What Kind of ACIM Community Do You Want?

by Robert Perry

(This article is in part a response to "My Response to the Latest Absurd Accusations," by Gary Renard, much of which is rather pointedly directed at me.)

In the end, we get the community we support. In A Course in Miracles, we have a written document of sublime truth, love, and holiness. It's up to us, however, to surround that document with a human community that, to the best of our ability, reflects its lofty principles.

We need to surround it with love and forgiveness, as well as kindness, respect, and decency. But we also need to surround it with truth. Unless we care about truth, deeply and collectively, then those other values won't be around, either. Once truth goes out the window, discernment is no longer allowed, and then viciousness gets passed off as kindness, and insanity as sanity, and we have renounced the mechanism for telling the difference.

Caring about truth means that when someone steps forward with a questionable claim, we calmly hold that claim up to scrutiny. We don't castigate and condemn that person. But we don't let the claim go unchallenged, either. And when someone who carries immense influence puts out questionable interpretations of the Course, we do the exact same thing. We never go after the person, but we do weigh the evidence, in search of the truth.

It may not be immediately apparent why it is absolutely crucial that we do this. It may even seem like doing this is unspiritual. Yet let's look at the alternative.

The alternative is to have an unwritten rule that says that anyone can make any claim and put forth any view, and that these must go unchallenged. Direct criticism is the ultimate taboo. No matter how reasoned and neutrally stated the challenge, and no matter how outlandish the claim being challenged, the simple fact of challenging it violates that ultimate taboo. And in the face of that violation, we are forced to abandon our prohibition of direct criticism. Now, vicious smears, personal insults, untruths, and even incitements to physical violence become quite appropriate, all because, of course, direct criticism is always wrong. Truth has gone, and with it have gone all the rest of the values we cherish.

In such a community, we do more than fail to surround the Course with a living community reflective of its principles. We actually leave the canons of civilized society, and descend into chaos. Can you imagine what would happen if our larger society embraced these values? Imagine that a company could make any claim it wanted, and no one was allowed to challenge it. Or that a scientist, politician, or philosopher could put forth any view, and no one could voice disagreement. Would you want to live in the resulting society? At that point, would there be anything that could be called society?

Sadly, I believe that a significant element of our community has embraced these values when it comes to Gary Renard. We have invited into our midst someone with a rather incredible claim. But many of us decided that the truth of that claim didn't matter, that the most unspiritual thing we could do was evaluate its truthfulness, and that those who did so were the bad guys. What we didn't realize was that by setting aside the value of truth, we invited into our midst much more than we bargained for.

Since then, we as a community have had to turn one blind eye after another. From the extreme aggressiveness of his response to critics, to private threats sent to ACIM leaders (I've received a couple myself), to widely circulated stories of his behavior before and after workshops, Gary has earned the label he recently touted on his website: "The bad boy of spirituality." No less than four Course leaders, representing three of the main Course organizations, have come forward with public statements about Gary (these include Beverly Hutchinson of Miracle Distribution Center, and myself and Greg Mackie of the Circle of Atonement). This is unheard of in the ACIM community. And many other leaders privately agree with us.

If you hear Gary's response to this, you will hear that we all acted out of ulterior motives like jealousy. That is the logical fallacy called ad hominem, where you attack the person, rather than answer his argument—the opposite of what I advocated above. While it can sway the undiscerning, it basically signals that you've got nothing. Further, it is simply not true that my issue here is some personal grudge toward Gary. A few years ago, I wrote him a warm personal message and told him that if he ever did the courageous thing and came clean, I would support him both publicly and privately. (I won't quote his response.)

Most recently, a man named Bruce MacDonald has brought to light the fact that the majority of verses in "Pursah's Gospel of Thomas" are almost exactly the same as a contemporary translation of Thomas from Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer. (This actually is very similar to the borrowing from Ken Wapnick that I documented in 2006.) This is a weighty issue, one that will almost certainly have real-world repercussions. Gary is in a very difficult position. Not only is it a legal issue, but it also makes believing in his masters incredibly difficult, since it was one of those masters that supposedly gave forth this "original" version of Thomas.

