lenten journal: the secret


    One of my favorite people at work is Pedro, our head dishwasher. He is Brazilian, works a construction job all day before he washes dishes from five to twelve five nights a week, and he has a kind and gentle spirit. When he walks in the back door of the restaurant to come to work, I say, “Master P” and he says, “Mister M” and then he gives me a big hug. Last night it was just the two of us in the kitchen.

    As we were working he said, “Is anyone in your church have construction business?”

    “I don’t know,” I said. “What do you need?”

    “My other job gone now. For three weeks, I come only here. It’ s no good.”

    He’s right. What he makes an hour is not a living wage in Massachusetts. I told him I would see what I could find out for him. He, like a lot of the people I work with at the Inn, lives on the edge of poverty. And it’s a slippery edge, too. Vivianne, one of the other dishwashers, also cleans houses. We have hired her to clean our place from time to time. Last week, she couldn’t come because her little girl was sick. I know she doesn’t have health insurance. This week her car broke down. I’m sure she was counting on being able to earn the extra money.

    I mention them because of what I saw this morning on the Today Show. They interviewed a guy promoting a new book and DVD called The Secret, which was something called the Law of Attraction, a “scientifically proven phenomenon” by which we can have or be anything we want if we just want it bad enough. If by science you mean a televangelist in a lab coat, then I guess he’s right. He went on to say this secret has been known for centuries by people like Shakespeare, Beethoven, Victor Hugo, Emerson, Lincoln, and many others.

    I found a twenty-minute clip of the movie online, which was packaged like The DaVinci Code, and watched because I wanted to be able to be better informed before I started writing tonight. Before I say more, let me share some of the quotes from the movie:

    • “The Law of Attraction – thoughts become things — always works every time for everyone, no exceptions (which means, of course, if your life sucks it’s because you’re a suck magnet)
    • “When you focus on the things you want, the law of attraction will give it to you every time; when you focus on the things you don’t want, they will show up over and over again.” (This is not new. Televangelists had their own name for it: “Name it and claim it.”)
    • “Everything that’s around you right now in your life, including the things you’re complaining about, you’ve attracted.” (The guy on Today even had the nerve to say he wasn’t casting blame but responsibility. Either way, you’re still a suck magnet.)
    • “Every time you look in the mail expecting to see a bill, it will be there.” (Silly me. I thought the bills came because I turned on lights and ran the water.)
    • “You are the creator of your destiny.” (No pressure there.)

    Some of the examples in the movie left me incredulous: a man was caught in a traffic jam because he thought he was going to get caught in traffic when he left the house; a woman who thought her cancer would go away and it did (which means, according to this law, that those who die of cancer thought they would). It became very clear to me that the reason I live with clinical depression must be because I brought it on myself.


    Newsweek quotes Rhonda Byrne, the Australian woman who is behind the book and the movie, as saying the way to lose weight is to quit looking at fat people.

    Based on what she calls the “law of attraction”—that thoughts, good or bad, “attract” more of whatever they’re about—she writes: “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.” So if you’re having trouble giving up ice cream, maybe you could just cut back on “The Sopranos” instead.

    When the talking heads in the movie spoke of the specifics, they said we should think about what kind of car we wanted to drive, what kind of house we wanted to live in, what kind of job we most wanted to do, what kind of luxuries we wanted to own. It seems laughable to me that a secret known by Shakespeare and Lincoln would find it’s best application in being used as some sort of cosmic gift card. Forget freeing the slaves, start thinking about some serious money:

    Believe and know that riches are yours, and feel the feelings of having them now. The more you can feel it, the more power you will add to bring it to you.

    I’ve got a secret: these people have been listening to Robert Tilton. They took his stuff, replaced “God” with “the universe,” and started looking for suckers. And its’ working. This week there are 1.75 million books in print and 1.5 million DVDs sold. (But no one’s made a fart tape yet.)

