Daniel Camacho (right) is 17 years old and a Junior in High School. He lives on Long Island, New York and aspires to be a Christian Philosopher/Theologian.
I became acquainted with him this year, but when he joined Theologica I really became impressed. He wrote a blog post called “Why I Closed the Oprah Post After 224 Comments” that was a follow up and conclusion to another post he had about Oprah. He posted it again on Theologica the other day.
Dan is only 17 years old(!!), yet writes with a wisdom that we all long to attain. If he represents the up-and-coming reformed generation—if his type of thinking is the future of Christianity—I am encouraged. His resolve for truth mixed with grace and wisdom is amazing (especially at his age…did I say he was 17!). Would that God would raise up many like Dan.
I have posted this with his permission. Feel free to go to his page on Theologica and comment directly to him.
Exhaustion. Frustration. Disillusionment. I had hope for excellent dialogue. Yet i could not find a single point of entry. This discourse had taken off at a blazing speed only to find itself revolving in the circular arguments of the “Oprah will burn in hell” and “Thou shall not judge” camps.
If you’re going to join the cycle, my advice is that you at least become more creative. It is depressing to witness people continually falling into two polarities. EXTREME ONE: I CAN’T BELIEVE OPRAH HAS LEFT THE FAITH! SHE WILL REGRET THIS WHILE SHE SUFFERS IN HELL! (I WILL NOW QUOTE SCRIPTURES IN VAIN). EXTREME TWO: WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE JUDGING HER? SHE IS DOING SO MUCH GOOD IN THIS WORLD! YOU NARROW-MINDED FOLK SHOULD PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH! (I WILL NOW QUOTE MATTHEW 7:1 WHICH STATES ‘DONT JUDGE LEST THEE BE JUDGED’)
MY RESPONSE TO CAMP UNO: Stating how certain you are of her damnation doesn’t defeat her argument. Unless you come to a deeper understanding of your faith and learn how to articulate it graciously… then it really seems like you just want to bring people into line with your dogma.
MY RESPONSE TO CAMP LEST THEE BE JUDGED: Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who are extremely rude and truly judgmental..sorry . Don’t retreat to Matthew 7:1 or John 8:7 in cowardice when someone has not judged you but actually debunked you.
Prelude to the Oprah Chronicles
Although there were many exceptions, the majority of the comments left only contributed to my cynicism. It was long ago that i became strongly disenchanted with American religion and spirituality. As a Christian, it has grieved me to see the American church become enamored with materialism and political agendas. Christianity has been and continues to be largely distorted and misrepresented. The secular world is questioning christian leaders why there is a lack of God in their message. Extreme fundamentalists have gone senile and have resorted to dastardly tactics to “regain America for Christ”. As i write this, people are plunging into total absurdity with this “revival” that is taking place in Florida.This is hailed as spiritual wisdom in our day. These are championed as the messengers of God in our day.
We live in what some deem “The Post-Truth Era”. The word truthiness has been an official word for quite some time. Uncertainty is the only certainty remaining. This relativistic mentality has not only ravaged universities and politics but religion as well. If all truths are simply conditioned by our culture and times then so are the truths that religions teach.
Why have i started my response to Oprah by recounting the ills plaguing the church? What does our nation’s epistemology have to do with the big O? Everything. It is my firm conviction that both (although it may not be limited to just these) created necessary conditions to birth this movement. The disintegration of the Christian faith and our skepticism of truth has left us with an immense vacuum. A vacuum that must be filled.
Winfrey and Tolle: Masters of Covert Ops
Eckhart is the enlightened teacher that Oprah has endorsed and placed on her famous book club. He’s also been invited to teach online sessions alongside Oprah on www.oprah.com. I will treat both Oprah and Eckhart synonymously (sometimes referring to them as Ohart) because it is evident that they share some strong fundamental convictions. In developing this response i checked out “A New Earth” from the library and watched 2+ hours of the online classes. My desire was to understand their side of the argument. I came away from countless hours of research deeply troubled. The spirituality in one sense wasn’t the thing troubling me but the subtle lies used to advocate it. Yes, they have resorted to dastardly tactics. I believe there is no doubt about it. In their evangelistic ambition they have leaned on deception to win converts and few are discerning this.
