July 20th, 2011
06:20 AM ET

Finding God in the Mississippi Delta

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Moorhead, Mississippi (CNN) - The Mississippi Delta is the kind of place where everyone shows up for a funeral.

It was on such a day in 1997 that Lucas McCarty and his grandfather had come to pay their respects to a young man who'd been killed in a car crash.

John Woods was there to bury his son.

Lucas and John had met a handful of times before, but that's the day John found his new son and Lucas his "black daddy" – each one delivered in his own way from a tragic past.

John worked for Lucas’ grandfather on his catfish farm as an “oxygen man." Catfish are fickle creatures, and if they don’t have enough oxygen, the whole lot of them can go belly up in minutes.

He’d gotten the job a decade earlier after getting out of jail. John had killed his brother-in-law on a lonely Delta road, according to T.R. Pearson's “Year of Our Lord,” which tells about John and Lucas. John had been indicted and tried for first-degree murder, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. He was then indicted and tried for first-degree manslaughter - and this time the jury found him not guilty. He was a free man.

At about the time John was starting a new life, Lucas’ life was almost ending before it could even begin.

Elizabeth Lear McCarty’s heart sank when her son was born, the familiar cry of a baby’s entrance into the world replaced by phrases like “no heartbeat” and “no spontaneous respiration.”

Elizabeth says a botched delivery deprived her son of oxygen at birth, damaging his brain.

He was born “gray and dead,” she says.

There would be unanswered questions and a lawsuit, and pretty soon it would become clear that Lucas would never be like other kids.

Lucas has cerebral palsy, a condition suffered when a baby's brain is deprived of oxygen, usually at birth. The condition began to show its devastating effects more and more as he matured.

He never learned to walk, read or write. Even eating was a challenge. It looked like Lucas was destined to spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, dependent on others for his most basic needs.

Though he has never spoken a word in his life, at age 5 he found a way to say anything he needed to. It would take him years to master it, but the machine he shied away from at first, slowly became his link to his family and the world.

Based on Mayan hieroglyphs, Minspeak allows Lucas to create full sentences by pushing a series of pictures.

If he wants to say the word food, he pushes the picture of an apple. If he wants to say eat, he pushes the picture of an apple followed by the picture of a man running, called the “action man.” If he just wants to say apple, he pushes apple twice.

It can get fairly complex to an outsider. A hamburger, for example, is apple + scale + treasure chest. Somehow, this all makes sense if you’ve never learned to read or write with words.

Lucas grew up going to an Episcopal church, but his mom says he never liked it all that much. He was antsy and easily irritated, and sitting quietly for hours not only was difficult, but practically ran counter to his genetic predisposition.

“His sister kept his hands down the whole time he was at our church,” Elizabeth says.

‘My calling is singing the gospel’

At the funeral for his son, John Woods was touched by the presence of Lucas and his grandfather, James Lear.

“I looked around the church and Mr. Lear was there. Lucas was there. That’s to show you an old black man like me has some dear, sweet white friends,” John says.

Afterward, John began coming to the McCarty house to sing gospel songs with Lucas.

“He really couldn't do much else,” John says. “We would sing songs like ‘God’s Got It All In Control’ ” - no doubt a message that, at the time, offered equal comfort to both of them.

John asked Elizabeth if he could take Lucas to Easter service at Trinity House of Prayer, where he was the music director. John had been saved at Trinity, and he hoped Lucas could be too.

At that first service, John carried Lucas, and because of John’s position as music director, they sat in the deacon’s box, a spot reserved for congregational royalty.

“The Trinity House of Prayer congregation are such a loving environment of peoples,” John says. “A man can be a sinner, a whiner, (but) when they bring him into Trinity House of Prayer he will feel nothing but pure and genuine love.”

The love Lucas felt most was for the music. He fit right in with the loud expressionism and theatrics, and adored the soulful singing. Trinity changed his image of church.

“Shouting, dancing, falling out and speaking in tongues is real church,” Lucas says through his device.

Trinity House of Prayer is known for its choir. Tucked deep into the fertile soil and God-fearing air of the Mississippi Delta, the church is nestled on a flat, barren landscape, one of hundreds in a region where faith is the answer to poverty and hardship.

The chapel isn’t much to look at - an old gray building surrounded by a graveyard of dilapidated vehicles and rusted-out farm equipment. On the inside, windows are covered in a clear red film, a cheap alternative to stained glass. And on a sunny day, the faded carpet and beautiful wood pews light up with a glow that can feel transcendent.

