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Monday, March 28, 2016

I Found God in a Hallmark Card

Three unfortunate Will Bowen readers commiserate ...
Or not. Maybe you saw this on Facebook yesterday:

“EASTER symbolizes our own capacity to transform. Our ability to die to our former selves and awaken to a whole new life. Your ideal self lies dormant within you now ready to be called forth, ready to shine, ready to bless your world.”
— Will Bowen

Uh, well ... not exactly.

By which I mean not even slightly.

To You; Love, God

Will Bowen is the positivity guru and author of A Complaint Free World regularly featured on Oprah. His tour de force is a book called To You; Love, God. It is a collection of messages his publisher calls “Straight from the Source” that asks, “What if God threw in a little guidance every day giving you the confidence to face life with a sense of purpose, assurance and inspiration?”

“Ah,” you might say, “God certainly did that, didn’t he! That’s why we have the Bible.”

It may occur to some of the sillier, more literally-minded folk among us to inquire why we need Mr. Bowen’s book for a “little guidance” since we already have scripture. But the Bible is such an awfully big book, and Mr. Bowen is a “world-renowned speaker and an ordained minister”, according to his website, so perhaps he has used his expertise to select scriptures especially appropriate to daily living?

Not so much.

Searching for a Little Guidance

The “little guidance” Bowen’s publisher refers to turns out to be microscopic. Apparently quoting scripture is too passé for a positivity guru. Instead, Bowen has the temerity to put his own sappy drivel in the mouth of God. Inane platitudes like this:
“Seek what you desire only where it is present. Love, God.”
Well, that’s certainly logical at least. You don’t generally find anything where it isn’t.

Or there’s:
“Consider the opposite of what you fear and set it as your mental anchor. Love, God.”
Ah, now we have psychiatric advice. Not quite what I’d expect God to be dishing out.

Then there’s the straight-up feelgood flattery:
“You are an abundant, enlightened and unshakeable soul. Love, God.”
Hmm. Sounds more like a Chinese fortune cookie than the voice of the Almighty, but let’s try another just in case:
“Love is the skipping of the heart, the twinkling of the eye and the sighing of the soul. Love, God.”
Honestly, it’s impossible to make this stuff up.

Hallmark and Heaven

Here I must desist while I’m still able to keep my lunch down. Bowen’s vacuous, ego-stroking prose is more emetic than aesthetic. There’s more Hallmark than heaven in this stuff.

There are many, many more, but they’re all pretty much like that. One starts to realize (if we didn’t already) why the actual words of God have endured so many millennia. They’re full of power and reality. They’re unflinchingly truthful. They address man where he is and tell him what he needs. They don’t coddle or indulge his inflated ego.

My Ideal Self

Let me come back to the original Facebook gag-fest. The message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not that my ideal self lies dormant within me:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
Ouch. See, THAT rings true in a way Bowen’s vapid hokum does not. There is no “ideal self” for us to call forth, and no power in any of us to do it.
Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
You’ll never find the expression “this body of death” in a Hallmark product, but if you want to boil the message of Easter down to a couple of sentences, those two might do as well as any.

2 comments :

  1. Are you perhaps ignoring the business side in all this (see link below)? Could it be that that is driving a lot of what we are seeing in religion these days. Personally, I don't think God is anti-business and it can even help (a lot) just that how it's executed may be of concern.

    http://www.accra24.com/2015/03/2015-top-10-richest-pastors-in-world.html

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  2. Yes, that's quite a list there ... undoubtedly there is money to be made flogging 'religion lite'.

    I have no problem with anyone wanting to make a buck legitimately. Bowen's maudlin pap appeals to a certain demographic, to be sure. It's that (i) he's marketing pop psychology as eternal truth, and (ii) he's got the temerity to presume to speak in the voice of the Eternal.

    There will definitely be an accounting.

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