It’s A Miracle (Officially)!

The medical team was in a race
Against some resistant bacteria;
A colony found a young boy’s face
To treat as their own cafeteria

The miracle team investigates
Against some religious criteria;
The “promoter of justice” tries their fates
As they battle with strep or listeria

The desperate parents said their prayers
As conditions grew frankly horrific
They pleaded for help from the man upstairs
Whose germs were a bit too prolific

Operations and antibiotics combined
Broad-spectrum, as well as specific
Saved young Jake’s life, although we’ll find
The church is more unscientific

The search for answers sometimes leads
To a cultural bit of division:
A difference that comes from their separate needs
May find science and church in collision

A team of priests has been working for years
As a bishop provides supervision
And if adequate evidence really appears
Well… they won’t let that stop their decision

Well… I was right. (More after the jump: ) The Catholic Church was unable to find a worldly explanation for the recovery of Jake Finkbonner, and has officially concluded that it was miraculous. This clears the way for the canonization of the Kateri Tekakwitha, which might stem the flow of American Indians from the church. But I’m just cynical. The broad-spectrum and targeted antibiotics, and the 25+ surgeries, aren’t nearly as persuasive as the fact that his recovery began immediately after the administration of last rites. Of course, at that point, I’m sure the doctors must have just given up… I mean, otherwise, the church would have to admit a possible mundane explanation, no?

Jake had a minor accident at the end of a basketball game, but the small cut on his lip turned nasty–necrotizing fasciitis nasty. This is the horrible “flesh-eating bacteria” that took Jim Henson from us, and it nearly took Jake. At Seattle Children’s Hospital, doctors tried to stay a step ahead of the bacteria, literally carving away parts of Jake’s face as they became infected.

Massive antibiotics and more than 25 surgeries later, Jake is lucky to be alive. So lucky, in fact, that some are calling it a miracle. And the Church is agreeing. That, really, is the reason for the NPR story–a peek inside the Church’s saint factory, to see the process of attaining sainthood, and the strict, skeptical procedure (you may feel free to roll your eyes here; I did) used to evaluate potential miracles, like Jake’s. It is annoying, in the way that BBH usually is. To me, at least.

But there is good news. Jake turns out to be a really great kid. He may or may not believe it was a bona fide miracle–I certainly wouldn’t blame him if he did–but on his home page, he ends his story thusly (comic sans in the original):
I am so thankful to the doctors at Children’s Hospital in Seattle that saved my life. 
Not everybody remembers to thank their doctors.

Take a look at his site–there are pics there, and you can see what a nightmare the poor kid made it through. More, you can see what kind of a person he is–the kind that is better than a certified miracle any day.


  1. unbound says

    “I am so thankful to the doctors at Children’s Hospital in Seattle that saved my life.”

    Very nice that the kids remembered to thank the doctors. What ticks me off is that groups like the Catholic Church take the credit away from hard-working and dedicated professionals. It’s simply insulting.

  2. Celeste says

    He makes a point of thanking the hospital and doctors a few different times on that page. What a wonderful kid! And what a truly horrifying disease.

  3. Quodlibet says


    I agree, it is insulting to all the medical professionals who contributed to this boy’s care and recovery, as well as to generations of scientists whose research informed their care decisions.

    And it’s also narcissistic and hugely arrogant of the catlicks to ascribe the recovery to their mythical god.

    And it’s despicable to exploit this story for the benefit of maintaining the membership rolls of RCC Inc.

    Buried near the end of the NPR story: “Of course, Jake did receive the best medical treatment from expert doctors.”

    I regret that NPR wastes its resources on stories such as this. If they want to give us a human interest story related to this case, I’d much rather hear an interview with the medical team to learn more about how they effected this wonderful cure.

    Despicable all around.

  4. OverlappingMagisteria says

    I always found it a bit strange that the Catholic Church’s definition of miracles relies so much on the human lack on knowledge. If we can’t explain it, it must be a miracle. Has it ever occurred to them that maybe we don’t know everything about the natural world? And maybe there is a natural explanation that we haven’t yet discovered?
    If only it were possible to go back in time with today’s medical knowledge. I’m sure we would find many “unexplained” medical miracles that could easily be explained by what doctors know now.

  5. Paddy says

    Qoudlibet said everything I’d want to say on the subject.

    You want to know why atheists are angry? Stories like this are why.

    Despicable isn’t strong enough a word for it. The religious truly make me sick.

  6. Ted says

    From NPR:

    Then, suddenly, the infection stopped, stunning the doctors. The Rev. Paul Pluth, of the Archdiocese of Seattle, says that was the day an acquaintance placed a “relic” of Kateri — in this case, a small pendant — on Jake’s pillow. Pluth believes the timing was not coincidental.

    “You can pinpoint the exact date on which this relic was brought to Jake’s hospital bed,” he says. “He was expected to die at that time, and after the relic was brought and placed on his hospital bed, he did begin to improve.”

    Obviously we have here a fallacy of “after this therefore because of this.” I’m here to set things right. On the same date I was making toast for breakfast. I toasted the bread too long and it came out a bit burned. To my amazement one piece had a burn pattern resembling FSM. I said a little prayer to FSM to heal all the sick. As a result, Jake–and several others whose identity I am modestly withholding–were cured. I ask you: what more proof do you need of the power of FSM?

    P.S. The toast was delicious.

  7. Die Anyway says

    Such “cheap” miracles. Not meaning inexpensive, I’m sure the treatment ran up huge financial bills; not easy on poor Jake either, I’m sure he paid a price in agony and perseverence. But cheap for the church: pray over everybody and cherry pick the few unusual recoveries. Bah!
    I want a real miracle… Newspaper headline: “All Hospitals in Kansas Out-of-Business”. “It has been a year since anyone in Kansas has been sick or injured. No heart attacks, no birth defects, no cancer, no Worker’s Comp claims, not even a paper cut. Hospitals no longer needed. It’s a miracle!” Yeah, that’s a miracle. Doctors treat kid who has a serious disease and barely manage to beat it… not a miracle.


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