A Course in Miracles
|A dime a dozen|
“”Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
|—Why can nothing real be threatened? Where is this peace? Fatuous quote from the book|
A Course In Miracles or just ACIM is a series of books allegedly written by Jesus himself, channelled through and edited by three clinical psychologists. It was originally published in a set of three volumes: A Course In Miracles, the main text; a Workbook for Students consisting of 365 meditation exercises; and a Manual for Teachers. These three separate volumes were later combined and published as a single volume. The text is of course divided into chapters and verses so the reader knows this is a scripture and not just another New Age book. These verses are also used by numerous small and independent study groups which often meet on a weekly basis to debate its meaning, whose students also seem to consider the book as their "scripture" for some strange reason.
The actual authors were Helen Schucman (1909–1981) and William Thetford (1923–1988), both professors of medical psychology at Columbia University in New York, who claimed it was written through dictation by an "Inner Voice" they identify as Jesus or the Holy Spirit. They also claimed to have been atheist or agnostic until that point when this "course" was miraculously dropped in their lap by Big J. A third psychologist, Ken Wapnick (1942–2013), later collaborated with Schucman and Thetford in the final editing of the pre-publication draft. and first published in 1976.
As with many things New Age, it promotes pantheism using Christian terminology and framing, mixed with a pick-'n'-choose approach to other religions and a great deal of what has since been popularized as the law of attraction. The stated aim of the Course is to bring about a complete "thought reversal" in the reader. Some, but not all of the themes laid out within the book are familiar ones as found in the New Thought movement. Notable themes within the book include:
- Love is more powerful, and more rational, than fear.
- Love is a state of awareness that is attainable by all.
- The physical world as perceived through our senses is an illusion.
- Truth is found in God/love and his/its unchanging laws, not in the belief that nothing beyond the physical world exists.
- God's truth must be experienced first hand, not merely believed in.
- We are all children of God, who is Love and Light, who can live through us.
- Our separation from God is an illusion. Forgiveness and atonement mean realizing our oneness with God, and with one another.
- etc., etc.
The introduction states, "it is not intended to become the basis for another cult," and no formal hierarchy, church, or claim of special authority (outside of being able to write a rather thick book about miracles) was ever established, endorsed, or made by its original authors and publishers. Still, some of these people did claim that it made them "happy". For reasons which they did not assert that they fully understood, these psychologists and publishers also claimed that some rather seemingly miraculous/serendipitous events appeared to be associated with the book, their "channeling" of its supposed supernatural author, and their publishing of the tome. They claimed that things like parking spaces in downtown Manhattan would occasionally seem to appear for them in important moments, and such nonsense.[note 1]
Oprah Winfrey is a big fan, surprise, surprise. In 2004, she had Marianne Williamson give a whole year's worth of radio lectures on the book through her “Oprah & Friends” radio channel. It billed itself as "spiritual psychotherapy" and "a psychological mind-training base on universal spiritual themes", while stridently claiming it wasn't a religion. Oprah also once quoted Williamson's commentary on book during an interview with musician Alicia Keyes; in this interview, ACIM is curiously described as "a self-study guide" in the brackets. Well, if Christians can get in on the "we're not a religion!" train, then New Agers can too. It doesn't make sense here either. Is A Course in Miracles simply another book in the Bible? None of the major Christian denominations (e.g. Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Church, etc.) accept it as such, so people who believe ACIM is part of the Good Book are essentially another Christian sect, not unlike Mormonism. Is A Course in Miracles meant to be a generic spiritual guide? It almost works (saying "Love is a state of awareness" is pretty generic, for one), but given its particular ideas on the physical world, it fails even in that regard. Heck, even the claim that the authors were channeling Jesus locks out the non-Abrahamic religions, to some extent.
- Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love, a commentary on A Course in Miracles
- Book of Mormon
- Urantia Book
- Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ
- Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God., Quotations Book
- A Course In Miracles, Preface, pg. viii
- Holy Mary Full of Grace, Help Me Find a Parking Space by Jill Fishman (02/06/2016) Catholic 365.
- Oprah and the New Age Christ by David Mikkelson (April 17, 2008) Snopes
- Oprah Winfrey and A Course in Miracles-Truth! by Rich Buhler & Staff (last updated April 3rd, 2008, republished March 17, 2015) TruthOrFiction.com
- Oprah Talks to Alicia Keys (September 2004) O, The Oprah Magazine