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jkkFL On February - 15 - 2011

I will be honest- I am an OWN Network  junkie :)

I also closely follow the Ling sisters, I think their style of documentary journalism is


Tonight, Lisa started her series, ‘Our America with Lisa Ling’ on OWN.

The first episode explored  faith healers and faith healing.  She featured  three people attending a three day Faith- Healing meeting in Charlotte.

She presented each story with empathy and an open mind, wondering if somehow, she could witness a miracle because of the emotional investment she had in each person, and their story. At one point  in the meeting she stepped out, realizing ‘There’s no place for doubt in that room’.

I am not a believer in faith healing, and I’m not trying to pass this off as a ‘pro religion’  endorsement.

It is  simply an observation of what is to me, is an  an awesome blend of investigative reporting,  empathy, and some insight into the mind of a true journalist.

Lisa Ling’s show airs Tuesday nights on OWN Network.

Written by jkkFL

*Colts fan *Cubs fan *Rays fan *Sports fan! ...and Permanent Planet Resident ;)

32 Responses so far.

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  1. Sabreen60 says:


    Since I can’t answer your last question to me, because there is no “reply” button, I’ll do it here. Your question/statement was:

    “How is telling them what to think the cure- if it isn’t ‘your’ message, it becomes propaganda.”

    I’m going to do the unthinkable. I’m going to answer your question with a question.

    Do you believe there is “truth”? Not opinion, not spin, but “truth”? I ask you this, because I previously said that networks, such as CNN let lies go unanswered. You replied with your statement above.

    • jkkFL says:

      I believe there is truth; but I also believe that everyone has their own ‘truth’.
      If I think what you write is a lie, and I say so- does that make it a lie?
      Only to me.
      You could be writing Gospel- but if I disagree- that’s what I will believe.
      In that vein, I prefer to have the facts presented, I will turn them over, recheck what I’m not clear on, and make a decision.

      • Sabreen60 says:

        But I didn’t say that facts shouldn’t be presented. You know the old saying, “you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts”? My point was (maybe I was unclear) lies are told and allowed to stand without rebuttal. I never said or implied that facts are unnecessary. I don’t know what you mean by “everyone has their own “truth”. I think everyone has their own ‘opinions’. A ‘true’ statement can be backed up with facts, IMO. Otherwise it’s an opinion or a theory. But even some theories are ‘true’. For example, the Theory of Gravity is just that ‘a theory’. But all you have to do is jump off a building to determine it’s true.

        • jkkFL says:

          K- I get what you’re saying.
          My term would be factual.

          Factual: of, or pertaining to facts; concerning facts: factual accuracy. 2. based on or restricted to facts: a factual report.
          By definition, that is my truth.

  2. ghsts says:

    @jkkFL- Please reconsider bring Madoff into this. I get what you were saying but he wasn’t doing anything different from JPMorgan, GoldmanSach, UBS etc. His crime wasn’t even that his ponzi collapsed it was that he targeted the top 5%.

    • jkkFL says:

      No matter the subject, people are ultimately responsible for their actions.
      It is nobody’s job to herd us around like sheep- telling us what is right or wrong. Who knows who is ‘right’? What if Your ‘right’ is Not my ‘right’?
      Madoff, or Faith Healers, all live off of word of mouth,and reputation- and it is sad when people are duped.
      But, nobody has the resposibility to save people from themselves, and I, for one, do not take kindly to someone telling me if my personal decisions are correct.
      They are my decisions- and I am the one who pays the price if I am wrong.

      • Sabreen60 says:

        “But, nobody has the responsibility to save people from themselves”

        If I may jump in here?

        Do you mean no one should be ‘forced’ to save people from themselves? Or no one should be ‘obligated’ to save …..

        The reason I asked is because a particular situation came to mind. For example: A family with a drug addicted member may feel they have a ‘responsibility’ to try and ‘save’ that individual. The drug addicted person may reject the help and that’s their choice. So based on what you said, do you believe that the members of the family have no responsibility to try to save the person’s life?

        • jkkFL says:

          Sabreen, I’ll be honest here, I’m a strong believer in personal responsibility.
          My answer is no, they do not have a responsibility to intervene, but they Do have the option to try.

  3. Sabreen60 says:

    Thanks jkkFL for writing the article -- it brought forth a lively discussion, didn’t it. I love it when we can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Last week, I finally watched the “Sunset Limited”. That might induce a conversation, also.

