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Go Into the Light, Carol Ann!

[whitespace] Radiant Light Ministry gives back

By Millie

There were five of us at the Radiant Light Ministry's healing circle on a recent Wednesday night in an upstairs room at the Swedish American Hall at 2174 Market St. The healing circle started at 6pm, an hour before Celebration with Rev. Matt Garrigan. "This is our first Wednesday-night healing circle. We used to be on Sundays, but now Celebration has moved to Wednesday so Rev. Matt could have more time to do his work around the country," the smiling facilitator revealed.

A candle burned in the center of a circle of chairs. A cute guy was sharing. He had come to some big conclusions that week. He had decided to end his career as a massage therapist. Turned out the whole gig was always about the customer. The work brought up too much baggage: relationship stuff, memories of childhood sexual abuse, self-esteem issues. The whole thing was just so heavy. He wasn't sure how he might support himself, but that was OK--just to be away from those sticky oils and all that flesh.

We all shook our heads and smiled supportively. Uncomfortable silence. Lots of vacant eye contact. One of the facilitators went in for the kill. "Do you practice sexual massage?" Each of us sat rigid, waiting for the salacious details that draw people to healing circles in the first place. The guy broke. Tears welled up. He changed position a dozen times, hung his head and confessed that indeed this was the reason behind his career change. He wanted out. More supportive smiles. More shaking heads.

The facilitator turned toward Millie. "Would you like to share?"

"I'm just observing. It's my first time," Millie replied.

The guy piped up, "It's my first time too!"

Specifics aren't a real strength of the Universal Endowment of Human Empowerment, the umbrella organization that runs Radiant Light Ministry. It's generally believed to be a spinoff of the 1970s New Age phenomenon est. The stated purpose of the organization is to "empower people, to wake up, experience, own and demonstrate God's Limitless Love, Abundance and Power."

Such a worthy goal is accomplished through the combination motivational seminar and revival meeting led each week by Rev. Garrigan, a high-energy, professional New Age guru. (Weekend-long seminars and personal one-on-one training with Rev. Matt are also available. Cassette tapes too!)

At Celebration, Rev. Matt--just back from Portland, Ore., where he led a successful two-day workshop--entered the meeting hall to the inspirational techno beat of Tanita Tikaram singing, "We Shall Overcome." The 75 or so congregants jumped to their feet clapping. Rev. Matt pumped his fists in the air, shouting "We did it!" as if the whole gang had just gotten back from whipping the pants off a nearby Catholic church in table tennis.

Rev. Matt got the crowd warmed up with a few jokes but pretty quickly started chanting, which the crowd enthusiastically parroted. Somehow the chant included the words Shiva, Buddha, Allah, Moses and Mary. (Pointedly neglecting Sneezy and Dopey.) After the chanting Rev. Matt exhorted us to "walk in the walk of victory."

"If you're sitting there thinking about me, instead of being open to walking the walk of victory, then you're not thinking!" Lots of murmured agreement.

Millie couldn't take it. After about 20 minutes, Millie walked the walk of victory right out of there and into the open and not-so-radiant light of Market Street. The guy's ad still runs in the back of the local gay rag Frontiers Magazine.

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From the August 24-September 6, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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