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New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: IdahoKat ()
Date: July 04, 2007 04:57AM

Hi all,

A question: In your opinon, should I pursue a relationship with a man who I have worked with for 6months and have dated for about a month?

He is handsome, articulate, creative and kind. However, since dating him, I have found that he has been involved with a group of people who teach "A Course of Miracles". I believe he became involved with them via a co-worker/housemate after a difficult divorce about 1 year ago. It was only when we spent time with his friends (who seem to invite themselves along to lots of our dates) that I noticed the new age talk/blank look in the eyes.

Full disclosure: I am Catholic; he was raised Catholic. We have some similar background tho I am a professional with advanced degress, who is also an artist part-time and he is an artist from a well-respected university art program.

When we are alone and talk about art, the past, specific topics and the like, he seems entirely normal. But, then, sometimes, he does speak new age nonsense (at least it makes no logical sense to me ) and I get concerned. So, far I have just asked questions and expressed that there may be helpful kernals , i.e., positive thinking, in many areas/religions even if you don't share the whole belief system.

My take on "Course of Miracles" is that it is a course of nonsense, at best, and a course in brainwashing, at worst. My take on him is that he met this group at a vulnerable time and is under their (doubtful) direction/influence. He's great, with this large asterisk.

I really like this guy, have a lot of chemistry, but should I just cut it off before I get too attached?

Your thoughts are much appreciated. BR, Idaho

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New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: July 04, 2007 05:06AM

There is one group in Wisconsin that is supposedly based upon ACIM that has a troubled history.

But many of the ACIM groups seem fairly benign.

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New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: question lady ()
Date: July 05, 2007 07:43AM

Hi Idaho Kat,

I think if I were in your shoes, I would take it slowly and try to get more specific information about what his beliefs are. Are these simply wacky sort of beliefs that probably wouldn't affect a relationship, or more fundamental core values which shape how he views the world?

For example, I don't think I would be comfortable entering a potentially serious relationship, where I might get attached, if the man believed that "like attracts like" -always, and everything that happens to you, was because you attracted it. I would be afraid that if I got sick, or I was raped, that he would blame me for it due to putting out negative vibes.

Perhaps you could make gentle inquiries and pose hypothetical questions to get a better idea of his beliefs. Good luck. You are a smart women for noticing potential red flags.

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New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: cultreporter ()
Date: July 05, 2007 08:23AM

Hi Kat,

I agree that you are very smart for recognising the signs and think that before you make the decision that you should keep finding out more about Course of Miracles and looking at cult awareness sites.

I think that if you are getting along well with him apart from the cult and you enjoy spending time with him then you should pursue that, but from personal experience I would say take it very slow, don't move in or share anything of significant value of him that you dont want to run the risk of losing. I came out of a cult relationship in debt thousands down after never having a debt in my life. My take is that giving money/getting money for the cult is their primary concern and that it can make day to day living difficult. As a new person to their cult then I did not realise that this situation coupled with detatchment makes them uncaring and exploitative.

It is possible that he is not that serious or committed to the beliefs, but what level of control does this cult have? It is troubling to hear that his friends manage to invite themselves along on your dates. Are relationships outside of their members permitted?

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New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: elena ()
Date: July 05, 2007 10:32PM


My take on "Course of Miracles" is that it is a course of nonsense, at best, and a course in brainwashing, at worst. My take on him is that he met this group at a vulnerable time and is under their (doubtful) direction/influence. He's great, with this large asterisk.

Judging by the way you've phrased your poll, I'd say cut the guy loose. You think his beliefs are "nonsense" and that you might be able to knock some sense back into him? Lots of people think the "beliefs" invented and perpetuated by the Catholic Church are also nonsense. How would you feel about someone who saw your situation from this perspective or would you be interested in someone who imagined he could disabuse you of your beliefs?

Also, one year after a difficult divorce isn't much time to recuperate. In fact, it's very little. He probably has barely started to sort himself out and his involvement with this group may help him or cripple him but there's no way to tell.

Have you seen Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God?" I highly recommend it.


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New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: Fishbulb ()
Date: July 06, 2007 10:52AM

IdahoKat: A Course In Miracles itself is just a set of books with no organization controlling it, although there are some mind-control groups that may use ACIM in their "teachings" so he may be in with a mind-control group or he may just be friends with current like-thinkers. If he's in a mind-control group you will find him intolerable. Even if he's deeply into the ACIM independently you might find his attitudes getting on your nerves. If it's something he does but doesn't drag you into, then, well, it's your call.

