Just reading a bit in a book about a journalist's investigation into the original Alpha Course that was set up in this country.
He found this bit of the course really odd and it's something I do too. Never properly witnessed it myself but have seen people at the old baptist church I went to rolling about, semi-chanting with their eyes closed, hands in the air etc. It freaked me out and was pretty much the last straw for me and I never went back again.
But my step-dad has now become a die-hard christian after this Alpha course and the Holy Spirit 'saved' him. He cried, felt all ethereal, spoke a language he didn't know and is now teaching the same course to others.
I guess most people are at these courses because deep down they want to believe (I know my step-dad did no matter what he says as his parents died the month before and he desperately wanted hope that he'd get to see them again) but it's so widespread a thing now that I wonder if there's more to it than some nutters freaking out?
Has there been any credible research into what causes this phenomenon? Is it semiotics? Music created to spark this off? The eventual outcome of weeks of emotional prep by the speaker?