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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  • ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza: Forgiving the Rwandan Holocaust Since the central teaching of A Course in Miracles is forgiveness, I love hearing about extreme forgiveness stories in which someone forgives the seemingly unforgivable. I've shared a few of those in these "Course Meets World" Commentaries, such as Roy Ratcliff forgiving the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and Eva Kor forgiving the Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele. Recently, I came across another remarkable forgiver: a woman named Immaculée Ilibagiza. In her book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, she tells the amazing story of how she survived the genocide that took nearly a million lives, including almost her entire immediate family. Above all, it is a story of the transformative power of forgiveness.
  • Are We Living in a Virtual Reality? The idea that we are living in some sort of artificial world has long fascinated human beings. This fascination is reflected in the numerous science fiction works on this topic, and in the popularity of movies like the Matrix trilogy and The Truman Show. Most of us, of course, dismiss it as an intriguing fantasy, not to be taken seriously as a real possibility. However, with the advent of more and more powerful computers, some are beginning to wonder if this possibility is more likely than we have suspected. A philosopher at Oxford University named Nick Bostrom presents an argument that suggests there is a good chance—"a 20 percent chance" according to his "gut feeling"—that our world is a computer simulation run by someone in a "posthuman" civilization. Is this true? Who knows? But our continued fascination with possibilities like this makes me wonder if something in us suspects that what A Course in Miracles says is true: Life as we know it is taking place in what could be called a virtual reality.
  • The Agony of Mother Teresa Some time ago, the world was shocked by revelations about the inner life of Mother Teresa. Published letters to her confessors and superiors reveal that for the last fifty years of her life, while she was selflessly giving the Love of God to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, inwardly she was not feeling His Love at all. While she was beaming that beatific smile in public, in private she was telling her confidants that the smile was "a mask," "a cloak that covers everything." While her outer life was apparently full of light and love, she described her inner life as "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness," and "torture," so hellish that she even expressed doubts about the existence of God. What are we to make of this? Of course, no one can know exactly what is in another's soul. That being said, I believe A Course in Miracles can shed some helpful light on this.
  • Are Little Children Really Egoless? The innocence of children is a truism. We tend to view children, especially very young ones, as pure, guileless little angels. It is even said that children are our teachers, egoless beings of light who remind us of the innocence we lost when we grew up and entered the self-centered, manipulative adult world. Yet recent research reported in the UK Telegraph has demonstrated what many parents have probably suspected all along: Even very young children are not quite as guileless as they seem. Just as with adults, it appears that behind many of a small child's "innocent" actions is a manipulative ego using subterfuge to get its way. This finding lends support to the less sentimental view of children presented in A Course in Miracles.
  • Is Hierarchy Really Such a Bad Thing? It is common in our culture, especially in the counterculture, to say that hierarchy is bad, so we should aim to create human communities with no hierarchy at all. Given the unfortunate human propensity for creating "domination systems" in which small groups of elites ruthlessly oppress everyone else, this sentiment is certainly understandable. There are lots of unhealthy hierarchies in the world that need to be reformed. But is all hierarchy inherently bad? And is it even possible to have a community with no hierarchy of any kind? Richard Conniff writes in the New York Times that in his opinion, the answer to both questions is no. Though this may come as a surprise to many students of A Course in Miracles, I believe the Course would agree.
  • Mother Antonia: The Prison Angel The goal of A Course in Miracles is to produce miracle workers, people who devote their lives to extending love and forgiveness to others in thought, word, and deed. This extension heals others and thereby makes our own healing complete. What does a life of miracle working look like? One way to answer this question is to look to real life examples of miracle workers in our midst. One amazing example is Mother Antonia, the "Prison Angel of Tijuana," who left a comfortable life in Beverly Hills to spend the last thirty years serving her "beloved hijos" (sons) in a squalid Mexican prison.
  • Apocalypse 2012? The idea that the world will end in a cataclysmic apocalypse that ushers in a new age is one of the most enduring human ideas. It is all the rage today. From fundamentalist Christians awaiting a Left Behind-style Rapture and Tribulation, to Shiite Muslims preparing for the arrival of the Twelfth Imam, to New Agers anticipating the extraterrestrials who will make all things new, everyone seems to agree with Bob Dylan that "the times they are a changin'." I recently read a New York Times Magazine article that describes a new version of the apocalyptic scenario: the belief that the world as we know it will end in 2012, the final year of the ancient Mayan calendar. This got me to thinking about what A Course in Miracles tells us about how the world will end.
  • Are Psychic Abilities Real? A Course in Miracles claims that the mind has abilities far beyond what our modern worldview deems possible. Stories of things like extrasensory perception (the ability to mentally receive information without the use of conventional channels), precognition (the ability to see the future), and psychokinesis (the ability to move physical things with the mind) have been reported from ancient times. Many people claim to be psychic, we've all heard amazing stories, and most of us have had "woo woo" experiences at one time or another. But given the human propensity for wishful thinking, self-deception, and (sadly) the perpetration of outright fraud, how can we really know for sure whether "psi phenomena" are real?
  • Forgiving Doctor Mengele Forgiveness is the central teaching of A Course in Miracles. The Course tells us that "forgiveness is the only sane response" (T-30.VI.2:8) to apparent attack, "the key to happiness" (W-pI.121.Heading), and "the way in which your only hope of freedom lies" (S-2.I.6:1). The Course calls us to forgive everyone and everything without exception, yet this seems to be such a daunting task. Can we really forgive everyone and everything? One way to bolster our conviction that we can is to learn from the example of people who have forgiven the seemingly unforgivable. This week, PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly program profiled one such person: a woman named Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor who forgave Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor known as the "angel of death."
  • Give 'Til It Feels Good We're all familiar with the phrase "Give 'til it hurts." Yet a recent scientific study shows that giving really feels good. The brain registers positive feelings not only when you give to another person, but can even do so when you witness giving from a source other than yourself. This finding dovetails nicely with the fundamental teaching of A Course in Miracles that giving is receiving, and the related teaching that when anyone gives a true gift of love, everyone benefits. In the Course's words: "You are being blessed by every beneficent thought of any of your brothers anywhere" (T-5.In.3:1).

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