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.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Killer James Arthur Ray is nearly* free, and the big sick machine hums on


As noted here
a couple of months ago, convicted negligent homicider James Arthur "Death" Ray is scheduled for early release from an Arizona prison today -- July 12, 2013. He has served a less-than-two-year sentence for the October 2009 deaths of three people in his phony-baloney "sweat lodge" in Sedona, Arizona. Those three are Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman.

That short prison sentence equals scant justice for Kirby and James S. and Liz and those who loved them, but there has been no justice at all so far for a fourth person,
Colleen Conaway, who had perished under highly questionable circumstances at a San Diego James Ray event a few months previously. Thirteen days from now, on July 25, Colleen's family and friends will mark the fourth anniversary of her death, which was apparently covered up for a while by Ray and his top minions so that the event could go on and the participants could party on into the night without knowing that one of their own had died.

And while Colleen's loved ones are remembering that sad anniversary,
the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC), known to some of us as the Trained Liars Council, will be holding their summer conference in some swanky resort (they never announce the location in advance on their web site; it's a seekrit, but this year's summer event runs from July 24-28). The TLC provided most of Rhonda Byrne's talking heads for The Secret, and for that and other reasons it is an integral part of the big sick machine. (James Ray was a founding member of TLC but was kicked out after the sweat-lodge debacle came to light. But hey, maybe they'll let him back in if he can show that he's still bankable after his time in the joint.)

Anyway. As you can imagine, my pal Salty Droid, who has done more than any blogger I know of to try to get justice for all of James Ray's victims,
has once again expressed his wrath over what many of us see as a travesty of justice. His latest blog post connects some more dots in the picture of the big sick machine, as he explains James Arthur Ray's connection with notorious MLM Herbalife. This passage really stuck out for me.
Liz Neuman’s journey through JAR via [Herbalife] ended :: tens of thousands of dollars later … with her limp body being dragged over two dead bodies and deposited in the hot mud to die … as James Ray strolled away triumphantly and did NOTHING.

Such high costs can never be incorporated into the dry mathematical estimations of the damage being done to our societies by the likes of Herbalife :: but they are real … as real as death.

Do take the time to read that post, and follow the links to the statements made by MLM-ers defending Ray's character. It is really pretty disgusting.

James Arthur Ray prison release photo --
notice the new SNAG-gy hairdo. Is it an attempt to re-brand,
or is it just for incognito purposes till some of the heat is off?
Anyhow, it looks as if
someone was able to take his Propecia even behind bars.

One small glimmer of hope is that the outrage of Ray's early release is getting at least a little bit of mainstream media attention, such as this editorial by Christine B. Whelan in USA Today. Although like a few other reporters Whelan semi-incorrectly states that the sweat lodge ceremony was a "surprise culmination" of the event (it had been part of previous Spiritual Warrior retreats, and more than likely the participants were expecting that it would be part of the 2009 event too) -- and despite the fact that she has a fondness for the selfish-help genre that I don't totally share -- her piece contains a good cautionary message. And Whelan succinctly demonstrates Ray's seeming lack of remorse over the deaths he caused.
In the weeks after the incident, an unrepentant Ray continued to hold his workshops. "I have chosen to continue with my work. It's too important not to," he wrote in an e-mail to his newsletter subscribers.
From prison, Ray has teamed up with another suspect guru to market "success" CDs. His website is currently under renovation to "offer more" to visitors as he relaunches a career that exploded with his participation in the The Secret, a 2006 film and book preaching the unscientifically proven claim that positive thinking "attracts" life-changing happiness, wealth and health.

That other "suspect guru" was
Whirled-class snarget and serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, and the CD set Ray was promoting from prison (or was directing what remained of his organization promote) is Your Wish Is Your Command, the 14-disc upsell for Trudeau's big pyramid scheme, the Global Information Network (GIN). This means that more than likely Death Ray has, or at least had, a GIN downline. I wrote about this a couple of times last year, most notably in this July 2012 post and before that, at the end of this April 2012 post.

I have speculated that in addition to trying to make a few bucks off of GIN and keeping at least a couple of his filthy fingers in the selfish-help pie, Ray may have also felt an obligation to stroke Kevin True-dough,
who had publicly come to his defense the year before.

