The Transference of the Holy Spirit or Horse Shit
Last week a friend shared this video on her Facebook page. I’m not sure the original source. After clicking through to trace it, I ended up giving up. Whoever you are, thank you for the thought fodder (or folly).
As best I can offer in words, this video depicts a minister or healer ‘throwing energy’ and exclaiming the power of Jesus Christ. We see things like this all of the time. One FB responder reminded us to think of Peter Popoff, Benny Hinn and a couple of other evangelical minister-types. Hollywood even dips its toe in the healing ministry occasionally, too. Steve Martin was hilarious in Leap of Faith and Ellyn Burstyn did a turn as a healer working outside the ministry in Resurrection. One of my favorite ‘healing minister’s is Kathryn Kuhlman, who never landed in Hollywood but was an evangelical minister-type. I didn’t know of her when she was alive but she pops in and out of my world with some frequency.
One of the most prevalent responses to these types of episodes is the immediate cry of ‘mass hysteria’. I’m going to address that here and offer a slightly different framework. We know that mass hysteria or hysterical contagion are real. They are part of the human condition; well-scienced enough to be used as tools for everything from critical incident response to marketing. There is a tendency for folks to use that language as a ‘go-to’ when we observe a group phenomenon like that in this video. It’s an easy fall-back when faced with something for which we feel there is no other explanation or creates a particular level of discomfort.
I’m not sure what the turn-off factor is for many who deride this kind of energetic display. For many skeptics, I assume it’s the association with faith or belief and their own disbelief that healing just doesn’t happen no matter who is doing it. For me, the ick factor vacillates between the circus-like production created as a way to increase the cash flow and the apparent correlation between the amount of hair product used to hold the ‘do and the silliness of the circus.
I actually believe that, at least, at some point, the aforementioned preacher dudes had a healing gift. (I know the dudette did). I also believe that it was twisted by either them or others as a way to line their own pockets (btw, there is no indication the the dudette did the same). To judge by stories shared online, it’s hard to know if they still have that gift or have merely become circus masters.
This kind of ‘energetic’ experience shown above is quite real. The participants are not hysterical, nor are they lemmings blinded by pastor’s charisma. What they are in the midst of here is an irresponsible representation of the power of energy.
Methinks that the outsider response to this type experience would be entirely different if the phenomena occured outside the religious context or circus atmosphere. Say, for instance, within a qi gong demonstration given by Shaolin monks in robes. It appears that, when the names Jesus or God are removed, there is a legitimacy given to similar outside-the-norm experiences. Or, if not legitimacy, an exotic nature or admirable quality, that is considered before or instead of denigration.
The fact of the matter is, no matter the context in which it is either observed or experienced, the energetic transference is real. Energy is emanating from one person and is directly effecting another. The above visual examples are rather dramatic ones but we each have the capacity to do it in some fashion. We don’t give much thought, though, to how our own energy effects another. Think about staring at the back of somebody’s head until they move it; how another responses, say, to your raised voice; the effect of a mother saying “Let me kiss it and make it better” and then actually doing so. It’s all the exact same expression of energy done in a slightly different fashion.
Those of us with the capacity to amplify it and move it viscerally (and responsibly, I might add), so that it can not only be felt but used as a healing tool, are healers. The energy is the same, no matter the name. The results, when the energy is used responsibly, is the same. Ms. Kuhlman healed people using the same energy I do, qi gong practitioners do, reiki practitioners do, Jesus did, acupunturists do, and some (used pointedly here) ministers do. It is all energy, the same energy, merely identified differently. Qi, chi, the power of the holy spirit, reiki, jesus juice, atomic stardust, prayer-power, bio-energy, shaking medicine, mind over matter, or prana power, quantum or therapeutic touch. Some are grounded in a medicalized manner, some in a spiritual, some in a strange mix of the former, the latter and sprinkling of pseudo-science. I’m on who just happens to call the energy I move simply love and it’s grounded in things related to universal relationships, medical knowledge, and some actual real science.
It may be all that special, but it’s not all that uncommon. We don’t know how long it’s been used, really. Asian martial arts, as a way of moving this energy agressively and defensively (and perhaps, medicinally) may have been around for longer than 5000 years. Vedic use of energy as healing may be even older. There is a general awareness (whether or not accompanied by belief) that aboriginal shamans, medicine men, medicine women, witches, and more had the capacity to manipulate energy intentionally for healing and harm.
What is exhibited in the first video is, in my not-so-humble opinion, a use of that healing energy for harm. The hubris, ignorance and arrogance of the minister shown above is, to me, one to be held in the same regard as other snake oil salesmen.
There are lots of people who do the ‘good work’ of healing, without much of a circus, celebrity, or much in compensation, who swim against the stream of legitimization because they are viewed in the same manner as the minister above, not the monks.
This, in my opinion, is a disservice to all of us.