"First lets clear up that silly Urtext nonsense about sex. The Urtext was never meant by Jesus to be published. Jesus told Helen and Bill to take the personal stuff out, but since the Urtext was stolen from the Library Of Congress and was then put out on the internet, illegally, we now have to deal with all the wacky interpretations of it. What we all need to get is that Helen was a rusty channel at first and her ego got in the way in the beginning of the scribing and the sex stuff came from her own religious hang ups about sex. Jesus would never had said such a thing as that.” – Written by Rev. Marci Benson on February 18, 2010 on the Community Miracles Center’s “On-Line *ACIM* Discussion Group.”
[Editors Note: What follows was written by Doug Thompson, the person who compiled and is largely responsible for the publishing of the *Urtext* in it’s present form. (Formally published in the USA by Miracles In Action Press) This current *Urtext* has copius footnotes, a paragraph reference system, extensive front matter, back matter, and numerous appendices that are Doug’s work. The Community Miracles Center asked Doug to comment on the post above as he is an expert on the *Urtext*. This is his reply.]
A Course In Miracles which have been said over the years which are not true or are not “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
In this one paragraph (above) we have a number of statements which are at best highly subjective interpretive opinions expressed as if they were established “FACTS.”
In terms of “law” and what is “illegal” and what is “legal” I need to say first that I am not a lawyer and my understanding of the legal issues results from discussing these issues with many lawyers over the years since I was first told that quoting the Course, in any version, AT ALL, to any extent, was “illegal.”
So these are my opinions about what is or is not legal. The only claim to illegality that has ever been tested in court is the claim that any publication of the Course was a violation of copyright. The court found there was not and never had been any valid copyright on the Course.
Until tested by a court we cannot reasonably say anything is or isn’t illegal, since only courts can decide whether any specific action broke any specific law, though we can say something “is alleged to be illegal.”
There are five basic issues raised, and I will deal with each rather briefly.
1) Sex, Helen’s Ego, and What Jesus Would or Wouldn’t Say
2) Rusty Pipes
3) Remove Personal Stuff
4) Urtext Was Not Supposed to Be Published
5) Urtext Was Published Illegally
1) Sex, Helen’s Ego, and What Jesus Would or Wouldn’t Say
There is a great deal in the original dictation of the Course about sex, the confusion of sexual impulses with miracle impulses, and how such confusion can block the awareness of Love’s presence. To view that ALL as Helen’s ego and therefore nonsense is an opinion that could not result from a careful reading of it. There is little which could in any way be seen as reflecting Helen’s own opinions! We cannot exclude the possibility of “scribal error” with respect to any particular sentence, but we are dealing with several dozen pages here, not just one troubling sentence.
The original Shorthand Notes contain many passages which are clearly Helen’s own composition. Helen’s “voice” and style is very distinct from that of Jesus, and there is rarely the slightest difficulty in distinguishing “what’s channeled” and “what’s from Helen.”
To suggest “Jesus would never have said such as thing as that” is an unfortunate prejudice which I suspect applies to a misunderstanding of the statement “the only VALID use of sex is procreation.” Taken out of the context of a lengthy discussion of the topic, and interpreted as a kind of puritanical prohibition on any sex act not intended to procreate, is to entirely misunderstand Jesus’ point AND Jesus’ language.
The most controversial paragraph is this:
“T 1 B 40f. The only VALID use of sex is procreation. It is NOT truly pleasurable in itself. ‘Lead us not into Temptation’ means ‘Do not let us deceive ourselves into believing that we can relate in peace to God or our brothers with ANYTHING external.”
It also occurs in the context of a lengthy discussion of VALIDITY as opposed to RELIABILTY in the interpretation of statistical data. “Valid” doesn’t mean “permissible” or even necessarily “good” and is less a value judgment than an attribute of data interpretation that is either present or absent. Jesus uses that highly technical statistical concept to help Helen and Bill understand the difference between genuine miracle impulses (which are VALID) and distortions or misperceptions of miracle impulses (which are NOT valid). To use sex, or for that matter ANYTHING ELSE, solely for the purpose of PERSONAL PLEASURE is a self-deception, and the deception is that we can relate to God or others with ANYTHING external. Helen and her ego certainly thought she could, and frequently tried to. Her ego would be exceedingly unlikely to come up with this kind of statement with which she said she disagreed!
Jesus would not say that? What DO you think Jesus would say, that the use of sex (or anything external) can help us to relate in peace to God or our brothers?
So the word “valid” here means that if the objective is to relate to God and others in peace, nothing “external” is going to be useful (valid for that purpose) and that includes sex outside of its role in procreation such that when two people come together for the purpose of procreation rather than the objectification of each other, sex CAN BE HELPFUL in building authentic creative relationship.