  4. jdmn17 says:

    I didn’t see the story at all. I worked as an allied health professional for many years, most in a burn unit. I saw things there that defied explanation, from both perspectives incidentally. I was always intrigued with “placbo” healing, where patients got better simply because they thought they were getting a treatment when in fact they weren’t. I can’t even begin to understand the human mind or the power of positive thinking. That said, a severed spinal cord is a severed spinal cord and no amount of faith or prayer is going to regenerate those nerves. I gather from the article the question surrounds whether this was presented as flim flam or not. I suppose I better try to find the show before I make a judgment. In general I think faith healers do pull people in for money instead of faith. That’s just me and my “medical model” training. I think the same can be said of a lot of more traditional medical healers. Surgeons performing surgery for the sake of surgery or to correct the effects of a previous surgery.

  5. smit9187 says:

    Thank you for bringing our attention to this. I saw Lisa Ling on O’Donnell’s show discussing this. She led you to believe that the guy might have walked again, I know she was just promoting her show. I’m happy to find out on this blog what actually happened.

  6. Bauart says:

    I completely disagree. Vehemently disagree.

    I didn’t find a link in your article to the story or video, so I did a Google search and found a video snippet titled, “Will Steve Walk” by Lisa Ling for the OWN Network.


    I strongly believe Faith healing should NOT be approached with dignity OR sympathy. It is a fraud, and should be called out for what it is, and the preachers that still practice this bronze age mumbo jumbo should be held criminally liable for the snake oil remedies they are pushing to the detriment of their followers. Passing off faith healing as a treatment for illness is just as wrong as if they were filling empty medicine capsule with sugar water and selling it for cash. Worse yet it is often perpetrated on those in our society who are both mentally and physically incapable of helping themselves.

    Ling’s approach, from the snippet I saw, was just pandering to Oprah’s OWN audience, and giving a marginally digestible story that neither supported or repudiated the faith healers claims.

    In the video Steve did NOT walk afterwards (of course) but was still afflicted with the same illness, and to the same degree, he had had before attending the faith healing service. Instead of doing some actual reporting and using that opportunity to reject the whole notion of faith healing, Ling instead redirected the story and told how “Steve reached out to her [Lisa Ling] to give her comfort”. (Really?) The video even showed Steve (still in his a wheelchair) physically doing what evangelicals call, “Laying on of hands” on to Ms. Ling. (Pathetic.)

    So, in the end, Lisa Ling’s final conclusion was that maybe she [Lisa Ling] had been the one “expecting too much?” (Oh please!)

    “That room” was EXACTLY the place into which someone should have tossed some doubt, and Ling completely missed her opportunity to do so.

    I’m not sure what she set out to do with this piece? But it sure wasn’t journalism.

    • jkkFL says:

      IMO she simply presented the people, their faith, and the result. She said these people were there because they had no other options, nothing more was medically available.
      I’m not sure what you consider journalism, but I didn’t see any endorsement of faith healing, or faith healers. She presented the people, their histories, and the outcomes, with respect, while voicing doubt.
      Unlike your inflexible criteria, she wisely allowed the viewer to draw their own conclusions.
      Had she presented it any other way, she would have been just as guilty of ‘preaching’.

      Whether you agree or not, there is a huge faith based community worldwide. I am not aware of any region, or country who doesn’t have a religious sect.

      Lisa is doing a series based on the US, and she chose a topic which she felt was relevant. I happen to agree with the premise.
      Perhaps your real bias is directed at OWN- not the story?

      • Bauart says:

        What she did was a not much more than a promo for the OWN network. It was warm and fuzzy with very little substance.

        How can you say she “allowed the viewer to draw their own conclusions” when she ended the piece with an interview of the evangelist proclaiming the ineffectiveness of modern medicine, and with video footage of her [the “journalist”] participating in the religious ceremony of “laying on of hands”?

        If Faith Healing, or prayer for that matter, is sought out as their legitimate last hope… then the question should be answered, “Why has god never healed an amputee?”

        Having no medical options shouldn’t mean these poor people must resort to the religious equivalent of a Barnum & Bailey sideshow as their last hope.

        It was really very sickening to me.

        • jkkFL says:

          Journalism used to be presenting all sides of the story without bias.
          Now journalism is defined by presenting the story, and telling everyone how they should think.
          I define this as the FOX syndrome.
          I don’t want someone to do my thinking for me and then telling me what I should draw from the story.
          I haven’t seen any amputees who were healed either; and I don’t need someone to tell me…

          • Sabreen60 says:

            “Journalism used to be presenting all sides of the story without bias.”

            I disagree. But the “used to be” is the problem. The real journalism I remember “use to be” presenting the truth. Truth is not bias, IMO. CNN does exactly what you say “used to be” journalism. CNN allows people (usually Repubs) to say anything and rarely calls them out on the lies. Their mantra seems to be “we report, you decide”. The problem, as I see it with the MSM is that they are not concerned with “truth” anymore. It is in fact, “we report, you decide”. How many people are going to do the research to “decide” correctly?

            • jkkFL says:

              How is telling them what to think the cure- if it isn’t ‘your’ message, it becomes propaganda.

