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Jesus Christ's likeness appears on a rose petal.

Yesterday, I received a long-distance call on my mobile phone from someone I least expected to call me, let alone from someone in another continent.

It was from Filipino visionary Bro. Carmelo Cortez calling from the USA. He was profusely apologetic for a comment posted on this blog by one of his followers.

So you will understand the background of this article, let me refer you to an earlier post I wrote titled Rose Petal Images: Miracle or Not?

Please go there and read it if you haven’t done so yet. Read all the comments following it, as that’s where the stir started. Then come back here to finish reading this article.

Anyway, I wrote Rose Petal Images:Miracle or Not? in response to an email sent by Joe D’Mello of the USA asking my opinion on rose petal images. He wanted to know if I, as a magician, believed these images were miracles.

For those who haven’t heard of Bro. Carmelo Cortez, you may also want to check Sacred Images on Rose Petals which details how he started his work as a visionary. You may also want to check photos of rose petal images at www.webshots.com or visionsofjesuschrist.com, so you will have an idea of what we are talking about here.

Having taken care of the background and the links, I will now proceed to what I want to say today.

When I wrote Petal Images: Miracle or Not?, I did not mean to attack the beliefs of others. If the article sounded disrespectful, blame it on my less-than-perfect writing ability and lack of grasp of the English language, not on my intention.

I apologize to Bro. Carmelo Cortez and his followers whom I may have unwittingly upset with that particular post. I didn’t mean disrespect.

In my younger days, I used to be a rabid member of the Catholic Faith Defender. I prided myself in being one of its top debaters in Iligan City. Arguing with other people’s faith became my preoccupation for years, until one day it dawned on me that I was becoming a jerk. I preached God’s message of love and forgiveness, but I kept snarling at and arguing and debating with people who didn’t share my beliefs. It was an emotionally draining enterprise that didn’t win me friends. But I was young, reckless, brash and foolhardy then.

Not anymore.  As a Filipino magician, I turn away from debates, I run away from arguments, I avoid hecklers.

I have learned my lessons. Nobody wins an argument, especially a magician when he is performing.

The better route is to respect people for their beliefs, even if they are not the same as mine. I have counseled my readers about this in previous posts. Please see Haven’t I Told You Before? You Will Lose a Debate with a Heckler and Don’t Shoot the Heckler.

Today, there are two topics I avoid talking about in public or with strangers: religion and politics.  I love both topics, and I read up a lot of them. But discuss them in public? Not anymore.

Thus, with all these things said, I want to make it clear that I respect everybody’s beliefs and opinions, even though some people don’t respect mine. If you post comments contrary to what I have written, I will publish it, unedited and unexpurgated. There’s nothing to apologize for thinking or believing differently.

I wish Bro. Carmelo Cortez continued success in his missionary work.  When he called me up yesterday, he was not only apologetic but polite to a fault.  He was acting as decently as how I imagined visionaries should act—respectful but passionate about their work.

Incidentally, he and I are on the same wave length. We both believe in respecting other people’s beliefs even if these are contrary to ours.

As I said over the phone yesterday, I would like to attend one of Bro. Carmelo Cortez’s missionary works once he returns to the country.

To Bro. Carmelo Cortez and his followers, God bless you always.