Is There A Urantia Cult?

I’m on record regarding the Urantia Book as being relatively harmless. I’ve read parts of it, found other parts too dense and fantastic. The people I know who work closely with the text are uniformly kind and reverential and almost always happy. They like talking about the many aspects of Urantia, but they aren’t especially evangelical about it.

So I tend not to think of there being any kind of Urantia cult. Do I understand the inclination of some people to see it that way? I guess so. But the Urantia Foundation is a pretty solid and grounded group. And while the Urantia papers can seem wild and crazy, think for a moment on traditional Christianity. A guy gets killed and three days later walks out of the tomb where he was buried?

There is an unfortunate trend of taking anybody who is passionate about religion and spirituality and – if the object of their devotion is obscure, as the Urantia book tends to be – calling them a member of a cult. If that’s true, then Christianity started life as a cult.

But isn’t there a whole Urantia book hoax aspect to this? Aren’t believers in Urantia being led around by the nose?

I think the best thing any critic can do is take a look at the source. You can start reading the Urantia book online (and you can get a Urantia book pdf too). Why not read it? If it works for you, then take another step. Talk to somebody who is really trying to bring its truths into application.

If it doesn’t work, then shuffle off to the next spiritual enterprise.

Am I saying that there aren’t people out there who are over the top when it comes to Urantia? Sure there are. There are Buddhists like that, too. And Shintoists. And ACIM students who can’t stop trying to get everyone to join the club.

But we need to do two things. First, let’s not define the whole on the basis of one perceived part. And second, let’s actually decline to judge experiences that we haven’t had. If you want to knock Urantia, then get the text and start reading it. Everyone should try it. As channeled texts go, it’s entertaining and diverse. Parts of it are absolutely inspired. Other parts feel like poorly written science fiction or fantasy.

And doesn’t that just sound like another book you know?

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ACIM Urtext

On reading (and re-reading) the ACIM Urtext . . .

There is considerable debate in the ACIM community about which version of the text and workbook students should use. While the overarching conflict is not important, the version that we choose does in fact matter, largely because we want to be sure that we use one that works for us. As Ken Wapnick said at some point, you should read the edition that makes you feel less guilty.

(Note: Robert Perry’s thoughts on the editing of A Course in Miracles are thorough and relatively balanced. They are worth reading as one works through their own relationship with the ACIM material).

We all know the outline, right? Helen Schucman channeled what she called “The Voice” – which is transparently Jesus – wrote down in shorthand what it said and then dictated it to Bill Thetford who typed it up. There were several subsequent edits in the years that followed. Other people got involved in the editing and public dissemination – Ken Wapnick, Judith Skutch. Organizations sprung up – some ordained by Helen, some not – each with their own thoughts and ideas about A Course in Miracles. There was a lawsuit.There was wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Long story short? There are now several apparently different texts available to students.

I say “apparently different” because in my experience none of the version are substantially different from one another. The fundamental message remains the same. The world is a projection of fear and guilt, a result of our mistaken belief in separation and our habit of listening to ego. We can choose to listen instead to the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to align our will with God’s Will and, in doing so, learn that there is only one Will and that Creation has no opposite (W-pI.138.2:1). We remember our shared interest with our brothers and sisters which in turn translates to the Peace of Heaven.

From this vantage point, it really doesn’t matter what version of A Course in Miracles we choose. They all share the same underlying message: we are innocent, and in our innocence is our salvation.

Also, most Course students have the experience at one point or another of realizing that they have to go beyond the text and workbook. These too are symbols of the separation and although they point the way back to God, they are not in and of themselves substitutes for God. The last lessons of the ACIM workbook are “as free of words as possible” in order that we might “seek to go beyond them.”

The Urtext is the first typewritten draft – it reflects what Helen Schucman dictated to Thetford. It is personal to the point of private, which was one of the primary reasons Ken Wapnick encouraged students not to read it. It was neither ready for – nor, according to Wapnick and other early ACIM practitioners, intended for – publication. Indeed, reading it does give one the sense that they are peering into a therapy session between Jesus, Helen and Bill.

