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The Other Secret

It seems the universe is kicking Rhonda Byrne’s butt these days – some have called it a “karmic backlash” against the author of The Secret.

In her best-selling book, Byrne writes “Nothing (good or bad) can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts. Your thoughts are the primary cause of everything. Your current reality or your current life is a result of the thoughts you have been thinking.” In that case, Byrne’s in dire need of some happy thoughts, pronto.

The Weekend Australian Magazine recently reported “‘the most powerful law in the universe’ seems to have gone awry, with Byrne’s own former associates accusing her of fraud and hiring platoons of lawyers to pick apart the business machinations behind The Secret.” Byrne responded by suing “two of the very people who were instrumental in launching her book and film The Secret to phenomenal success … a tactic one judge has since described as vexatious and harassing.”

The very long report compares snippets from the book’s claims to the reality of Byrne’s legal woes and growing list of enemies, “all of which seems to contradict the law of attraction – unless you believe the universe is trying to restore balance by undermining the entire glittering edifice of self-help entrepreneurialism.”

Dan Hollings, a former associate “whose ‘viral marketing’ helped propel Byrne to global fame via Oprah” claims he wouldn’t trade places with the author for any amount of money. “I just don’t think success has enriched her life,” he says. “It’s like lottery winners who win the lottery and discover their life is worse and they wish they had never won.”

In an article for the Christian Professional magazine last year, Theresia Whitfield pointed out a series of problems with the teachings advanced by The Secret in how they line up with the Scriptures and with reality.

One of these problems is the focus on self as the center of the universe, suggesting man is the ruler of his own destiny, “which is in direct conflict with Christ’s message that man is a fallen soul in need of redemption.” Don Whitney, associate professor of biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, calls it “nothing less than Satan’s original lie in the Garden of Eden, ‘You will be like God.'”

Now, it’s true that positive thinking has its merits – Romans 12:2 tells us that followers of Christ are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” The key differentiators are the source and object of our positive thinking.

Bill Winston of the 15,000-member Living Word Christian Center in Illinois suggests our words must match biblical truth, otherwise they are utterly false. “God wants us to say something to make something happen,” he says. “But in contrast to The Secret, the confessions of our mouth are actual covenants with God. He is the focus and center of our thoughts.”

In Jesus’ own words in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

“As much as we want to believe there really is a secret out there, the secret to all of our ills” Whitfield concludes, “the truth lies at the foot of the Cross.” While The Secret focuses on the hope of man, we place our hope on the Son of Man.

[Update: Here’s a related article, The Secret Exposed, by Christianity Today]


6 Responses

  1. Yes, it is interesting to see what she is attracting. In my opinion The Secret is the latest and by far the worst example of a HIGHLY profitable trend where self-help gurus with fabricated new age titles and little relevant education, credentials or legitimate expertise brainwash us into believing that they know what is best for us, our marriages and our families.

    Often their only contribution to society is introducing some exotic sounding, new age philosophy. However, they often cleverly form an incestuous group of like-minded “experts” who cross-promote each other by swearing their success is due to following the beliefs of another member of their “cult!” All the while, they ply the airwaves jockeying for an ever-larger audience by appearing in the national media to garner third-party endorsements.

    The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement by diminishing or destroying our critical thinking skills to choose and evolve on our own. We have given up the freedom to build healthy lives, marriages and families based on our unique history and life experience. Instead many victims, blinded to the value of their own life experiences, are attracted to the latest secret in self-help, in an attempt to find out what they should think, feel and how they should act… this is the definition of a cult.

    The solution is a return to our (common) senses! The best way out of this learned “self-helplessness” is to go cold turkey. Stop following ALL self-help gurus now. Begin, instead, to reclaim your natural, God-given ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

    Please, let’s all work together to stop the flock of “sheepeople” who blindly move from one UNPROVEN concept to the next, looking for the answers to life’s challenges that you already possess and that is the OBVIOUS!

  2. Thanks for the visit, John. You make some very strong points.

  3. This is an interesting discussion…

    I think that one of the reasons that people turn to this kind of stuff in the first place is because they are not getting the responses that they need from the church. so I think that this reveals an opportunity that the church has to get the “right message” out there, but we need to be careful to not send the “message that we are right” instead.

    I’ve read somewhere recently that the church has left behind the “gospel of love” for the “gospel of being right”. I believe that as Christians we need to live out the intent of the gospel, and be careful to not alienate people like we often do. It is because of this desire to be right that we push people away to look for answers such as “the secret”.

    Great post… it makes me think about how I am acting and treating people at work today!


  4. Very true, Dan. It reminds of the passage about “speaking the truth in love” — it never works when you separate one from the other.

    Drs. Cloud & Townsend wrote this in their “Boundaries” book:

    “Many of us live in two worlds when it comes to relationships. In one world we have friendly conversations in which we avoid all disagreements; in the other we have major conflict-type conversations that tear everybody and everything up. In the first world we have connection without truth, and in the second we have truth without connection.

    God did not design us to live in these two worlds … He wants us to live in the one world, where he lives and where truth and love coexist as allies, not adversaries. Our connections are best when they are truthful, and our truth is best when we are connected.”

  5. Dude, that’s deep… and very true…
    What great insight…

  6. Andrea- Thanks for the scoop, all the way from Australia! Ironic, isn’t it? I have nothing against positive thinking, but it’s obviously flawed at some point when you try to build your life around it.

    Thanks for the great post!

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