A Course in Miracles

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A Course in Miracles
ACIM3COVER.jpg
A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume, Third Edition as published by the
Foundation for Inner Peace.
Editor Helen Schucman, Bill Thetford, Ken Wapnick
Author Helen Schucman
Country United States
Language English
Subject Forgiveness
Genre Spirituality
Published 1976 (New York: Viking: The Foundation for Inner Peace)
2007 (The Foundation for Inner Peace, 3rd ed.)
Media type Softcover, hardcover, paperback MME, and Kindle, Sony and Mobipocket ebooks
Pages 1333
ISBN 978-1-883360-24-5 Soft cover
OCLC 190860865
Part of a series of articles on
New Thought

A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a book written and edited by Helen Schucman, with portions transcribed and edited by William Thetford, containing a self-study curriculum of spiritual transformation. It consists of three sections entitled "Text", "Workbook" and "Manual for Teachers." Written between 1965 and 1972, some distribution occurred via photocopies before a hardcover edition was published in 1976 by the Foundation for Inner Peace.[1] The copyright and trademarks, which had been held by two foundations, were revoked in 2004[1] after a lengthy litigation because the earliest versions had been circulated without a copyright notice.[2]

Schucman believed that an "inner voice", which she identified as Jesus, guided her writing.[3][4]

Throughout the 1980s annual sales of the book steadily increased each year, however the largest growth in sales occurred in 1992 after Marianne Williamson discussed the book on The Oprah Winfrey Show,[1] with more than two million volumes sold.[1] The book has been called everything from "New Age psychobabble",[5] "a Satanic seduction",[1] to "The New Age Bible".[6]

Origins[edit]

A Course in Miracles was written as a collaborative venture between Schucman and Thetford. In 1965 Schucman began her professional career at a medical center as Thetford's research associate.[7] After a time of their weekly office meetings becoming more contentious, Thetford concluded that "There must be another way."[8] Schucman believed that this speech acted as a stimulus, triggering a series of inner experiences that were understood by her as visions, dreams, and heightened imagery, along with an "inner voice" which stated that it was Jesus. She said that on October 21, 1965, she believed that the "inner voice" told her: "This is a Course in Miracles, please take notes." Schucman said that the writing made her very uncomfortable, though it never seriously occurred to her to stop.[9] The next day, she explained the events of her "note taking" to Thetford. To her surprise, Thetford encouraged her to continue the process. He also offered to assist her in typing out her notes as she read them to him. The transcription the next day repeated itself regularly for many years to come. In 1972, the dictation of the first three sections was completed but the dictation of the last two sections of the material lasted until November 1977.[10]

Kenneth Wapnick helped edit the book and founded the Foundation for A Course in Miracles

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a Roman Catholic priest who had studied under Thetford and worked with Schucman, arranged an introduction of Kenneth Wapnick to Schucman and Thetford in November 1972. Groeschel was given a copy of the ACIM manuscript in 1973 and testified that he was instructed by Schucman not to distribute the manuscript; however, with Schucman's permission, he made it available to Wapnick. Wapnick then reviewed the draft and discussed, with Schucman and Thetford, further revisions that he felt were needed in order to place the book in its final copyrighted and published form. Thetford then made a few further editorial decisions and stipulations about the "Principles of Miracles" section, and soon afterwards opted to withdraw from being directly involved with any further major edits to the material. Wapnick and Schucman continued to edit the manuscript by deleting personal material intended only for Schucman and Thetford, creating chapter and section headings, and correcting various inconsistencies in paragraph structure, punctuation, and capitalization.[11] This editing process was completed by approximately February 1975. Wapnick subsequently became a teacher of ACIM, a co-founder and president of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM), and a director and executive committee member of the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP).

Content of A Course in Miracles[edit]

The primary texts of the philosophy propounded by A course of Miracles consists of the 622-page textbook, a 478-page workbook, and 88-page teacher's manual - all authored by Schucman, who stated that she was channeling Jesus Christ. Its teachings are close to that of New Thought, and were further developed by authors such as Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick, Marianne Williamson and Tara Singh and the organized movements that grew from it.[12]

A Course In Miracles posits that the separation of an individual, and humanity, from God is an illusion sustained through a sense of guilt and shame. The miracle of its title refers to a "shift in perception" that gets rid of this illusion and allows one to recognize one's divine nature. The course teaches that the path to this realization is through forgiveness of oneself and others, though people may need external guidance to develop this ability and awaken to a more meaningful life.[12]

Publication of FIP editions[edit]

Criswell Freeperson Press Edition

The Foundation for Inner Peace was originally called the Foundation for Para-Sensory Investigations, Inc. (FPI), and was founded on October 21, 1971, by Robert Skutch and Judith Skutch-Whitson as a non-profit organization. Robert Skutch was a businessman and writer, who for many years had been a writer of television plays and advertising copy. Skutch-Whitson was a teacher and lecturer at New York University on the science of the study of consciousness and parapsychology.

Douglas Dean was a physicist and engineer and also a friend of Skutch-Whitson. On May 29, 1975, Dean introduced Skutch-Whitson to Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnick. Soon afterwards, the three of them decided to share the ACIM materials with Skutch-Whitson.

