I believe Houdini was a manifestation of this syndrome,
but I could be wrong.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Nancy Gish
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, March 13, 2010 6:50 AM
Subject: Re: signs and wonders

During and after WWI there was a massive interest in spiritualism, seances, and possible "signs" that would allow grieving people to make contact with their dead sons and husbands and lovers and brothers.  It was a kind of desperation and despair that caused so many to try anything. It was, of course, taken advantage of by those who genuinely or cynically imagined themselves mediums.  But it was a large and disturbing social phenomenon.  It is part of what inspired Madam Sosostris.  Eliot made more than one comment on this sort of charlatanism.  I think the signs and wonders is also, at least in part, evoked by that social situation. 

>>> DIana Manister <[log in to unmask]>03/13/10 9:31 AM >>>
Dear Terry,

When I was practicing Buddhism, we were told to ignore what seemed to be angels or deities that visited us during deep meditation, as well as frightening figures, because they would distract us from the real goal.

Similarly, Richard Halpert (Baba Ram Dass) said in a lecture that when he first studied with a guru in India, his spiritual quest was delayed when he became fascinated with 'miracles' he experienced there, such as being told details of his own life that no one knew, or other inexplicable phenomena. On his lecture tours, he was always asked for miracle stories, which he said were a sign along the non-rational path that could prevent enlightenment if the disciple got attached to them.  

I see a connection here to Eliot's distinction between signs and wonders.

Sent from my iPod

On Mar 12, 2010, at 6:56 PM, Terry Traynor <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

So -- "Signs are taken for wonders" means that people are given evidence of something divine, but, not recognizing it as evidence, all they think is "Isn't this strange!" or "Isn't this astonishing and amazing!" -- sort of like looking at a rainbow and thinking "Isn't that beautiful," but failing to see it as a sign of God's covenant with Noah.  Am I getting the distinction right?


On Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 11:55 AM, Jerome Walsh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
"Sign" (semeion) is a key term in the Fourth Gospel.  There, in Greek as in English, the implication of calling a miracle a "sign" rather than a "wonder" is that its importance lies not in its spectacular nature ("What a wonderful thing!") but in what it signifies about something else (such as the person of the wonder-worker, or the advent of the Kingdom of God, or the breadth of divine compassion, or the like).  Would Eliot have been reading the Gospel in Greek?

Jerry Walsh

From: Terry Traynor <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Fri, March 12, 2010 10:29:48 AM
Subject: signs and wonders

from "Gerontion":

        Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign!"

Does anybody know the difference between signs and wonders?