Most notably, Trinity’s congregation is all black – with one exception. Every Sunday for the past 15 years, Lucas has shown up, sometimes carried, sometimes crawling, but always ready to put his “foot on the devil’s head.”

It’s a bit of a peculiar sight, a white man in a black church, on his knees, wailing indecipherably, but passionately into the microphone in the corner of the choir stand. He knows every word, he just can’t say them, but that sure doesn’t stop him from finding his voice.

“My calling is singing the gospel,” he says.

A warm, cleansing oil

Four months before Lucas was born, John Woods prayed for the first time for as long as he could remember.

The hard crack of the pistol, pulled from his waistband and fired without aim on that balmy Father's Day in 1987, rang through his head over and over.

John didn’t know if the man he had shot was dead, but he knew he was in trouble. He and his wife, Mary Frances, cried together until a squad car pulled into his driveway and took John away in handcuffs.

According to John, he heard his sister's husband had beaten her with a pipe, and John wanted to get even. He tracked the man down at a diner to give him a piece of his mind, the gun in his waistband providing punctuation for each cautionary sentence.

But according to John’s description in Pearson's "Year of our Lord," his brother-in-law didn’t take too kindly to the threat. He chased John down a road and pulled out a .25 automatic. He got off two shots before the gun jammed, and before John knew it, he’d shot back.

John wouldn’t find out for sure until he was in his cell that the man was dead, but he had felt the life leave his brother-in-law the second he shot him.

It was in the Sunflower County Jail where John found God. As he sat there in a cold cell, a cellmate told him to turn his life over to the Lord.

John’s life had been far from charmed. Plagued by drugs and alcohol, he now found himself sharing a fate suffered by all too many poor black men in the Delta. But on one of those sleepless nights, John prayed, and that’s when he says he felt it.

“It was like a warm oil being poured down from the top of my head, running slowly down my body, and every place it touched it was cleansing me.”

It was when John got out of jail that he says “old Jimmy Lear” took a chance on him, made him his "oxygen man," always telling John not to worry and “keep moving.”

John would drive around to each pond and put a long stick into the water and check the oxygen levels. The job required him to check the oxygen nearly every hour around the clock, so sleeping was in short spurts spread throughout the day and night.

It was during one of these naps 15 years ago that John had a strange dream. In the dream, Tony, the oldest of his four sons, had crashed his truck, and John was consoling him. John awoke to the phone ringing. It was his wife Mary Frances. Tony had fallen asleep at the wheel coming home from work at 4 a.m.

“God called him home.”

Crawling into the choir stand

Despite being told he’d never be able to walk, Lucas has found his own way, slipping out of his wheelchair and onto the floor at Trinity House of Prayer, where he shuffles around on thick knee pads as if in a state of constant reverence.

Drawn to the music, it was only a matter of time before Lucas crawled up into the choir stand. Not only was Lucas the only white member of the church - and definitely the only member with cerebral palsy - until last year he was also the only man in the all women’s choir. A young man has since joined him.

Trinity’s pastor, Willie B. Knighten, tried to heal Lucas at one of his first services. Lucas says it was the only time he felt uncomfortable at the church.

“I only felt funny when the preacher laid hands on me the first time,” he remembers.

It’s the soft spot within many people that makes them wish Lucas normal, but the hand of God hasn’t taken away his condition.

Still, to nearly everyone who attends Trinity, it’s a small miracle each time Lucas crawls into the choir stand on his own every week to sing. In a small way, he has been healed.

Lucas is a lot like any 25-year-old single man. He likes cars, he loves surfing the web, and the No. 1 thing on his mind at any given time is women. He wants a girlfriend - specifically one, he says, who is “an outgoing sweetheart, who does not smoke, has never had children but wants (them) and is a Republican.”

Lucas’ access to the outside world is a bit limited. Because of his handicap, going anywhere can be an ordeal. He refuses to use a power chair, instead relying on the push of a friend, relative or stranger.

A few days each week, Lucas works at his father’s restaurant in nearby Indianola washing dishes and cleaning. When Lucas was 6 years old, his parents got divorced. It’s no secret that the difficulties of raising an impaired child strained the marriage.