A limited 300 edition release of the first three sections of the book were published and did not contain a copyright notice.

In June 1976 the four of them authorized the publication of the FIP's first edition, the first three sections of ACIM were published in a set of three hardcover volumes in a 5,000 copy run, along with the publication of the supplemental booklet Psychology: Purpose, Process, Practice. The up-front printing costs for this edition were partially paid for with the help of a donation from Reed Erickson.

In 1985, FIP began publishing a single volume containing all three of the first books in single soft-cover volume.

In 1992, FIP published its second edition, a hardcover edition. This revision incorporated some minor changes within the first three sections including some editorial content additions and the addition of a verse-numbering system, as well as addition of the "Clarification of Terms" section. At this time, FIP also released the publication of the supplemental Song of Prayer booklet.

In 1995, FIP entered a five-year printing and distribution agreement, which expired in December 2000, with Penguin Books for $2.5 million.

In 1999, control of the copyrights were transferred to FACIM as headed by Wapnick.

In 2004, due to the discovery of the issuance of a copyright, copyright restrictions on the first three sections of the book were removed, however the copyright restrictions on the last two sections remained in place.

In 2007, FIP began publication of its third edition, combining the two earlier booklets, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, Practice and The Song of Prayer, as a new "supplemental" section in its third edition.

Reception[edit]

Since it first went on sale in 1976, the foundation claims that over 2.5 million copies of A Course in Miracles have been sold worldwide.[citation needed] The text has been translated into 22 languages.[13] The book is distributed globally, forming the basis of a range of organized groups.[14]

Wapnick said that "if the Bible were considered literally true, then (from a Biblical literalist's viewpoint) the Course would have to be viewed as demonically inspired".[15] Although a friend of Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnik, Catholic priest Benedict Groeschel has criticized ACIM and the related organizations. Finding some elements of ACIM to be what he called "severe and potentially dangerous distortions of Christian theology", he wrote that it is "a good example of a false revelation"[16] and that it has "become a spiritual menace to many”.[17] The evangelical editor Elliot Miller says that Christian terminology employed in ACIM is "thoroughly redefined" to resemble New Age teachings. Other Christian critics say that ACIM is "intensely anti-Biblical" and incompatible with Christianity, blurring the distinction between creator and created and forcefully supporting the occult and New Age world view.[18]

ACIM has been the basis for a number of public speakers such as Marianne Williamson, Gabrielle Bernstein and also spiritual leaders such as Jon Mundy's Interfaith Fellowship.[2]

The skeptic Robert T. Carroll criticizes ACIM as "a minor industry" that is overly commercialized and characterizes it as "Christianity improved", saying its teachings are not original and suggesting they are culled from "various sources, east and west".[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Miller, D. Patrick (2011-11-23). Understanding a Course in Miracles: The History, Message, and Legacy of a Spiritual Path for Today. Random House LLC. ISBN 9780307807793. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Beverley, James (2009-05-19). Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions: A Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions of the World. Thomas Nelson Inc. pp. 397–. ISBN 9781418577469. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "About the Scribes". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  4. ^ Foundation for Inner Peace. (1992). A Course In Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 0-9606388-9-X. 
  5. ^ Boa, Kenneth; Bowman, Robert M. (1997). An Unchanging Faith in a Changing World: Understanding and Responding to Critical Issues that Christians Face Today. Oliver Nelson. ISBN 9780785273523. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  6. ^ The Imminent Heaven: Spiritual Post-Metaphysics and Ethics in a Postmodern Era
  7. ^ Helen Schucman's Career
  8. ^ Helen Schucman: Autobiography, in "Origins of A Course in Miracles" 3:27-28. Foundation for Inner Peace Archives, Tiburon, CA (cited hereafter as FIPA). 
  9. ^ Skutch, Robert. Journey Without Distance: The Story Behind A Course in Miracles. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 1984, p. 58.
  10. ^ Final Dictation of The Song of Prayer
  11. ^ "The Story of A Course In Miracles = Documentary where Bill Thetford, Helen Schucman, and Ken Wapnick talk about A Course In Miracles". Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  12. ^ a b Melton, J. Gordon, ed. (2001). "A Course in Miracles". Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Vol 1 (5th ed.). Thomson Gale. pp. 346–347. 
  13. ^ "ACIM Translations". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  14. ^ Bradby, Ruth, "A course in miracles in Ireland". 147 - 162 in Olivia Cosgrove et al. (eds), Ireland's new religious movements. Cambridge Scholars, 2011
  15. ^ Dean C. Halverson, “Seeing Yourself as Sinless”, SCP Journal 7, no. 1 (1987): 23.
  16. ^ Groeschel, Benedict J., A Still Small Voice (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 80
  17. ^ Groeschel, Benedict J., A Still Small Voice (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 82
  18. ^ Newport, John P. (1998). The New Age movement and the biblical worldview: conflict and dialogue. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-4430-9. 
  19. ^ Carroll, Robert Todd (2003). The skeptic's dictionary: a collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-27242-7. 

External links[edit]