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Leap of Faith: Meet John of God
In a remote corner of Brazil, the man known as John of God is changing people's lives in astonishing ways. Can belief cure illness? Can energy heal? Susan Casey took the journey to find out.
Crystals
Photo: Nigel Cox
Down the dusty main street of Abadiânia, a scrap of a town in central Brazil, come hundreds of people dressed in white. They're wearing white button-down shirts and embroidered white skirts and rumpled white sweaters, flowing white dresses and tight white leotards. White caftans, white shawls, white golf shorts. Shiny white tracksuits. Kicky white capri pants. Crisp white jeans with bejeweled white sandals. Many white scarves. Some people sit in wheelchairs; some hobble on crutches or walking sticks or leg braces. They're young and they're old. They come from a block away and from the other side of the world and from every place in between. They are all here for one reason: to see João Teixeira de Faria, a 68-year-old man widely known as John of God.

Here at the end of the Avenida Francisca Teixeira Damas, just before the pavement turns to rich red dirt and the road dips down into a valley of mango and avocado trees, in an immaculate compound of open-air buildings called the Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola—John of God has attended millions of people, including many who have heard their doctors say these chilling words: "There is nothing more we can do." And somehow, after visits to the Casa and audiences with this man, after following the spiritual prescriptions they received here, some of these people managed to do the unexpected: They lived. Fully healed.

For 52 years and counting, miracles of this sort have been happening around this unassuming Brazilian, who takes no credit for them. "I have never healed anybody. It is God who heals," he often says. Born poor in the state of Goiás, often hungry in his youth, João attended school only briefly and never learned to read or write, setting to work as a tailor at an early age. The first big glimpse of his gift occurred at age 9, when, as the story goes, he predicted that a sudden, savage storm would destroy houses in Nova Ponte, a nearby village. It was a lovely day at the time, and people dismissed his prophecy. When 50 houses were damaged by tornado-force winds, no one had a logical explanation. The extent of his ability became even more apparent at age 16 when João, tired, famished, and looking for a place to wash up, had an overwhelming vision of a beautiful woman down by a river. She gave him the address of a spiritual center and told him to go there. He went, and promptly fainted. When he awoke, several hours later, an astonished crowd had gathered. They told João he had performed healings all afternoon. He came to believe that the woman who'd guided him was Saint Rita of Cascia, and that while he was unconscious, the spirit of King Solomon had taken up residence in his body and done the healing work.

Brazil has deep roots in the traditions of shamanism and spiritism, both of which feature the notion that individuals can—and do—cross the boundaries between this worldly existence and the afterlife. In this lexicon, it's perfectly understandable that King Solomon and other powerful spirits (known as the Entities) would swing by to offer help, incorporating in João's body (the Medium). Even so, when that help involved a man who was not a doctor cutting into a person's thorax with an unsterilized kitchen knife, the legal, medical, and religious establishments balked. (In most cases the healings he performs are deemed "invisible surgeries" that don't even involve touch, but there are occasional procedures that include actual incisions.)

For John of God—or as he is known in Abadiânia, Medium João— the realization of his gift was accompanied by years of persecution and lawsuits for practicing medicine without a license. That didn't stop him from his mission—to aid anyone who requested it, free of charge—and as time passed and he managed to help such high-profile politicians as the president of Peru and the mayors of assorted Brazilian towns, he was accepted and even protected, treated as a national treasure.

The question of how a malignant tumor disappears from someone's body, how a blind person ends up seeing again, how the lame suddenly walk—how darkness turns to light, in other words—is not a small one. Our rational minds search for analytical handholds, evidence. In Abadiânia, the currency is more ephemeral: To show up here to see John of God is an act of faith.

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    Kay Bechtel
    4 days ago
    What a joke!  My cat gives cat scans

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    Excerpt from Stories I Only Tell My Friends
    Chapter 1
    Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends
    I had always had an affinity for him, an admiration for his easy grace, his natural charisma, despite the fact that for the better part of a decade my then girlfriend kept a picture of him running shirtless through Central Park on her refrigerator door. Maybe my lack of jealousy toward this particular pinup was tamped down by empathy for his loss of his father and an appreciation for how complicated it is to be the subject of curiosity and objectification from a very young age. That said, when my girlfriend and others would constantly swoon over him, when I would see him continually splashed across the newspapers, resplendent like an American prince, I wasn't above the occasional male thought of: Screw that guy.

