Last week, I made several preliminary comments about The Secret, the book and DVD that has been taking the nation by storm. The initial printing of 3.75 million units are running low, so a second printing of two million more is in the works. The DVD has sold over 1.5 million units and is still going strong. What exactly is behind the popularity of this sappy piece of over-worked self-help? What does it offer that thousands of other similar-themed works don’t? And why are Christians getting in on the action?
To begin with, The Secret grants what every individual born of the First Adam has wanted all of their lives: sovereignty. This may seem to be a stretch, but listen to the words of the book itself: “The law of attraction is a law of nature…The law of attraction simply gives you whatever it is you are thinking about.” While the Bible tells us that the Creator gave man dominion over creation and expected him to exercise it, The Secret turns this on its head and makes each man the “creator.”
What you are thinking now is creating your future life. You create your life with your thoughts. Because you are always thinking, you are always creating. What you think about the most or focus on the most, is what will appear as your life.
Like all the laws of nature there is utter perfection in this law. You create your life. Whatever you sow, you reap. Your thoughts are seeds, and the harvest you reap will depend on the seeds you plant.
According to The Secret, instead of being made in God’s image, we are made in our own image. We control every aspect of our existence, both good and bad, with our minds. The book further tries to give this age-old deception a scientific-sounding backing by calling in the big guns of quantum mechanics. “The law of attraction is the law of creation. Quantum physicists tell us that the entire Universe emerged from thought.” Aside from the fact that is purely fiction and a complete misrepresentation of quantum mechanics, it completely begs the question. If the universe emerged from thought, whose thought or thoughts was it? Throughout The Secret, the “idea” of God is assumed, but never actually dealt with in a way that would make him (or her for that matter) anything more than a cosmic referee; an intergalactic maintenance man of sorts that keeps the works of the universe humming right along. Since you are in control of your own life and create your own reality with your thoughts, God is relegated to a mere supporting role.
Although the universe is subservient to your thoughts and is willing (and must, for that matter) give you what you think about, it is not able to process negatives. Byrne claims that while we create our own destinies and lives through our thoughts, we are often thinking about what we don’t want, instead of what we do want. Unfortunately for us, the universe is pretty stupid and hasn’t figured out the difference.
When you focus your thoughts on something you want, and you hold that focus, you are in that moment summoning what you want with the mightiest power in the Universe. The law of attraction doesn’t compute “don’t” or “not” or “no” or any other words of negation…The law of attraction is giving you what you are thinking about—period!
So, according to Byrne, the universe (notice in the quotes how she always capitalizes it, like it’s her diety) is always giving you want you think about, good or bad. Too bad for us that we are usually thinking negatively (could this be due to sin?) so we continue to “attract” the bad, because the dim-witted “Universe” can’t tell the difference…some diety.
In reality, The Secret joins the league of all other new-age philosophies and man-centered heresies. Just like Norman Vincent Peale in the 1950s and so many others before and after, Byrne tries to sprinkle the Bible in with her teachings to make it sound palatable to a wider audience. Like the “prosperity gospel” proponents, Byrne makes all material things open and available to all people (“God wants you to be rich”), which makes for a pretty attractive sales pitch. As Peale stated in his “Introduction” to The Power of Positive Thinking, “the powerful principles contained herein are not my invention but are given to us by the greatest Teacher who ever lived and who still lives. This book teaches applied Christianity; a simple yet scientific system of practical techniques of successful living that works.” While Byrne doesn’t state it as such, she attempts to do much the same thing as Peale: conform the Bible to the teachings of man, not man to the teachings of the Bible, as we’ll see more clearly next week.
. Rhonda Byrne, The Secret (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2006), 13.
. Byrne, The Secret, 16-17.
. Byrne, The Secret, 15.
. Byrne, The Secret, 14-15.
. Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (New York: Prentice Hall, 1952), xi.