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
Foundation for Inner Peace.
Author(Helen Schucman and William Thetford), scribes.
LanguageEnglish
GenreSpiritual life
Published1976 (New York: Viking: The Foundation for Inner Peace)
2007 (The Foundation for Inner Peace, 3rd ed.)
Media typeSoftcover, Hardcover, Paperback MME, and Kindle, Sony & Mobipocket ebooks
ISBN978-1-883360-24-5 Soft cover
OCLC190860865
 
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A Course in Miracles
ACIM3COVER.jpg
A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume, Third Edition as published by
Foundation for Inner Peace.
Author(Helen Schucman and William Thetford), scribes.
LanguageEnglish
GenreSpiritual life
Published1976 (New York: Viking: The Foundation for Inner Peace)
2007 (The Foundation for Inner Peace, 3rd ed.)
Media typeSoftcover, Hardcover, Paperback MME, and Kindle, Sony & Mobipocket ebooks
ISBN978-1-883360-24-5 Soft cover
OCLC190860865
Part of a series of articles on
New Thought

A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a self-study curriculum which aims to assist its readers in achieving spiritual transformation. According to the introduction to the Workbook section of the book, the Text section was required since "A theoretical foundation such as the Text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful", whereas the Workbook itself is to "train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth and to a different perception of everything in the world". ACIM tells us it aims to "remove the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your inheritance". The book has been described by some as a non-dualistic philosophy, and by others as the Third Testament, with many students accepting neither characterization. The introduction to the book contains the following summary: "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

While there is no author clearly listed in the original print edition of the book, Helen Schucman (a psychologist) in fact wrote down the book with the help of William Thetford (also a psychologist), based on what Schucman called an "inner voice" which she identified as Christ Jesus.[1][2] The most popular FIP edition, the 3rd Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) edition (based on copies sold[3]) is published by the organization chosen by Schucman for this purpose. Other non-FIP editions, which derive from pre-publication manuscripts and also from copyright free portions of the ACIM text are also available from other publishers, including evolving international translations and audio-books. The full 3rd FIP edition consists of 5 sections, the Text, the Workbook for Students, the Manual for Teachers, the Clarification of Terms, and the Supplements. The first three sections account for approximately 95% of the material. The FIP reports that two million copies of A Course in Miracles have been printed and disseminated worldwide since it first became available for sale in 1976. Additionally, the FIP edition has been translated into nineteen different languages with eight new translations under way.[4][5]

Origins[edit]

A Course in Miracles was originally written as a collaborative venture between Schucman and Thetford. At the time, 1965, Thetford was director of the psychology department of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City while at the same time holding a faculty appointment as Professor of Medical Psychology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Schucman began her professional career at the Medical Center as Thetford's research associate, later also to become a tenured professor of psychology at Columbia University.[citation needed]

Their weekly office meetings had become contentious and they had both expressed their dislike of these meetings, feeling uncomfortable and angry. Tired of the professional competitiveness and negativity that seemed to have arisen, on an afternoon in June 1965, Thetford delivered a speech to Schucman indicating that he felt they had been using the wrong approach. "There must be another way" he concluded.[6]

Schucman felt that this speech had somehow acted as a sort of a stimulus, eventually triggering off a long series of inner experiences that could be categorized as visions, dreams, heightened imagery, along with a certain "inner voice" that began to make itself known. Finally on October 21, 1965, the "inner voice" asked of her: "This is a Course in Miracles, please take notes." This was the reputed voice that had previously identified itself to her as the voice of Jesus. Schucman said that the writing made her very uncomfortable, though it never seriously occurred to her to stop.[citation needed]

The next day at work, with great excitement, she explained the exceptional events of her "note taking" to Thetford. To her surprise, Thetford encouraged her to continue the process, offering that if the notes she had taken did not make sense then, but only then, should she stop. He also offered to assist her in typing out her notes as she read them to him. Thetford found the notes to be making sense and so this routine of note taking and typewriter transcription the next day repeated itself regularly for many years to come. Finally in 1972 the dictation of the first three sections was completed. Still, the dictation of the last two sections of Course material lasted until September 1977.[citation needed]

