Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter


Don’t Be Fooled by “The Secret”

posted by Donna Freitas

Between the front page New York Times Style section article “Shaking Riches Out of the Cosmos,” which marvels about the fact that “The Secret” book is sitting atop the New York Times Hardcover Advice Bestseller List, and Newsweek’s online extravaganza “Decoding ‘The Secret,’” not to mention an official Oprah stamp of approval (she’s dedicated two shows to it), Rhonda Byrne, editor of “The Secret” book, is laughing all the way to the bank–WITH YOUR MONEY!

New York Times reporter Allen Salkin rightly compares Byrne’s “Secret” empire and its basic (and base) Law of Attraction message that “if you think it, it will come” to a long history of public interest in the latest “get rich quick” schemes (emphasis on the scheme):

Although “The Secret” is an overnight phenomenon, its message of think-and-grow-rich is but the latest version of a self-help formula dating back more than a century, with roots both secular and religious, and branches that have included Napoleon Hill’s best-selling “Think and Grow Rich” in 1937 and Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” in 1952.

J. Gordon Melton, the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif., traces the origins of “prosperity consciousness” to 19th-century Christian Science. “It’s always waiting for slightly different forms of expression, the same old message,” he said.

In my Idol Chatter December review of the DVD, I slammed this watered-down, self-interested mockery of a viewer’s intelligence. This film’s message is so flimsy and so juvenile that I could barely sit through the screener. And now to find out that it’s sitting atop the bestseller list and getting top billing in major news outlets? I am rather appalled.

You do realize that by investing in “The Secret, you are merely making Rhonda Byrne richer, right? Not yourself?

“The Secret” is the latest New Age version of what has long been known as “The Prosperity Gospel,” which is anything that preaches the “good news” that you are meant to have lots of money, and that if you just support “our church” or buy “our book” than we we let you in on the “how to”!

And you should know: some people consider members of Prosperity Gospel movements as members of a cult. Don’t join the mania!



  • http://HASH(0xfb50c1c) Tina

    Because it’s got oprah’s stamp of approval, I have avoided it like the plague. She has SO many problems in her own life, I am most assuredly NOT going to take her advice for mine.

  • http://www.thetaalchemy.com Kevin

    To take the Secret Movie as a mode for getting rich is stopping at the gates of heaven and saying “That Place is too swank… “, and then turn and never find out what’s really inside. The message of the Secret is not YOU CAN BE RICH, it’s YOU CAN BE ANYTHING. This includes ‘rich’ to some degree, HOWEVER, 90% of the world DOESN’T WANT to be RICH, They just want to have their needs provided for. The message of the Secret is being well received by so many people because it’s context FITS what they are wanting. The word is getting out. The truth is very likely that fulfillment will actually come when people realize that they CAN have their hearts desire. This is the true message of the Secret. You can have your heart’s desire. It’s no-nonsense and contextualize approach teaches us many things about what the general public are focused on. I am sure that not all people will use the information in The Secret to build masses of Cash, but with the power of self awareness we humans can realize that we are together and that there is an unlimited supply of God’s Abundance, so we can Allow each of us to acheive whatever it is we are here to acheive. Blessings.

  • http://HASH(0xfb50fe8) Kannbrown65

    Still sounds like ‘Prosperity gospel’. Because, like it or not, some cash is needed to provide for real needs, and some people don’t have it. And it sounds like the ‘Secret’ message is that the poor are poor because they aren’t interested in having more money, or aren’t willing to use this ‘secret’ to get it.

