Alternative Healthcare A Comprehensive Guide

This book was somewhat of a shock to me because the title is so misleading. Instead of "Alternative" Healthcare: A Comprehensive Guide, it should be titled the Skeptics Guide to Alternative Healthcare. The author, Jack Raso,states his position very clearly in the introduction:

"Since I began studying mystical healing in 1989, I have reached four conclusions that strip 'alternative' healing of much of its allure:

1. Death entails the obliteration of an individual's ability to think, feel, or function purposefully.
2. The word "god" refers to an array of mysterious conceptions-not to any active being.
3. Human beings are not interconnected by supernatural or paranormal forces.
4. "Alternative" healthcare enterprises blend selected scientific facts, banalities, and pop-psychological, parapsychological, and magico-religious notions."

What is very interesting is that the author then goes on to describe very fairly and accurately the various alternatives in health care, but arriving at the conclusions that they are bogus. He includes an extensive source bibliography that includes the skeptics commentary on alternative health, books that I must confess that I have totalled ignored or judged as irrelevant. The author describes his own spiritual journey in much the same terms that those that have discovered faith and love. It reminded me that to walk the path is not necessarily to see or find.

As purveyors of "alternative" care, this book should be examined, for it is the voice of the medical status quo, replete with the put downs, the snide remarks, and the hostile witticism's that we find in the humor of the right. The book is further authenticated by being edited by an MD, Stephen Barrell, a psychiatrist that has made a career of being the skeptic. How anyone could adopt the above world view without complete hopelessness, depression and a feeling of being unfulfilled is difficult for many of us steeped in the philosophy of spirituality to conceive. Although I once walked in the shoes of the skeptic, I never felt fulfilled until I reached beyond that empty shell. Consequently, I hasten to remind myself that they have come as far as they can at this time and but for the grace of God go I.

It is good to know and understand the point of view of the opposition. It is good to remember that the task is not all just education. Intellect has done a fine job of getting the facts straight in this book but missed the experience, even when seeking it. There is more to embracing the spiritual life, it requires a "leap of faith".

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotations by Thomas Merton:

"Faith means war. The man cannot believe because he is paralyzed of the prospect of an internal revolution. His mind has become darkened by the hesitation of his will. He is subconsciously divesting himself from the truth which he is afraid to embrace in its entirety...The man who waits to see clearly before he will believe, never starts the journey."

We are all on the journey, whether we recognize it or not. I often get caught up in the doing, forgetting that this is just a television soap opera, although the reruns never seem to get replaced by new programs.

I would like to thank the author of this book for reminding me that his journey is as significant as my own and that I can learn from his journey. The next book that I pass by that causes cognitive dissonance, I will be sure to examine.


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