Miracle as Natural: A Contemporary Chinese American Religious Healer

In Karen R. Zwier, David L. Weddle & Timothy D. Knepper (eds.), Miracles: An Exercise in Comparative Philosophy of Religion. Springer. pp. 131-154 (2022)
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I apply the Buddhist and Chinese religious understandings of miracles as natural events to a contemporary Chinese American religious healer who employs Buddhist spells, qigong, and a range of Chinese medical arts to successfully treat conditions such as a golf-ball-sized cancerous tumor, a balance and memory disorder, and stroke-induced facial hemiparesis. In doing so, I build upon the work of anthropologists and historians to do comparative philosophy on the theoretical categories of and boundaries among miracles, the natural, the supernatural, healing, and religion. I engage with Morton Klass’ point on the ethnocentric presuppositions of such categories; Susan Sered’s attention to the political nature of strict binaries as opposed to more flexible continuums; Robert Campany’s distinction between ontological and epistemological miracles, where the latter uncovers the hidden wonders in the natural world; and Helen Tilley’s polyglot therapeutics, which are marked by oscillation between, and the simultaneous holding of, contradictory or incommensurable ontologies. I argue that the category of natural miracle allows reimagining of the above categories and their neat delineations.

Author's Profile

Kin Cheung
Moravian College


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