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Illuminated Prayers ()

Oprah's Book Club

    We think that because we dwell inside our bodies that we are separate from other people who dwell
    inside theirs.   Because our consciousness is tied to the physical manifestation of reality, we are tied
    to the belief in separation. The transformation from body identification to spirit identification is the
    purpose of our lives.    When we begin to see each other through what the metaphysician calls the
    third eye, we begin to know each other on a level that is beyond what our physical eyes can see. A
    mother can unite so wonderfully with her child and the level that separates them is as nothing. The
    same can be true of course for lovers and friends. All we are talking about here is getting to the
    point where everyone has that experience of oneness with everyone all the time. It is not easy, but
    one day it will be.
           -Marianne Williamson

New Age Spirituality is a big business these days and no one is bigger within that milieu than Marianne Williamson.  Not only has she received the Oprah imprimatur (for her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles in A Course in Miracles), she was also one of the self-help gurus summoned to the White House to counsel the Clintons.

Her beliefs, such as they are, derive from A Course in Miracles, the three volume work which Jesus Christ dictated to psychologist Helen Schucman between 1965 and 1972.  The Lord purportedly informed Schucman that we had all seriously misunderstood what he was trying to say and that there was no such thing as original sin, rather we are all innocent, having been created in God's pure love.  Thus, the following prayer from Williamson's book :

    Dear God,
    When they accuse me falsely,
    help them see the innocence in me.
    And when I judge, Lord,
    help me see the innocence in the.

And not only are we inherently innocent, the Course teaches that since we were created by God in this perfect state of innocence, evil is necessarily an illusion.

    Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist.

And, of course, since there is no such thing as evil in the world, there's no such thing as sin.  These things that we perceive as being wrong with the world are really just a function of our separation from God.  Once we reunite with God, return to this recognition of His love, evil and sin and all the rest will just disappear.

This is what Christ himself did.  He obviously did not die for our sins; how could he have if they don't exist ?  Instead, he became one with God, getting past all those illusions which separate the rest of us from sharing in this oneness.  Further Christ was not unique, nor the son of God; this path is open to us all.  Thus, this prayer ;

    Dear God,
    May the walls
    which keep me separate--
    from my brothers,
    my sisters,
    my self,
    and You--
    now melt.

    May the thoughts
    and feelings
    which keep me in hell,
    be dissolved

Bang ! Zoom ! Easy as that.  All we have to do is get rid of the bad thoughts and everything will be hunky dory.

No wonder this stuff is so popular.  It's really just the inevitable extension of radical egalitarianism into the spiritual sphere.  Since at least the time of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Left has been convinced that we are all essentially equal in talent, intelligence, etc. and that any differences that we perceive must be the product of artificial social barriers which grant certain people advantages, while holding back certain others.  The idea that there could be genuine and discernible differences between different people is anathema to this ideology, which has brought us such unfortunate remedies as socialism, communism, affirmative action, the graduated income tax, public schools, special education, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and so forth.  All of them intended to use the power of the state to try and impose equality of results where equality of opportunity has not produced the dreamt of egalitarian society.

The Course in Miracles and Marianne Williamson take on the final battle; they seek to convince us that we are all morally equal.  For if evil is an illusion, if none of our actions are important, if all that matters is the search for oneness, then man is no longer a moral being.  Forget all those Biblical admonissions--the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, the various covenants with God--Man is not actually required to bring his actions into conformity with God's will, he just has to stop thinking bad thoughts and he will be one with God.

This is so much more reassuring than the Judeo-Christian tradition, which teaches us that we must overcome sin before we can approach Godhood.  In one fell swoop they've disposed of all those annoying little rules that have bound our behavior all these thousands of years.  Best of all, since those rules are notoriously difficult to abide by, we don't have to hold ourselves responsible for violating them, since the evil they are intended to suppress is imaginary anyway.  No wonder the Clintons were so anxious to hear about this "religion"--it basically pardons all of your misbehavior.