The job gets him out of the house he shares with his mother, something that’s important for a young man whose body is disabled but whose ambition knows no limits. Lucas wants to start his own cleaning company, and during the announcements following a recent service at Trinity House of Prayer, Lucas asks for the microphone, holds it up to his machine and slowly types out the message that if anyone is looking for work, he’s hiring.

Church is the one time a week Lucas knows he can get out of the house, and at Trinity House of Prayer people won’t look away when he comes down the aisle.

“Lucas would be at church every time the door opened if he could,” his mother says. “But we just usually go take him on Sunday. And that's the most important part of the week for Lucas … getting to church on Sunday.”

Lucas has found other ways to connect. He has an e-mail address and a Facebook account, but for years his favorite hobby has been jumping on the CB radio he keeps in the family room. Most of the truckers know him by now. His handle is “Teddy Bear,” and he starts each interaction the same way: “Is there a pot of coffee on?”

John Woods, now Bishop John Woods, has moved on from Trinity to be the associate pastor of a church down the road. He and Lucas still get together, singing their favorite gospel songs just as they did 15 years ago. Lucas’ favorites are “I’ll Fly Away” and “I’ve Got To Run.” Between songs they talk about life and the Lord.

When John asks Lucas if he’s been saved, he shrugs. Despite the music and the love of Trinity’s congregants, he hasn’t quite made his peace with God. It’s a familiar struggle for many, but when you draw a hand like Lucas’, making sense of it all can be even more challenging.

Lucas may still be on a search for God, but the boy who was born without a breath has found his “oxygen man” - and John has found the son he lost.

When they speak of God, John tells Lucas, “Don’t worry, you’ll find him one day.” But Lucas seems content to find his solace “in the music,” and he’s happy as long as he can convince folks of one thing: “I want people to know I am more than a boy in a wheelchair.”

Editor's Note: Nashville band Sleeping Bulls provided the song “Jean Baptiste” from their upcoming album “The Least Banquets” for the video.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Faith & Health • Mississippi

soundoff (1,300 Responses)
  1. vincent contorno

    shades of flannery o'connor!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  2. Darwin

    In Matthew 17:20, Jesus proclaims: "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Well, unless Jesus was just shooting the breeze, it means this congregation should be able to cure this unfortunate young man and restore him to health. If you object to this comment, then you should equally object to churches that make outrageous and false claims of their powers of healing.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Ancient Marinator

      Oh, shut up. Go away.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Darwin

      Dear Ancient Marinator: Well, your comment offers proof that Christians can't tolerate anyone who questions whether their Bible magic works or not, even when an exact quote from Jesus is used. This is why the scientists who are GENUINELY HEALING people with amazing new medical advances are usually not religious.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • shamgar50

      I see one of the god-groupies doesn’t like your message!

      July 20, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Wsci

      You are assuming that every difficulty or pain in life is able to be "prayed away". That is not what life is all about– Our Creator gave us this universe to explore and to learn about caring for one another even through the midst of difficult experiences. God did not promise us a life without trouble– we learn from our struggles and can find compassion with our neighbors. Christ said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Is it easier to believe that the matter in our universe evolved from nothing, or has been eternally existing, then created everything, including our souls that search for meaning in this world? It takes more faith to believe that than to believe in the One who created special designs for life out of the chaos and has given us the internal desire to have meaning beyond our physical bodies. Peace to you, dear brother/sister.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Wsci

      Lucas had that faith that Jesus talked about, and he has done the impossible! 🙂 He can't walk or talk, but yet he sings with joy and has meaning to his life. Also, look at the joy and friendship that has connected those in his family and church family! The resolutions we may think would be the answer to life's problems, may not fulfill the ultimate purpose in our lives.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Nannalow

      Actually that verse is talking about faith in God and not faith that he will do what you ask. If you have faith in God, you understand that his will is more important than ours, so in fact faith can move a mountain assuming you have faith in God, and it is his will. I believe in this case God likes Lucas just how he is – he obviously brings great joy to the many people in his life. Also, God will eventually heal Lucas – for there is no sickness, and no sorrow in heaven. The idea that being healed is based on faith ALONE is not a biblical one.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Uhm-- read the article again.
      Lucas DOESN'T have that faith.
      He is NOT saved and will rot in hell with all the other heathens who were unable to pick the 1 True Faith out of millions of options using only faith as their guide.