Kenneth Wapnick[edit]

Kenneth Wapnick

Kenneth Wapnick was a clinical psychologist who directed a school for disturbed children and served as chief psychologist at Harlem Valley State Hospital from 1967 to 1972. In 1972, he left his Jewish faith and converted to Roman Catholicism so that he could become a monk.[7]

Fr. Benedict Groeschel is a priest with a doctorate in psychology and a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin who studied under Thetford and worked with Schucman. Groeschel arranged an introduction of 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.[8]

Wapnick reviewed the draft and discussed with Schucman and Thetford, the 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, however for the remainder of his life he continued to voice his support for the organizational and editorial work that Schucman and Wapnick had done with the material.

Over the next thirteen months, Wapnick and Schucman edited 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.[9] This editing process was completed by approximately February 1975. Wapnick subsequently became a teacher of the Course, 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).

Kenneth Wapnick died on December 27, 2013.[10]

Publication of FIP Editions[edit]

Criswell FIP Edition

The Foundation for Inner Peace (or FIP) 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 decided to introduce Skutch-Whitson to Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnick. Soon afterwards, the three of them decided to share the Course materials with Skutch-Whitson. Skutch-Whitson found herself to be quite favorably impressed with the Course manuscripts and materials that had been shared with her, and soon the four of them decided to begin meeting on a regular basis to study, discuss, and share their common enthusiasm for the "Course".

It had been Schucman's hope that a non-profit foundation could eventually be found that could publish the "Course" material and so she found in the Skutchs' reconstituted non-profit FIP, with its previous related work, an organization that she felt would be suitable to shoulder the needed publication responsibilities.

In June 1976 the four of them authorized the publication of the FIP 1st Edition, the first three sections of the Course in a set of three hardcover volumes in a 5,000 copy run, along with the publication of the supplemental Course booklet: "Psychology: Purpose, Process, Practice". The up-front printing costs for this edition were partially paid for with the help of a sizable donation from a wealthy philanthropist, Reed Erickson.[11]

In 1981 Schucman died of complications related to pancreatic cancer.

In 1983, control of the copyrights were transferred to the FACIM as headed by Wapnick.

In 1985, the FIP began publishing a single volume containing all three of the first books, in a more manageable, single soft-cover volume, but without any editorial content changes.

In 1988 Bill Thetford died in Tiburon, California.

In 1992, the FIP published the FIP 2nd 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, the FIP also released the publication of the supplemental Course booklet, the "Song of Prayer".

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

In 2004, due to the discovery by some Course students of a few pre-1976 versions of the manuscript, as well as their discovery of a limited 300 edition release of the first three sections of the book before 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. "Public domain versions" of these earlier manuscript drafts remain available for study by Course students.

In 2007 FIP began publication of the FIP 3rd Edition, a combined edition combining the two earlier booklets: "Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, Practice" and "The Song of Prayer" as a new "supplemental" section in its third edition. The FIP also began publication of a discounted electronic Kindle edition of the "Course".

In 2010 the release of the film A Course In Miracles- The Movie became available, with Ken Wapnick as one of the cast members.[12]

On December 27, 2013, Kenneth Wapnick died.[13]

Non-FIP editions[edit]

During the final phase of the editing of the FIP 1st Edition of ACIM, Schucman entrusted Wapnick and the FIP with the responsibility of copyrighting and publishing ACIM. At that time, she also entrusted Wapnick with the possession and care of many of her other related writings. The original ACIM copyright was held by FIP/ Wapnick and was in force between 1975 and 2003. In 1995 FIP entered into a 5 year publishing and distribution agreement with Penguin . “Although it was Schucman’s directive that only a non-profit foundation was to publish the Course, FIP assigned it to a for-profit company, Penguin, for $2.5 million dollars.” [14] On April 1, 1999, the copyright on the Course was transferred from FIP to its sister organization, Foundation for A Course in Miracles [FACIM]. Both names, along with Penguin, appear on court documents as Plaintiffs in the litigation defending the copyright.[15] In 1999, during the discovery phase of certain ACIM copyright litigation, a copy of an earlier manuscript of the ACIM text was discovered at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) Library in Virginia, and according to ARE staff, was removed, copied and returned without their specific knowledge.[16] In 2003, the courts removed the copyrights on approximately 95% of Helen Schucman's writings.[17][18]

