The History, Message,
and Legacy of a Profound Spiritual Path

by D. Patrick Miller

IN 2020

Released in 2008, the first edition of UNDERSTANDING A COURSE IN MIRACLES went out of print at the end of 2018. I am now preparing a Second Edition, to be released during the spring of 2020. This is the most comprehensive history of the Course available, including criticism and commentary from a variety of sources. The new edition will be updated and revised with new material.

A special feature of the Second Edition will be a chapter entitled "Voices of Students Worldwide," featuring essays by Course students from a wide variety of locales and backgrounds.

If you'd like to submit an essay for consideration in this new edition, write to info@fearlessbooks.com for submission details. Please title the subject line: "My Course Story." The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31, 2019.

I'm also looking for financial contributors who can support the new research, writing, and re-publication of this historic title. Contributors will be acknowledged in the new edition and receive advance signed copies. Small donations (under $500) can be made via the PayPal link below. If you are interested in investing $500 or more in the success of this significant project, please write to me at business@fearlessbooks.com for the investment terms.



T A B L E    O F     C O N T E N T S

Part I: Origins and History
Chapter 1: How the Course Came to Be
Chapter 2: Who Were Schucman and Thetford?
Chapter 3: How the Course Teaching Has Spread

Part II: The Message of the Course
Chapter 4: A New Curriculum of Love
Chapter 5: Forgiving What Did Not Occur
Chapter 6: From Special to Holy Relationships
Chapter 7: Living in an Unreal World
Chapter 8: Voices of Students Worldwide

Part III: A Provocative Legacy
Chapter 9: Where Psychology Meets the Perennial Philosophy
Chapter 10: Why the Course Is Not Christian—Or Is It?
Chapter 11: Secular Critiques of the Course
Chapter 12: The Continuing Presence of the Course

Appendix: "A Comparison of Miracles" by Richard Smoley
(an analysis of the Standard and alternative editions)


Excerpt from Chapter 1, "How the Course Came to Be":

Columbia University in 1965 was perhaps not the sort of place one would have expected to find the stirrings of spiritual renewal. In the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the psychology professors’ struggle to affirm their discipline as a respectable branch of medical science went forward, attended by the usual amount of professional jealousy, fierce competition, and outright backbiting.

In the midst of this chaotic march of scientific progress, Dr. William N. Thetford, the reticent and scholarly director of the psychology department of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, one day decided that he’d had enough of the academic sparring. “There must be another way, and I’m determined to find it,” he announced in an uncharacteristically forceful speech to his chief colleague, a sharp-tongued research psychologist fourteen years his senior, Dr. Helen Schucman. Moved by Thetford’s commit­ment to a change in style, Schucman vowed to help him usher in a new era of cooperation with their peers, with a noticeable degree of success.

Over time the new outlook would prove largely ineffective in Thetford and Schucman’s own severely conflicted relationship. But the momentary alignment of these two professors’ sympathies seemed to catalyze an eruption of decidedly mystical energy on Schucman’s part that left the rational scientist in her groping for explanations. Unexpectedly, Schucman began to experience a recurrence of the symbolic visions she had witnessed in her youth—visions that had largely ceased in young adulthood when she bitterly ended her search for God.

But now, at the age of fifty-six, Schucman found herself involved in a dramatic progression of waking dreams and visions in which she was gravitating toward a mysterious duty she felt she had “somehow, somewhere, agreed to complete.” In these reveries she was sometimes spoken to by an inner “soundless voice” who clarified rhe meaning of various events for her. Over time this voice became an authoritative presence whom she referred to as the “Voice” (or jokingly as the “Top Sergeant”). She was not unaware of the Top Sergeant’s self-professed identity, but evaded acknowledging it.

In the late summer of 1965, Schucman experienced a vision in which she entered a cave by a windswept seashore and found a large, very old parchment scroll. Unrolling the aged parchment with some difficulty, she found a center panel bearing the simple words “GOD IS.” As she unrolled the scroll further, more writing was revealed to the left and right of the center panel. The familiar Voice told her that if she wanted, she could read the past on the left panel, and the future on the right—an apparent offering of clairvoyant capacities. But Schucman pointed to the words in the center of the scroll and said, “This is all I want.”

“You made it that time,” replied the Voice. “Thank you.”

After this vision Schucman’s anxiety lessened somewhat, and she thought with relief that her inner turbulence might be receding for good. At Thetford’s suggestion, she had begun recording her inner experiences, and she was about to make an entry on October 21 when the Voice spoke clearly in her mind. “This is a course in miracles,” it said with authority. “Please take notes.”

Schucman was soon on the phone to Thetford, her precarious emotional equilibrium once again threatened. She told Thetford what the Voice was suggesting to her and asked in panic, “What am I going to do?”

Thetford was calm and curious. “Why don’t you take down the notes? We’ll look them over in the morning and see if they make any sense, and throw them out otherwise. No one has to know.”

Thus began seven years of difficult extracurricular labor for Helen Schucman....