Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

The Real “Secret” Behind John Edwards Affair?

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.

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Daniel Crews

posted August 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm

A general criticism I have of The Secret is that there is no moral judgment over that-which-you-desire. As I understand it, if one were connected to God or the Universe (or whatever a given mystical system dictates) one would not have selfish desires. Manifesting a desire that strikes at the heart of a marriage and robs thousands if not millions of people of a moral icon is simply wrong.
That does not mean she did not manifest it. I firmly believe one can use the spiritual and physical laws of the universe for evil ends. Oprah should remind her loyal book readers that manifesting a fortune or a man or a new job is an action subject to moral behavior just like anything else.
I would extend this criticism to the Prosperity Gospel that asserts the claim that poor people in your life will attract poverty and so you need to dump them and get rich and powerful friends. I wonder how that hermeneutics sounds in the ears of Jesus Christ, who dined with sinners and tax collectors and encouraged us to treat the least of these as God in the flesh.

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posted August 11, 2008 at 2:37 pm

This Spiritual Social Commentary blog article by someone who knew Rielle in the early 1990’s explains the origin of her name and shares important lessons to be learned from this situation:

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Paul LOL

posted August 11, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Reille Hunter made a fool out of herself and stalked Edwards and he’s the bad guy? Now she claims that he’s the father of her child even though some other man claims parenthood. This is just a story for those who lust for gossip and like to read trash.
Edwards was wrong to get himself involved with this fruit cake and has hurt his family but I blame Reille more than him. She chose to stalk a man at his most vulnerable time and in the process damaged a family for her own self involved wasted life.
If the Religious Right can forgive a preacher who seeks out prostitutes, I guess we can forgive a politician who is trapped by a glory seeker.

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Brian Horan

posted August 12, 2008 at 1:44 am

Mr. Waldman,
Eckhart Tolle and a lot of New Thought/New Age folks are also into ‘A Course In Miracles’ which wouldn’t condone adultery. In fact, ‘A Course In Miracles’ talks about how this world is inherently flawed because of competing interests, such as those of a wife; a husband; and a mistress.
As far as I would intuit from ‘A Course In Miracles’, a marriage is a ‘special relationship’. That relationship’s exclusivity can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring both parties closer to God.
Please don’t try implicate Eckhart Tolle in all this. His teachings are to valuable for the world. Until Eckhart himself turns out to be like Evangelical leaders seeking prostitutes; doing drugs; promoting Republican war mongers and oil barons… leave him alone.
Daniel Crews,
Your point is well taken: “…Jesus Christ, who dined with sinners and tax collectors and encouraged us to treat the least of these as God in the flesh.”

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posted August 12, 2008 at 6:15 am

Waldman has a knack for writing the captions that turn on the search engines, I have to give him that. Secret and Edwards in the same phrase will get noticed.
But I’m quite sure Edwards existed in the universe before Rielle Hunter set the intention to manifest him. Unless I inadvertently manifested the story myself. Note to self: Stop manifesting subtle conservative attack pieces. Oh, darn, thinking about it manifests it.

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posted August 31, 2008 at 3:05 pm

There always has been, and I suppose there will always be, the age-old arguments of Fate verses Chance–the way events in our lives play out in relation to God’s plan or choices and/or decisions we make. For the Believer, it is Divine intervention verses the human will. For the Unbeliever, it may be fate verses chance.
In theological circles, the argument began with Arminian verses Calvin–that events (good or bad) are the outcome of the choices one makes based on Human Will verses events occuring solely according to God’s divinely appointed plan (“Pre-destination”) respectively.
The unbeliever may not attribute the events to God, but merely states that events in our life occur either as random occurrences of chance—a mere “roll of the dice”–or one’s destiny is based on the choices and decisions the one makes. Both the believer and unbeliever in God has the dilemma of deciphering whether the truth is somewhere in-between or at the ends of the spectrum.
For sure, one must be held accountable for one’s actions and not blame negative and destructive events on a divinely appointed fate or plan. However, not all actions are unforgivable–some are more easily pardonable (fornication and adultery) and others not as easily pardonable (murder and genocide).
Certainly, God doesn’t appoint sin in the life of a person. However, John Edwards is no different than any other married or unmarried man who falls with, and for, a woman in adultery or fornication—it is a sin that is forgivable–and for that we should thank God!

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posted September 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I had a desire to start my own commerce, but I didn’t have enough amount of money to do that. Thank God my colleague suggested to use the personal loans. Thence I used the college loan and realized my desire.

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