Saturday, May 05, 2007

"The Secret" A Book Review (Part III, closing thoughts)

I Think I can...I think I can...I think I can...Well I just wanted to end the review of "The Secret" with one more short post. Overall in "The Secret" we don't find anything new. It is really just the same positive thinking and word faith techniques that have been implemented and taught by many fairly public figures for decades now. Neither is their message about "God" new, pantheism has had numerous figures in the West to support it ranging from the Beatles to Shirley Mclain. So what do we make of "The Secret"? Well it is in essence a sophisticated and spiritualized version of the message we hear in the classic "The Little Engine that Could."

If you don't remember that story that is the one where there is the little train engine who is able to overcome all its obstacles by repeating the phrase "I think I can...I think I can...I think I can..." until he has success. Essentially that is what we find in "The Secret", but here it is more sophisticated and spiritualized.

There really is one thing that stands out in the book that I have really paid scant attention to simply because to call it out would have required a post in itself and I would rather address it in a broader context then a single book review. What I am referring to is the heavy emphasis on us being the "Masters of our destiny". This sort of talk is probably the most seducing of the whole book, simply because it is this sort of thinking that is so ubiquitous.

This sort of message strokes us at the very heart of our consumeristic nature, and I think that is the main allurement of the book. We can decide what kind of car we will drive, spouse we will have, have complete control over our health and our wealth, basically we can conjure and live whatever life we want with this power. The success of this book is not merely that it was promoted on Oprah but that it sees a consumeristic and self centered culture and begins to tickle peoples ears with its soft words.

Ultimately this message is tragic and we as Christians know the weight of how damnable such a message is. Let me give a picture. Here's the scenario:

There is a women living on the second floor of a duplex, she is a very vain woman and can not even go to the Taco Bell drive thru and right back home without getting dressed up and putting on make up. Well it just so happens that one day as she is continually trying on new clothes she has just purchased and admiring her attractiveness in the mirror that she hears a yell from outside her window..."M'am! M'am! Get out of the house the lower story is on fire, if you jump my friend and I will catch you!" she replies "Who are you? And how do you know this?" The man replies "My name is Gospel, and I can see the flames inside the windows on the first floor."

Now it just so happens that as Mr.Gospel was explaining this to her that her cell phone rings on the other end is this woman's friend Ms.Flattermouth calls and says "Fire?! Listen honey there is only a fire if you think there is one, now are you gonna let ol Gospel tell you what you need to do or are you gonna control your own reality? What do you really want, do you want to run your own life or do you want to trust that Guy to save you?"

Ms.Flattermouth's advice seems very attractive to Ms.Vainself, she replies "You are right! [as smoke begins to fill the room] there is no fire, I control my reality!" As she hangs up the phone she goes to the window and shouts to Gospel "Mr.Gospel, your talk about fire and my needing to jump really brings me down, I am just fine where I am and I am in control of my reality, so Thank you for nothing!" She slams the window shut. She returns to admiring how nice her delicate complexion makes her new jewelry look only to collapse from smoke inhalation.

Now I know the analogy is a bit goofy but the point is that this situation applies to all people. We have the command from the Gospel to jump into the safety of the arms of Christ or to ignore the command and die in our own self worship. Ms.Flattermouth is supposed to give a similar message of "The Secret" which really tells people who are dead in sins and trespasses that they are just fine...and go buy a yacht. That is why I said this message is damnable, not because the word damnable is a scary way of saying I don't like it, but because this message will no doubt encourage lost sinners to continue in their self love and self reliance.

That is why I reviewed this book, because it is a message that tells people to eat all of the Turkish Delight they want and ignore the warnings of God's judgement. O how lamentable is this! Christ gives a parable on this very topic as He said:

"And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'

But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."" (Luke 12:16-21)

Christ gave many parables like this one. The point is simply that our life is to consist of more than things, we are to live Corum Deo which is before God at all times and in all we do. God is to be our central treasure not things, we are to be rich toward God. The message from "The Secret" tells us to build bigger barns, to hunger for more and more things...

Christ says the person who harbors such an attitude and lives on it is a fool. This is not an insult but a statement of fact. It is the height of foolishness to ignore God and love things. For it is God with whom we have to deal, and to sound a bit like Edwards, no amount of things or wealth or "I think I cans..." will be able to deliver us from the judgement of God. Only Christ's shed blood applied can and will.

That is why this "Secret" message is so tragic, it encourages people to keep on in their God ignoring lifestyles and affirms them in them.

1 comment:

STAG said...

Such interesting names, so reminicient of "Pilgrim's Promise".

We don't control our own destiny. That is hard wired into our pscyches whether we will it or nay, and we are all driven by instincts more than we can possibly admit to. You can say, I suppose, that God built us these instincts, just as He built them into my dog, and the rats in the sewers.
And yes, you are right, your analogy IS goofy. But not the way you feel it is, but in that you seem to feel that in some way people can deny their instincts and do something (anything!) that is not programmed into their nature by God.

The little engine that could is at least a positive sermon. Damned if I would have the patience to fight my way through "The Secret". Glad YOU think it is important enough to read and review because I sure don't!
But then I feel that way about the vast majority of pop-theology which is clogging the bookshelves and making their authors fortunes!