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A Critique of New-Age Prosperity Preaching

A Critique of New-Age Prosperity Preaching November 1, 2021

I am all for thinking positively. It is true that our words and our thoughts have consequences, for good or for ill. Thinking that the worst is always going to happen can induce dread and anxiety, both of which are not good on our bodies.

That said, I am growing more and more tired of folks who think that everything comes down to intention. For just about every one of life’s issues, they will associate a thought pattern. Here’s how one of these so-called spiritual gurus frames things:

“My personal opinion is that in most instances, it is not about luck. It is about energy, our personal power, our ability to attract into our life that which we manifest, that we deserve and feel worthy of.”

To my mind, this is nothing but a new age version of the Deuteronomistic theology of “this for that.” It’s a quid pro quo minus the Christianese. It’s “if you are righteous, you will be blessed; but if you’re wicked, you will be cursed” without the need for a god.

What this creates is disillusionment. If something goes bad, it must be because my energy frequency wasn’t high enough. They may not put it in so many terms, but that’s how it is presented. Again, here’s that same spiritual blogger:

“All vibrations operate at high and low frequencies, within us and around us. If your vibration is low it will be evident; it’s simply a matter of bringing awareness to your situation and then working on rectifying it. Perhaps money no longer flows, your health is poor or you feel surrounded by negative people. When your vibration is high however, this is that beautiful sense of living in the flow. Here you may be inviting inspiring people into life, jumping out of bed each day full of optimism, things may be progressing particularly well in business, perhaps your bank balance has never looked so good!”

Again, there is nothing wrong with optimism. There is nothing wrong with jumping out of bed and getting down to business. I try to do that every morning. In fact, this morning I knocked out a 20-minute core workout before getting my daughter up and ready for school. And I’m glad I did because it was awesome, and I feel awesome.

Vibration status: Epic!

But if you are going to constantly present this as a quid pro quo scenario, you are going to cause a lot of mental and psychological harm. Because here’s the rub: You can be optimistic, positive, always cheery, and full of “high frequency energy,” and still get sick. You can manifest whatever the hell you want and still struggle to make ends meet. You can be the first in the gym, the last to leave, love everything about your work, drink 100 ounces of water a day, and still suffer from anxiety, depression, GI issues, and a whole host of other issues.

Of course, these “life coaches” will likely admit that. Only if pressed. But it’s never something they talk about frequently. It’s always presented as an anomaly. The norm, in their minds, is that if you do these 8 things (whatever their program is centered on), you’ll suddenly find yourself killing it at work, crushing it at the bank, rocking your newly discovered chiseled abs, and ridding yourself of every known disease the cosmos can throw at you.

This is where we need balance. Yes, discover ways in which you can become less anxious. Yes, drink less alcohol, stop smoking tobacco, and get rid of all that diabetes-inducing refined sugar. Yes, drink more water. Yes, start exercising. And yes, start meditating or journaling or gardening. But also know that if you do all these things, you still might be broke, sick, and struggling with mental health issues. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

“Raising your frequency” and “manifesting your goals with the power of positive intentionality” only gets you so far. It’s never a substitute for scientifically-backed medicines. That’s why science tests against placebo. Because yes, placebo is real. There is always a certain percentage of the population who sees change in their lives based on thinking they will see change. But let’s call a spade a spade; that’s the placebo effect, not the 8-step program your life coach promises will change your life.

So, if I were your spiritual guru, your life coach with the fancy website, here’s what I might say to you.

Think positively. Don’t dwell on the negative. Eat your veggies. Work out a lot. Drink more water. Skip the booze. Do some guided meditations. These will all help you out, but you will still get sick. When you do, see a medical doctor. When there’s a pandemic, get a vaccine. If you still have anxiety and depression after implementing my steps, that is not surprising. Find a good licensed therapist. As a licensed service coordinator, I can help with that. Take all my advice with a grain of salt because I still have some mental health issues. I’m still working through my own shit, and no amount of vibration raising will fully alleviate that.

Now, isn’t that a solid program? Yes? Then sign up at patreon.com/mjdistefano. It’s only $9,000 for 12 sessions, but if you refer a friend, I’ll take off $50. You can’t beat that!

Vibration status: Next level!


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About Matthew J. Distefano
Matthew J. Distefano is an author, blogger, podcaster, and social worker. He lives in Northern California with his wife and daughter You can read more about the author here.

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