Friday, December 29, 2006
If the recent Time magazine write-up by Jeffrey Ressner is any indication, it has, though as of now it's more of a gentle slap than a lash. Still, after Larry King's two-part infomercial on November 2 and November 16, and ABCNews.com's uncritical article later that month, Time's write-up is a good beginning.
Not surprisingly, the Secretrons are not pleased. Some are blaming the mainstream-media mentality for the negative coverage, apparently overlooking the fact that Larry King and ABCNews.com are also part of the mainstream media. Even so, they are already putting a positive spin on Time's coverage. After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
They may have a point at that. As even Time acknowledges, The Secret is a huge success, and its big mean marketing machine is in full force, poised to spew sequels and additional Secret products (or Secretions, as The Rev puts it) all over the world.
And even the decidedly non-Secretrons have their doubts about the significance of the Time article. Mystic Bourgeoisie's Chris Locke wrote to me (and gave me permission to quote him): "The Time slam isn't halfway hard enough. It will simply serve to promote the damn thing further. I can't help thinking of how the rest of the world sees America – we're trashing the Middle East, and meanwhile, a big chunk of the population is living in a fantasy world, dreaming about how to get more stuff. Pathetic."
By the way, Chris is the one who sent me the link to a recent interview with Rhonda Byrne, the creator of The Secret. The interviewer is Anna Darrah, Director of Acquisitions for Stephen Simon's Spiritual Cinema Circle, which is a movie-of-the-month club for the conspicuously enlightened crowd. To hear Rhonda gushing sweetly on the interview about "breathing air" and being enormously grateful to be alive, you'd never think she was the let-them-eat-cake ice queen whose comments ruined The Secret book for a few folks. (Don't overlook Steve Salerno's comments on the Amazon page.)
Anyway, here's the link to the Rhonda Byrne interview. But don't say I didn't warn you about the saccharine content. Imagine a New-Wage version of Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer on the old "Delicious Dish on NPR" skit on Saturday Night Live ("Good times....mmmm. Good times."). Well, turn it up a few notches, sweetness-and-light-wise, change the content from the mundane to the magical (no wooden bowls, funnels, or "Schweaty Balls" here, kiddos), and...hmm...that still doesn't adequately describe this exchange.
But I'll let you judge for yourself.
Prepare to hurl.
And after you've recovered, shoot off a thank you email to Time, for at least using the term "empowerment hustlers" when describing the stars of The Secret.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
While you sit and muse on the true meaning of this holiday, The Rev and I are going to observe the day by venturing into the post-Christmas hordes to hunt and gather some boxes of our own. Some of those boxes will contain the new computers we both so desperately need. My motherboard is about to crap out and The Rev needs a new laptop. And we need 'em now. Wish us luck...
PS - Here's an entire web page devoted to Boxing Day.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Most significant of all, I am, after all these years, still a fence-sitter rather than a complete rationalist. As fond as I am of Skeptical Inquirer, the Magazine for Science and Reason, I know that science and reason alone cannot save us. I know that despite our seasonal pleas for peace on Earth there will probably always be "wars and rumors of wars," and that even though we pay lip service to morality, our moral advancement will probably never keep pace with our technology. I know that for every great advance science makes to enhance or even save our lives, somebody will more than likely use that innovation to destroy lives. If, for example, science discovers (or, some would say, finally openly admits) that sound frequencies can heal or kill, guess who’s going to rush to get their hands on the killing frequencies? Many of the truly astounding breakthroughs and discoveries – the things that once would have seemed like magic – will be co-opted by governments and war departments long before average citizens can avail themselves of the advances.
And yet faith hasn’t been able to save us either, mainly because no one can agree on the One True Faith – or, more accurately, because so few are willing to admit that there is no One True Faith. Throughout history, faith and politics have always seemed to end up in bed together, and politics always ends up on top.
Even though the true meaning of Christmas is supposed to be about faith and love, I am cynical about the holiday for all of the expected reasons: the forced cheer, the unrealistic expectations for a "perfect Christmas" that create more misery than joy, the crass consumerist frenzy that isn't mitigated at all, but only made stronger, by the sappy tales of holiday miracles. "Love transforms everything," we’re being told this season – a lofty message, but the messenger is Kohl’s department store.
(By the way, I found it interesting that according to a recent AP-AOL poll, 91 percent of whites in the US believed in Santa when they were kids, whereas only 72 percent of minorities did. Also, while 47 percent thought the Santa thing distracts from the religious message of Christmas, a puzzling (to me, anyway) 36 percent thought he enhances the religious nature of the holiday. I guess naughty-or-nice translates well into punishment/reward.)
On a more personal note, I have so far resisted embracing Christianity, although I was raised a Christian, because I simply cannot accept the "package deal." Specifically, I cannot accept that the message of Christ’s birth (and death) – events that were supposed to deliver the human race – includes a provision for eternal torment for the masses who do not accept Jesus as the One Way to salvation. And most Christians do believe this, even if they dance around it when asked, as Joel Osteen so gently and smilingly did when being grilled by Barbara Walters for her "Where is Heaven?"20/20 special.
If we are to take this belief literally, the Hellbound souls include, besides me and all of the other agnostics I know, The Rev, who is a Buddhist, as well as my Jewish friends, my Hindu and Muslim friends, my Pagan buddies, my atheist friends. No matter how ethically we try to live our lives, we are doomed in the end. That is, of course, unless we all decide to accept the Christianity package deal.
And my dogs and cats, since they lack a soul, don’t even have a chance at an afterlife.
I am well aware of the existence of nondenominational Christian paths that don’t hold to the hellfire-and-brimstone p.o.v. There are, for example, the "New Thought" churches, but the ones I’ve explored have turned out to be a little too New-Age/New-Wage for me (think The Secret and What The Bleep Do We Know?).
Yeah, I know, there’s just no pleasing me.
There are times I wish I could just glide between the world of belief and the world of disbelief at will. Some would say they’re all part of the same world anyway, and in a sense they are. And I know that many people comfortably embrace both faith and science. I also know it is possible to live a moral life without believing in God at all. But on a practical level, you can’t really flit between belief and disbelief in the way I’m talking about without ending up terribly disoriented at worst, and, at best, being considered a royal flake.