(#5 on Amazon as of 5/31)
No Ordinary Book
“This book’s main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything” it reads in page 6. One question that might pop up in your head is why someone would write a book that attempted to add nothing to your mind. What other purpose could exist? According to Tolle, this book’s purpose is to bring about a shift in consciousness. A shift that brings one into an awakened state. Wait a second, how can an ordinary book bring about such a change while seemingly bypassing our minds? Well, this is no ordinary book. Tolle claims to have received the idea for this book from divine inspiration. Unfortunately, this is not expounded upon.
Another One-Way Street
A claim to esoteric knowledge is something strongly condemned by Oprah and Tolle. They dismiss anybody who claims to be in sole possession of the truth or anybody who claims that there is only one way. Anybody standing on this esoteric hill is hurled down for the arrogant, narrow-minded person that they are. The irony is that they go on to posit themselves, their beliefs, and their way on that hill. “In the service of the Truth, religious teachings represent sign posts or maps left behind by awakened humans to assist you in spiritual awakening.” This quote is found in chapter three under the subheading “Truth: Relative or Absolute”. The argument made here i found to be astonishing. All religions end up being relativized, being merely expressions of the Truth. What is the Truth that all world religions are expressing? The spirituality that Ohart is trying to spread. Do you see the great irony? As Tim Keller would say “How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?”. This is the exact claim that Ohart is making. Tolle writes in chapter one “Inevitably, they [great spiritual teachers] were mostly misunderstood by their contemporaries, as well by subsequent generations. Their teachings, although both simple and powerful, became distorted and misinterpreted, in some cases even as they were recorded in writing by their disciples. Over the centuries, many things were added that had nothing to do with the original teachings, but were reflections of a fundamental misunderstanding.” What is implied here? The bible was recorded by confused disciples who misunderstood Jesus and was later changed numerous times. Tolle goes on to quote the bible over 20 times in the book. How can he do that? Only if he happens to know the authentic verses in the bible and the accurate interpretation of them, an interpretation which has eluded practically everyone for 2000 years. Jesus’ words “I am the way and the truth and the life” are suddenly interpreted to mean “Jesus speaks of the innermost I AM, the essence identity of every man and woman…he speaks of the life you are.” (page 71)
Enter Vacuum: The Beast from the East
Oprah attributes arrogance to the person who argues for the superiority of their religion. This actually makes sense if all religions are merely relativistic expressions of one true spirituality. All scriptures and churches end up being equal means to this one end. Consciousness. But here is where the deception lies. The word spirituality is cleverly used to disguise what is in fact a religion. The word New is used to hide the unoriginality of what they’re saying. Oprah made a very important statement that for me clarifies a lot of things. God is a feeling experience not a believing experience. After reading and listening to more of Ohart I’m finally understanding this very clearly. They strongly contend for the oneness of the universe, how everything is interconnected in its essence. Eckhart says “What you sense in the tree is also in you”. If the whole universe is one then it quickly follows that all of the universe is God. If all of the universe is God then its not a matter of looking for him but of realizing that you are essentially God. This realization can be equated to consciousness or awareness. Its no surprise that Oprah and Tolle use these terms interchangeably. In becoming fully aware of your identity, you are discovering God itself. Consciousness=God. If the search for God (which can really be called anything) is a search for yourself then it makes sense that the methods used to find God are trips within. Many forms of meditation and techniques of silence are used to bring you into a realization of your true self. This is a good summation of the “new” spirituality that Ohart is trying to present. The only problem is that it isn’t new. Monism is the philosophical term used to describe this view of oneness. The doctrine of Pantheism identifies God with nature. Hmm…interesting. Doctrine happens to be a very damnable word to Ohart and a doctrine is what underpins all of their teachings. Mysticism has existed for thousands of years. So what is this new spirituality? Nothing more than a Pantheistic Mysticism re-packaged for the West.
Truthiness at Best
“There is no conflict between this teaching which is purely spiritual and any religion” according to Tolle. This simply is not true. Equating God with his creation is considered idolatry in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Ohart disagrees with these traditions but still insists that nobody can adopt a “im right, your wrong” mentality. Clearly there exists a contradiction when they advocate a Pantheistic view over any possible alternatives. This is what troubles me about Oprah. She has thrown on herself this false shroud of humility attacking any Absolute/Dogmatic claims only to smuggle in her Absolute/Dogmatic claims through the back door. She claims to “celebrate” and “respect” all religions while re-interpreting their beliefs to prove her own. In America where the Post-Truth era continues to flourish Oprah is offering truthiness(her intuitive claim to know the one true spirituality without regard to evidence, logic, examination, or facts) to the masses.
Original post here.