The final third of a book is always difficult, and this one's busting my yarbles: I just spent upwards of two weeks writing and rewriting a single sequence, which has to be a record for me. That's why, anyway, I haven't been posting here, and have barely been commenting elsewhere...but rest assured that I'm reading your posts, and tend to love 'em all even if I don't have anything to add to them. :)
I've had to let numerous ideas for posts go by: all the political ones (not least because frankly the stuff I have to say is either perfectly obvious to everybody by now, or better left unsaid), but also some non-political ones I'd have liked to do. For example, AOL's mainscreen had a passing item about what women look like without their makeup (well, more specifically how gorgeous some celebs look without makeup), and I'd have liked to weigh in on that. Brief version: I pretty much always think women look lovelier without makeup (and, yes, I realize that's largely a function of the circumstances in which one gets to see women without their makeup, but I really do feel that way)...so Point One for AOL, it's not just celebrities. That said, Point Two: using (a) women under twenty, and (b) sample "non-makeup" photos in which said women are in fact wearing makeup (!) -- well, is a pretty dumb way to make the argument.
But what I've really been sitting on is a reaction to the recently publicized study on prayer and healing; and while I'm cutting this to the bone, I do think I'll post briefly about it here. Snipped for those who couldn't care less.
Healing will be the last aspect of "spiritual" work -- call it prayer, religion, metaphysics or Magick as you will -- to achieve general acceptance; particularly in western culture, given its mechanist-materialist bent. This is true even among both deeply religious people and practicing magicians: the conviction of all-powerful, selfexistent matter is so deeply ingrained that even the notion of trying to dislodge it seems fanciful. Anyway, I don't ever bother debating the issue: those ready to follow out the implications of Magick in the arena of physical healing can pretty much figure it out for themselves, especially with the aid of a few pointers.*
That said, the recent study of prayer and healing does a disservice to both medicine and human health, and ought, however briefly, to be refuted.
1. Not all "prayers" are created equal. If there were a Guy on a Throne deciding who gets sick and who gets well, Whose Mind might be changed by our asking Him politely to do so, then the study might have some use...given, that is, that we found the right people to ask, that they were asking the right God, and so forth. This approach is basically dead on arrival, for two simple reasons: (a) The Guy on a Throne model happens to be untrue; and (b) the religions that believe that anything like it is true, also have strict prohibitions against conducting this very sort of test (see, e.g., Mt. 4:1-11)...not to mention usually include (c) a doctrine that sometimes God wants people to be sick -- which would tend to sap the "prayers" of those being so tested: who says this anonymous patient "deserves" to get well? (runs the argument).
2. The formula imposed by the test worked against its own success. The folks doing the "praying" were free to pray however they liked...except that they were required to hold the notion of post-surgical complications in mind while doing so. As my buddy Phil Farber (author of FutureRitual, and the new http://www.meta-magick.com/ ) noted, "pray for no complications" can quickly become: "Repeat after me: no complications...no COMPLICATIONS...no COMPLICATIONS...." (More in this thread -- including the wonderful example of the "No Fish Spell" -- thanks to arianadawnhawk: http://ajrose93.livejournal.com/67786.html )
Finally, you see,
3. "Prayer" per se is not the issue. The issue is the relationship between spirit and matter (including body), the mind and healing, thought and experience. Until this is better understood, no experimental regimen on the subject is going to tend to be worth a damn, irrespective of the actual efficacy of spiritual healing -- and the arrogance of human opinion, however widespread, to the contrary.
93 93/93 -- AJ
* Like this one: http://ajrose93.livejournal.com/31214.html