Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Candy Gunther Brown's "The Healing Gods"

Candy Gunther Brown is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. She is the author of Testing Prayer: Science and Healing and The Word in the World, and she is the editor of Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing. Her work has been published in The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and The Daily.

Brown applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America, and reported the following:
My book explains how and why complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) entered the American cultural mainstream, most remarkably finding a niche among evangelical Christians, although much of CAM is religious but not distinctively Christian and lacks scientific evidence of efficacy and safety. Most CAM advertisements stress natural, scientifically validated health benefits. But whether or not they tell you this, many CAM providers make religious or spiritual assumptions about why CAM works, assumptions inspired by religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism that developed in Asia or metaphysical spirituality that grew up in Europe and North America.

Chapters examine CAM practices such as yoga, acupuncture, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, meditation, martial arts, homeopathy, and anticancer diets. Page 99 zooms in on chiropractic.

Most people today assume that visiting a chiropractor is almost like visiting a medical doctor. This is, however, a recent development. Up until the 1960s, American medical doctors dismissed chiropractic as quackery, and Christian clergy rejected chiropractic as tainted by “Eastern” religions and “New Age” spirituality. Today, M.D.s work in partnerships with chiropractors, and Christians welcome chiropractic as a God-given method of pain relief.

The chapter “I Love My Chiropractor!” reveals that chiropractic grew out of Western metaphysics, including mesmerism and spiritualism. Page 99 provides evidence that most chiropractors today still espouse metaphysical views (although most also self-identify as Christians). Chiropractors typically market their profession by selecting scientific rather than religious language in promotional literature. But when talking to sympathetic audiences, chiropractors describe “Innate Intelligence” as a spiritual force, akin to God. The purpose of chiropractic adjustments is not merely physical realignment. Adjustments remedy misalignments between individuals and a universal, life-giving spiritual energy that created and animates the universe. As page 99 explains, chiropractors
use Innate Intelligence as a spiritual concept, reminding readers of the “power of your inner spirit, soul or innate intelligence,” since “we do not only consist of flesh and blood, but also of a soul and spirit. It is these intangible and unseen components that are often overlooked as potential interferences with our innate gift to be well.” Since “Innate Intelligence ... already has the intention and control of all the components needed” for the “expression of health,” as long as the chiropractor makes “certain that the adjustment is given correctly . . . innate will step in and do the rest.” In his “Chairman’s Message” for 1998, Edward Maurer writes in the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association that chiropractic is “steeped in philosophy” that “always adheres to the basic premise of universal or innate intelligence.”
Innate Intelligence is a personal force that can intentionally “step in” to produce health. Innate is universal, but individuals are born with a segment of the Intelligence that fills the universe—this is their “soul and spirit.”

As chiropractor Mike Reid explains Innate Intelligence for the 2007 Chiropractic Journal, quoted page 99:
We are spiritual beings who are a piece of an entire bigger picture with a purpose in life.... As chiropractors, we already know that the universal intelligence, lies within us as innate intelligence, causes our heart to beat, digests our food, and allows us to think as free people.... Listen to your innate.... Sit in a lotus position with your palms opened up. See yourself as one and the same with the universe.
Chiropractors like Reid adjust patients to bring them into harmony with Innate Intelligence—on the premise that Innate creates and sustains life, and humans are “one and the same with the universe,” or “part of the Creator.”

Such religious views might surprise patients, insurers, and advocates of laws such as the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that identify chiropractic—and related CAM practices—as medical therapies.
Learn more about The Healing Gods at the Oxford University Press website, and follow Candy Gunther Brown on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers Read: Candy Gunther Brown.

--Marshal Zeringue