I don't think his audience was other photographers. If other photographers like or dislike the images is irrelevant. He has gotten them into a major publication and probbably has gallery representation and sales of the work. As I pointed out in another thread the buying public for the most part does not give a hoot about the technical aspects of an image. If they like the work they will buy it. If a gallery owner thinks it will sell or bring people in he will show it.
In a a previous issue of Lenswork, Brooks Jensen wrote an essay where he discussed how photographers and non-photographers had a totally different way of seeing his work. He felt if you cannot get a gallery owner to see your work have a non-photograper review it critique it.
I think it is way to easy to fall into the trap of judging work based on the our own prejudices and preferences with regards to our methods, equipment and skill level.
I can see how he has tried to use burning and dodging to add emphasis to the work. By placing those areas dramatically darker or lighter I think he is trying to convey a spiritual prescence of sorts animating the scene. Do I think it works? I don't know. I would have to see full size prints to get a real feeling. The subject matter in of itself is really nothing that gets me excited.