This Tuesday Shmuly Boteach’s Jewish Values Network together with YU is sponsoring an symposium on Jewish values. One of the main speakers on Jewish values is Marianne Williamson. I assume that no one at YU knew who she was or looked into it and now it is too late to change it. I don’t blame them. I assume that once they saw the conference had Michael Steinhardt, Dershowitz, Steinsaltz, and Tulushkin, then they could sponsor it, since these speakers represents Yeshiva University values. (This is an interesting topic in its own right.) But I find it quirky at the least but also disturbing since I know someone who almost converted out of Judaism because of her. full schedule here
Who is Marianne Williamson? The following account is all quotes from the web- so technically I should indent.
The story began in 1965 when Helen Schucman, a professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University in New York, began receiving channeled messages from a speaker who would later identify himself as Jesus Christ. The messages began with the words, “Please take notes,” this is not optional. So Helen Schucman a atheist Jewish psychologist began writing and for the next ten years the voice is said to have dictated “in an inaudible voice” over 500,000 words contained in the three volumes. This was done through the process called automatic handwriting, (in which a spirit entity guides the hand )and clairaudience, (hearing from a disembodied spirit) Schucman wrote this hefty volume, and she claims the source of the words was Jesus Himself.
The primary reason for the Course is the “Correcting of the errors of Christianity…. To foster spiritual development through the study and practice of A Course In Miracles, a set of three books channeled by Jesus. …to teach the Course’s reinterpretation of traditional Christian principles such as sin, suffering, forgiveness, Atonement, and the meaning of the Crucifixion…” (Foundation for A Course In Miracles, “Forgiveness,” p.3- 4).,
Marianne Williamson’s full embrace of the Course led her to give talks and lectures on it, which eventually resulted in the publication of A Return To Love. The book A Return to Love, became immensely popular as an inspirational self help book. Here most famous new age quote which has been attributed to many:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
With the strong Eastern influence in self-help writing, the Christian stance of A Return to Love stands out, but it is best seen as a spiritual work that happens to use the Christian terminology of the Course. Williamson is quick to admit that all ideas about God are expressions of a single reality (she herself has a Jewish background), and that people do not have to consider they have a personal relationship to ‘God’ to be an advanced Course student. Its students proceed according to how they treat other people. So to even think the name “Jesus” is to be reminded of one’s essential nature and one’s essential power. A Course in Miracles also says “you do not have to personally invite Jesus into your thought system to aid you in your journey.” But Jesus can do more for you if you did.
Remember I’m not a Christian, I am a Jew. My conversion to Christ, and to me conversion means “a conversion in thought-forms and a belief system.” I don’t feel that I was born a Jew and was supposed to become a Christian. But I do feel I was born a Jew, I am a Jew, and I was meant to meet Jesus on my journey. It is, above all others, my most predestined relationship. I feel blessed to have met him as a Jew.
1] So did no one notice? Was it because Shmuly Boteach took charge? How are they going to spin this as authentic Jewish values? I assume that no one looked over the program.
2] Is all new age, self-help, and popular spirituality OK as part of Judaism? How does anyone teaching 12-step, “The Secret,” or Course in Miracles manage to call themselves Hasidism and Kabbalah?
3] Is new age really the new cosmology, meaning that it is invisible and taken as a given by common sense, in which it is OK to say Marianne Williamson is kosher and muttar in a way that Biblical scholars or historians are not be kosher?