On May 29, 2016, at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA, Rev. Tony Ponticello gave a talk to those gathered for the Sunday Service. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
Good morning everybody! ("Good morning.") That was lame. Good morning everybody! (louder "Good morning!!!") Thank you. Thank you. I'll take off my hat in honor of my mother. (Rev. Tony takes off his fedora and puts it on the piano.) Ok. "The Gloriousness of Our Greatness," that's the title of my talk today. I want to talk about being glorious and great. At the beginning of the month, on May 1st, I was up here and I gave a talk about the Las Vegas Conference and the challenges that we have had since the Las Vegas Conference. Today I wanted to explain a little bit more about the presentation that I did at the Las Vegas Conference.
When I spoke on May 1st we had just lost two members of the Community Miracles Center Board of Directors and two other Supporting Members apparently because of what happened at the Las Vegas Conference. Then right after I gave that talk, we lost our long time pianist because of what happened at the Conference and the May 1st talk. We lost another Supporting Member recently. We lost a teacher of our classes in a related incident, not directly because of what happened at the Conference but it related to that. When we lost that teacher, we lost almost all of her students in her classes. They were all being loyal to her and have moved along with her. Two of them were Supporting Members and so then we lost those two Supporting Members. So, it's like a domino effect. It's really "great." It's like everything just keeps falling over, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop.
The Las Vegas Conference and that finale presentation, it's like the gift that just keeps on giving. (laughter) We just keep collapsing, and it's a challenge. It's a challenge to stand in your power when something like that is happening. Many of you were there and saw the finale. Some of you were not there, and so you didn't see it. And then of course there are all of you in YouTube land, (Rev. Tony looks at the video camera and waves.) "Hi!" Rev. Kelly tells me that we are almost ready to put the video of the Conference finale presentation up on YouTube. (Rev. Kelly prepares all the YouTube videos.) Maybe within the next week or two it will be up there so be looking for it. (The Las Vegas Finale presentation is now available to watch on YouTube*1.) You all get another opportunity to see me almost naked. I know you are all really excited about it. (laughter) Yep, you are really excited about that.
I was trying to do something at the Conference that I wanted to be great! I was trying to give a great teaching for the Conference, and I think I did. I remember something that Marianne Williamson talked about once. I've heard other people talk about this too. You get a lot of support in this world to be a good person. You get a lot of support. If you want to do good things, everybody is going to say, "That's good! Good for you." If you want to go on a diet, you want to lose ten pounds, you want to start an exercise program everyone will say, "That's good. Good for you." Let's say you want to go back to school and get a degree. You want to get some sort of certification. "Good for you." You want to work on an addiction so you join a 12-step program. "Good." Things like that. You want to clean your house. You want to get rid of some of your clutter. All of those things are really good things that everyone will support you in doing. However you get almost no support, or you get very little support, if you want to be great. If you want to be awesome, do something outstanding, you don't get a lot of "Oh that was terrific!" Instead you get a lot of, "Who do you think you are?" "Why are you doing that?" People get challenged when you truly try to do something great.
I also think that is how a lot of people approach the study of A Course In Miracles. People study ACIM because it's a good thing to study. It is a good thing to study, isn't it? It's a course you can take and be more loving. Maybe it will be good for your relationships. Maybe it will be good for your peace of mind, and that is a good thing. People want to study ACIM because they want to be good people, and I totally appreciate that. However I think ACIM is asking more of us than that. I think ACIM is telling us that it wants us to be great. It wants us to be glorious. It doesn't want us just to be good people. I want to be a minister who inspires people to be great! I want to be a minister who inspires people to be awesome. I want to be a minister who inspires people to be glorious. I want this church, the Community Miracles Center, to be a ministry that supports people in being great, and awesome, and glorious! Not just good. Anybody can be good. It takes a little more to be great, and when you work towards greatness sometimes you piss people off.