One might think that Gary would do his utmost to sincerely explain this disturbing evidence. His response, however, is in character. It is a lengthy exercise in overt character assassination. Strangely, this is mostly directed a full two steps away from the evidence—specifically, at me—for asking MacDonald to summarize his evidence in an article and then providing a link to that article on my website. I'm not quite sure how disparaging me explains away the evidence. Clearly, Gary would like you to believe that the evidence is not the issue here.

His rhetoric is uncorked, with statements like, "He's an emotional cripple." This rhetoric reaches a new low when, after speaking of "the bond that exist [sic] between my readers and I [sic]," he says, "the only thing that would stop [Perry] from trying to attack me would be if someone drove a wooden stake through his heart." One can only hope that his bond with his readers isn't such that one of them will decide to become that "someone." I realize it's just a dumb vampire joke, but the danger with such careless and excessive rhetoric is that some disturbed person could act on it. How have we gotten to this place as a community?

As we know from the Course, such language is not a sin, but as many have pointed out to me, it certainly is a call for help. And if Gary did reach out for that help, I am sure he would have many, many loving friends and supporters who would offer it.

Only after lengthy fireworks, at the very end of his piece, does he offer a brief explanation for the word-for-word similarity between his version of Thomas and the Patterson/Meyer translation. He quotes a friend who says, "Most translations of any document into any language are going to be similar in contents, and even in form." And then he gives this example: "If one person translated a phrase from the Coptic language into English and it came out, 'Mary had a little lamb,' and someone else translated the same phrase from the Coptic language into English and it came out, 'Mary had a little lamb,' is the second translator a plagiarist? Does anybody really believe that? They're the same phrase! Dah!"

Despite Gary's dismissive attitude, this, of course, is simply not how it works, as anyone who owns different translations of the Bible knows. To see this, all you need do is set different translations of Thomas side by side. Here are three prominent translations of Saying 92:2. Please take a minute and compare them very carefully:

Patterson/Meyer (1992)

Lambdin (1988)

Blatz-NTA (1991)

In the past, however, I did not tell you the things about which you asked me then. Now I am willing to tell them, but you are not seeking them.

Yet, what you asked me about in former times and which I did not tell you then, now I do desire to tell, but you do not inquire after it.

…but the things you asked me in those days and I did not tell you then, now I desire to tell them, but you do not ask about them.

All three translations are presumably accurate, yet they are markedly different. It's not just the wording that is different, it is also the ordering (in the first, the reference to the past is at the start; in the others, it comes later), and the punctuation (one translation is two sentences, the others are one). Given that, how do we explain the fact that "Pursah's" version of this saying is exactly the same as Patterson/Meyer? Below is Saying 92:2 from Your Immortal Reality. Compare it carefully with the left column in the above table:

In the past, however, I did not tell you the things about which you asked me then. Now I am willing to tell them, but you are not seeking them. (Your Immortal Reality, p. 169)

Recently, I mentioned to a leading New Testament scholar the correspondences between Gary's version and the Patterson/Meyer version, and the first thing he said was, "But the Patterson/Meyer translation is so distinctive."

Make no mistake—the evidence of plagiarism is the issue here. The fact that Gary focuses mainly on character assassination and leaves for the end a weak treatment of the real issue tells you everything you need to know.

I don't mind Gary's schoolyard insults. However, I do want to set straight certain stories presented as fact. In the original version of his piece, he told stories about shaking my hand and me refusing to speak to him (to my knowledge, we've never actually met), about me sending someone into his discussion group to ask him if he's deluded, and about me whining "like a baby" to someone connected with the publication of DU, saying, "How could you do this to me? How could you do this to me?" I had no idea where he was getting these stories. The leader of a prominent ACIM organization helped fill in the gap with the second story. He e-mailed Gary and said (the following paragraphs are from different e-mails),

I was the Course teacher who came to your meeting in Salt Lake City and asked you whether it was possible you might be delusional regarding Arten and Pursah. I want to put on record that I was not put up to asking the question by Robert Perry, or anyone else. And I would be grateful if you would issue a correction and not repeat the story again, as it's just not true.

Please, therefore, send out a correction to that list [the list Gary's article was initially sent to]. I'm happy for you to quote me. And I think an apology to Robert Perry would be appropriate, now that you know the facts.

