We ask you to prayerfully consider supporting a celestial speedup for
Believing A Course in Miracles to be among the most important bodies of Spiritual Literature ever to appear on earth, it is my Guidance to make this material maximally accessible in copies which are as accurate to the original dictation as possible, along with basic reference tools.
Accuracy means that where any copy we produce deviates in any significant way that we are aware of from the original manuscript it purports to represent, we document the difference so the reader can tell what is the work of the Scribes, and what is the work of the editors when changes were deemed appropriate. (see Note About Accuracy below) If we find it deviates in a way we are not aware of, we fix it.
Accuracy also means completeness. It continues to be our objective to search for and make available copies of all relevant primary sources documents of A Course in Miracles in both facsimile (photographic copies of original documents) and e-text (searchable computer text files) format.
Accessibility means that copies are made available for the lowest practical price with most material being made available on the net at no charge at all.
Accessibility also means that basic research, reference, cross-reference and lookup tools are created and made available. This begins with a universal reference system for all versions along with concordances. In time, as the required resources come to be available, these basic tools will be substantially enhanced to enable far more advanced computer-assisted textual analysis and reporting.
Greater accuracy and accessibility will enhance the Course’s credibility and authority in the world, it will facilitate and enable deeper study and scholarship, and it will serve to minimize misperceptions and misunderstandings based on inaccurate and incomplete copies.
Your contribution makes a difference!
This is a big job which requires far more time and money than I have – or can even imagine having – personally available. What you see in the current collection of material, while it is the best we are aware of and is a very useful package, is also a preliminary step toward the long term goal of top quality reference materials. It provides, I hope, a glimmer of what is possible. In no way does it represent the complete achievement of what is ultimately possible when adequate resources are brought to bear.
The work you see reflected in the CDs, website and books we make available is almost entirely the result of volunteer efforts. The only labour that has been “purchased” is that of printers, publishers, service providers, computer vendors, and other suppliers. What differs in this material from that which has generally been available on the net over the past few years, on which it is based, is largely a “one man job” so far. This does not mean there have not been hugely important and vital contributions from others over the years, there have been. Nor does it mean that I have not built on earlier substantial achievements of others which they have made available. I have. It means that the bulk of the labour input and organization which distinguishes this material from the raw material I began with has come from one person. The major volunteer is me and the major financial supporter over the years has been me. Obviously I do this because I love doing it, feel called to do it, and find it very personally rewarding. I certainly have not been doing it for the money. For every dollar in sales and donations so far received, I’ve invested at least 10 of my own. Like everyone, however, I need to eat and pay the rent and like most people I have to go to work to earn that money. Every dollar donated means there is a little more time or a little more in the way of resources available for the project, and a little less time diverted to the mundane business of making a living.
There are basically three ways that undertakings of this kind can be supported:
1) as a part-time “hobby” activity in which one supplies the time and money it requires from one’s own resources. In this model there is always the question “should I buy groceries or print some copies today?”
2) As a “business” in which one markets the results as they become available, using the earnings from that marketing to support ongoing research and production.
3) As a “charity” in which one solicits donations of money and labour which are used to further the project.
While this project has been supported to some extent in all three ways, by far the largest has been the first category. I have made some “commercial” sales but the time and expense required to actually manufacture and ship product far outstrips the earnings realized to date. In fact shipping product has sometimes been an onerous burden and has cost far more in time and money than it has returned, so far. Far from being a “source of revenue” it diverted resources away from development of the product.
There have been a few donations, which are deeply appreciated and have been exceedingly helpful. But they have been few and far between.
It has become apparent to me as the project proceeds that it is far larger than what any single person can hope to accomplish in a lifetime. As long as it is constrained by own time and financial resources, this project will take a very long time and will not achieve the level of quality that I’m sure is possible with the application of adequate resources. With help it can be completed much sooner and to a much higher standard.
In the past I’ve been shy about asking for help and I’ve even been awkward about responding to offers. That has to change. I am very aware that I’m not the only person who views this sort of project as important. It is time to ask those who share that sense of importance to share in the work of making it happen.