          • Bauart says:

            Thank you, that is exactly what I’m trying to say… Ling completely ignored the side of the story that showed this as nothing but a scam that feeds on the emotions of the sick and dying. To do that would have obviously run counter to the OWN networks religiously-centered target demographic.

            • jkkFL says:

              I am not a religious person, either.
              But I have the tolerance and curiousity to listen to another viewpoint.
              I maintain your bias is targeted toward OWN.
              If you see a doctor, or retain a lawyer, accountant or housekeeper- is that not blind faith to a degree?
              Bernie Madoff’s clients will tell you that what you hear or see is not necessarily what is.

            • ghsts says:

              @Bauart- I agree with your points, but would add that NOW appears to me to be a “the secret” theme park. Like the old motivational exercise of walking on hot coals, though there are a lot of people getting burnt.

              btw- thank you for honestly linking your other life on your “avatar”, something many of us do not have the right or desire to do.

            • jkkFL says:

              Fox syndrome: telling people what to think.
              OWN-phobia: fear of a successful enterprise.
              GOP syndrome: controlling people who disagree with their religious- or moral code.

    • smit9187 says:

      Agreed, the emphasis should have been on failure to produce the promised miracle. It should have been on the power of the mind to delude us into believing when we witness obvious failure. I posted this from my HTC, is that cool or what? The blog is blocked on my network at my job.

      • jkkFL says:

        And that would have been Objective journalism because..?

        • Sabreen60 says:

          For me, I guess, I would call it a ‘fluff’ piece. What I mean is that there was no hardcore investigative journalism. If her intention was to let the audience peek inside a particular community, then she achieved ‘part’ of that goal. Had she wanted to delve deeper, than perhaps she could have shown people who are never healed and have a negative view -- but that would have required investigation.

        • Bauart says:

          Because to just rephrase the proclamations of those you are interviewing, and hand it back to them on a golden platter, is not.

          • jkkFL says:

            That is incorrect-and since you admittedly did not see the show, you are speaking from a position of weakness- at best.
            She did not encourage them, she did contact each person to check the outcome, and she wisely refrained from ‘handing it back to them on a golden platter’.
            I still maintain your objections are with OWN- not a show you didn’t see.

            • Bauart says:

              Actually I have never watched the OWN network. I’m judging this article completely on its own. (No pun intended). I haven’t even seen a promo for it, at least that I’m aware of?

              Other than being associated with Oprah, I don’t know anything about OWN.

              If her network presents truthful journalistic pieces, I’m all for it. If this was an example, I think she is just pandering to a specific demographic and could have, should have, done much much better. (Although, unfortunately, I’m sure it will be enormously successful).

    • KQuark says:

      I didn’t see it so I can’t comment directly.

      To be fair to jkkFL they did not say dignity or sympathy. jkkFL said empathy and an open mind. I’m a scientist and I approach everything with skepticism so I wouldn’t have approached it either way.

      Participation with an open mind is one valid method journalists use to share an experience with an audience. But I like you would not have taken that tact.

      • Bauart says:

        Thanks KQuark, I stand corrected… But I would not have approached this topic with either empathy or an open mind. Perhaps the poor duped followers of these sham artist deserve our empathy, but certainly not the evangelist themselves, and none of them have given me any reason to have an open mind about faith healing. Every true journalistic investigation into faith healing reveals nothing but deceit and corruption.

        • KQuark says:

          I’ve seen stone cold investigations into faith healers and every time they have proven to be frauds.

          I would recommend you see a series called “John Safran vs God”. He’s an Aussie comedian but takes a participatory angle of finding religion by experiencing different religions around the world. The series was great but the last episode was quite spooky when he went through an exorcism with a southern evangelist. It was hard to explain but he did kind of have an out of body experience were he seemed to be unable to control his actions. I don’t think it was shtick because of the way he approached the other religions he examined. But I do think some of these preachers are so good at manipulating human behavior that they can induce a psychological episode with people along with creating mass hysteria. The subjects behavioral changes often manifest in extreme ways like seeming to “speak in tongues”, perform inhuman bodily movements, pass out etc.

          • Khirad says:

            Indeed. I’ve watched some of these things.

            I of course think it’s bullshit.

            I also know that the conditioned and primed mind is a powerful thing.

            I’d love to see a good social psychological take on it.

            And, as creepy and unsettling as I find this stuff, it ironically is interesting in that it is similar in some ways to tribal West African religions (as one example), where you are built up into a frenzy (probably not the right word) with heightened experience, and undergo a release, and so forth.

            • KQuark says:

              Oh absolutely the psychology of it all just fascinates me.

              A movie you should check out is “The Forth Kind” which is about alien abductions in AK.

              The psychological state this one guy was put in was so extreme he actually broke his neck and became paralyzed.

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