Gary has written to say he will in fact remove that particular story from the online version (no word about sending out a correction to his e-mail list; my comments here will have to serve as that correction). Tellingly, he said that he had believed the story to be true based not on physical evidence, but on "Guidance." He adds that this same Guidance tells him to stand by the rest of the article.

The point of Gary's stories is to prove how spitefully I am willing to treat him. All I can say is that in place of stories that are at best questionable (I certainly have no memory of the first and third, and the second, as we saw, didn't happen), I have a record of all of my e-mail correspondence with him over the last six years, and I would happily make every word of it public. The decency with which he has been treated by me is there for anyone to see.

One story Gary relates, however, has some truth to it. He speaks of an international ACIM conference in San Francisco and says, "Robert called people connected with the Conference and threatened to boycott the Conference if I was allowed to talk!" Actually, something like this did happen. It wasn't about Gary not being able to talk, it was about him addressing the entire audience, and it wasn't me alone. When you have a community-wide gathering, and only a few big names are allowed to address the entire audience, that says something about those few. It's a powerful implied endorsement of them. And in Gary's case, I don't think it's right to give that kind of endorsement. Therefore, I, along with two other speakers, indicated we would not come if he addressed the entire audience. However, it was eventually agreed that the audience would be informed that the primary speakers were chosen strictly on the basis of who sold more tickets, and with that understanding I did end up coming.

I firmly believe in the rightness of the stand I took. I want to be in a community that stands for truth, and I'm willing to act accordingly. If it costs me personally, that's fine. That is the only way you get the community you want. The question is not why I and the other two speakers took that stand, but why a similar stance hasn't become the response of our community.

And now let me ask you: If you have read Gary's piece, are you comfortable with that kind of rhetoric coming from one of the most high-profile representatives of A Course in Miracles? Are you comfortable with the specter of plagiarism, and with this "shoot the messenger" response to compelling evidence of plagiarism? Perhaps you are tempted to say, "Well, I think his rhetoric is over the top, but then you attacked him, too. So you've both done the same thing."

Don't you realize that that way lies madness? If simply providing neutrally toned evidence of falsehood is viewed as inherently an attack, and even seen as being on a par with vitriolic character assassination, don't you see where that will lead us as a community? At that point, truth has become a crime, and in its place we welcome all manner of falsehood. And we become a laughingstock to the rest of the world, which understands that truth matters. When The Smoking Gun website exposed the fiction in James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, and when journalist Gabriel Sherman exposed the fiction in Herman Rosenblat's Angel at the Fence, they were viewed, correctly, as having performed a valued service. As far as I know, no one said "How dare you expose him!" Can you imagine a society in which, once those investigators put forth their evidence, they became the villains? In which the truth of their case didn't matter, only the crime of presenting it?

Perhaps you still might think that such whistleblowers should hold their tongues, for the sake of peace and harmony. But, as I said, once the standard of truth goes, the rest of our higher values go with it, peace and harmony included. We make a devil's bargain, in which we are forced to accept ever more compromises of the principles we hold dear. Truth is the levee that keeps the floodwaters of insanity at bay. When that levee breaks, you have no control over what comes rushing in. For an example of this we need look no further than the case at hand.

I envision an ACIM community in which truth really does matter. In this community, if people come peddling falsehood or spouting poison, we don't judge their worth and innocence as Sons of God. We treat them kindly and respectfully, in conscious acknowledgment of their true nature. But we also evaluate their claims and their behavior. We have to. And then, as with any salesman selling something we don't want, we politely say no thanks. There needn't be any malice, but there must be discernment. And if these people do ask for help, there will be an abundance of caring friends at their disposal. Such a community would stand for kindness and sanity. Who of us wouldn't love to be part of a community like that?

What kind of ACIM community do you want? Whichever you want, you will vote with your feet. You will shape this community with where you put your support. In the end, it's in your hands.

