New Age Author Marianne Williamson Announces Bid for Congress

You know what we haven’t seen enough of lately? Oprah Winfrey‘s show “Super Soul Sunday.” I heard it’s good.

Last year, Winfrey interviewed the author of several bestselling spirituality books, Marianne Williamson.

Let’s see how long you last watching this, starting at the 1:14 mark:

It’s all a lot of nonsensical spirituality, where you say so much and so little all at once. Like this excerpt from one of her books:

God has introduced into our minds an Internal Teacher, authorized to help us cross the bridge from fear to love when we find it difficult to do so by ourselves. The Internal Teacher is called by different names, from the Comforter, to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit. Whatever name we use, it cannot be called on in vain. Miracles are a divine intercession from a thought system beyond our own, bringing inner light into a darkened world.

And miracles are summoned by conviction. Conviction can be seen as an attitudinal muscle that gives us strength to see beyond appearances and invoke the possibilities that lie there. With God’s help, our own particular worldly veil of illusion — whether it takes the form of bankruptcy, recession, or any other form of fear — is lifted, and we can see beyond it. No matter what our problem awaits our open-mindedness and love…

Our interaction with the spiritual world is governed by our thoughts. When we know this truth and consciously align out thoughts with it — sometimes even despite how we feelwe activate its spiritual power. We transform our mortal circumstances by bringing our thoughts about them into alignment with a world that lies beyond.

Sounds nice. Means nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I bring all of this up because Williamson has announced that she will be running for Congress in California’s 33rd district, home of liberal hero Rep. Henry Waxman:

As I see it, the United States is a country in crisis. We won’t get out of it just by fixing something here and fixing something there. We as a country now have to dig deep down and ask ourselves some serious questions — who we are as a nation, and what we’re doing.

I’ve longed to see that kind of conversation and that level of consciousness inform the leadership of our country. I have asked myself how I could foster that, and have decided that the best way I can do it is to run for office myself.

That’s what we need. Congresswoman Deepak Chopra. Because why bother with legislation when you can just will Congress to do the right thing.

While I support much of Williamson’s platform — she will run as an Independent and caucus with Democrats if elected — there’s no reason to support another politician who believes in so many kinds of unsupported, unscientific nonsense. We have more than enough of those in the GOP. Since there’s a perfectly good alternative for voters in the district, let’s hope this campaign shines as brightly as the non-existent aura around her.

(Thanks to Larry for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Usman Bello

    I started at 1:14 and lasted to the end. The words sounded English, but when combined together in sentence form she sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

    • Mario Strada

      “Conviction can be seen as an attitudinal muscle that gives us strength to see beyond appearances and invoke the possibilities that lie there.”

      What the hell does that mean?

      • Ann Onymous

        Faith makes God do stuff for you and lets you see past the devil’s illusions.
        My translation.

        • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

          I thought it had something to do with beer goggles.

      • katiehippie

        Now when you work out, you have to do reps to get that attitudinal muscle all buff like the rest.

    • DavidMHart

      Its not really about her fuzzy spiritual views, now it it?

      Evidence please.
      Given that this is blog almost entirely devoted to pointing out, debunking and, where necessary, ridiculing ‘fuzzy spiritual views’ and other supernatural nonsense, what makes you think that this isn’t another case of that sort of thing?

    • Oranje

      The only box you didn’t tick was multiple punctuation marks. You were subtle, sure, but the random capitalizations are there, the minimum one typo is there, and using the reply function while not replying to the original post is there. You have begun to walk this path, but you must commit to it.

    • Dan Robinson

      So you’re saying that Hemant Mehta, one of the kindest, most sensible, open minded people on the planet is a racist, misogynist who is jealous of someone who has more money than him?

      okee-dokee….

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        You’d think if Hemant was that interested in money he’d have stayed in med school.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Do you really need to get ALL your accounts banned before you take the hint, loser?

