The Healing Gods of Christian America: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Mainstream

Hardcover | September 12, 2013

byCandy Brown

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Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, has become mainstream. The question people typically ask about CAM is whether it works. However, an issue of equal or, perhaps, greater significance is why it is supposed to work. Answering this question reveals how CAM may change not only yourhealth, but also your religion. This book explains how and why CAM entered the American biomedical mainstream and won cultural acceptance, even among evangelical and other theologically conservative Christians despite its roots in non-Christian religions and the lack of scientific evidence of itsefficacy and safety. Many CAM providers make religious or spiritual assumptions about why CAM works: assumptions informed by religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism forged in Asia, or metaphysical spirituality developed in Europe and North America. Before the 1960s, most of the practices consideredin this book - yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, meditation, martial arts, homeopathy, and anti-cancer diets - if encountered at all-were generally dismissed as medically and religiously questionable. What causes practices once classified as illegitimate for medical andreligious reasons to be redefined as legitimate routes to physical and spiritual wellness? Promoters of holistic healthcare, or integrative medicine, strategically marketed products to consumers poised to embrace effective, spiritually wholesome therapies. Once-suspect health practices gained approval as they were re-categorized as non-religious (though generically spiritual) healthcare, fitness, or scientific techniques, rather than as religious rituals. Although CAM claims are similar to religious claims, CAM gained cultural legitimacy becausepeople interpret it as science instead of religion. Healthcare consumers, providers, policymakers, and courts need to know not just whether CAM works, but also why it should work. Holistic healthcare raises ethical and legal questions of informed consent, consumer protection, and religiousestablishment at the heart of biomedical ethics, tort law, and constitutional law. Answering this question gets to the heart of values such as personal autonomy, self-determination, religious equality, and religious voluntarism.

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From the Publisher

Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, has become mainstream. The question people typically ask about CAM is whether it works. However, an issue of equal or, perhaps, greater significance is why it is supposed to work. Answering this question reveals how CAM may change not only yourhealth, but also your religion. This book exp...

Candy Gunther Brown is an associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University. Her books are Testing Prayer: Science and Healing (2012); Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, as editor (Oxford University Press, 2011), and The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880 ( 2004).

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:September 12, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199985782

ISBN - 13:9780199985784

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Table of Contents

AbbreviationsIntroduction: Why is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Supposed to Work?1. Is CAM Religious?2. Yoga: I Bow to the God within You3. Is CAM Christian?4. I Love My Chiropractor!5. Does CAM Work, and is it Safe?6. Acupuncture: Reclaiming Ancient Wisdom7. How did CAM become Mainstream?8. Energy Medicine: How Her Karma Ran over His DogmaConclusion: Why does it Matter if CAM is Religious (and not Christian)-even if it Works?BibliographyIndex