If you wish to see this work advanced and refined, your support will contribute to that! I ask you to prayerfully consider supporting this project.
Your contribution speeds up results!
Time very often does equal money. Where there’s less money, things often take more time. Where there is more money, things frequently take less time. The reason is simple. Where there is less money I must take time away from working on the project to go out and earn money to support myself and the project. Sometimes where there is less money, software or hardware which would speed up the job isn’t available, and slower alternatives have to be employed. Sometimes, where there is no budget to hire a specialist, I simply have to find a way to improvise and do a job myself for which I am not an expert. Inevitably that takes longer, and often the results are not quite as good, but it does cost less money up front. Large amounts of time are sometimes spent finding ways to save small amounts of money. Months have been spent finding ways to do things inexpensively which could have been done in a couple of days with an adequate budget.
I am very aware that I have “created” this situation. I grew up in a “low cash” environment where, when more money was needed than was on hand, instead of finding money we looked for ways of doing without it. That tends to be my habitual response to a perception of insufficient funds: simply find a way of proceeding without the funds. This can have some wonderful results at times. One ends up learning many new skills when “doing one’s self” what otherwise might simply be purchased. It can also generate enormous delays since “doing it one’s self” can take much more time than expected. It also means things that really should be done are left undone. “Shortcuts” are sometimes taken, not because they are desirable, but because they appear necessary. Things which are desirable but perhaps not essential are left undone or postponed. Sometimes when it seems we can’t “afford to do it the best way” we do it “the best way we can afford.” Where there are shortcomings in this compilation, that’s often the reason.
Just in proofreading for instance, it is possible to hire extremely competent professional proofreaders to spot mistakes so they can be corrected. That really should be done. The goal is to find and correct every mistake and achieve 100% accuracy. The sooner that is achieved the better. But there is no budget for it so I spend a significant portion of my time proofreading. I don’t regret it, in fact I love it, but there are so many other things that need to be done that the number of hours per week which can be devoted to it is generally quite small and the proofreading the many thousands of pages proceeds year by year rather than week by week. With a suitable budget, a higher standard of accuracy can be achieved much more quickly.
Proofreading is in some senses the simplest of tasks. One simply compares the original manuscript with the “copy” one has generated to ensure they are the same, or that any discrepancies or ambiguities are documented. When dealing with many thousands of pages, one is also dealing with many thousands of hours of work. Since no one is likely to catch every mistake, one has to proofread each page several times. For very high accuracy, it should be done ten times. And it should be done by more than just one person. There are commercial proofreading services which, for a price, can do this to a very high standard and can do it very quickly. With a budget for proofreading, the accuracy level would be more quickly brought to the standard to which I aspire. Without it, well after each pass and each new crop of little mistakes fixed, the resultant copy is ‘better’ than what we had before, but until all the mistakes are found and fixed, it is still only the ‘best available’ rather than being ‘the best possible.’
It should be noted that any time a human modifies a document there is an error rate. Even just to correct a small typo, there can be an inadvertent mistake. No matter how careful one is, some errors are introduced inadvertently. Such human intervention inevitably introduces new mistakes and therefore the need for yet more proofreading. You not only have to check the original manuscript against the copy, you have to check the “corrections” to the copy against the original manuscript, and you have to do that repeatedly.
With typesetting, professional typesetters with the best tools can do a better job than I can with the software and hardware available to me, and they can do it much faster. Doing it myself, just typesetting a version takes months and the result is not as good as I know is possible for a gifted expert in a week. With adequate funding, the task can be done faster and better.
Many of the specific elements involved, such as a fully proofed e-text of one version for example, individually represent months of full time work. When obliged to spread that work over “days off” and “spare time,” it can take me six months – or even more – to complete a “month’s work.” I began working on proofing the HLC and preparing a Concordance in 2002. That was largely completed and first made available in 2006. The Urtext was the next project with the Notes to follow. After that will come the Catalogue of Variant Readings which will be followed by a Critical Edition (see below for more details on these future projects) which will aim to select the variant reading deemed most likely to be authentic and original for those thousands of passages where different versions offer different readings.
