In 2005 I tore the meniscus in my right knee. I was playing soccer on the beach and trying way too hard. When I went to the doctor they told me it would be a couple weeks before surgery could be scheduled.
During the waiting period I hobbled home after work and saw a show about televangelists on CBC. It was pretty stunning to see how much money people were willing to give these guys. No contact, no exchange, just cash and faith that the healer could call upon God to cure cancer. That’s not an exaggeration. People were literally stating on record that they expected their kid’s leukemia to go into remission after the sermon.
My immediate thought was that it would be a riot to see this live. My dad was less enthusiastic. “Unbelievable how stupid some people are,” he said. I just grabbed my crutches and hobbled into the next room to look up Benny Hinn’s next gig in my town. With great delight I discovered that he was here that very night!
I crutch-walked to the station as fast as I could to catch the train downtown. Admission was free but seating was scarce. Due to the size of the crowd I began to ponder whether I would bump into anyone I knew. Since I was just there on a lark I started to worry about how to handle the situation. Should I assume the other person is just there on a lark as well? What if he or she truly believes in this nonsense and I offend them by disclosing it’s all a big joke for me? On the other hand, what if I don’t say anything, and the other person is just there on a lark? Will he or she leave with the understanding that televangelism is totally my thing?
So I hobble to a vacant seat. The venue is packed. It’s no exaggeration to say that there were at least 20,000 people in the audience. Some people are in hospital beds with IV bags attached. The stage is probably between 6 and 10 feet high. Notably absent are any wheelchair ramps leading up to the stage.
Benny starts delivering his speech and I have to admit I got pretty caught up in it. For all of my disparaging remarks, I have to give him credit where it’s due: he’s an excellent and inspiring speaker. And as he delivers his healing words, I start to straighten my injured leg and put a small amount of weight on it. “NOW RISE UP OUT OF YOUR WHEELCHAIR AND FEEL THE HEALING POWER OF GOD ALMIGHTY FLOWING THROUGH YOU!” So, I put some more weight on my injured leg, and started to bend my knee. By the time he was finished I was standing on two feet and holding my crutches at my side.
Then they passed the collection plate. In my mind I had already firmly committed that there was no way in hell I was going to give this motherfucker a single cent of my hard-earned money. When the plate got to me I just passed it along, but the couple beside me put two crisp 50 dollar bills in and let me tell you, that money would have been better spent on personal hygiene products.
In summary, I got healed for free, I still don’t believe in any of that stuff, and I got my knee repaired two weeks later.