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The mailbag:


Recently, we ran an article about how a famous deliverance expert, Derek Prince, author of They Shall Expel Demons, had warned about the healing practice of acupuncture -- whereby needles are inserted into the skin in a way that seems to mysteriously relieve pain and symptoms. The Vatican, to a lesser degree, listed acupuncture, as well as the chiropractic, as methods advertised by New Agers (in a 2003 document on the New Age called "Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life").

We heard back from a number of viewers, pro and con about this subject -- most taking issue with the view that acupuncture is wrong or with the document itself.

We had asked a question [see previous article]: is there a demonic origin to acupuncture, as Prince alleged? Did the Vatican group responsible for the document relegate acupuncture and the chiropractic and other arcane healing methods, as have some deliverance ministers, to the classification of the occult? And if it did, what does one do when a group of Vatican experts makes what seems like a negative remark about a practice that involves many good and even excellent Catholics?

Let's turn to the mailbag:

While some agree full-heartedly with skeptics -- or those who fear that practices like acupuncture may be demonic -- they were outnumbered by those who support the practice.

"I spent three long years doing exhaustive research on acupuncture -- whether it was right or wrong for Catholic Christians," said viewer Kathy Fenton. "I found information that it is a scientifically verifiable practice, and that it is effective." 

Wrote a deacon, Michael Nixon, "I was shocked when I read your article condemning acupuncture. I am a licensed acupuncturist in the State of Florida. I have been practicing Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for over 27 years. I have helped countless people that were suffering from maladies that modern medicine could not treat. I am saddened to see erroneous information concerning this valuable healing art that has been in use for thousands of years. and has benefited millions of people, and more recently, has been studied and approved by the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization.   

"The article leads people into thinking that the Vatican has declared acupuncture to be a New Age practice, and you quote a paragraph of the Vatican document, and anecdotal stories to confirm your claim. 

"The Vatican Document Jesus Christ The Bearer Of The Water Of Life states that 'Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices' and then it lists a wide variety of practices, and acupuncture is included. According to your line of reasoning, the document may be casting doubt on acupuncture, but what about the other modalities listed along with acupuncture? Are  nutritional therapies, 12-step programs (AA meetings), massage therapy, music therapy (hospice finds music therapy useful), homeopathic medicine (Mother Teresa and her sisters used homeopathy), herbal medicine (St. Martin DePorres was a herbalist), and also Chiropractic -- are these to be avoided because they are 'advertised by the New Age?' 

"I don't think this was the Vatican's intention. Last week I treated a pastor with acupuncture, because he was having shoulder problems, and he was finding it difficult to raise his arm during Mass. After the acupuncture, his shoulder problem was healed -- I'm thankful he didn't read your article. I always recommend that people avoid any type of therapist or doctor who is engaged in New Age practices, because these practices can inadvertently open doors for evil spirits.  If a surgeon is into New Age, does it make surgery New Age? I have treated many priests and religious sisters over the years.  I am also a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Pensacola/Tallahassee, and our son has just been ordained a priest for our diocese."

It is a matter, of course, that would have been better addressed by Mr. Prince (if he were still alive; he died a few years back), or the Vatican (we never took a stand either way, due to simple inexperience with it). As we said at the very beginning of the article: "We get asked about this at times, and really aren't knowledgeable enough."

In support of Mr. Prince:

"A friend linked me to your article on acupuncture," wrote Diane Levy. "I completely agree. I am an American and I renounced my practice back in 2002. I had done extensive research as to its occult associations and also came across the story you cited. It seemed though opinions varied greatly and even the Church was divided on this issue, the only people who had real understanding of the dangers involved were the exorcists and those involved with deliverance. After I threw about $10,000 or more of equipment into my local dump, I too experienced a spiritual freedom.

"Iím sure you will get a lot of negative feedback from this article on acupuncture as a lot of folks have invested in it as a means of healthcare. I was 'helping' many people with their pain and it was very difficult to close my doors, but I knew it was the right thing." 

"A careful reading of the first two sentences of the paragraph differentiates between the actual approach and its derivation," wrote one viewer, Jing-Pong Wong of Perth, Australia. "I highlight the word derivation: The paragraph states that there is advertising connected with the New Age that uses approaches derived from ancient cultural traditions, including acupuncture. It is not saying here that acupuncture is a new-age modality, but only that New Age has used acupuncture. New Age has connected with this ancient tradition of acupuncture and brought it into their own tradition."

What about notions of an arcane energy around the body -- what some classify as a psychic force -- that's called c'hi or ki and is said to be behind the workings of acupuncture?

Said another (who wished to remain anonymous): "When I was taught traditional Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Australia and China I found that there were two groups. The first group were the students who studied and practiced all that is taught and more (i.e. Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, spiritual healing, tarot cards, wicca, ouija boards, they were pro-abortion, pro-IVF etcetera, all of which I found to be contradictory and conflicting with my Catholic Faith). Then there was the small group -- that was me and another student (he was a Chinese Christian) -- who studied the medicines and related Western medical documents to back that Chinese herbal medicine can heal diseases and that acupuncture does aid and facilitate in promoting cellular activity to a particular area to promote quicker healing as with leg ulcers in the elderly. I never conformed to the view that 'c'hi' flows in the body and that we can heal ourselves. No, God heals. Not energy, not some mysterious 'life force,' no, God heals! I've always had to lean on Jesus' Cross for my patients and myself."

"I am aware of the Vatican document, 'Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life,' and have found a number of inaccuracies in the paper," wrote a devoutly Catholic chiropractor, Allan Weilert, of Wichita, Kansas. "It is quite apparent that the composers of the document had little knowledge of the topic. Frankly, this erroneous information is an embarrassment.  I have been a doctor of chiropractic for 16 years and absolutely no 'New Age' influences were introduced into my education. As for acupuncture, just because many practitioners of it also are devotees of Eastern religion, it does not follow that the practice itself is 'New Age' or opens one to demonic influence. In addition, I have been involved in healing ministry for nearly thirty years and have never encountered in my hundreds of cases of deliverance anyone demonized by receiving either chiropractic or acupuncture.  Finally, if chiropractic were a 'New Age' practice, why would the Church approve the Association For Catholic Chiropractors (of which I am a member) as a Public Association of the Faithful? It just doesn't add up, does it?  Unfortunately, chiropractic has had enough trouble being accepted as a legitimate healing science. Documents like 'Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life' make it that much tougher to gain much-needed acceptance into mainstream health care."

Commented Jan Meeks of Baltimore, Maryland: "Just read something on Spirit Daily today that places homeopathy under 'New Age.' Our family has been using homeopathic remedies very successfully in place of vaccines and other undesirable traditional medicines... they are only tablets taken under the tongue... is this an evil practice?" 

And so we see the challenge: the fine line that is often drawn between natural remedies (and nothing is wrong with natural remedies; in fact, they may be more "right" than anything else) and esoteric practices that may have subtle mystical implications. For your discernment!

[resources: Foods Jesus Ate and They Shall Expel Demons]

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