(A friend recently asked me about The Secret. So I thought I’d reprint this article a wrote awhile back)
Confronting The Secret
by Doug Bursch
Recently, Oprah Winfrey has been pushing The Secret. The Secret is a masterfully marketed repackaging of some very old ideas. What started as a movie and book by Rhonda Byrne has turned into a growing empire replete with adherent sages, faithful followers, and accompanying merchandise.
The basic premise of The Secret is you attract what you desire. Instead of focusing on the negative vibrations in this world, focus on the positive. This philosophy (religion) is based on the premise that we each create our own reality. We stay poor because we think ourselves poor. We become rich because we visualize our prosperity. Rhonda Byrne’s introduction to The Secret says it all, “As you learn The Secret, you will come to know how you can have, be, or do anything you want.”
This philosophy certainly soothes the conscience of the healthy and wealthy and it may even bring temporary hope to the sick and downtrodden, but ultimately it victimizes the oppressed and sinned against. Instead of placing appropriate blame on oppressors and oppressive systems, The Secret attacks the oppressed.
Consequently, if you are a poor third world worker, it must be your fault, not the fault of deplorable working conditions or oppressive slave labor. If you are sick, you’re to blame, not environmental toxins, not inherited genetics, not a lack of adequate health care. No, it’s your fault you’re sick. Cancer is for inadequate visualizers. If you are raped, beaten, bruised, or defiled, you must not have actualized the right vibrations. This philosophy, taken to its logical conclusions, has many troubling implications.
This is not to say that “The Secret” lacks kernels of truth. Many deceptions weave a bit of truth through their fabric. Science has shown that a positive mindset certainly has many benefits. It is good to celebrate people who succeed against all odds, but we should not use their stories to condemn individuals who are unable to escape their troubling circumstances.
As a pastor, I have seen horrible things happen to wonderful people. I’ve seen a loving, positive, faithful mother die of cancer. We prayed for her healing, she believed in her healing, but she died. She did not cause her cancer. She lived and died with noble beauty in the face of unexplainable trauma.
Oprah Winfrey may use the logic of The Secret to justify her success. Unfortunately, she is promoting a philosophy that ultimately victimizes the oppressed and sinned against. This is a secret that must be revealed.