Rielle Hunter, with whom John Edwards had an affair, apparently was deeply into mystical spirituality. According to an account in Newsweek, she said she was drawn to Edwards because he was “an old soul” with “special energy,” according to a Newsweek account. What’s more, according to another eyewitness account by freelance writer Sarah Miller, she had decided several years ago that she was going “meet a rich, powerful man.”
How was she going to do that?
“I’m going to manifest it,” she said.
The idea that you can manifest your dreams has been a popular idea in Holistic Spirituality circles for a long time. But its biggest boost came from the hugely successful movie and book, The Secret, which taught that everything in your life is there because you brought it there — through the “law of attraction” — and that if you focus your intentions enough, you can make your dreams come true, too. (For an excellent perspective on the “hubris” of this approach see Valerie Reiss’s excellent piece on New Age attitudes toward cancer victims). There’s no evidence yet that Hunter watched or read The Secret but the language sounds the same.
Hunter seems to have had other New Age influences. Newsweek’s piece reports that she was influenced by Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now. Apparently, she was close to spiritual advisor named Robert McGovern, who arranged the motel meeting between Edwards and Hunter. The New York Times also speculates as to whether it was McGovern who may have tipped off the National Enquirer, which then sent a photographer.
We’ve certainly had many scandals in which grotesque religious figures fueled bad behavior. So far, this scandal isn’t good for the Holistic Spirituality world.