(I would very much like to hear your thoughts on my concluding question. Let's have a conversation about this vital issue. I invite you to respond below. )

22 Comments

  1. Rosa
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    For Mary and Nancy, I feel this Pathwork lecture may be helpful.
    Blessings,
    Rosa

  2. Anonymous
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Hi Robert
    I have written to you once before to thank you for your work and clarity of your writing. I am writing again following receiving an e-mail from Gary Renard that talked about you. I am sorry that two people who are involved in ACIM are caught up in this kind of situation.
    First—I must admit that I share your personal opinions about Gary so that may bias what I am about to say. Secondly, Robert, I don't believe that you need to protect ACIM from Gary. I know that you have a good argument against turning a blind eye; however the people who follow Gary's teaching would likely find someone like him if it wasn't him. Scott Peck lessened my fear considerably when one of my children became a born again Christian. He teaches about the levels of spirituality and noted that different people are attracted to different forms for important spiritual reasons. Those who are attracted to the born again Christian religions are perhaps on the second stage of their spiritual journey and need the structure and discipline of that level. I met Gary a few years ago before he became so well known, but in the early stages of his journey. I recognized quite quickly that his ego was very overwhelmed with his sudden rise to 'fame'. That was before Oprah even. I also met you when you were in Edmonton and was struck by your humility and intelligence. Who am I? A mere neophyte to ACIM really. A 25 year member of AA with about 10 years of course study under my belt.
    So what I want to say is—if someone like me could see what the situation was—then I think there is very little to fear from Gary. People like Master teacher, David Hoffmeister (who by the way claimed not to be teaching ACIM when I attended one of his workshops in Edmonton), and other people who's egos have got them for the moment, are really no threat to you, or to ACIM. I initially was put off by Ken Wapnick in my study, although the people who helped me were huge Ken fans. It was only much later that I overcame my resistance and began to read his stuff. I was so gladdened by his writing (it brought so much peace) that I wondered what had been my earlier resistance. I also realized when I read Ken, that Gary's ideas came from him. That is why I liked DU so much when I read it. Did I ever believe that Arten and Pursah really appeared to him? I wanted to. There is something in most of us that knows what is true and what is not, so rather than attack, I simply lost interest. In AA they talk about members who fall to the side of the road chasing after false coins (greed pride fame ) etc. The literature goes on to comment that some return to the happy road of destiny to trudge the path together. Many do not.

  3. Mary
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I am a firm believer in ACIM as explained by Gary Renard.
    Your attacks on him are so far removed from what the course teaches that, quite frankly, I'm shocked you have any "followers" at all.
    Shame on you. And on that note, I also forgive you.
    Mary

  4. Joan
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert Perry:
    Gary Renard is absolutely right. I left being interested in your organization about 15 years ago because you had become too strident and harsh, much like the fundamentalist Christianity of my childhood.
    You don't have to change one iota. It's all a dream anyway. But you could own up and apologize to Gary. I'm not going to get any more involved in this controversy and I don't want a response from you.
    Joan

  5. Nancy
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Perry,
    Why are you always criticizing and making false claims against Gary Renard? You have discredited yourself by this kind of behavior. I just wanted to let you know that most people who read your slander realize that you are the problem, not Gary.
    Nancy

  6. Malcolm
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Robert:
    Thank you for the discussion. The opportunity to comment is appreciated.
    My illusion perceives we're all being blessed here with opportunities to forgive.
    While Robert's writing style is much different to Gary's, my perception is that both are defending. From what does one defend? Perceived attack.
    What is the purpose of perceptions of attack do? Isn't it to reinforce ego?
    Gary Renard's response and Robert Perry's comment are two opportunities for me to practice true forgiveness.
    That I can see these perceptions and need to practice forgiveness shows I am, like Gary and Robert, not yet home.
    That I benefitted from Gary's books and lecture and from his response and from Robert's response, I am grateful.
    I suggest that neither A Course In Miracles nor any community around ACIM needs any defense.
    Thank you for the lesson.
    Malcolm