If you are going to steer clear of the ACIM Urtext – or feel called to steer clear of it – that’s probably the best reason. It simply wasn’t intended to be shared that way. It arose as a site of healing between Helen and Bill and only subsequently reached a state where the audience could broaden. Both Helen and Bill seemed to feel – at least according to material that I’ve read (summarized, in an admittedly one-sided way here) – that it was meant to be revised before going public. Why not respect their wishes?

Yet for all of that, reading the Urtext does have its benefits. For one thing, as Robert Perry has correctly pointed out, it abounds in specifics. If you are curious about the meaning of a particularly abstract phrase or idea, chances are the Urtext has some examples or additional language that will help clarify it. This is especially true of the early chapters, which were the ones most subject to revision (a lot of that material was eventually excised, reordered or rewritten).

For me, the value of the so-called Urtext is in the way it makes clear that A Course in Miracles is meant to be practiced. It was meant to be lived, to be brought into application, and its application was nontrivial. When asked for an example of course principles being lived out in the world, Helen named Mother Theresa. The course is meant to be used in the world – we are called to be messengers of love and healers in a deeply pragmatic, even radical, way.

Some of the ACIM Urtext is confusing – or a little too intimate. It talks, for example, about sexuality and encourages miracle workers to give considerable attention to this area of their living. Seeing the body as a means for pleasure in any way is to indulge the ego – unless we can fix the underlying error (e.g., the belief that we are bodies). So long as we are sexually active, then spiritual sight remains all but impossible. This reflects details about the sex lives of Helen and Bill (which neither wanted to share with us), and feels overtly conservative and judgmental (reflecting, clearly, Helen and Bill’s sexuality). Like eating, sex is a use of the body that few of us want to compromise or surrender. The canonical text (published by the Foundation for Inner Peace) is silent on this issue.

So, arguably, the Urtext helps us to flesh out this important idea.

The other issue that one has to consider when reading the Urtext is the degree to which the teachings of Jesus need any editing. If the voice that Helen heard was Jesus of Nazareth, then why make any alterations? Reasonable people can certainly ask why the ACIM urtext was edited. Why did Ken step in and edit it? It’s true that those typewritten notes indicate that some material needs to be removed because it’s intended solely for Helen and Bill, but that’s actually a pretty small percentage. What about the rest? I think this is what motivates a lot of Ken Wapnick’s critics, the sense that he overstepped by effectively editing Jesus Christ.

But if you are close to that material, then you are less likely to challenge the need to edit it – which is a separate question from the quality of the actual editing. The early chapters of the first edition are sort of . . . clumsy. It’s true there are some real gems tucked in there, but by and large it reads like a first draft. Whatever channel Helen was using to reach Jesus, it was a bit clogged. And so you get the wisdom but it’s compromised. In this sense – over and above the personal material – editing was obviously called for. Personally, I think Ken did a fine job – I doubt I could have done better. When we make more of that issue – defending this or that edition, this or that teacher – then we are indulging the ego and using the history of the writing and editing to keep us from practicing the very healing ACIM offers us.

In other words, I don’t think it matters which edition of A Course in Miracles you choose. Or rather, it’s not actually possible to pick the wrong one. I still prefer the FIP edition. Yet my understanding of the course has been undeniably enhanced by reviewing the earlier versions, including the Urtext. Pick one that works for you (what works is what’s helpful) and then stick to it. Even Ken acknowledged in his defense of the FIP edition, we should never feel guilty for reading a different version.

The question is what is it for – why are you reading the course? Why are you leaning into the conflict around which edition to read? We are here to be healed of fear, and guided by the Holy Spirit – the light in our mind that was in the mind of Jesus as well – to love. Don’t shake off what helps. Let it do its work, and you do yours. Read, listen and love. What else is there?

