said...

Hi Jeff! Your post was so timely - in fact, I mailed you at the email address you provided on your website (jefflindsay.com) just to share my testimony, but the mail bounced, so it would be awesome if you could give me an alternate address I could send it to. The reason I say this post is timely is because my testimony features an amazing coincidence as well, and I want to share it with you to thank you for all the help and insights your blog has provided me with! My email address is ikiddyounot05[at]hotmail.com.

Hope to hear from you!

Best regards,
Feng

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest thing about being a member of the church is that we don't have to worry about causality. We just have to belive there is some relationship and then profess to all our miracle while sobbing away about the truthfulness of the gosple on the first Sunday of the month. Of course this does nothing but fuel everyone else's delusions at the same time. We get to kill 2 birds with one stone; convince ourselves and everyone around us at the same time. Isn't our belief system great?

Mormanity said...

Anon, don't confuse the very natural and human logical flaws of some with "our belief system." If you'll examine the LDS scriptures and the official teachings of the Church, you'll see there is no emphasis or reliance on coincidence and chance. But as we seek to understand the ways of the Lord, there is no doubt that there are divine acts that can appear like chance to the skeptic. A balance is needed, or rather, discernment, in seeking to filter the real from the accidental. Don't dismiss the possibility of miracles just because strange accidents of chance can happen by themselves. There are some that go beyond chance alone.

Anonymous said...

It the Lord does step in with his hand in things, sure, we may consider it coincidence with something else that may explain what occurred. But doesn't that preserve free agency? If something happened, that no ifs, ands or buts about it, is of divine origin, we would be forced away from faith/belief towards knowledge. The Lord preserves our free agency in leaving it open how we will interpret things.

Travis said...

With all respect to personal revelation, I am amazed at how often revelation seems to match a person personal desire. Sometimes I think that we aren't willing enough to accept a NO that we go ahead and do it anyway. Or there is the alternative, that in the grand sceme of things, it doesn't matter what we do.

Sure we are to take the small things to the Lord, but that doesn't mean that he is going to tell us every move we should make.

Ujlapana said...

Jeff, I'm sorry you squandered this great opportunity. The key fob you found was one of the sacred relics of the . If you had kept the fob (and I realize this would have required paying for it--but no price would be too great for such an item) it would have continued to provide everything you wanted. You could have kept it in your pocket, pressing it throughout the day. If nothing seemed to happen, you could castigate yourself for your lack of faith. If you got something desirable (even if it wasn't unexpected), that would be clear evidence that the fob had provided it. And if something undesirable happened, it would be humbling to know that the fob knew what you needed more than you did.

Kidding aside, how do you propose to discern "true" miracles from chance? You're right that LDS theology is not based on 1-in-a-million events (although apologetics often are), but you can't dismiss the fact that many believers (not just Mormons) put a lot of weight in these kinds of things. I can't recall ever hearing a testimony of prayer that didn't involve just such a chance event--usually a favorable one. People do base their beliefs on these events because they think that they amount to rational evidence, which rational people like to have.

Russell said...

You bring up a good point,Ujlapana. However, I can speak with authority about my personal testimony. Frankly, I DON'T (always) equate such experiences as rational evidence (sometimes, the occurence is too outrageous to say otherwise, but that's another topic...). I recognize my faith is a subjective expression of an objective truth.

I was just having a discussion about this the other day. I believe that most "experiences" are not the blessings themselves. The real blessing comes in RECOGNIZING THAT GOD IS INVOLVED. You see, having an arm healed, finding keys, etc., none of these inherently bring you closer to eternal life. Oneness with God does, and since eternal life is the greatest of all gifts, it follows that the primary blessings these experiences bring constitute a reocgnition of God's power in our lives.

Mormanity said...

Ujlapana, what do you mean, "If I had kept the fob"?

Click.

There, I bet you just experienced enlightenment. See?

Please don't tell Hertz that I'm here.