“The Secret’s” secret was well known to P.T. Barnum*

“The Secret’s” secret was well known to P.T. Barnum*

While I disagree with the Concurring Opinion blog’s proposal that the Federal Trade Commission investigate a false advertising claim, I am in agreement with the assertion that The Secret is a dangerous book, perhaps much more dangerous than The Da Vinci Code.

This isn’t just a self-help guide; it’s a full-fledged Gnostic handbook that leads people to think that they are to blame for anything bad that happens to them and likewise the only one responsible for every good. It is a denial of the reality of a broken world and the necessity of both the Cross and redemptive suffering.

The Concurring Opinion quotes a summary of the book:

There are now 5.3 million copies of the book in print in the United States… . (I)t is a No. 1 best seller in Australia, England, and Ireland, and it is scheduled to be translated into 30 languages… There’s no secret to The Secret. The book and movie simply state that your thoughts control the universe. Through this “law of attraction” you “manifest” your desires. “It is exactly like placing an order from a catalogue… . You must know that what you want is yours the moment you ask.” “See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it. It works every time, with every person.”

In others word The Secret proposes that there is no God but ourselves and that we are each in control of the universe. Additionally, there is no need for a Savior since in fact we are responsible both the suffering we experience and our own salvation.

It’s also apparently relentlessly silly:

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.

Okay, I can see a case being made for Abraham’s wealth as patriarch for a large tribe and Isaac and Jacob as his successors and Joseph and Moses as adopted Egyptian princes, but Jesus? (Not that any of them were “prosperity teachers.” )

Jesus was the son of a carpenter in a small backwater in Galilee. He said stuff like, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:24) and “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matt 19:21)

He died naked and virtually friendless. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, But the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58)

The only lesson that Rhonda Byrne’s book gives us is that “get rich quick with no work” schemes still work and that if you can put one over on Oprah— which is apparently all too easy— you’re well on your way to success fleecing all of America.

* “There’s a sucker born every minute” - P.T. Barnum

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