Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Meet the Deadraisers

Resurrection has been part of the Christian tradition since its inception. Not only is Jesus said to have risen from the dead, but according to the Gospels he famously raised Lazarus as well. In the modern era, the most extreme case of using resurrection for personal advantage was probably that of David Koresh. The preacher better known for his role in the Waco standoff previously challenged a rival for control of his sect to a sort of "resurrection duel."

Koresh obtained a corpse, challenged his rival to resurrect the body at a predetermined location, and then rather than actually show up to try it himself just called the cops. The rival was arrested and jailed for tampering with a dead body, and thus was no longer in a position to challenge Koresh - who went on to take over the group and renamed the sect "Branch Davidians" after himself.

Now according to this story, a new group may be giving Koresh a run for his money. A group called the "Dead Raising Team" led by an evangelical Christian named Tyler Johnson is appearing in a new documentary called Deadraiser. The film follows the group as they visit mortuaries and hospitals looking for bodies on which to practice their faith healing techniques. Spoiler alert: it never actually works.

Johnson is unwilling to provide successful case studies. And in general, the proof that believers cite is a bit unconvincing ­– for example, there is an American heart surgeon who allegedly brought a heart attack patient back from the dead with prayer … oh, and a defibrillator. Other doctors find the story entirely unremarkable. One wonders why.

The BBC’s Jolyon Jenkins then got to meet Alun and Donna Leppit, a British couple who are convinced that the dead can be raised through the power of prayer. The evangelic loons were subject of a BBC 4 programme today called Out of the Ordinary: The Power of Prayer.

During the course of the broadcast, Donna lamented that there aren’t too many corpses in the UK that they can practice on. The one that they did try to resurrect to was Donna’s brother, who died of a heart attack. By the time they got to the mortuary, he had been dead for eight hours. They prayed over him for nearly an hour, and although at one stage they thought they saw him move, that was as good as it got.

Here's a question - let's say that these guys can really resurrect the dead. Are said individuals magically healed of whatever killed them as well? Because if that's not the case, I can't imagine a worse fate than being resurrected just to die all over again. But if their organs are all magically repaired, why not use that power on, say, people who need transplants rather than waiting for them to die and only then trying to heal them.

I know, the answer is because it doesn't really work. I have yet to see a magician raise the dead and I don't think a faith healer could do it either. Magical healing is magical healing, regardless of the source, and past a relatively short window dead is simply dead. Still, faith-healing resurrection is a great setup for a zombie film, provided the process has some sort of terrible downside like an appetite for human brains.

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