(Wisdom Quarterly) Stewie Griffin's best friend Brian -- canine author and drunk, once referred to as "Cirrhosis the Wonder Dog" -- has written a bestselling self-help book, pumped out in record time to prove that what passes for "spirituality" is ruining the American public. The Secret, The Purpose Driven Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Left Behind, Think and Grow Rich, comic books by Deepak Chopra, Passion to Profits, and so on are hurting more than helping.
I was at the airport last week and couldn't believe that the bestsellers were fluffy derivatives of the same The Secret idea or the even easier scheme of getting people to send in their stories then compiling them as true-life parables and adding "Chicken Soup" to the title: Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul, Chicken Soup for Single Moms...Chicken Soup for People Waiting at the Airport.
The title that caught my eye was No Guts, No Story. It's really a matter of a clever title selling books at the airport. Grab and go and leave the junk in the kangaroo pouch behind the seat. What is it about? Overcoming adversity. That's what they're all about! That's what "get rich quick" schemes are always about: "I was broke, now look at me. Send me $19.95, and I'll tell you how you can do it, too!"
So "Family Guy" has a go at the "feelgood, all you have to do is really want it" book phenomenon. This can include pop-Buddhist titles too: [ghost-]written by the Dalai Lama and as merch for Thich Nhat Hanh, or (Trungpa Rinpoche star) Pema Chodron selling stories about fear and Lama Surya Das saying zilch.
Then there are the real money makers: Abraham-Hicks saying "Just Ask and It Is Already Given" (when what they really mean is already "set aside in escrow" for you to never take possession of if you don't learn how), Eckhart Tolle saying "Just accept whatever is and you'll have the power of NOW," Byron Katie giving "The Work" of asking yourself four questions then turning the thought around. Thank you Hay House and The Oprah Corporation.
It's a publishing cash cow, the message of which is partly very good. But as "Family Guy" is pointing out, it's just been turned into the business of selling pseudo-spirituality, selling simple answers and pricey "workshops" (lectures with a lunch break), selling the promise of material riches, uh, we mean "abundance." Don't call it getting rich, and never promise it'll be quick. But call it what it is, selling.