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Circle of Atonement

This post is about the organization Circle of Atonement. This post is about the course section of the same name.

The Circle of Atonement is an organization of teachers and students devoted to the practice of A Course in Miracles. My first encounter with them was through the controversy surrounding Gary Renard and his ascended masters. My sustained impression of the group, however, is one of love and helpfulness.

I’ve said before that one of the early and helpful ACIM-related texts that I read was Gary Renard’s The Disappearance of the Universe. Finding it useful, and being curious, I googled Renard and discovered that there were all sorts of people asking questions about him. Was he a scam artist? Were Arten and Pursah just a clever marketing gimmick or genuine ascended masters? How did Jesus fit into it?

Those who want conflict will find it, of course, and find conflict I did. And, I confess that I indulged it some, too – it’s sad how much time we can spend in what really amounts to little more than gossip. But there were two things that came out of that experience that I really valued. The first was that I learned an important lesson. Or rather, I re-learned a course lesson through application. The course encourages us to always ask “what is it for?” (T-24.VII.6:1)

That question is deeply related to the admonition that we not “value what is valueless” (W-pI.133.13:4).

After I was done dredging the mud about Gary Renard’s divorce, bad jokes and background as a freelance investment and business master, I remembered to ask what his book was for. Why was I reading it? What was my goal – truth or conflict?

The answer was not especially hard to find. For me, reading Gary’s book – and all the texts I read with respect to ACIM – was to help my slowly-evolving appreciation, understanding and application of A Course in Miracles. Disappearance did that wonderfully. I haven’t worried about Gary Renard’s personal life since.

Set the goal for truth, use what is helpful, discard what is not, and trust God. It really can be that simple.

The other thing that came out of that experience – somewhat related to the first – was that I discovered the Circle of Atonement. As noted, they were early on involved in the Renard controversy. But to see that group solely in the light of Renard and that (somewhat subsided now) controversy around his work would be a mistake. COA is a helpful and substantive resource for serious students of A Course in Miracles.

I add, however, this caveat: they are not the only helpful and substantive resource. There are a lot of study groups, teachers and organizations out there. Finding one that is helpful to us can be a valuable use of our time and attention. It’s true we can become distracted by teachers – finding the right one, denigrating others, second-guessing our judgment and so forth. But on balance, the abundance of guidance available is a blessing.  Ken Wapnick, who was often conflated with the course as a sort of de facto pope, was fond of pointing out that A Course in Miracles had no pope. There is no one single custodian of love and forgiveness, just as there is no one single form of the “universal curriculum.”

I learned several helpful things reading through the material at Circle of Atonement. It was an early example of alternative approaches to the courwse – that is, approaches that could be distinguished from Ken Wapnick’s and the Foundation for Inner Peace and so forth. I am not as bothered by Ken’s role in the course community as some folks are, but it was still interesting to realize there were other ways of viewing the course material. In a sense, my openness and receptivity with respect to Tara Singh was grounded in part on this understanding that what works is what’s helpful, rather than what someone else insists in the only way something works.

I intend no disrespect to anyone here – not to public teachers or their teachers. I am grateful for the help they offer and view forgetting their apparent mistakes and aggressions and so forth as essential to my practice of forgiveness. People – including those at the Circle of Atonement are having powerful, life-changing experiences without having been involved with the course’s inception or otherwise hewing to its institutional founders. These guys – notably Robert Perry, Greg Mackie and Allen Watson – are powerfully committed to teaching the Course. Their lives are given to it. Even if I am not always on board with this or that particular aspect of their teaching (and I am not!), their authenticity and willingness to help is palpable.

It was – it remains- an effective witness to the transformative potential of A Course in Miracles.

I remain impressed by how much material Robert Perry and his students share via their website. Like the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, there are enough articles, links, interviews, classes and workshops to last a lifetime.  I became motivated to reflect on how I might do something similar with own study and practice. I am a teacher and a writer by both training and calling; linking that up with ACIM seemed natural and positive. Circle of Atonement was a tangible – and inspiring – model for how to share and how to learn by sharing.


