A psychiatrist and psychotherapist begins to unpack a monumental spiritualist work in this series opener.
Helen Schucman’s A Course in Miracles was first published in 1976. The book attempted, in Rosenthal’s (From Plagues to Miracles, 2018) view, to “clarify the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and to bring those teachings in line with their original meaning by cutting through centuries of distortion and misrepresentation.” The controversial and often difficult text has spawned many volumes of interpretation, to which Rosenthal submits this addition. “I hope to convey the Course’s core principles without relying too much on its specific language and terminology,” writes the author, “but rather to view it through the lenses of psychology, neurobiology, metaphor, and common-sense experience.” Rosenthal believes that people will not find happiness in the normal course of life; they must be guided to it through a deeper understanding of God and themselves. Using fablelike stories, personal anecdotes, and contemporary metaphors, the author attempts to communicate the major teachings of the Course (as he calls it) in a way that is helpful both to those familiar with the work and those who have not yet encountered it. These include Schucman’s idea of the two parts of the mind, which Rosenthal likens to computer-operating systems: the Ever-Mind (salvation) and the Never-Mind (the Ever-Mind’s truth-denying opposite). Rosenthal is a talented writer and elucidator, and his three decades of clinical experience as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist shine through his calming prose: “There is very little that medieval scholars and modern physicists agree upon, as you might expect. But there is one doctrine that both have endorsed: all things in this world of time and space must come to an end.” Frequently in these pages, he does not work directly from Schucman’s text, but rather describes her ideas on his own, which makes it easy for a novice to follow along. There is little talk of Jesus, and most of what Rosenthal discusses is applicable across religious (or secular) traditions. Even so, it’s difficult to imagine a general readership gravitating to this primer dedicated to a now-obscure New Thought text from the ’70s, no matter how pleasantly it is written.
An accessible and well-crafted introduction to the teachings of A Course in Miracles.