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March 21, 2007


Carrie K.

Thanks for the review - I saw the book on the shelf at B&N and wondered what it was. Now I know.

Cameron Conant


What a delightful review. People don't remember what happened two years ago, let alone anything before that, so it's so nice to read something that puts movements and ideas into some historical context. I also loved the Anne Frank example---she wasn't exactly Debbie Downer, was she? Yet somehow those Nazis didn't just disappear. Clearly there is some benefit to positive thinking---studies show people perform better on tests after thinking positive thoughts---but minor claims don't make a non-fiction bestseller. No, we need something with sizzle, something that's going to deliver more than a few percentage points on a test. Well, I suppose this author's done just that.


Lori Smith

Thanks for the great review, Jana. I'm so glad you read this so I don't have to! I do think these thoughts have crept into the church and the culture at large more than most of us realize.

Jeffrey Needle

Well, I guess I don't need to read this book . Thanks, Jana, for the generally good review. But shall I be the only one to point out that the phrase "comprised mostly of" is grammatically wrong? Should be "composed mostly of." (Ducking...)


During the Larry King segment on this book, King asked his guest if Jessica Lunsford (the young girl who was raped and killed) had attracted this to herself. The response: yes ("at some level"). I watched this while in the midst of teaching a unit on Elie Wiesel's *Night,* which grapples with the complicated questions of evil, god, dignity, choices, and destiny in much harsher (and braver) terms.

From his preface:

"There are those who tell me that I survived in order to write this text. I am not convinced. I don’t know how I survived; I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself. A miracle? Certainly not. If heaven could or would perform a miracle for me, why not for others more deserving than myself? It was nothing more than chance. However, having survived, I needed to give some meaning to my survival. Was it to protect that meaning that I set to paper an experience in which nothing made any sense?

In retrospect I must confess that I do not know, or no longer know, what I wanted to achieve with my words. I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer—or my life, period—would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory."

Johnna Cornett

Jana, what a great review--you have really clarified this issue!


Wow, that Wiesel quote really puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? Thanks for posting that. Ugh, I had not known she said that about a rape victim. That certainly puts a new spin on the old misogynist chestnut that rape victims are asking for it!

Phil showed me last night that on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, they did a spoof of the Oprah segment in which Rhonda Byrne appeared. Amy Pohler totally nailed the part, Aussie accent and all. The funniest part was where they had a "live from Darfur" guest "via satellite" and then blamed all of Darfur's problems on his negative thoughts.

And Jeff, thanks for letting me know about the composed/comprised thing. The sad thing is that I have made that same mistake before and been corrected before. But did I learn? NO! Must be all my negativity. :-)


Wow. I knew this book sounded like trash when my step-mom started blathering about it a few months ago and I smiled and nodded my head, but *wow*. That is... wow, that is AWFUL.

It must me all my fault that my car engine malfunctioned last week and SET THE CAR ON FIRE leaving me without transportation and more finanacially desitute than I was before. Must be all those hours I spent playing world of warcraft and thinking of fireballs. Transferred to my car and all. Damn, all my fault.

Calista McKnight

Hi Jana,

I couldn't agree more with you about The Secret. Your quotes of Anne Frank really point out the lunacy of The Secret's philosophy and the preposterous claim that the Jews brought about the Holocaust through their own collective thinking.

I actually use the following Russell Conwell quote in my signature on my blog to point out that even Conwell himself believed that nothing is ever achieved without taking action:

"If drudgery is not found somewhere in a book or course, it isn't worth reading. Of all great works nine tenths must be drudgery."

Also, last week 3 persuasion experts as well as Pastor Bob Beverly (who knew Norman Vincent Peale personally) did a 2 hour free teleseminar on the lies and distortions found in The Secret.

One of the persuasion experts actually referred to The Secret as THE philosophy of Mein Kampf due to its exclusionary nature (i.e., ignore people and things which are not consistent with your views and beliefs).

I highly recommend the free recording to you and your readers. It's available at the following location: http://www.thetruthisthesecret.com/

I hope you don't mind, but I've also linked to your review of The Secret on my own website. I'm keeping a list of alternative views since so much of what's out there is pro-Secret. Your reference to Anne Frank is spot on.

Jean Visser

I am in total agreement with your final evaluation: "THIS BOOK BLOWS." I read it only because I have been bombarded with enthusiastic comments from friends who are true believers of The Secret (and Oprah) and I wanted to be able to converse with them intelligently about this. My goodness, what a horribly selfish concept for living. What happens if we are all ordering the same thing from the "catalog of the Universe" (even though someone is quoted in the book as saying we won't)? I guess the one with the most perfect thought wins the bazillion dollar lottery that everyone has bought a ticket for. Oh--I did learn something in this book that I never, ever knew: Jesus was a prosperity teacher and a millionaire "with a more afffluent lifestyle than many present-day millionaires could conceive of." How did I ever miss that?

Your review is wonderfully written! I must read more of your stuff!


Excellent review. The book's only been in my peripheral vision at bookstores (cool cover....) but I hadn't picked it up. I'd started reading Jack Canfield's The Success Principles awhile back and was put off at the very beginning by the "Surround yourself with successful people." Sounds like this goes even further. Ah, the prosperity gospel.... I'm looking forward to exploring more of your reviews.


New Age Faith Revisited?
Karma Remade?
Humanism to the "enth" degree?
Thanks for the fantastic review. I saw the part of the Oprah thing and knew this was more of the ALL ME not GOD dogma so loved by so many. But you put it in such an intelligent frame...!


Hi. It is pleasant here very much to me. I shall advise to the friends. I am sorry for my English. I only learn this language and me while difficultly to communicate.
Thanks to you.

Rafael Nadal

This is great column. Thank you for writing it.

law of attraction

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I do not normally leave any comments on posts that I read, but I wanted to tell you that you wrote very nicely.

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Joan Soos

A friend of mine recommended this book/DVD to help family member deal with depression. (Thought it would be good - the power of positive thinking). I agree with your review. We were only able to sit thru half of it. My kid's comment..."tell your friend we only saw half of the DVD, because everyone on it was a mental case."

E.G. Lindberg

Reading "Flunking Sainthood" sent me searching in late 2011 for referenced your column on "The Secret" Thank you! Yes, me, me, me. Just like "The Celestine Prophecy"; he left his wife, his job, etc, and spun out. He didn't have to help others, if they were too dumb to figure it out it wasn't his problem. Big on positive thought, not big on compassion.

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