By way of addendum: as I mentioned earlier, the brouhaha over Renard and his work has largely fallen away. More and more people seem to just accept the ways in which he can be helpful for some students and stand down from arguments about whether he’s telling the truth or not. Again, those who long for conflict will find it. But even when we do find it, it can – when given to the Holy Spirit – be an opportunity for forgiveness. In the end, neither Gary nor Robert Perry and the good teachers and students of Circle of Atonement should be viewed in the light of conflict. That’s not what they’re about. And really, neither are you and I.


By way of further addena, Robert Perry has released A Course in Miracles Complete & Annotated Edition, advertised as a restoration of the original work to the maximal degree possible (their website is down; I can’t link to a noncommercial overview of the project). Perry relies on Helen’s notes and believes this version will “allow the Course’s true meaning and character to shine through a little more clearly” and thus help students to “better see the Course for what it is, relate to it as it is, and apply its profound truths to their lives.”

I haven’t read this edition; I don’t feel especially called to read it. I’ve touched on my concerns about whether Helen or Jesus wrote the course and which version of A Course in Miracles one should read.

Although over the years I have stopped following Robert Perry’s work closely (somewhat the way I no longer follow Gary Renard’s work closely), I still consider him a thoughtful and devoted student of the course. It seems odd that a book which has been around for half a century and become – in Perry’s words – a “spiritual classic” should require revision that it’s “true meaning and character” might be revealed, but what do I know?

Letting Go of Anger

Anger is one of  the more debilitating experiences one can have. It is not without its place, but when it is not understood – or when it is give more time and energy than it merits – the results can be very painful. Letting go of anger – through understanding and through conscious choice – allows us to be more peaceful and helpful people.

A few weeks after my daughter was born I woke up before dawn and went downstairs to bake bread and write. I sat there in the kitchen of our house, drinking tea, typing away on a computer. I remember very vividly the sense of peace and creativity in that moment. It was very quiet, very potent. While the bread rose, I wrote a poem entitled “My Daughter’s One Month Birthday” that was later published in the Chiron Review.

Baking bread at 4 a.m. –
sliced olives tossed in oil –
my old friend anger
watching me from the corner.

That was in many ways a sad poem for me, but it was also an important one. It acknowledged the fundamental health of the moment – baking bread, writing – but took due note of the fact that anger was there waiting. It was not the poem of a healed man, but a man being given a brief respite.

We have to see this about ourselves – we cannot pretend we are without flaws. It is only by being willing to see ourselves as broken that we can turn with any meaning to the one who can heal us.

Unfortunately, there is often a gap between seeing the problem and having it forgiven. Coping with anger is more than just figuring out where and in what way one can be angry. A more radical healing is called for.

When I was a kid, I was known for two things. My eloquence and anger. I could talk circles around anybody – well, almost anybody – but I was also highly sensitive. The slightest thing could set me off.

When I reflect on it, anger felt like a muscle that I was always flexing. It was an energy field from which I drew a lot of sustenance. I don’t know why. It seems like at some point in childhood I just suddenly had this presence with me, as if I had acquired a friend that I could not see, yet trusted completely. Anger had my back. Does that make sense? The poem I wrote makes this clear – anger is “an old friend.”

I won’t say anger is good – I won’t. Though my own anger rarely manifested in physical ways (though on a couple of occasions it did), it still hurt people. I said stupid things to people that I loved. I behaved like an idiot – walking out of important conversations, not returning phone calls. Anger is protective, of course, but at the cost of destruction. It wants to ruin what it thinks will hurt its host and it has no capacity for long-term thinking. Anger always surges into the Now but like a tempest, a bull.

