Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This really had me laughing.

I'm a great admirer of Robert Green Ingersoll, perhaps the greatest orator in American history. Ingersoll was a prominent Republican in the late 1800s and the great evangelist of skepticism. As such he was hated by the theocrats and religionists of his day. But his orations are inspiring and enlightening. My favorite, I think, is his court room summation when he defended C. B. Reynolds against charges of blasphemy. It is pure gold.

As an admirer of the man I periodically look around for Ingersoll titles for sale. I own some letters and a photo of the man, even a check he once wrote. Earlier this evening I was searching for some Ingersoll items and came across something that purported to discuss how Ingersoll changed his views. Of course there were no shortage of fake conversion stories that the religious of his day spread around about it. Poor Ingersoll converted more often than any atheist I know of -- at least if the inventive claims of some people are to be believed.

But now I found the most inventive conversion story of them all. Apparently Mr. Ingersoll didn't have a death bed conversion. He had an after-death conversion if this lunatic spiritualists are to be believed. These alleged psychics even prove their case by quoting Mr. Ingersoll -- of course they are quoting what they say he told them after he died. "I criticized the very means I must now employ to reach my countrymen." So says The Psychic Observer for March 10, 1947. I have to give them credit. This is very inventive and gave me quite a laugh tonight.

I think the last time I had this much fun with Mr. Ingersoll was when I had a file of his writings on my computer and needed to format them into a different program. So the program started whirring away and a few seconds later my computer flashed the message: "Robert Ingersoll converted."