And so I remain on the fence, perhaps deluding myself that the view is clearer from "up here." What I know is that despite the best and worst efforts of the faithful, there will always be cynics and doubters – and I think we should listen to them, especially the funny ones. I also know that despite the noblest efforts of those who promote critical thinking, we will probably always inhabit a planet that is both demon-haunted and kissed by angels. Who am I to say whether these beings are "real," or simply the products of our worst fears and deepest hopes? (Of course, many Law of Attraction believers wouldn’t even make that distinction.) I think that for now, the best I can do is try to keep my mind and heart open, and, as always, my crap detector at the ready.
Well, The Rev’s turkey is beginning to smell, if you’ll pardon the word, heavenly, and I have some cleaning left to do in this zoo before the gang arrives. The garland in the living room is looking a bit more chewed, and one of the cats is projectile vomiting, so I’m thinking maybe it would be a good idea just to remove the Christmas frou-frou from that room altogether. So I'll sign off now, hoping this day is wonderful for you. And I promise to get back to being a smart-ass after Christmas.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
But I digress. Although I predicted a few weeks ago that all of these lost souls would be rescued by Christmas, it looks as if it’s going to take a little longer. But the news is still good; for one thing, there are now flowers in Hell. Here are the latest stats:
As of 12/15/06, about 98% have shown some movement (49 million), 94% (47 million) have opened their eyes, 26% are walking around with some help (13 million) and a small percentage (750,000) without assistance. 20% (10 million) are starting to ask questions such as "Who am I?", "Where am I?", "What is this place?" and "Why am I here?," and 500,000 are regaining cognitive ability.
There has also been a manifestation of grass, flowers, trees, streams and birds as the Light energy continues to pour into this once desolate, dark area.
You still have a chance to get in on the Nether Worlds rescue project. That's right: you too can go to Hell in your dream state and share your light with the lost ones. It’s very simple. For instructions, click here and scroll down to the subhead, "It’s now or nether."
To tell the truth, I really don’t know what to believe about the Nether Worlds. According to Bryan and friends, it's dark and desolate down there, or at least it was before the emergency Lightworker teams showed up. According to some Hollow Earth researchers, though, the World Below is home to many advanced civilizations. In fact, some believe Heaven is located at the Earth’s core instead of somewhere Up There.
And then there's a group of people who believe that Hell is just one big party, with attractive guys, gals and goats for everyone. They present some pretty compelling evidence that it's a blast down there. Who knew?
But maybe you don’t want to go to the Nether Worlds for Christmas, even in your sleep. Maybe partying in Hell isn’t for you. Perhaps you’d rather stay up here on the surface and enjoy your own private holiday Hell on Earth with your dysfunctional family and your marginally functional friends. Matter of fact, that’s what I’m doing. Well, I recently found out about something that can help you celebrate the season and make it extra special (actually, you’ll be getting a bit of a late start, but better late than never). On her Stupid and Contagious blog, RockitQueen reports on a little-known tradition that gives a whole new meaning to the term, "Yule Log." Check it out.
Whichever traditions you choose to follow, whichever holidays you are celebrating, boycotting or merely enduring, I hope the next few days are filled with good food, good friends, and good fun.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Despite my apparent crankiness in recent blog posts, and notwithstanding a bunch of other stuff that’s going on in my world but is beyond the scope of this blog, I really, really am trying to be holly-jolly this season. But if I hear one more ludicrously over-rendered version of Silent Night, heaved up by some blinged-out, excessively self-important young "diva" who isn't qualified to even whisper Aretha Franklin's name, I am going to commit an act of violence.Silent Night is a simple, lovely tune. It’s okay to occasionally perk up the beat a bit (a la Angie Aparo) so it won’t sound so much like a boring hymn droned out by a bunch of tight-ass church folks, but it does not need to be over-sung. I am not only deeply unimpressed but profoundly annoyed by all of those twittery, quivery, utterly unnecessary notes that the "divas" seem compelled to produce for the same reason a dog licks his naughty bits – simply because they can.
And while you’re at it, divas, stop over-singing The Star-Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace.
Okay, now I shall try to be a little more positive. It is, after all, a holy season. And in spite of my on-again off-again cynicism about the season, I do have my sentimental moments. For instance, I always feel a little tug at my fourth chakra when I visit a friend’s home and behold the Christmas tree, all decked out with bright shiny objects and surrounded by a huge stack of presents that will be torn open on Christmas morning and forgotten before the New Year. It’s not the presents I envy. I only wish, for a moment, that The Rev and I could have a Christmas tree too.
But we can’t. This is not due to cynicism or any sort of religious conflicts. Cynics we may be, but we enjoy fine Pagan traditions, of which the Christmas tree is one, just as much as any agnostic-animist-Jewish-wannabe* / Buddhist** couple.
We cannot have a Christmas tree because of the cats.
Our cats – three of ’em, at last count – are strictly-indoor table tigers, as I strongly believe all suburban and urban felines should be. They do not, however, have free run of the house. We keep them out of the kitchen and dining areas, the bedrooms, and the offices where the computers are. They are allowed to accompany us into the bathroom, but due to their search-and-destroy lifestyle, they generally aren’t allowed to stay in there by themselves. (We even have a sign on the inside of our bathroom door for the benefit of guests who don’t know the house rules.)
The living room and the adjoining hallway are cat territory. This means that anyone who happens to be lounging around in the living room watching TV is fair game to be cat furniture. So it’s a good thing that all of our friends like cats. Unfortunately, the living room is also the only feasible place for a Christmas tree. Equally unfortunately, cats have hands, and they know how to use them.
Nevertheless I have tried to make the space somewhat festive. Though there’s no tree, I hung a large fake wreath on the wall above the entertainment center, mostly but not completely out of cat reach.
Occasionally a furry little hand will reach up and swipe at a fake flower, or grab a fake holly leaf that I will later find regurgitated on The Rev’s armchair, but so far the wreath itself has remained in place. The real problem, if you could call it a problem, has been with the fake garland I placed above the living room window. This is the only window in the room, and it’s one of those high-up windows. The Rev built a "kitty shelf" for the dear little demons so they can spend their days reclining on the shelf, gazing out at the wide world. (Wicked Rev also recently placed some bird and squirrel feeders in and around the trees just outside the window, but so far it hasn’t caused a frenzy. At least it generally hasn’t come to the teeth-chattering point.)