Anger doesn’t want to ask questions and it doesn’t want to be questioned. It wants to create a space in which one can be safe. But it never really works because it never addresses the fear that is driving it, that is creating the apparently dangerous situation. So we end up in a perpetual cycle of fear and anger and fear and anger.

So letting go of anger matters. Anger is the barbed edge of fear. There’s no point in trying to understand it otherwise. I’ve certainly been a beneficiary of talk therapy over the years, and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from giving it a go, but there’s going to come a moment when it’s you and your fear. Anger promises to help – that’s what anger says, I’ll take care of you. I’ve got your back. It’s like the parent you never had, or wish you had.

Letting go of anger means saying no to it. Literally feeling its rush to the fore and pushing it back. No thanks. Not this time. You aren’t powerless before your anger, no matter how strong and intense and massive it might seem. You made it. Don’t ask why because why doesn’t matter. Whatever it was for back in the day, you can’t get back. What worked for you when you were five, or eight, or ten, or sixteen, won’t work now. Let it go.

There is another way.

That way has to do with facing the fear that you scarred over with anger. The fear isn’t real, either. You made that, too. You will have to let it go as well. But before you get there, you have to give up your anger. You don’t need the protection any longer. What you are cannot be hurt or injured, because it is abstract and spiritual, and eternal. It doesn’t matter if you believe that or don’t believe it. Right now – this minute – it’s all in your head. You are making it all up as you go. Letting go of anger and resentment can seem impossible but it’s easy.

It’s okay. We can see this, too. We can let this be healed, too.Habitual emotional responses don’t go away easily, though. They surface and recur. They sometimes find new channels, as if they don’t want to be forgotten or abandoned.

The relationship between the fear and the anger is not always rational – in fact, sometimes it’s irrational. Try not to judge this – but simply let it be. Assume that somewhere in your psyche or consciousness you created a link. If it seems foolish in the light, well, okay. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. That doesn’t mean we can’t take it seriously in the interests of healing it.

Sometimes it was helpful for me to say something like, Okay. I’m not seeing the fear here that’s causing the anger. Where would someone else see it? Where – or what – could it be, if it could be anything?

Other times, I simply had to trust that – even though I couldn’t identify the fear – it was still there. Even if all I could do was acknowledge fear, it still helped to defuse the anger.

Another trick I learned  to help undo the immediate effects of anger was to focus on my breath. One of the things that happened to me when I was angry was I stopped breathing – or breathed in a very quick and shallow manner. This kind of breathing fuels the body’s sense that it needs to either fight or take flight – and that, too, keeps the anger vital and alive.

When I concentrated on breathing properly – even for just a few moments – it helped. The physical intensity of the moment decreased and I was able to think a bit more clearly. If there is something that needs to be done – a decision to be made or something, we can do it better from a place of relative calm.

So what I am saying is that we need to be willing to see fear differently. That’s it. That’s enough. Just let the fear be – you don’t have to defend yourself, don’t have to attack it, don’t have to understand it, don’t have to define it, don’t have to justify it, explain yourself to it, explain it to someone else, make art of it, hide from it, talk to it or dance or celebrate with it in any way. Just be. You and the fear.

Coping with anger is not spending a day at the beach, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I stand as witness to the freedom that follows the surrender – which is very much an ongoing process – of anger. We hurt ourselves – and sometimes we hurt people who are dear to us. So we have to see that damage, which is to also see the need for healing. And then we ask for help. Lots of it maybe.

I promise that if you can sit with the fear for a moment – honestly without reserve for just one moment – then your anger will subside. It will go away because you don’t need it anymore. It’s like putting the fork down when you’ve finished eating. Nothing left on the plate, no need for a tool to scoop it up.

Easy? No. Simple? Yes.

The Urantia Book

A couple of years ago, when I was just beginning to seek out ACIM study groups, I ran into a man who would serve as a sort of good-natured mentor. He was a former minister who had “converted” to A Course in Miracles in his early fifties. Closer to seventy now, he had a long history and a deep understanding of the course. One day, after we had finished the meeting and were chatting after, he ducked into his study and came out with a massive tome that he suggested I take a look at. It was the Urantia Book.