      Besides, the handicapped are not welcome in God's house.
      "No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles."
      Leviticus 21:18

      July 20, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Ancient Marinator

      Darwin, I'm a fire-breathing atheist of the worst kind, and I totally approve of these Christians actually practicing what they preach. Who cares about an afterlife, they are improving his actual life! They can believe in catfish for all I care.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Ancient Marinator

      Dar, also I gotta say the doctor who saved my life last year with state-of-the-art surgical equipment and technique is a fundamentalist who believes that God has raised him up to save men's lives. He's one of those tireless "I'll sleep when I'm dead" people.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Frogist

      @Wsci: It is a bit of an exaggeration to say that Lucas has done the impossible by singing with his choir. It's not fair to so undervalue the capacity of those who are handicapped, that you call what they do impossible. I know you probably don't mean it as such but your phrase makes it seem as if people with Lucas' difficulties are worthless. Obviously, they are not.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Mikep

      "Faith" and "wishful thinking" are interchangeable.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Jess

      Its so sad to see so much hate. Here is a boy who has found something that heals his heart and so many angry people want to peel that away with their own uncertainties. Man is not God Darwin, I can not heal you physically anymore then you can heal me. It NEVER says that in the bible. It says with the faith of a mustard seed God can heal all things, if he chooses, but God doesnt always choose to bestow upon us what we want. Which is why doctors lose some patients and save some patients. The seething hatred, and anger and just overall ignorance in your comment shows that you dont in fact know the bible but just want to pick a fight. So do it, pick a fight, I will send you my personal email, you and I can battle it out. Shoot, Ill buy you a plane ticket so you can no longer hide behind a pen name, but dont paint black over an uplifting story just because you lack this beautiful boys spirit.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  3. Gdiddley

    Who the heck writes your headlines? Have they ever been to Mississippi??? Moorhead is nowhere near the delta, it's in the middle of the state. The Mississippi delta is in Louisiana, you knotheads.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • colgraddec01

      Actually, I believe the northwest part of Mississippi is considered the delta. When I was there on business last year, I picked up a mag from the MS dept of Tourism and the NW part of the state on the map was designated at the "Delta"

      July 20, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Reality Check

      I don't think you know what you think you know. You are thinking of the Mississppi River Delta which is not the same as the Mississippi Delta.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • LinCA


      You said "Who the heck writes your headlines? Have they ever been to Mississippi??? Moorhead is nowhere near the delta, it's in the middle of the state. The Mississippi delta is in Louisiana, you knotheads."

      Actually, the Mississippi delta is in the North West part if Mississippi, between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, as colgraddec01 correctly indicated. The Mississippi River delta is at the mouth of the river, where it flows into the gulf.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • MSCHEF

      haha look at a damn map! obviously you have never been to the delta and stay out please!

      July 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  4. WhenTheyFall

    Seriously, Atheists? Using this story as another opportunity to attack religion?! Grow up

    July 20, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • kgriggs0207

      "Trolls" (people who like to get on comment boards to upset people) gravitate to these types of stories. They like to push people's buttons and can easily do it with kind of story. Please ignore them.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Ancient Marinator

      This isn't about religion, it's about people. Go somewhere else and hate. I don't go to church and I don't believe in God, but I do believe in people.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • shamgar50

      kgriggs0207, No, we gravitate to stories that show the foolishness of religion. As for Lucas, whatever gets him through the night. As for god, it’s never going to do anything for him.
      Religion has been attacking and persecuting non-belivers for centuries. Pay-back sucks, doesn’t it.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  5. Befuddled

    Atheist are drawn to talk of God like moths to a flame. I have no choice but to view this fact as a phenomena.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Ancient Marinator

      There are trolls under every bridge.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • shamgar50

      Really? Go to an Atheist forum and count the god-groupies, genius!

      July 20, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • God

      Only because, NOW, the blinding light of TRUTH of atheism can be SHOWN freely. You cannot burn us, cast us out, kill us or anything. Hallelujah.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • shamgar50

      Ancient Marinator, Rather live under a bridge, than in a fantasy land.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Ancient Marinator

      sham, at least you admit being a troll. Say hi to the Three Billygoats Gruff for us while you're down there.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  6. Sam

    God Bless you Lucas..... Spread your arms, sings your sounds and stand on your knees...whatever it takes to get there! So moved by your story. Luv you in Cali ....

    July 20, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  7. max

    that so funny LMFAO

    July 20, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  8. cindy

    Well said Vince72. Many find fault with their own choices but choose to blame God or someone else instead.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • God

      The is NO god. Not even a little drop of alien intelligence guides anything on this world or universe. duh.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  9. BlackDynamiteNYC

    Why is this a featured story on CNN?