There is a huge section, following the original principles of miracles, dealing with ways in which miracle impulses can be distorted, and the perception of others as sex objects who can be possessed or manipulated for personal pleasure is one of the many kinds of distorted perceptions that Jesus says can block or misdirect miracle impulses. That huge section is reduced to a few summary paragraphs by the time the editing was finished. All 44 instances of the word “sex” are edited out.
Now THAT is what sounds like ego at work!
The “instructions on sex” generally are described by Jesus in these words:
“T 1 B 40b. I want to finish the instructions about sex, because this is an area the miracle worker MUST understand.”
Does that sound like what Helen’s ego would compose? Or is the removal of material Helen states left her uncomfortable, more like an expression of Helen’s ego? She did not like the idea that she’d have to change her attitudes about sex to be an effective miracle worker. In that, she is apparently not alone!
The general thrust of the teaching on sex is indicated in this paragraph:
“T 1 B 40c. Inappropriate sex drives (or misdirected miracle-impulses) result in guilt if expressed, and depression if denied. We said before that ALL real pleasure comes from doing God’s will. Whenever it is NOT done an experience of lack results. This is because NOT doing the will of God IS a lack of self.”
Does that sound like “nonsense,” or Helen’s ego? In fact she was intensely uncomfortable with the entire topic, SAYS SO HERSELF in one of her comments in the Notes.
Where “Helen’s ego” interferes with the Course most often and most intensely is in the editing done many years later, not in the dictation. As the words came to her, as she began to write the first words of a sentence, she often didn’t know how a sentence would end. There was relatively little room in that process for her to fudge the dictation and change the meaning. After the fact, however, she has described at length her own dislike of the material as she understood it and her desire to change it. Unfortunately, she changed a great deal many years after the dictation and often in contravention of specific dictated instructions. That’s where “Helen’s ego” ran riot.
The second idea to which some take exception is this:
“T 1 B 41ay. As was said before, homosexuality is inherently more risky (or error prone) than heterosexuality, but both can be undertaken on an equally false basis. The falseness of the basis is clear in the accompanying fantasies. Homosexuality ALWAYS involves misperception of the self OR the partner, and generally both.”
Now in some circles that might be “politically incorrect” but I don’t think it is “gay bashing.” I’ve shown that paragraph to a number of gay friends, none of whom saw it as gay bashing and most of whom felt it was at least largely, if regrettably, correct.
If you read it as “homosexuality is BAD” then of course Jesus would not likely say that, but that’s not what the Urtext actually says, as you can see. He says the “accompanying fantasies” are “error prone” and this is in the context of a discussion of risks associated with fantasies generally! It’s also in the context of Bill asking some specific questions about homosexuality. That question about sex is largely answered in a subsequent paragraph:
“T 1 B 41ba. The lack of love (or faulty need-orientation) which led to your particular person (not OBJECT) choices CAN BE corrected within the existent framework, and would HAVE to be in the larger interest of overall progress. The situation is questionable largely because of its inherent vulnerability to fantasy gratification. Doing the best you can WITHIN this limitation is probably the best corrective measure at present. Any relationship you have undertaken for whatever reasons becomes a responsibility.”
“T 1 B 41bb. If you shift your own needs, some amount of corresponding shift in the need-orientation of the other person MUST result, This will be beneficial, even if the partner was originally attracted to you BECAUSE of your disrespect. Teaching devices which are totally alien to a learner’s perceptual system are usually merely disruptive. Transfer depends on SOME common elements in the new situation which are understandable in terms of the old.”
I would point out that this is wholly consistent with the later teaching on “special relationships” undertaken on the basis of fantasy. Almost all relationships start with that, we are told, but can be transformed into Holy Relationships.
In this early section, the emphasis is on identifying aspects of specialness which interefere with miracle-mindedness.
2) Rusty Pipes
It was several weeks after the dictation began before Helen recognized that Jesus had a lot he wanted to dictate. At first she frequently interrupts the dictation with questions and even discussion, protest, and digressions about personal issues she was experiencing with others, etc.
Yes, she also made a few clear errors in the first week or so, and we know this because corrections for these are dictated.
At several points, years before there was any editing to this material, Jesus urges Helen and Bill to study the first few weeks of dictation closely, advising them that it was a crucial foundation for the correct understanding of the rest. He also dictated a number of corrections. He didn’t tell them to take out the material on sex. Rather he said they MUST understand it!
Jesus also said that “every word is meaningful” and any errors would be retroactively corrected if he was asked. There is nothing more indisputable than the fact that every version of the Course contains scribal errors. Their identification can sometimes be tricky and my point is not to suggest the Urtext is flawless or that we should not be alert for things that “sound off.”
3) Remove Personal Stuff
Jesus didn’t say to remove “personal stuff” but rather said that “nothing that relates to a specific RELATIONSHIP belongs in the notes.” There are, in the Notes, several discussions of specific RELATIONSHIPS with other people which are clearly what is being addressed in that instruction, and those are mostly removed in the Urtext.
