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.)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hay, that's no way to say goodbye*

I've been more than a little negligent in my blogging duties for quite some time now, but -- notwithstanding my recent and understandable preoccupation with hurricanes Harvey and Irma and such -- there truly is no excuse for my failure, thus far, to mention the passing of Louise Hay, the elder stateswoman of the New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality industrial complex. She died in her sleep on August 30, 2017, at the age of 90.

Many folks just adored Louise. She was arguably a beacon of light for the gay community back in the 1980s, as she was
an early advocate for AIDS victims, providing spiritual and emotional sustenance to many egregiously stigmatized folks. Not everyone was enamored of her approach; critics complained that her message seemed to be that AIDS and every other ailment could be cured through affirmations and a positive attitude. Some accused her of a blame-the-victim approach; defenders claimed she was simply empowering people to take charge of their own health.

As the years went by her fame and influence grew, in large part because her publishing company,
Hay House, became a hugely successful model of New-Wage//McSpirituality crapitalism, or, depending upon your perspective, a purveyor of "products and services that empower and educate the individual, while helping to heal our planet." I lean towards the "crapitalism" p.o.v.

One of this blog's favorite snargets (snark targets),
Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, is a yuuuge fan of Ms. Hay, and, in his characteristic single-sentence-paragraph blogstyle, he wrote a loving tribute to her after her death. Joe'd had a long-time goal of being published by Hay House, a goal that was apparently realized at last in 2014 when Hay's company foisted The Remembering Process on the world. Granted, that book was co-authored with Austin music producer and musician Daniel Barrett, and Joe didn't get top billing, but he still describes the publishing as "a milestone in my career."

For the most part, the commenters on Joe's tribute blog post were complimentary to Joe as well as to Louise. But then came someone named Gena:

Gena-Reply September 2, 2017 at 11:08 pm
Apparently you missed beautiful Louise Hay’s message about the joy, satisfaction and worthyness [sic] of giving.
Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyonce, Brene Brown, the Kardashians, sports figures, musicians and millions of people across the country are giving money, time, energy and personal resources to help those in need in wake of the devistation of Hurricane Harvey in YOUR HOME STATE.
Where are you in all of this? Writing a memoriam to Louise Hay that’s about you, as well as shamelessly promoting one of your books in the memoriam; writing blogs about yourself; promoting your products and continuing on in your tireless promotion of yourself.
Oh, and forgive me if I didnt
[sic] mention your call to “love” Houston in your promotion of an audio series that, wait for it…. promotes yourself.
Lastly, I searched online to find direction from you, or direction to your charitable foundation in an effort to help the tens of thousands of people who lost literally everything this past week. . some of whom lost loved ones too… and to my shock and dismay.. you do not have a charitable Foundation, you have offered nothing up to help “others” without direct impact to your bottomline, and you have made zero effort to make a call to action to help the people, in your State, that at this time of unimaginable loss and crisis, need help the most. (For gods sakes, no clean water, food, or safe place to live other than, thank god, a shelter).
Many people left their homes without shoes on their feet, and will return to uninhabitable structures.
Apparently the real secret is, you don’t help those who don’t directly help your bottomline and at the hour of greatest need, you are absent to the suffering of others.
My deep disappointment in how you have failed to show up for Houston can only be matched by my awe and gratitude for those who reached, stretched or simply showed up selflessly to care for one-another.
And Joe responded:
  • Joe Vitale-Reply September 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm Gena, your heart is in the right place. I have promoted relief for Houston on all social media, and I have created foundations to help, such as Operation YES, and I have written about the power of giving in many places and in my books. I could go on, but instead of judging without research, why not just help?
That response is, I must say, a bit more refined than many of Joe's past snarky and hostile responses to critics. Still, there was more than a hint of Joe-like passive-aggressiveness, not to mention an apparent misrepresentation of his "foundation," Operation Y.E.S. (Y.E.S. being an acronym for Your Economic Solution (formerly Your Economic Salvation)).

OpYES has received its share of snark
on this blog, as well as on others, such as the dormant but still relevant Mr. Fire's Pyre blog. Joe first announced the program in spring of 2008, originally billing it as a plan to end homelessness and poverty and foreclosures in the U.S. in one day, or something like that. (Here's an early blog post by Joe's buddy Peter Wink, announcing the pre-launch of the program.) For years, some of us "hater" bloggers pounded away at the issue, questioning what, if anything, Operation Y.E.S. actually did to help the homeless and the poor. Joe's not very forthcoming about that, and the site -- here's that link again -- is basically just a sign-up site to get you into yet another hustledork sales funnel.

Or maybe I'm missing something. Maybe, behind all of that shameless self-aggrandizement on the Operation Y.E.S. site, there is an actual foundation that actually does something to help the vics of Hurricane Harvey, as Joe seemed to be insinuating in his response to "Gena." Joe -- or someone else in the know about Operation Y.E.S. -- is more than welcome to drop a comment on this blog and 'splain exactly how Operation Y.E.S. has helped anyone who is truly in need, much less the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the late Louise Hay. And while
the loving tributes have poured in from self-help gurus and Hay fans and followers, Hay's critics haven't been driven into silence.

For instance, there's my pal Yakaru, a long-time friend of this blog (back in 2012, he helped provide information for
my first post about the stupidest and most evil man in Scamworld, cancer quack and fraudster Leonard Coldwell). Yak writes the wonderful "Spirituality is No Excuse" blog, and after Hay's death he wrote a post titled, "Speaking ill of a dead cancer quack -- Louise Hay."
Louise Hay, unlike some other cancer quacks, probably did not die of cancer. At least there is no evidence she died of cancer…. No evidence, in fact that she ever even had cancer at any time in her life.
Louise Hay said she had cancer in 1977 or 1978 — she can’t remember which. She said her doctors thought it would kill her. And she said she cured it herself. But she can’t remember the doctors’ names, and can’t remember what stage the cancer was at when she “cured” it.
But Louise Hay had already published her first book, You Can Heal Your Life, in 1976. So she published a book listing a hundred or more diseases from leprosy to cancer, listed a “metaphysical cause” and a “healing affirmation” for each, and then a year or two later, “got cancer” herself. She promptly “cured” it — the perfect vindication of her book — but didn’t keep any documents and can’t remember even the most basic details about it.

Or none of that happened, and she was lying.

Lying, and believed by her customers because people don’t usually lie about that kind of thing. And then watched as millions of customers bought her “cancer cure” and tested it on themselves.

The husband of one such customer
left a comment here earlier this year:
Thanks to her unshakable belief in the teachings of this lady, and her refusal to follow a real treatment, which repeatedly drove a wedge into our happy married life, my beloved wife died last month, age 47. I miss her tremendously.
Yak had previously written about Louise -- here and here and here, for instance.

Yakaru is far from the only critic of Hay's (and her colleagues') brand of New-Wage pabulum;
here's a piece in The Guardian, published in 2009 during the height of the financial crisis. And the ever-dependable RationalWiki has a cynical take on Hay House.

And me? Where Louise Hay is concerned, I'm more sympathetic to the criticism than to the accolades. Even so, I have for the most part taken a more lighthearted approach to Hay's ouvre, as reflected in these bits from my 1996 BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief, which was a parody of those freebie New-Age rags that one can still find in many cities in the U.S. (As usual, click on pics to enlarge; you'll have to forgive the crudity of the execution; back in those days I only had access to vector clipart and wasn't yet working with photos. But I think the point gets across anyway.)

R.I.P., Louise, and rest assured that as long as gullibility remains a human trait, your legacy is safe.

* With apologies to the late, great Leonard Cohen

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