John of God

The Globalization of Brazilian Faith Healing

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Cristina Rocha
  • London, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , January
     288 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Della Campion forthcoming.


In just over a decade, the Brazilian faith healer known as John of God has become an international superstar. Oprah Winfrey, Ram Dass, Wayne Dyer, and Shirley MacLaine have all visited him, as have the wealthy and the desperately ill. Renowned for performing surgeries using rudimentary tools such as kitchen knives and scissors, without anesthetics or asepsis, John of God allegedly channels "entities," or spirits, and goes into a trance-like state in order to heal his visitors. In recent years, a transnational spiritual community has developed around John of God, comprised of the ill, those who seek spiritual growth, healers, tour guides, and, according to followers, even spirits whose powers transcend national boundaries. 

Cristina Rocha offers the first ethnographic account of this global spiritual movement. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork in Brazil, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, Rocha examines the social and cultural forces that have made it possible for a healer from Brazil to become a global "guru" in the 21st century. She explores what attracts foreigners to John of God's cosmology and healing practices, how they understand their own experiences, how these radical experiences have transformed their lives, and how the healer's beliefs and healing practices are globalized and localized in different ways in the West.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Cristina Rocha is Associate Professor, Australia Research Council Future Fellow, and Director of the Religion and Society Research at Western Sydney University, Australia.

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