using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2005 83 101, a user-friendly faith that is easily applied. Dr. Laura’s Judaism gives her moralism a back- bone, just as Deepak Chopra’s Hindu-tinged empowerment princi- ples have the authority, or at least the aura, of tradition. What is surprising is how willing prac- titioners of some faith traditions have been to embrace self-help superficiality. Many religious groups, rather than fight- ing against SHAM ideology, are finding ways to peacefully coexist alongside it. The most infamous current example might be Jewish Kabbalah centers, cele- brated by Madonna and Britney Spears as doorways to enlightenment, but lam- pooned by observant Jews as a material- istic, self-centered reduction of their faith. Buddhism has been self-helped as well, lodged into America’s conscious- ness as a member of the therapeutic pan- theon. When a friend of mine mentioned to his landlady that he studied Buddhism, she replied, “Buddhism is great because it’s not really about reli- gion; it’s more like therapy.” Three-quar- ters of American Buddhists are immi- grants and immigrant families, but as religion scholar Stephen Prothero has argued, popular Buddhism is dominated by a “What Would Buddha Do?” approach, a lifestyle spirituality that is more interested in stroking the ego than destroying it. In America, Buddhism is often expressed as a self-help faith that involves “no chanting, no incense, no monks and certainly no bowing,” writes Prothero. “This stealth approach leaves Buddhists with little to do except medi- tate and read books.” Indeed, self-help ideology does not coexist with religion so much as it revo- lutionizes it by rendering it banal. America has a tradition of Christian pas- tors who became successful either by adhering to conservative Christian theology or by pushing the borders of religious experience, but Joel Osteen has built America’s largest church in a new way: by telling people that God wants them happy, and giving them a seven- step path to getting what God wants them to have. Osteen has bragged about his decision to leave theology behind in favor of principles that let people fulfill their dreams. Unfortunately, Salerno does not make much of the mingling of religion and self-help. For much of SHAM, in fact, he spends too much time exposing the shys- ters and too little interpreting various aspects of the phenomenon. But in a dis- cussion of the alternative medicine movement, Salerno unwittingly eluci- dates one reason why popular American religion and the self-help movement go so well together. In the same way that people are drawn to alternative cures (magnets, therapeutic touch) because they distrust the medical establishment, so are people drawn to SHAM’s Religion Lite because they distrust the religious establishment. “7 Steps to Enlightenment” seminars offer a Buddhism that is per- sonalized and modernized, and one that has none of the messiness of history, none of the obligations of community. Anything bad that has ever been associat- ed with Buddhism, or Judaism, or Christianity, and anything inconvenient that goes with being part of a community of faith, can be avoided entirely in self- help versions of the same. To self-help practitioners, this doesn’t feel like a watering down of tradition; it feels like taking part in a revolution. This revolutionary attraction may be hard to maintain as the self-help industry continues to grow, and as icons like Dr. Phil brand themselves into one-stop shops, selling not only books and TV shows but vitamins, nutrition bars, and exercise systems. But like many converts, people who follow self-help gurus can be blind to the faults of their newfound faith system. The logic of the industry, after all, is that the answer to your prob- lems lies in more self-help solutions. Another book, another vitamin, another seven-step solution. Apparently, God helps those who help themselves. © PATTON DODD istheauthorofMyFaithSo Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion (Jossey-Bass).