Not surprisingly, the cats have decided that the Christmas garland, by virtue of being above their window, belongs to them. Every morning I come out to find the garland has been torn down, with some of its leaves and flowers scattered carelessly around the room. I sort of like that look, but I realize that if the garland is on the floor, the dogs (four, at last count) can and will eat it when we all gather in the living room at night to watch one of our sentimental holiday movies such as Die Hard, Bad(der) Santa or The Long Kiss Goodnight. So I dutifully replace the garland, only to find my work undone the next morning. This morning I came out not only to find that the garland had been torn down and fragments of it scattered asunder, but that los tigres had also strewn yesterday’s newspaper all over the living room, turned on the Rev’s reading light,***, pulled some DVDs off the shelf, and knocked over a chair or two.
Hmmm. Maybe I’d better reconsider this "indoor cat" arrangement.
In spite of their destructive tendencies, I probably wouldn’t trade the little dears for the most glorious Christmas tree in the world, or, for that matter, for decent furniture, which we will never have. Life is a trade-off, and our pointy-eared angels bring The Rev and me far more joy than material things ever could. Most of the time, anyway.
And speaking of angels…well, it is the season and all that, and I found a little piece in First, The Magazine For Women on The Go, a mostly brainless guilty-pleasure supermarket women’s rag that I buy for bathroom reading, as the magazine’s tag line suggests. (It’s not all intellectual literary stuff with me. For someone who can be such an ineffable snob at times, I actually have some pretty lowbrow tastes.)
Anyway, First, like many other magazines – particularly at this miracle-ridden time of year – has gotten on kind of an angel kick. The piece that caught my eye in the latest issue is titled, "3 signs angels are watching over you." According to Trish Chastain-Sage (what a name, huh?), a "specialist in spiritual healing through angels," any of the following three signs "could be an indication of divine protection and oversight":
I couldn’t help noticing how Chastain-Sage likes to maintain, assert, and explain. It sounds to me as if some junior staff member was hitting the online thesaurus pretty hard. Apart from that, I also couldn’t help thinking of a few alternative explanations for these magical signs. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s angel parade, but I think it is important to explore all possibilities.
- FEATHERS: "Finding a feather in an unexpected place is a clear signal that an angel is nearby," maintains Chastain-Sage. Angels want to subtly alert us to their presence, she says, and these feather "hints" are one way they go about it.
- SUDDEN POSITIVE FEELINGS: Experiencing a bright burst of optimism that seems to come out of nowhere, ad if your cares are being lifted away, means that in all likelihood you’ve just been embraced by a spiritual helper, Chastain-Sage asserts.
- RUSH OF WARMTH: "A sudden warm sensation is an indication that a heavenly guide is helping to heal something inside you, be it an emotional or a physical wound," explains Chastain-Sage. These types of feelings are typically experienced during the night or early morning, when we are most open to spiritual intervention.
Take that "rush of warmth." It could be angels, yes, but it could also be a sign from Goddess that the Estroven is no longer working, and it’s time to look into some bioidentical HRT. And those "sudden positive feelings?" Maybe that Vicodin-Soma cocktail you forgot you gulped a half hour ago to help you cope with the holidays has just kicked in. And as for those feathers in unexpected places, I'd say it is entirely possible that your own pointy-eared angel has just successfully hunted your favorite down pillow.
If I were you, I’d check the bird feeders too.
** The Rev
*** Since it was mainly ads that were scattered, I suspect they were hunting for last-minute Christmas bargains in the paper.
Friday, December 22, 2006
You have probably already guessed that today’s post is dedicated to Rhonda Byrne, creator of the hit infomercial The Secret, which is now a bestselling book as well (number 24 on Amazon as I type these words).
Rhonda is a big star these days, as well as a star-maker. But one person she hasn’t quite made a star of yet is Marcy From Maui, founder of the Powerful Intentions web site, an online community devoted to The Law of Attraction, The Secret, etc. Marcy is a big Rhonda fan. Like an enthusiastic little puppy dog, she bounces all over the place with her panting praise for Rhonda (as well as for other stars of The Secret and other members of the New Wage/hustledork community).
So far, though, Rhonda hasn’t exactly returned the favor. She does have a page on Marcy’s Powerful Intentions site, but as of now it bears nothing more than her mug and a small list of links to her areas of interest. Rhonda has yet to blog, post photos, or even officially state her Powerful Intentions, although as a member of the PI community she has been given the space to do so. I’d say she is probably just too busy, and perhaps even too important, to slum around with the multitudes of Rhonda Byrne wannabes and other aspiring Secret superstars who populate the Powerful Intentions site.
Nevertheless Rhonda is everywhere else these days. And, although she is pretty much behind-the-scenes on The Secret DVD, her name appears on the cover of the book. She is officially listed as the editor, and has also sprinkled the book with her commentary. But if some of the Amazon reader reviews are any indication, Rhonda’s remarks have been a bit of a turn-off even to some of the most enthusiastic Secretrons.
A woman named Janet Boyer, who says she was "incredibly moved and inspired" by the DVD, was not so enamored of the book; she was put off by Rhonda’s "let-them-eat-cake" attitude towards the unhappy, unattractive and unfortunate among us. And this woman is no cynic like yours truly. In addition to loving the DVD, she found these passages in the book "compelling":
"This is really fun. It's like having the Universe as your catalogue. You flip through it and say, `I'd like to have this experience and I'd like to have that product and I'd like to have a person like that.' It is You placing your order with the Universe. It's really that easy." - Dr. Joe Vitale
"When you visualize then you materialize. Here's an interesting thing about the mind: we took Olympic athletes and had them run their event only in their mind, and then hooked them up to sophisticated biofeedback equipment. Incredibly, the same muscles fired in the same sequence when they were running the race in their mind as when they were running it on the track. How could this be? Because the mind can't distinguish whether you're really doing it or whether it's just a practice. If you've been there in the mind, you'll go there in the body." - Dr. Denis Waitley
"There is no blackboard in the sky on which God has written your purpose, your mission in life...your purpose is what you say it is. Your mission is the mission you give yourself. Your life will be what you create it as, and no will stand in judgment of it, now or ever." - Neale Donald Walsch
Neale’s imaginary friend God told Neale this.]
