Thursday, January 04, 2007

Interview With A Psychic, Part 2

I scheduled an interview with Diane Miller, Fortune Teller, for Friday, June 18, 2005. As I pulled into her driveway on the south side of Abilene, I was a bit surprised. I suppose, without thinking about it, I had envisioned a dark place with shadows of the occult guarding the entrance, such as dream-weavers and magic symbols. Instead, I was maneuvering around knee-high statues of the Virgin Mary on the sidewalk outside the front door.

Before I had even stepped foot into the house, my foundations for what was the occult had already been shaken. The pop culture image of the gypsy from another world staring into the crystal ball turned out to be the Catholic Latino in the house down the street.

The short, older lady who answered the door turned out to be Diane Miller. She had a deep voice and was very pleasant. She invited me in and asked for a few moments as she finished another session. The front door opened into a long living room that ran from left to right. On the left side of the room were several couches, a TV, and a two-year old little boy watching cartoons. There were trinkets and figurines on shelves all around the room, and many statues and murals of Jesus and Saints everywhere you looked. There was even a small statue of Jesus on the TV. I wonder if it helped with reception.

I sat down on a couch as Diane went to the other side of the room, which was a little deeper as it projected out into the front yard. She went into a corner of that room which I could not see, but I could hear her talking to another woman. The conversation lasted about five more minutes, and from what I could hear, it sounded more like a counseling session than a description of the future.

When the session was done, I saw the woman, fresh from learning her fortune, round the corner. She was a Hispanic lady probably in her middle thirties. She said goodbye to Diane and that she would work on it until the next session – another hunch that Diane’s “gifts” function more as therapist than gypsy.

After Diane showed the other lady out the door, she came over and asked why I was there. I told her I was the student that set up the appointment for an interview and she said we could sit anywhere, and proceeded to plop down on the other end of the couch. The first thing she said, while I was taking out my notepad, was a very matter-of-fact “I don’t have anything to hide,” a phrase apparently very important for her as she would repeat it several times throughout the morning.

As I asked about her special gifts, it was still a surprise to hear from her that she was a good Catholic. I was still reserving a small part of my mind that all the outside evidence possibly belonged to others in the family. Growing up in the Christian faith, I had seen people looking to other sources for help with future decisions, but it was all under the table. You used the Ouiji board late at night with a few close friends. You laughed out loud at the horoscope reading, but quietly considered how it might impact your day. You knew people had their palms read or called the psychic hotline, but it was never public news. It was quite shocking to hear someone proudly proclaiming that she and her family were good Christians and her ministry was reading the future.

She told me that at a very young age she knew she was different. Her grandmother took her under her wing to show her what to do. She was told that her ability to read the future was a gift from God and that she was to use it to help people. Diane does not know how it works; she leaves that one up to God. She is positive that she does not connect to spirits or the dead. It seems to be more of an interconnectedness of life. The palms of your hands and the cards just help channel her gift.

I do not believe it would do much good to tell her that the Catholic church condemns Tarot card reading or that the Bible condemns fortune-telling (Lev. 20:27 and Deut. 18:10-12). I suppose an apologist for Diane would point out that those condemned actions dealt with practitioners of false faiths and mediums consulting spiritual powers, whereas Diane’s gift comes from God. While I do not believe that Diane fits under the category of prophet, people have been gifted from God to see into the future. She is quick to point out that she only helps people, and in the name of God. Many of those she helps are poor, and she is obviously not in it for the money. She sees it as her ministry.

Diane was vehement against those who try to gain advantage from others instead of helping them. She went on at some length against someone else in town who “pretends” to see into someone’s future but is really only interested in the money. Diane believes in caring enough to meet with them over time, rather than a one-shot deal. She also believes that to truly help someone it must be done in person. Psychic hotlines are phonies in her mind.

People come to Diane for help with everyday life issues. Money, job decisions, and especially relationships are issues that people struggle with constantly. It was fascinating to talk with her about the integration of something she believed was supernatural and her faith. Her special “gift” worked for her and her clients and she was using it for good, thus it was incorporated into her belief structure.
I struggle now with how I would approach Diane about using her “gifts.” She has an intuitive gift of counseling and has the desire to really help people in their struggles. Could she do the same thing that she has always done, without using palms and cards as crutches? We have Christian counselors that help people “see” the decisions they need to make, only they have a degree hanging on the wall to show their credentials. I wonder if the palms and cards are the old-world way of some who want to help others show their “credentials.”

At the same time, I realize that occult practices can lead into spiritual powers that are not of God and can result into forms of bondage. At the very least, people can learn to rely on the fortune-telling as a way of dealing with life rather than relying on God and trusting in Him. If people are looking for a way to remove suffering and hardship rather than looking for the cause and how it can shape us, we are short-circuiting a process that can lead us closer to God. But that happens to many of us without the “crystal ball.” Credit cards are the mediums of the materialistic.

So how is Diane different than the Hebrew priests who used the ephod to help David with a problem? David needed help to decide a course of action, and the priest basically rolled dice and left the results to God (1 Sam. 23:1-6). The apostles drew straws to decide whom to add to the leadership (Acts 1:23-26). Is the importance placed on who is consulted for help? We pray for help, and sometimes even listen for an answer. Our stories tell us that many times God answered in dreams and visions.
In Diane’s belief system, she is the priestess using the equivalent of the Urim and Thummim. It is a heritage she learned from her Romanian grandmother and has now passed down to her daughter. I do not want to discourage Diane from being a priestess and would encourage her to continue to help others. In another conversation, I would suggest to Diane to stop using those tools that are linked to occult practices, and go directly to God for help in guiding people to good decisions in life. Listen to their problems, pray to God for discernment, and counsel with the goal of leading them to God, who is the source of fulfillment and comfort.

It was fascinating to step into this world that was just on the edge of my own. Once again, it proved that my assumptions about an arena of life in which I rarely visited were mostly misconceptions. It proved again that people are desperate for answers in their every day lives, and will go to the people who seem to provide solutions. While I hope that Diane and the people she is helping learn to put the occult to the side, I also need to search my own life for crutches that keep me from leaning on God for help.

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