A Course In Miracles talks about salvation. It is one of the trickier concepts of the Course. Maybe a lot of people have trouble with the word "salvation" because they associate it with the traditional Christian teaching. Yes, I think they associate salvation with fundamentalist, Christian teaching, and that teaching doesn't work for them. Let's face it, we New Age people have a lot of attack going on aimed at the traditional Christian church. So we don't want things to sound too Christian, because we want to keep the Christian church as something we can attack. So if the Course teaching sounds too Christian it bothers us. But ACIM says an interesting thing about salvation. It says, "You are not saved from anything, but you are saved for glory." (OrEd.Tx.10.31) Glory is the inheritance given to your soul by your soul's creator that you might extend it. Salvation isn't truly about saving us from anything: from the ills of the world, from dis-ease, from lack of finances, from lack of relationships, … all those things. I mean, it's wrapped up with that, but that's not the whole picture. Salvation is really saving us for something. It's saving us for glory. It's saving us to be glorious. It's saving us to be great. It's saving us to be awesome. That is what salvation is about. It's about going up to that level of gloriousness.
An interesting thing has been happening to me. It started with the Conference, and getting ready for that Conference presentation. I started remembering things from my childhood. I started remembering things from my past, and generally I don't do that. My childhood is usually a blur to me. I think forgetting my past happened when I moved out here to San Francisco from upstate New York in 1979. I divorced myself from my early life, and I started living this new life. I don't think much about what happened when I was young. I'm not reminded of it a lot, because I am in a new environment. When I go back East, and visit places where I lived when I was younger, sometimes those memories come back to me. However preparing for Las Vegas got me thinking about those things from my past. As I got ready for the Conference those memories came back. If you were there, you will remember I talked about those things. If you were not there you will hear it on YouTube when it comes out. (It's out! *1) I talked about things that happened to me in my childhood that were traumatic. I hadn't thought about those things in a long time. Recently I was thinking about something else that happened to me in my childhood that was more on the glorious side.
I don't know how old I was when this happened. I was in grade school. I don't know if I was in third or fourth grade, as I said, it's a blur to me – all that early life. I don't remember things very clearly, but I do remember we were studying poetry in one of my classes. Maybe I was ten, or twelve, or thirteen. Something like that. I don't remember how old I was, but I was in a class and the assignment for the class was to find a poem that you liked and recite it for the class. We had a couple of days to find a poem.
So at home I was looking through a poetry anthology book that I think my older sister had. In it I found a poem that I wanted to read for the class, and I have always remembered that poem. I was sitting in class, and everyone was reading their poems. What I remember was most of the students read really nice poems, good poems. Generally my classmates liked poems that were pretty or fun. They were young; we were young. When you are young you like pretty poems. You like poems about the sunset. You like poems about the clouds. You like poems about animals, the doggies and the cats. My classmates were reading pretty poems, but I had chosen this poem that I thought was inspiring. As blurred as my past has become, I never forgot this poem, and I could always recite the beginning of it. When the internet came in, I was able to find that poem again. I was so excited when I first found it. I have talked about this once before, but it was probably twelve or fifteen years ago. This is the poem that I read when I was in elementary school. I remember when I read it. The teacher was impressed in some way. I think she was inspired by it too. It wasn't the usual poem. It wasn't the poem she expected any of her students to recite. And it is still out there. You can still find it online.
I found out more information about the poem yesterday. It was written by a poet named Edgar Guest, and it was first published in 1927 in the New Zealand Railway's Magazine. The name of the poem is "Good Enough."
My son, beware of "good enough,"
It isn't made of sterling stuff;
It's something any man can do,
It marks the many from the few,
It has no merit to the eye,
It's something any man can buy,
It's name is but a sham and bluff,
For it is never "good enough."
With "good enough" the shirkers stop
In every factory and shop;
With "good enough" the failures rest
And lose to men who give their best;
With "good enough" the car breaks down
And men fall short of high renown.
My son, remember and be wise,
In "good enough" disaster lies.
With "good enough" have ships been wrecked,
The forward march of armies checked,
Great buildings burned and fortunes lost;
Nor can the world compute the cost
In life and money it has paid
Because at "good enough" men stayed.
Who stops at "good enough" shall find
Success has left him far behind.
There is no "good enough," that's short
Of what you can do and you ought.
The flaw which may escape the eye
And temporarily get by,
Shall weaken underneath the strain,
And wreck the ship or car or train,
For this is true of men and stuff —
Only the best is "good enough."