    As a person navigating the waters of public scrutiny, you are often unable to hold on to personal heroes or villains. Inevitably you will meet your hero, and he may turn out to be less than impressive, while your villain turns out to be the coolest cat you've ever met. You never can tell, so you eventually learn to live without a rooting interest in the parade of stars, musicians, sports champions and politicians. And you lose the ability to participate in the real American pastime: beating up on people you don't like and glorifying people you do.

    I had not yet learned that truism when he and I first met. I was at a point where I was deeply unhappy with my personal life, increasingly frustrated about where my career seemed to be going–although from the outside it would probably appear to anyone observing that I was among the most blessed 24-year-olds on the planet. In an effort to find substance, meaning and excitement, I had become deeply involved in the world of politics.

    PAGE 1 of 8
    FROM: Exclusive: Rob Lowe Opens Up: The Brat Pack, Love, Sex, Scandal, Sobriety 
    Published on April 28, 2011

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      OWN Announces Summer Primetime Premieres and New Episodes
      New Series include Are You Normal, America?; Lives On Fire; Lovetown, USA; Million Dollar Neighborhood; Real Life: The Musical; and Super Saver Showdown
      Barry Poznick and Kim Coles, hosts of
      Photo Courtesy of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
      April 27, 2012

      Los Angeles, CA – Oprah Winfrey Network announced today its summer primetime lineup including six new series Are You Normal, America?, Lives On Fire, Lovetown, USA, Million Dollar Neighborhood, Real Life: The Musical and Super Saver Showdown.

      In addition, new episodes premiere of Oprah's Next Chapter, and the popular documentary series Our America with Lisa Ling returns.

      "Our new summer series have a common thread of being fun, entertaining and meaningful," said Sheri Salata, president, OWN. "It's important to give the audience programming that makes them feel good, or provides them with inspiration in their own lives."

      "We feel strongly about the current state of the channel," added Erik Logan, president, OWN. "We're seeing success with our original programming and are continuing to build the network one night at a time."

      Oprah's primetime series Oprah's Next Chapter will feature new episodes this summer as Oprah visits actor Neil Patrick Harris and his family, including his fraternal twins, and speaks to him about his multifaceted career. Oprah also travels to a remote corner of Brazil to spend the day with world-renowned faith healer, spiritual medium and psychic surgeon, John of God, and gets an up-close look at controversial surgeries performed without anesthesia or sterilization.

      The thought-provoking documentary series Our America with Lisa Ling returns to the primetime lineup June 10. The series, which debuted in February 2011, returned last fall for a second season that garnered double-digit ratings gains. New summer episodes will feature Ling in the field covering compelling stories on the Native American culture, life as a nun, swingers and teen pregnancy just to name a few.

      OWN SUMMER SCHEDULE
      **New series in ALL CAPS; All Times Eastern

      FRIDAYS (beginning June 8)
      9:00 – 10:00 p.m. LIVES ON FIRE

      SATURDAYS (beginning June 9)
      9:00 – 10:00 p.m. MILLION DOLLAR NEIGHBORHOOD
      10:00 – 11:00 p.m. REAL LIFE: THE MUSICAL

      SUNDAYS
      9:00 – 10:00 p.m. Oprah's Next Chapter
      10:00 – 11:00 p.m. Our America with Lisa Ling (returns June 10)

      MONDAYS (beginning June 4)
      9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ARE YOU NORMAL, AMERICA? (sneak preview after Oprah's Next Chapter Sun., June 3, 10:00 p.m.)