I'll leave it to you to insert your own assessment of the statements above. The point is that Janet seemingly agreed with them. And I want to emphasize that she did like the DVD very much.
And then along came Rhonda, who basically ruined the book for Janet with "two shallow, accusatory contributions that have no place in this incredible book. And, it's these kind of Western superficialities that have ruined law of attraction books for me in the past."
The first passage that stopped Janet cold was Rhonda’s view of people with weight challenges:
The most common thought that people hold, and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind now it is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your *thought* that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight....If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it.
Janet added that she had received an email from an eighteen-year-old agoraphobic, an anxious, depressed teen who was housebound because of her fears. This young agoraphobic wrote, "Then I keep thinking, okay, you caused all of this because that is what Law of Attraction says, etc. I just feel worse about myself."
The other remark that turned Janet off was Rhonda’s statement that people who experience widespread calamity (tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, famine, diseases like AIDS, etc.) experience it because they are "vibrating" in exact alignment with these disasters, e.g., thinking they could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Janet adds:
I'd like to see Ms. Byrne walk amidst the AIDS suffers in Africa or those in Louisiana who survived Hurricane Katrina and say those things. Oh, wait! That's right. According to her we shouldn't OBSERVE such nasty things…Maybe THAT is why more people ‘don't know about it,’ Ms. Byrne –because The Secret has been tainted by egos like yours instead of left alone to speak for itself! Maybe The Secret has not been hidden, only ignored, because of the chilling narcissism that gets thrown in the mix – contradicting the very wisdom traditions (like the New Testament) that you conveniently hijack to prove the law of attraction!
Another reader agreed with many of Janet's points, adding:
Perhaps there is a reason that this information has been kept a secret for so long. Maybe that reason is that too many people would have used the knowledge to abandon the sick, dying, and less fortunate and spend their time generating new toys and bigger and bigger houses…I see no spiritual problem with having it all, but that can and should include kindness and compassion toward everyone.
I see no spiritual problem with people wanting nice material things either. After all, I like neat "stuff" as much as the next person. But all you have to do is read the blogs of certain LOA proponents (and Secret stars) who spend most of their time bragging about their luxury sports cars, Rolex watches, trips to Maui, etc., and you can see this reader’s point about the crass materialism of some of the Law of Attraction folks.
Janet, the first reader I quoted, thought Rhonda’s comments were completely unnecessary in the book: "It is this kind of stupid, shallow, prejudicial comment that turns people off the law of attraction! She didn't need to include this inane section in the book, for the wisdom offered by the OTHER contributors clearly spelled out how to attract what you want, cultivate internal joy, radiate gratitude, and so on. What the author has done is what many New Agers (and religious leaders) have done: try to fault readers/disciples by throwing on some 'New Age guilt' (as Joan Borysenko would say)."
While Janet has a good point about New Age guilt (which Joan Borysenko was far from the first or only person to mention), I actually think Rhonda’s input was a good thing. Not only did she probably reveal her true heart – and provide an uncomfortable (if unwitting) reminder that her bank account is being enriched by thousands of truly good-hearted people – but she also laid open the "chilling narcissism," as Janet so aptly put it, of the whole Law of Attraction culture. There are, after all, many unpleasant things in the world. These are not the things that most LOA fans seem to want to think about. They certainly are not the feel-good, joy-joy things that have inspired so many people to buy The Secret. But they are there. And sooner or later, even the most giddy Secretrons are going to have to come down to Earth and seriously examine "the dark side" of this entire Law of Attraction thing.
Although so far few people seem to be listening to those of us who have been Secret naysayers from the beginning, such as your own Cosmic Connie, Steve Salerno, and Christopher Locke, I expect a pretty big Secret/Law of Attraction backlash soon. (I’m also looking forward to the parody DVD; hopefully it will be done by the same folks who did Farce of the Penguins. Perhaps it could be called The Sequin, and it could center around that mystical bling Rhonda often wears on her forehead.) Despite the heretofore mostly uncritical media coverage of The Secret and its stars – think Larry King and ABCNews.com – a backlash is inevitable. It’s already happening, in fact.
Unfortunately but predictably, some of it will be from Christian fundamentalists who think The Secret is the Devil’s work. I would certainly hate to be placed in their camp, because I happen to think that Christian fundamentalists are the Devil's work (at least the violent or self-righteous ones), whereas I think The Secret is merely an egregiously over-hyped infomercial. But the fundies will undoubtedly voice their opinions about Rhonda and her gang of Mammon worshipers.
Inevitably, too, there will be fallout from disillusioned Secretrons who actually take the time to sit down and think about this stuff once the Secret-induced endorphins wear off. And there will almost certainly be multitudes who, despite thinking their good thoughts, putting their powerful intentions out to the Universe, and trying to live their lives in accordance with the loftiest LOA marketing principles, don’t attract the exquisite life partner or $150,000.00 sports car or two-million dollar mansion of their dreams. These are the people who, when the closing credits are over after their 300th viewing of The Secret, will simply return to their pedestrian lives to await the next amazing breakthrough.
And Rhonda Byrne? She’ll be laughing all the way to Maui, living in a manufactured paradise where there are no fat people, no starving orphans, no tsunami victims, and, most of all, no morning after the Law of Attraction orgy.
As long as you're here, why not also look at:
- Sell me a Secret (my first foray into Secret-baiting): August 12, 2006
- The power of pretension (a profoundly superficial look at LOA culture): September 23, 2006
- The Secret to staying healthy this flu season (the one that first got the Secretrons fired up): November 28, 2006
- Some secrets behind The Secret? (Scrambled channels: Rhonda v. Hicks (and Abraham)): December 6, 2006 (written nearly three months before the New York Times feature)
- Heart of snarkness (another dispatch from the Snark Side): February 15, 2007
- Lust and light (I smell a Secret-related sex scandal!): February 27, 2007)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Bradshaw was also instrumental in shaping the shame industry. For a time he promoted shame as a bad and binding thing that had to be healed. Eventually, however, it dawned on him that some shame is a good thing. It’s what keeps us as a society from being totally…well, shameless.* So Bradshaw modified his message. "Toxic shame" is the thing to be healed, whereas "mature shame" is the thing to be reclaimed and championed, along with one’s inner child, of course. Mature shame can even be a source of spiritual blessings – seven of them, if I’m reading his "Events" schedule correctly.
