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A Course in Miracles

 

Question & Answer

 
Q: By Leyton

I was wondering what the Progressive Christian attitude to the spiritual/philosophical text “A Course in Miracles” is?

A: By Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox
 
Dear Leyton,

Thank you for your question.  Just a few weeks ago I was lecturing at the Aspen Chapel in Aspen, Colorado where they are celebrating their 50th anniversary and this exact question arose.  I am happy to address it, but I don’t pretend to speak in the name of all “progressive Christians.”

I recognize A Course of Miracles (COM) as very much a mystical work.

Ted Roszak said that “the Enlightenment held mysticism up for ridicule as the worst offense against science and reason.”  So that is the first thing I would say about COM—that for a religious era that is famished for mysticism, because modern consciousness killed it and modern seminaries (both Jewish and Christian) ignored it, the Course of Miracles has provided real nourishment for many.

The killing of the mystical has no small part to play in the cosmic loneliness of our culture, the insipidness of contemporary religion, and the destruction of the planet.  For without the Via Positiva of the mystics we will not save the planet.

SO, the course of Miracles has touched and awakened many people to that missing mystical dimension of our souls and consciousness.  That is its plus.

HOWEVER, mysticism is meant to lead to justice-making.  Otherwise, it is just another idol on our growing piles of idols in our time where race, nation, militarism, patriarchy, consumerism, ecocide, homophobia, extractive and consumer capitalism reign.  Authentic mysticism (love) is meant to feed prophetic action (prophecy and justice-making).

The prophet is the “mystic in action” and we must ask if the COM leads to prophetic action and justice-making and dethroning of idols.  (Just as we must ask that of any spiritual experience.)

My observation suggests that the COM does not deal well with anger or moral outrage or the shadow; therefore it cannot deal well with justice making.  Being spiritual does not mean ignoring anger.  Non-violent movements do not ignore anger but convert it to something healthy. Thomas Aquinas says that “nothing great happens without anger” and that virtue is to be found in our passions not in spite of them.  To suppress anger feeds the status quo and sucks the energy out of people rendering them depressed and passive couch potatoes instead of engaged adult citizens.

There is a danger in COM of undervaluing the reality of evil—a kind of Cosmic Christ without the wounds, all light.  I see that as its weakness.  Our third chakra is  where we feel kicked in the gut from injustice and where compassion is first awakened (the Greek word for “compassion” in the gospels used often of Jesus means literally, ‘his bowels turned over.’)  Jesus tapped into his moral outrage, the turning over of the merchant tables in the Temple is one example, as are many verbal confrontations he delivered against religious pooh-bahs whom he called “hypocrites, whitened sepulchers” and more.

I met recently a COM devotee who said Buddhists and Christians are wrong to talk about “redemptive suffering”, and she is living her life as if there is no suffering.  Yikes!  Really?  How fully does one have to withdraw from reality to do that?  To me it seems more wise to say with the Buddhists that “all beings suffer”, and with a healthy interpretation of the cross, that Jesus and innocents suffer.  What is compassion about if not to recognize suffering and try to relieve it? Or, as Gandhi said, if you are to be a leader “prepare yourself for mountains of suffering.”

When push comes to shove, therefore, I prefer Jesus, Gandhi and the Buddha to COM.

~ Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author
You can find Matthew Fox in Daily Meditations With Matthew Fox, where he offers meditations like these for Free and is currently treating the topic of developing our mystical and prophetic consciousness.

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