    July 20, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  10. WelcomeHome

    Hello athiest, GOD haters and alike.

    Good morning and welcome back.

    Seems your life today will be to tear down all those you hate or don't accept.

    How about some words of encouragement?

    I'll bet not one of you care about anyone but yourself.

    Have a nice day.

    Brought to you by your Creator.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Dave

      Would you like to address the logical inconsistency in claiming we hate what we don't think exists?

      July 20, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Laughing

      I'm confused, is this supposed to be a joke? I hope so, because if not this might be one of the dumbest posts I have ever seen on this board (and believe me, I've see a lot of dumb posts come through here)

      July 20, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • shamgar50

      In fact, Atheists do care about people. It’s your stupid religion we don’t care for.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Mike

      Such a bible bigot you are while at the same time ignoring the bible edict demanding handicapped be shunned and absolutely forbidden to serve food as well as your ignoring the biblical edict stating thou shalt never ever trim your beard or hair.

      Of course the other bible edict stating to pray in public is a big ol' Class A sin that won't hand you the remote to open the Pearly Gates ....is breached each miserable Sunday you show up to fawn at the foot of some podium pounding bible pimp.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Phil

      I have to back what 'dave' and 'shamgar50' say. We don't "hate" god, we simply don't believe in god. If we hated god, then we'd be satanists...which we also don't believe in. We really do care about people - they're real.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Laughing

      Here's what you post really said

      Hello everyone different than me

      Good morning and welcome back.

      Seems you'll poke holes in my belief system again today

      Why not agree with me?

      I'm making a judgement about you because you are differnt and believe differently.

      Have a nice day.

      Brought to you by my delusional mind

      July 20, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Bible Clown

      When you learn to spell ATHEIST, maybe someone will pay attention to you. Do I go around claiming you worship Juses, or Ogd? Don't make me get out my Clown Hammer©.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      I totally support sham, Phil and Dave; I'm all about people and not what they believe. If any system of religion is true, Buddha, Allah, Spaghetti Monster, etc, these people deserve a place in their heaven. If we are all going to die forever and our bodies rot away, at least these people did some lasting good works.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Gawd

      Go play make believe somewhere else.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • AB

      I do care about people, esp. my family. It's religion I don't care for. Also, I can't hate something I don't believe in. But logic doesn't seem to be very popular.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  11. Scott

    For the proclaimed "educated".

    -We were randomly spewed across the universe by a super nova
    -spinning rocks randomly affixed themselves in an orbit around a sun
    -by chance, the third rock from the sun was precisely the right distance to sustain life.
    -somehow the perfect experiment randomly occurred and life "began" and eventually arose from the premordial goo to stand upright, build condos and write a comment in this section.

    Talk about having faith.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • sleepytime

      Hey look, another religious person with a poor grasp of science.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Jayleigh

      Scott, it takes a heck of an ego to create some fantasy land to justify existence. So the rest of the universe is just sitting there for no other purpose than our ooh's and ahh's. Could it be possible life randomly occurred? Of course not, that would mean my life will come and go without a ripple through eternity. How could that be? I don't have the answers, but neither does anyone else.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Science Prevails

      @Scott, the rocks didn't randomly orbit the sun. Gravity and the laws of planetary motion are well understood and have been since the 1600's.

      Earth may not be the only habitable world in the galaxy. There are 400 billion stars and that is a lot of dice to roll. The Kepler space telescope has found multiple candidate planets in habitable zones around other stars. To think that Earth is the only planet with life and that some deity made just one world in the universe for us as well as making us in his image is just the depths of vanity.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Fupped Duck

      Science is based in theoretical hypothesis. Religion is based on the interpretation from people who when written, had no idea the world was round, that humans can build facilities to generate electricity and guns. At the time, 2,00 years ago, I would have believed it too, but now, we have many more confirmed answers that don't point to a man up in the clouds. With that said, if this makes Lucas happy then God bless him.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Laughing

      I'm confused for a couple of reasons. One, "Talk about having faith." – What do you mean exactly? Why is it that you equate the words faith and belief to religion and think that since atheists don't think religion is at all valid, then they must be faithless and lack belief? For instance, I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow, I believe that if I drop a ball it's going to fall at to the ground at a constant speed because I believe gravity exists.

