Saturday, February 24, 2007

Oprah’s Secret

Oprah recently devoted a couple of shows to The Secret, a book and a DVD movie about “the law of attraction.”

From
Oprah’s site:

The Secret is defined as the law of attraction, which states that like attracts like. The concept says that the energy you put into the world—both good and bad—is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.
This is a combination of Buddhism and self-help psychology.

But a few viewers were uncomfortable with the religious implications of The Secret. They asked if it didn’t contradict the teachings of Christianity. The panelists all smiled as if a child has just asked
where the sun goes at night:
Michael says The Secret isn’t about contradicting religion—it supports it. “It actually goes underneath the culture and explains to you the sacred laws that these wonderful teachers have brought to us,” he says. According to James, The Secret is about supporting the great spiritual traditions in a more modern form. “It really is just putting Christianity, Judaism, all the great teachings into a current vernacular,” he says.
Of course, this view is nothing new. There are many who say that all religions are the same. But this assertion is naïve and self-contradictory.

Yet in an attempt to ride the wave of
The Da Vinci Code, the producers of The Secret have announced that a great conspiracy has prevented the widespread implementation of The Secret. They even say that it was discovered by “the church” in the 20th century and then banned.

They claim that The Secret is old but that it has been known by only a few fortunate individuals. They claim that it holds the key to having one’s desires fulfilled. They claim that the world will experience a dramatic change now that The Secret is being revealed.

If you would like a detailed response to these claims, you should read the article by
John Stackhouse.

But here is my quick analysis:

Positive thinking works. Our thoughts tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies.

We are responsible for our choices. Many people live as if they are victims. They spend so much energy complaining about the choices they do not have that they fail to take advantage of the choices they do have.

Self-reliance and self-esteem are not the answer to humanity’s problems. We do not need to “believe in ourselves.” We need help from “outside.” Our only hope is for
Someone to rescue us from the disaster we’ve created for ourselves.

The Secret is both good and bad. Many people could benefit from some of the techniques presented in The Secret. But the underlying philosophy is dangerous. The answer to “all our problems” is not getting what we want. It is rather submitting to the true King who seeks to fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts (
Psalm 37:4). And this submission often feels like moving away from the very things we think we really want. Jesus called it denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Luke 9:23).
And without that “giving up,” you cannot be his disciple, because you will still think you are in charge and just in need of a little help from Jesus for your project of a successful life. But our idea of a “successful life” is precisely our problem.
Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, p. 243
The real secret is the “open secret” about Jesus Christ. All of human history was a preparation for the arrival of the Creator of the universe in a small Judean village 2000 years ago. The good news is that this King has defeated all the rival claimants to his throne and has freed his people from bondage to sin, Satan and death. And now we can live in the power of that victory as we are transformed from the inside to reflect the character of our Master.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

2 comments:

Thinking in Ohio said...

I appreciate the way you've not outright "blasted" this book, but actually looked for something good in it while maintaining a much needed corrective posture. You're joining along side those who see good here, while pointing them past the book toward the One who truly is Good.

This is a helpful post.

Pastor Rod said...

Thanks, Doug. I'm glad you found it useful.

Rod