There is one very personal instruction to Helen prefaced with “this does not belong in the notes.” And then Jesus says that Bill should decide what to include and what to exclude, implying that Helen is not to make these decisions herself but to ask Bill. For the first five years that’s what she did, and then she abandoned that instruction and began to remove a great deal on her own.
4) Urtext Was Not Supposed to Be Published
Where did the idea arise that anything was “not supposed to be published?” That some of the original dictation included material that was not “part of the Course” is plain enough, but not being “part of the Course” in no way implies that it was therefore intended to be kept secret in perpetuity. Had that been the author’s intent his instructions would have been “burn it.” Those were not his instructions. His instructions were “leave it out of the Course.” They were not “don’t let anyone read it.” The vast majority of the material on sex is not at all “personal.” The one segment in the Shorthand Notes which IS a personal message for Bill in response to his question about homosexuality, WAS LEFT OUT of the Urtext!
As Ken tells the story in Absence from Felicity, some years after Helen’s death her husband, Louis, asked Ken to copyright 22 volumes of Helen’s unpublished writings, most of which were, in fact, already published. At that time any copyrights for which that material was eligible would have belonged to Louis, as Helen’s next of kin. Louis, who was a bookstore owner, almost certainly understood that by “copyrighting” anything, you A) make it accessible to the public (the United States Copyright Office [USCO] is a public archive) and B) ensure that one day it enters the public domain (copyrights expire). [Editors Note: USCO is part of The Library of Congress, hence the often repeated idea that the *Urtext* was stolen from The Library of Congress.]
Whatever copyright law DOES, what is DOES NOT do, is make anything “secret.” It doesn’t put ANY limits on who can READ it. Copyright does quite the opposite, it places the material in a public archive to which anyone has ACCESS, with SOME LIMITS on reproduction.
The only way to ensure that something remains secret is to destroy it. Putting it in a public archive is the way to ensure it does NOT remain secret!
5) Urtext Was Published Illegally
There is nothing “illegal” then or now about you or I going to the copyright office and asking to read the material. Nor is there anything illegal about either of us reporting on what it said or quoting segments of it (fair use provision of US copyright law). The reproduction of the whole of it WOULD violate copyright, if there were any valid copyright. Since Ken copyrighted the material under his own name, and since he is not and does not claim to be the author of most of it, his claim to copyright is not valid.
And since we are talking “law” here, what is clearly illegal, in both US and Canadian law, is the accusation that someone “stole” something in the absence of a court of competent jurisdiction making a finding of fact to that effect in a trial in which the accused has the opportunity to face his accuser before an unbiased tribunal. Failing that, the claim is an unsubstantiated opinion at best, malicious libel at worst.
Most of the 22 volumes have now been published. I’m still working on the few difficult bits that have not yet appeared on my website or in print. Since Judge Sweet overturned the copyright claim on the Course in 2002, NO ONE has ever complained, TO ME, that publication of this material violates any law or copyright. Certainly no one has sued me.
This has all been published in Canada (first) and later in the USA. Canadian copyright law is different than US copyright law. The interesting difference here is that Canadian law gives a copyright claimant six months and only six months to make a copyright infringement claim.
Therefore the material is entirely in the public domain in Canadian law. In US law, well, it could still be argued. I have no reason to suppose such an argument would get anywhere, but US law does not provide that six month statutory limitation. Canadian law does. I’m in Canada. That’s the law I’m obliged to obey.
That material has also been published in the USA. No one, since 2002, has yet to ask any judge in the USA to order a stop to that. No one has even formally requested a stop to that publication. Were that to happen, well then a judge would have to look at it. No one has asked any judge in the USA or Canada to do so.
So, what’s “illegal” here except the libelous claim that the publication of public domain documents is illegal?
Jesus said of the Course that we would believe all of it or none of it. To me, that meant “well you need to at least LOOK at all of it.”
The Hugh Lynn Cayce leaves out 40,000 words of it. The Foundation for Inner Peace version leaves out 50,000 words of it. What IS “all of it?”
All of it except for soul and sex and possession and the obstacles to miracles and spiritual eye and other things Ken doesn’t like? Or ALL OF IT?
(Doug Thompson mirs in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He is largely responsible for the publishing of *The Urtext Manuscripts* and *The Hugh Lynn Cayce Manuscript*, both of which have been lauded for their scholarly purity and their wonderful inclusion of, detailed forewords, prefaces, introductions, annotations, appendices, etc. To see more of Doug’s work, thoughts, and a video introduction by Doug himself go to:* http://www.miraclesinactionpress.com/dthomp74/ *. Y
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This article appeared in the August 2010 (Vol. 24 No.6) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by