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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  • Freedom Is Free As those of us in the United States celebrate Independence Day on July 4, I've been reflecting on the nature of freedom. What does freedom really mean? Who is free? What is he or she free from? How is freedom acquired, and at what cost? The answers to these questions given by A Course in Miracles are quite different from the answers implied by the story we celebrate with marching bands, patriotic speeches, and fireworks on the Fourth.
  • The Atheist and the Martyr An unexpected development in book publishing recently has been the popularity of a group of authors dubbed the "New Atheists," unabashed nonbelievers taking passionate aim at religious faith. Sam Harris got the ball rolling with his bestseller The End of Faith, and since then other bestsellers have followed: Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens's recent God Is Not Great, to name a few. These authors' reasons for not believing in God are many and varied, but one reason for their zeal has been the post-9/11 fear of a group who might be called the "New Martyrs": Islamic suicide terrorists. (This is certainly true of Harris, whose book is subtitled "Religion, Terror, and the End of Reason" and includes a withering chapter on Islam.) Indeed, the two groups seem like natural opponents: atheists who reject belief in God, and martyrs who are willing to die (and in this case kill) for God. Yet surprisingly, according to A Course in Miracles, beneath the surface the atheist and the martyr are not really so different.
  • All My Relations Human beings and other animals are very good at telling relatives apart from strangers. Now, a recent study has shown for the first time that plants can do this as well. Does this mean, as A Course in Miracles seems to suggest, that plants are sentient beings, beings that in some sense could be called "persons"?
  • Forgetting In Order to Remember Better A New York Times article describes a recent study that provides physical evidence for a major theory in cognitive studies: Blocking distracting memories—forgetting them—is a key part of the process of remembering new things that we want to remember. In other words, to quote A Course in Miracles, "You forget in order to remember better" (T-7.II.6:5)
  • Global Warming and A Course in Miracles Hardly a day goes by without another ominous report on global warming. Just a couple of days ago, I read an article about a series of authoritative studies that say global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than the worst predictions. The scientific community has reached a massive consensus: Global warming is really happening, and it is mainly caused by human activity. It will have dramatic effects on the earth and human society unless we act quickly to do something about it (and may have dramatic effects even if we do act quickly). Recently, someone asked me what A Course in Miracles would have to say about all this. Does the Course shed any light on this issue?
  • Near-Death Experiences and A Course in Miracles Long before I had ever heard of A Course in Miracles, I read Life After Life, Raymond Moody's seminal book on near-death experiences (NDEs). When I later read the Course, I remember noticing things in it that reminded me of things in Moody's book. Now, after reading a recent article summarizing the latest research on near-death experiences, I'm struck once again by just how much in those experiences echoes things said in the Course.
  • Is Your Brain Really Necessary? You may dismiss the title question as a real no brainer, but in so doing you may be closer to the truth than you realize. I recently encountered some remarkable research that suggests that at least for some people, the answer may be no. A British neurology professor named Dr. John Lorber (now deceased) collected several hundred case studies of people with "no detectable brain" who nonetheless lived perfectly normal lives and scored up to 120 on IQ tests.
  • Hearing the Music The Washington Post magazine recently performed an interesting experiment: They had world-renowned concert violinist Joshua Bell pose as a street musician. He took his 1713 Stradivarius violin to a Washington, D.C. subway station during the morning commute and played six pieces for forty-three minutes. What would happen? Would people notice his virtuosity? Would they stop and listen? How much money would they give him? I found the results of the experiment fascinating, in part because they seem to echo what A Course in Miracles says about the nature of perception.
  • The Power of Negative Thinking Positive thinking is all the rage in America these days, especially in alternative spiritual circles. As Atul Gawande states in a recent New York Times article, "the prevailing wisdom is that thinking positive is the key—The Secret, even—to success." Gawande goes on, however, to say that at least at some times and in some areas of life, "Negative thinking may be exactly what we need." I think A Course in Miracles would agree.
  • What Can We Do Together? It's a sad fact that when we hear about Muslims in the news these days, it's usually about fundamentalists blowing people up in the name of global jihad. But as I watched public broadcasting's excellent Religion and Ethics Newsweekly program a couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to a Muslim who is the antithesis of that unfortunate stereotype. His name is Eboo Patel, a 31-year-old Indian-American Muslim who is the founder and leader of a movement called the Interfaith Youth Core.

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