Monday, October 21, 2013
The Faith Healers by James Randi
The Faith-Healers, James Randi. Buffalo N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1987 and Falls Church Va.: James Randi Educational Foundation, 2011. e-book, 687 pps.
At one time, it was my endeavor to become a professional "healer" for Christ like Kathryn Kuhlman. I thought I had the healing touch. But nothing much ever happened there. I even wanted to attend a local Christian Bible College. Thankfully, Dad had more sense than I did. This did not happen.
I wanted to be an evangelist/healer and give altar calls to crowded auditoriums and canvas tents of the faithful and wannabe faithful. I also wanted to be a Christian Educator. I even briefly flirted with the idea of becoming a missionary, although by that time I had adopted a dim view of what invading white people with crosses did to indigenous cultures. My flirtation with fundamentalism was pretty near done by time I hear a preacher instruct us to "Place your hands on the radio and feel the Holy Ghost through the airwaves!" Fortunately, I was not a person of means and I never gave any bisexual bucks to the bandits on religious television.
My aunt did though. Aunt had multiple sclerosis and was expecting a miracle today a la Morris Cerullo but she received only the ultimate healing that death brings. The price of false hope is expensive.
While reading The Faith-Healers, I was reminded of my youthful follies. James Randi did his utmost to get the faith-healers in his book to produce evidence that their God heals. None of it was forthcoming. The evangelists were evasive, refused to correspond, accused Randi of being a Satan-worshipper, claimed that anecdotes of the so-called healed were sufficient, and so forth. His conclusion was that the faith-healers were [and are] living a rich life off of the backs of the desperate. Some of the desperate died. Those who threw away their insulin needles and body braces and heart medications at the rallies and revivals and healing services died of the same conditions that they'd been told were removed. Two or three dropped dead during the services themselves. Awkward at best.
The faith-healers claim to have the Gift of Knowledge. That supposed gift enables them to "call out" people who need healing. Before the event begins, wives and staffers and sometimes the evangelist himself walks through the audience and talks to them. Information is then transmitted via radio frequencies and crib notes and healing cards. There is nothing extraordinary about how a shill calls out people. It's on the cards or the cheat sheet or being transmitted via a specially fitted receiver in the ear of the preacher. There is no glory in that. None at all.
sapphoq reviews says: I watched a television program once on Peter Popoff and his techniques that he was using to deceive the people. It was a horrifying bit of investigative journalism. The Faith-Healers is broader in scope and even more horrifying. Highly recommended.