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.

Marianne Williamson: The U.S. Is 100% Responsible for the World’s Problems!

After the first Democratic Presidential Debate, Marianne Williamson generated a lot of interest.

On the one hand, her name ended up being the most searched on the internet. With language and demeanor vastly different from the other candidates, people wanted to know who she might be.

On the other hand, Williamson generated a good deal of ridicule. Seth Meyers joked that she clearly won’t be around this fall. Ha ha; who would be so foolish as to think otherwise! Kate McKinnon (pictured above) offered a woo-woo Williamson impression that had Marianne eliminating global problems by burning all the sage on the planet. TYT’s Brooke Thomas dismissed Marianne as a “vanity candidate” intent merely on selling her books.

All of that was itself laughable for those who know Marianne Williamson. We know she’s not a woo-woo lightweight; she doesn’t need to sell more books; and if people understand just who she is and grasp her fundamental message, she’ll definitely be around this fall.

And that’s because her absolutely radical approach to politics supplies the simple key we’ve all been looking for to solve the endless problems on our national list, be it climate change, the threat of nuclear war, terrorism, or immigration.

Let me repeat: her approach offers a key far more radical and easily understood than anything Bernie or Elizabeth even imagines or dares to say.

The key I’m referencing is basic to the teaching of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which has been the guidebook for Marianne’s life and teaching for more than 40 years. Williamson herself describes the course as basic Christian mysticism. It’s not a religion; it’s not for everyone; it doesn’t even demand belief in God. However, it does respond to the universal human quest for ethical principle and spiritual meaning, whether the quest is understood as generated by God, Yahweh, Allah, Krishna, the Buddha, Ultimate Reality, the Ground of Being, Life Itself, or Nature with a capital “N.”

But what about that key I mentioned?

It’s simply this: take 100% responsibility for your problems and deal with them accordingly.

That’s it. And, though difficult to actually implement, that assumption of complete responsibility will go a long way towards eliminating not only personal and inter-personal problems, but all our political conundrums as well.

How radical is that?

It’s the opposite, of course, from the approach of Mr. Trump – and even of Marianne’s colleagues on the debate stage. In contrast to Marianne, every one of them adopts the standard cliched and stereotyped approach so familiar to all of us in our personal lives: I’m not the problem; she is; he is; they are.

In political terms it’s refugees, immigrants, people of color, welfare cheats, unprovoked “terrorists,” the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Somalis, Libyans, Syrians, MS-13 gang members, and drug dealers. The list goes on and on and on. All of those included must be punished, subjected to sanctions, bombed, droned, or killed.

But we never find fault in ourselves. Never!

Pertinently and most recently, such unwillingness to accept responsibility was expressed by President Trump in his racist harangue against Congressional Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib, Ayanna Presley, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC).  According to Mr. Trump all four representatives outrageously blame the United States the problems of terrorism, Palestinian oppression, public misinformation, and immigration problems. Here’s what Trump and his audience ridiculed as patently ludicrous:

  • Ilhan Omar “attacked our country” saying that terrorism is a reaction to our involvement in other people’s affairs. She even blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela!
  • Rashida Talib said that members of congress who support Israel have forgotten what country they represent.
  • Ayana Presley alleged that “ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.”
  • AOC compared U.S. border agents to Nazis running concentration camps and claimed that inmates in the camps were forced to drink water from toilets.

To such accusations, Trump’s followers bellowed loud dissent. How could anyone possible accuse Americans of ignorance, of terrorism, of supporting Global South coups, or of maintaining concentration camps or at our border, or of facilitating them in Gaza? After all, (in Mr. Trump’s words) we are the “greatest force for peace and justice in the world.”

But, Williamson and ACIM implicitly ask, what if every one of those accusations is true? What if terrorism is largely blowback? What if the United States has indeed routinely undermined governments in the former colonies, including Venezuela? What if members of Congress generally appear more loyal to Israel than to their constituents? What if many Americans are indeed ignorant, and if those cages on our border – those baby prisons and child detention facilities – are actually concentration camps?

If we seriously entertained those possibilities, dealing with the problems in question would involve change – not principally on the part of our designated enemies – but on our own part. (Imagine that!) It would compel us to terminate uninvited involvement in the affairs of other nations. It would have us cease and desist, for instance, from regime change strategies, from support of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and from abusing children by separating infants from their mothers.