My friend introduced it to me this way: if the ACIM Text was the Lord of the Rings, the Urantia Book was  The Silmarillion. As a devoted reader of Tolkien, that analogy resonated right away. I took the book home and immediately began to read it.

The Urantia Book was a channeled text that came into existence in Chicago between 1924 and the mid-1950’s. It’s a huge book that takes into consideration a whole host of subjects – Jesus, God, the Universe, Origins, Science, Personal Destiny. Some critics have noted that it reads more like an incredibly detailed and consistent book of science fiction or fantasy.

The individual who allegedly channeled the material did so in a trance of which he remained relatively unaware. The beings that did the communicating were celestial beings (almost like angels, although the text is more precise with that term) or groups of beings. William Sadler, who was a Chicago-based doctor devoted to uncovering and revealing psychic hoaxes (even those that were benign), was introduced to the person who was receiving the material. Sadler, who took some responsibility for ensuring the text made it out into the world, making it available for humanity, called it one of the few cases where he could not find a logical, scientific explanation.

I first read the sections on Jesus’ life. It is a great read – very entertaining, very revealing. The author purports to know a great deal more about Jesus than the Gospels reveal, and more than scholars and historians are able to discern. Indeed, by the time we get to the end and Jesus is being crucified, the narrative has become far more gripping than any Mel Gibson movie ever was.

The other sections proved harder for me to wade through. The language was a bit stiff and archaic. The names were hard to track and, quite frankly, it seemed pretty far out. That might seem strange coming from a guy who studies and teaches A Course in Miracles – a text authored by Jesus and channeled by an aetheist Jewish psychologist – but it’s true. The teachings in the Urantia book never resonated with me the way ACIM does.

Should you read it? Well, I generally take the position that you should try everything. The text is relatively easy to find – either in hard copy or online – and there are some great resources maintained by the Urantia Foundation that can help you explore the text. I have a copy on my shelf, and although I no longer turn to it with any regularity, and don’t rely on it as part of my own spiritual practice, I remain open to the possibility that I might one day. It feels to me that it’s an important part of the library of channeled texts and other material that signifies some change or alteration in human consciousness. For that reason alone, it’s worth taking a look at.

The truth is – and A Course in Miracles is very clear on this point – there is no one right way or method to the universal experience. There are many paths to waking up. If you are searching, then search with gusto – get the Urantia book and give it a read. It might be what you need. And if it’s not, don’t be discouraged. There is always another way station ahead.

The Gary Renard Fraud Debate

I get asked a lot if I think that Gary Renard is a fraud. In the circles of A Course in Miracles it’s a common question. It’s also a funny question and I am never quite sure how to answer it. The truth is, I don’t know Gary. I’ve never met him, never personally attended any workshops with him. Calling someone a fraud is a serious charge, and it’s not one that should be leveled either quickly or casually.

Finding our own way through the spiritual wilderness can mean many teachers – some of whom work at one juncture and then don’t at another. Nobody can do the work of discernment for us!

My involvement with Renard boils down to the fact that I’ve read The Disappearance of the Universe. In fact, I read it several times. In the early stages of my study of A Course in Miracles,  I found Renard’s book to be accessible and helpful. Even now, when I do not give Gary Renard as much attention as I did in the beginning, I continue to believe that his first book grasps the core concepts of the Course, laying them out in a way that’s easy to understand. There is a reason Gary’s work is relatively popular in the ACIM community, and it’s not all because of Arten and Pursah.

Indeed, Gary’s work is really a sexier – and somewhat condensed version – of Ken Wapnick’s. My understanding is that Gary attended many workshops with Ken and interacted with him over a nontrivial period of time. The influence shows! The understanding of the course advanced by Gary’s ascended masters makes them sound less like visionaries than good students of Wapnick. This isn’t a bad thing. Ken was a solid student of the course and lots of us can benefit by reading him closely. However, it does suggest that Gary’s writing is less celestial and spectacular in origin. It flows – like much course writing does – from the student’s engagement with their teacher.

