If you came looking for an American Idol Re-cap, I'll be all about that tomorrow.
But on March 4, I wrote about Oprah's new raison d'etre, Eckhart Tolle, in this post. I said that I would have more to say on March 26th, and here we are. The date is significant, and I'll come back to that at the end of the post.
Before you balk at the sight of three videos embedded in this post, let me say that while I don't think anyone would want to watch every minute of any of these three videos, I wanted you to be able to do a quick comparison of three spiritual leaders, maybe a few seconds of each, so that you can see the obvious connection. I can't believe how uncanny their messages and mannerisms are. If you want to compare/contrast these men and their belief systems in a more serious or scholarly way, go right ahead. I just wanted to make a quick point here. So don't be overwhelmed. It will only take a few seconds of each to see my point.
The first video is of Oprah's new guru, Eckhart Tolle. To learn more about Oprah and Eckhart, go to this USA Today article on Oprah and her enthusiasm for Eckhart Tolle's book, The New Earth. Take a couple of seconds to look at this video to see what all the fuss is about. Then move on to number 2 for a few seconds.
The second video is Harold Klemp, the leader of a spiritual movement called "Eckankar," or "Eck," as is sometimes abbreviated. In 1981, Klemp became the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master, who gives inner guidance through dreams, Soul Travel, and the Spiritual Exercises of ECK. So check out Harold Klemp for a few seconds.
Finally, here is a video of Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven's Gate cult which committed mass suicide on March 26, 1997. Heaven's Gate believed that Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately, hitching a ride on the Hale-Bop Comet, of all things. If it weren't so pathetic and evil-laced, it would be comical. I used to laugh at Marshall Applewhite--partly out of disdain for his false teaching, partly because he was just weird. But after I learned more about the members' confusion and utter lost-ness, my heart broke for these people who were only searching for truth and meaning. Haven't we all searched for truth and meaning at one time?
I'm not bashing Oprah. I don't despise Oprah. She's done a lot of wonderful, generous work in this world. I'm not saying that Oprah is waiting in line to buy a ticket for the next world.
I'm just saying that as believers, we owe it to people to ask spiritual leaders, "Who do you say Jesus is?" and if they reply, "The (or "A") Son of God," then dig a little deeper to ask, "Do you believe that He is the only way to God, to enlightenment, to "the now," to self-actualization, to eternity, to fulfillment, to the Creator, to peace, to purpose, to truth?"
If the answer is no, then let it be no, but a CLEAR no. Then Oprah and her millions can decide whether it's time to leave the fold ... while they can still make that choice clear-headedly and of their own volition.
As unbelievable as it seems, intelligent, articulate, wealthy, compassionate people load their spiritual shopping carts with a little bit of Deepok Chopra, a little bit of TD Jakes, a little bit of Rhonda Byrne, and a little bit of the flavor of the day Eckhart Tolle because they can find some truth in each one. It just seems right. And even though they are also gullible enough to fall for the lies of a simple novelist like James Frey, they cannot conceive of being deceived.
Somewhere today, family members of those who died for Heaven's Gate are mourning the tragedy. This date is a signpost for all of us to remember that spirituality is real thing affecting real, everyday people like you and me with real consequences. And the gravest note is, there are also many people this very day hitching rides on a bright star who's always looking for the next big comet.