A Review of Marianne Williamson’s The Gift of Change; Spiritual Guidance in a Radically New Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 2004). To order online, visit http://www.marianne.com. Also available in bookstores nationwide.
Marianne Williamson has contributed more in the popular mind to advance the message of A Course in Miracles than anyone else. Frequent readers of her books will find that The Gift of Change depends more heavily on ACIM than any book since A Return to Love, the classic that opened the eyes of many to the blessing of ACIM. There is a difference, though, one which Marianne herself recognizes; she is now a mature woman, more buffeted about by the contrary winds of life, and she knows more fully how drastic is the message of forgiveness developed in ACIM.
The Gift of Change is structured (after an introductory chapter) into ten profound and fundamental changes that the serious student of ACIM will undergo. Marianne’s chapter headings are worth highlighting in detail, for here one may gain an appreciation of the depth and breadth that The Gift of Change embodies:
–From Forgetting Who We Are to Remembering Who We Are;
–From Negative Thinking to Positive Love;
–From Anxiety to Atonement;
–From Asking God to Change the World to Praying That He Change Us;
–From Living in the Past and Future to Living in the Present;
–From Focus on Guilt to Focus on Innocence;
–From Separation to Relationship;
–From Spiritual Death to Rebirth;
–From Your Plan to God’s Plan;
–From Who We Were to Who We Are Becoming.
Marianne footnotes ACIM ideas either by stating her debt directly or by inserting an asterisk. She does not stray far from ACIM, and the delightful images in her own words highlight why reading her books is edifying, whether one has studied ACIM or not. As has been pointed out in the pages of the magazine, Miracles, Marianne’s audience reaches those also who have never been drawn to A Course in Miracles.
The thesis of the book is given in a succinct two sentences that, in essence, summarize all of the ten changes that Marianne goes on to elucidate: “The online way the world can make a quantum leap, from conflict and fear to peace and love, is if that same quantum leap occurs within us. Then and only then will we become the men and women capable of solving the problems that plague us.”
How do we do this? Marianne says that we spend a committed part of each day in prayer and contemplation/meditation. Then, ever so gradually, we present ourselves authentically to God all the time: “not just every hour, but every moment of every day.” Yet Marianne recognizes that virtually none of us can sustain Awakening; she says, “Sometimes we walk closely with God, and sometimes we sprint to the other side of the universe.” But God’s mercy redeems; we fall on our faces many times, but He is always there to pick us up—and to move us through the changes that we need to embody. Changing ourselves, we will thereby be led to change the world: “The only thing that will triumph over evil is for enough good people to actually do good.” Marianne says early on, “It is time to do what we know in our hearts we were born to do.”
The ten changes are applicable to ACIM students/teachers as well as to those who are not. Marianne is very much attuned to the world in which we find ourselves, and there is a strong evangelical tone to her words. In reading her, I find myself asking, “Will I be part of the problem or part of the solution?” Marianne fervently hopes that her readers will sign on as part of the solution. And in these ten changes, she details exactly how to do just that.
Marianne’s gift is a joy to read and a clarion call to change our world. The call to change our world, though, is predicated on an inner shift in perception (in ACIM terminology, a “miracle”). Marianne belongs to a long line of ministers of the word who believe that outer change is misguided unless it is predicated first on inner shift. In The Gift of Change she develops exactly how to effect that inner shift through changes with which everyone can identify. The Gift of Change merits an unqualified endorsement.
The reviewer is Celia Hales. A former religion librarian, she lives with her husband in Oxford, Mississippi. She has several blogs at the following addresses: