+JMJ+ Welcome to part 9 of the continuing series, Re-Reading the New Age, continuing our look at A Course In Miracles. This time I’m just going to randomly pull some quotes and then talk about them from my point of view as a Catholic. See copyright info for the text I’m using (the combined volume, 3rd Edition) in the notes and links at the end of the post. All lines set off in block-quotes are quotes whether or not there are quotation marks around them.
“The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”A Course In Miracles, Complete and Annotated Edition, by Jesus of Nazareth, Helen Schucman and William Thetford. Page 80. Note: That’s their assertion and printing that here implies no belief in the assertion whatsoever on my own part.
Fear is not the opposite of love. Fear can actually be part of love. The fear of God that the Bible speaks of is not abject groveling fear like the fear of Sauron that Grima Wormtongue has. Fear of God is proper respect, reverence and awe, realizing that there is a vast difference between God and ourselves and that vastness is so vast that the word vast hardly does it justice. But God is our Father, not our buddy and pal and we do well to fear Him and love Him, as is proper for a faithful son or daughter to do. I’m sure more about our status as sons and daughters will come up later. But somehow I don’t think our adoption will come up, or that it’s through baptism that it is brought about.
Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God..Ibid., 80
My first thought here was of a student saying to a Zen master that he had finally understood that he was not real, that nothing really exists. And then the Zen master hits him right in the kisser with his staff and says, “You don’t exist, huh? Then whose face hurts now?”
What is the peace of God? God created the world and all things in it and He created us to share in His Love and Life. He also set up a way for us to come to Him, to share that Love and Life. That’s what Christianity is, it’s the Way (that’s even what it was called in its early days, The Way) we come to know and love Him. It’s not about control, as religion is often misrepresented. It is about us learning to control ourselves, to discipline ourselves, in order for us to live in real freedom. Being a slave to one’s passions is not freedom. Living a life of constant frenetic activity, anything to be busy and distracted, is not freedom. Living a life of addiction to anything is not freedom. Christianity, the Way, is the way to get truly free of all that and become who we are meant to be: to become saints, fully ourselves, fully human, fully able to participate in the divine Life that is God’s. We won’t ever become God or gods. But we will share in the Life that God has. Because He wills it and He loves us. For God is Love. Knowing God and loving Him and knowing that one is loved by Him, this is peace. This is the peace of God.
Shalom also comes to mind. The true peace that comes from righteousness. From living in covenant with God and receiving the blessings of keeping that covenant. (More on covenant has been and will be covered in my Story of Salvation series.) The true rest that is meant to be had on the Sabbath, when the Lord rested from His work of creation. Covenant is built right into the very fabric of things, into the structure of the universe.
All of these words mean something deeper in Christianity than is usually meant in everyday speech. We’ve gotten so used to hearing the words that we barely notice them anymore. We’ve gotten so used to the words of the Bible or of preachers that we barely hear those anymore. I spent years learning to read, speak and think “New Age” and then I spent years learning to read, speak and think “Buddhism” and now I’ve spent years learning to read, speak and think Christianity—or Catholicism which I’ve learned is the same thing. And no matter what anyone tells you, that is the truth of it. Looking for authentic Christianity, full, not truncated? Then you’re looking for the Church, know it or not, admit it or not.
It took me years to realize that. And I fought it tooth and nail until I realized it was really was true and then I had no recourse but to refuse the truth or embrace it. I chose to embrace it. That’s what makes reading this New Age stuff so difficult for me now. For years I had to stay away from anything New Age-y because the allure was still too strong. But now it makes me ill. Physically ill.
Especially this A Course In Miracles stuff. It’s so twisted in its thinking that I have a hard time with it. It seems to be saying something but at the same time, to me it seems to be saying nothing. It wants to be profound, I can tell, but to me it seems empty. Take this line:
T-1.1.3 [Those numbers are the cumbersome way of referencing the text that the ACIM folks have come up with. This edition has them in the text. Not all editions do and it gets confusing.] “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”Ibid., 82.
Miracles occur naturally? What the heck does that mean? The whole point of a miracle is that it isn’t natural and cannot be naturally explained. This is meant to be profound, I’m sure, but it’s beyond imprecise and to me it means nothing. If everything is a miracle, then nothing is a miracle. And again:
T-1.I.6. Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong.
T-1.I.7. Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.Ibid., 83.
No, miracles are not natural, they are supernatural. That’s the point. And no one has a right to a miracle. God performs a miracle according to His Own Good Time and His Plan and Providence, but not because He owes it to us. It’s freely given to us because He loves us, not because He owes us.
T-1.I.8. Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.
T-1.I.9. Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.Ibid. 83-84.
Miracles are a kind of exchange? Of what? They reverse physical laws? That would leave miracles on the plane of physical laws. But miracles involve supernatural agency, God’s agency. We don’t perform them but God performs them by whatever means He chooses. Might be us. But it comes from God and through us, and that coming from God makes it super-natural. Otherwise we’re not talking about miracles at all but I-don’t-know-what.
