The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America

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9780199985784: The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America

The question typically asked about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is whether it works. However, an issue of equal or greater significance is why it is supposed to work. The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America explains how and why CAM entered the American biomedical mainstream and won cultural acceptance, even among evangelical and other theologically conservative Christians, despite its ties to non-Christian religions and the lack of scientific evidence of its efficacy and safety.

Before the 1960s, most of the practices Candy Gunther Brown considers-yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, meditation, martial arts, homeopathy, anticancer diets-were dismissed as medically and religiously questionable. These once-suspect health practices gained approval as they were re-categorized as non-religious (though generically spiritual) health-care, fitness, or scientific techniques. Although CAM claims are similar to religious claims, CAM gained cultural legitimacy because people interpret it as science instead of religion.

Holistic health care raises ethical and legal questions of informed consent, consumer protection, and religious establishment at the center of biomedical ethics, tort law, and constitutional law. The Healing Gods confronts these issues, getting to the heart of values such as personal autonomy, self-determination, religious equality, and religious voluntarism.

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About the Author:


Candy Gunther Brown is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. She is the author of Testing Prayer: Science and Healing and The Word in the World, and she is the editor of Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing. Her work has been published in The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and The Daily.

Review:


"Brown s well-researched and thought-provoking book deepens our understanding of CAM and offers incisive analysis of important related issues."--Journal of Religion


"Dr. Brown gives religious people of all faiths a very useful and learned approach to complementary and alternative medicine and how to integrate it with their spirituality and healing practices." - Herbert Benson, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


"Candy Gunther Brown cleverly shifts attention from the providers of alternative medicine (supply side) to these movements' consumers (demand side). Her conclusions are startling and have serious implications for the study of popular religion: bodily desires dictate what we actually value more than the creeds of our churches or the findings of scientific researchers." - Robert C. Fuller, author of Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life


"Candy Brown's Healing Gods discerns relationships that no other scholar has even thought to uncover. Drawing on impressive historical, sociological, and anthropological methods, Brown convincingly demonstrates the frequently tight, but highly conflicted, connections between alternative medicine and evangelical Christianity. Her book will be of great interest not only to scholars who study complementary medicine, but also to citizens interested in the surprisingly difficult public policy issues that arise when religion, medicine, and the state come together." - Robert D. Johnston, editor of The Politics of Healing: Histories of Twentieth-Century North American Alternative Medicine


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