Rather than focus on the group or even the friends, look at the traits of the guy himself. Belief systems tend to come and go, and so do friends (especially if they're attached to that belief system) but what kind of person is he at the core? Does he have steady work? Does he have control over certain aspects of his life or is he a poor little victim who thinks everybody is always mean to him and he is looking for a saviour (you)?

Differing beliefs only matter if both parties want them to matter. I'm spiritually inclined, my husband is a devout atheist, but we don't really care. We both have qualities outside of religious beliefs or non-beliefs that are more important.

A year after a divorce is probably too soon to get deeply involved anyway. It takes ages to feel like you have yourself back again.

Bottom line is, there is no way to take the "right" path. If you drop it too soon you might be left with the "if onlys" and if you stick it out you might think you really wasted your time. Go with what you can live with.

Elena also had a point; if you think less of him due to his beliefs in ACIM then it might not be worth pursuing anyway.

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A Course in Miracles (ACIM)
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 03, 2010 07:46AM

As rrmoderator noted earlier in the discussion here, most ACIM groups appear to be fairly benign. I'd like to add here though, that on the individual level, I personally feel that there are some psychological concerns worth noting for those that jump head first into a deep study of the text.

First off, what is A Course in Miracles? It's a book that was a combined project of Helen Schucman and William Thetford. It's claimed that Helen Schucman "channeled" the material and that William Thetford offered assistance and editing in the process. The channeled voice is not stated to be, but clearly speaks as if it's from Jesus.

Basically it's an East meets West book, combining some aspects of Eastern non-duality philosophy with some aspects of Western religion. This is fine and great as far as I'm concerned, but things get strange in ACIM.

According the Wikipedia entry on William Thetford with references:

from 1951 to 1953 Thetford worked on Project BLUEBIRD, an early CIA mind control program that led to Project MKULTRA. ... From 1955 to 1957 he was an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell University's CIA-funded Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology. ... From 1971 to 1978 Thetford, along with David Saunders, headed the CIA mind control Project MKULTRA Subproject 130: Personality Theory.

William Thetford's wiki page even mentions that he hired Helen Schucman!

Perhaps that's from one part of their life, and their work on ACIM is another. But before even finding out about the authors, I felt uncomfortable with the book. I received ACIM as a gift not long ago.

In some ways, it offers very nice and flowery verses on non-dual philosophy and great verses on spiritual upliftment, which are wonderful for the philosophically-minded. But then things get dark. One moment, the reader is treated as a "child of God", for whom it is an honor for the author to serve with love and gentle guidance. In the next moment, the reader is berated as the cause of all the suffering of the world because of "bad thoughts". And it goes back and forth like this, like you're being subjected to "good cop, bad cop".

I started feeling disoriented, confused, and eagerly awaiting each new page in a feeling of dependence. I had to exercise a little personal control in discontinuing my reading. To ease my agitated mind, I did some simple "watching the breath" Zen-style breathing meditation. And that helped stabilize my mental state, to such an effective degree that I wanted to mention it here.

I then looked into information on the authors, and that's when I found the above material on the thought reform work that these two (or at the very least, one of them) were involved in. That apparently credible information combined with my own uncomfortable experience with the material, leads me to believe that there very well may be concerns with this widely distributed New Age classic.

Another suspicion is how ACIM was introduced to the public. The authors were never originally mentioned. People were encourage to make copies and freely distribute them. No one was told where it had come from.

So to me, that seems like people potentially involved in an experiment on the public, definitely in line with how those early CIA programs were run, without regard for the consequences to individuals. People were given massive doses of LSD without their knowing and without regard for the consequences (for those familiar with MKULTRA). So something like this wouldn't be out of character for people involved in such work.

Also of consideration, Helen Schucman the main author, a person presented as so spiritual as to be able to channel the thoughts of Jesus, was viewed by many as quick to anger. And from the eulogy written by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. at Helen Schucman's funeral:

"This woman who had written so eloquently that suffering really did not exist spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed."

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Re: New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: sunshine ()
Date: September 03, 2010 10:54PM

A few years ago I decided to investigate ACIM for myself. I had read various Self-Help and New Wage books that frequently referred to it. In addition, my two worst therapists loved the book.