The speed with which these projects can be completed and their results made available is directly a function of the financial and volunteer resources available.
Wishing you blessings,
Your contribution provides more people with more access to more accurate copies of
A Course in Miracles
In the simplest terms, if a document is presented as an “accurate copy” of an earlier document, it should in fact be just that and it should not contain undocumented differences. If it does contain undocumented differences, it is not an “accurate” copy, it is an “approximate” copy. But what about correcting obvious mistakes in the original? Ah yes … well there the problem is determining exactly what is and what is not a ‘mistake.’
“Accuracy” then can be understood in several very different ways, and in the history of ACIM publishing, a wide variety of different definitions have been applied. In one sense no “copy” is ever “precisely accurate” to the original, except perhaps digital copies of digital originals. Even a superb photographic copy can’t capture all the nuances of an original paper document or make it easy to distinguish between a mark made by a pen and one made by a speck of dirt. Ultimately the only “precisely accurate” rendition of an original paper document is that original paper document. Any copy, even a ‘scrupulously accurate” one is prone to some degree of imprecision.
In any human undertaking there are also errors of inadvertence where an inaccuracy crept in by mistake and was not noticed. While proofreading can generally find and correct such mistakes, finding all of them is a difficult goal to achieve. Achieving something close to 99% accuracy is vastly easier than achieving 100% accuracy and of course, you can never be sure that you have achieved 100% accuracy because you don’t know about your own inadvertent mistakes!!
However while there may be no such thing as a perfect copy of a paper document, there are honest copies which represent a sincere attempt at precise replication within specified and documented tolerances. While it may be impossible to eliminate 100% of inadvertent discrepancies, one can certainly eliminate 90% of them with just one proofreading pass.
But proofreading is tedious and time-consuming and in the history of ACIM publishing, it has often been neglected because the resources to do it properly were not made available.
Then there are other kinds of copies which play fast and loose with the original, making alterations without documentation wherever the copyist or editor feels things should be different than they are. When such intentional undocumented modifications are added to unintended errors one can end up with a document which is substantially at variance from the “original” of which it is supposedly a copy. This becomes more of a “paraphrase” in which the original written form is re-expressed in the copyist’s own words according to the copyist’s own understanding with varying degrees of resemblance to the actual original. The intent of this kind of edition is to capture the copyist’s impression, the intent is not precise replication. One of the problems with ACIM is that editions of the latter sort, “rough paraphrases” have been advertised as being precisely accurate reproductions. Each kind of copy has its place, but problems can develop when the one type of copy is advertised as being the other type. The problem here is less “deliberate deception” or “false advertising” I think than it is a problem of different concepts of what “accuracy” is or should be.
Printed and e-text editions of ACIM which have appeared to date have mostly been prone to a rather large proportion of both inadvertent copying mistakes and editorial interpolation where those responsible for the copying chose to introduce undocumented alterations, for reasons which presumably were persuasive to them at the time. Generally most editions of ACIM to date have claimed a degree of resemblance to the original far in excess of what they actually achieved. This wasn’t all conscious misrepresentation. In many cases I know for a fact that people have gone to press unaware of the quantity of inadvertent mistakes which were present. In other cases the publisher’s understanding of “accuracy” simply didn’t encompass the degree of precision I associate with that word. There are those who feel a document can be called “accurate” if it is a more or less decent paraphrase catching the general idea of the original. For some purposes that is certainly “good enough.” However, for those more interested in exactly what the “Voice” said, a copyist’s paraphrase would not normally qualify as an “accurate copy.”
