Monday, January 22, 2007

Prison Break and faith healers

As you might have guessed, I am ridiculously excited about the return of Prison Break tonight. We loyal fans have been waiting almost two months for a resolution to the killer cliffhanger at the end of the last episode. Aside from T-Bag finally catching up to the woman who sent him to prison, and former CO badass Bellick now sharing a cell with feared Fox River inmate Avocado, Michael and Lincoln are now in a strange spot. Mahone and Kellerman orchestrated an escape opportunity so they could kill the brothers as per their instructions from the company. When they took the bait, Mahone and Kellerman followed them, boxing them in. Then Kellerman, who organized the plan, took out his gun and shot...Mahone. Kellerman, stonewalled by the President's inner circle, now wants to exact revenge by helping Michael and Linc. But I'm not ready to trust him. He's not exactly known for his sincerity, and I think he plans on using Michael and Linc to get back in with the president. As for Mahone, it looked like he got shot in the shoulder, so he might survive. I hope he does, I don't think his story is finished yet. His dynamic with Michael (two similar characters on opposite sides is always a good story) has been the best thing about the current season. Whatever happens, I know I'll be watching, on the edge of my seat, hooked on every last twist and turn.
Onto a more serious topic. I recently read The Faith Healers by James Randi, a book that exposes preachers who claim to heal the sick by divine powers. The researchers for the project could not find one successful healing reported, and several people died after believing they had been "healed" and forgoing proper medical treatment. And of course, these "healers" lived in luxury off the contributions of the faithful. When one woman begged for some of her money back because she was severely in debt after contributing almost all of her savings to this organization, and she was turned away. The healers' techniques are based in trickery. One, Peter Popoff, had an earpiece where his wife relayed information she had received from questioning the audience, information Popoff later called out during the show and claimed came from God. To test this "divine knowledge," Randi and associates made up fake ailments which they related to the questioners working the crowd before the show. Randi says, if this information truly came from an omniscient deity, shouldn't this deity have revealed that the related information was false? But instead, they were "cured" of ailments they didn't have. Some healers even place people in wheelchairs to have them dramatically stand up, although the afflicted person never needed to be in a wheelchair. The "healers" are making millions of dollars from selling false hope to the sick. These people are criminals. But they're criminals protected by the cloak of religion, and to date, none have been prosecuted for making money under false pretenses (if this isn't true, and anyone knows of a faith healer who has been prosecuted, I'd like to hear about it), despite several scathing articles written by dedicated journalists, and Randi's book.
On a related topic, I was extremely disheartened to hear my mother, an otherwise rational woman under the spell of the Vatican, say that she believes in angels and demons possibly populating the world and controlling our actions. Even if an exorcist (and the Vatican still, in the 21st century, has an official exorcist) temporarily eases the mind of a mentally unstable person who believes they have been possessed by the devil, the basic mental illness is still there, and cannot be eradicated through prayers and holy water. The problem is, the fanatics believe that all they need is divine intervention, and disregard the real need for medical treatment as a result of blind faith. And the faith healers of the world are manipulating these beliefs and getting rich off of it, and they need to be stopped.

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