Friday, February 24, 2006

Britain's psychic challenge

UK's channel 5 has recently been running a reality psychic game show of this name, whittling 5,000 self professed psychics down to a final three. The finale was last Sunday.

it's been an interesting series. Firstly worth noting that 5,000 Britons want to enter and believe they are psychics is something in itself.

the programmes have had a panel of skeptics who at each turn have often pointed to the weakness of the supposed powers of the contestants. Very often this has related to the vagueness of information offered and the way this may often be almost a fishing technique looking for affirmations that may help the psychic go in a certain direction. All of this would be familiar to those who have observed stage magicians like Derren Brown deliberately fake psychic phenomena. I don't think any of the psychics in the show were deliberately doing this but I suspect it is sometimes learnt behavior not consciously adopted, after all it works!

however sometimes the skeptics are clearly stumped, the eventually winner did this twice when she was able to find a hidden person in a wilderness faster than a professional search team with sniffer dogs, indeed on both occasions simply going straight to where the person was guided apparently by instinct. Even more unnervingly they used her, 'Rosanna Arquette Medium style', to help with an unsolved murder case, she seemed to almost become the victim and then proceeded to walk the police around areas they knew where key to the murder with running commentary of the events. She finished by supply a description of the murderer that we were not allowed to hear (as was true of some other bits of information, so as not to jeopardize the case) but we were told was accurate to one of the original suspects.

similarly we also have just had series exploring alternative/complimentary medicine under scientific conditions by a an initially skeptical doctor who became convinced at least that some do work in scientifically measurable ways.

all this is part of growing trend to treat the supernatural, the alternative and the psychic seriously in the British media, part I think of an increasing openness to it here.

how should Christians respond? Increasingly I think the tide is running out for the sort of mid 20th century liberalism that sort to demythologize faith and dismiss the miraculous as fanciful stories to be reduced to their meaning devoid of any supernatural content. The other tradition has tended to be to dismiss all such things as occult or demonic witchcraft. Yet what seems to be emerging is a middle space in which it looks as if scientific explanation may be given to some such phenomena, in which it might be true to say they cease to be supernatural at all. I think Christians are increasingly going to have to be open minded to such phenomena.

in the end I also want to question the attitude that thinks primarily of protection of the faithful, that seeks always to weed out the wrong the risky and the dangerous. I am not sure God and those who claim to be in God through Christ need defending from the 'supernatural'. Rather I would like to see people who actually seem to believe that God is bigger than this and that perfect love really does drive out fear. All of this is think should not be viewed as a worrying trend but as a wonderful opportunity.

what kind of Christians can take such an opportunity? I suspect it will be those who are equally open to the mystical, the miraculous and the unexplained in their own faith tradition, and not scared to walk alongside those exploring such in any and every tradition. The problem is that none of the current tribes of the church fit this bill. The liberals are open to questions but often closed to the miraculous, the Catholics bearers of the mystical but often not the uncoventional, the evangelicals keen to engage with the faith of others but closed to the mystical and the unexplained within in their own faith, the charismatics seeking to manifest the miraculous but usually demonising it in others. Time perhaps for some new expressions of faith that transcend all our traditions, holding together the insights of all and rejecting the fears of all. And I see this emerging in places,

indeed I suspect that many of the debates that divide Christians today are not really between the different tribes or churchmanships but between those seeking to be faithful in the age in which we are, an age of psychic challenge, and those who are still living in an age that is no more.


Steve said...

interested to know Jane if by that you mean there are no such things as psychics or that you think there are but thought the ones on the programme were phony. however as to the programme not being scientific but a game show a couldn't agree more.

Sally said...

I dare not be so black and white as Jane, as I believe that there is more unexplained than we like to far as the New Kind of Christian, I think they are coming out of the woodwork, from many different traditions, evangelicals who find they don't have as many answers as they thought, liberals who find too much evidence for the unexplainable and many more, they are all on a journey, if we meet up somehow with other spiritual seekers on the way I believe God will lead us to a new place and a new understanding if only we have ears to hear!!!

Sally said...

Thanks for your comments on Future??? Somehow I think these two posts link!!!

Michael said...

That sounds like an intersting show, Steve.
The Christian Church should indeed embrace the reality of the supersensible and the miracles within and without.

Materialism (as in philosophical materialism) has had its day, and the tide is beginning to turn. Materialism is an evil that has unhealthy effects on our humanity.

Kind Regards,

Unknown said...

Why do Christians close themselves off to spiritual phenomena? Jesus said “Whatever I can do the least of ye can do”. Didn’t he directly communicate with heaven? He healed the sick, fed the masses when given little, and even raised the dead, his miracles were endless. If he were born into today’s society he would be called a MEDIUM, a CHANNEL, a HEALER, and a PROPHET. Please check out the book: ANGELS are TALKING, by Michelle Whitedove she explains spiritual communication that has been happening since ancient times.

Steve said...

amazed and glad that old posts can have new postings.

i totally agree with what you say. i am glad to say not all christians are closed to the miraculous! indeed Jesus would have been given such labels and if his own story is anything to go by would have been condemned by the religious for it.

the book you mention. i must be honest i already ahve severl years of reading beyond this year, so i need ot be really sold a book. i am open to any book by any person, so tell my why this one? tell me a bit about why you have found it so profound?