      Secondly, we've been able to witness supernovas, formation of stars, planets, ect... so there's verifiable proof that those exists. I have faith, or I believe that happened to our solar system as well because there is literally nothing different that points to the contrary. As for life evolving on earth, What's so crazy that those things happened here on earth in the grand scheme of the universe? Of the trillions of stars (most of which probably have some rocky planets orbiting it from the leftovers of its formation) there are probably plenty of planets orbiting their stars at the same distance as ours with varying conditions, ours just happened to be right for humans to evolve and be here today. Could have gone differently at any point, and there are probably many planets out there that is has gone differently so humanoid creatures weren't able to evolve, we did. Is that crazy? No. It makes a heck of a lot more sense than thinking a magic man zapped everything into existance with some words.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bible Clown

      More poetic than accurate, but not bad. However, who cares? The story is about a man who found some friends to brighten up his gloomy life, not about religious hacks trying to pass pro-Jesus laws. Talk about that, not about science. Take a look at Lucas and tell me this isn't as important as chains of amino acids in the primordial soup? What are the odds on him being happy?

      July 20, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Bruce

      Scott, you seem to have a problem with the word, "random." Most people do.

      Fact is you are using an intuition of what "random" means that is quite inaccurate and befuddles the entire argument. Atheists use similar inaccurate intuitions when it comes to things like "intentional" and "intelligent."

      July 20, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Laughing

      @ Bruce

      Care to explain? How do Atheist's use intelligent wrong?

      July 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bruce

      @Laughing: Atheists, at least in conversations like those that surround "intelligent design," to–much like their religious counterparts–tend to paint intelligence in a way-too-anthropomorphic light. That is, what they label as "intelligence" is (if they are honest about their intuitions) basically human intelligence.

      They object to ideas of "intelligent design" largely because they can't imagine what a non-human intelligence might look like. It's forgivable, of course, because we as humans have a very poor intellectual grasp of the nature of intelligence itself. We have been chasing our tails for a long time when it comes to self-knowledge, and the whole human/non-human distinction evades us, especially when we are attempting to be "objective," because we tend to think that true objectivity is possible and even desirable, when in fact true objectivity doesn't exist.

      Wherever you go, there you are.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Bruce

      Hold on a second. Why bring up something like "intelligent design" and say that atheists are using the word wrong? Aside from that, basically you're saying that since we can't understand the universe in it's fullness, unlike god, that we try to use our human intelligence to figure it out when only technically the divine can? How do you exactly know that god is all that smart – he's been shown to do a lot of stupid things. Now of course I delve into the christian god mythos particularly and not say, a jewish god or allah (which are supposed to be the same, but they're not really) or going over to Krishna or gaia or what have you. You've ascribed the all-powerful non-human intelligence to god and said that we can't understand because we're human, but why not? God made us in his own image right? We ate from the tree of knowledge right? Why make a tree of knowledge that will give any eater self-awareness and knowledge that god possesses and yet handicap it we "human knowledge" if we weren't supposed to eat and gain it in the first place? Sorry, but the arguement of "god has his reasons" and "we can't understand Him because he's god and we're not" is sort of like saying trust everything einstein says because he's brilliant and I don't have the same brain capacity that he does. It's a cop out.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bruce

      @Laughing: You seem to have confused me with someone who isn't an atheist...

      If you pay attention to what I wrote, I accuse both the atheist and the religious person in that "intelligent design" conversation of anthropomorphizing intelligence and debating the point from the wrong perspective in the first place. The problem is a lack of imagination, a lack of self-reflection on what we mean when we use terms such as "random" and "intelligent."

      I didn't offer as a solution any reference to "god has his reasons" or any capitulation to some notion that we cannot know so we shouldn't even try. I only raised the idea that a striving for objectivity–for taking our "selves" out of the equation–is impossible and undesirable. It is undesirable because the universe without "us" in it is not the universe we actually live in–it's a hypothetical nonexistent universe that exists only in theory.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ bruce

      You are completely right, I jumped to conclusion because I could almost hear the "if god didn't do it than who did?" approach that most believers take. You have some interesting thought points.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  12. Josh

    Its about time CNN. A positive story to inspire people. As long as you feed the world with death, destruction and demise then things will never change. Thank you for the positive story.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  13. VegasRage

    Worry not worry Artemis, when I think about Mississippi, I'll be sure to exclude you from that crowd.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  14. Partha Mohanram

