Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

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.

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Anonymous Blair Warren said...

Hey Connie,

Thanks for pointing out this article.

It seems the critical reviews and investigations into The Secret are beginning to pick up.

This is quite an improvement on the in-depth reporting we've been seeing so far:

Host: Is the Law of Attraction really scientific?

Guest: Absolutely!

Host: That's great news. Now why don't you tell everybody how they can get more information.


Fuddy Duddy Blair

Sunday, February 25, 2007 5:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Blair, are you copying and pasting Larry King transcripts again? :-)

As one fuddy-duddy to another... It's great to see you here!

Sunday, February 25, 2007 9:45:00 PM  
Anonymous de'botm said...

Connie, after thinking about the article, I am wondering if you can explain to me why LOA is called scientific by its promotors when it's based on the channeling of an entity called "Abraham"? I never knew that till I read the article. This is a whole new exciting twist. Did Oprah explain to her viewers that LOL was transmitted via Abraham?

Monday, February 26, 2007 6:53:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

No, de'botm, I don't think Oprah mentioned this. For that matter, I don't think the LOA proponents are talking much about that aspect at all. Look at the ongoing debate on "Mr. Fire's" blog now, for example...

I sure tried to make a big deal about the channeling connection in that blog post I wrote last December, though. In retrospect I didn't make a big enough deal. It took a mainstream media outlet to call people's attention to it.

Still, I bet that the LOA believers who don't go for channeling will just gloss right over that aspect, and they'll continue their cheerleading for "The Secret," Rhonda Byrne, etc.

Meanwhile, Esther Hicks really seems to be ticked off with Rhonda Byrne. And I don't blame her. Even though I don't believe Esther's shtick, I still think she was unfairly taken advantage of. OTOH, it could be said that she and her hubby are taking advantage of thousands of people with their bad ventriloquism act.

Monday, February 26, 2007 7:04:00 PM  
Anonymous moi botm said...

Salkin did a good job of conveying the strangeness of the channeling element. . So good, I think it would possibly make for an interesting movie, or TV series, at least for us types who follow these kinds of things. You could be the script writer, with Steve Salerno as cultural trend advisor, and Skeptico could be allowed some input for shock effect.
I do remember reading your blog about this subject, but I guess I didn't realize the whole idea came from an "entity".

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

And yet, Abraham-Hicks wasn't the whole of it. Supposedly Rhonda Byrne got her original inspiration from reading "The Science of Getting Rich" by Wallace Wattles, which was written about 100 years ago. If I'm not mistaken, Wattles didn't even mention LOA in his book, but Rhonda was interested enough in the ideas in his book that she started reading everything she could get her hands on about New-Wage/spiritual stuff.

In her searching, she came across Esther and Jerry Hicks' book, "The Law of Attraction." She met up with them and they got friendly, and she signed them on to the project that was brewing in her head. She also went on a "talent hunt" (for lack of a better word), contacting all sorts of folks who were successful in the New-Wage world and asking them if they wanted to be part of the project. Supposedly she was drawn to Joe V. by reading his book, "The Attractor Factor," which talked about LOA. "Attractor Factor" is actually an expanded version of a previous book of Joe's called, "Spiritual Marketing." A lot of that material was derived from or inspired by the works of Jerry and Esther Hicks, who Joe says are friends of his.

But what Rhonda mostly did was pull a bunch of diverse but successful New-Wage marketers together and throw them under a big marketing umbrella as practitioners of LOA. Even so, the Hickses were a big part of the original enterprise, and now they're not.

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:25:00 PM  
Anonymous d'botm said...

i had originally thought LOA was a product of books like the one you mention and had nothing to do with channelers. But now that we've got that cleared up, we can make the movie (lol).
Salkin left out one book that could have possibly been a big infuence : Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. I already mentioned it in a previous post. It has chapters such as "Ingredients of the Sucess type personality and how to aquire them" and is a mix of science, personal empowerment, and how to make money. Being that it is supposedly a popular "hippy book" from the 60's, I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned.
I think that Byrne needs to revise the title of her book and call it "the Secret unravelled: the reinvention of 'think and grow rich', from Napolean Hill to Esther Hicks". On the other hand, that sounds like the pretentious title of a paper that would be presented at the kinds of conferences I have to attend.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 8:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL, de'botm. But let's face it, the channeling connection is by far the juiciest one -- not that it's going to stop people from flocking to "The Secret."

What's really sad is that poor Rhonda seems to have made an unlucky choice in a love partner. But I'm sure Tilak will manage to slither out of trouble again.

And the "scandal" still won't affect sales of "The Secret" (although some of the more philosophical sorts might wonder what it was in Rhonda's life that "attracted" a lusty scam artist. Oops, I mean an *alleged* lusty scam artist).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous AnnieAmen said...

Not much or enough mention of God in the DVD. Only God knows what you are ready for on this earth. Do you think that a new car, $100 000 in the bank will make you a more fulll complete person, it doesn't. Inner peace comes from a relationship with God and he will guide you for what you are ready for spiritually. With God all things are possible and you will have inner peace which no possession can buy. Trust in God not modern man.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 5:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Annie, the seeming lack of God in the DVD has been a big point of contention with critics. Of course, the stars and promoters of "The Secret" defend it, saying it's *all* about God, but I guess that depends upon one's point of view. Anyway, thanks for sharing *your* point of view.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems "The Secret" is spreading more gratitude throughout their Universe with yet another "Secret lawsuit" - the most recent filings by Rhonda Byrne and her gang of merrymen include a Secret lawsuit against The Secret director and according to the URL below, now also, "The Secret" is suing the guy that did all their Internet marketing too.

