I object to Marlowe Hood’s distortions of fact and his unsavory, biased and superficial treatment of qigong (“Mystics, Ghosts and Faith Healers,” April 19). Qigong has been a traditional practice in Chinese culture for more than 1,000 years. Hood’s sensationalistic hype about the paranormal and political aspects of qigong in China today suggest the technique of arriving at false absolutes out of half-truths.
At the college where I teach, we have offered courses in qigong theory, history and practice to hundreds of students under the Chinese master Si-Tu Jie from Shanghai. This acquisition of knowledge, intellectual stimulation and intercultural dialogue has been a powerful vehicle for the development of mental and physical health and allows students to acquire knowledge through direct experience devoid of any sacred or secular biases.
Hood should surrender his need for quick judgments, exoticizing and cranking up another Cold War and pause to look beneath the superficialities of his purported experience with qigong before writing about it. He’d be helped in achieving a balance by taking time to practice qigong and find out for himself what it is all about.
CARL H. HERTEL
PROFESSOR, ART, ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PITZER COLLEGE
Claremont Hood responds: Hertel’s ire is misplaced. I agree that the West has much to learn from the Chinese about self-healing and the reconciliation of mind and body. My article documents the way in which this great tradition has been distorted in a time of political and social turmoil. As a practitioner, the writer can remove qigong from its present-day context; as a journalist, I cannot.