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Spirituality Cash Cows


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Nowadays it seems a lot of people are marketing spirituality like they never quite have before. My first experience was with a woman who wrote about angels in everyday life. Looking back it was obvious the whole book was a sham, but I was entranced at that point. It wasn't until I got older that I realized that, just like physical health, weight loss, money management, and other big issues, a lot of people will make shit up for dough.

 

I don't think everyone starts out that way. I think a lot of good, honest people get bitten by the money bug after big success. Sad thing is, the cult bug is soon to follow. I was a big fan of the Conversations with God books, and I figured Neale Donald Walsch was a pretty nice guy. I discovered that after his books hit the big time, he's also pretty eager on starting a "new world spirituality" movement in which CWG is regarded as a sort of infallible Bible, and, if you ever want to email a question to him, you have to be a registered member of his group, which costs two dollars a month. I passed on registration, and hardened my resolve against being a CWG groupie when I read "Questions and Answers on CWG". There was an answer for everything, and yes, contradictions, but overall the message that CWG is going to usher in a new world era for the movement as a whole.

 

Now I do have a friend of mine, that I consider to be a spiritual person. He's written books, even directed a movie, but he's not rich. That simply doesn't interest him. To be sure, he has enough to pay the rent; but overall, he has a message to give, but he's not aggressive about spreading it. He's a genuinely humble person, who refuses to regard his own beliefs as salvatorial or even exclusive, or infallible in theological terms. He admits he's human like the rest of us, and while his spirituality is deeply inspiring, he knows that he's still trying to figure some things out.

 

Then there are the out-and-out charlatans. Ramtha, the channeled warrior (and dozens others in the 80s and 90s), Sylvia Browne, Scientology. Perhaps surprisingly, these are only mildly bothersome to me, because while they might have followings, they seem to consist of only the truly immature and gullible, and most people are intelligent enough to detect them. What bothers me most is genuine spiritual breakthroughs (if they can be called that) which later develop into cult-like organizations after their leader's head gets too big.

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May I add to that list most of Llewyllen publishing (the pagan books with a crescent moon on the spine...) wrt money-grubbing charlatans. I don't think anyone starts a spritual movement for the money (well, maybe with the exception of L. Ron Hubbard), but I think you're right about the lure of that and the groupies.

 

Out of curiosity, has anyone ever studied the transition from group with some ideas into full-blown cult w/kool-aid?

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I think it's all just a matter of ego, in the same way some celebrities think that if everyone just listened to them there would be no more wars.

 

May I add to that list most of Llewyllen publishing (the pagan books with a crescent moon on the spine...) wrt money-grubbing charlatans. I don't think anyone starts a spritual movement for the money (well, maybe with the exception of L. Ron Hubbard), but I think you're right about the lure of that and the groupies.

 

Not familiar with them. What kind of material do they publish? Channelings from higher beings? New spiritualities to usher in a new world golden age? Or is it a sort of obviously misinformed pagan stuff that's intended only to cash in on fellow uninformed pagan dollar? i.e., I write a book about how Moses built the tower of Babel to meet God in heaven because I expect fake Kabbalah practictioners who in fact know nothing of real Judaism to buy it because it has "Moses" written on the cover.

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I think "The Secret" they are touting around these days, is one such cash cow. It crosses the wide spectrum of spirituality, so it's actually a good money making gimic.

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Ah, yes, The Secret.

 

I think it's sad how so many religious authors draw their audience in by promising them rewards of money. I believe in Christianity it's called "Name It and Claim It" Gospel, whereby you give money to a pastor, and he forwards it to God while you pray for a big windfall. (Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar, anyone? Or how about the 700 Club?) The Secret's big push is the same thing: dressing a dollar sign in a vestment and calling it God.

 

Now I do believe in granting abundance of some kind, I just don't like the way it's focused on, to the extent that actual spiritual development really never takes place. True abudance, I think, transcends money.

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May I add to that list most of Llewyllen publishing (the pagan books with a crescent moon on the spine...) wrt money-grubbing charlatans. I don't think anyone starts a spritual movement for the money (well, maybe with the exception of L. Ron Hubbard), but I think you're right about the lure of that and the groupies.

 

Not familiar with them. What kind of material do they publish? Channelings from higher beings? New spiritualities to usher in a new world golden age? Or is it a sort of obviously misinformed pagan stuff that's intended only to cash in on fellow uninformed pagan dollar? i.e., I write a book about how Moses built the tower of Babel to meet God in heaven because I expect fake Kabbalah practictioners who in fact know nothing of real Judaism to buy it because it has "Moses" written on the cover.

The latter, for the most part. Though if you can wade through their crap, there's some stuff that's quite good, or at least quite interesting.

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