Great poem! I still love that poem! I am still inspired by that poem. I read that in my third grade class, or whatever grade it was, and it was not like the other poems the class was reading. I always remembered that because it was inspiring. I chose a poem that was inspiring to me, that was pushing me to achieve. I can understand now; I can connect the dots. This idea of being great, doing something great, being inspired and pushing yourself to do your best and not just stoping at good – this is what my whole life has been about. I know that's what I wanted the Las Vegas Conference to be. That's what I wanted my Conference presentation to be. I didn't want to lose members, and teachers, and pianists because of what I did at the Conference. That wasn't my intent. My intent, and my guidance, was to do something great, to do something awesome, something glorious, and for the people who are content with "good enough," it's a problem. It's a problem, maybe, because those people don't want to be pushed quite that much. They don't want to be pushed that far.
Last week I watched a movie. It was the movie Steve Jobs that came out last year. The movie stars Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet. It's really a great movie. and I've always been a huge fan of Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple Conputer. I've always thought Steve Jobs was inspiring. I actually got to see Steve Jobs do some of those talks when he launched new products. I got to see Steve Jobs launch the iPhone. If you've never seen Steve Jobs launch a new product, it's truly an amazing thing. He was just so into it, and he was so sure. He had so much confidence in his product. He thought his new products were "insanely great," as he would say. There were not just good, they were not just "good enough." They were "insanely great!" He launched the iPhone with that energy. His products, like the iPhone, did change the world. Steve Jobs was a person who actually changed the world with: the Macintosh, the iPod, the iTunes music store, all those "insanely great" Apple products. Some people don't like Apple products because they cost a little more than other brands. These people say, "Well the other brand is good enough," but it's not a Macintosh. It's not an iPhone. It's, maybe, not the best. I don't want to offend all of you out there who have PCs. (audience: "I do.") I abandoned the PC a long time ago. I got a Mac. I got the iPhone. I have been a Mac person since 1986.
I don't want good enough. I want the best. I want to be inspired by other people who want the best. I want to be inspired to do the best. I want to be inspired to do something great, something awesome, something glorious. I don't want to give just a good talk, especially at a Conference. One of the Board members who I talked to, one of the ones who actually quit, said "I just want you to get up there and give a good talk at the Conference. I don't want you hanging dildos from the podium." (laughter) By-the-way, I never hung a dildo from the podium. This is a myth. I, actually it was my sister Rev. Antoinette, Rev. Antoinette hung a large vibrating, back massager from the podium. (The year was 2007. See picture at left.) If you need someone to explain the difference to you between a vibrating back massager and a dildo please call me. I will explain the difference to you, but Rev. Antoinette never hung a dildo from the podium. I've got to clear that up.
This, now former, CMC Board member said, "I don't want someone who represents the Community Miracles Center hang a dildo from the podium. I don't want somebody who appears in drag. I don't want somebody who takes his clothes off. I just want someone who gives a good, inspiring talk." But I don't want to just give a good talk. I want to give an awesome talk that changes people's minds and thus changes the world. I want to give a talk that people remember.
Something A Course In Miracles has taught me, and I think it should teach all of us, is that we we should seek a future different from the past. "I seek a future different from the past." (OrEd.WkBk.314) How ACIM students usually interpret that quote is, in the past I was upset and depressed, so now I seek a future when I'm not upset and not depressed. I seek a future when I'm happier. But it means so much more than that. If you don't understand the Course teaching that you are actually manifesting the physical world you are experiencing, you will never move to the "more than that." We have manifested a past when there was war. We have manifested a past when there was disease. We have manifested a past when there was a difference between men and women, and men and women seemed to be in conflict. The war between the sexes is going to go on in the current United States Presidential election. The first female nominee, Hillary Clinton, and the macho man with the hairy balls, Donald Trump are going to fight it out for months to see who's going to win the hearts and minds of the American people. Nobody else but us could have manifested that. We're ready to take the war of the sexes on.
We A Course In Miracles students should seek a future different from the past in amazing ways, in miraculous ways. We want a world transformed. We want a world where there isn't sickness and death. We want a world that reflects reality where life is infinite and eternal. That's when earth and Heaven will cease to exist as separate states. In the reading this morning, it was describing the real world, which is the world we are all supposed to be manifesting. It is not talking about Heaven. The real world isn't Heaven, it's this world transformed and healed. Most people skip over this teaching because it's way too challenging. Let me just read to you a little bit about it.
