Today, Derren gave out many more details about his upcoming tv work (very upcoming: April 25). It's called "Miracles for Sale", and in it, he trains a 'member of the public' to pass as a faith healer, presumably showing the tricks used by 'real faith healers' in the process. I think it should be a groundbreaking piece of work. I'm excited and hopeful about the piece, but have mixed feelings for many reasons.
The main purpose of "Miracles for Sale" is to expose faith healers and televangelists for the fraudsters they are. These are the truly evil people who preach 'Prosperity gospel'-- that if you give your money to the preacher, God will give you money back many times in return. Of course, Jesus and the Bible does teach a great deal about the value of giving and generosity, but this sort of teaching is extremely dangerous and not rooted in scripture, in my opinion. After all, we are told to "build up treasures in heaven", and even when God promises to provide for us, it's hard to take it to literally mean financial provision, but rather spiritual provision. After all, millions of Christians around the world are destitute. It's a bit hypocritical to claim that God promises to feed and clothe them all without exception.
Anyway, I am all for showing up the fraudulent faith healers who are out to exploit gullible truth seekers, although I almost feel that I wish Christians could have beaten Derren to the punch here; If faith healers and televangists are preaching a perversion of the Christian faith, shouldn't it be the Christians who put them in their places? But I'm so glad Derren has taken up this mantle; I'm sure this was a much more difficult task than what he undertook in "Derren Brown Investigates", which was a skeptical examination of several paranormal experts, some of whom were well intentioned but misguided. Nevertheless, I am a little tense about seeing the ugly underbelly of the exploitation that's undertaken in God's name. As a Christian, I think it'll turn my stomach to see the degree of false teaching happening.
Other fans have expressed concern that Derren would be criticizing Christianity itself, but I don't think that's his aim. Although he is an outspoken atheist and ex-Christian, Derren has always shown great sensitivity toward the Christian faith, even in a society that is largely secular (UK). I think it's easy enough to separate the fraudulent faith healers from the mainstream church.
I've known that Miracles for Sale would be set in the United States. But Derren announced today...it's set in Texas. My home. I find it strange that, for all these years, I have watched Derren on a backdrop of London and various sites around the UK, and now he has finally come to Texas, of all places. And I didn't know about it! :) If only. But unfortunately I'm sure they chose Texas for the rather unflattering reason that there's a large body of people willing to believe in the fraudulent faith healers whom Derren & Co. could deceive. If I had to venture a guess, I would say...East Texas? But aside from the exciting possibility that they may have actually gone to Houston or San Antonio, I worry about the choice of location. Many people in the UK and in Europe generally have a negative view of Texas- they believe we are backward hicks or cowboys who ride horses everywhere. I spoke up on the blog to point out that Texas is, after all, home to the second silicon valley, several great universities, and has a resilient economy. I certainly hope that this show is not, inadvertently or otherwise, reinforcing negative stereotypes.
Unfortunately the show falls on the 25th, only a few days before one of my major deadlines. I may have to put it off until my semester finishes, which is May 7. We'll see.