March 5, 2007
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      "I've got a secret!" That's a great one-liner; in fact, it's capable of drawing a crowd. If they believe that you're not crying "wolf," people will stop what they're doing to gather around. "Secret?"
    Among church folks, you can do the same thing by giving the same message, in Spiritualeze: "I've got a prayer request." That's "code" for, "I know something you don't know about someone we both know, and I can feel holy about tellin' you by calling it a 'prayer request' instead of what it really is (gossip)."
    I've Got a Secret was the longest running game show in history. Hosted by Garry Moore ('52-'64), then Steve Allen ('64-'67) and Bill Cullen ('76), the "guest" would appear before a celebrity panel and play "20 Questions" with them as they tried to figure out what the secret was. People LOVE trying to figure out what someone else knows, that they don't yet know...
    Here we are, 30 years later... and Secrets are big, once again. Not the game show; instead, this time, it's a fairly new book, The Secret, by Australian author Rhonda Byrne.
    In 2004, Byrne was a single mom who was, by her description, "in total despair." Physically, emotionally and financially, she was near rock-bottom when her daughter picked up an old book at a sale, called The Science of Getting Rich. Written in 1910, it was an early positive-thinking tome written by Wallace D. Wattles. "Something inside of me had me turn the pages one by one... It gave me a glimpse of The Secret. It was like a flame inside my heart..." She says she has traced the idea of The Secret through history, and found that the "greats" have all lived by The Secret.
    So, what's The Secret? She defines it as "the Law of Attraction," which she calls "the most powerful law in the universe." Here it is, in simple Shank-speak: you get what you think about. If you think about fat, you'll be obese; think about skinny, and you've be svelte. Think Mercedes; you'll be drivin' it. Think poor, and they'll repossess your Kia. "The law of attraction means that everything that happens to you - good or bad - you attract to yourself," according to Byrne's website.
    Ophrah had Ms. Byrne on her program, affirmed The Law of Attraction as her own approach to life... and the US book sales took off. This week, it's #1 in the Hard Cover/Advice category (NY Times). Say what? "We create our own circumstances in life... by what we think?"
    Newsweek took The Secret on, March 5th edition, and were honest: "You'd think that last thing Americans need is more excuses for self-aborption and acquisitiveness... What it doesn't contain... is a secret. On an ethical level, The Secret is deplorable... On a scientific level, the Law of Attraction is preposterous..." But, more people are watching Oprah than reading Newsweek, so The Secret is sellin' big...
    Secrets are compelling; mystery is magnetic. We're made to lift the lid, look around the corner, open the envelope, answer the phone. The undiscovered pulls us forward; we long to get new stuff, first.
    God made us that way, and he has taken responsibility for disclosing the most amazing Secret of all time. Long before Ms. Byrne, Paul put it this way: "I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." (Colossians 1:25-29).
    According to Paul, The Mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory... A mystery kept hidden for ages and generations, now disclosed to the saints" - that's you and me. The Law of Attraction is "deplorable, preposterous." The Gospel - The Mystery - is glorious and redemptive.
    You may not get on Oprah with that message... but you do have access to the people who are enjoying you live. Oprah says "she's been living her whole life according to the Law of Attraction." Have you let your friends know you're living your whole life according to the Gospel?

Bob Shank

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