    • Gus

      A lot of us dislike Oprah because she’s given an elevated platform with lots of exposure to people who not only espouse nonsense, but espouse dangerous nonsense, like Dr. Oz and Jenny McCarthy and Suzanne Somers. This particular video demonstrates more of Oprah’s general acceptance of anything fuzzy and feel good, but that general acceptance is dangerous when McCarthy is out there telling people not to vaccinate and that dangerous and unproven treatments can “cure” autism, Somers is promoting extremely dangerous “treatments” for all sorts of problem, while eschewing any real effective treatment for cancer, and Oz is promoting ineffective and sometimes dangerous treatments of all stripes.

      Spend a little time browsing entries on this site and you might just find plenty of evidence that suggests your claim of racism is hogwash.

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

      And your insanity and irrationality drip from yours. Did you watch that video? You endorse that nonsensical psychobabble? And Hemant is a racist, misogynist because he points out it’s insane?

  • Timmah

    Because I’m a terrible person (which has nothing to do with my atheism I assure you) the first thought in my head when I saw the still image from the YouTube video was “Man I can’t figure out where Oprah ends and that couch begins.”

    • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Somebody is not getting a car.

    • Mario Strada

      Is there a couch?

    • Brad Heckman

      This is exactly why I troll this blog. Well done! (Can’t get up off the floor.)

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

    This about sums it up for me and yes, I did watch the entire thing.

    • baal

      i managed about 10 seconds. i can only take so much vapid before my skin explodes and freezes at the same time.

    • Buttmonkey McGee

      What is this meme? I must make more of these.

      • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I have no clue. I was searching for whoa when I found it.

    • kaydenpat

      The dog is mega cute! But looks like he’s scarred for life.

  • God’s Starship

    If there’s one lesson Americans should have learned this year, it’s that we should keep the flakes out of Congress.

  • Atheist Diva

    Evolved? She should learn the real definition of the word. These are my answers to Oprah’s questions:

    The world needs: better healthcare and food distribution networks.
    I believe in: scientific exploration.
    Love is: imaginary.
    I am grateful for: ice cream.
    What is the soul: Nonexistent.
    My definition of God: Nonexistent.
    What does prayer mean to you: Something that Christians abuse by misinterpreting Matthew 6.

    My personal prayer: Nonexistent.
    What happens when we die: All the blinders are off, and we rot.
    What do you know for sure: Not much.

    Marianne and Oprah might view those as negative, but I view them as realistic.

    • CottonBlimp

      I’d argue your point about love. While woo peddlers like to imbue love with some mystic properties, the word does, primarily, describe a physical process that empirically exists – a chemical state in the brain that elicits feelings of longing for a person, likely evolved from the instinctive desire to reproduce but having additional functions. I stand by “empirically” because you can see love in an MRI scan.

      I don’t think we should let woo claim things like “love” or “courage” or “justice”. They want to maintain that these things are metaphysical, but as poetic as they sound, they fundamentally describe physical, material processes, albeit ones we don’t intuitive understand in that clinical fashion.

    • kaydenpat

      Why is love imaginary?

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        The blunt answer is this: anything that isn’t grounded in linear thought tends to be devalued in many antitheist spaces on the internet. A strong emphasis is placed upon fostering intellectualism and promoting the belief that such a pursuit excludes embracing emotion. Embracing emotion is viewed as a dangerous practice that potentially hurts others and leads to barbarism. As such, any approach that is not founded upon empiricism is seen as untrustworthy and potentially, ethically questionable. A perspective grounded in emotion or intuition is therefore dismissed as inferior. Hence, we have comments such as “love is imaginary.” This is in keeping with a tendency to downplay emotion.

        That’s not my own personal approach to things (far from it) but then again, I only occasionally spend time in spaces such as this.

  • ScottTheSceptic

    Regarding her statement: “God has introduced into our minds an Internal
    Teacher, authorized to help us cross the bridge from fear to love when we find
    it difficult to do so by ourselves”

    I’m reminded of the following exchange from the movie Donnie Darko:

    Donnie: Well, life isn’t that simple. I mean, who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.

