Thursday, May 10, 2007

Odd Thing: PP

In the gift shop of NY Presbyterian Hospital(the one on the East Side) is a book display devoted to Christian literature. In it you can find such treasures as Dobson's Bringing Up Boys, and The Bible Cure for Diabetes. It's odd to see this selection of literature in the NYC region's number one ranked healthcare provider. I'm not sure if the Presbyterian Hospital system own or runs the gift shop, but they do claim it among their provided amenities:

Both New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center provide a wide variety of amenities for the convenience of patients, their families and guests - from flowers to toiletries, from newspapers to cards and stationary, from snacks to balloons and gifts - most can be found on Hospital grounds.
I'm tempted to see if I can get them to carry some even more interesting literature. For starters, I might request that they start carrying the Frank and Ida Mae Hammond's classic, Pigs in the Parlor (PP). It details demonic possession and its treatment.

When I was an early adolescent, the Born Again's in the New Lifer church I attended told me that homosexuality, among many other "ailments," most of which concerned sex and free thought, was caused by demonic infestation. Being a secret homosexual, I quickly became intensely interested in the topic. I think I found Frank and Ida's dissertation on modern demonology at a Christian book fair.

PP was, and I'm sure still is, a page turner (at least I hope not much has been lost in subsequent editions). I had one of my first awakenings as I read it. I loved science: paleontology, astronomy, electronics, zoology, you name it; though I didn't know to partition my interests into separate fields. I went at reading PP the way I read about dinosaurs, with zeal, or probably with more zeal. I really wanted to understand and, if possible, remove the cause of my sexuality. But as I read PP, I discovered that it didn't present information in the same way as my other presumed non-fiction books.

Science and science texts made sense. I couldn't see why the sky was blue, but I could understand an explanation of the phenomenon. It wasn't magical. With demons and their possessions of people, not only were explanations obscure, they typically weren't offered at all. First and second-hand accounts seemed to be as close to evidence as PP (or other sources I sought out) would provide me. Discovering this incongruity in my books was one of my first "the gig is up" watersheds regarding religion. A deluge of sweet reality-based epiphanies followed.