  7. Deborah
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    As someone who has only been involved in the Course community for about three years, I have watched this so-called "controversy" with amazement and concern. My first brush with the "debate" was on the Disappearance of the Universe forum where allegations were made that just as St. Paul had single-handedly defiled and corrupted Christianity, a "new Paul" was attempting to defile and corrupt A Course in Miracles. I asked a couple of friends who they thought this "new Paul" might be and was told they thought it was Robert Perry. That was in October 2007 and if I had ever heard of Robert Perry it had only been vaguely. I may have browsed the COA site a time or two. I'm not sure.
    At any rate, I so totally disagreed with the assertion that St. Paul was the destroyer of Christianity that I questioned the assertions and what appeared to be a "call to arms" against this "new Paul" — whoever that might happen to be. In fact, I found myself writing my very first blog post on the subject. Still not knowing if it actually was Robert Perry being called the "new Paul," I sent a message on this site to ask him and included a link to that blog post. Apparently Perry followed the link and read the post because I got a nice response from him. In answer to my question about whether he was the "new Paul," he simply said "I don't know. Why don't you ask the person who wrote it."
    There was no "that better not be me they are talking about." No "how dare they?" No, "Renard has a hell of a grievance against me." Nothing of the sort was suggested or even implied. Just "I don't know, why don't you ask them?" Which I did and was told "Yes, it is Robert Perry."
    Although I had my own problems with the way DU and YIR represent A Course in Miracles and have spent most of the intervening three years asking people on various forums how it is helpful to believe nothing in this world is real — not even truth and love — so it doesn't matter what you do, I've seen little indication that belief leads to anything BUT callous indifference at best, downright viciousness at worst. I first became aware of the allegations of plagiarism when I noticed Renard's response to "The Latest Absurd Controversy" on a popular ACIM site. Since that time, I have been rather dumbfounded by the conversation — if it could be called conversation — that proceeded from the evidence of plagiarism and Renard's so-called defense. Drawing on Perry's own comparison of the situation to the coming to light of child molestation in the Catholic Church, I wrote a blog post in response to the form conversation at that site took which I am pasting below unedited except for removal of a name. (If you choose to post this on your site, please feel free to edit it or anything written above as you see fit)
    Only Love?
    When allegations of child molestation were brought against priests in the Catholic Church, I wonder what we of the "Course Community" would have thought if discussion and investigation of the allegations had not centered around whether the abuse actually occurred. But had focused instead on "Does it matter?" And the answer from leaders of the church was "No, it does not matter."
    What if those leaders not only said it doesn't matter if priests molest children, anyone who would dare to make such allegations is just a jealous heathen intent only on destroying the church?
    Would we not think such a response insane?
    Although that example may seem extreme, that's pretty much been the response from most of this community to allegations of plagiarism against Gary Renard.
    Not only was Renard's only "defense" a "counter attack" with unsubstantiated and unverifiable personal judgments against a man who hadn't even attacked but had only brought evidence to light. The conversation at ACIM Chat devolved from there to someone making the so-called "accuser" — Robert Perry — "High executioner" who is not only guilty of attempted murder but equally guilty for having a donation button on the front page of his web site "obviously designed to guilt a donation out of you." A web site rich with content where thousands of Course students find help.
    That absurd "counter attack" not only assumes Renard's guilt — which has not even been proven — it makes the bringer of the allegations even more guilty for what it is only imagined he is doing.
    And the crowd cheers and applauds this "loving" attitude.
    From there, the conversation devolved into Renard being guilty of dying his hair and Perry being guilty of wearing nice clothes.
    Imagine for just a moment if you can that you are a spiritual seeker, brand spanking new to A Course in Miracles — a book that says "only Love is real" and "teach only love for love is what you are" — coming to this site and reading these conversations.
    Would you be cheering and applauding then?
    In a belief system where nothing you see is given any reality at all — not even love and truth — proclaiming peace and love while demonstrating vengeance and execution is inevitable. How else could such an insane belief system be maintained?
    If proof that you really did attack and kill God is what you seek, stay tuned. How much better could it get?
    Deborah

  8. Mary Benton
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Robert,
    Regarding Gary Renard I have previously stated my opinion. I don't believe in the two Masters, and the material is highly derivative of the teachings of Ken Wapnick. That said, I am doubtful about the wisdom of ongoing public dispute. The Circle of Atonement have already published detailed commentaries (of varying quality) about Gary Renard. Now the subject of possible plagiarism has been raised. This issue and others will play out over time. You have made your point. The case against Gary's claims has been articulated. It is now, as it always has been, up to individual people to make ther own judgement. No amount of public persuasion, no war of attrition, not even a legal decision, can ever substitute for personal discernment by the individual.
    The "ACIM Community" is a broad concept encompassing a wide range of people and opinion. We can all talk about what this community should be. First and foremost it should reflect the Course's teaching. Certainly this would include dedication to truth. However, I don't see A Course in Miracles being about allegiance to people and organizations who are only too happy to tell us what the truth is. The Course will show us what the truth is and lead us to the experience. Nor do I see the Course as a "career" with various people vying for our "support".
    I suggest we do "vote with our feet" by concentating on the Course's teaching. Let the Course be our authority and the Holy Spirit be our Guide, then the "ACIM Community" will take care of itself.
    Mary

