Yesterday I posted yet another blog entry about yet another delusionally-religious family that killed its child for Jesus. Today I saw an item about people who died in a sweat lodge in a “New Age” retreat in Arizona. CBS News reports on these people who endangered themselves as part of their “New Age” worship:

wo people died and an estimated 19 others were taken to hospitals after being overcome while sitting in a sauna-like sweat lodge during a Sedona spiritual retreat, authorities said Friday.

Sixty-four people were in a crudely constructed sweat dome at the 70-acre Angel Valley resort Thursday evening, Yavapai County sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said. The resort nestled in the forest about 20 minutes from Sedona, a resort town about 115 miles north of Phoenix that is well-known as a center for the New Age spiritual movement.

Tangential note: The story includes the obligatory reference to Sen. John McCain’s ranch being not far away. This is, however, completely irrelevant to the story. It just adds an element of what the reporter probably perceives as drama and a connection to politics. It’s nonetheless superfluous, though, as McCain had nothing to do with this.

At any rate, CBS News goes on:

Many people began feeling ill after about two hours in the sweat box, emerging lightheaded and weak, said Verde Valley Fire District Chief Jerry Doerksen. …

About 21 people were taken by ambulance or helicopter to area hospitals, where two were pronounced dead, D’Evelyn said. The dead were identified only as a man and woman, both middle-aged.

Three people taken to Flagstaff Medical Center were listed in critical condition Friday, and another was in fair condition. Three others who were admitted to a hospital in nearby Verde Valley recovered quickly; two of them were released overnight and one was reported in good condition Friday.

Authorities said self-help expert and author James Arthur Ray rented the facility and was hosting the group inside the dome, a low-lying structure covered with tarps and blankets. In a testimonial on the retreat’s Web site, Ray said it “offers an ideal environment for my teachings and our participants.”

I have no idea what sweat lodges have to do with “teachings,” but hey … when it comes to “New Age” practices, rationality and logical connections are unnecessary … you just do whatever, and claim that people did it thousands of years ago, even though they didn’t, and delude yourself into thinking you’re following millennia-old practices, even if you just dreamed them up last week. Angel Valley is apparently a New Age paradise:

The Angel Valley Spiritual Retreat Center, built on former ranch property in the high-desert and red-rock country of northern Arizona, bills itself as a natural environment for self discovery and healing through a holistic approach aimed at balancing the mind, emotions, body and spirit.

When did someone decide that cooking oneself to death in a sweat lodge was the best way to “balance” one’s mind, emotions, body and/or spirit?

Just goes to show that it’s not just Christianity — or Judeo-Christian-Islamic metaphysics — that can harm people … “New Age” can be just as dangerous.

Hat tip: The Apathetic Agnostic Church.

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