Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shhhh....It's a secret

I just finished over the summer the Oprah-driven book and DVD entited The Secret.

The Secret is a book, but it’s also a franchise, psychological and philosophical movement that has firmly grasped American spiritual consciousness during the last few years.

I watched the DVD and did not read the book. But the basic idea draws on the Law of Attraction — our feelings, thoughts and desires attract and create actual events in the world and in our lives. While hidden to most, the true secret to success and happiness has only been adopted by the cultural movers and shakers over the centuries who have realized that positive thinking invites positive experiences.

Initiated as a recent book and DVD movie campaign, The Secret is really just a new-agey and faddish repackaging of mind over matter or the name-it-claim-it health and wealth Gospel approach. With huge media exposure, thanks to culture-queen Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, the Today show and Larry King Live, the book is flying off the shelves.

The trailer to The Secret movie summarizes the worldview this way: “This Secret gives you everything you want: happiness, health, wealth. You can have, do, be anything you want.” The film itself encourages people to “Act on impulse … the universe likes to move quickly.”

Um … what?

The underlying message of The Secret is simple. In short, we are the creator of our universe. Your desires can determine your reality. In terms of your dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

If in hearing or reading about this pop-culture spirituality, you have laughed, scoffed, sworn, shaken your head or sharpened your apologetic ax, you’re not alone. However, if you’ve not heard of The Secret or overlooked its cultural traction, then you may be missing the world people live in as well as a great opportunity to bring Scripture into conversation with culture.

Author and theology professor John Stackhouse ends his fantastic critique of The Secret with a corrective for the church: “Often we have failed to speak to the spiritual realities so skillfully addressed by proponents of The Secret .… People don’t embrace something new unless what they currently have is inadequate. I take it for granted that the gospel is not inadequate. So it must be our preaching, and our worship, and our churches, and our families, and our books, and our youth groups, and our marriage seminars that are failing to offer people the light they need.”

Saint Paul didn’t miss his opportunity to offer his own corrective to the happy, healthy, wealthy mentality. In fact, he advises Timothy, a young colleague and “son” in the faith, giving him the secret to being content as opposed to happy.

And in short, it’s no Secret.