    Kitty Farmer: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.

    Donnie: Okay. But you’re not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here, like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else.

    Kitty Farmer: If you don’t complete the assignment, you’ll get a zero for the day.

    [cut to principal's office]

    Kitty Farmer: I’ll tell you what he said! He asked me to forcibly insert the lifeline exercise card into my anus!

  • AFabulousAtlantanAtheist

    It felt like she was just bloviating on any and every feel good word she could think of … We need less crazy in congress, not more.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Shouldn’t you be automatically disqualified for any sort of official role the moment you step foot on a Oprah show?

    • NathanExplosion

      No!

      Because: President Tom Cruise.

      One can dream…

      • Mark W.

        “Because: President Tom Cruise.”

        You’re one sick puppy.

  • Librepensadora

    I made it to 2:50, but only because it took me a couple of seconds to get the mouse pointer to the pause button.

    • Mario Strada

      Less than that for me. I guess I am faster than you are with my mouse. Intolerable.

  • http://vinimarques.com/ Vini Marques

    I attended the event in which she made the announcement (my boyfriend is her fan and I was curious and Alanis Morissette was opening and it was free). Her main platform isn’t too terrible — the system is broken and she wants to help by bringing humanity back into politics — but I couldn’t help but get a feeling that she’s in for a harsh reality check. “Love” does not legislation write… But all in all, most of it was tolerable, if not run-of-the-mill “let’s make things better” political activation speech.

    The one moment that sent chills down my spine, however, was when she blatantly indicated her eagerness to politically empower the, uh, non-scientific class of professionals she’s known to associate herself with. Scared me almost as much as Michelle Bachmann’s pious blather.

  • Matthew Baker

    I am sure new agers are as under represented in congress as us lowly unlovable ‘none’s
    Buzzfeed does have a nice breakdown by district http://www.buzzfeed.com/hunterschwarz/map-what-religion-does-your-member-of-congress-belong-to

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I remember Marianne Williamson being (unintentionally) behind one of the first true Internet memes.

    Somehow the idea got out that Nelson Mandela’s inauguration started with:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate”

    In fact that was from Williamson, and Mandala never said it in his speech.

    I must shamefully admit that I spread that same speech a few times (sigh, yes, I also watched and marveled at Deepak Chopra back then. We all have skeletons…)

    When I found out that she had actually written it, I got all SIWOTIy and started correcting people.

    Naive, I know.

    The general reaction was that Mandala had quoted Williamson. And linking to his actual speech didn’t help. People insisted that it was a different speech. The words were too like Mandala for him to not have uttered them.

    Thankfully, I see that most links on google now correct that. I guess sometimes the truth wins out after all.

    Oh, and ya, one big deepity.

  • A3Kr0n

    I made it from 1:14 to 3:05. Then I inked myself.

    • Sideshow_Billybob

      Awww, you made me ink!

  • LaughterBasket

    Oh FSM. This was exactly my brand of spirituality ~5 years ago.

    It hurts, how stupid it sounds from the other side.

    • God’s Starship

      It’s like libertarianism. It’s okay to have a phase in college. But at some point you have to grow up.

    • Jane

      I thought the same way about 2 years ago uggg!

    • Mark W.

      I actually feel sad that I never had one of these phases. Even before I stopped going to church as a kid, I thought most of the people in the Bible were either people suffering from sun stroke, crazy, liars or con artists.

  • alfaretta

    Her New Ageism aside, running against Henry Waxman is enough to damn her in my eyes.

  • NathanExplosion

    Congresswoman Deepak Chopra.

    Good one.

  • beatonfam

    New drinking game–take a shot every time she says love. Double shot every time she says light.

  • C Peterson

    On the plus side, we’d have a Congressman whose religious beliefs are relatively benign bullshit.

    On the negative side, we’d have yet another Congressman whose ability to operate rationally is very suspect.

  • Nancy Shrew

    I live with someone like this. I’d say the lord is testing me, but.

