I wrote a lot about James Arthur Ray in the early days of this blog; now that he’s been convicted of negligent homicide and faces at least some prison time (up to nine years but probably much less–he’ll be sentenced at the end of July), I find myself oddly reticent on the subject.
A well-written summary of his career appeared in The Guardian and there was a thoughtful op ed in The Wall Street Journal by Mitch Horowitz. “The public should be alert” to the dangers posed by charlatans like Ray, Horowitz writes, “but not at the expense of the free exercise of spiritual experiment that has long characterized our religious culture. When considering crackdowns on ersatz sweat lodges or extreme rites, Americans ought to take guidance from what Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote in 1944: ‘The price of freedom of religion . . . is that we must put up with, and even pay for, a good deal of rubbish.'”