  9. Bryan
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,
    Thank you for your article on the Gary Renard Controversy. I agree with you that we have to set a standard of basic honesty and integrity. I have been in several different spiritual groups in my life and noticed that when one can't challenge the veracity of some claim without being labeled of as "unspiritual", "not living the teachings" or "not evolved enough" then the group falls into a cult mind set. What I mean by a cult mind set is a mind set that actively discourages simple, open, honest critical thinking. Open and honest critical thinking is a hallmark trait of a spiritual seeker. If one can't critically think then any claim no matter how outrageous can be called truth and left unchallenged. I know that standing up to the truth may not always be easy, but I really appreciate that you and the Circle actively does it. (I am not even talking about whether Gary's claim is true or not. I am referring to your standing up for the right for critical and clear thinking on this and other matters).
    I have a course question concerning this matter. Is confusing the judging of someone as sinful or wrong with the discerning a claim as false a form of level confusion? I am not clear on the concept of level confusion as the Course talks about it. Am I understanding it right when I see that someone is innocent and a brother even though they told a lie. Level confusion would be mixing those two levels up – the innocence of a brother and the mistake of a lie. In other words, the mistake of a lie shouldn't be confused with the worth and innocence of my brother. The lie is on one level and the worth and innocence of someone is on another level. A lie can't take away the worth and innocence of someone because the mistake of a lie is at a completely different level. Is that how the Course understands level confusion?
    Thanks for all your work,
    Bryan

  10. Linda Lee
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,
    Your article is the first news I have received about this issue, but I agree with you. No matter what the situation – where, when or why – truth-telling is as vital to a community as is the sun to photosynthesis.
    Also, avoiding confrontation by being "polite" appears ridiculous in individuals and makes every observer question everything, especially his/her sanity. Am I seeing what I think I see? Or have I gone mad?
    Observers certainly question the validity of their new community, having joined for a better way, not the same old way redux.
    Keep up the good work! Your standing up for Truth in this way helps me further understand how an ACIM student thinks and behaves. Bravo!
    Linda Lee

  11. Kathy
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Robert,
    I really agree with all that you have written here. The reason I was drawn the the Circle of Atonement's community is precisely because of your discernment and steadfast refusal to accept anything but the truth. You have taught me to be discerning and I have no problem dismissing anything that does not stay true to the Course material. This does not mean that I don't love and respect others but I just don't have to accept what they are saying. You have put this beautifully and lovingly. I can hear Jesus' voice in your words and your teaching. Thank you very much.
    Kathy

  12. Kathy
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Perry,
    You asked for reader feedback. You are very eloquent in your writing. It is apparent that you are an academic with oratory skill. Gary is not as intellectual in his responses as you are. His responses are also more personal and I sense his insecurity. That does not change what I am about to comment on. You both are expending a lot of energy in bashing one another. There is no gain to you in this, nor to the community you claim follows you. It appears to be more in the context of an academic – university – pissing match. Please ex excuse my vulgarity as I can say it with greater eloquence but see that this is more appropriate. I feel that you lower yourself and all that you seem to stand for in this pursuit. I feel the same for Gary but after all, you are attacking him and his writings. If you are successful in your attack, do you really believe that this tactic will further attract and support readers and students of the Course in Miracles. If we are all one Son of God what part of yourself are you separating and excluding.
    I do respect your writings, but I sometimes find them a bit too intellectual and academic. There is a place for everyone and I look forward to reading more from you, unless it is attacking another writer of the course. Please hear what I say.
    With Respect,
    Kathy

  13. Carol
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    My friend and I attended Gary's first weeklong workshop at Omega several years ago.. The participants bonded over his message and our devotion about ACIM..We attended a followup weekend later which was brewing with discussions with some of his sexual indiscresions which upset many of us..The workshop was not as powerful..I am a major advocate of your website and have admired what you are trying to do to extend information abourt ACIM..You are my primary source of input…And I will continue to support you..Gary's website has always spoken to me of self promotion and ego..and there is no way to e-mail him..and his search for Arten which he pursued in numerous workshops was always strange to me.. Thank-you for maintaning the intregrity of the Course for all of us.
    Carol