  • http://HASH(0xfb51d2c) Alan Marco

    It is really about a CHOICE that WE ALL MAKE, from believing that the power to do, be or have anything is within us. You can call it whatever you want, yet it is very simple, if you truly WANT to BE HAPPY, which is what everyone is ultimately desiring and the reason (whether conscious or not) that anybody pursues any activity whatsoever, then IT IS UP TO YOU and your own inner life.It begins in your mind. Your system of thought or beliefs are the filter by which you see everything in your life. I raise the question: What is wrong with somebody getting money for a product that is inspiring many to take the initiave of BEING more Joyful? In fact, the very notion that somebody Making a lot of Money from something raises a red flag for you is very indicative of how we all look at money and many other things in our lives (like sex), where it is something we all desire intensely by virtue of our insticts (biological or physical) of survivial, preservation and mating and yet we attach a huge level of guilt, shame and over all darkness (psycological or mental/spiritual/non-physical from our learned and accepted recurring thoughts or belief systems) to it. It is obvious that the writer is only willing to critizise something he truly doesn’t understand, since he calls it flimsy and juvenile, while leading new science like quantum physics is describing the creative power and possibilities of the mind to not only control but determine the events in our physical universe in scientific and subatomic terms yet basically with the same message as what “The Secret” is explaining. Simultaneously, I will say that a now popular movement like The Secret, as well as countless others out there can and I AM sure have, in some cases created a “fan” base which while learning the concepts and possibly even applying them to the point of seeing results in their lives, also develop a dependency on all these self help gurus books, methods, classes, seminars, etc., thereby, still limiting in some fashion their utlimate inner freedom by virtue of this continuous need of more “spiritual” information. Which is really nothing different than people who depend on their religion and their religious leaders ideas, commandments and guidelines (Catholicism, Islam, Scientology, etc) to know what to believe, how to think act and “feel” as if they are good people. The Secret is only bringing the ideas it is presenting into a popular culture that is thirsty for a deeper sense of power to determine the fate of our lives beyond vitual slavery (debt, longer and longer hours of work and stress) to a now outdated economic and political system which doesn’t work in the actual practice of it, like our political, military and religious leaders would have us believe. Follow your own Bliss. You are the creator of ALL of your Reality my Friend, can you accept or even fathom that we are all truly One in Spirit?

  • http://HASH(0xfb53b8c) Glenn Ackerman

    I think your article is a reflection of YOUR own thinking and how YOU look and percieve the world. The Secret dvd offers some timeless ideas that have been around for thousands of years but no body takes them seriously. (Ask and believe that you have recieved it and it will be granted to you. Jesus) I think Rhonda Byrne should get a nobel prize for putting out the secret. The bottom line of the DVD is that our perceptions, attitudes and thoughts about ourselves and our lives create the quality (or lack of) in our lives. This is a message that we all need to be reminded of over and over again, because humans have a tendency to blame everyone and everything else for their circumstances except themselves. An open, iquisitive and expansive mind greets new and challenging info by asking, “What’s good about this and what can I learn and apply to increase my knowledge, happiness and experience in the world. A closed down , self-righteous, critical thinker just tries to understand enough so they can put it down or look where it does’nt or may not apply. Which one do you think is the happiest? Which one are you?

  • http://HASH(0xfb54a14) Cath

    I think one of the things that stops people from having the life they want is using what society calls a ‘good’ life as a model. If you ask most people what they really want in their hearts, they would probably say they want to be able to engage in meaningful work and have a comfortable life. Not mansions and yachts, just peace of mind. Yes, a lot of people are focused on mounds of cash, and I tell you what, if that is what you spend your time thinking about (not thinking about how much cash you don’t have, mind you, but thinking about the various ways that you can build that mound) you will have it. But your time, attention and focus are going in that direction. To say poor people think poor is a simple way of saying that their time and attention is focused on just making do or what they DON’T have. I say this from experience. When I stopped worrying so much about what I don’t have and stopped spending so much time praying for ‘ends to meet’, I stopped experiencing a sense of lack because I became grateful. Gratitude is the most important element of this so-called Prosperity Gospel. That puts you in alignment with God and that is 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about. The Secret requires WORK and it requires FAITH in the unconditional love of Spirit! It requires attention to your thinking and your actions. The part this writer seems to be missing is that it is not simply a magic bullet. It works but you have to work it and you have to have a discipline. Now what person who has succeeded at their heart’s desire would disagree with that?

  • http://same Linda Hite

    The Secret reminds me of the same irony I saw in Ayn Rand’s newsletter, which taught people all about how to live in her opinion. The awesome dychotomy exists in the fact that all her books are about just the opposite—strong people who stood on their own. If you need to read Ayn Rand’s advice on how to live, you aren’t one of those people! Also, as I was watching the DVD of “The Secret” with an enthusiast, I stopped the film as it was insinuating that everything that happens to you can be brought on by yourself or controlled by you in some way. I pointed out that it’s a good thing six million Jews don’t buy that philosophy or it would all be their fault what Hitler did. Big flaw in the message of The Secret, don’t you think? Linda

  • Anonymous

    dont worry..she wont be richer..there’s a lot of pirated dvd of it….then the piraters..are the richer then..but no…we get it for free..friends give it for free..and for juz fun…to watch..it…>

  • http://HASH(0xfb567ec) Kannbrown65

    Like I said, ‘Prosperity theology’ in a new package. You bring EVERY problem on yourself. (Since this includes disabilities, every economic downturn, etc). Therefore, anyone who isn’t successful, it is because they are negative, they are lazy, they brought it on themselves.In that case, what’s the point of helping the poor, since they are just negative, lazy people who are getting what they deserve?

