Spiritual Capitialism -- James Ray
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Posted 04 February 2010 - 11:46 AM
Dear parishioners, there is such a thing as "too much of a God thing." I limit my torture of the faithful with sins of the flesh. Playfully taunting God's children is one thing; I've always felt it imprudent to kill them off. This week in Sedona Arizona, profiteering snake oil salesmen succeeded in just that. As if euthanizing your flock isn't conspicuous enough, these spiritual leaders opted for nouveau medieval and slow-baked their victims to death. Two perfectly healthy New Age practitioners achieved the ultimate spiritual enlightenment as they shed their mortal coil. This unintentional and permanent out-of-body experience was the result of what some are now labeling criminal negligence and unadulterated opportunism.
James Arthur Ray, noted self-help expert and author of the bestselling book, The Secret, hosted a five day "spiritual warrior" workshop at Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat, six miles south of West Sedona. Targeting New Age junkies, the farce was one of the more egregious instances of spiritual capitalism in recent history. Participants paid $9,600 each for a week of self-actualization. The program included a 2 hour sweat lodge session preceded by a 36 hour fast, a ceremonial ritual practiced by many Native Americans. A sweat lodge is essentially a super-heated sauna, with water poured over red hot rocks. 56 people were packed into a 4'6" tall enclosure. By the end of the session, two people were dead, Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee. Three others were listed as in critical condition and air lifted to the Flagstaff Medical Center; 16 additional participants were also hospitalized with complications from the experience.
The sweat lodge has been a time honored sacred ceremony amongst Native Americans, but with significant differentiation in execution. Firstly, the ceremony in its true, pure form is free. Native American practitioners of the ceremony maintain that while a 4-6 hour fast prior to entering the sweat lodge is routine, a 36 hour fast does not leave the participants with adequate energy to endure the trying ritual without physical risk. The number of individuals in the lodge is typically 8-12, maximum 20. Length of time spent in the sweat lodge is one hour, not two. This is so the leader can carefully monitor the physical and mental condition of participants. The Angel Valley Retreat's sweat lodge's form factor, 4'6" at its highest point, was less than half that of a typical sweat lodge. Perhaps the greatest risk was posed by covering the lodge in plastic and blankets. Sweat lodges are not intended to be air tight. Traditional lodges are covered in animal skins, willow branches and breathable canvas in order to permit steam to escape.
James Arthur Ray and Angel Valley Retreat owners, Michael and Amayra Hamilton, are under criminal investigation by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
Ray's latest book is appropriately entitled, Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want.
Like any God-fearing evangelical, I worship at the altar of capitalism. However inspiring the dramatic effect of human sacrifice, it only serves to compromise one's profit margins, foregoing decades of tithings. A church benefits far more from guilting their clergy to death over a life time than it does killing them outright.
Yours In Sweet Sin, Mdm Clarice Westwater
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