Since 2000, several Non-FIP editions, based on the now copyright-free portions of Schucman's writings and on the recently discovered pre-publication manuscripts have been made available from various publishers in addition to the earlier 1st, 2nd, and 3rd FIP editions. All of the more recently published Non-FIP editions reflect the collaborative efforts of Helen Schucman and William Thetford, before Wapnick first joined them in editing and organizing the various pre-publication drafts.[19]

During the copyright litigation which was finalized in 2003, some students of ACIM came to contest the assumption that Wapnick remained faithful to Schucman's intentions, and therefore this group of ACIM students came to reject the validity of Wapnick's authorization of the release of the 2nd and 3rd FIP editions of ACIM.[20] A growing sense of respect for Schucman and Thetford´s work resulted in the publication and distribution of the many post-2000 "Non-FIP" editions of ACIM. Several of the Non-FIP editions, as well as the FIP 2nd and 3rd editions, have their own copyrights based on the addition of material from the shorthand notes that was not included in the first FIP edition, and on minor stylistic adaptations such as the addition or deletion of commas. Some of the various Non-FIP editions available include:

A Course In Miracles - Original Edition published by Course in Miracles Society
This edition is not to be confused with the FIP 1st Edition which was first published in 1976, 24 years prior to the publication of what the CIMS refers to as A Course in Miracles-Original Edition. After 2003 and the finding of the copyright to be partially null and void, CIMS was now free to release the 1500 copies being held in storage since 2000. These copies were the first edition of A Course in Miracles-Original Edition and were titled: Jesus’ Course in Miracles (JCIM).[23] This edition contained only the Text since that was the only portion discovered in the A.R.E. Library. In November 2006 a printing was released by CIMS, which contained the Workbook for Students and Manual for Teachers in addition to the Text. The 2006 Revision corrected numerous typographic errors, misspellings, and aberrant punctuation that had appeared in the original 1972 manuscript and which were reproduced in the JCIM edition.
A further revision was printed in 2009 which continued the process of correcting errors in the HLC manuscript. In this undertaking the editors for the first time looked back to earlier manuscripts and restored material that appeared to have been inadvertently or mistakenly omitted in retyping.
This process of "restoration" has continued through the current 2012 Revision, working to adhere to CIMS' fundamental directive, "fidelity to Source." Among the improvements in the 2012 Revision is the updating of the CIMS's paragraph numbering in Chapters 2, 9, 26, and 27, necessitated mainly by the restoration of material from an earlier manuscript. The ACIM OE has been translated into Korean, German and Dutch with the Russian and Spanish translations in process.[24]

None of the non-FIP editions were authorized for publication by Schucman, Thetford or Wapnick. The only major edition that all three editors authorized was the FIP 1st Edition as published in 1976. The FIP 2nd and 3rd Editions were authorized by Wapnick alone as Schucman and Thetford had died by the times of their publications.[26]

Structure of material (FIP 3rd edition)[edit]

Preface[edit]

The Preface was written in 1977 and was subsequently added to the published volume. The first two sections--"How It Came" and "What It is"—were written by Helen Schucman. The last section, "What It Says", was written by the process as described by Schucman.

Text[edit]

The Text contains the largest volume of material—containing 31 chapters—and discusses the theory upon which A Course in Miracles is based.

Workbook for Students[edit]

The Workbook contains 365 lessons, which are designed to help a student practice applying the principles set forth in the text.

Manual for Teachers[edit]

The Manual is presented with questions as the headings of each section followed by a discussion in answer format. The manual is based on the primary themes of 1) separate versus shared interests (shared interests is at the core of A Course in Miracles's concept of forgiveness); and 2) asking the Holy Spirit for help.[27] The Manual also includes a section entitled "Clarification of Terms" and an epilogue.

