Allen and I have received
a response from Ken Wapnick to our open letter. We will not share
his response publicly, since he seemed to wish that it remain
private. We would like to share the gist of it, however, since
so many people are waiting for a response from him.
Ken declined to respond to the substance of our letter, saying that he feels that public communications always serve an ulterior motive. Instead of addressing any of the questions or issues we raised, he instead chose to correct four "of the more glaring mischaracterizations and misrepresentations, not to mention misinformation" contained in our letter.
First, he said that George McOwen's manuscript contained not simply a few paraphrases, as I had said; rather, almost the entire book was a paraphrase.
Second, he said that Judy's remarks to me were decidedly different from what I reported.
Third, he said that he and I have dialogued in the past, and that he is never against true dialogue.
Fourth, he said that FACIM has not categorically denied permission to quote, and in fact, has granted permission to many people, including authors who see the Course differently from Ken.
Before commenting futher, I would like to respond to Ken's four corrections. The following is from my letter responding to Ken:
"Let me respond to the four points you made about inaccuracies in my letter. First, about George's manuscript. I think we are using the word 'paraphrase' differently. My understanding is that a copyright holder owns not the ideas, but only his work's expression of those ideas. So I combed George's work for sentences in which he had taken a particular line from the Course and changed some of the wording around, since I assumed that these paraphrased lines were the only part of his work that a copyright holder had any say about. So, when I said, 'a few paraphrases,' I was referring to his paraphrasing of particular lines from the Course, rather than his paraphrasing of overall ideas from
the Course." [Note to readers: George did acknowledge the Course as inspiration for the ideas in his book in the book's introduction.]
"Second, as to Judy's remarks to me, I stand by those. Not only do I have a good memory, I have a written record of the main conversation I refer to in my letter, a record I faxed to Judy shortly after that conversation to give her a chance to correct any inaccuracies I may have inadvertently included (she did not). I will include a copy of that fax along with this letter. It contains support for all three things I claimed she said, that she 1) 'expressed enthusiasm about[our] proposal,' 2) said 'that the copyright pendulum needed to swing back to center,' and 3) 'instructed her lawyer to get together with the lawyer who was helping us to amicably resolve these issues, and work out the details.'
"Third, you are of course correct that we have had many exchanges in the past. Were I to write the letter again, I would refer to our dialogues in the 80's. As the letter stands, I was referring to your refusal to dialogue over the last (I believe) seven years, which seemed much more relevant to my current attempt to dialogue with you than the exchanges we had so long ago.
"Fourth, my letter never stated that you have categorically denied permission. How would I know that? Rather, I asked: 'Will anyone be granted permission to quote from A Course in Miracles?' I would still like to know who is being granted permission and who is not, and what specific criteria are being applied in granting permission. Specifically, have you granted anyone permission to prepare detailed commentaries on the Course which do not reflect your views of the Course, but which reflect the level of quoting that you have established through your own works as necessary for such commentaries?
"I made the utmost effort in that letter to be accurate, balanced, and fair. For this reason, I intend to append the above statements to that letter wherever it is posted."
In light of the above, I leave the reader to decide for him- or herself how accurate or inaccurate our open letter was.
Clearly, there will be no public dialogue between myself and Ken. In fact, I think we have heard about all that we are going to from Ken on these matters. He has responded to the letters of several students with the same message: The situation is not as it has been represented. FACIM is simply upholding standard copyright practice and is absolutely not trying to suppress discussion or commentary on the Course.
In the meantime, FACIM continues to take action. Ironically, on the day we released that open letter to Ken, July 12, The Circle of Atonement received a letter from FACIM's law firm, Epstein Becker & Green. This letter requested that we cease and desist from the distribution of our series of booklets and books, our Workbook Lesson Commentaries and Electronic Text Commentaries (which go out over the Internet), and our Manual Study Series (which is on audio tape). This amounts to most of what we distribute.
I believe that our most important response to this situation, and the most important response of all Course students, is to practice forgiveness. Rather than being outraged by what is happening, let's commit ourselves to embodying the ideals of our path here at a time when its ideals seem most threatened. Let us resolve to watch our minds for anger and, whenever we notice it, to practice forgiveness as the Course teaches it. If we perceive that Ken Wapnick is attacking, let us truly "be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do" (T-17.III.1:5). If we perceive that myself, Allen, and others are
attacking, again, let us try to practice forgiveness with genuine sincerity. From the outside, this situation may look like the failure of the Course and its principles. But this is the kind of situation for which the Course was made. Let us endeavor to stand forth as examples of its beautiful teachings.
And then, I propose, let us ask within for guidance about what we each should do. We do have to act in this world. As The Song of Prayer says, "There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not" (S-1.I.2:4). Yet only with the help of a far higher and broader perspective than our own can we make these decisions well. And only with the help of forgiveness can we carry them out with nothing but good will in our heart.
Please join us in practicing forgiveness and asking for guidance about this situation.
The Circle of Atonement, P.O. Box 4238, W. Sedona, AZ 86340