Doesn't All The Talk About Different Versions Confuse Students?

The following is an email exchange between Ian Patrick and Rev. Tony Ponticello. It first appeared in Miracles Monthly January 2012. (Vol.25,No.11)

Dear Tony,

I first want to acknowledge your energy, getting out a full color newsletter every month for so many years. It’s phenomenal.

However, I’m writing to discuss your article “What Are the Different Versions of ACIM People Study?” (Vol.25.No.10/Dec.11) I’m not sure what the purpose of the article was. Was it to clarify matters? To me, it muddied the waters considerably, and left me confused. I noted several contradictions and inaccuracies.

I believe you have written on this subject before, and I have responded in a similar way before!!

The most contentious issue you raise is the idea that the Foundation for Inner Peace / Foundation for A Course In Miracles (FIP/FACIM) version of the Course is not the book “the Voice” wanted students to be reading. It’s interesting to read the Pros and Cons of each version but, to me, the overriding consideration is what the Voice (Jesus) truly intended. I suppose we will never know for sure, because we cannot ask Helen Schucman. The nearest we can get is to ask Ken Wapnick, who is the only surviving person intimately involved with the editing process.

Ken has told me personally, face to face (and I have no reason to disagree with or dispute him), that throughout all the editing processes Helen asked Jesus whether what she was doing was what was intended, and she made changes only when she had received that reassurance. This was the case with both the Hugh Lynn Cayce (HLC) version and the FIP/FACIM version (the latter edited with Ken’s considerable encouragement). The final FIP/FACIM version was the one she was told to have published.

So the personal material, together with references to Freud and sex etc., (almost all in just the first five chapters anyway) were meant for Helen and Bill. Helen and Bill were Freudians, so this was of particular interest to them. Bill had issues around sex that Helen asked Jesus about on his behalf. It all sounds very interesting, but it’s clear to me that the Urtext and HLC versions were working copies only.

Judy Skutch Whitson, President of FIP, also told me personally when I asked her what she thought of these miscellaneous editions of the Course(I paraphrase): “People send them to me and I keep them. But I don’t read them. Why would I go to any author and want to read his/her early drafts?” I have a book coming out shortly and I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to read the original draft!!

Personally, I am so confident that the FIP/FACIM version is the one intended for us to study that my organization, the Miracle Network here in the UK, only sells this version and does not want to confuse students with other earlier versions.

Ian Patrick, Founder and Manager, Miracle Network – London, United Kingdom



Always a pleasure to hear from you and congratulations on your book. We will be selling it as soon as it is available. You made points that I want to acknowledge.

1) Thank you for the acknowledgement of Miracles Monthly. We will soon be starting our 26th Volume year. We’re very proud and appreciate the acknowledgement.

2) You say the article left you confused, but you don’t sound the least bit confused. Quite the opposite, you sound very confident and sure of yourself.

3) The very important claim that an HLC derived version is what we should study is because “The Voice” told Helen, early in the channeling, that Bill was to be in charge of what to leave in and what to take out, and Bill was only active in editing the HLC. He did not take part in the subsequent editing of the HLC that became the FIP/FACIM version. This is in Chapter 1 of the Urtext. “Ask him [Bill] later if this should be included in the written part of the course at all, or whether you should keep these notes separately. He is in charge of these decisions.” (T.1.B.25.i) I wrote about this in the article. Thanks for bringing it up as I see I need to put the exact quotation into the FAQ to make it more precise.

4) I have never written a direct article that talked about all four of the different versions before. I did it for the CMC web site so that there could be a comprehensive reference to direct people to when they ask about the versions. I tried to write about each of the versions as objectively as possible. Now, when people email and ask about the different versions: the Notes, the Urtext, an HLC derived version (thus a Bill Thetford edited version) like the Original Edition, and the FIP/FACIM, I can send them a link to the FAQ.

5) I have found an interesting phenomena with those who “religiously” adhere to the FIP/FACIM book and Ken Wapnick’s interpretations. Without exception, they all say that talking about the other editions “confuses”students. But, like you, they don’t seem confused and neither do the people who study other versions seem confused. “Confused” has become a euphemism for meaning, talking about other versions of the book make people curious about other versions of the book besides the FIP/FACIM version. It also seems like whenever someone interprets differently from Ken Wapnick, those people are called “confused” automatically. If you don’t agree with Ken Wapnick you are confused. Interesting!

6) Your reasoning that we should be reading only the FIP/FACIM version is based primarily on what Ken Wapnick and Judy Skutch told you. These are the individuals who produce the FIP/FACIM version and the individuals who make money off the sale of that version. They are very interested parties. Also the FIP/FACIM version lends itself towards Ken Wapnick’s interpretations, so telling people to read that version reinforces all of his teachings and his books and product sales. Therefore, Ken Wapnick has this second vested, financial interest in students studying only the FIP/FACIM book. Their opinions are suspect and A Course In Miracles itself tells us to discard such data because it is unreliable. “No one with a personal investment is a reliable witness, for truth to him has become what he wants it to be.” (OrEd.Tx.11.5)

We have a presidential election going on in the U.S.A. I’m sure all the candidates believe they are the best one to be President. Of course I want to know what each of these candidates tell me, but they are not infallible. They are human beings. Tom Whitmore runs CIMS the publishers of the Original Edition. If I ask him which book is the best one to study, I would think he would argue for the Original Edition. I know Doug Thompson, who publishes the Urtext through Miracles In Action Press, thinks  his book, the Urtext Manuscripts is the “right” book to be studying. This is as it should be. We want inspired people who believe in their own work to have these kinds of opinion. However, if someone has a critical mind he/she should be talking to others who do not have a vested financial interest.

The Community Miracles Center does not publish any of the ACIM versions. The CMC sells all the different versions. Touting that you, through Miracles Network, sell only the one FIP/FACIM version, seems strange to me. It tells me that you have “bought” the “we have the only ‘correct’ version” story from the publishers of the book who make money when people buy it.

Love – Rev. Tony – San Francisco, CA