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Actually, who are you not to be? You are of God. Jemison, and former Spelman College president Johnnetta B. It showed up, attributed to Mandela, in the movie Akeelah and the Bee and the movie Coach Carter. Both Williamson herself and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have issued official corrections about where the quote comes from. Yet it continues to persist. But while the quote might not tell us anything about Nelson Mandela, it says a lot about Marianne Williamson.
On a superficial level, if Powerful beyond measure poem else, Mandela fits the bill. That assumption might not bear close examination can you imagine Nelson Mandela exhorting his listeners to believe that they are gorgeous and fabulous?
A Return to Love is often read as a standalone self-help book, but it was first conceived of as a supplementary religious text. Williamson, who was raised Jewish and continues to identify as a Jew, says A Course in Miracles changed her life.
It is perhaps ironic, then, that the book Williamson wrote upon finishing the Course, Return to Lovelaunched her into wildly successful superstardom. And Williamson was protective of her fame. InPeople magazine reported that Williamson was outraged when the LA Times published an article criticizing her.
But in context, when Williamson tells her readers that they are the children of God, she means something specific. Therefore everything in the world that is unloving — fear, war, hunger, poverty — does not really exist.
Our craziness, paranoia, anxiety and trauma are literally all imagined. They do. But our fear is not our ultimate reality, and it does not replace the truth of who we really are. Essentially, Williamson is saying that because God is love, and we are all children of God, the reality is that we are all brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Our fear is hiding that reality from us. And where does that fear come from? Only from ourselves. In many ways, it boils down to the following: You are perfect brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulousbut because you do not believe in yourself fully, you are also personally responsible for all of the problems in the world.
You the reader, you specifically, are everything that is good in the world and everything that is bad with it. It places the individual at the center of the world, and it appeals to our sense of grandeur. But this philosophy can also lead to its adherents blaming themselves for every terrible or even just mildly unpleasant thing that happens, both in the world in general and to themselves in particular.
Williamson had just been in three separate car accidents before the incident in question, she says. But luckily, as soon as Williamson repented before God, he healed her. She stopped at a bar, and when a man began to try to chat her up, she decided that in the spirit Powerful beyond measure poem the Course in Miraclesshe should listen to him rather than blow him off.
And who should that man be, but a doctor with a prescription pad and a sense of ethics flexible enough that he immediately wrote Williamson a prescription for her sore throat on the spot? But for a presidential candidate, it is more troubling.
If we are personally responsible for the bad things that happen to us, then we are personally responsible when we are the victims of crime, of war, of illness and poverty. She was an early proponent of offering reparations to black Americansand she supports programs like universal pre-K and free college. But fundamental to what Williamson is selling is the idea that everything that is wrong and bad in the world comes from individual people, and that our sins will be manifested on our bodies.
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