Clarification of Terms[edit]

Additional clarification of various terms which are fundamental to the Course, such as: Jesus, Christ, forgiveness, etc. etc.

Supplements[edit]

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice[edit]

The psychotherapy pamphlet is an extension of the principles of A Course in Miracles and discusses the principle of healing within the context of a therapist-patient relationship.

The Song of Prayer: Prayer, Forgiveness, Healing[edit]

The song of prayer is another supplement and was written by the process as Schucman describes in the preface after there began to be among students a general misunderstanding of the practicing of the principles as the Course sets forth. This pamphlet introduces the ego concepts of asking-out-of-need, forgiveness-to-destroy and healing-to-separate, which are juxtaposed with the Holy Spirit's corrections for these concepts. The metaphor of a ladder of prayer is used to symbolize an evolving process of understanding and application.

Copyright[edit]

Beginning in June, 1996, and ending in April, 2004, a copyright lawsuit initiated by Penguin Books and FIP was brought against the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor for their unlimited independent publication of substantial portions of the FIP edition of A Course in Miracles. The Court found that the contents of the FIP first edition, published from 1975 through 1992, were in the public domain. However, copyright remains on all of the changes introduced in the Second Edition, as does the copyright on the Preface, "Clarification of Terms" found at the end of the Manual for Teachers, and the two supplementary pamphlets, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice and Song of Prayer, as well as Schucman's poetry, The Gifts of God. This means that the Urtext, the HLC, Special Messages, Helen’s unpublished works and all prior renditions of the work originally under copyright, were now in the public domain. A Copyright Timeline appears here:[28] For more information, view this video:[29]

Scholarly study[edit]

Reception[edit]

Since it first went on sale in 1976, over 2 million copies of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) have been sold worldwide and the text has been translated into twenty languages. ACIM is distributed globally, forming the basis of a range of organised groups.[30] The teachings of A Course in Miracles have been supported by commentators and authors such as Robert Schuller,[31] Oprah Winfrey,[32] and Eckhart Tolle.[33] "A Course In Miracles" is also taught in many Unity churches.[34] However, due to ACIM's claims to "clarify" or even supersede[35] some of the teachings of orthodox Christianity, the book has been judged negatively by some Christians.

Although a friend of Schucman, Thetford, and Wapnik, Catholic priest Benedict J. Groeschel has criticized ACIM and the related organizations. Finding some elements of the Course to be what he called, "severe and potentially dangerous distortions of Christian theology", he wrote that the Course is "a good example of a false revelation"[36] and that "it has . . . become a spiritual menace to many.”[37]

Evangelical editor Elliot Miller says that Christian terminology employed in ACIM is "thoroughly redefined" to resemble New Age teachings. Other Christian critics say 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.[38]

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".[39]

Theologian Anton van Harskamp notes that the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles is inconsistent with that of Christianity in that its "story of creation is totally different from the Christian one." Accordingly to van Harskamp, in looking at "the suffering in the world, 'the Course' says that this world cannot be created by a God." In the Christian conception "creation is good", "but at the same time it is impossible to say this about everything that exists."[40] Significantly, even Course editor and promoter, psychologist Kenneth Wapnick, commented 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".[41]

Despite the high level of criticism that ACIM has received from many Christian theologians, other Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical theologians remain who have given ACIM high marks and "glowing endorsements".[42] In summary, ACIM's reception among Christian theologians has been mixed.

Footnoted references[edit]

