|Warning: Never ever look this man in the eyes!|
I have to state that an air of disappointment hangs over me following a viewing of the latest documentary from the otherwise lovely and perfectly formed Derren Brown.
The basic idea behind the programme (Miracles For Sale, Channel 4) was that they would seek out and then train an ordinary member of the British public to be a (bogus) faith healer to put on a ‘show’ full of (bogus) faith healing, to be held in Texas, the centre of the world’s Billionaire faith healers, in order to show that faith healers are bogus and ripping people off.
The cameras followed the trials and tribulations of the final chosen-one, a sincere and genuine chap called Nathan, rebranded as Pastor James, as they tried to launch his ministry in Texas. They invented a nice back-story via his ‘Gifts of the Spirit Ministry’ website (here), and then spent 6 months of intensive training to make this former Scuba Diving Instructor into a, well, faith healer, by teaching him the whole hypnotic process and exactly how the ‘show’ works, tricks and all.
The project seemed to mysteriously meander all over the place, was full of side issues and a lot of bickering but did finally end-up back at the original task of culminating in a Pastor James ‘show’ in a theatre. Sadly this was to an audience of what couldn’t have been much more than 15 to 20 souls.
|The handsome Pastor James|
The nice twist at the end was after all the ‘healing’ and showmanship, “Pastor James” spoke to his captivated audience about how they should never give money in exchange for healing.
Rather than this being laugh and point at Christians for being stupid (which would have been fun), it was point and expose at the faith healers who take Christians’ money in exchange for demonstrably simple parlour tricks and false hope.
I grunted to myself at this point, but with hindsight I guess it’s more important to try to help the poor souls who are being fleeced stop being fleeced rather than alienate them totally. Oh, and the guy playing Pastor James was actually a Christian anyway.
Yes, I did wonder why Derren chose Nathan, considering he suffered from a belief in god and so on. I mused that it would have made more sense to have had a far more free thinking person taking control of the audience. Free thinkers do tend to know and understand more of the Bible than most lay Christians, but maybe there needed to be something ‘genuine’ about Pastor James and his faith. You couldn’t have gotten more genuine than Nathan, so it may have added to the authenticity and ultimately have saved what could have been a rather weak tv programme.
It’s been fascinating watching Derren’s blog (here) populate with raving bonkers Christians who didn’t seem to get that the programme wasn’t an attack on their odd beliefs, but was an attack on those who are taking money from those who believe those odd beliefs. They rant about Derren and quote random words out of the Bible, even calling him a ‘fake’. I’m not sure what he’s a ‘fake’ of.
For me as I once again laugh out loud or shake my head in disbelief, all I garner from the postings by these raving bonkers Christians is that they find concepts outside their indoctrination very hard to comprehend. They all seem to have no discussion or understanding and are only capable of spouting trance-like the aforementioned phrases from the Bible without fully understanding what they mean or how they were used in the original context.
Scariest of them all are those who feel that attacking faith healers is an attack on their God, and those that state categorically that faith healing works despite there being no evidence.
Sadly, this is the true face of the average blinkered American who is brought up away from free-thinking, with their minds pre-mapped by their parents to never look outside the box, and this keeps them extremely naive and consequently rich pickings for those, such as the faith healers, who prey on them by pretending to pray for them.