Religion Hunter Bites the Dust

Heather Rosa:

Five days a week I’m a news junkie. On weekends I take a complete break. Come Monday morning, I’m again ready for the news, catching up on whatever happened over the weekend. The first thing that slapped me in the face Monday morning, even before the every-five-minute repeat of the weather, was this story: a local woman had died after traveling to Arizona to participate in somebody’s idea of a sweat lodge ceremony. After keeling over from excessive heat (possibly literally biting the dust), she was taken to a hospital and later died. Authorities stated homicide charges were pending….

Here on Quiche Moraine.

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0 thoughts on “Religion Hunter Bites the Dust

  1. I feel bad for those people who died in that sweat lodge, and for those in pain and going about it all wrong.

    The author summed up my reasons for becoming atheist beautifully. Thank you for posting this.

  2. I read this last week when someone on the AVOID-L list posted it. The first thing I thought of was incompetence.

    I “bought the right to pour” from the Crow nation back in 1998 and participated in quite a few sweats myself long before pouring my own. I never bought into any of the “spiritual” stuff that went with it -and I wasn’t convinced that the Crow elder that taught me how to pour a sweat thought anything spiritual was supposed to happen. But it was always one of the most interesting Native American ceremonies I’d ever participated in. It was mostly about tradition and culture but also about introspection and self-examination as well as overcoming a hardship.

    The person pouring the sweat is in control. He/she knows how hot the rocks are and how much water is being poured on the hottest. He/she is also responsible for making sure that those participating are physically up to the task, i.e. hydrated and healthy.

    I read in one of the stories that the guy running this “spiritual warrior” camp was charging $10,000 a head. I hope he gets sued into oblivion, but the whole thing puts a bad light on a time-honored tradition among several Native Tribes.

  3. I recently participated in something called the “Walk with the Ancients.” There’s a story here. As part of it, they had sweats on two nights. As cfeagans noted, it seemed more of a ritual/cultural thing to me. It was also interesting that there were a couple of downright atheists who went along.

    One of the things that really bothered the Native Americans about the Arizona thing is that, as part of trying to “acculturate” them, authorities had simply banned sweat lodges (similar to the English banning kilts and pipes in Scotland). So, the folks I was with were concerned that the Arizona tragedy would be used as an excuse to ban sweats yet again.

    From the news we heard, it was outgassing from the plastic tarps that were used that was the problem.

  4. What a horrible scam. New-age “prosperity gospel” at its worst. Promise people that they will get rich by wishing… and you can blame their lack of faith when they fail.

    Or when they die. And the wonderful thing is, the dissonance involved in having made the choice to engage in such a stupid and ultimately deadly activity will have the survivors (or many of them) finding excuses for the Jim Jones wannabe.

    May the relatives of the victims get rich quick, by suing the living shit out of this bottom feeder.

  5. Ahcuah:
    The account I’ve read describes a situation where a lot of people were crammed into the lodge for hours, with the leader strongly discouraging anyone from leaving. This is a perfect setup for dehydration and heatstroke. Traditional sweats, from what I understand, involve far fewer participants at a time with closer monitoring without the psychological pressure to stay in the lodge if you’re feeling ill. I don’t think gassing from the tarps would be a factor.

  6. what is religion

    Religious scholars generally agree that writing a single definition that applies to all religions is difficult or even impossible, because all people examine religion with some kind of critical eye, and the term is therefore fraught with ideological consequences for anyone who might want to construct a universal definition. Talal Asad writes that “there cannot be a universal definition of religion … because that definition is itself the historical product of discursive processes”[5]; Thomas A. Tweed, while defending the idea of religion in general, writes that “it would be foolish to set up an abstract definition of religion’s essence, and then proceed to defend that definition from all comers.”[6]

    The earliest definition of religion is from Johnson’s Dictionary, which simply calls it “a system of faith and worship”. Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as das schlechthinnige Abhängigkeitsgefühl, commonly translated as “a feeling of absolute dependence”.[7] His contemporary Hegel disagreed thoroughly, defining religion as “the Divine Spirit becoming conscious of Himself through the finite spirit.”[8] Clifford Geertz’s definition of religion as a “cultural system” was dominant for most of the 20th century and continues to be widely accepted today.

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