James Arthur Ray: Two years after Sedona, still no atonement
I've had a busy month away from this Whirled; among other things, I've been catching up on work after last month's wildfire scare and evacuations. As usual, I have a dozen half-finished blog posts in the hopper. But I did not want to let the day go by without mentioning that today, October 8, 2011, is the second anniversary of James Arthur "Death" Ray's fatal faux-sweat lodge in Sedona, Arizona.
At this time last year I published a very long blog post to commemorate this anniversary, framed around my review of Connie Joy's book, Tragedy In Sedona: My Life in James Arthur Ray's Inner Circle. I recommend that you read Ms. Joy's book if you haven't already done so. Meanwhile, if you're new-ish here and don't understand all the brouhaha about James Ray, at least read the blog post I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph. And then go to Salty Droid's blog and read his numerous posts on Ray.
Today is also Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. (Actually it began at sundown yesterday evening.) By bringing this up in a post about Death Ray I mean no offense to my Jewish friends. However, as Ray was known to stir a schmear of Jewish spirituality and mysticism into the McSpirituality stew he served up to his followers, it seemed appropriate to point out the bitter irony of the fact that Ray himself has yet to atone for the deaths of Sedona victims James Shore, Kirby Brown, and Liz Neuman -- to say nothing of the death of Colleen Conaway, who died at a James Ray event in San Diego less than three months previously.
I realize "atonement" has several meanings, but one meaning is to own up to one's wrongdoing and try to make up for it. And from what I have seen, Ray has yet to take any responsibility at all. In addition, he has yet to be sentenced for the three counts of negligent homicide for which he was convicted months ago. His defense team keeps throwing up numerous roadblocks and delays, and there is still a chance he may never do any prison time at all. And he still hasn't even been charged in the death of Colleen Conaway.
A few years ago, in one of his numerous ezine articles, Ray wrote a piece attempting to explain why so many Hollywood A-listers are into the Kabbalah. He speculated that at least some followers were motivated by a desire for a more "practical" sort of mysticism. Ray wrote:
I, for one, am tired of so-called "spiritual gurus" who can't pay their bills! (And they certainly can't tell you how to do it either.)
* The significance of which will be more apparent if you've read last year's Sedona anniversary post.