"Sit quietly and look upon the world you see, and tell yourself, The real world is not like this. It has no buildings, and there are no streets where people walk alone and separate. There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things they do not need. It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim. There is no loss. Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever." (OrEd.12.58.59)
That is the future that we are trying to make that is very different from the past. We're trying to make a whole, different, future physical reality. It's a physical reality where there isn't even day and night.It will be just day and always light. There isn't sickness and death. That's the future that we're seeking that's different from the past. We're trying to manifest a totally different world. We are trying to manifest a world that is such a close reflection of heaven that they cease to exist as separate states, and just "good" people are never going to do that. Awesome, glorious, and great people are going to do that, and that is what I want to do. I want to inspire people to be awesome, glorious, and truly great people. My teaching is not just for good people who want to study something to be a little more peaceful, and a little happier, maybe, as they steadily march toward the grave. That's just not good enough. That's just not my energy.
A Course In Miracles says, "[The body] sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances to suit the purpose given by the mind. For it can learn, and there is all change made." (OrEd.Tx.31.29) The only reason there is death in the world is because we have death thoughts in our mind. If we change those death thoughts in our mind, there won't be a reflection of death in the world. That's the different future that's different from the past. That's what we're here to manifest. That's what takes great people doing great things. That's what takes great, inspired minds, and the world is never going to give us a lot of support to do that.
I was talking about Steve Jobs and Apple Computer. As I said, I just love Steve Jobs. In 1998, after Steve Jobs took over Apple computer again, they were introducing the iMac which quickly became the best selling personal computer in history. It salvaged the Apple company which was getting near insolvency. It was Apple's salvation. Apple started an ad campaign. I am sure a lot of you will remember this ad campaign. It was the "Think Different" ad campaign. In the "Think Different" ad campaign, they had black and white images of great people, awesome people, glorious people, who by their work, what they accomplished, changed the world. In the ad, in the television format of the ad, there were little videos of these people. These people were: Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mohandas Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picasso. The short videos of these people were fascinating. Apple took a lot of time figuring out what people they were going to put in these videos.There were black and white billboard and print ads with these people as well. You would have a big black and white picture of the iconic person, but all that the print and billboard ads would say was, "Think Different," and they had the little Apple logo. However in the TV ads there was a voiceover. Years later, we found out the voiceover was actually recorded twice. Once it was recorded by Steve Jobs himself, but he nixed using his own voice, because he thought it would portray him as an egomaniac, as if he was talking about himself. They hired the actor Richard Dreyfus to do the other voiceover, and that was the one that was eventually used.
After Steve Jobs passed, the voice of him on this ad got out there and quickly went viral all over the world, because it was so amazing to hear Steve Jobs say this. But what we heard in 1998, was Richard Dreyfus saying it. I think this ad copy describes a lot of us. It describes what A Course In Miracles is trying to get us to do, because the ad talked about greatness that changes the world. Remember that while we were hearing this, we were getting short videos of all those exceptional "different" people. I just read their names. I know you're all going to recognize this once you hear it: "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Our theme of the Las Vegas Conference was, "Change Your mind, Change the world." We're crazy enough here at the Community Miracles Center to really think we could do something that could change the world. We're the crazy ones, and sometimes it pisses people off and they can't get on board with it. That's ok. We're not here to be good people. We're hear to be great and glorious people. We're not here to put on good Conferences. We're hear to put on "insanely great" conferences that people remember, conferences that change their minds so that the world changes.
Maybe our conferences do cost a little more than other people's conferences, because it costs a little more money to put out an "insanely great" conference. We do "insanely great" classes. You know you can study A Course In Miracles and take free classes all over the place, but it takes a little money to take a Community Miracles Center class, because they're not just a good enough class, they're a great class taught by great teachers. They aren't good enough. They're glorious. They're grand, and they're great. We're here to manifest the real world. We're here to manifest a world of no sickness and no death. We're here to manifest a world that has no night, that's only day. We're seeking a future different from the past. We have to change our mind so we can change the world. We don't want to be just "good enough." We want to be glorious.
Thank you. That's my talk. (applause)
*1. http://bit.ly/2016_acim_conf_finale — Link to the YouTube video Las Vegas Conference finale. (applause) ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently serves as the CMC's Executive Minister (03.21.2018). He is also the President of the CMC Board of Diretors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 2097.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the July 2016 (Vol. 30 No.5) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.