For years Bradshaw was very much in demand as a speaker, and, although you might find this hard to believe, The Rev and I first met when we ended up on the same planning committee for a relationship conference at which Bradshaw was the keynote speaker. Cosmic Relief was still in its nascent form then, and I hadn’t completely come out of the closet as "Cosmic Connie," but I was no longer a New-Wager either. So there I was, neither wolf nor dog, in the midst of a decidedly New Wage/New Thought crowd, participating in a feel-good relationship conference because my then-business partner had talked me into it. Getting Bradshaw for our keynote speaker was a real coup back in those days (and The Rev played a big part in the process). As I recall, Bratshow...er...Bradshaw...gave a very educated-sounding talk, which consisted of a multitude of his own thoughts strung together with quotations from one spiritual or literary work after another. I forget exactly what he talked about, but I’m sure that the speech was littered with inner children and toxic shame and deep mythic themes.
Although he keeps a lower profile these days than, say, Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, and other mega-stars, and he doesn't seem to have a strong Internet presence, Bradshaw is still very much on the self-help/spiritual scene. He’s not a real prolific author, but he does have a few classics from which he still gets a lot of mileage. And he has made a ton of tapes. He also travels the country to conduct workshops on inner-child issues, toxic shame, mature shame, and family healing matters such as "Finishing Your Business With Mother" and "Healing Your Father Wounds." Oh, yes, and there’s "Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families," which would be…let’s see…umm…pretty much everyone. That’s a fairly significant market.
Bradshaw even has a workshop called, "Reclaiming the Blessing of Elderhood," which is strictly for men 50 and older. Why is it that in New Age/New Wage culture, men over 50 get to be "elders," but women in the same age group are "crones?" I know that the mythopoetic crowd has been trying to put a positive spin on the word "crone" since the late 1980s, but to me and everyone else outside of the New Wage culture, "crone" means "ugly old hag," and that’s what it always will mean. Find another word, for Goddess's sake.
It is impossible to overestimate the profound influence that Bradshaw's inner child teachings have had on our culture. Every self-help junkie I have ever known, including my aforementioned ex-business partner, has done "inner child work." Years later, most of these people are still working on their "issues," but they continue to tout the merits of doing inner child work. And more than one of these people has strongly recommended that I do some inner child work myself, to get at my "issues."
And so, Dear Ones, I finally succumbed to years of pressure and attended a Bradshaw inner-child workshop recently.** And boy, did I learn some profound truths about myself – truths that are so deep and painful that I cannot even write about them. Thank goodness, then, that a picture is worth a thousand words.
** Not really. I wouldn't go to one of those things unless someone paid me very, very well to do so.
*** That’s what they’re called. Don’t blame me.
Monday, December 18, 2006
The time-tested way to make your employees
(and, ultimately, your customers)
think you care about them
Boston (API) In most workplaces today, those high-maintenance, carbon-based work units known as "employees" are still a necessary evil. The day is coming, of course, when automation and even more advanced technology will alter this inconvenient and expensive workplace reality, but until then, the business owner must deal with the demands of an employee-based corporate structure.
There’s no denying that the business world is undergoing a major transition period that brings a unique set of challenges. As more firms jump on the rightsizing bandwagon and proceed to surplus and off-line great numbers of work units, many of the remaining units are having to assume, in addition to their regular jobs, the job responsibilities of their off-lined fellows. Unavoidably, the salaries of numerous on-liners are being downward-adjusted. In many cases, offshore outsourcing has cut labor costs dramatically, but many US companies are still forced to maintain a small number of domestic work units. Unfortunately most work units are unable to big-picture these situations; they view such changes as problems rather than opportunities, and, notwithstanding the tight job market, have a tendency to manifest attitudinal negativism.
It may be hard for the average executive to understand this ingratitude, particularly in a corporate culture that displays clear evidence of concern for work-unit well-being — benefits such as mandatory body-fat measurement programs to promote worker fitness, random compulsory bodily-fluid evaluations for signs of chemical challenges, monitoring of employee phone calls in order to enhance workers’ interpersonal skills, surveillance of workers’ computer keystrokes and Internet usage to help improve productivity, and the like.
Despite perks such as these, the signs of worker malcontent are pervasive; there has been a dramatic increase in intraoffice acts of violence against persons and, even worse, against expensive, hard-to-replace non-organic office equipment. Most disturbing of all, some firms have even reported derogatory graffiti in the executive lounges. The bottom line is that the American workplace is experiencing various forms of morale-deficiency syndrome. It’s an insidious problem, one that can’t be entirely solved by comprehensive benefits packages, weekend-warrior retreats, employee wellness regimens or even Empowerment Programs.
But relief is in sight. Over the past decade or so, many business leaders have discovered an innovative method that is as ancient as humanity itself, and as new as the latest best-selling business book. The method involves mixing business with an abstract concept known as "soul" or "spirit." This may seem at first like an odd juxtaposition, but business leaders who have infused their corporate culture with soul/spirit conceptualizations have reported many benefits, including an upsurge in the work-unit loyalty level, positive press coverage for the firm and its leaders, and, most importantly, an increase in profits.
Just how does this soul/spirit strategy work? It’s really quite simple. Survey after survey has shown that work units respond positively when they perceive that their employer cares about them. Indeed, if there is one thing more important to workers than pension plans, employee fitness centers or even an adequate salary, it is this: they want to feel really loved. So say Art Deal and Lee Blowman, business professors at Blunderbuss University and the authors of a best-selling business book that’s become the bible of this burgeoning movement, Lead ’Em With Soul and They’ll Follow You Anywhere. Hundreds of executives are already using the principles in this book, and they swear by it.
The authors are quick to reassure the wary. "First of all, don’t worry that you’re going to have to move out of your emotional comfort zone and work up a level of genuine caring-ness," says Dr. Deal, who holds a Ph.D. in Professional Self-Promotion. "It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually care about the workers; if you strategize properly with soul/spirit technology, they’ll think you care. And that’s what makes all the difference."
