Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Me (Re)Generation

By Chris Davis

FEBRUARY 15, 1999: 

Peter began to pray … and in my mind I saw a picture of two people walking along a very narrow road. The road had steep cliffs on either side of it … suddenly they came to this huge wall built completely across the road … and as my point of view was shifted, and I was being drawn up, the wall was much higher than I ever thought it would be … [I] broke through a couple of clouds, and still there was the wall … I began to feel a sense of panic … it’s so huge! [Later] … I started laughing because I saw that the wall was not a wall at all! It was a huge box built in the middle of the road … and on the top was a huge bow!

–Tamara Lowe, wife of Motivation Guru Peter Lowe.

And the merchants of the Earth shall weep and mourn over [Babylon]; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.

–Revelation 18: 11

True Story: An impeccably dressed man in his mid- to late-thirties walked into my favorite haunt one afternoon. He bellied up to the table, offered his hand, his name, and, flashing a marble-melting smile, asked for mine in return. I forgot the stranger’s name instantly, though he pronounced mine a goodly dozen times, while explaining in knuckle-whitening detail the rapturous highs of being “three years ahead of his five-year plan.” The plan, as he made it abundantly clear, was “simple and elegant.” He intended to get filthy rich selling water-purification systems. He bragged about the day he traded in his old jalopy for a Mercedes convertible and gassed about the babes (goers all) it lured to his cozy Cordova hideaway. He mourned a devastating divorce, mentioned prayer on at least two occasions, and cautioned me about women, their wicked ways and willful wiles. Finally, complimenting my good sense and winning attitude, he winked, pointed, slipped me a business card, gave me a high-five and vanished without ever pitching his product, or buying so much as a cup of coffee. He wasn’t selling water purification that afternoon, though he was a Baptist of sorts offering up the idea of an Olympian lifestyle, and a simple, almost pristine religion. To know God, you must become (like God) all-powerful. The poor guy was so darn motivated, he never knew that his zipper was down.

Like a high-tech tent revival, master motivator Peter Lowe’s millennial medicine show will soon be docking at The Pyramid, offering Mid-Southerners with “eyes for the prize” (or at least a “five-year plan”) a new reason to keep on keeping on. Speakers ranging from former President George Bush to future quarterback of the decade Peyton Manning will be on hand to celebrate that ol’ sweet smell. Cranky talk-o-holic Larry King (live via satellite) will also offer encouraging words to rile the star-struck crowd into a frenzy of proactivity, while offering them glimpses into the heavenly world of unbridled success. Positive-thinking pundit and televangelic gregarian Zig Ziggler will shout charismatically, and various experts in sundry fields will condense their considerable expertise into concise, easy-to-understand catchphrases. It is suggested that King will comment on “Keys to Being Stimulated in a Boring Environment,” and “Why You Should Not Give Up After Seemingly Fatal Failure.” One can only hope that he will cite ex-wives and draw inspiration from his many failed marriages.

You might pick up a pointer or 12, maybe even discover a witty aphorism along the way, but don’t expect to learn the finer points of real-estate investment at a Peter Lowe extravaganza. Discreet skills are not what Success Seminars are about. They are arena scale edu-tainments featuring light shows, video screens, upbeat music, and big giveaways designed to get people fired up about themselves. They are irony-free zones offering chicken soup for the soul-less, and platitudes that sound like suicide notes. “There are two kinds of people in the world … Bang!” Sure, Manning might lob a couple of autographed balls into the crowd, but it is doubtful the balding pot-bellied “receivers” will ever win a Heisman trophy – no matter how enthusiastic they force themselves to become.

Infomercials on ice (without the ice, of course), Lowe’s all-day love-ins are designed to dazzle while spotlighting important issues like “Two ‘Foods’ You Should Never Eat,” “4 Keys to Living a Life of Exception,” “Seeing Through Life’s Greatest Illusion,” and (my personal favorite) “How to Be Happy While You Are Getting Rich” They are part Pentecostal pep rally, part personal affirmation, and part sales pitch, allowing the speakers opportunities aplenty to hock their books, cassette tapes, and assorted “success products.”

The premise behind such seminars is simple and elegant: people will fall all over one another to see the stars in person, hoping that greatness, like herpes, is catching. Lights pulse, and the music is intense and beat-heavy. Tony Robbins (giant of self-actualization) leans toward the hard-rocking Rush, while Lowe (the redheaded stepchild) has been known to use the disco staple “I’ve Got the Power.” Once the crowd is assembled and excited, the great motivators engage in cubist capitalism, practicing what they preach at the moment the preaching commences. Obliterating the line twixt walk and talk, they sell the wind, and get paid in advance. A. B. C.– Always Be Closing.

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