Course Meets World Commentary Greg Mackie

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.

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  • Tiger Woods Is Not an Image (and Neither Are We) Tiger Woods is much in the news today, and not for his golf game. As just about everyone knows by now, on the heels of a strange auto accident outside his home, Woods has been accused of having numerous extramarital affairs with a list of woman that seems to grow by the day. Woods's image as a squeaky clean hero and role model has taken a huge hit. That is the topic of this piece. As I have read the many commentaries on this saga, I've been struck by how all of them focus on his image in one way or another. But what if, as A Course in Miracles claims, Tiger Woods (like the rest of us) is not an image at all?
  • If God Is Love, Why Do We Suffer? The problem of reconciling an all-powerful, all-loving God with the immense suffering of this world has perplexed human beings from time immemorial. Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman recounts his struggle with this problem and explores the (for him) inadequate biblical solutions in a fascinating book entitled God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer. In this article, Greg offers an account of how he thinks the Course would respond to Ehrman's book, and how the Course responds to the question that haunts so many of us: If God is Love, why do we suffer?
  • Forgive and Be Forgiven, Part 2: The Would-Be Robber's Gratitude In a recent Course Meets World, I reported the story of Mohammad Sohail, a convenience store owner who offered forgiveness and help to an armed man who tried to rob him. This week, I read a follow-up story reporting the most recent development in this remarkable holy encounter: the would-be robber's expression of gratitude for Sohail's priceless gift of love. I see this whole story as a beautiful real-life parable of the power of forgiveness.
  • The Fort Hood Shootings Recently, all of us were shocked by news of the horrendous shooting incident at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Along with many people around the world, I have prayed for the victims and their families. I have also prayed for the shooter and his family. And I've been thinking all week about how A Course in Miracles would have us respond to this incident, and how following the Course's counsel on how to treat our brothers might help us prevent tragedies like this in the future.
  • Near-Death Experiences and A Course in Miracles Revisited In an earlier Course Meets World piece, I discussed the many commonalities between near-death experiences (or "NDEs") and A Course in Miracles. Since writing that piece, I have continued to be fascinated by this phenomenon. Recently, I read an excellent new book on NDE research entitled The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation. This book includes a chapter on the aftereffects of NDEs — the life changes and life lessons these experiences bring to those who have them. These experiences permanently change the experiencers; the effects are so profound that in many cases they essentially become new people. As I was reading this material, I was struck by just how much the new person that the NDE produces has in common with the kind of person the Course aims to produce. That is the focus of this piece.
  • Can We Consciously Change the Unconscious? I just read a fascinating article by New York Times columnist David Brooks entitled "The Young and the Neuro." The article is about research findings in the growing field of social cognitive neuroscience, which studies the relationship between biology (especially brain biology) and social behavior. The finding I want to focus on here is one that really made me sit up and take notice when I read it: While many of our reactions stem from our unconscious minds and happen almost instantaneously, we are not therefore slaves of our unconscious programming. On the contrary, by working with our conscious attitudes and decision making, we can actually retrain our unconscious minds. This finding is good news for A Course in Miracles students, for this process of consciously changing the unconscious mind is a major element in the Course's program.
  • The Limits of Meditation The practice of meditation has become immensely popular in recent years. I think that on balance this is a good thing. Meditation offers numerous benefits, and it is one of the many practices given to us in A Course in Miracles. Yet a recent article in the Vancouver (Canada) Sun makes a point I think is worthy of serious reflection: there are limits to the benefits meditation can bring; in fact, an excessive focus on meditation may have detrimental effects on our overall development. The punch line is not that meditation is bad, but that ideally it should be one component of a more comprehensive spiritual program—a stance that I believe is reflected in the program of the Course.
  • God Is Only Love I have recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and my relocation to the "Bible Belt" has put me in regular contact with conservative Christians for the first time in my life. One thing I've noticed in a number of them is a strange combination of loving generosity toward both friends and strangers, and angry vengeance toward anyone who violates their moral code. Of course, this is actually not so strange at all: All of us display some version of this pattern, myself most certainly included. But as I've observed the conservative Christian version of it, I've realized that it is a kind of imitatio dei ("imitation of God") that reflects the nature of the God they believe in: Be both loving and vengeful because God is both loving and vengeful. As I witness this phenomenon, I find myself feeling very grateful for the radically different imitatio dei offered by both the Jesus of history and the Jesus of A Course in Miracles: Be only loving because God is only Love.
  • True Empathy for Mark Sanford (and Everyone Else) A big news story recently has been the saga of Mark Sanford, the South Carolina governor who is the latest in a series of big-name politicians caught having an extramarital affair. Many have reacted, not surprisingly, with outrage: It's bad enough to cheat on your wife, they say, but it's even worse when you have made a career of promoting conservative family values as Sanford has done. I recently read a piece, however, that suggests a different reaction to Sanford: empathy rooted in understanding that all of us are fallible. A Course in Miracles would agree that empathy is a proper response to Sanford or to anyone who makes a mistake or suffers in any way. However, it has a very different kind of empathy in mind.
  • Forgive and Be Forgiven — Even When Someone Tries to Rob You These hard economic times are driving many people to do things that they wouldn't ordinarily do. In a story passed on to me by a friend, I read about one man who was so desperate that he tried to rob a convenience store so he could feed his family. But that night, he received something far more valuable than any goods he might have been able to steal. He received the gift of forgiveness from the convenience store owner, and that gift not only transformed him, but returned to bless the owner as well. Here is yet another inspiring story about the miracle of forgiveness that is at the heart of the path of A Course in Miracles.

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