Cozy, eh? It really is one big -- and sometimes deadly -- circle jerk.

I've also speculated that perhaps James Ray might end up doing more for GIN than just pushing CDs. Perhaps True-dough and gang will welcome him into the fold as a GIN speaker. They probably have a few openings for that position.

Another glimmer of hope: In the years since the Sedona deaths, Kirby Brown's family has attempted to educate the public about the self-help/motivational/pop-spirituality industry, and towards that end they have founded an organization called
Seek Safely. They've even approached scads of major players in the industry, asking them to sign a simple pledge of transparency, integrity, respectfulness, and -- yes -- safety. Seek Safely is not pushing for more stringent policing of the industry, nor are they plotting for its destruction. All they want is for the gurus to agree to at least try to abide by a few simple guidelines:

THE SEEK SAFELY PROMISE 

A person’s journey to self-empowerment and personal improvement is deeply personal, emotional and often times spiritual. We/I acknowledge and support every individual’s right to a safe and constructive journey so that each person might find the personal growth and change he/she seeks.
As an organization/program we/I are committed to providing an environment and experiences that are:
1. Truthful.  Consumers will receive accurate information about the author’s, leader’s or speaker’s professional degrees, credentials and experience.
2. Accurate.  We will clearly delineate what is personal opinion, belief or speculation as opposed to information that is supported by third party scientific research.
3. Respectful. Participants will be able to freely express opinions, without fear of public humiliation, ridicule, shame or physical abuse.
4. Protective.  When people reveal deeply personal experiences, we recognize the responsibility to advise all seekers to enlist the aid of licensed professionals to provide service that may be beyond the scope of the event, seminar or retreat.
5. Integrity.  The leader will provide personal witness by living the program being taught.
6. Safe. If engaging participants in a physical activity, there will be appropriate medical support available in case of injury. The leader will have a comprehensive risk management plan to minimize any risk taken by participants and clearly explain any potential risks that are part of the event.
By agreeing to this promise we/I will adhere to the above principles and practices and will be guided in all actions by the best interests of participants.

I don't know how long ago the organization began sending out the Seek Safely Promise to the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality gurus, but the list of who hasn't responded yet is a veritable Who's Who of the industry. And this includes some of the notorious Internet Marketing gurus that Salty Droid has lambasted on his blog.

I noticed, however, that neither Kevin Trudeau nor
Lenny Coldwell is on the list of those who have been approached. Boy, those would be some sticky transparency and integrity issues. I also noticed that Esther and Jerry Hicks, creators of the imaginary-friend collective "Abraham," are on the list. Good luck getting Jerry's signature, him being dead and all.

To date
only three people have signed the Seek Safely Promise, and frankly, they are far from being players in the industry. Alas, their apparent integrity may doom them to eternal obscurity.

I mean no offense whatsoever to Kirby's family, but they may be on a fool's errand with that Seek Safely Promise. Most of the gurus they approached probably wouldn't know integrity if it sat on their faces.

My friend
Cassandra Yorgey, who doggedly covered James Ray when the Sedona story was first breaking and for many months after that (this is just one early link), wrote on Facebook today, "Are we taking bets yet on how long before JR gets caught doing something illegal again? I give it 2 years." And my response to that was that whatever happens, it is up to those who see Ray for what he is to make sure that nobody forgets what he did to land him in prison. It's the least we can do for Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman...and for Colleen, whose family has not yet had their day in court (though lawsuits are in progress, according to Salty Droid).

Meanwhile, the big sick machine hums on and on. Whether or not he ends up teaming up with Trudeau and GIN in some way (
Trudeau is still facing possible jail time again, but I seriously doubt he'll end up there), James Arthur Ray will no doubt find plenty of support in the selfish-help/New-Wage/McSpirituality industry -- and as soon as he is able, he will hit the ground scamming. In fact, it could be argued that the man who invoked the Magic Law of Attraction Genie in The Secret never really stopped scamming, not even when he was wearing the orange.


* Note: Ray will remain in Phoenix, Arizona while completing his probation.

Video about the JAR release, 12 July 2013

(from KPHO, Channel 5, CBS, in Phoenix, Arizona)




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