Perhaps it's "The Secret" new-age way of speeding joy and gratitude - where's Larry King and Oprah now?


I love the part about Rhonda and The Secret not making enough money. Does anyone know more about this?

Saturday, November 24, 2007 3:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Anon. This is the first I've heard about this latest lawsuit. If true, the news really isn't surprising, is it? I'll try to find out more.

Saturday, November 24, 2007 6:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Kramer said...

I wonder truly if this comment will make it past your "fuddy-duddy" ways, if it does not, I will feel no anger. Truly, I probably won't notice... I simply stumbled upon your blog while looking up more law of attraction information, and I probably won't stumble back here (unless uncouthly plastered, in which point my stumbling will be of mere chance).

I am (I say at risk of ridicule) a supporter of "the Secret" (and though that name isn't truly very logical or correct, it made for a wonderful marketing tool in the hands of Rhonda Byrnes). I have only a few points to make in response to this blog (and hopefully my assertions will be allowed, considering I know you hope for a preservation of fairness in the things you write):

First, in response to the confusion over whether the LOA is "scientific" (that is, based on the quantum physics idea that thoughts carry a wavelength, and, according to LOA doctrine, these wavelengths cause a physical change in our ever-expanding universe that cause of reflection of our thoughts onto our environment) or "religious" (we are all the focused presence of the "source energy", esther hicks calls it "Abraham", and we are here simply to create for ourselves a desirable environment in which to learn and grow and experience. And, in turn, that source energy that she supposedly holds communion with is there to bring these things we want to us... as long as we are asking for them, and letting them come to us). My answer: these apparent "opposites" are both correct and equally helpful to our understanding of the world around us.

Secondly, to Annieamen, Proponents of this work would say that God is very involved. I respect your faith in his teachings, and in trusting that he has the right path set in mind for you. People who truly study the LOA (this means people who go beyond one fly-by-the-seats-of-their-pants watching of the "the Secret") know that it is more about following the promptings of the universe than about "manifesting" for yourself a new watch or a nice car. The true promptings of our soul (the part that is really in tune with this concept) doesn't usually ask for just crap (what I mean, is that most people hold happiness in higher esteem, in their hearts, then they do say, a corvette). Some people (Ex. Rhonda Byrnes and Oprah) draw to themselves "success" (financially) not because its just a "want", it is in their case the path they are meant to be on. The things are heart truly desires (our "wants" or the things we tend to manifest using the secret) are one and the same with the things "God" wants for us.

And finally, the tone of this entire procession seems to hold to the tune that the LOA is "wrong" because you can't determine it, conclusively, to be "true". Let's pretend for a minute that the LOA is a complete farce; that is unintelligent and that it is just a scam cooked up by crackpots like Esther Hicks and Rhonda Byrnes. So what. The fact of the matter is that the LOA simply tells people to feel good and to stay positive. And if, maybe, the universe isn't responding to them does that make the good feeling any less valid? If they aren't getting better things in their life because the source energy is supplying it and they just think they are getting better things because they happen to be looking harder for them... what's the difference? The LOA makes people feel better... Its not there to rob you, or deceive you, or keep you on your knees like a dog... its there to bring you up to start feeling grateful for what you have, hopeful about your future, and confident in your own power.

I just thought I'd give people a more balanced perspective on this point (and something in me said I should write in, haha) so there ya go... that all I have to say.

p.s. Though this is my first interaction with your site, you seem to be a talented writer cosmic connie... and I always appreciate talent.

Friday, December 12, 2008 8:06:00 PM  
Blogger kyra said...

>The fact of the matter is that the LOA simply tells people to feel good and to stay positive. And if, maybe, the universe isn't responding to them does that make the good feeling any less valid? If they aren't getting better things in their life because the source energy is supplying it and they just think they are getting better things because they happen to be looking harder for them... what's the difference?<

In response to Mr Kramer, there is darker side to LOA that involves self-blame and guilt around things that people aren't able to create. I have seen people blaming themselves and their negative thinking for deterioration due to AIDs and cancer because of this sort of thinking. So, more than the message of just staying positive, it is also advocating self-responsibility within all aspects in your life, including illness. So if the universe isn't really responding to them and they are being ridden unnecessarily with guilt about something that they had no part in, I would suggest that there is something very wrong with that.

Also, where you suggest that if it encourages positive thinking, it's good, is something I don't quite agree with. This sort of logic has been used by Christians to advocate teaching Hell to children. They believe that even if Hell doesn't exist, what's the harm if it teaches children to be good? The harm is that children shouldn't be scared out of their minds to be good. I am not saying there is any teaching of hell within LOA, but there is a teaching of being afraid of negative thoughts, and I have seen people's fear of negative thoughts be quite extreme because of their adhering to these sorts of philosophies.

If it is working for them and things are improving, then I can see your point. But if not, I think that this sort of thinking can actually lead people into a great despair and feeling that they are doing something very wrong.

Friday, October 29, 2010 9:15:00 PM  
Blogger sultradiva said...

LOA as it is taught by Abraham (through Esther Hicks) is simply a manager of our thoughts, and will send us more of whatever we are focusing on. They never encourage fear or negative thoughts, nor guilt about any subject for any reason. Ever. The whole point of paying attention to one's thoughts is to gently notice if we are feeling negative emotion, which is merely an indicator that what we are feeling is different than what our Inner Being is feeling about the same subject. We can choose to change our focus. There is a lot to discuss and I am not writing to teach here, but I wanted to point out a false premise. Thank you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015 4:39:00 PM  

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