Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Law of Attraction Unplugged

As you know, I’ve been out of commission on my library couch for a good six weeks now with a broken ankle. In that time, I have “discovered” Oprah. Every day, at four’o’clock, my husband and I sit down with our martinis and microwaved popcorn and turn on the TV to channel 3 to see what Oprah has up her sleeve for the day. Two weeks ago, it was “Living Green on the Planet” so we switched to cloth napkins and canvas shopping bags. Last week it was the “Law of Attraction” as set forth in the popular bestseller “The Secret.”

Now for those of us who were involved in the Way International, “The Secret” is old news. Wierwille called it “the Law of Believing.” I don’t know what Jesus called it but he certainly placed a lot of stock in faith. The book, “The Secret,” is no secret to me, in fact, it’s a little annoying, with its parchment-like cover and fake waxed seal as if we’ve discovered a treasure map to success. The “life coaches” swear by it. I’m skeptical.

Having been a believer for so long with dubious results, I object to the formulaic approach to life. Input in, data out. “It’s a law” they say, as simple as gravity and those who don’t believe end up in the “wrong place at the wrong time” and may be subject to all sorts of untowards circumstances, such as the holocaust, tsunamis or involvement in a destructive cult. What about AIDS babies, I wonder. “Who did sin?”

The proof, they say, that you’re “plugged in” to the secret of the universe is prosperity, happiness, a million+ dollar home in Malibu and traveling all over the world. Bad feelings equal bad thinking, equals bad believing.

Now, as a clinical social worker/ therapist, I know the power of positive thinking, I have no objection to that. I teach it to inmates on a regular basis. But to say that their poverty, addictions and lack of education is based on their willpower alone is to oversimplify very complicated issues.

Even King Solomon recognized that the “race was not always to the swift or the battle to the strong, or bread to the wise or riches to men of understanding but time and chance happens to them all (Ecclesiates 9:11) So how do we account for time and chance? I think there is such a thing as “bad luck” no matter how much you believe. Humans have been known to defy the law of gravity. Why can’t God throw in a wild card every once in a while?

I don’t believe in God the Machine. I believe in God the Creator/Destroyer. He/She/It is in charge and no matter how hard we follow the “laws”, there’s always that element of grace and surprise. Remember the father whose son was “possessed with demons” and Jesus asked him if he believed? The father said, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” I’m a chronic hopeless doubter by nature and that’s my prayer every day. “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” As Dr. John Juedes said in an enlightening interview on believing on the Greasespotcafe.com, the relationship with God is what’s key here, not just my feeble capacity to operate some law as if it were a computer.

Sorry this is so long. I know blogs are supposed to be short and to the point. But I feel strongly about this. Thanks for reading. Please leave your comments and tell me what you believe.

6 comments:

Barb said...

Funny thing but I was just starting to write on this subject. My church called it "positive confession." I am really looking into it this week as my post by my daughter started me to really think. She is just starting to write about her experience of spiritual abuse in the system that we left last May. I actually had found the site of the conference that you will be at this summer. Would love to ask you some questions about it.

Charlene said...

I, too, was put off by The Secret's simplistic answers. There's an old Chinese story about a father, a son, and their horse. This story (I've heard from several sources, most recently at the end of the movie, "Charlie Wilson's War). In brief: a father bought a horse and thought it was good. His son rode it but fell off and broke his leg. Then the horse was bad! Then a war broke out and all able-bodied sons were taken away to fight. Then the horse was great because it had set in motion the events that led to this son getting to stay home from the war and avoid being shot or killed.

I think life is far too complicated to reduce it to a formula. I reject the "law" of believing and anything close to it. I was in the same ministry as Kristen and after 17 yrs. learned that this law was very subjective; its interpretation subject to a culture's norms and claimants' religious views. I am a poet married to a philosopher so perhaps my adverse reaction comes from thinking too much, but I think such books mislead and possibly hurt people who do not question.

isabella mori said...

i have a problem with the law of atraction, too. what kind of law is it supposed to be? why is the pinnacle of enlightenment found in a red maserati? (what happened to world peace?)

i find it difficult, though, to be too harsh about it in the face of people who are really getting some good out of it.

50 years from now, i wonder: how will we look at it?

Anonymous said...

The Secret... I really liked the way your articulated your spin on that book. I have had the same thought but it just makes me so angry thinking about it that it is hard for me to put it into words. I've never asked God for anything I haven't had to work very hard for to get. If your getting anything for nothing.. that's probably the other guy... workin overtime..
I often wonder too.. about people born with afflictions.. and would like to research if the parents were happy when they created them.. or if they were experiencing something else.. Well.. maybe my next lifetime I'll have time to do that..... Thank You for your thoughts... Anne

Mark Clarke said...

I agree with you. The "Law of Believing" was a complete misunderstanding of what faith is in the Bible. It's not "believing for something" but simply believing that what you are told is true. It was all about faith in God, and faith in Jesus. He asked people who they believed he was. It comes down to simple trust, which is from the same root word as faith anyway.

The Thief said...

My prayer sounds like yours: I believe; help thou my unbelief...