Let me give you a piece from a recent newspaper review
... quoting Biblical-sounding verse and promising to change our lives, awaken our inner powers, heal ourselves.
With a hot light shining on us, eyes still closed, we are ordered to banish our pain and ailments. To feel them leaving our bodies. And then sit back down again.
Next, he asks if anyone feels different, feels ‘cured’, feels released from their pain. And, amazingly, people really seem to.
Five minutes later we watch slack-jawed as a lady with rheumatoid arthritis can move her hands and feet freely and without pain for the first time in five years. And a bearded chap called Jack with a titanium plate in his skull feels the pressure in his head ease for once.
Suddenly, a pretty girl called Emily with glasses doesn’t need them. Eleven years of chronic neck pain floats into the ether from a stocky rugby player. An Aussie girl with a frozen shoulder regains full movement.
We clap and cheer and whoop — cynics included — as he yells: ‘Praise the Lord!’ ... Even I start wondering if my sore knee is cured. It isn’t.
As Brown shouts ‘We thank you, Father, we thank you. We are surrounded by a golden light!’ volunteers are hypnotised and knocked out in seconds, lowered gently to the floor. One man levitates — I’ve no idea how.
... At one stage, more than 30 people are queueing patiently in the stalls to be ‘healed’. They volunteer themselves, but of course he already knows their names, their ailments, their brothers’ names, their mum’s back problems. Afterwards, they skip back to their seats, beaming and golden from his touch.
It's not Benny Hinn or anyone like that. No, it's Derren Brown. As the reviewer (Jane Fryer) concludes
The point, of course, is to prove Brown’s belief that faith healing and miracles are all in the mind — and the work of clever showmen like him, rather than God.
You may or may not agree, but the show (or the second half, anyway) was gripping, utterly inexplicable — however much we all picked over it afterwards — and, for a while, it really felt miraculous. And that’s not even revealing the brilliant twist at the end.
So I take it all back. No one could fail to be impressed. Other than a genuine charlatan Christian faith healer.
And, perhaps, Emily, who ten minutes later had her specs back on again.
Derren Brown is an atheist and a profane man but his desire to expose the charlatanism of so-called evangelicalism is perhaps something to be thankful for.