It’s not my wish to be overly critical of such “approximately accurate” editions or those responsible for them. Every copy of the Course in circulation is potentially a benefit to someone. I have no doubt that those responsible did the best they could with the limited resources and skills at their disposal. And it is certainly far better to have a copy that is approximately accurate than no copy at all! Rather, it is my wish to satisfy the yearning of many to know “what did it really say originally?” And I wish to satisfy that yearning as precisely as possible, not just approximately. Some substantial progress has been made toward that goal, but we’re not yet there. We have a ways still to go before the current stage can be called “complete.”
The author’s own words, found in the original Shorthand Notes state that “every word is meaningful” but add that errors are “Not crucial” and that every effort will be undertaken to retroactively correct any errors that creep in. I take that to mean that “getting the words precisely right” is important but is not crucial. We should then neither be overly concerned with precision nor be entirely unconcerned with precision. We should aim for it because it is meaningful, but we should not become alarmed by its absence, because it is not crucial. Finally, we should be open to facilitating that “retroactive correction” of the “meaningful” errors which are, however, not “crucial.”
While I consider the achievement of an accurate text of ACIM to be important, I very much believe that it is far more crucial for each of us to develop our own “hearing” of the “inner voice for God.” Ultimately it is that “inner voice” from which “corrections” will come. In terms of cultivating accurate hearing of that “inner voice” I view an accurate text as “important” but certainly not “crucial.”
In Biblical Scholarship, a discipline in which attention to precision is almost obsessive, any deviation which doesn’t have an extremely good reason and is not documented is considered to be a “corruption” which detracts from accuracy. It’s a mistake, and the thing to do with mistakes is to correct them.
In the same passage in which the Author comments on the accuracy of ACIM, the accuracy of the Bible is also mentioned, along with the fact that errors are not “crucial” there either!
If you are presenting a copy of any historical manuscript to any discriminating audience though, you simply don’t change it at all without telling the reader what you changed and why you changed it. Undocumented changes would be considered “mistakes” and the thing to do with mistakes it to correct them. They may not be crucial, but they still are to be corrected.
In short, unless there is evidence of an error in the original, you preserve the original, and where you think there is an error and think you have corrected it, you inform the reader that you have done so and precisely what you have done and why you have done it. Otherwise your work is implicitly dishonest in that you are putting your own words on the page where the reader is expecting – and in some cases has been told she is getting – the words of the Author. If there is no visible distinction between the one and the other the reader has no way to readily tell which is which.
Because the Scribal Manuscripts are largely unproofed “rough drafts” they do contain some obvious mistakes, such as inconsistent spelling and simple typing errors, which most editors of most copies address in one way or another. Obvious typos and spelling inconsistencies are either corrected or footnoted in the e-texts I have produced, for example. Other editors have simply corrected what they supposed to be errors with no documentation. Due to the fact that I initially suspected many things to be “errors” which further research suggested were probably intentional, if unusual, grammatical and spelling constructions, I feel it essential to document all but the most insignificant and obvious of such changes in the event that I have erred in determining what was a typo and what was an intentional novel construction. Either way, the reader deserves to know what derives from the original manuscript and what derives from an editor’s second-guessing the manuscript. If the reader is not informed of what’s what, the copy cannot be “accurately” said to be an “accurate” one. While that may not be “crucial,” it can be “important.”
Documentation can get dicey. In one sense documenting absolutely everything has the obvious advantage of thoroughness. The reader can assume that if there is no documented change there is no change. This does lead to excessive trivial annotation however, if very minor and obvious typos and spelling errors are all documented. How many readers really care that “yolk” was originally mis-typed and later corrected to “yoke?” How many care that a sentence originally ended with a comma which was later corrected to be a period? When a single word is sometimes spelled as “saviour” and sometimes spelled as “savior” shouldn’t it just be standardized? Does every instance require documentation? For some purposes even such trivial changes could be significant, so that fact of the change should not be hidden. For most purposes however, mentioning such trivial changes simply distracts the reader from the message.
I’m not entirely satisfied that I’ve found the best balance between the need for thoroughness on the one hand and the need to avoid the excessively trivial on the other. Perhaps two versions of annotation are necessary, one which has every last detail and an abridged list including only the most significant entries. Any reader can then choose the one she prefers. When I began annotating changes, I was inclined to ignore the most trivial ones. Over time I’ve become progressively inclined toward mentioning everything.
