Sunday, August 29, 2010

Break On Through (To The Other Side)

Over the years, Oprah Winfrey has openly endorsed, or provided a forum (and/or "seminars" online) for NewAge books and "teachers".

People like Marianne Williamson.

And Eckhart Tolle.

"We live in an age of revitalised New Age mumbo jumbo; and these days no one is more jumbo with his mumbo than Eckhart Tolle."
Oprah Winfrey still pitches Rhonda Byrne's The Secret.

Oprah said The Secret was the most important idea ever invented.

Oprah dedicated two shows to The Secret and it's stars - most of whom appear to currently be in legal trouble - including Rhonda Byrne herself and James Arthur Ray.

"The Secret and Oprah's role in its wild popularity--she's devoted two entire shows to it and there's a 15-page feature on it at already attracted censure: many reviewers have poked holes in the book's profoundly flawed central premise that our thoughts determine every circumstance of our lives, as well as its promotion of selfishness and self-delusion. But illogic and irresponsibility are not the extent of The Secret's faults. While many of the quotations Byrne uses to prop up her philosophy are shockingly divorced from their context, one has entirely eluded an extensive search for its origin: 'The secret is the answer to all that has been, all that is, and all that will ever be,' attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson on page 183.

To be clear, what I've come to suspect--strongly--is that Rhonda Byrne may have made it up.

So what? you may be asking. The question came up a lot in discussions of Frey's dishonesty, and back then the only answer with any weight was that we value truth for truth's sake. Many readers were inspired by what they believed to be a true story, but it's hard to show that Frey's lies did any real damage. But The Secret has potential to cause tangible harm to both believers and bystanders."
-- Julia Rickert, The Chicago Reader

James Arthur Ray now stands accused of killing three people and injuring 19 in a sweatlodge during a made-up NewAge endurance test.

"With The Secret, Byrne made a fortune off the delusional bliss of magical thinking. Let's not give her any more power."
-- Deirdre Donahue, USAToday.

Here is Oprah Winfrey hosting "the mother of NewAge", Louise Hay.

Using The Secret's "Law of Attraction" as a basis for her beliefs, Louise Hay blames the Holocaust on the Jews.

Like Barack Obama's Democrats, blaming America, George W. Bush, Israel, and anyone and everything else for whatever goes wrong during his administration, these are all messages Oprah seemed determined to give credibility and get out to the public.

Gullibility is the tax on American optimism. That tax was worth paying for most of our history. The Great Recession and Era of Cheats might change that.
-- Rich Karlgaard, Forbes

Oprah Winfrey was almost as much the focus of Election Night as the Obama's were, but now - during a nation-wide discussion of the President's beliefs - it's almost as though our "spiritual icon" of the NewAge is non-existent to journalists.

It reminds me of when Kitty Kelly wrote a biography of Oprah and the press refused to promote it - these, of course, being the same unbiased journalists who overwhelmingly voted for Obama and are, even now, reluctant to print anything negative about him.

"Though the demonism of the Middle Ages seems to have disappeared, there is abundant evidence that in many forms of modern thought - especially the so-called 'prosperity' psychology, 'willpower-building' metaphysics, and systems of 'high-pressure' salesmanship - black magic has merely passed through a metamorphosis, and although its name be changed its nature remains the same."
-- Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages, pp. 101-2, late 1920s

Oprah Winfrey is a NewAger who, both, attended and then left Trinity Baptist Church - just as the President did.

Oprah Winfrey knew Barack Obama before he ran for president.

Oprah Winfrey held fundraisers for Obama's election.

Oprah Winfrey stumped with the President.

Oprah Winfrey told us he was "The One".

Oprah Winfrey said he would transcend us and transform us - whether we wanted it or not.

The President's beliefs are a mystery - even though the President, the First Lady, and other top-level Democrats have stated, in various ways, their desire to "save the planet"?

Or let's flip it around:

Are Michelle Obama's beliefs a mystery - even after she made the NewAge claim, during the election, that Barack Obama knew that "before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls"?

Are Michelle Obama's beliefs a mystery - even after her Oprah-Regal trip to Spain?

Are Michelle Obama's beliefs a mystery - even after her vegetable garden?

Is Michelle Obama's vegetable garden a mystery - after we know Michelle got hooked on Oprah's pal, Alice Waters?

"[Anthony] Bourdain is a food hedonist, and has little truck with those who want to load up our eating habits with moralism. Consider the way he wades into the so-called ‘Mother of Slow Food’ and the epitome of Californian organic, locally produced cuisine, Alice Waters. Bourdain notes that the labour-intensive, pastoral vision that Waters promotes means that either lots of the citizens of wealthy countries like America and Italy are going to have to take up farming again - unlikely - or ‘we’ll revert to the traditional method: importing huge numbers of poor brown people from elsewhere - to grow those tasty, crunchy vegetables for more comfortable white masters. So, while animals of the future might be cruelty-free… what about life for those who have to shovel the shit from their stalls?’

So Waters is not exactly his favourite human being: ‘And with Waters’ fondness for buzzwords like “purity” and “wholesomeness”, there is a whiff of the jackboot, isn’t there? A
certainty, a potentially dangerous lack of self-doubt, the kind of talk that, so often in history, leads to actions undertaken for the “common good”. While it was excessive and bombastic of me to compare Alice to “Pol Pot in a muumuu”, it is useful to remember that he was once a practising Buddhist and, later, attended the Sorbonne.’"
-- Rob Lyons, Sp!ked

The President's beliefs are a mystery - even with NewAge support for race-based multiculturalism?

The President's support for feminism, and NewAge obsessions with healthcare, "alternative medicine", and quackery?

And even though NewAgers were quite open in their (overwhelming) support for Obama's candidacy?


"Neither The Secret nor the rest of the prosperity gospel hype that Christianity is now plagued with comes with a disclaimer, but if the fine print were included, it would read like this. In case of a stock market crash and/or an entire economic crash, the shelf life of these claims is limited to one week...maybe.

It is also no secret that Obama stands in full opposition to the repeal of Roe V Wade and is openly endorsing gay marriage. By association, this is Oprah's stand as well and it will take more than her fifteen minutes of fame to sway over two hundred years of American faith in the sanctity of life and a reasonable national morality. America doesn't need a doctrine that sways in every new wind that blows across the fruited plains."
-- Michael Bresciani, Renew America

The President's beliefs became a mystery - again - after he sounded supportive of Imam Rauf's Ground Zero mosque, right?

Some mystery:

"Imam Rauf remains what he always strove to be, a brilliant marketeer (in the American therapeutic Tony Robbins/Deepak Chopra tradition),..."
--Victor Davis Hanson, Pajamas Media

With only a slight change of focus, it is possible for an entirely familiar story to achieve a unique shift in narrative - with a look away, from being enthralled with charlatans, as a starting point - making it interesting to see how long the effect of Oprah's beliefs influencing the President will be allowed to remain, lost in the ether, for all the others dying for anything they can finally say they actually understand.

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