Religion and Media Review Assignment RELN20 HANNAH HAFSO Student #: 41840704
The Media’s Ability to Market Religion as a Product
The transition from analog to digital communication changed the way individuals corresponded and marked the beginning of a new era. With digital information we are able to send and receive large amounts of high quality data immediately. This opened the doors for globalization of the media, and resulted in the emergence of a new culture. The introduction of immediate data at ones disposal, has caused society to expect the same instant results and from other aspects of life .We live in a world where we expect our needs and desires to be met instantaneously, and have lost all concept of patience and delayed gratification. The general population is consumed with miracle pills, fast food, and text messaging, is it a wonder that many have demanded the same immediate results in their spiritual life? M.R. Saeidabadi’s article on the Globalization of the Media and the Universality of Religion: Convergence or Divergence outlines the complicated relationship between religion and the media, analyzing how religion utilizes the media as technology to market their beliefs. A specific case of the media being utilized for promotional purposes is www.thesecret.tv. The Secret has successfully satisfied the spiritual needs of secularists, enabling them to find the meaning of life within themselves, while allowing the creator to capitalize on the “anti-religion’s” market potential.
Examining the relationship and interdependency of the media and religion is a complex task. When digitalization of communication was introduced, nations were thrilled to experience first-hand its ability to reduce production cost and increase time efficiency. Despite the benefits of digitalized communication it also meant that the media became easily accessible, due to the convergence of hardware and software opportunities for deregulated digital communication spread across the globe. (Saeidabadi, 88) Although, as the article points out, the introduction of digitalization marked the emergence of a culture focused on self-sufficiency and instant gratification. In the 21st century the transition from a patient global perspective has been replaced with the desire to reach perfection. Saeidabadi, M. R. describes the media as the technology used by religion which is the structure that seeks to market and promote the “truth” or ideologies that the religion represents. In regards to a minimalist, their search for purpose and enlightenment is found within themselves. This individualistic belief has allowed Rhonda Byrne, creator of The Secret, to profit and become a God to many individuals.
In the post-modern era waves of new age spiritualities have surfaced and are embraced by many. A particular example is the extremely popular The Secret, created by Rhonda Byrne in an attempt to “offer the knowledge of how to - create intentionally and effortlessly- a joyful life” (http://thesecret.tv). The Secret explains how individuals can control our lives to ensure happiness, health, and prosperity, by simply adjusting ones thoughts and energy. This concept is appealing because it allows individuals to rule over their lives, unlike the uncertainty that many traditional religions revolve around. Instead of surrendering your life to a higher power, thus living by faith, secularists need only to surrender to their personal desires and look no further then the mirror for guidance. Digitization of the media has allowed individuals expressing secularist views to find out how to achieve a perfect life by the simple click of a mouse. The Secret website is masterfully crafted with enticing images and persuasive words that captive that viewer.
All humans want to belong, many fulfill this longing through their religious community, and now followers of The Secret can do the same. By visiting http:// thesecret.tv it is apparent that Rhonda Byrne’s has identified this human desire and is capitalizing on it. Believers are able to connect and share their testimonies of the transformative power of The Secret with others online, and for a small monthly fee receive emails and inspirational messages from none other than the creator Rhonda Byrnes herself! The website is essentially promotional material and propaganda for the book, movie and additional services available for followers. This is an example of how the media is used to promote religion as a good to the consumer market, outlined in M. R Saeidabadi’s article. Rhonda began with an idea and has quickly exploited a vast array of media outlets in order to gain financially. In addition to her bestselling book, she has gained from the movies box office sales, sales from books on tape, and inspirational tours.
The Secret’s website is a prime example of how the media and religion have converged to such a degree that it is difficult to determine where one ends and one begins. It is evident that the two entities have become interdependent through promotion and utilization of each other’s resources. Traditionally, individuals have looked heavenward to find a purpose for life and seek guidance, but in the post-modern world, many are choosing to simply find answers within themselves. This transition has been caused by the values that globalization of communication has encouraged, such as: control, impatience, materialism, and increase in knowledge. It appears that with a wealth of knowledge at one’s fingertips, humans believe that they have no use for God for they themselves know everything. The media is a tool used to increase global awareness of a product and in this case a religion. For Rhonda Byrne and other religious leaders, they have been able to capitalize off of consumer desires to increase their spiritual knowledge, no matter the price.
Saeidabadi, M. R.(2008)'Globalization of the Electronic Media and Universality of Religion: Convergence or Divergence', Journal of Media and Religion,7:1,84 — 91
check out the trailer for The Secret movie at