    This is not about religion. This is about mutual acceptance. I think the world will be a better place if we just accepted each other – white and black, christian and non-christian, theist and atheist, gnostiic and agnostic.
    A beautiful story all around.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Chris

      It is about religion...and your right, as soon as religious people stop persecuting those that don't believe the world will be a better place. Im just so sick of being treated like im some evil monster for saying "I don't agree with that, heres why". They act like someone else having a different view is "shoving it down their throats". When in reality they've taken over everything in the media, the leadership of this country.....its just sickening that its considered ok.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Chris, I'm going to have to get my Clown Hammer© and bop you if you don't shuddup. This isn't about 'is God real' but about a handicapped guy finding some acceptance and happiness. Let it go.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bible Clown
      Would you be as willing to let it go if he found friends and support in Scientology?
      Drinking the Kool-Aid isn't a good thing.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Doc, this guy? He couldn't afford Scientology! But it still isn't about whether god is real or not, but about the guy finding some happiness.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  15. Jayleigh

    I grew up in Mississippi and I currently live in Huntsville, AL. There are a bunch of egotistical jerks here talking about how backward the south is...when in reality there are backward people everywhere. I was educated in the public school system in MS, went to Mississippi State University and received a degree in Engineering. I have worked for Fortune 500 companies designing Power Electronics and military equipment. I have also worked designing things that are currently flying on the international space station. I know how to brush my teeth and take a bath, and consider myself Agnostic.

    I have been all over this country and met rednecks. This is an isolated Article from a very poor part of this country. The focus should be on how a kid with Cerebral Palsy finds inspiration, rather than a reason for people living at home with their parents or working retail to find a reason to diss the south.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • JT

      I agree. I was born in Mississippi, grew up in Arkansas and moved to Tennessee when I was 21. I am very educated and an Internet Engineer for past 20 years. I'm also an atheist.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • InAlabama

      Well said! I get so sick of reading the constant "south-bashing" in these comment sections. In general, those of us in the south have all of our teeth and marry outside our gene pool. There are "rednecks" and "hillbillies" all over this great nation and as far as I can tell, we don't have a higher population of them here. Just because we speak slower, doesn't mean we think slower. It is disgusting that some people actually believe they are superior to southerners simply because they live north of the mason-dixon line or somewhere out west.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Bubba

      Old Mert down at the bait shop says I'm the biggest redneck he ever saw. I told him not to make fun of my genetic predisposition to resemble Bigfoot unless he wanted to eat some of those crickets. If I fired a shotgun off my porch, I'd hit everything from college professors to plumbers and tile layers, including a prison guard and a doctor. But there are certainly some ignorant layabouts down here, just like in the north.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Frogist

      @Jayleigh: Wow! Sure did lay down the line, dintcha?! Very nicely done. BTW I'm in the beautiful state of NJ and we have our fair share of "hicks" ourselves. People forget that some of technology's best and brightest, NASA,and the majority of their employees, live and work in the southern part of the country – Texas, Florida, etc But you have to admit, as long as we in the North (and East) are portrayed as disconnected, unAmerican elitists, those in the South will have to live with the image of being gun-toting, crude know-nothings.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Lauren

    I saw Lucas at the ASHA Convention in Philadelphia this past year. He is an amazing young man with an incredible story.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  17. max

    How can you have an article like this and no sound clip?

    July 20, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • max

      sorry, the link didn't come up before....

      July 20, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  18. Shawna

    I'm an atheist, and I loved this story. It doesn't matter if he found his place at a church, a library or an alligator farm...he found a place that makes him feel happy and fulfilled despite his disability. Good grief, y'all are a bunch of dark clouds....

    July 20, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Exactly my thinking: if he was this happy at a mosque, or a rave, or a fish fry, or a tea party, let him enjoy it! My life's filled with joy and everyone else deserves a chance. I usually save the Clown Hammer© for annoying believers, but I'd be glad to bop some annoying atheists as well.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • saresudog

      I completely agree with you..

      July 20, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Frogist

      @Shawna: I disagree. If he found his happiness at a Klan meeting, would we feel the same? Probably not. Obviously that is not the case here. But if someone sees something worth criticising in this young man's story, it is only fair to say so. Otherwise we are just holding our tongues to be PC about his affliction. And I thought we were against that these days.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  19. summerseale

    Lets put religion to the test, shall we?