And that is who this belief system is obviously intended for, folks who don't care to accept responsibility for their actions, who don't feel capable of leading moral lives and withstanding God's judgment.  The problem, of course, is that this moral egalitarianism is likely to be as counterproductive as has been the prior political and economic variety.  Treating the unsuccessful in society as if their failures were the fault of others, and then either transferring the wealth of others to them or creating a system of preferences to give them special advantage, has not served to lessen  inequalities of wealth.  If anything it actually retarded the progress of the underclass, which understandably became dependent on government and lost any sense of personal initiative.  The quest for economic equality ended up leading to greater inequality.

Similarly, if you teach people that evil does not exist, that their actions don't matter, and that all God really requires of them is that they recognize their own innocence and worthiness, you can predict the effects.  In fact, we see every day the effect of this denial of the reality of evil and de-emphasis on morality : this is hardly a society in which we are moving towards a greater oneness, towards some kind of mutual love.  Instead it is an increasing amoral and atomized society, one in which people refuse to accept that actions should have consequences and one in which people are reluctant to judge the behavior of others and refuse to have their own actions judged.

This is all extraordinarily dangerous.  Responsible people, regardless of their own religious faith, must resist this kind of expedient twaddle.  Evil exists.  Judeo-Christian morality is the basis of Western society.  The confluence of evil acts and standards by which to judge them imposes an obligation on all of us.  In the first instance we must each try to meet these exacting standards, but when we fail to do so we must be prepared to accept the judgment of our peers.  In turn, we must be prepared to judge others when they sin.  A world in which evil does not exist is certainly a desirable goal, but we won't get there by pretending it does not exist, nor by ignoring or excusing it when it occurs.


Grade: (F)


Book-related and General Links: (Author website)
    -Church of Today : Marianne Williamson, Spiritual Leader
    -Marianne Williamson '72 (Pomona College)
    -ESSAY : Dream the Dream  (Marianne Williamson, Tikkun, January 01 2000)
    -EXCERPTS : from books by Marianne Williamson (Spirit Site)
    -INTERVIEW : Online Noetic Network Interview with Marianne Williamson (HEALL)
    -INTERVIEW : with Marianne Williamson (August 27, 1997, The Book Report)
    -INTERVIEW : with Marianne Williamson (Veronica M. Hay, In Touch Magazine)
    -INTERVIEW : with Marianne Williamson (Michael Toms, New Dimensions)
    -ARCHIVES : Religion & Spirituality Chat Transcripts (Talk City)
    -ARCHIVES : "marianne williamson" (Find Articles)
    -PROFILE : Faith: Marianne Williamson Is Full of It : She is the high priestess of pop religion. Millions buy her books and tapes. Fans worship her. As for critics, she warns, "Laugh at all this at your emotional peril."  (Lynda Gorov, Mother Jones)
    -ESSAY : A Course In Miracles : A Biblical Evaluation (Russ Wise, Probe Ministries)
    -ESSAY : A course in brainwashing : Why do some Catholics feel they have something to learn from a 'New Age' gospel?  (Tracy Moran,
    -ESSAY : A NHNE Special Report:  A Course In Miracles (Robert Perry, New Heaven/New Earth)
    -REVIEW : of The Healing of America by Marianne Williamson (Margaret Talbot, New Republic)
    -REVIEW : of A Return to Love (Alan Jacobs, Weekly Standard)

    -Claudia Karabaic Sargent :   Fine Decorative & Realistic Illustration

    -ESSAY : Critic's Notebook; Beyond Iron John? How About Iron Jane? (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times, August 27, 1993)
    -ESSAY : Believe It or Not Spirituality is the new religion (Mother Jones)
    -ESSAY : In Oprah We Trust :  How America's most popular-and talented-talk-show host used the culture of victimization to build a billion-dollar empire.(David Skinner, weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY :  O no! : Oprah produces a deeply flawed magazine for the deeply flawed. (Lisa Moricoli Latham, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Christ in a New Age (Russ Wise, Probe Ministries)
    -ESSAY : Unity School of Christianity (Russ Wise, Probe Ministries)
    -ESSAY :   Saving the World (John P. Sisk,  First Things)
    -REVIEW : of The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil. By Andrew Delbanco (Walter Sundberg, First Things)