Do I think that Renard’s humor is a little over the top at times? Yes. A little crude? That, too. But it is possible to read Disappearance without having to simultaneously defend Renard’s style. It’s just another ACIM book. If it’s helpful, great. If it’s not, well, there’s no shortage of authors out there writing books about A Course in Miracles, nonduality, Christ Mind, healing and whatever other spiritual practices and approaches we might want to explore. 

I know that people get bent out of shape about Arten and Pursah, the ascended masters who purportedly taught ACIM to Renard, and who are featured so prominently in his writing. Come on, they say. A couple of ascended masters showed up in his living room? And he recorded them but then destroyed the tapes? Isn’t it a little too perfect? A little too self-promotional? Oh and hey – isn’t he hawking some vitamins now?

Maybe. For me, Arten and Pursah – and the question of whether they are real beings or literary devices or whatever – never got in the way of my reading. If Renard said tomorrow that he made them up – which, I should add, I’m pretty confident he’s not going to do – I’d still be grateful for the help the book offered at a critical stage of my learning. And if somebody asked me should they read it, I wouldn’t say no right away. I’d try to get a sense of where they were at in their study, and talk about other authors – Ken Wapnick and Tara Singh, say. But in the end, if Renard’s work calls to somebody, who am I to criticize? We are all finding our way.

The thing is, it always tempting to find something wrong with other Course students or teachers. And in truth, we can almost always find something wrong with their teaching. Yet being right is not necessarily synonymous with inner peace (and may even be an impediment to it).

Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want you want, insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there? Would you rather be right or be happy? (T-27.VII.1:6-9)

That latter question is so essential to our study of the Course – especially when we start deciding that this or that teacher, or this or that approach or perspective is right to the exclusion of all others. As Proverbs 28:19 points out, the secret to joy and abundance is to work our own garden and avoid fantasies and idleness.

When I find myself focusing on all the reasons not to read someone, or not to listen to them, or even brainstorming ways to discredit them, it is almost always a reflection of my own guilt and fear and has nothing to do with the other person.

In other words, my anxiety over this “other” – be it Gary Renard or Ken Wapnick – is simply a call to heal my own experience of internal conflict, which is always my own experience of the separation from God. And that is what I am trying to heal; I am not trying to right the ACIM ship itself.

One of the gifts of studying A Course in Miracles, at least for me, was that it helped me look at the external world – which includes my feelings and thoughts – and recognize it as a form of projection. “Projection makes perception” (T-13.V.3:5).

We might more accurately say that projection and perception are inter-related, the one influencing the other in the construction of our experience of a world.

We look inside first, decide what kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing (preface xi).

Thus, if I am walking around feeling like Renard or any other ACIM teacher is a fraud and a phony with good marketing skills or whatever, then I know that I have already rendered that judgment against myself. It’s my guilt that I am looking at. So I don’t need to “fix” Renard – or anybody who finds his work helpful or interesting – so much as I need to be cognizant of my own brokenness and the need for healing it engenders.

My suggestion? If you are curious or feel called to do so, then read Renard’s books. Check them against your gut, against your existing understanding of the Course, talk to friends, reflect on it in prayer and so forth. Don’t worry so much about the personality or the motives behind the writing and don’t get hung up on the story behind the sales. It’s not what somebody else thinks that is right or helpful – it’s what is right or helpful for you at this particular point in your study and practice. And only you can discern that.

When our focus is on healing, and when we are related to our capacity for the healing power of attention, then we begin to perceive a world in which everyone is a blessing because we are blessing them. All things work for good in that world, because all things are “echoes of the Voice for God” (W-pI.151). Gary Renard, too.

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