T-1.I.10. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose.Ibid., 84.
Oops, sorry, Jesus, I guess you didn’t know what You were doing, performing all those miracles so that people would believe You were Who You said You were, and Who You are. Anytime I hear people say they understand what Jesus was doing better than He did, I have to raise my eyebrow and stop what I’m doing and turn and say, “Do you hear yourself? Do you hear what you’re saying? Can you say, hubris?”
The next several lines about miracles sound almost right to people, I’m sure, until they think about them. I hope they think about them.
T-1.I.19. Miracles make minds one in God. They depend on cooperation because the Sonship is the sum of all that God created. Miracles therefore reflect the laws of eternity, not of time.Ibid., 87.
This is a bizarre idea of what Sonship is. It’s not the “sum of all that God created.” Human persons can become (that’s right, can become) adopted sons and daughters of God by being baptized into Christ, receiving the true spiritual rebirth and regeneration that begins our life in Christ. But it doesn’t stop there. There is more than one rite of Christian Initiation. Baptism begins it. Then we need the Eucharist.
“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.”John 6:54 Douay-Rheims Bible, public domain.
There are three sacraments of Christian initiation: baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. All three are needed, like the three sides of a triangle. Without all three sides you may have something but it isn’t a triangle. This is how we enter into covenant with the Lord, this is how we are adopted into the Family of God. Baptism begins it but the journey goes on from that first step.
I can see people continuing in this course in alleged miracles and spending an inordinate amount of time not getting where they were meant to be getting. There are two directions in which we can move: toward God and away from Him. A Course In Miarcles may move someone closer to God, I imagine, if one has spent one’s life filled with hostility toward God. But I think it would more likely and ultimately move one further away. Especially if one depends on it for spiritual direction and nourishment. I just don’t see much of that in it.
I know I keep getting ahead of myself.
T-1.I.21. Miracles are natural signs of forgiveness. Through miracles you accept God’s forgiveness by extending it to others.”Ibid., 88.
Miracles are not natural signs of anything, they are supernatural or they are not miracles. And if you wait for a miracle as a sign of forgiveness, well, I think you might wait a long time. Now if you go to confession and receive absolution from the priest who is acting in persona christi then, yes, that is supernatural action in your soul, the life of grace being restored. And you can forgive others by, well, forgiving them. I think it would certainly help to have the life of grace in your soul in order to fully do that. There is action on a natural level but there is also action on a supernatural level. The Course does not make a distinction between these or where it does, it confuses them. And this to me is a sign of its danger.
Now I’m not saying this with bated breath and with my hair all on fire. It’s not my way. But I am saying that this Course is false. It’s a counterfeit way and that makes it dangerous. Life is too short to spend it on a way that gets you nowhere, or gets you somewhere where you probably don’t want to go.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
T-1.I.22. Miracles are associated with fear only because of the belief that darkness can hide. You believe that what your physical eyes cannot see does not exist. This leads to a denial of spiritual sight.
T-1.I.23. Miracles rearrange perception and place all levels in true perspective. This is healing because sickness comes from confusing the levels.”Ibid., 88.
Have I mentioned that the author (scribe, channeler, not sure what term to use) spent a lot of time when young hearing her mother read to her daily from Christian Science texts? And from her mother’s embrace of those ideas. (See A Still Small Voice, listed in the notes below.) Hence the claim in the Course that sickness is caused by the mind. Not saying there isn’t some truth to that, but it is not true to say that all sickness comes from the mind.
T-1.I.24. Miracles enable you to heal the sick and raise the dead because you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both. You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the creations of light are real.Ibid., 88-89.
More Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy. I may look at that later on but it’s not properly part of the New Age, even if it did influence its development in one way or another.
It’s hard to pick out troublesome quotes from the Course because almost every line is. It’s strange and twisted and distorted and puts one on a path that is not quite parallel with Christianity, and that means one is headed in a direction that seems near to it for a while but which sooner or later veers very far away indeed.
There is so much more but this is already quite long. I’ll end here. I don’t know if I will continue with this book any further. Maybe. I’m really not sure at this moment. I do think it’s important to point out these things, so I may keep at it. We’ll see.
In any case, thank you for reading this far and for visiting the blog! I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- All quotes are from A Course in Miracles, copyright ©1992, 1999, 2007 by the Foundation for Inner Peace, 448 Ignacio Blvd., #306, Novato, CA 94949, http://www.acim.org and firstname.lastname@example.org, used with permission. (I’m not linking to it, there are so many editions, and I don’t want to make a commission on it.)
- John 6:54 Douay-Rheims Bible, public domain. This is quoted from the Bible Gateway study site, very useful. Sign up for free, and you can take notes and more, and use Bible versions that are not in the public domain and are not always available elsewhere without a paid account.
- A Still Small Voice: Practical Guide on Reported Revelations, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel C. F. R. (beginning around Location 743 in the Kindle version.) Paperback used (various copies for sale), Kindle. (Amazon affiliate link, see Full Disclosure for more.)
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