Salon takes apart the New Age crap of Oprah’s Secret – which sounds an awful lot like the Norman Vincent Peale nonsense that Joel Osteen is peddling. (I was in a Toronto bookstore last year where Osteen’s book was prominently displayed on the end aisle of the New Age section. I should have taken a picture. It was so appropriate.) From Salon:
The main idea of “The Secret” is that people need only visualize what they want in order to get it — and the book certainly has created instant wealth, at least for Rhonda Byrne and her partners-in-con. And the marketing idea behind it — the enlisting of that dream team, in what is essentially a massive, cross-promotional pyramid scheme — is brilliant. But what really makes “The Secret” more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam. Oprah hasn’t just endorsed “The Secret”; she’s championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame.
A church I once attended had an Oprah addict as one of their two senior leaders. I wonder whether The Secret has made it into their church bookstore. This sounds awfully familiar:
Here it is on biblical history: “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of.” And worse than the idiocy and the bullshitting is its anti-intellectualism, because that’s at the root of the other two. Here’s “The Secret” on reading and, um, electricity: “When I discovered ‘The Secret’ I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good,” and, “How does it work? Nobody knows. Just like nobody knows how electricity works. I don’t, do you?” And worst of all is the craven consumerist worldview at the heart of “The Secret,” because it’s why the book exists: “[The Secret] is like having the Universe as your catalogue. You flip through it and say, ‘I’d like to have this experience and I’d like to have that product and I’d like to have a person like that.’ It is you placing your order with the Universe. It’s really that easy.” That’s from Dr. Joe Vitale, former Amway executive and contributor to “The Secret,” on Oprah.com.
You might expect a powerful person who thinks of herself as “deeply spiritual” to have a less worldly conception of it, and you might hope that she would encourage her followers to do the same, instead of urging them to buy books that call Jesus a “prosperity teacher.”
That “Secret”-style faith, whether it’s in God, or in one’s own preordained destiny to be an “American Idol,” which takes all of a moment to achieve, is perhaps its most important selling point. Here’s “The Secret” on arriving at faith: “Ask once, believe you have received, and all you have to do to receive is feel good.” The kind of faith that couldn’t be reached by shortcut, the confidence of the great doubters and worriers, of Moses and Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ, has been replaced by the insta-certainty and inflated “self-esteem” of “The Secret’s” believers.
I can’t believe that people really by into such nonsense…but they do. Even in the church. Read the entire article at Salon, please.