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Augustine's Work No Secret
By John Law

Published in Niagara Falls Review - Entertainment - Friday, March 16, 2007


Niagara author Sue Augustine doesn't need another book to tell her the 'secret' of success - she has been writing about it for 20 years.

But when that same book sells millions and becomes a pop culture sensation, she admits feeling a little numb. For the past few months, everywhere she turns she's faced with "The Secret," the massively successful DVD-turned-book which has readers hungry for self-help swarming book stores.

There's nothing secret about it, Augustine says. It's just wrapped up in a pretty package and sold as a "Da Vinci Code"-like mystery.

"My first reaction was disbelief that people could think this was brand new," she says. "I was in shock, being that this is my whole world. I've been speaking it, offering it and preaching it (for 20 years), and to have people think this is brand new ... it's just incredible."

Born in Niagara Falls (now living in St. Catharines), Augustine emerged from an abusive relationship and serious illness to write six self-help books. Her latest, "Turn Your Dreams Into Realities," offers 101 practical ways to change your mind set.Several of them are the same ideas and theories offered by "The Secret," which author Rhonda Byrne claims are philosophies only the most successful scientists and teachers have been privy to over the years.

Byrne, an Australian TV producer, says she found inspiration in the 93-year-old book "The Science of Getting Rich." She rounded up several teachers for a DVD and subsequent book, which caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.

After both talk show hosts devoted entire episodes to "The Secret," sales exploded.

But Augustine is worried about the underlying message behind "The Secret" - that the key to true success has been hidden from people for nearly a century.

The power of positive thinking isn't classified, says Augustine, whose writing has a heavy Christian slant.

"For me, the Bible was the very first self-help book. You can take almost every principle in 'The Secret' and relate it back to a biblical principle.

"And yet, if people were encouraged to go to church and hear this, they'd poo-poo the whole idea, right? 'Oh, I don't want religion. I don't want that churchy stuff ... but I do want these principles!'" Another concern for Augustine is the idea that simply wishing for something hard enough will make it happen. In "The Secret" DVD, a boy who craves a new bike cuts out a picture of it, wishes intensely and gets what he wants.

Newsweek writer Jerry Adler says the fixation of "The Secret" on materialistic goods is morally "deplorable," and caters to an unhappy middle class.

With a laugh, Augustine wonders if "The Secret" only works in certain countries.

"If these principles work the way (the book) says they're going to work - just speak it and envision it - is it also going to work in third world countries? If it doesn't work there, than that tells us something.

"They just want a clean glass of water once in awhile."

But Augustine doesn't begrudge the success of "The Secret" - in fact, many stores are positioning her latest book beside it.

In a way, I'm excited, because it's going to get people thinking along those lines. And I hope my book will get them back to the Bible and help them search the real truths there.

"I've always promoted that our greatest power is the one and only thing we've all been given complete, total control over - our power to choose. We choose our thoughts, our words, our responses to every situation, and those responses in turn create our outcomes."

But one sure sign of the popularity of "The Secret," and of other self-help books - more and more people are feeling spiritually defeated.

"I think people are recognizing that all of our efforts to create a great life have not done that well," says Augustine. "We're still all missing that third leg of the stool."



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