Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

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.)
This, of course, was before Ray's own reversal of fortune -- before Sedona blew up in his face, before he was arrested and it was revealed that he was unable to raise the original bond money. Yet it seemed he still wanted to have it both ways: to continue making a living as an expert on creating wealth, while convincing authorities that he just didn't have the money to spring himself from jail. The critical blogosphere was all abuzz with that set of ironies at the time, so there's no need to go into all of it again. I just thought it was worth a reminder.

Now Ray is presumably spending what money he has left on his legal battles, though he still has supporters (go figure) who no doubt are contributing to that effort.
Whatever his financial situation may be, it does seem clear that Ray is a person who is unwilling to fully pay the moral "bills" he owes -- to truly atone for the deaths of James Shore, Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman, and Colleen Conaway.

More often than not on this blog, I've taken a basically lighthearted and snarky approach to New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality beliefs and practices. I've dismissed them as silly. But occasionally belief and the need to follow a guru become deadly. Obviously when this happens, the guru/leader responsible for those deaths should be held accountable. Even if no deaths are involved, if people's lives and finances are wrecked by the deceptive actions of New-Wage gurus, those gurus should have to pay.

Some pay by offing themselves, as infomercial huckster Don Lapre did after his recent arrest. I'm certainly not implying that suicide is any type of solution or justice, nor am I implying that I wish Ray would do the same. That's not the case at all. For the sake of those who lost their loved ones at his hands, however, I do wish Ray would display a little bit of conscience and remorse for anything but the fact that he got caught -- and so far he has yet to do so.

Nor, for that matter, have we seen much of a display of conscience from the other scoundrels and scalawags, grifters and greedy gurus in the world's most successful New-Wage infomercial, The Secret. In case you haven't read it, here's an April 2011 post discussing some of the woes not only of James Ray but some of his fellow Secret "stars" as well.

And so it goes. While much of the world is obsessed with the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, some of us have not forgotten James Ray's less famous, but no less important, victims. And we are watching and keeping up with the developments in this case.

Meanwhile, the time has come once again for me to go out to the porch and take the hummingbird feeders down.* I put it off as long as possible, but the pretty birds (as Abba might have said) have flown.

* The significance of which will be more apparent if you've read last year's Sedona anniversary post.

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Anonymous hHH said...

Hey Connie, have you really got chimpanzees running loose out back?

Y' gonna get one?

Saturday, October 08, 2011 9:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Martypants said...

Hey Connie -
I join you in lifting a toast to Colleen, Liz, Kirby and James. I wish the toast was JAR, but my thoughts are more with the families of the victims of this asshole's ego.
And fwiw, I have no clue on MJ's doctor trial, nor will I ever. What a silly premise that is.

Saturday, October 08, 2011 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

HHH, they turned out not to be chimps but capuchin and Rhesus monkeys -- pets that had been set loose during the wildfire evac scares.


I have no desire for a pet monkey, but I was awfully tempted the other night when Ron and I were at a country auction and one of the items up for bid was a VERY realistic looking baby chimp hand puppet, all decked out in a doll dress. I briefly thought it would be fun to terrorize our dog Kali with it. But I didn't bid on it, and now have non-buyers' remorse, which can be every bit as emotionally painful as buyers' remorse, though far easier on the bank account. I think the chimp puppet went for five bucks. Another great opportunity lost.

Sunday, October 09, 2011 9:57:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Martypants: I feel the same way you do -- we should be concentrating more on the families of the victims than the egotistical a$$hole who took their loved ones away.

It's kind of refreshing to hear from someone who hasn't been keeping up with the MJ doc trial.

Sunday, October 09, 2011 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous HhH said...

It says,
"There's no monkey that makes a good pet, and they should never be kept as pets, even if they're raised from a tiny baby,"

But my Dad had a pet monkey when he was serving in Aden.

Sunday, October 09, 2011 3:08:00 PM  
Anonymous HHh said...

You get hummingbirds?

Sunday, October 09, 2011 3:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

All I can say, HHH, is that monkeys don't make good pets for most people. For one thing, they're impossible to house train, or so I've heard.

And yeah, we get hummingbirds. They stop here for a few weeks twice a year, on their way to or from Mexico. I always manage to miss them in the spring when they're coming back up from Mexico, bound for regions north of here. I'm sure they're around but I always forget to put the feeders out. But I get them when they come south again in the late summer/early fall. They stick around a few weeks and then...poof...one day most of them are gone. A few stragglers may remain for a while, but one day they're gone too. It's very sudden. It always makes me a little sad.

Monday, October 10, 2011 6:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Hhh said...

I had a look on the youtube, I can see why you would want to put the feeder out to coax them near, they're awful pretty birdies.

Monday, October 10, 2011 8:49:00 PM  
Blogger Kerem Gogus said...

"Sitting in the lotus position may look really cool, but it's not very comfortable to the Western-trained body (nor is selling everything you own and living on legumes)"

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/52472

No one asks that. When Kabbalah or Sepher Yetzirah or Zohar promised money?

And who says you have to be poor while practicing Eastern traditions?

King Solomon has all the wealth that one can not imagine and He's blessed and recognized by Mystical Islam and Sufism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_Solomon -

Friday, October 28, 2011 5:29:00 PM  

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