  • http://HASH(0xfb57db0) Cathy

    There is nothing more frustrating than boiling giant complex issues down to simple minded nonsense. No, the Jews did not think themselves into dying during the Holocaust. But there was a certain CONSICOUSNESS or mode of thinking that created the opportunity for that horror to exist. And that was HUMAN thinking, not some act of God. What you think about is where your life will go. That is true for a human society in the same way it is true for a human. As a culture, if you spend your days thinking about hatred and revenge, eventually you are going to need an enemy to vent your spleen on. Even if you have to make one up. There is no magic in that idea. If you spend your days complaining and feel sorry for yourself, then there will be an infinite number of opportunities and experiences to reinforce your belief system. As for the handicapped and disabled, don’t just assume that everyone of them is having some rotten quality of life that they are miserable with. At lease give them the dignity of believeing it is possible to enjoy the life they have. The Secret isn’t about trying to avoid the realities of human life. All it says is what are you, YOU the individual going to do to make your life better? No one is going to do it for you, so the sooner you take responsibility for your own happiness instead of hoping someone else will fix it for you, the sooner that happiness will show up. Is that message so challenging?

  • http://HASH(0xfb58898) Kannbrown65

    Me, me, me. That does seem to be what its all about. How to make MY life better. What I need, what I want. To the point where I just assume someone who just seems to be in trouble, hey, they just might WANT to be poor, or in pain, or ill.I’ve never heard anything quite so contrary to anything in the Gospels before. Its not ‘do unto others’, its ‘I got mine. If you don’t have yours, that’s your fault, and your problem.’

  • http://HASH(0xfb5942c) Riean

    I think that your review and other comments of “The Secret” shows that “mediacracy always attacks excellance”. Simply put “The Secret” talks about so much more than money and teaches a simple law at a level that finally the majority of the world can now comprehend instead of the many religious scientists that were already using it.

  • http://HASH(0xfb59258) Tina

    Mother Teresa helped hundreds of thousands of people, SHE never got rich. I don’t buy anything from anyone who dresses up their greed, and sells it to the desperate.

  • http://HASH(0xfb5aa50) reyzl

    When the author of this tripe can assert that a parking space will appear when you think positive thoughts, then we know true silliness has descended upon the gullible. This philosophy smacks heavily of blaming the victim when misfortune befalls them.

  • http://HASH(0xfb5af00) Tina

    Reyz, I agree. And it’s very easy for Oprah, in her 3 or 4 million dollar apartments to say, “You can have it all”. But DOES she have it all? No family, can’t stand American kids, can’t commit to anything but her bank account, weight that goes up and down more than 1,000 yoyos…..

  • http://HASH(0xfb5cd94) Elle Darcy

    If you want to read a truly incredible “self-help” book, try Thomas Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation.” In it Merton writes that we cannot truly achieve peace and happiness until we surrender ourselves to God. That means not constantly thinking about what I want, but what God wants for me. By surrendering to God s will, we throw off our false selves and our false happiness and become the true and beautiful people God has meant us to be. My husband and I have recently faced difficulty in conceiving a child. No amount of positive thinking would work, though we did desperately desire to become parents. Instead of saying, God, make me a mother now! I must have a baby I resigned myself to His will, asking Lord, give me the wisdom to see what you are calling me to do. Perhaps God is asking me to adopt an unwanted child or to remain childless and devote myself to ministering and being a spiritual mother to those who are in need of help? I believe it s only in throwing off our selfishness that we can become truly free and fulfilled. The Secret seems to only reinforce the idea that we can find happiness simply by giving into our desire for money, advancement, and material comfort.

  • K

    I have mixed thoughts on the Secret. I believe the basic premise is true about the law of attractiion, however I also think there is much more to this whole subject than was told about in the movie. It needs much more explanation that just a two hour (or however long it was) movie.

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