  14. Jeff
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Robert, for taking the effort to phrase this potentially divisive issue in the proper context of our values, truth vs. attack/counter-attack. I had already chosen to remove myself from all of Gary's mailing lists and to skip San Francisco this year, but he has proven my instincts correct. In my opinion, Bruce MacDonald has also proven plagiarism, but at least the question deserves honest consideration without fear of slanderous insults about you and the Circle. Obviously, an innocent person doesn't immediately throw tantrums, make threats, indulge in name calling, or write the entire community using illogical arguments and exaggerations and lies. Having read his entire tirade, I could have added a few more examples than you provided in your article, but I certainly could not have said it any better. I want a Community of Course brothers and sisters who value truth and respect those that approach questionable statements for truth's sake.
    Jeff

  15. Loretta
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I am in complete agreement with Robert's evaluation of Gary Renard's work and the kind of community we want to have…a community that evaluates a persons claims without malice but with discernment. I second Robert's position, we want to stand for "kindness and sanity." Most importantly, we want to stand for truth.
    Loretta

  16. Michael
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Robert,
    I see your article as a "call for love"………as it mirrors the call in each of us. Remember, as the "script" is presenting itself before your eyes, it is a neutral script. It has no meaning of its own. The script, including the "characters" in the script, are all illusory. Of "Course", you and I know that there are only two choices open to interpret or see that script. The kind (content) of "Community" I would like to see is the one that always seeks the Holy Spirit's interpretation and meaning. That is what I'm asking of you, Gary, and myself. I am grateful for your efforts, and perhaps Gary's too, for both are offering opportunities for bringing Love into our awareness.
    Perhaps more in line with addressing your question:
    I personally support a Course community in which Course integrity is of utmost importance. I'm not at all certain what form that should take, but the Course itself is very simple, seamlessly uniform in content, and surgical in logic. I like that. It is decidedly a unique dispensation and teaching. Efforts to stick closely in-line with what the Course clearly teaches is very much appreciated. In fact, I count on it! It's difficult enough to grasp as it stands without adding extraneous concepts that tend to dilute and/or confuse. I appreciate A Circle of Atonement and its efforts.
    Thank you,
    Michael

  17. R. J.
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Blessings of love and light. Read your article on Gary.
    Love to you and hope for him. He is certainly "calling for love." You come across as loving, caring, and hopeful.
    We as a community need TRUTH and compassion. Not hype. Carry on.
    in truth and light
    R J

  18. Dave
    Posted November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I just want to say that it is a relief to my mind to see that not everyone just jumps on board and patronizes the Course in Miraclesand/or its proponents. The book deserves all we can give it, but only with sincerity! That others are questioned as to their character is inevitable and not criminal. I would expect others to question me if I said that I chatted with beings from beyond- and I might hesitate to share such information, depending upon circumstances. But common sense argues strongly in favour weighing the factuality of events that are presented to us, just as it supports our anticipation of dubiousness when we profer extraordinary scenarios.
    Best to you all
    thanks be to Jesus
    and His scribes,
    Dave W.

  19. April B
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Glad to have found your works and this site! Your point of view is truly unassuming. Although the above concerns a misunderstanding, test of an approaching ego, or call it what you may… I sense a love in this article behind every word. Yoy really care for your brothers! Cheers and Happy New Years!

    P.S. All we truly need to live the Course is that which is already present. Anything else defends illusions. For example, evening out the pseudocelebrity platform is an illusion. I hope this comes across with the simplicity it is.

    • christina Kelly
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      I honestly cannot believe what I am reading here and this gives a whole new meaning to Forgiveness is Still and Quietly does Nothing, it merely Looks and Waits and Judges not. I’m new here, and have only been doing The Course for just over a year. Ah sure it just goes to show we can never do it alone, thanks Father for your Holy Spirit and Jesus……………where would we be if we depended on ourselves or each other alone to wake up…I personally like the fella Gary, though the only Judgement I have on him is he tells rotten jokes.Myself been Irish and sure we tell the best ones. Bless you all, hope this situation is resolved. I’m presently reading Path to Peace…Ah Mr Perry I love the book already. This one thing I know, the Holy Spirit is the one with all the Wisdom I need, so I’ll let Himself guide me and that way I get just what I need. Sure He knows everything.

