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Virtual Vice by Jason M. Kays
Jason M. Kays

Spiritual Capitialism -- James Ray

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>Dear parishioners, there is such a thin
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.



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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