      For a sneak preview of the new OWN summer shows, please visit: www.oprah.com/OWNsummershows

      For photography and additional information, please visit the OWN press site: www.press.discovery.com/us/own/

      Brief synopses follow:

      ARE YOU NORMAL, AMERICA?
      Premieres Monday, June 4, 9:00 p.m.
      Sneak Peek Sunday, June 3, 10:00 p.m.
      From Harpo Studios comes the fun new game show Are You Normal, America?, hosted by veteran TV producer Barry Poznick (Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?) and comedienne/actress Kim Coles (Living Single). Have you ever peeked at your boyfriend's emails? Or done your household chores naked? This lively game show will answer those burning questions and more as two contestants compete to win more than $100,000 in their quest to learn if they're normal. Along the way, audiences will be entertained, enlightened and ultimately comforted by the fact that we're all pretty abnormal...but that's what makes life fun! Are You Normal, America? is produced by Harpo Studios with Zoo Productions. Executive producers are Jill Van Lokeren and Jon Sinclair from Harpo Studios, as well as Barry Poznick and John Stevens from Zoo Productions (producers of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?).

      LIVES ON FIRE
      Premieres Friday, June 8, 9:00 p.m.
      Lives on Fire takes us inside the extraordinary worlds of four remarkable women who risk their lives every day to take command during California's most dangerous disasters. As members of one of the nation's largest emergency response teams, these female firefighters are ready to battle against nature's most unforgiving forces. Viewers witness the drama, action and danger of their jobs as they respond to life and death situations. With the ending of each shift, these women also open the doors into their personal lives as they strive to balance being mothers, wives, girlfriends and daughters. Viewers will follow four very different women including Nica Vasquez, a mother who has 12 years of experience working in the service as a veteran firefighter/engineer; Rosanne Grier, who is in her fifth year as a seasonal firefighter working against the odds to become permanent; Michele Dyck, a veteran firefighter/engineer with 12 years of experience who works at a station in a coastal area known for its dangerous cliff and open water rescues; and Diley Greiser, a mother who is in her seventh year as a firefighter/paramedic who is adjusting to being the new person at Station 17 – one of the busiest and most demanding stations in Riverside County. Lives on Fire is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Executive producers are Melody Shafir and Brad Epstein. Co-executive producer is Anthony Samu. Executive producers for BBCWorldwide Productions are Elli Hakami, Michael Brooks and Jane Tranter.

      LOVETOWN, USA
      Premieres August 2012
      After a nationwide search, Oprah Winfrey named Kingsland, Georgia to be LOVETOWN, USA. Oprah traveled to Georgia and launched the first of its kind social experiment, where she called the community to action at a "love rally" and challenged everyone to "open their arms and hearts to the possibilities of all kinds of love." Two experienced relationship coaches, Paul Carrick Brunson and Kailen Rosenberg, have the daunting task of transforming Kingsland in 30 short days. The coaches will attempt to mend relationships of embattled friends and lovers, and find true love for six singles with people living in their own back yard. Involving everyone from the mayor to grade school students, this social experiment will examine the affects love, grace, kindness and forgiveness can have on an entire community. Lovetown, USA is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions for OWN. Bruce Toms is executive producer. Izzie Pick Ashcroft, Rob Bagshaw and Jane Tranter are executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions. Charlie Debevoise and Mark Hickman are executive producers for NorthSouth Productions.

      MILLION DOLLAR NEIGHBORHOOD
      Premieres Saturday, June 9, 9:00 p.m.
      In the debt-ridden town of Aldergrove, the community is teaming up for a million dollar challenge that could change their fortunes forever as they attempt to increase their net worth by a million dollars in three months. Each week, the entire community comes together to save an average of $100,000 in a large-scale challenge that will reduce debt and build assets for everyone. Whether they're bartering skills or renovating the home of a family in need, the people of Aldergrove are asked to share their time, their talents, their belongings, and their aspirations with each other. If they reach their goal, one hard working neighbor's dream will come true with a bonus prize. Million Dollar Neighborhood is produced by Force Four Entertainment and executive produced by John Ritchie.

      OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER
      Sundays at 9:00 p.m.
      The primetime series features Oprah Winfrey as she steps outside of the studio for riveting, enlightening and in-depth conversations with newsmakers, celebrities, thought leaders and real-life families. Summer episodes will feature Oprah as she visits the home of Neil Patrick Harris and meets his family and an episode where Oprah journeys to Brazil to witness the man known as "John of God." The series is produced by Harpo Studios. Executive producers are Tara Montgomery and Andrea Wishom. Join the conversation on Twitter using #NextChapter.