    If you go to Tilton’s web site, you can get How To Pay Your Bills Supernaturally and How To Be Rich & Have Everything You Ever Wanted for free (if you make a small donation). In Tilton’s earlier incarnation, one of my seminary roommates and I sent our names in just to see what he would send us. One week – and the mailings came weekly – we got a cardboard wallet with instructions to put fifty dollars inside and return it to Tilton and God would pay the bills. I think he meant his bills, not ours.

    So I rather than help Pedro find another job, I just need to tell him the secret: he’s a poor, struggling, construction worker/dishwasher who is struggling to make ends meet because he’s a magnet for that kind of pain and he looks at way too many other poor immigrants. If he were just white, American, and rich things would be different. Until he changes his stinkin’ thinkin’, the universe is not going to vote for Pedro. As for the folks in Darfur, they’ve created a horrible situation with their thoughts of hunger, war, and rape. If only they had dreamed of owning BMWs and living in Beverly Hills.

    After all, it always works every time for everyone, no exceptions.



    1. Dan Ackroyd thought of the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man and look how that turned out. I use the Think System from the “Music Man” myself, but I still haven’t mastered the tuba.

      Thinking is dangerous, bottom line.

    2. When I pay my bills supernaturally, I don’t get that spooky haunted-house effect. Am I doing it wrong? Shouldn’t the check float to the mailbox, or the walls in the home office bleed, or something…?

      Oh, that’s right, I must BELIEVE it will happen, not that it won’t… sorry!

    3. I posted this last night and then went back to make some minor edits this morning and Blogger told me they thought I was a “spam blogger” and would not let me repost until I jumped through a few hoops.

      Mention “the secret” and get blocked?

      That’s not what I pictured.


    4. Oprah is now on the “Secret” bandwagon.

      I think when something achieves ‘Oprahfication’ it might be on its way out.

      At least that’s what I’m hoping to attract, anyway.

    5. Apparently, in Japan, the Secret is a little different – http://tinyurl.com/3xvv7x

      (Personally, I like “suck magnet.” I’ll have to remember to use that one. I already use “suckitude,” especially “vast suckitude.” I guess suck magnets attract vast suckitude. Snicker.)

    6. Just a quick question, and this is not an affront to you, dear blogger. I read your blog every day and am so grateful for your writing. From what I know of the secret, a lot of it has to do with saying what you want and believing that you can get what you say. Is this a lot like your previous post about talking ourselves into being? What’s the difference between the secret’s teachings and talking ourselves into being?

    7. Dear anonymous,

      I think there is a huge difference between talking ourselves into being and believing ourselves into having or acquiring, which is how I hear the secret. One is relational, incarnating the image of God within us; the other is acquisitional, exposing our desire to be God.


    8. Hi Milton, I found you via Christine’s site and your blog looks wonderful. Most especially this post. In fact i liked it so much I linked to it in my own latest post, hope you don’t mind : )

      Blessed Week and Blessed Lent <>< Wendy

    9. Two things…

      1. If I had to sum the entire thing up, it’s that the Law of Attraction
      is all about alignment. You’ve got to do the “work” if you want to
      bring something info your life.

      This is where I think people mess up, which gives the entire thing the
      “MLM/Amway” kind of vibe. You can’t just sit around eating junk food
      and watching reruns and expect to live on the beach…regardless of what
      the infomercials say.

      People like Joe Vitale are out working. Bob Proctor is out working.
      James Ray is out working.

      2. I found a FREE book (yes, FREE) that helped me figure out all of
      this. http://www.receivethebook.com/ has it and it’s well worth the read.

      And like I said, it’s FREE. So you can’t argue that the guy is trying
      to take advantage of people looking for a “magic pill” or whatever else
      I’ve been hearing over the last 2-3 weeks since this thing hit Oprah.


    10. Great info.

      I watched the Secret DVD a few months ago and got another book on Law of Attraction,
      but it didn’t really start happening for me until I wrote down my intentions. I found that to be
      VERY powerful.

      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0975436171/ is a book I just got, which makes
      planning out your Law of Attraction goals easy. Just fill in the blanks and you’ve got a road
      map to follow. Has been working well so far.

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