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A call for aspiring Course scholars

As you know, we are in the midst of a month devoted to finding and fulfilling our special function. Therefore, it seems like a good time to take a step forward in a venture that I regard as part of my own special function.

For years, I have yearned for the day when A Course in Miracles would be taken seriously by scholars and public figures in the many fields the Course touches upon (religion, psychology, philosophy, etc.). Whenever I read a book in one of these fields, even a brilliant book by an author I greatly respect, I always find myself saying, “The Course would shed such amazing new light on this author’s topic.” Whenever I see one of those panels where public figures comment on an issue (like one I saw with various religious figures commenting on how we should respond to 9/11), I have dearly wished for the Course to have a seat at the table. It has so much to contribute to the “larger conversation” going on in our world today.

Unfortunately, at present A Course in Miracles is such a fringe phenomenon that virtually no serious scholar or respected public figure will touch it (with a very few notable exceptions). Say the words “channeled from Jesus,” and scholars’ careers flash before their eyes. Let’s face it, however wonderful we think it is, in the public perception the Course has “New Age flakey” written all over it. And the current Course community, with its disdain for the intellect and embrace of dubious teachers, doesn’t help matters. Frankly, if I were a serious thinker with little knowledge of the Course, I myself would be leery of it.

This situation has a profound effect on me personally, because as I mentioned, I feel that getting a Course scholarship tradition started is part of my special function. I have had a great deal of guidance over the years pointing me in this direction. But since scholars largely ignore the Course and Course students largely ignore scholarship, it seems that an important aspect of my life purpose is on hold. So, this issue is not just “academic,” if you’ll pardon the pun. This has a lot of personal meaning and significance for me.

How do we get from the current state of affairs, in which the Course is avoided like the plague, to the point where it is taken seriously? This is a daunting task. Robert and I have been trying for years, with little success. True, we’ve had a few bright spots along the way. Robert has had rich online dialogues with people like Jim Marion and Roger Walsh. He was recently published in an academic anthology on the topic of miracles. But these little successes are few and far between. After years of trying to get scholars interested, we have made little progress. What more can we do?

Recently, we came up with an idea: Why not turn to the Circle Course Community for help? Just as the responsibility for starting a new Course tradition most likely rests on the shoulders of our community, the responsibility for starting a new Course scholarship tradition most likely rests on those same shoulders. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else taking this ball and running with it. If real Course scholarship and public dialogue about the Course is to happen, it seems like it is really up to us. And perhaps, Robert and I thought, there are people in this community who could help get this new Course scholarship tradition going.

We see two major aspects to this tradition. One, there would be scholars on the “inside” who would plumb the depths of the Course and share their findings with the larger community of Course scholars, teachers, and students. Two, there would be scholars and teachers on the “outside” who would be public spokespersons, taking the Course to the larger world and engaging in dialogue with people who come from other traditions and fields of inquiry. Of course, some individuals may well be proficient in both roles.

So, we are turning to you, the members of the Circle Course Community, and asking you to consider these questions: Do you feel a calling to help begin a tradition of Course scholarship? Do you share our desire to dig deeper into the Course and/or dialogue with those from other traditions and perspectives? Do you have scholarly inclination and ability? Do you have experience in academia or related areas, and would you like to share your experience with us? Do you have ideas for how to get this started?