To be honest I couldn't get very far with it -- just a few lessons. Let's just say it wasn't for me and for a change I listened to my intuition and didn't pursue it.

Here's a site that promotes the book.]Info on ACIM[/url]

And here's a sample from the web:

Lesson 001

Nothing I see in this room [on this street,
from this window, in this place] means anything

Now look slowly around you, and practice applying this idea very specifically to whatever you see:

This table does not mean anything.
This chair does not mean anything.
This hand does not mean anything.
This foot does not mean anything.
This pen does not mean anything.

Then look farther away from your immediate area, and apply the idea to a wider range:

That door does not mean anything.
That body does not mean anything.
That lamp does not mean anything.
That sign does not mean anything.
That shadow does not mean anything.

Notice that these statements are not arranged in any order, and make no allowance for differences in the kinds of things to which they are applied. That is the purpose of the exercise. The statement should merely be applied to anything you see. As you practice the idea for the day, use it totally indiscriminately. Do not attempt to apply it to everything you see, for these exercises should not become ritualistic. Only be sure that nothing you see is specifically excluded. One thing is like another as far as the application of the idea is concerned.

Each of the first three lessons should not be done more than twice a day each, preferably morning and evening. Nor should they be attempted for more than a minute or so, unless that entails a sense of hurry. A comfortable sense of leisure is essential.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/03/2010 11:07PM by sunshine.

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Re: New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 04, 2010 12:36AM

Proceed with caution.

If you dont happen to like New Thought/New Age stuff, and your fellow seems drawn to that sort of thing, it can point to a very big difference in priorities, the sort that, in divorce court parlance, can lead to irreconciliable differences, further down the line.

If he is a constitutional dreamer/seeker, he may have the kind of playful charm and sweetness that such persons very often do have. the more practical and alert person, may be the one who winds up in the care taking role and be the one paying the bills.

Some will go off on some sort of spiritual quest and leave the more practical partner stuck paying bills.

If you're still hoping to find someone to have children with, you need to be especially alert. If you dont want your kids exposed to woo woo stuff, and he is into woo woo stuff, that can, right there lead to differences and potential conflict in relation to the children. Both parents need to be on the same page if kids are part of the picture.

And (sorry to jump ahead) but in event of a divorce, a partner backed up by a cult, can often get legal assistance that the non cult member cannot afford and that, in a custody dispute, can be hell.

Finally, since you mention you are both Catholic, you may want to do some reading about ACIM in relation to Christian belief. ACIM is considered gnostic and self centered and turns G-D and Jesus and and the Holy Spirit Jesus into an ATM.


I used to be Catholic and figure that Jesus didnt go through all that stuff just to be turned into a focus for wish fulfillment.

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Re: New Boyfriend/Course of Miracles? Or Nonsense? Brainwashing?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 04, 2010 12:44AM


It was only when we spent time with his friends (who seem to invite themselves along to lots of our dates) that I noticed the new age talk/blank look in the eyes.

That the friends 'seem to invite themselves along' on a lot of your dates is a very big red flag.

Take this slowly.

And what you call 'a lot of chemistry'--be careful. You mention he is handsome and articulte. You mention you have advanced degrees and are an artist part time and he is mostly in the arts.

Make sure he isnt part of a set up where you are being recruited.

You might make it a requirement from this time forward to:

1) Have just the two of you on dates, none of his friends.

2) He is not to discuss you with the ACIM group, period. You want your privacy, not for your shared life to be someone elses business.

3) Do a background check on him to see whether he is who he says he is. Its cheaper to do that than to get a divorce.

PS If you two were to marry as Catholics and he is divorced, he would have to get an annulment, unless some changes have been made in canon law that I am not aware of.

Do all this, including the background check, now before you get more emotionally involved.

And if it seems cold and cruel to do background check on someone, remember that in the old days, people tended to meet and marry in their villages or neighborhoods, and so families knew each other's histories and other times, families would do a background check anyway--its a much older practice than most of us realize.

With your advanced degrees and potential earning power, you are a lucrative and attractive 'catch' either for a guy in a cult whose members tag along on dates, or some other dude who is artistic but cant support himself, otherwise.

Savvy women do background checks. In the old days, your family would do that for you, now you gotta do it for yourself. Its called being proactive and you still have that window before you become emotionally involved.

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