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Rhonda Byrne's Secret Scrolls

PM asks: "Do you have any info on 'The Secret Scrolls' by Rhonda Byrne. I have a friend who is believing this stuff and I have concerns." You have good reason to be concerned, PM. Rhonda Byrne is a multi-millionaire who has built her personal fortune by repackaging one of the oldest heresies in the Church - gnosticism. To put it simply, gnostics believe they have some kind of secret knowledge about God, humanity and the universe of which the general population is not aware. It can be traced back to the earliest days of the Church in a variety of sects that taught all kinds of novel beliefs about God and the world whose adherents tended to believe that salvation is achieved through relational and experiential knowledge rather than from the Truth of Jesus Christ. Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it? Modern day versions are popping up everywhere these days, from spiritual movements such as Scientology to novels like The Da Vinci Code - and Rhonda Byrne's runaway bestseller The Secret. " Without exception, every human being has the ability to transform any weakness or suffering into strength, power, perfect peace, health and abundance. . . .This is The Secret of life,” Byrne says on her website. (One would think that anything capable of doing all this would cost a little more than $12.99.) "You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings," she says, and promises to teach one The Secret which will help you "to become a powerful magnet for the creation of personal wealth." Her latest book, The Power, is a perfect example of gnostism. "At the point of creation, a great power was released  . . . this power is within everyone and everything. Those who harness the Power change the world . . ." (And Byrne makes this great Power available to us all for only $12.73!) The Secret Scrolls mentioned by PM are periodic email messages of "inspiration and sharings" from Byrne that are based on these concepts. "They are beautiful reminders written from the heart that will assist you in living the magic of The Secret." In one of these Secret Scrolls, Byrne advertises a book by Wallace D. Wattles (1860-1910) a popular "New Thought" writer whose 100 year-old book, "The Science of Getting Rich" she claims changed her life. She has now republished the work and is offering it for sale. In the same Scroll, she encourages people to recite The Optimist's Creed (written by another "New Thought" guru, Christian D. Larson) in which one promises themselves to be "so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind. I promise myself to talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet. I promise myself to make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them. I promise myself to look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true. . . . " This is vintage "New Thought," which is the forerunner of the modern New Age "human potential movement." As Johnnette explains in The New Age Counterfeit, the New Thought movement came to life during the 19th century and basically believes "that we can create our own reality by our thought process so 'what the mind can conceive the body can achieve'," she writes. "For the New Thought movement, the mind is god." Needless to say, Byrne's books and teachings are problematic from a Christian point-of-view. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the error known as gnosticsm in No. 285 . The Pontifical Document, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life defines New Thought as a 19th Century religious movement founded in idealism and a belief that "the basic reality was the mind. Since one's mind is what causes the events in one's life, one has to take ultimate responsibility for every aspect of one's situation." (Sec. 7.2) Obviously, this is not part of our belief system. Another aspect of the Rhonda Byrne story still needs to be told. Apparently, behind the scenes, Byrnes is just another New Age self-help guru who is making millions off the vulnerable. The August 23, 2008 cover story of The Australian's Weekend Magazine depicts the platinum-haired Aussie (who now lives in an exclusive California neighborhood just up the road from Oprah Winfrey) as someone who outwardly claims to be bringing "joy to the world" while hiding a history of hypocrisy and "ruthless double-dealing." According to this compelling article, Byrne's "secret knowledge" hasn't done much for her life. In fact, even other New Age gurus warn about her "secret." Paul Wilson, an Australian meditation teacher whose had phenomenal success in his own right, admits that when you're talking about the New Age self-help field, "there’s a lot of nonsense involved in it. A lot of it.” And he considers Byrne's books to be an excellent example. While he admires her marketing genius, “I just wouldn’t want people to stake too much of their mental health on the idea that there’s an ancient secret that will save them or make them happier.” This article is a must read for anyone like PM who has friends and loved ones who are buying into this garbage with the hopes of finding happiness and wealth. Send your New Age question to newage@womenofgrace.com

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