A supporter of the non-profit I lead told me about a man named Mike Dooley. “Watch his videos,” she urged. “I think you’ll find his ideas very interesting.” Her faith is the root of mine (she is Jewish; I am Christian) and I love her dearly. She’s kind. Generous with her heart. Sincerely motivated to serve in whatever way she can, in whatever roles of life she lives. A seeker of wisdom always. I like her a lot.
So, I Googled around and found Mike Dooley and his TUT organization. From his website:
TUT’s mission is to remind us of life’s fundamental truths: that life is magical, we are powerful, and dreams really do come true.
Okay, that all sounds happy and positive. I decided to push the twinge I got while reading it (something is off here, said the twinge) to the back burner and signed up for the daily emails. Past the end of my workday at that point, I closed the laptop and left the office.
The next morning, a welcome email from Mike Dooley sat in my inbox. Click “EmailfromTut” to see it.
Pleasant. Upbeat. Encouraging, and a reminder to read every email all the way through to the end as many people like the P.S. portion the best. I laughed. Good marketing tactic there. With a few minutes to spare and a desire to let my friend know I’d engaged with TUT, I cruised back to the website and clicked on a couple of the videos.
Which is when the twinge-ometer nearly broke itself in a frenzy.
Dooley is an evangelist for the “New Thought” movement. At its core, this philosophy teaches that humans are divine, thoughts are powerful, and sickness is a result of wrong thinking. Dooley’s words sound like truth – but Dooley twists them ever so slightly and in that twisting he loses the power and truth of the idea.
A dynamic, potent truth in Mike Dooley’s mouth withers under the tyranny of self.
THOUGHTS ARE POWERFUL
Let’s start with the idea that thoughts are powerful. In an interview on “View From the Bay,” Dooley spoke of spending 5-10 minutes each day visualizing what/who I desire to be. He promised that this visualization would engage the “Law of Attraction” and the universe would make that visualization a reality. The show’s co-host shared that she eats poorly and wants to be healthy. Should she envision herself eating apples and bananas? No, Dooley said. She was getting sidetracked by the “how” and need to simply envision herself, right now, as healthy and the universe would order itself to that end. Her thoughts would make it so.
It is true that thoughts are powerful. Consider those ancient words of Paul, “We…take every thought captive to obey Christ…” Or those even older words of Isaiah, “You [God] will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”
Clearly, thoughts hold power. If not, there’d be no reason to be mindful of them staying focused on God. Dooley speaks this truth, but goes a step further to grant humans ownership and control of that power.
Can we think things into existence? Well, we certainly can speak them into existence. That’s established in the very first chapter of the very first book of scripture, Genesis.
Jew or Christian, we agree: God spoke creation into existence (a fascinating occurrence we are still discovering the detail of) and He “created mankind in His own image.” Ostensibly, that image that includes speaking things into existence.
Let me digress a moment here to reveal my serious belief in the concept of speaking things into existence…I’m married to an Eeyore. His glass is perpetually half empty. Doom and destruction are right around the corner. That’s simply his personality and it’s helpful because it urges my sunshine-and-roses-and-its-all-going-to-go-swimmingly self to consider what could end up being the true cost of something. Throughout our marriage, though, I often lay my hand on his arm and say, “Don’t speak that into existence. Leave that hell uncreated.” I firmly believe that spoken thoughts can become reality.
This isn’t true because I have discovered the secret of how the universe works, though. It’s true because the One who spoke creation into existence made me in His image. See that subtle shift of focus? It goes from “I’m god and I control,” to “I serve God and He made me in His image.”
BEING THE DIVINE BODY
Here’s another of the twists on truth from Dooley. “I believe that we are, truly, the eyes and the ears of the divine. Including us. Our thoughts. Our actions. It’s all god.”
Christians hear a version of this in church all the time, right? We’re the hands and feet of Jesus, we’re told! The whole concept of us being divine body parts stems from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we call “First Corinthians.” He gets to the body concept in chapter two, where he shares that some of us were made to be hands, some to be feet, etc. However, that entire concept is given as Paul describes how God created the church to function as one body for God’s purposes. It’s less about, “I’m the hand of Christ,” and more about, “I have a role and purpose in this body of the church and am being/doing that as part of God’s overall story. My role is necessary, as is each other person’s.”
My eyes and ears aren’t divine. God’s divine.
CONTROLLING DESTINY AND ENVISIONING OUR WAY TO A DESIRED OUTCOME
Remember Dooley told that show host to simply envision herself healthy and the universe would order itself to bring about that end? He tells the story in another video of making a scrapbook of all the places he wanted to visit (envisioning himself as a well-traveled person) and how, a couple of years later, he found himself looking out at a vista that was exactly what had been in one of those photographs. Eureka! Envisioning himself in that place caused the universe to bring him to that place.
But history tells us this doesn’t work. Consider William Wallace, who died in pursuit of freedom for the Scottish from England’s rule. I’m nearly certain that William Wallace spent countless hours envisioning Scottish independence. He also worked hard for it. But freedom didn’t come in his lifetime. Instead, the King of England killed Wallace in gruesome fashion. Consider Dietrich Bonhoeffer. All his prayers and thoughts and envisioning didn’t bring freedom from Hitler in his lifetime. Bonhoeffer was killed in a concentration camp.
These men, and countless other men and women, envisioned themselves in their desired outcomes. They lived their beliefs and what they understood to be their God-given purpose and calling, even unto death. But an individual’s story isn’t the whole story.
We must bear in mind that God’s is the unfolding story. My path (your path) is one part of that grand story. Because of this, I don’t always quite understand why He allows some things to happen and others not but I do know that there is a divine plan, that He is in control of it, and that – to quote those ancient words again – He is working all things together for my good (and the good of everyone who loves Him).
See the twist? Dooley’s idea makes it all about me. Actual truth says that something far greater than me is at work within and around me.
SELF-GOD VS GOD
Ultimately, Dooley has interesting ideas but their downfall is in that subtle yet seismic shift from God to self-god. To quote those ancient words one more time, these from Isaiah:
You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me,” or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
We are the clay. Made in the image of the potter and granted, by Him, many of His characteristics and access to His abilities and powers. But, at the end of the day, still clay.
A clay creation cannot know the intricacies of all the other creations to the depth the potter does.
A clay being who believes he is the potter has succumbed to the tyranny of self, and in this lies no freedom at all.
P.S. (Because you have to read through the P.S. It’s what many find most interesting!) Where I find common ground with Mike is the concept of living as less than we are. We who are in relationship with God are not taking Him up on all that He has promised us we can do in His name. Because He loves me, He has granted enormous ability, power, grace, and mercy to me. I didn’t create power, grace, mercy, and its cousins, but I can access them because He allows such within His will. (As scripture puts it: He’s the vine, I’m the branch.) We act as if we are weak, even while our lips speak of God’s strength. That is our failure as His people – it is a lack of embracing that we’ve been empowered to live as a people at peace, in kindness, merciful, gracious, forgiving, compassionate, and generous. It is looking at the beautiful land and reporting that there are giants in it, we must retreat. Instead, we should hold that thought captive and release its counter-truth: our God conquers giants if He wills, we need only walk in His name.