The basic guarantee of accuracy however is the inclusion of the best facsimile copies of the originals which are available to me. That way, if there is any doubt about any subsequent copy or rendition, rather than being dependent on editorial documentation to identify these correctly, the student can “check against the original” and come to her own conclusions about “accuracy.” In order to facilitate that kind of checking, I make available cross-referenced copies of the best facsimiles of the originals which are available to me.
Of course with electronic media where data storage and transmission is cheap, this is relatively economical and easy. With paper media in which data storage and transmission is much more costly, space limitations can make that sort of solution impractically bulky.
Particularly in the context of asking for support for this project, I feel it is important for people to know the long term objectives, of which the current offerings are just the tip of the iceberg, and the first fruits.
The Goal is an accurate Scholarly Edition of A Course in Miracles. That is an edition in which the reader can have confidence that every word on every page represents the closest approximation to the author’s originally intended wording as the techniques of textual scholarship can achieve. It also will be an edition that honestly informs the reader whenever the original manuscripts, which are the primary source documents for ACIM, contain variant readings. Where textual scholarship can assign greater authenticity to a particular variant, the reader will be informed of that.
This might not have been necessary had not the “original dictation” in Helen Schucman’s notebooks been copied and edited so many times without adequate – frequently without any – proofreading before first appearing as an error-riddled and extremely heavily edited and abridged printed book. Because that editing and abridgement did happen, and because it happened on a truly massive scale, with some 60,000 words being removed and many more being changed and re-sequenced, there is considerable uncertainty in many passages of the Course as to what it “really” says, or at last how much of what it says comes from “The Voice Helen heard” and how much came from later changes, both intentional editing and inadvertent copying mistakes.
My own background in Biblical Scholarship helps me recognize that similar problems arose in the early history of many Biblical manuscripts leading to analogous uncertainty as to the “originally intended wording” of many passages. Through centuries of copying and well-intended “correcting” and “expanding” by copyists, the Bible changed, sometimes in very subtle ways and sometimes in rather dramatic ways and often in ways that are not obvious.
That same background informs me that there are credible scholarly techniques for resolving the bulk of such inaccuries with a high degree of certainty. It is my feeling that for A Course in Miracles to achieve the respect and influence it deserves, it must be made available in an edition whose accuracy is deserving of respect.
In my view we are dealing with one of the most significant pieces of literature ever penned on planet earth, a document whose importance includes but extends far beyond personal spiritual contemplation. ACIM rightly has a place not just in formal academic study of Theology and Religion, but in the disciplines of Literature, Linguistics, Psychology and Philosophy to name only the most obvious. A severe barrier to its introduction and acceptance in academia is presented by the lack of credible, accurate copies.
“Textual Scholarship” falls into
two broad categories, Primary and Secondary
Scholarship. Most of us are more
familiar with Secondary Scholarship which aims to interpret and understand a
text. That’s what we were taught in our
literature classes in school, textual interpretation. In order to interpret a text, however, you have
to know what the text actually is. That
The two are not isolated solitudes, and Primary Scholarship is often informed by Secondary Scholarship just as Secondary Scholarship is utterly dependent on the work of Primary Textual Scholars. Secondary Scholarship seeks to understand “what the text means” while Primary Scholarship is mostly concerned only with “what the text is.” Primary Scholarship is more of an exact and objective science where the goal is to eliminate subjectivity and focus instead on demonstrable physical and textual evidence to establish not “what I think it means” but instead “what the author actually said.” The effort to understand “what it means” is rendered extremely problematic where we don’t even know “what it says.”
What I am doing here is largely a task of Primary Scholarship: establishing with the maximum possible degree of reliability and confidence for ACIM “what the text is.” I’m not going to achieve perfection in this goal but I know with complete certainty that it is not difficult to achieve a level of reliability and certainty as to what the authentic text of ACIM is which is far higher than anything achieved on this planet to date. And I feel that ACIM is sufficiently important to deserve no less.