    How many people does science cure of ills, diseases, and problems every single day and night vs. how many people get "cured" by religious ceremonies and just praying.

    It's easy enough to do as a test. Just add up the numbers. Also, how many people go to a doctor for a serious problem instead of their local church? And if "The Lord" is so powerful, then why wouldn't it be the other way around? Even religious people must not think their God is likely to listen to them and trust in science more than their church – without ever admitting it. Instead, they find little stupid convoluted reasons to justify their actual views on the matter that reality-based science is actually a real cure to things we know about (thanks to the scientific method) when in fact religion offers nothing but wishful thinking.

    And to all the people who think that science is cold and heartless with no soul or hope as opposed to religion which is warm and fuzzy and gives people hope: how many lives does science save every single day as opposed to religion; clothe people; keep them warm; let them communicate better; let them eat better and live in better safety than what religion could ever, or has ever, provided?

    Religion is the cold voice of the uncaring universe with the deluded convincing themselves that they are hearing some sort of loving voice speaking back to them. Science is the hard work of people who actually care and want to find better solutions to the problems and ills in our lives, without convincing themselves that somebody higher is going to offer the solutions simply because they talk to that dark void.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Bruce

      You should read the article, summerseale. It was a botched delivery by a medical doctor that caused Lucas' CP. It was a religious community and a bunch of loving people who helped Lucas deal with his CP and find meaning and joy in his life, and also helped a man who lost his son get through life in this cold and uncaring universe.

      This has nothing to do with your narrow understanding of what "God" might mean to you. The article describes how people interact on a fundamental human level. Religion–at least when I look at what this article is about–is not a delusion of people thinking they are hearing a nonexistent loving voice consoling them. Religion in this case was people hearing the very real loving voices of other people, inspired to love one another for whatever reasons they might think they have, and attaching themselves to that love in order to deal emotionally with the struggles we face just by being human.

      Lucas' mother trusted science and the medical doctor she entrusted with her son's welfare betrayed that trust. The religion in this article doesn't represent Lucas' mother no longer trusting science, but people dealing with the aftermath of an unfortunate event.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Norm Autrey

      Listen, I agree with what you are saying to a point. However, what is wrong with people finding comfort and joy in their belief system? Religions were created by man, and therfore fallible and frought with ironies and just plain lies. Faith on the other hand is an entirely human process by which you seek to explain lifes mysteries and pain. Religion seeks to "win" you over, and intrudes on us all, faith is personal. If you find joy and hapiness in being Bhuddist or Baptist then what harm is it doing?

      July 20, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Rodney

      That's why god made doctors you IDIOT.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • YesIamabelieverinChrist

      Who gives the scientist a brain? Who determines if we live or die? If scientist could stop death, destruction, or even disasters. Don"t you think they would? Instead of trying to figure out who God is, which you will never be able to do. Or even put God to the test. You need to ask for forgiveness about what you just posted. JUST in CASE... the LORD does exist.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Wsci

      So do you believe the matter in this universe came from nothing or has been eternally existing, formed everything, and yet has also given us caring souls? If we are just "matter", why would the nature of our souls cry out for a purpose beyond our physical bodies? It takes more faith to believe in a universe evolving from nothing or from eternal matter than to believe in a loving Creator, existing outside the limit of time, who gave us this specially designed & tuned universe to explore and to learn about caring for one another even through the midst of difficult experiences. God did not promise us a life without trouble– we learn from our struggles and can find compassion with our neighbors. Christ said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

      July 20, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Conguero

      You like to eat, right? Do you grow your own food and/or kill your own game? Or do you go to the grocery and buy your food? Many of the farmers that grow that food are God fearing, believers. They plant the seed, and yes, a lot of science goes into it, but the Lord gives the increase and He controls the rain. You enjoy the benefiits of their toils and don't think a thing of it. God does heal people... He's healed me, my son... a lot of people I know, in a dramatic way... but guess what? ... we still go to the doctor, if the need arised. I thank God for science and doctors and for giving us half a brain to get through this life. Everything good comes from God. Your argument is sad.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • lighthouse

      By what "numbers" are you referring? Do you mean out of all the people you've prayed for and also given medicine?

      July 20, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "Lets put religion to the test, shall we?" Let's not, and say we did. It's inappropriate to snarl at a story about someone finding friends who celebrate his existence. Who cares if it's a church?

      July 20, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  20. Goat of Evil

    I found something entirely different inside your mom.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:25 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.