Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's Time to Critique "Personal Growth"

Jason Pitzl-Waters offers more links on the Sedona sweat-lodge deaths, including to the Beyond Growth blog, which has been critiquing James Arthur Ray for some time.

(Related: I want to read Barbara Ehrenreich's newest, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.)

I sometimes wonder at the whole concept of "growth." Did Socrates talk about "growth"? I don't think so. Wisdom, yes, attained by philosophical inquiry, life experience, and maybe the gift of the gods—chiefly the first. I expect he would have scorned a workshop that involved putting a couple dozen people (Correction: 64 people) in a sweat lodge and heating it until they collapsed. Not much logos there. Not much inquiry. Not much virtue.

While I am waiting for the book, I think I shall be reading the blog.

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Anonymous Pitch313 said...

I think that there is something askew about the teaching model used in events like the one in Arizona. I'm not sure what, but I get a feeling that's it's askew just by looking briefly at the web site descriptions.

Maybe it involves the notion of "hasty transformative ordeal."

But I gotta say it loud and proud that I underwent plenty of hasty transformative ordeals as I learned to ride--and continue to learn to ride--my mountain bikes. I have some noticeable scars to show for it, too.

The difference, so far as there is one, has to do with pacing. I learned to ride my mountain bikes very much at my own pace.

I paid a great deal of attention and gave a great deal of effort to what I imagined I could do--and what I knew with certainty that I could not.

Yes, riding my mountain bikes did bring about all kinds of personal growth. But, No, I did not ride with any unattainable goals or expectations before me.

11:16 AM  
OpenID dmiley said...

I was in a class years ago with Paul Carter when the subject of growth came up. Well, growth could be good, but then he recounted the story about an American Zen teacher who started a "Growth Group" for cancer survivors. . . .

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...


8:46 PM  
Blogger Yewtree said...

James Ford suggests a safeguard for spirituality groups: having a reality check.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Snoozepossum said...

"(Related: I want to read Barbara Ehrenreich's newest, Bright-sided: . . . . .)"

I just ordered it - Thanx muchly for mentioning it!

We're infested with the Growth/Transformation-preoccupied here in my area - I call them the Positivity Police. All it really is is charismatic Christian "name it & claim it" dogma (complete with Blame the Victim clauses), redecorated in New Age colors.

It's a dangerous mentality, and there's no reasoning with them. If you're not "manifesting abundance and progress", you're "embracing negativity and/or chaos". If you disagree with them, you're in denial, or afraid of growth. They even seem to be following the aggressive evangelical model, that they are "called to share The Truth" with people who need it (which is everybody else).

You can't get them to leave you alone if they've decided to "save" you, but I've found that growling and snapping my teeth at them does make them remember they left something on the stove . . . ;0)

3:06 AM  

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