It’s all fun and games until someone summons a demon. Since New Age guru Marianne Williamson’s breakout performance at the first Democratic presidential primary debate in June, conservatives have ironically embraced her kooky candidacy, in some cases even making donations to ensure she made it to the second debate.
Williamson didn’t disappoint. At this week’s second Democratic debate in Detroit, she entranced the crowd. “If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country,” Williamson warned, “then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.” She managed to fit three hard truths into just one sentence.
First, presidential elections are not won on wonkiness. In 2016, Donald Trump defeated the wonkier Hillary Clinton after vanquishing 16 wonkier Republican primary opponents. In 2008 and 2012, the vague and aspirational Barack Obama defeated the wonkier John McCain and Mitt Romney. In 2004, plain-spoken George W. Bush beat technocrat John Kerry after doing the same to Al Gore four years earlier. The American people want their presidents to articulate big ideas and leave the details to the eggheads.
Second, if Democrats don’t change course, Trump will likely win re-election. Incumbents enjoy a natural electoral advantage. Since 1980, despite multiple wars and economic downturns, just one president has failed to win re-election. By failing to speak in plain terms and focusing on some of the least popular policy positions in the country — e.g., open borders, socialized medicine, reparations for slavery, even an antipathy for the American flag — Democrats make their task even more difficult.
Third, and most importantly, our political woes do indeed stem from a “dark, psychic force” — namely, the Devil. Not everyone believes in him, but he’s real, as Antonin Scalia famously told a secular reporter for New York Magazine. “Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil,” Scalia explained to the bewildered journalist.
Cardinal Manning put the situation in even starker terms: “All differences of opinion are at bottom theological.” Andrew Breitbart observed the same: “Politics is downstream from culture,” and culture is downstream from religion. “Culture” and “cult” derive from the same word; what a culture worships defines it.
All political debates, from tax policy to abortion, draw on moral arguments that rest on religious premises. President Trump regularly acknowledges the theological foundation of politics. “In America, we don’t worship government,” Trump told attendees of the 2017 Values Voter Summit. “We worship God.” So what does Marianne Williamson worship?
Williamson made her career proselytizing A Course In Miracles, a 1976 book written by Columbia University psychologist Helen Schucman, who believed the text had been dictated to her word-for-word by a spirit claiming to be Jesus Christ. The book contradicts virtually every teaching of Christianity, including the divinity of Christ, the fall of man, and the reliability of Scripture. It denies the reality of all that we experience, except for our desires. “The world you see is an illusion of a world,” writes Schucman — or rather, scribes Schucman for "the spirit."
After the troubled psychology professor died of cancer in 1981, her friend, former student, and eulogist Fr. Benedict Groeschel recalled the “black hole of rage and depression that Schucman fell into during the last two years of her life.” He noted the irony. “This woman who had written so eloquently that suffering really did not exist spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed,” explained Groeschel.
Marianne Williamson has written a dozen books spreading Schucman’s message. Her bestseller A Return To Love became, as John Podhoretz noted in his 1992 review, “the first religious exegesis to outsell its own bible.” Oprah Winfrey, another promoter of New Age mysticism, introduced Williamson to a national audience that same year and has interviewed her countless times since.
Whether the origin of A Course In Miracles is diabolical or merely psychological, the book proclaimed an anti-gospel of unreality and bred a cult of self-satisfaction for which Marianne Williamson has served as chief apostle. Enjoy the memes, but beware dark, psychic forces.