A Return to Love

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A Return to Love
Paperback 1993
AuthorMarianne Williamson
Publication date
299/.93 20
LC ClassBP605.C68 W56 1996

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (1992) is the first book by author Marianne Williamson, and concerns the 1976 book A Course in Miracles. It was a New York Times Best seller.


A Return to Love spent 39 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list in 1992.[1] A decade later, A Return to Love was credited as being one of the two books that helped bring New Age perspectives to the American mainstream.[2]

Twenty years after her first appearance with the book, Williamson was interviewed again by Oprah Winfrey in July 2012, this time in a Super Soul Sunday (OWN TV) episode titled, "20 Years After A Return to Love".[3] Robert Todd Carroll, of The Skeptic's Dictionary, writes, "Williamson might be called Oprah's patron saint. She's all about love and healing, yin and yang, being wounded, and using love and prayer to heal all wounds." A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course In Miracles (1992) was number one on the Publishers Weekly non-fiction best-sellers list for 11 weeks.

Williamson promoted her book and ACIM when she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, an episode that received more pro viewer mail than any other show for 1992. She also spoke of the book, and the course when she was interviewed by Barbara Walters on the ABC television news show 20/20.[4]


Writing in Commentary, John Podhoretz described Return to Love as "almost unspeakably tasteless" in its blithe misappropriation of concepts central to the world's major religions. The book is framed as a series of commentaries on the 1976 book, A Course in Miracles. In Podhoretz's judgment, "A Return to Love is a work of surpassing vulgarity in a surpassingly vulgar field," that, nevertheless "offers both sound and surprisingly moving advice." Readers are advised to seek meaning in something larger than themselves, to get over the issues of their past, and, in Podhoretz's phrasing, to act on "wisdom from your grandmother, expressed in sugarcoated cliches: Always look on the bright side. If God gives you lemons, make lemonade."[5]

"Our deepest fear"[edit]

A passage from the book has become popular as an inspirational quote:

The passage was paraphrased in the 2005 film Coach Carter and the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee.

It is often said of Nelson Mandela that he incorporated these words in one of his inaugural speeches, or even that he was the author of the passage, but AETW[6] and a New York Times op-ed contributor[7] say neither is true. Williamson herself is quoted as saying,

As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people.[6]


  1. ^ "BEST SELLERS: November 29, 1992". The New York Times. November 29, 1992. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Publisher's Weekly September 1, 2003
  3. ^ "Oprah and Marianne Williamson: 20 Years After A Return to Love". OWN TV, Super Soul Sunday. July 29, 2012. Retrieved 2013-12-30.[dead link]
  4. ^ Skeptics Dictionary ACIM listing Retrieved June 30, 2006
  5. ^ John Podhoretz (August 1992). "Religiosity Lite -- A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles" by Marianne Williamson". Commentary. 94 (2).
  6. ^ a b "That famous speech that Nelson Mandela never gave". Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  7. ^ Morton, Brian (August 29, 2011). "Falser Words Were Never Spoken". NY Times.