Dr. Deal and Professor Blowman have been touring the country for years delivering seminars on Soul/Spirit in the Workplace. Their clients include Fortune 500 firms as well as numerous smaller businesses. For a minimum of $10,000.00 per attendant, savvy business leaders learn, in one power-packed weekend, how to transform the corporate culture into a place where executives and real workers alike can freely use terms such as "morality," "ethics," "heart," "values," "personal truth," and "authenticity" — and, more importantly, where they learn to associate these terms inextricably with the Company.
Deal and Blowman strongly recommend that all corporate leaders take their seminar; meanwhile, a few key principles can be put to use right away. The authors recommend the following six simple but powerful tactics, which they call their "Soul Of Business (S.O.B.) SuccesSteps ®":
- Procure substantial quantities of their book immediately, if not sooner. Buy a copy not only for the owner or CEO, but for all upper- and middle-level executives. Have plenty of extra copies on hand to allow for normal turnover rates.
- Issue a memo to the Company’s decision-makers mandating that all decisions henceforth will be morality-based as well as bottom-line-based. Note that the decisions don’t actually have to be morality-based (keep in mind that "morality" is a relative term), but it is crucial that the memo be widely circulated. Copies should be sent to the press too.
- Require all Company managers, supervisors and employees to utilize the words "soul," "spirit," "integrity" and "heart" at least once and preferably more in each and every one of their intra-office and extra-office communications — written, spoken, e-mail, etc.
- Don’t merely encourage — REQUIRE all underlings to share their innermost feelings (their "personal truths") with you. Tell them it’s because you really care about them. Of course you must reciprocate, but in a guarded manner. Deal and Blowman’s book contains a list of acceptable Executive Personal Truths, from which you can pick and choose to create a credible facade of sharingness with individual work units or entire teams.
- Remember, You Are The World. Says Blowman, "You may have already done the sweat-lodge thing with your top male executives, or sent your key people on Vision Quests in some godforsaken State Natural Area — but you need to flaunt your multi-cultural spiritual awareness every day, in a way that will impress everybody." Accordingly, the book is filled with Christian and Sufi parables, fine Jewish whines and Zen koans (you don’t even have to know what the latter are; just use them). Also included are incomprehensible but impressive-sounding Taoist allegories, Native American coyote tales, Druid mating grunts, Santaria blood chants and more. "Use these tools liberally (if you’ll pardon the expression) in all of your communications; this will create a mystique of global spiritual literacy and cultural diversity," says Deal. And forget that lite-rock station; you’ll want to play world music, global drumming CDs, Gregorian chants, Tibetan monk chants and meditation CDs over the Company’s P.A. system.
- And the most important S.O.B. SuccesStep of all: Sign up all Company managers and supervisors for Deal and Blowman’s seminar, "Creating a Perception of Workplace Soul & Spirit." Make sure you send them to periodic refresher courses thereafter.
"And remember that this spirit thing is contagious," Deal declares. "It’s a trickle-down dynamic. Your work units will convey the Company attitude to your consumption units — also known as ‘customers.’ Now, customers are necessary for a positive cash flow — so far, there’s no way around that — but like employees, they can really be an antagonistic force when they’re unhappy. But as your workers spread that soul/spirit stuff around, you’ll have customers believing you care about them too. Put a little bit of soul into your corporate culture, and you may end up being named Entrepreneur of the Year."
Adds Blowman, "As business leaders, we know that the chief purpose of the average firm is twofold: to keep the shareholders smiling, and to keep the CEO and other key personnel safe in their gated communities. Providing goods and services and jobs...these are all just means to those ends. But your work units and consumption units don’t need to know this. Why stir up negativity? To me, the true beauty of workplace soul/spirit is that it fosters positivity. In a word, it helps keep everybody happy."
Misguided Angel Press
I'm not saying that bringing spiritual or at least humanizing concepts into the workplace is a bad thing. Some folks have been trying to do this since the 1980s, or even earlier. But if you've done any time at all in corporate America, you know how corporate leaders have a tendency to bastardize even the noblest of concepts. I have come to the conclusion that they just can't help it. They are the first to embrace every new and trendy concept that comes along, forcing their hapless employees to attend workshops and seminars touting the new ideas, and even incorporating the concepts into the company's mission statements. But nothing ever really changes in everyday practice. It's the same old sh--, with the bottom line being the top consideration, and employees being little more than interchangeable — and disposable — work units.
I think it also worthy of note that despite the rise of the workplace soul/spirit/ethics industry in the early to mid-1990s, the new century brought us Enron, WorldCom, etc.
Anyhow, I'm thinking that this "article" by "Virginia Hamm" could be more good urban-legend fodder (without this disclaimer section, of course). So you have my permission to spread it around. But remember you read it here first. Or, if you're one of the seven or eight people who read Cosmic Relief, you read it there first.
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Friday, December 15, 2006
If you dream it, you will sea it
Spiritual and financial advisor Chellie Campbell, founder of the Dolphin Club, continues to claim that there are only three kinds of fish in the sea: Dolphins, Sharks, and Tuna. How is it, then, that scientists are discovering more species of marine life every day, especially in the deep seas? The latest sea census has allegedly uncovered a diverse range of critters – and not just strange "new" species of fish, but other extraordinary creatures such as hot-tubbing shrimp, giant lobsters, furry crabs, hairy clams, sea unicorns, and pygmy mermaids.
"We can’t find anyplace where we can’t find anything new," says Ron O’Dor, a senior scientist with the census.
How can this be? Dr. Dupert Mandrake, noted causality researcher and Miracles Coach, says it is just more proof that we create our own reality. "The scientists are creating these new species themselves, simply by desiring to discover them," says Dr. Mandrake. "These strange animals are the scientists' thought-forms come to life. As we learned in the hit science documentaries What The Bleep Do We Know? and The Secret, we not only create our reality, but we can manifest anything just by thinking about it."
Dr. Mandrake explains that every scientist wants to be the first to discover a new species or star or planet or medical breakthrough. They all want to have something named after them. If their desire is powerful and focused enough, the new species or star or whatever will actually be manifested. That's what's been happening undersea. "The marine biologists are working on particularly fertile ground, or, more accurately, in fertile waters, because the Ocean is the Mother of all life," Dr. Mandrake says. He himself has just spent a week creating several new species of sea sprites and coral fairies, merely by imagining them.
