Christian prayer and traditional Maori healing are to be offered at Whanganui Hospital as part of a natural therapy service - but a sceptic says they could do more harm than good.
Hospital staff will trial the service focused on spirituality and the healing and strengthening of the mind for three months before the district health board considers opening it up to patients.
I say weird, because, I don't quite see how you could offer Christian prayer as a natural therapy service. Whanganui Hospital already has two chaplains, and a chapel where people can pray. Why put Christian prayer into a natural therapy service, why not just leave it with the chaplains and the chapel? Or, do they think by mixing Christianity in with the other stuff, they can somehow equate all of them?
Reiki, massage and meditation will also be available, Maori health director Gilbert Taurua said.
Reiki is incredibly dangerous, and is a good way of increasing your chances of demonic possession. I suppose if the Hospital wants more patients, this is also a good way of getting them, especially for their psycho wards.
However, Victoria University biology sciences professor Shaun Holt said the therapies were a "strange mix". "Meditation and massage great - the others not so."
There was no evidence-based research on reiki, Christian prayer and Maori healing being useful.
"What annoys me with things like this is there are lots of useful complementary therapies out there that they could be offering - yoga, tai chi, herbal supplements, even acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine, that are all evidence-based."
He described reiki - which involves the practitioner placing their hands lightly on the body, supposedly allowing a free flow of universal energy - as "witchcraft".
Shaun Holt doesn't have the exactly the same objections that I do, but at least we agree on reiki. Describing it as "witchcraft" works for me.
However, while there may be no evidence based research on Christian prayer being effective, the Catholic Church's Saint process shows that there can be a direct correlation between prayer and miraculous healing, such as this one that was used in the elevation of Fulton Sheen to Venerable.
Related link: Whanganui trials faith-based therapies