Let's do a really scary one.
Law of Attraction. So far as I can tell, this is a very, ummm, "results-oriented" take on the virtues of faith and hope. Jen Sincero circles around this a fair bit, not always calling it by that name. It involves picturing some situation, way of life, person, or thing that you really want in really vivid detail, surrounding yourself with pictures and other reminders of it, dressing and acting and talking as if it were already present and the way you want yourself to look and feel in that situation, and trusting that "Source Energy" or "the Universe" will "start pulling it in."
Another one of Jen's kind of terrifying phrases that really stuck in my head was "having a craft day with God." To be honest, I took it seriously enough that the other day I mashed it up with a suggestion from this little booklet on prayers and devotion to St. Joseph that I did the following:
- I found a holy card image of the boy Jesus and Joseph doing some carpentry (looking a lot more like a happy father and son team than anything in MY personal experience).
- I attached a list of five things I want to change about my life down the right side:
- Victory over addictive habits
- Greater sense of closeness to God
- Figuring out more what this "love" business is and actually doing some of it
- Focus, diligence, and peace in using my gifts
- Freedom to love instead of codependency
- I made this my desktop and laptop wallpaper.
Anecdotal evidence and all, but I'll let you know how it goes...
There are at least four possibilities here, which sound somewhat mutually exclusive, although as is usually the case in this marvelously intricate reality we inhabit, they really aren't.
1: This is hokum. The people who believe in the Law of Attraction are just the lucky ones. Random processes brought them enough of what they wanted, their confirmation bias kicked in, and now they trumpet their good fortune as if they actually did anything to cause it.
2: This is dressing up a very reasonable psychological effect as New Age mumbo-jumbo. If you focus yourself enough on something, and also think positive instead of looking for ways to self-sabotage, you'll capitalize on the actual opportunities that come up instead of tuning them out and making sure that the ones you see don't help you.
3: Sometimes this is actually black magic. There are demonic forces quite happy to divert you from God by showering you with enough wealth, sexual pleasure, power, or what have you and doing it in such a way that you can fool yourself into thinking that these things are being provided for you by a benevolent spirit.
Cathy Heller (whom by now I love dearly) and Jen Sincero have said a lot about money not being the root of all evil and having a negative set of attitudes about money. A great deal of what they say has to be true; I absolutely believe there is a sort of "starving artist complex" that keeps people from asking a reasonable fee or wage for what they do, and keeps them in crappy situations making those crappy wages, and that, further, this attitude is due in large part to a post-Christian, post-Marxist vague sense of the ickiness of wealth.
So far as I know, even the New Testament does not say "money is the root of all evil."
It does, however, say "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10; see also Hebrews 13:5, and just basically listen to how this Jesus guy EVER talks about wealthy people in his parables).
4: Often this is actually more or less the case. Although obviously you run into difficulties believing that a good God will give you things that are actually bad for you, the aforementioned sort of hang-ups keep a lot of people from asking for the things that they actually legitimately want, things that Jesus of Nazareth actively assured us that his Father wants very much to give us.
Lord knows that I, personally, concluded as a boy that basically everything I wanted and longed for in life was something that God wanted me not to have. I can testify that that attitude got me exactly nowhere, certainly nowhere that involved anything I would recognize as virtue or holiness or loving people or helping them in any useful sort of way. I have been a miserable failure at a lot of things, probably precisely because I have been just straight miserable and convinced that every desire I ever had was evil.
I'm committing myself to experimenting with a very different approach for the other half of my life.
CNAG is the Catholic-New Age Glossary... not backed by Webster's or any other authority. These meditations are here on That's So Second Millennium because they are an attempt to find maximum harmony between different strands of psychology and spirituality as they are being explored and lived out in Western culture today. It flows from a respect for people's reasons for doing what they do and thinking what they think.