5.16.2007

The Secret

So, how about that massively popular bestseller, The Secret? It's a bunch of nutty crap, isn't it? I've been reading with interest the various articles on slate.com about why it's, in the words of one author, "pernicious drivel." That, in addition to being an incredibly satisfying and evocative turn of phrase, pretty well characterizes the whole book. Emily Yoffe says:

Clearly, The Secret is drivel, but why should that stop me from sincerely throwing myself into seeing if it worked? I am already deeply susceptible to superstition and seeing signs—if I find a penny (faceup only), I pick it up knowing something good will happen to me. As self-absorbed as I already am, I loved the permission the book gave to sink deeper into a Jacuzzi of megalomania. As The Secret points out: "You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life." Just as I'd always suspected! So, I vowed to follow Byrne's simple rules for abundance and see what happened. The book encourages one to start big: "It is as easy to manifest one dollar as it is to manifest one million dollars." But I thought starting with the million-dollar manifestation was like saying, "I love you" on a first date; I didn't want to scare the universe into not taking my calls.


Furthermore, according to Karen Cerulo in her book Never Saw It Coming, we, both as individuals and as a society, are obsessed with "positive thinking" about our futures. Think about it: did you ever hear of a little girl acting out a game of "miserable, eccentric, lonely dowager" with her dollies? Our obsession, Cerulo claims, with positive thinking extends to the point that we actively shun and ignore potential danger -- consider how few of us wear sunscreen even though 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lives, or the fact that only 30% of Americans have wills.

So basically, the secret of The Secret is that the author has outlined a pseudo-religious system that affirms and feeds our infantile demand for our own way as well as our fundamental terror of future pain. It's works salvation writ large -- "thoughts" salvation, if you will.

Stay far away. And warn your friends. And if you absolutely must read it, at least get it from the library.

3 comments:

John Dekker said...

Ask, believe, receive - they've ripped off Pentecostalism, of course.

For an effective response, see this Chaser's War on Everything clip.

Laura said...

John, you're right. And isn't it handy that they've taken all those nasty moral demands out of "religious" systems.

But, tiny quibble -- only certain branches (the prosperity "gospel" folks) of pentecostalism believe the name-it and claim-it stuff.

Oh, and I watched the Chaser's War clip and it's awesome!

John Dekker said...

You might also be interested in the Chaser's analysis of Christian television.