  1. ^ "About the Scribes". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  2. ^ Foundation for Inner Peace. (1992). A Course In Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 0-9606388-9-X. 
  3. ^ A Brief Critical Analysis of A Course in Miracles, ACIM
  4. ^ "ACIM Volumes Published". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  5. ^ "ACIM Translation Program". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  6. ^ Helen Schucman: Autobiography, in “Origins of A Course in Miracles” 3:27-28. Foundation for Inner Peace Archives, Tiburon, CA (cited hereafter as FIPA). 
  7. ^ "Introduction to Forgiveness and Jesus". Ken Wapnick website. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  8. ^ Sweet, Robert W. "Opinion of Judge ROBERT W. SWEET, PENGUIN BOOKS U.S.A., INC., FOUNDATION FOR "A COURSE IN MIRACLES, INC.", and FOUNDATION FOR INNER PEACE, INC., Plaintiffs". Patent dispute, 96 Civ. 4126 (RWS) October 2003. U.S. District Court Southern District of New York. Retrieved 12 August 2011. "Father Benedict Groeschel ("Groeschel") is a former [sic] priest, then a member of a Franciscan order, who had a doctorate in psychology, had studied under Thetford, had worked with Schucman at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center Psychiatric Institute, and had an established interest in the relationship between mysticism or spirituality and psychology. He was given a copy of the Work in 1973. Groeschel testified that he was instructed by Schucman not to distribute the manuscript but with Schucman's permission, he made it available to Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. It was apparent to Groeschel that Schucman and Thetford did not desire that the manuscript be widely disseminated. He complied with their instructions not to give the manuscript to anyone else." 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ "Announcements: Kenneth Wapnick". Foundation for A Course in Miracles. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  11. ^ U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York (2003-10-24). "Opinion, Case: Civil 4126 (RWS) ruling (#03-08697) dismissing complaint and granting judgment" (PDF). Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-06. 
  12. ^ IMDb Movie listing of [http://www.acimthemovie.com/ A Course In Miracles- The Movie]
  13. ^ Foundation for A Course in Miracles: Announcements
  14. ^ [1] 96 Civ. 4126 Court Documents P.20
  15. ^ [2] 96 Civ. 4126 Court Documents P.19
  16. ^ http://www.miraclestudies.net/HLV2.html
  17. ^ Copyright Litigation FINAL ORDER
  18. ^ Post 2003 FIP copyright policies
  19. ^ Is there a Thetford version of the Course?
  20. ^ A Course in Megafools
  21. ^ Course in Miracles Society. (2006). A Course In Miracles. ISBN 978-09764200-7-1
  22. ^ Course in Miracles Society [CIMS] a non-profit organization
  23. ^ Course in Miracles Society (2012) Jesus’ Course in Miracles ISBN 978-0976420002
  24. ^ Translation Project ACIM OE – Europe
  25. ^ http://acimsearch.org/ Sparkly
  26. ^ Circle of Atonement: The Versions of A Course in Miracles. COA Article - Edition Changes
  27. ^ Wapnick, Kenneth (2007). Journey Through the Manual of A Course in Miracles, p. 3. Foundation for A Course in Miracles. ISBN 978-1-59142-207-5.
  28. ^ Copyright Timeline. Course in Miracles Society
  29. ^ ACIM and the Omaha Connection Course in Miracles Society.
  30. ^ Bradby, Ruth, "A course in miracles in Ireland". 147 - 162 in Olivia Cosgrove et al. (eds), Ireland's new religious movements. Cambridge Scholars, 2011
  31. ^ A Course in Miracles taught at Schuller's church
  32. ^ Oprah Winfrey's website section promoting A Course in Miracles
  33. ^ "Ripples on the Surface of Being". EnlightenNext magazine. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  34. ^ Unity website teachings on "A Course in Miracles"
  35. ^ A Course In Miracles (2007) Text: Chapter 6.Part I:Par. 15 , FIP Edition, ISBN 9781883360252
  36. ^ Groeschel, Benedict J., A Still Small Voice (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 80
  37. ^ Groeschel, Benedict J., A Still Small Voice (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993) 82
  38. ^ 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. 
  39. ^ 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. 
  40. ^ "A modern Miracle: Critical comment on the Course in Miracles". Bezinningscentrum.nl. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 
  41. ^ Dean C. Halverson, “Seeing Yourself as Sinless,” SCP Journal 7, no. 1 (l987): 23.
  42. ^ "ACIM: Christian Glossed Hinduism for the Masses.". 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-04.  The Christian Research Institute describing the reaction of some Christian theologians to ACIM.

References[edit]

Versions[edit]

Published versions of A Course in Miracles include:

Books[edit]

Court rulings[edit]

External links[edit]