When asked about Chellie Campbell’s claim that there are only three kinds of fish in the sea – or, for that matter, her continued insistence that dolphins are fish – he says, "That is absolutely true, in Chellie’s reality. This reality works for her and for members of her Dolphin Club, just as the sea-census takers’ reality works for them and for those who choose to believe their stories about furry crabs and such. I don’t think we should be judgmental."
The tracks of his tears
For a few years now, astronomers and other science geeks have been going on and on about the possibility of water on Mars. They keep finding "new" evidence that there may have been water on the surface or below the surface of the Red Planet.
"Well, of course there’s water on Mars," says intuitive cosmologist Dr. Randa Maxx. She even knows the reason; her research has uncovered evidence that the Face On Mars is weeping because of the terrible things humans are doing to the Earth and to each other. "It’s the very same reason that Mary, Mother of God, has been making Her statues weep, and causing statues of Her son to bleed," explains Dr. Maxx. "The dramatic increase in statue miracles on this planet is but a pale reflection of the miracles occurring elsewhere in the solar system and galaxy."
Some scientists have pooh-poohed the notion of the Face On Mars, pointing to "clearer" more recent photographs of the area that most seekers of truth know to be The Face. Dr. Maxx scoffs at these. "Everybody who’s bothered to do any research at all knows those photos were faked," she says "The truth is that there is a Face, and it is weeping, and now its nose is running too. In addition, the entire planet is sweating because it is worried about the events that are now transpiring. This explains the reasons for the water appearing in other spots besides the Face. There is still time for the Lightworkers to turn things around, but Mars isn't very optimistic. And I believe the Red Planet's weeping and sweating will continue until the next major galactic shift is complete and we all become omnidimensional beings."
Dust to dust
Comet dust is making a big splash in the headlines now. According to some scientists, the dust of comets is revealing intriguing new possibilities about the origins of our Solar System and the birth of life on Earth. This comet dust was supposedly scattered around the Solar System eons ago, and it created life wherever it landed.
Since the dust is so powerful, it is, of course, going to be harvested and marketed here on Earth, to aid those who can afford it in their manifestation efforts. However, at an expected $250,000.00 USD per ounce, it will be beyond the budget of the average manifester.
What scientists are not telling you, because, obviously, they don’t want you to know, is that an even more powerful dust is widely available now for only $9.99 USD. A woman on Maui who goes by the name Miss Bootzie sells gold dust blessed by Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune. Sprinkle some of this dust in your pocket, wallet, or purse, and watch your money grow!
From the far reaches of the galaxy to the swirling depths of Mother Ocean, it’s a wonderful Universe we live in. It is, in fact, a much more wondrous place than stuffy old science generally makes it out to be. Thank goodness, then, that we have cutting-edge researchers and reporters to help us find the greater truth behind the mundane hash that science is always slinging our way.
I made up Dupert Mandrake and Randa Maxx and their quotations. But Chellie Campbell and that woman on Maui who sells the gold dust are real.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
All of which has inspired me to copy and paste yet another crude vector-art ad parody from Cosmic Relief. At the time I did the cartoon in the mid-nineties, some of Houston's movers and shakers were really big into the Dalai Lama, and he was huge news in the society columns when he came to town. As with so many things in CR, not much has changed, although he has aged a bit since that Corel clip-art representation was created. Nevertheless the Dalai Lama is still the darling of the conspicuously enlightened crowd, and you're nobody in the spiritual/self-help industry these days if you haven't had at least one photo op with His Holiness. This, of course, says much more about the sucker-uppers than it does about the Tibetan, who actually seems like a pretty nice guy.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
So I have decided to devote this post to sharing a few items that, like Dave Barry, I did not make up. And I promise not to make fun of The Secret.**
You can never get too much aromatherapy these days. Reebok, taking note of this, has in recent months introduced their line of Zan Chi aromatherapy tank tops with built-in sports bras. The catch is, you have to work for your therapy, because the aroma doesn’t actually manifest until you start sweating. You have your choice of peppermint to pep you up, or lavender to wind you down, and the scents are said to last through 25 washings. The only glitch is that some women are horrendously allergic to the aromas. Oops!
In related news, Playtex now offers auratherapy tampons that cleanse the wearer’s aura of those "cranky vibes" that are the root cause of PMS. And don’t think that the guys and geezers have been ignored in the enlightened personal products marketplace. Trojan has just introduced a line of Embrace Your Male Energy sexual and spiritual enhancement products. Included are the "Rod of Power" condoms, which are saturated with essence of yohimbe and horny goat weed to head off, so to speak, any potential ED situations. Also available is the "Divining Rod" series, saturated with a number of proprietary ingredients that have been scientifically proven to balance a man’s chakras while helping him locate his partner's G-spot. And for the age-advanced crowd, Kimberly-Clarke, maker of Depend® Underwear, is test-marketing a line of aromatherapy incontinence products.***
What have you done for your stem cells lately?
I did not make that question up. It was the subject line of an email I got the other day. There’s this new stem-cell-enhancing supplement called, not surprisingly, StemEnhanceTM – "the latest phytoceutical breakthrough" – and it has lots of real science to back it up. At only $59.95 for a month’s supply (less per bottle if you sign up for automatic monthly shipments), it’s guaranteed to increase your stem cell production by…well, I forget the percentage point, but it’s pretty darned impressive, as I recall. Or at least it is guaranteed to "support stem cell production." Hey, I've always been a supporter of stem cell production. And stem cell research, too, for that matter.
Anyway, just between you and me and the folks who sent me that email, it doesn’t even matter whether the supplement actually works. What matters is that you can make tons of money convincing other people it works. Here’s what the email said:
Enhance your ABUNDANCE and PROSPERITY while you enhance your STEM CELLS HEALTH! (You can receive 6 checks a month!). Find out how to maximize your profits by starting out with the Fast-Start Program. (Distributors can earn a VERY SUBSTANTIAL income!) http://narcisos.stemtechhealth.com/
Let’s hear it for the New Wage!