To achieve that goal, several intermediate steps appear to be in order.
Phase I: Primary Sources
For our primary historical sources themselves, the plan is to provide each in three fully cross-referenced forms:
1) HIGH quality facsimiles which are photographic representations of the original manuscripts. Short of the original manuscript itself, this is the best tool for positive verification of the accuracy of any reproduction of the words of ACIM. Without these, we’re really just guessing.
2) Machine-searchable replicas which will attempt to reproduce each keystroke, with absolutely no changes or modifications. This tool has numerous scholarly applications, mostly as a machine-searchable index to the above. It also provides a database for many computerized textual analysis procedures which can be very useful in solving authenticity riddles.
3) “Cleaned up” e-texts which will in fact correct apparent errors, render spelling and capitalization consistent, and generally provide a more polished product. These e-texts form the basis for general purpose print editions and will include documentation wherever “editorial clean up” results in a deviation from the original, an uncertainty in the original, evidence of an error in the original, etc. To date this documentation has largely been in the form of footnotes, following conventional print media patterns. In time more sophisticated computerized hyperlinks for such documentation is contemplated.
Phase II: Catalogue
When we have accurate, fully proofed e-texts of all the versions we can then produce a Catalogue of Variant Readings which lists every difference between those versions. Computers can quickly and reliably detect even the smallest of differences between e-text documents. A complete Catalogue of Variant Readings will enable the reader to readily identify which passages were changed, when they were changed, how often they were changed, and precisely what the changes were. Where those changes were copying mistakes, and the number of those is huge, that is usually fairly obvious. Where those changes were dictated corrections of earlier scribal errors that is also often obvious. In relatively few cases are there significant variant readings where the more authentic is not immediately obvious. In such cases, further study and research often makes a more solid case for one than another and a consensus is easily achieved. In a few instances it may prove impossible to find any rational basis for selecting one variant over another, but I anticipate these will be very few indeed.
Phase III: A Critical Scholarly Edition of the ACIM Consensus Text
From the Catalogue of Variant Readings a definitive Critical Edition of A Course in Miracles can be generated by applying the techniques of textual scholarship. In such an edition all the typos and inadvertent mistakes will be corrected. The dictated corrections of earlier errors will be included. Where there are variant readings of competing authority, the one deemed most probably authentic will be selected and the reasons for selecting that one will be explained while the other variants will be noted. Where there is no scholarly basis for assigning greater authority to one variant over another, that too will be noted. I anticipate rather few instances where that will be the case.
This will be an edition of A Course in Miracles in which every word will be rendered with the maximum degree of authenticity to the original dictation and intention of the Author which scholarship can achieve. That does not imply perfection, it just implies the best that is possible.
For the most part, the preparation of such a Critical Edition of A Course in Miracles is not a particularly complicated or difficult undertaking. It’s just a very large one. The experience of Biblical and other literary textual scholarship over the past few centuries has tackled, with very useful results, conundrums of variant and uncertain readings between primary sources which are considerably more daunting than those facing ACIM scholarship.
For the task of rendering a vastly more accurate edition of ACIM, well “we have the technology.”
It’s a large job which is mostly a clerical task of ensuring accurate reproduction but which does include some more specialized and highly skilled tasks related to ranking variant readings. While anyone can look at two or more variant readings and form an opinion or a preference, a well-researched, informed and scholarly opinion can be a bit more complex. The basic “consensus text” of the Bible, for instance, has emerged over centuries based on an enormous amount of research and study into the many variant readings provided by the thousands of ancient manuscripts and manuscript fragments which have survived from antiquity. As many scholars examine and research and discuss particular variants, and as new archaeological finds expand our inventory of ancient manuscript fragments, eventually a solid scholarly consensus emerges as to which is the most authentic. ACIM will eventually benefit enormously from this kind of careful, methodical, rigorous and scholarly research. In order for this to be done however, the foundation of basic primary scholarship – the work of generating accurate and accessible copies of the primary sources – must first be laid. One cannot assess variant readings until one has identified them and the most obvious and most accurate way to identify them in this computer age is to feed accurate copies to text comparison software. Traditionally, with the Bible, comparison was done by eyeballing physical copies. Also, traditionally, individual Biblical Scholars tended to focus exclusively only on very small portions of the entire Bible such that the total number of words they had to deal with was quite modest and they could readily “memorize” the whole, making the need for computer assistance rather less. We’re tackling the whole of ACIM here, and that is a very large document.
