After the Faith Healings

Appleman, Philip

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Oct-09-1996


This poem is in the voice of a faith healer who calls upon the reader to witness the marvels of God's healing power, a holy power that shows the terrible evil embodied in the theory of evolution: "Darwin's demon apes of hell / howl the name of blasphemy." The narrative centers on a young boy with diabetes, whose father brings him to be healed. He and his father prayed and their faith grew strong; "he threw away the pills, those ugly / relics of his doubt-- / and the boy cried out, rejoicing!"

Later, though, during the night, the boy became ill again and begged his father for the pills. But the congregation prayed and the father's faith held . . . and the boy died. The healer rejoices, though, because "he is not dead--the boy / only sleeps in the Lord." The healer believes the child died because " Darwin's great beast" rose that night and "passed his hand over the boy's / sick faith."


This long poem (over 100 lines) is a powerful evocation of the culture and ambiance of evangelical faith healing or, at least, that form of evangelical belief that rejects scientific medicine. In this case medicine is actually equated with the godless belief in human evolution; hence, Darwin's "demon apes" and "great beast" represent Satan. The faith healer is able to turn failure into success by his belief that the boy has gone to a better place. At the same time, he seems to blame the boy for having only a "sick faith." This is an excellent poem to read aloud; it has the rhythm and evocative language of a faith healer's fiery sermon.

Primary Source

Darwin's Ark


Indiana Univ. Press

Place Published