And, speaking of the New Wage, I'm continually wowed by the fact that the New Wagers have so much modern science on their side. Not only do they have quantum physics to back up many of their claims
and inspire them to make idiotic underground movies, but now they have nanotechnology as well. Cool, huh? Not too long ago, I got an email telling me about a wonderful new opportunity for me to make money by selling nanotechnology patches made by LifeWave ("Software For The Human Body"). The patches can do all sorts of terrific things for my bloodstream and, more importantly, for my income stream. The email was not directly from LifeWave but from a person who is involved in an MLM program selling their products. Here’s what she said:
It is not a new product, but an entirely new category of focused energy for the body that uses nanotechnology and signal induction. It is "Star Trek" stuff—but the results, the documentation, and the university studies are too good to ignore.
You will understand when you try them for yourself. I believe so strongly that you'll agree, that I'm offering a FREE SAMPLE for you and anyone in your database….
The best thing is that once you are confident in the power of the technology, you can create a significant passive income stream just by sending out an email like this one. When anyone in your database gets the free sample, experiences the benefits (and they will), you get paid every time they order the product—automatically.
And here’s how the patches work (bold and italics are all the sender’s):
The technology is a non-transdermal patch that goes on the skin, but NOTHING enters the body except an "electro-chemical signal" to create more energy and burn fat. The patch technology triggers the release of long chain fatty acids that result in more ATP availability to the cell mitochondria. In a nutshell, this means 20-40% more stamina and energy. (This has been documented and proven in double blind, placebo controlled, peer reviewed studies!) The patches also open up the energy flow in the meridians, much like acupuncture but without the needles.
The most interesting thing is that the patches can be programmed to send a message through signal induction and create ANY biological process: release seratonin [sic], produce endorphins, build collagen in the face...there is no limit.
The main benefit seems to be that the patches can increase glutathione in the blood by 300% "in 24 hours with no chemicals or drugs." (That's a 3D model of glutathione pictured above.) Glutathione has a role in cell defense, among other things.
I did actually read some of the scientific data on the LifeWave web site, and I watched one of their videos. The backers of the products claim that the amazing results are not anecdotal but have been proven in double-blind studies.
A double blind placebo controlled study was performed to independently examine the effectiveness of the LifeWave Skin Care/Glutathione patch in being able to elevate blood levels of Glutathione over a period of 24 hours and several days. Baseline data was collected for all subjects; the average Blood Glutathione levels for all individuals was an average of 2020 umole/L as displayed by the graph on the left ("Normal" value). After 24 hours of using the LifeWave Skin Care/Glutathione patch, the average blood Glutathione levels of all individuals was 7326 umole/L. This means that within 24 hours of using the LifeWave Skin Care/Glutathione patch the average increase in Glutathione is over 3 TIMES HIGHER than normal. The graph on the right shows how over a period of 24 hours blood Glutathione levels increase dramatically for LifeWave patch users versus not using the LifeWave Skin Care patch.
Now, if you’re paying attention you will notice that the scientifically proven result they are talking about is simply the elevation of blood levels of glutathione. They aren’t talking about the actual effects of those elevated levels. They're not saying it's been double-blind-proven that wearing one of these patches will in fact straighten out those wrinkles, melt that cellulite away, and give you unlimited energy. And as I explored their material, it seemed to me that the only evidence that elevated blood levels of glutathione offer all those glorious promised benefits was…well…anecdotal.
In the obligatory CYA with the FDA, AMA, et al., the email added, "We make no medical claims. But as you know...when the energy flows...the body has an amazing capacity to heal itself."
LifeWave products also have the backing of the business world. Or, rather, nanotechnology has been written about in business magazines:
According to Forbes Magazine, "Nanotechnology is destined to completely change our world and the way we live!" And, according to Business Week, "Those who discover this new technology are destined to be wealthy."
Apparently, however, the only way you can order the LifeWave nano-patches is to become involved in an MLM program yourself. You can get free samples from the MLM-er who sent the email, but you pretty much have to lock yourself into signing onto the program. If you just want to order the products without selling them, forget it. There isn’t even a price list on the LifeWave web site. If you click "order now" you just get a toll-free Customer Service number. And even if you click "sign up" you still get the toll-free Customer Service number.
It’s all about the MLM.
But so what if the patches don’t actually do anything, and so what if you have to sign up for an MLM program in order to even try them out? That is not important. What’s important is that you can make money off of this stuff. It’s definitely something to consider as a supplement to your income as an Intuitive Reader or Law of Attraction Coach.****
More good reasons to raise your vibes
Just in case you haven’t been attending to your own personal vibrations (and no, those battery-powered "accessories" don’t count; I’ve already checked), here are more good reasons we should all strive to raise our individual frequencies. Extreme Lightworker Bryan James sent me an email ’splaining it all. You need to raise your vibes because…
1. The Holy Ones and beings from all dimensions know who we are immediately because we shine like a lighthouse on a dark, stormy night. They then look to support us in our spiritual work for the planet. And as our frequency increases, more come to help us (even fairies, trees, flowers, animals, etc.)
2. The higher frequency helps us to overcome the pulls of the lower energies much easier than before. Overcoming isn't as big of a struggle, as Paul used to call it, "Warring against the flesh."
3. It enhances our other spiritual work, whatever that may be, commensurate with our frequency.
4. It 'calibrates' our blueprint to be able to assimilate and utilize more advanced spiritual tools, such as the current 7 templates. There are many more of these that we can offer people once they get their frequencies higher (which several are doing!).
5. For those taking part in the Extreme Lightwork training, it qualifies us to claim a certain level of 'Dominion' over the Earth, Solar System, Galaxy and Universe.
6. The higher our frequencies are, the easier it is for the Holy Ones to communicate with us, and provide us clear instructions.
So keep working on raising those frequencies, and I guarantee you will notice an improvement in the quality of those voices in your head. By fortunate happenstance, Bryan James sells Frequency Acceleration packages.
Now get busy! Work on your frequencies. Be kind to your stem cells. And let me know if that nano-patch and the aromatherapy bra work.
* Ranking right up there, news-source-wise, with The Weekly World News.
** Although I suspect there are a few Secretrons who are…um…secretly disappointed when I don’t make fun of their guiding light.
*** Okay, I got a little carried away again and made up the products in the second paragraph. My apologies to Trojan and Kimberly-Clarke. But the Reebok aromatherapy products are real.
**** Oops, I almost broke my promise.