      OUR AMERICA WITH LISA LING
      Returns Sunday, June 10, 10:00 p.m.
      From the swinger lifestyle to young girls entering convents, from arranged marriages to child pageants, the new season of "Our America with Lisa Ling" takes viewers along for an in-depth look at some of the most controversial and thought-provoking issues in the United States today. In each episode, Ling immerses herself into the lives of the people she meets and challenges viewers to understand different perspectives and sometimes even question what they themselves have always believed to be true in OUR AMERICA. The series is produced by part2 pictures. Ling, David Shadrack Smith, Greg Henry and Amy Bucher are the executive producers.

      REAL LIFE: THE MUSICAL
      Premieres Saturday, June 9, 10:00 p.m.
      Music speaks where words fail. That's the premise for this new reality series that helps tongue-tied people break into a hit song that says what they cannot: "I love you," "marry me," or "I want you back." Teamed with a vocal coach and choreographer, each week an amateur singer will get the professional help they need to stage a live "flash musical" that surprises someone they love. The coaches will enlist the help of the singer's friends, family and co-workers to create a back-up chorus to support them as they pour their heart out to their unsuspecting loved one. It's the performance of a lifetime that could literally change two people's lives. The series is produced by ITV Studios America. Annie Price is executive producer and show runner. Mark Christopher, Dan Gelfand, and Richard Kaufman are executive producers.

      SUPER SAVER SHOWDOWN
      Premieres July 2012
      Super Saver Showdown is a competition reality series that features two obsessed bargain hunters competing to see whose coupon clipping, super saving, and DIY skills are THE BEST! In each episode, two Super Savers will help families who are looking to throw stylish events on a dime budget. Round one, our Super Savers – paired with a member of the family they're playing for – must shop for the food essentials for their parties with only $100 in just 20 minutes. The winner of round one takes home a week's worth of free groceries for themselves and their families. Round two, contestants share their savings tips and DIY tricks with the families as they race against the clock to plan and throw their parties with only an additional $100 and in just 48hours. Host Kristan Cunningham judges contestants on the savings and style of their parties, and the best Super Saver takes home $10,000! The series is produced by Glassman Media. Andrew Glassman is executive producer. Grant Julian and Larissa A.K. Matsson are co-executive producers.

      About OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
      A joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is a multi-platform media company designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN debuted on January 1, 2011, in approximately 77 million homes on what was the Discovery Health Channel. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com. For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own and www.press.discovery.com/us/own.

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        The Good-Buy Girl
        Who says you can't buy hope? Willa Shalit is proving that shopping can transform other people's lives.
        Willa Shalit lives her dream.
        Photo: Dean Ericson
        Willa Shalit has been put on this earth, I think, to allow the rest of us to pretend that our most grasping, selfish impulses are actually noble. Through her company, Fair Winds Trading, she has managed to make shopping meaningful—a way to load up on gorgeous, exotic objects de lust while furthering peace and justice, not to mention improving lives around the world. Bless the woman.

        A pioneer in a growing social-entrepreneurial movement whose mission in part is to provide unique products to U.S. consumers—and, at the same time, sustainable wages to the Third World artisans who make them—Shalit has been collaborating for the past five years with the women of Rwanda. As a result, Fair Winds Trading now imports their handwoven baskets, African-gemstone jewelry, textile bags, and table linens, and this fall will branch out with products from Tanzania, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

        All of which makes Shalit a stylish godsend for those of us with inchoate longings to be better people, to do more, to change the planet—without having to join the Peace Corps and relinquish decent plumbing.

        If the name Willa Shalit sounds vaguely familiar, that's because her given name pays homage to the novelist Willa Cather, while her family name comes from her father, Gene Shalit, NBC's longtime and luxuriantly mustachioed film and theater critic. With a Cleopatran face and scads of thick, rumpled, curly brown hair, Willa, at 52, looks 30, although I'd bet that at 30, people thought she was older. There's a gravitas to her that would be intimidating if she didn't smile so often.

