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A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles" Paperback – March 15, 1996
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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“Marianne Williamson’s book is a classic. She reveals, with elegant simplicity, that love is not a mere sentiment of emotion, but the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.” (Deepak Chopra, M.D.)
“With this gutsy book Marianne Williamson has single-handedly ushered in a powerful spiritual renewal. I wholeheartedly recommend your reading it.” (John Bradshaw, author of Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child and Creating Love: The Next Great Stage of Growth)
“Using humorous personal narrative, Williamson explains how applying love to all difficulties, as advised by “The Course,” can aid in healing.” (Library Journal)
“When I first read A Return to Love, I literally felt the excitement as I absorbed Marianne Williamson’s insights. Today, it is still a treasure to me, and Marianne is a light for the transformation of the world. You will love this book. I guarantee it.” (Wayne Dyer, author of Real Magic)
“What Marianne Williamson is getting at here is that fear hides our inner light, but that when we embrace love—which is how she defines God—we connect with who we are really meant to be. I have never been more moved by a book than I am by this one.” (O Magazine)
About the Author
Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and activist. Six of her ten published books have been New York Times bestsellers. Her books include A Return to Love, A Year of Miracles, The Law of Divine Compensation, The Gift of Change, The Age of Miracles, Everyday Grace, A Woman’s Worth, Illuminata, and A Course in Weight Loss. She has been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah, Good Morning America, and Charlie Rose.
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I rather doubt I'll ever consider myself Christian. But when you translate the concept of God from a bearded Old Testament crotchety and vengeful powerhouse to the raw and unadulterated purity of love... I don't need to read the Bible to find answers. When the idea of Jesus isn't so much the one and only Son of God, but a state of grace each and everyone of us can become through the shedding of fear... I can relate. When the word Christ is us used to speak to the fact that all of us are connected, rather than a fixation on crucifixion... I can open my mind a crack more. And the concept of the Holy Spirit as the guiding force that allows us to replace fear and its derivatives with love for ourselves and one another... alright, finally Christianity makes at least a lick of sense.
Does everything in these pages resonate to me? I'm not sure, but it doesn't need to. The whole point as there is no single right answer, beyond the fact that love is always the right answer. But going to church on Sunday, believing in Jesus, living a life of abstaining from all physical joys or looking upon others or ourselves with judgement and shame... not a prerequisite to finding wisdom in these pages. I would finish a chapter, and the whole world would seem to make more sense. Colors looked better, and I would sink into a feeling of peace is never felt before. The book calls my shift in perception a miracle. I don't think I'm capable of disagreeing on that point. As the author says, this is only the beginning, not the destination. I don't know if I'll read or undertake A Course in Miracles, but I do know that this companion, this interpretation, has changed my world for the better.
I was recommended this book by someone, and I think the underlying message of the book is quite powerful. It basically teaches you to let go, focus on your inner light, aka your love, and let the rest happen as it will. I think this does wonders to curb your anxiety, and in a world were we are constantly bombarded with the collective neurosis that we constantly need to be "doing" and "making things happen," this offers a refreshingly saner perspective. It is counter-intuitive at times how, by letting things unfold as they will, we often get the things we so wanted as a by-product of focusing on our own inner light and bringing love to the world around us. This is where the message of this book is powerful.
This book does use Christian theology as the way to explain this process. So it is based a lot on faith and prayer. As an atheist, I was able to overlook this and re-frame some of this as thinking about it in terms of the universe, and allowing the universe to unfold as it will. I don't particularly believe in prayer, but again I was able to overlook this in order to follow the message of the book, which really is about love.
However, things got a bit sideways around Chapter 8. The author makes several claims, without citing any sources or studies:
1. That the pill that the doctor gives us only heals us because we believe it heals us.
2. That holistic medicine is just as effective in treating cancer as traditional medicine, because it is the patient's mental and emotional interaction with his treatment that activates the healing power.
3. That when the cure for AIDs is finally found, we will give prizes to a few scientists, but many of us will know that millions and millions of prayers helped it happen.
Especially the last one made me yell "Bullshit!" so loud that I am pretty sure I woke my neighbors. First of all, the author provides no evidence to back up the exceptional statements she makes. I don't see any studies or sources which can confirm her rather bold statements. As Hitchens said rather succinctly, "Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence, and that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
In the US especially where anti-scientific attitude is pervasive (see: anti-vaxxers) her words here are actually quite dangerous. I really hope they don't lead people down the wrong path, and that people go to qualified medical professionals for their illnesses rather than try and pray themselves to health.
So the book, which uses primarily Christian theology to explain the idea of love, unfortunately also suffers from the insanity of Christian theology in the belief that prayer can cure something like AIDs.
Has this book overall been helpful to me, personally? I would say yes, it has. There is beauty and positivity in focusing on giving love and paying attention to your inner light. However, I would only recommend this book with a warning clause that some of the statements made by the author suffer from the archaic (and potentially dangerous) thinking that plagues most theologies.
*edit: After finishing the book I still stand by my original review. One thing I wanted to add is that I have been using the “prayers” from the book (I just make them secular) as they seem to be a good way to ease anxiety and emotions when faced with difficult events or thoughts. Coupled with meditation it’s a good way to cope in harder times. The methods in this book are quite good in that regard; reframing your thoughts.