  • katiehippie

    Bankruptcy is an illusion? It’s pretty real for people going through it.

  • Ron

    The world needs… more cowbell.

    • Gus

      I would pay to hear someone answer her that way. If we could get someone to go on that show and give brief, funny responses to every question and not dignify any of them with any respect, it would be so great.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    I’d disagree with calling “We transform our mortal circumstances by bringing our thoughts about them into alignment with a world that lies beyond” meaningless.

    Granted, it’s pretty clear language of “Shamanic Mediation”; and the methods that I expect she uses as well as conceptual referents which seem cribbed from pretty standard religion; but I’d merely consider that rather wrong, rather than outright meaningless. Even “wrong” may be overstating it; she’s emphasizing the ease of type-1 “reflexive” cognition for dealing with the world, while ignoring the effectiveness of type-2 “reflective” cognition.

    Regardless, I don’t expect Congress would be much improved by adding her to the mix; particularly if she’s trying to replace Waxman. (Although if she was trying to replace Eric Cantor, I’d have to reflect on that choice quite a bit more.)

  • Gus

    What this video tells me is that Oprah, who’s supposed to be a great listener and communicator, is only good at listening to and communicating with people who fit her preconceived notions. This was so much easier and more comfortable for her than listening to Diana Nyad, whose words she had to twist to put her in a box she could comprehend because she couldn’t understand the real person.

    I didn’t last long. About the time she defined God and Oprah said: “That’s good” like someone had hit the tense spot while giving her a massage.

  • Taz

    As I see it, the United States is a country in crisis. We won’t get out
    of it just by fixing something here and fixing something there.

    Exactly! You don’t solve your problems by identifying and fixing each one. You do it by making up a one-size-fits-all magical band-aid.

  • Mark W.

    What?!? Someone on Oprah spewed a bunch of trite, meaningless crap that Oprah nodded at sagely, then fully endorsed the same bullshit and her audience ate it up and went out and bought a bunch of books from the “O” approved reading list? I find this completely implausible. But wait, you’re also saying that someone who is completely unqualified to run a government is now trying to run for congress? In the United States of America? Now you’re just being ridiculous.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    When I decide who I’m going to vote for, I care about the candidate’s views and voting history on various political and social issues. I do not care what the person’s religious/spiritual beliefs are. As long as they embrace an acceptable approach to social justice issues, foreign policy, economic policy, etc., I’ll vote for them. Their spiritual beliefs do not matter to me. That’s their business, not mine.

    Besides, practically speaking, the number of non-believing candidates running for office in most of the world is nearly zero. If I chose to vote for non-believers only, I wouldn’t vote in most elections.

    Furthermore, if I ran for office and people ignored my stances on various issues and refused to support me simply because I’m not Christian, I would find that to be horribly unjust. I try to be fair and non-hypocritical in my ethics. Consequently, that consideration must go both ways. If I expect people to refrain from judging me simply based upon my philosophies about religion, then it is only fair that I do the same for others.

    In my voting district here in Minneapolis, my representative is Keith Ellison. He’s a Muslim and his stances on issues important to me are strongly in line with what I want in a congress person. Here is a description of where he falls on various issues. He’s progressive through and through. The funny thing is, if people just look at his religion, they might think he’d take regressive, conservative views on issues such as women’s rights and LGBT issues. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I’ll vote for Congressman Ellison as long as he supports the causes I support. That’s the bottom line for me. I’m also extremely proud (and fortunate) to live in a part of the US that is willing to send people of minority faiths to office. If a Muslim can make it to office in my voting district, then I imagine that an agnostic or atheist will stand a better chance of doing so, too. In fact, those kinds of bedrock progressive values are why I love the Twin Cities.

  • dayna

    Her platform is an honest and full on shot at the military industrial complex and corporate rule. We need to see more politicians appear on the scene who are uncompromisingly denouncing what is sending our country down the wrong path, be they athiests or those with spiritual beliefs who have the intelligence to keep church and state separate.


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