  20. Kenneth Davis
    Posted May 23, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    This is a great reminder!

    This is an opportunity to look at our commitment to The Effect vs. The Cause. Here, I am borrowing from my brother, a nationally known Course teacher, who shall remain un-named.

    As Course Students we understand that this exchange seems to be a dialogue but it is not. It seems very clear that the opposition of the “other”, justifies the reality of the opposer.

    This exchange also has little to do with who is correct. Per the Course, teachings that even contradict the Course are not wrong or incorrect but simply the curriculum necessary for lessons aimed at the corrections of error in a given mind. (For all you Buddhist, the Holy Spirit uses Skillful Means).

    This seeming dialogue would appear to be about The Truth but in the curriculum described by ACIM, the agenda is about the undoing of error or the barriers to truth. It is very easy to miss the fact that the curriculum of the Course is not about the Truth, (the meaning of Love). Besides, why would the Course concern itself with the truth of any of the particulars in an illusion?

    For our part, we get to say “Oh Look! These two disagree!”, as though we were observers outside THEIR dialogue. This seeming dialogue is no accident in our experience. I may be helpful to remember that, the experiences of this world, (our bodies and the bodies of others) and all differences are not experiences of something real but present as symbols outside us. These symbols carry with them the significance we give to the separation idea in all its forms. What is there, within us, that gives this discourse significance? Are we compelled to choose a side?

    The forgiveness of the Course starts with the idea that there is no source “out there” and that no experience “in this world” is an accident. As a fellow Course teacher says often, “This is always an ‘inside’ job. This is JAFO (Just Another Forgiveness Opportunity)!”

    Ken@KenDavisCoaching.com

  21. Ken Froessel
    Posted May 25, 2013 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Robert, thank you for having the courage to wade into this sensitive topic and offer a sane view, which is really about the common values of a healthy spiritual community. Of course, this conversation is not only needed for the current Course community but the contemporary spiritual scene in general. Without this conversation, I believe the Course community will not mature into a healthy spiritual adulthood. Instead, anything and everything will be justified under the sun to keep the “peace” and “goodwill” in the Course family otherwise one is deemed “unspiritual” to bring up the elephant in the room. It then becomes a pseudo community, inauthentic and lacking in the value of honesty and truth the Course itself espouses. Jesus often brought to Helen and Bill’s attention when they were being deceptive which shows that he held truth and honesty as a value. Jesus had the unwavering ability to see clearly where Helen and Bill were being dishonest and also the unwavering ability to see their infinite worth and perfect innocence at the same time. Of course, we are not in this awakened state like Jesus but this should not keep us from walking in its direction. The seeming tension between a basic standard of truth and the value of being non-judgmental are not at odds unless condemnation enters the picture. I don’t hear Robert suggesting at all that Gary should be condemned. I do hear Robert saying that the same standards of truth we hold in the professional community also apply in the spiritual community. I wouldn’t willingly go to a surgeon whose claims to have gone to medical school did not hold up under scrutiny. I would also hope his colleagues, who became aware of his false claims, speak up and take some action in this matter rather than say, “oh, I will be seen as unprofessional therefore I will not say anything”. As Robert points out, the whole profession loses its credibility, integrity, and its sacred trust once it abdicates its responsibility to truth. In other words, the whole community suffers if those who speak up are seen as the ones who are off the mark. I suspect, even if we attempt to justify credulous claims by saying everything is in “divine order” and “the truth needs no defense” that somewhere deep in our mind we recognize that we lost something in this bargain.

    Anyway, I appreciate Robert for stepping up and going against, what I feel, is an unhealthy tide in the Course community and the larger spiritual community by bringing to our attention that the evidence in Gary’s claims do not really hold up. I hope other Course leaders have the courage and conviction to take a stand for integrity and truth in this community. We will all gain in this including Gary. And yes, our main responsibility is to see Gary, our brother, as the Holy Son of God whose divine worth and innocence has not be been tarnished one bit by his deception and/or delusion.

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