Since there are many other uses for accurate copies, and we simply want accurate copies of all versions anyway, it seems sensible to start with generating the accurate copies and then move on to catalogue the differences, and with computers the latter task is rendered much less difficult.
I suppose it needs to be pointed out that there is reason to believe that more primary source documents exist than have currently come to light. Rather obviously, efforts must be undertaken to obtain copies of those. In particular, it is said that Schucman retyped the Text three times, and we only have two of her typed copies. And it is said she retyped later volumes twice where we have only a single typed manuscript. This would indicate that there is, or at least one was, another entire typed copy of the Course in existence which is not presently available.
The “end” will not be the end of course. As more people study problematic variant readings new insights will emerge over time and any early conclusions about some readings is likely to change. I wish to emphasize that of the thousands of variant readings I’ve looked at, only a very small proportion struck me as anything other than obviously inadvertent copying mistakes or obviously dictated corrections. If we only clean up the “obvious” ones about which there is little doubt or controversy and leave all the ambiguous ones to future research, we will have rendered ACIM far more accurate and credible than any extant edition, and that modest step is itself worthwhile. The vast bulk of the “problems” with accuracy are simple and obvious, and only a few are ever likely to be controversial.
It is possible, perhaps even likely, that a few passages in the Course will remain uncertain or controversial even after extensive research. That is not a problem. If we cannot achieve a consensus on some passages we simply cannot achieve a consensus and readers will have to decide for themselves how to handle such uncertainty. Where the reading really is uncertain, however, it strikes me as profoundly problematic to imply it is not uncertain by simply guessing or filling in whatever comes into an editor’s head! Unfortunately, in most extant editions of ACIM, that’s how uncertain passages were dealt with.
Supporting this project advances not just each phase, but the longer term goal of a highly accurate edition of the Course in which all readers can have high confidence as well.
Today we see a great many debates in Course circles about “different versions” and considerable confusion as to the authority, reliability and accuracy of the words on the pages of the several editions of the Course in widespread circulation. Most of this debate is poorly informed and rather counter-productive to the real work of internalizing the message of the Course. Much of it is misinformed by flat-out incorrect claims of accuracy.
In one version it says this, in another it says that, while in yet another we can’t find it, which doesn’t prove it’s not there in some other location or slightly different wording. Anyone can form a preference for one variant over another, but how can the average reader readily evaluate these variants or even know there are variants, or determine which are simply typing mistakes?
Readers of ACIM deserve an accurate and complete copy which is not subject to that kind of distracting and highly divisive uncertainty and it is possible to provide them with one which is at least as accurate as possible.
Just look at “Christianity” with its 40,000 different Church denominations which find an endless list of things to disagree about. While they often disagree about what the Bible means, with very few exceptions, they all agree on one thing, and that is “what the Bible actually says.” The reason is that with the Bible we have 500 years of solid Primary Textual Scholarship which has generated a “consensus text” of very high quality and reliability.
The “textual problems” with ACIM are generally much more trivial than those with the Bible, and unlike the Bible, for most of ACIM we actually have readable copies of the original manuscript. We can achieve for students of ACIM what has been achieved for students of the Bible: an accurate reliable definitive edition which largely removes uncertainty as to “what the text originally and authentically actually is.”
It is inevitable with literature of this quality that this will eventually happen. Your donation will hasten the happy day when that goal has been achieved and it becomes possible to answer the question “what does ACIM really say” with more than just a guess!