Course Meets World Commentary
On this page, I will post short commentaries relating A Course in Miracles to a topic "in the news." Here's how it works: I will present material drawn from the world's media—a newspaper article, a blog, an Internet discussion, etc. (with a link to the original source). Then, I will discuss the relationship I see between it and A Course in Miracles. For example, I might show how it echoes things said in the Course, or contrast what it says with the Course's view of the same topic. The goal is to bring a Course perspective to topics being discussed in the larger world.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A "Man for Others" I recently read an excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazis for participating in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. The biography is called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxis. (Numbers in parentheses throughout this article are page references to this work.) I've always connected with Bonhoeffer, which on the face of it may sound strange, since he was a conservative evangelical Lutheran who ended up supporting the killing of another human being—hardly a stance that brings to mind A Course in Miracles. Yet even so, for reasons I hope will become clear below, Bonhoeffer strikes me as a uncommonly good human being with qualities I admire and wish to emulate in my own way.
- More Evidence for the Course's "Law of Love" Many recent scientific studies have shown a positive correlation between helping other people and greater psychological well-being. I was recently pointed to yet another study that suggests this link. We seem to be accumulating more and more scientific evidence that, in the words of one of this study's authors, "When we help others we can also help ourselves." What A Course in Miracles calls "the law of love"- "What I give my brother is my gift to me" (W-pII.344.Heading)-seems more and more to be a genuine law that we can actually demonstrate in our daily lives.
- Give Love a Chance: A Sane Response to Extremist Islamic Terrorism Note: The specific audience for this article on extremist Islamic terrorism is non-Muslims in the Western world, simply because this is the main audience that reads my work. I believe the general principles I discuss here apply to everyone, but of course they would apply in different form to our Muslim brothers and sisters from all over the world, who are also struggling with this issue.
- The Power of Choosing to Be Grateful With the Thanksgiving holiday just past, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude. In line with this Thanksgiving theme, a colleague recently passed on to me a New York Times article by Arthur C. Brooks titled "Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier." This article highlights what many studies have shown: that cultivating an "attitude of gratitude," to use the old cliché, is beneficial to ourselves and others in many ways. A Course in Miracles would certainly agree—in its view, gratitude practiced in the right spirit is an essential part of the path to God.
- Paris: The Patient Urgency of Now Everyone in the world knows what happened in Paris on Friday, November 13: a massive terrorist attack, with over 130 dead and many more wounded, and the Islamic State (ISIS) claiming responsibility. All of us at the Circle of Atonement join the world in sending love, light, and comfort to France and to anyone touched by the attacks in any way. We pray that the love of God our Father will bring healing to the victims, wisdom to all who are called to respond to this tragic event, and illumination to the misguided brothers who carried out these attacks. May we all find a better way.
- The Placebo Effect: How Deep Does It Go? I've always been fascinated by the placebo effect: the phenomenon in medicine where people can experience healing benefits from a fake medicine if they believe the medicine is real. How is it that a sugar pill can be equally or even more effective than an actual medication designed to treat a particular ailment? This has always struck me as intriguing evidence of the mind's role in healing—a major theme of A Course in Miracles. How deep does this effect go? No one knows, but researchers are discovering some very interesting and even downright odd manifestations of it. For instance, I recently came across some findings on the placebo effect which suggest that something very odd indeed is at work: The placebo effect in trials of painkillers is actually increasing—but strangely enough, only in America.
- The Umpqua Community College ShootingsDo we choose miracles or murder? As people who follow the news in the US know, there has been yet another school shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. On Thursday, October 1, Chris Harper-Mercer killed nine people and wounded nine others, engaged in a shootout with police, and then killed himself. Our loving thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this tragic event.
Charleston: Which way will we choose?
Like everyone else, I was deeply saddened by the events in Charleston, South Carolina. In an act motivated by racial hatred, a 21-year-old white man named Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine African-American people during a bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Shockingly, he told his victims that he had to do what he did because "You rape our women and are taking over our country."
- From Vengeance to Love: Reflections on the Death Sentence for Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon Bomber One of the big events in the news recently was the conviction and sentencing to death of Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the young man whose terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killed three people and injured 260 others. The conviction is no surprise; the evidence is overwhelming that he and his brother, Tamarlan Tsarnaev (who was killed in a shootout with the police), committed the act. But the implementation of the death penalty, especially for a crime committed in a city and state that have historically been proudly against capital punishment, has led many people to reflect on an issue that has divided us for a very long time: Is the death penalty an effective way to bring about true justice?
- The issue of police and African-Americans: Can we listen deeply to each other? Like many people in the US, I have been following the ongoing controversy regarding the use of force by police against African-Americans-the latest chapter of which has been the protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, and the charging of the officers involved. Here, I don't want to weigh in with my opinion on the general issue. Rather, I want to comment on our apparent inability to really listen to one another when we talk about this and other issues.