In theological terms as understood in ACIM, accepting 100% responsibility for the world’s problems would involve:

  • Prioritizing the world as God created it, belonging to everyone and perfect before humans appeared – without borders, which (though useful for commerce and travel) are not part of the Love’s unchallengeable order
  • Admitting that we are not an exceptional nation – or as ACIM puts it: No one is special, while everyone is special
  • Forgiving those we habitually blame – meaning treating them exactly as we would like to be treated
  • Realizing that no one is attacking us without provocation
  • Yet being willing to treat genuine criminality (e.g. as represented by those cages on the border or by the 9/11 attacks) with humanely retributive imprisonment (and/or impeachment)

Put more practically (according to the points distinguishing Williamson’s platform from that of others who also advocate the Green New Deal, etc.), admitting our responsibility for the world’s problems entails:

  • Paying reparations especially to African Americans, but also to indigenous tribes and to the countries our unprovoked regime-change wars have destroyed.
  • Creating a cabinet-level Department of Children and Youth intent on making our schools “palaces of learning” and our libraries “temples of literature and art”
  • Funding a Department of Peace at the same level as the so-called Defense Department

Imagine a world in which we took 100% responsibility for climate change, nuclear disarmament, immigration, and all the other problems represented by those we habitually blame. Imagine a president using her bully pulpit to set a constructive national tone (vs. the destructive tone set by Mr. Trump) and helping us all to accept 100% responsibility not only for the world’s problems but for our personal conflicts as well. What would happen to our marriages, to our families, to our local communities?

Answers to those musings constitute the reasons why Marianne Williamson, far from deserving ridicule, is the very candidate our country needs.  

P.S. Watch how Marianne knocked it out of the park on Colbert last Monday night:

Marianne Williamson & the Immigration Crisis (Sunday Homily)

Readings for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: IS 66:10-14C; PS 66: 1-7, 16, 20; GAL 6: 14-18; LK 10: 1-12, 17-20.

The theme of today’s liturgy of the word is exile and deliverance from captivity. In its light, I can’t help thinking of all those refugees at our southern border and of Marianne Williamson’s wise and unique response in last week’s second Democratic Debate.

According to our readings, the immigrants and refugees our politicians want us to hate are exiles like the ancient Hebrews in Babylon. They are the victims of the rich and powerful as were the Jews in Jesus’ day, when Rome occupied his homeland aided and abetted by the Temple clergy. That is, today’s biblical selections say that the poorest and most vulnerable among us are God’s own people.

Yet incredibly, the richest and most invulnerable at the top of our contemporary social order – the very ones who crashed our economy, looted our common treasury, and escaped unscathed with the handouts we ourselves provided – somehow want us to believe that the poor exiles from their beloved homes in Central America are the cause of all our problems.

But remember: the home lands of these exiles from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are the very countries whose economies our government purposely and permanently crashed in the 1980s. Then, the Reagan and Bush I administrations used drug money to finance illegal wars that ended up killing hundreds of thousands and replacing governments and social movements whose primary beneficiaries would have been the parents of those at our borders today. The latter are victims of the drug lords we established and supported during the ‘80s and who today are doing the same things they did 40 years ago – marketing drugs while terrorizing and murdering the innocent. I’m talking about the generals and other military officers who are now the drug kingpins.

That’s the point Marianne Williamson tried to make at the first Democratic debate. But no one picked it up. None of the other candidates elaborated on Ms. Williamson’s observation that today’s immigration “crisis” amounts to our government’s reaping what it sowed. The other candidates still haven’t seconded Marianne’s point. Instead, they and their interlocutors remain stuck in the same old, same old. They mouth the standard political platitudes while ignoring the shameful history that explains today’s headlines.

It’s been that way from biblical times and before – rich foreigners oppressing poor locals. Listen to today’s readings. Or, rather, read them for yourself. Here are my “translations.”

IS 66:10-14c

These are the words
Of Isaiah’s prophecy
To all in captivity
By Powers
Foreign and domestic:
“Your time of desperation
Is nearly over.
You will soon
Return home
Like starving infants
To Mother-Jerusalem.
With hunger satisfied
And prosperity
Incredible
Along with joy
And comfort, comfort, comfort
At last!”
 
PS 66: 1-7, 16, 20
 
Our liberator
From exile
So kind and powerful
Is the answer
To the prayers
Of captive people
And a source of joy
For the whole
Human race
And all of creation.
No obstacle
Can impede
God’s destiny
Of liberation
Joy and freedom
From oppression.
 
GAL 6: 14-18

Yes, our destiny
Is an entirely
New World!
Where the world’s distinctions
Are meaningless.
Acting accordingly
Now
Will bring
Everyone
Compassion and peace.
However,
The World
Crucifies us
For this belief.
Nonetheless,
We’re called to
Bear its torture
And scars
Gladly
As Jesus did.
 
LK 10: 1-12, 17-20

Paul’s words
Agree with Jesus
Who sent
Thirty-six pairs
Of “advance men”
And women
To announce
(Like Isaiah)
Liberation
From oppression
By powers imperial.
Like lambs among wolves
Like monks
With begging bowls,
They healed and proclaimed
God’s Great Cleanup
Of a world
Infested by demonic
Imperial oppressors.
And it worked!
Every one of those 72
Cast out evil spirits
Just like Jesus.
(Despite powerful opposition
And crucifixion.)
Some have ridiculed Marianne's debate performance. However, that only shows how our country thought-leaders have become tone-deaf to biblical values. They consider them ludicrous.

For me, that only signals the necessity of doubling-down on support for the only one in the crowded Democratic field who courageously insists on the values embedded in today's readings which identify the keys for solving the problems caused by "experienced" politicians. As Marianne says, those keys are love and forgiveness precisely for and of those the rich and powerful vilify.