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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The (real) secret?

The Secret, a book promising “everything you have ever wanted,” including unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love and youth, has sat atop the best-seller list for many of the weeks since its publication last fall. Author Rhonda Byrne reveals in the book that “the secret” is the law of attraction, which, when followed, will bring you what you want.

But hers isn’t the only book riding high on the lists that hold out similar hopes. Others on the top 20 list on a recent www.amazon.com religion and spirituality survey include Ask and It is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires; Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don’t Want; and The Science of Success: How to Attract Prosperity and Create Harmonic Wealth Through Proven Principles.

The temptation is to shake your head and wonder: How can people be so preoccupied with getting “everything” for themselves in a world where so many have such great needs?

John Hoffmeyer, a professor at the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia who teaches a course called Christian Discipleship in a Consumer Society, believes it’s a matter of misunderstanding. “They’re half right,” he said about the seekers who buy books like these. “Their attraction is to a rich life. But they’re half wrong too. Because you can have a rich life, a rich life in God, only by losing your life.”

He thinks of a line from a favorite country song, “looking for love in all the wrong places,” and warns against being critical, reminding people in the church that the real point of this phenomenon is that it reveals a pastoral need. “Desire is a spiritual issue,” he said. “People are crying. It’s not a time to cast stones.”


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December issue

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