The Unique Importance of Marianne Williamson’s Campaign (Sunday Homily)

Readings for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: WIS 9:13-18B; PS 90: 3-6, 12-14, 17; PHMN 9-10, 12-17; PS 119: 135; LK 14: 25-33

Marianne Williamson’s campaign is not dead. True, she will not be appearing on the stage of the third Democratic debate. Although she has the required number of donors, Williamson has not yet attained the necessary 2% in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Nonetheless, her campaign continues its concentration on Iowa, where she’s been working for the last several months. Her people confidently anticipate her participation in Debate # 4.

Recently, the New York Times (NYT) ran a long very positive column on Marianne. It was called “The Gospel according to Marianne Williamson.” It reminded readers of Ms. Williamson’s identity, her growing and highly enthusiastic audiences, and the persuasive power of her remarkable eloquence.  

The article assured readers that Williamson is far more than some New Age guru or the spiritual advisor of Oprah Winfrey. Jokes and criticisms aside, she has nothing to do with crystals or burning sage. Instead, she is a widely-hailed, best-selling author, spiritual teacher, counsellor, and generally wise person. For more than 40 years, she has been a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), a book published in 1974) which Williamson describes as “basic Christian mysticism.”

It’s that latter qualification – Williamson’s connection with Christian mysticism – that makes her continued campaign extremely relevant to this Sunday’s liturgy of the word. That’s because the theme of today’s readings contrasts the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world just as does ACIM. Serious consideration of that contrast illustrates the unique importance of Marianne Williamson’s candidacy at this particular juncture in the history of our nation and world.

For ACIM, the world’s wisdom is based on fear; God’s wisdom is based on love. In fact, according to A Course in Miracles, love and fear are the only two motivational forces in the entire world. That’s true in our personal relationships, but also in politics. Either we see others as enemies poised to attack us at every opportunity, and act accordingly. Or we recognize our very selves in those the world would teach us to fear, mistrust, and hate.

More specifically, the politics of fear sees Muslims, Russia, China, the Taliban, ISIS, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQQIAAPs, and poor people in general as our enemies. Meanwhile, a politics based on love recognizes that none of those the world teaches us to fear is basically hostile. Rather, when we take 100% responsibility for the problems designated enemies ostensibly represent, a path opens up to achieving peace with all concerned.

Does such conviction seem woo-woo or unrealistic to you? If it does, please be reminded first of all, that such belief is basic not only to Christian faith, but (as Williamson constantly reminds us) to all the world’s great religious traditions, including Islam. It is basic also to many secular traditions that consider themselves atheistic or agnostic.

Secondly, remember that according to Christian faith, “God” is synonymous with “love,” so that Williamson’s “Politics of Love” means the politics of God. That means (thirdly) that rejection of political love as woo-woo trivializes Christian faith and Jesus himself.

With all of that in mind, please read for yourselves this Sunday’s liturgical readings. (You’ll find them here.) To repeat, they contrast the wisdom of the world with the Wisdom of God. In any case, and for what it’s worth, here are my “translations” of their content. Their thoughtful review will help you see what I’m getting at in saying that Marianne Williamson’s “Gospel” is far deeper than revealed in the NYT article just referenced.

 WIS 9:13-18B
 
The wisdom of God
Unlike the world’s
Is sure and decisive.
For human thought processes
Focused on the body
And its shifting reality
Are necessarily confused.
Hence, we cannot judge wisely
Without assistance
From the Holy Spirit
Who consistently reveals
God’s Reality
As filled with love.
 
PS 90: 3-6, 12-14, 17
 
This is because
Time has no meaning
For God.
Everything but Love
Passes in an instant.
Consequently
Our prayer must be:
“Teach us
Your changeless vision
Filled with kindness
Joy and gladness.”
Only such
Synonyms for love
Give meaning
To our lives.
 
PHMN 9-10, 12-17
 
For example,
An elderly and imprisoned Paul
Long ago
Rejected the world’s wisdom
About slavery.
Seeing with the eyes of Christ
He says
Miraculously transformed
Onesimus
From slave and chattel
Into a man
A partner
A son and brother.
“Follow my example,”
The shackled one implores.
 
PS 119: 135
 
We agree:
Show us your face,
O, Lord,
In slaves
And in those behind bars.
Yes, teach us your ways.
 
LK 14: 25-33
 
But the Master warns:
“If, like me, you live
According to God’s Wisdom,
The World
Will surely crucify you
As the subversive
You must be
To qualify
As my disciple.
But be sure to
Subvert non-violently
For otherwise,
The militarized
Powers of the world
Will surely crush you.
Sabotage instead
By insistent example
That refuses
To value anything
The world treasures.”

Those are radical thoughts. They are 180 degrees opposed to the “wisdom of the world.” Yes, the very wisdom of God teaches that we have no enemies other than those our thoughts and resulting actions have created. It’s reconciliation with our designated enemies (recognizing them as embodiments of our very selves) that holds the promise of our very salvation.

No Democratic candidate other than Marianne Williamson dares call us to such radicality. It’s that change in attitude that ACIM defines as “miraculous.” Only that sort of basic transformation in consciousness can save us from the unprecedented catastrophes facing our world today.

As Ms. Williamson puts it: “It’s unreasonable to expect those who drove us into the ditch we’re in now to be the ones qualified to get us out.”

No: our present context necessitates an entirely new leadership and consciousness – a new wisdom based on love rather than fear. That’s the vision Marianne Williamson offers us this election season. And it’s not New Age woo-woo. In reality, the wisdom in question is not new at all. It’s reflected in the teachings of Jesus. It’s the wisdom of Paul. It’s the theme of today’s liturgical readings.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “The Unique Importance of Marianne Williamson’s Campaign (Sunday Homily)”

  1. Lack of real unconditional Love is our problem in all our affairs. I arrived at this understanding independently of the Course In Miracles, or Christianity, because this is a Universal Law of Life in the Universe, which transcends all religions or scientific systems, although some of them include it in their teachings. You do not have to be a “believer” in any ideas to grasp the cosmic truth that Life thrives on Love, and perishes from lack of it.

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