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Wishful Thinking in a New Age
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Mike Dooley
Notes from the Universe:  New Perspectives from an Old Friend (NY:  Simon and Schuster, 2008.  Audiobook.)

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I found this audio book in the city library in Arlington, Texas, soon after I joined in August 2009.  I recognized Dooley when the cover jacket mentioned that he was one of the authors of The Secret.  I had heard of the book, and heard some discussions of its theory, but not read it.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to understand first-hand his New Age mysticism.

I like to explore out-of-the way and novel ideas. Though, truth be known, the popularity of The Secret and similar tomes of modern reflection would say I am only catching up to the mainstream.  So, New Age Mainstream, here I am!  I was unaware of Dooley's series of follow-ups to the secret of my relation to the Universe.

This thesis of this whole book sounded silly and naive.  The principle is that whatever you want or think you need, you just focus on it and you will get it.  The theory is that you are part of the living Universe and can thus use the mystical powers of the whole Universe to get what you want.

He does convey the message from the Universe that you should do all you can, be all you can, love all your can.  Each ends with "Yours Truly, the Universe" or "Tally Ho, The Universe" or something similarly lighthearted.  The Universe, through Dooley, encourages the reader (or hearer), instructs the reader, challenges and chides the reader.  This entails affirming yourself, and recognizing that the Universe loves you, you are a valuable part of reality!

Positive Values
These values can be affirmed in various ways and to various degrees by many people of good will who are likewise rational and conscientious in their own life and intentions toward others.  On a similar positive note, he further challenges us to rise above the limitations of the common Modernist Rationalism that constricts us from seeing the mutuality, the relational character of the Universe.

This positive word could help many of us to see beyond the daily economic grind of American consumer capitalism that turns us into peons and serfs of business and government.  Dooley (as the Universe) commands:  "Stop trying to make so much sense of things.  Stop being so logical."

Yes, the Right Brain does need to be set free!  That we can agree, with the extensive body of neurological and psychological evidence!  The imagination is where creativity and excitement, motivation and associative thinking with its intuitive insights lie.  I argue for this all through my writings.

Me and the Universe
The Universe goes on to explain, In a word most of us will resonate with, "The props of your life are just props, fictional.  You are not at the mercy of the past, the present the future."  There is a niggling disturbance of thought feeling behind all this, however, that troubles me.  Dooley writes this missal as little snippets as messages for the Universe to you, the reader.

These messages from the Universe you about the availability of good and desirable situations or objects.  "You are not beholden to life, Life is beholden to you!  You are its reason for being."  This strikes me as selfish and greedy, as well as naive.  It focuses on material values, personal comforts, rather than your moral value as a human contributing to the good of the world.  It also states that if you do not have all the wealth you want, it is your fault.

Magically Devastating
This is the same thing we hear from the magic formula prosperity preachers who claim this is the plan of God for you.  They claim to be Christian, but they preach values arising out of materialism.  They say if you are not rich, you just have not believed enough, or have not made the demand of God.

Think how morally devastating this prosperity gospel sounds to the chronic poor, conscientious, perhaps strongly religious, but hemmed in by circumstances and a system they cannot fathom.  A system that is organized to exploit and exclude them.  This does not address the systemic forces that create invisible boundaries, social ghettos and inhumane exploitative values.  Clothed is Christian jargon or New Age mystical terminology, it has the same devastating effect in those quarters of society.

Faith and Materialism
So have faith, and ask for Stuff!  Be a good materialist capitalist.  This is the purpose of faith, according to the Prosperity "Gospel" preachers.  If you are poor, it is your own fault.  God loves you, he want you to be rich.  If you are not, it is because you do not ask or do not believe.

Dooley, one of the authors of the Secret, which presents this esoteric, magical philosophy, claims the same but without the deceptive Christian jargon.  At least he is honest about it.  The Universe is yours, you are part of the Living Power that makes up the physical universe.  So use that power to get what you want.  You are not really physical protoplasm thinking, feeling, reading this review, listening to the philosophy of Dooley.

But all the same, Dooley insists, you should focus on the material values of the modern capitalist society and get the Stuff you think you deserve.  So get with it, and ask for it!  Think that you will get it and you will.

Dooley does not clearly explain his epistemology or hermeneutic from which he constructs this philosophy.  He introduces that book by telling a personal experience.  The gist of it is that he once had an experience where a realization came to him that this is the way things worked.  This brought a sense of order and direction to his confused questionings about life and purpose.

Otherwise, I could not discern an attempt to explain in practical or rational terms how this worked or how it could be established, other than by seeing that it worked when you really focused and had faith and asserted yourself in exercising these principles.  Maybe it is in here, and I could have missed it at some point where my mind wandered if I lost focus while Dooley was reading the book in this audio version.

Oriented to Audio
One good thing is that you get the author's own interpretation, since Dooley himself reads this.  The book is organized with little musical tones and audio "markers" between thoughts, musings, aphorisms he has coined, stories, or letters for the Universe.  The book is well-organized in this version for sound.  It is easy to follow even with the novel format of the material.

Mystical, Magical Guilt
This is a mystical and magical cosmic Get-Rich-Quick scheme.  And if you are not already rich, it is your fault.  Get connected and tell the Universe what you want.  You deserve it!  So get it!

This is the classic setup for disappointment, disillusionment and failure.  And guilt, since if I am not wealthy, it is all my fault!

See related reviews and articles on this site:

[review] No Longer a Victim:  Financial Knowledge, Enabling Power

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Written 16-17 September 2009
Finalized and posted on Thoughts and Resources 28 September 2009

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2009 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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