Sunday rumblings from "the dark side"
Did I scoop the New York Times?
"There are some surprising secrets behind The Secret," says an article on the front page of the Style section of today’s New York Times. (I think I pasted in a Permalink, but just in case it doesn't work it should be pretty easy to find elsewhere. It's worth the effort to do a bit of searching.)
Written by the delightful Allen Salkin, the piece is entitled, "Shaking Riches Out of the Cosmos," and the title would seem to say it all. Salkin begins with mentioning a topic that, as it happens, Yours Truly wrote about on December 6 of last year (in a piece that, as it happens, I called, "Some secrets behind The Secret"): the fact that there are two versions of The Secret DVD. Missing from the second, "new and improved" version are channeling stars Esther and Jerry Hicks, the George and Gracie of the New-Wage world.*
Of course, I really didn’t scoop anyone. (I may be a narcissist, but I am not deluded.) I got my news last December from some of the Secret-friendly blogs and discussion forums, and all I was able to do at the time was quote the "official" message from Esther Hicks regarding the reason for the split with Rhonda Byrne, creator and producer of The Secret. At that time, it was spun as an amicable divorce, and all of the decisions about the split were made with love, according to Hicks. I did, however, do a little bit of reading between the lines and got called on my cynicism by angry Secret fans.
Well, now the truth is out, or at least more of the truth is out than was previously the case. That’s probably because Allen Salkin is a real journalist and actually did some digging. But it seems that I was reading between the lines correctly. Despite all of her syrupy talk of wanting to make others happy and do good things for this ol' Universe of ours, it seems Rhonda Byrne is just as motivated by the great gods of commerce as any other New-Wage capitalist.
Big surprise, eh?
Of course, Allen Salkin is probably working on the "dark side" too, as I have been for many years. I am sure he and the Times will be hearing plenty from disgruntled Secret fans.
In any case, the split hasn’t really hurt the bottom line of Esther and Jerry Hicks, who have apparently made a fortune with their gang of imaginary pals collectively known as "Abraham." By their own admission, they make millions per year. For that matter, so do JZ Knight and her fantasy bud, Ramtha.
And in case you weren’t aware of it, Newsweek has just come out with its own cover story on The Secret. The article is critical of The Secret and is already generating the expected responses from The Secret’s stars and fans, who rationalize that, after all, "It's mainstream journalism."
As I’ve noted here before, however, Oprah and Larry King – who rank among The Secret’s most prominent cheerleaders – are mainstream too. Not that they’re journalists; Larry King may have been one at one time, but he has long since slipped into that nebulous but profitable category called infotainment, and Oprah is…well, Oprah, the reigning Queen of Pop Culture. But they are every bit as influential, if not more so, than the "mainstream news media."
Many Secret fans will find the Newsweek article unfair, as they found last December's critical Time Magazine article unfair. And some Secret non-fans will say the Newsweek and Time articles weren't critical enough. But, as I said in a comment on one of the discussions on my blog, "Fair is in the eye of the beholder, particularly when it comes to media coverage."
By the way, in the interests of fairness, I do want to say that no matter how much I agree with people such as Skeptico about the science, or lack thereof, behind the Law of Attraction, I do not think it is dishonest or hypocritical of Secret star Joe Vitale – or anyone else – to moderate comments on their blogs. I’ve been round and round about this very issue recently myself, as some of you may recall. Anyone who owns a blog, web site, discussion board or any other online forum has a right to decide what gets published and what doesn’t. And from a liability standpoint, it’s just good common sense.
This is a major point on which I disagree with Skeptico and his friends. Upon reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that this probably has more to do with "cultural" (or perhaps more accurately, generational) differences than anything else. Gen-Y folks are more likely to view the Net as a no-holds-barred, anything-goes environment – the last bastion of free expression, perhaps – and are therefore more apt to see withholding publication for just about any reason as "censorship" or "intellectual dishonesty." I, on the other hand, am a member of the fuddy-duddy culture that believes in open discussion, but with limits. And in my own forum, I get to set those limits. So does Joe Vitale.
Not that I haven’t learned a lot from the no-holds-barred crowd. I have. I’m still learning. And I do want to emphasize that even though I am a firm believer in comment moderation, this still doesn’t mean that the Law of Attraction is a scientific principle, or a "law" in the sense that the Law of Gravitation is. It is not.
One more thing, speaking of "the dark side": There are some interesting discussions about The Secret and the Law of Attraction on Blair Warren’s "Crooked Wisdom" blog. Hurry on over there and get in on the fun. (But I'd better warn you now that Blair, too, is one of those fuddy-duddies; he moderates.)
That’s it for now. I’m going out to enjoy this glorious day with The Rev.
PS - I want to thank my new friend "moi," aka "d'botm," who comments here frequently, for telling me about the NY Times article. I should also mention that in response to one of my recent posts, a Secret fan going by the name of Operators R. Standingby mentioned a "critical but fair" NY Times article the other day, but didn't mention its publication date or the author. If this is indeed the same article, and Op just had an advance look at it, then of course I owe thanks to her/him too. Well, actually, I owe this person thanks anyway, for keeping the discussion lively.
* The big difference being that George & Gracie's comedy was intentional.