        Shalit's childhood in prosperous, suburban New Jersey was awash with literary, cinematic, and art world celebrities. One of her uncles, Anthony Lewis, was a prominent op-ed columnist for The New York Times; a cousin, Robert Krulwich, is a correspondent for PBS and NPR. Sophia Loren, she says, "made an occasional appearance."

        But the bohemian idyll wasn't perfect. When she was barely into her teens, her mother was institutionalized for the first of what would become a lifelong series of visits to mental hospitals, leaving Shalit and her older brother to help raise their four younger siblings. "Having a family member become ill was an early lesson in empathy," she says.

        A harsher one, unfortunately, followed. When Shalit was 15, she was raped at knifepoint. "I learned that life can change in the blink of an eye and that security is very illusory," she says with steely calm today. "I also realized there are some experiences that require a lifetime to recover from." It was an understanding that would prove to be deeply constructive, if cruel, training for finding common ground with the women of Rwanda.

        PAGE 1 of 4

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          Tony Robbins' Breakthrough Series
          Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana and President Clinton have sought his counsel. Now, motivational speaker and life coach Anthony "Tony" Robbins is coming to your home. In his six-part television series Breakthrough—premiering Tuesday, July 27, on NBC—Tony helps families that are dealing with tragic accidents, economic hardships and heartbreaking losses change their outlook in just 30 days.

          In this exclusive Q&A with a man who's helped motivate millions of people over three decades, he reveals what he's learned from these families, the best advice he received from a world leader and how he stays energized. Plus, how he defines happiness.

          Watch a preview of Breakthrough
          Tony Robbins
          Photo: Courtesy of NBC
          Kari Forsee: Can you just tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Breakthrough?

          Tony Robbins: Well, I've been working with 50 million people over the years—4 million people at live seminars in over 100 countries. And over that time, I've seen just about every kind of challenge you can imagine, but two years ago, in 2008 when the financial crisis hit, I just saw that level of pain magnified because people just started feeling overwhelmed. Right now the polls are showing we're the first generation of Americans to think that our future for ourselves—the quality of our life for ourselves and our kids—is going to be worse in the future than it is today. I decided that I'm reaching a lot of people—4 million people in seminars is wonderful—but, you know, in one week of primetime television, I can at least expose 4 million people to kind of a pathway to turn their lives around.

          I haven't done it in the past, based on time, and I haven't done it because most of the shows brought to me over 15 years were always kind of "vote people off the island" shows, and I know they're popular, but I thought, "We don't need more humiliation. We need some inspiration." But have it be raw and real, you know? Not something constructed, and so I got the right partners. The people from The Biggest Loser, Reveille, are my partners, and then the people from Extreme Home Makeover as my other partners, so I have people who have pure intent and who really want to honor people. That's where it started, and then, once we conceived the show, [we were] saying, "How do we take really good people—not people who just want to be on television—but people who get nominated, who got a raw deal, where life has really kind of crushed them? And let's give them a second chance, and let's show them how they can literally change their entire lives in 30 days, and let's capture the entire journey.
          PAGE 1 of 7

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            The Benefits of Calorie Restriction
            Live a Longer, Healthier Life
            Dr. Oz reveals the number one way people are living longer, healthier lives.
            There are plenty of creams, lotions and potions on the market that help you look younger, but today, Dr. Oz is going to show how some people are actually living longer.

            "We're going to talk about extreme life extension," he says. "I'm talking about very specifically allowing us to go into our second century of life with the vitality and the bounciness that you have when you're a young person."

            Thanks to advances in technology and research on how diet affects the aging process, Dr. Oz says it might be possible for some people to live to see their 120th birthdays.

            There's one man in Oprah's audience whom Dr. Oz says may become the first man in history to live to be 150 years old. Joe Cordell is one of thousands around the world who believe they've found the key to extreme longevity—calorie restriction.
            PAGE 1 of 11
            FROM: Dr. Oz: Extreme Life Extension
            Published on June 30, 2009
            As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

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