The following document is (C) 2000 by Doug Thompson. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this document in whole or in part in non-commercial applications with no restrictions whatsoever.
Like most "FAQ" sheets it attempts to address some of the most frequently asked questions about the Hugh Lynne Cayce version of the Course in Miracles by raising the issues and pointing to published sources where the answers can be found and summarizing the answers found therein.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Thetford Version (HLC) and where did it come from?
The Thetford Version of the Course, sometimes called the HLC (Hugh Lynn Cayce) version is described by Kenneth Wapnick as Helen's second retyping (1). The dictation of the Course was completed in September 1972 (2). In the summer of 1971 Helen and Bill had begun to add chapter divisions and subheadings and remove personal material that had been given to Helen and Bill along with the Course . (3) This editing was principally done by Bill Thetford (4) with Helen mostly just doing the typing, worrying some about grammar but not at all about content. That was specifically left to Bill.
Helen wrote of this in her unpublished autobiography:
"I assumed the attitude of an editor whose role is to consider only form and disregard content as much as possible.... Bill was adamant in opposing any changes at all, except for deleting the too personal early references and correcting actual typing errors.. I wanted to change just about everything, but I knew that Bill was right. Any changes I made were always wrong in the long run, and had to be put back. The strictly editorial attitude not only helped me get through a long and difficult job, but also proved to be the most helpful, as far as the actual material was concerned. It had a way of knowing what it was doing, and was much better left exactly as it was." (5) (emphasis mine)
Bill Thetford, we can see, was adamant that no changes be made other than correcting typing errors and removing specifically personal material. Helen made many changes and then returned the material to its original form in this initial editing process.
This 14 month process (6), begun in the summer of 1971, would have ended in the fall of 1972 which is when the scribing of the third volume, the teacher's manual, ended. (2) The editing was underway when the Voice began dictating the third volume on April 12, 1972 (7).
Ken writes in "Absence":
"After scribing was completed [September 1972], Helen and Bill prepared a copy of the manuscript for Hugh Lynn [Cayce]. This, incidentally, was the manuscript I first saw, and which Helen, Bill, and I always referred to as the 'Hugh Lynn version.'" (8)
Ken adds a most curious footnote as an afterthought to this statement:
"This appellation should not be taken to suggest that there were other versions of the Course; it referred only to the latest typing of the manuscript." (9)
Just what Ken means by "versions" here is unclear since there are indeed quite a number of "versions" in existence.
Ken first saw this "Hugh Lynn version" in May of 1973 (10). It would have been finished some time between the end of the scribing in September 1972 and May of 1973 when Ken says he first read it. Hugh Lynn Cayce received a copy of this version, likely shortly after it was completed. Since it was already called the Hugh Lynn version in May of 1973 according to Ken, it had likely been completed and given to Hugh Lynn Cayce some time prior to that.
Robert Skutch states that between September 1972 and March 1973, Bill provided the completed Course to Hugh Lynn Cayce and 3 other people. (11)
This is not the only version of the Course Hugh Lynn had seen.
Ken writes in "Absence":
"Helen and Bill were to return to Virginia Beach shortly after the Course began , and over the years developed a helpful friendship with Hugh Lynn Cayce, who was extremely supportive of Helen. Helen and Bill made copies of the as-yet-incomplete manuscript for him, and he was obviously impressed with what he read. Helen and Bill later told me that Hugh Lynn felt that his father Edgar had something to do with the transmission of the Course." (12)
Robert Skutch states that Helen and Bill showed the unfinished manuscript of the text to Hugh Lynn Cayce in New York during the first year of the scribing, which would have been some time in 1965 or 1966. (13)
There is indication, therefore, that Hugh Lynn Cayce was periodically provided with partial fragments of the Course from early in the scribing until the completed, edited version was presented to him some time between September of 1972 and March of 1973.
Some time after receiving this courtesy copy, Hugh Lynn Cayce deposited it in the ARE (Association for Research and Development) library of the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Virginia Beach, Virginia where it remains to this day (January 2000). Carrying no copyright notices or indication of authorship. It has been available for public use since that time. We can be confident that the ARE copy is the final edited version and not one of the early drafts because it has the chapter divisions and contains no personal material. Some of that material is quoted by Ken Wapnick in "Absence" but does not show up in the ARE version. What happened to other copies of earlier versions that Hugh Lynn may have possessed is unknown to this writer.
The edition of the Thetford Version (or HLC) published on the net in January was made from this public domain copy at the ARE library. It was typed into computers and proofread 4 times by volunteers and contains no editing, even the original spelling mistakes are preserved. There are, however, several typing errors in the January 2000 version.
The Thetford Version (or HLC) then is the outcome of the first complete editing of the notes Helen took in dictation and the original typescript Bill Thetford produced from those notes. It is not the original typescript but is the closest thing to it which is presently available to the public.
2. What is the relationship between the Thetford Version (HLC) and other versions of the Course?
There are quite a few different editions of the Course in existence. The most well known are the FIP (Foundation for Inner Peace) First and Second editions of 1976 and 1996, respectively and the CIMS (Course in Miracles Society) edition of the HLC text in 2000.
The "Nun's Version", which is very close to the First Edition was widely distributed and photocopied by Judith Skutch beginning in the Spring of 1975. Some months after this photocopying in the public domain began, copyright notices began to appear and by December 1975, a copyright was obtained, the legality of which is questionable since at least a few hundred, and probably a great many more copies had already been released and were circulating in the public domain.
A variety of unpublished versions and fragments also exist in at least a few copies. As Helen heard the "Voice" she took notes in shorthand. Almost daily she would verbally dictate from these notes to Bill who typed what she read. Sometimes the "Voice" would tell her to make changes, that she'd heard incorrectly the first time, according to Ken Wapnick in "Absence." Of those errors detailed by Ken, the corrected form appears in the Thetford Version. Both the original notes and Bill's first typescript (also called the urtext) are inaccessible to the public, in Ken Wapnick's possession and access to them is forbidden except to a few. A few fragments have been published in "Absence" by Ken and in "Journey" by Robert. Other researchers have not been allowed access to the material.
We are told that the original notebooks survive, however along with the original typescript called the "urtext." How much correcting or editing that typescript reflects is unknown to this writer and Ken's reports range from "virtually no changes to" the now-famous "rusty pipes" (18) characterization of the material as severely flawed.
After Dr. Wapnick read the Thetford Version in 1973, a further and extensive editing was conducted by Ken and Helen which resulted in the "Nun's Version" (probably in 1975) and the "Freeperson Press" (14) edition of a few hundred reduced size photocopies in the summer of 1975 and finally the "First Edition" released in June or July of 1976. The latter versions appear to be substantially identical. Minor revisions were made for the "Second Edition" in 1996.
We can define the following versions or editions. Some of these are substantially identical to each other. Items 6, 7 and 8 may be identical.
1) Original shorthand notes (9/65-9/72)
2) Urtext (original Thetford Typescript, possibly containing some editing and possibly existing in multiple versions with varying degrees of corrections)
3) Helen's first re-typing, (late 1972)
4) The Thetford Version (nicknamed the HLC) (9/72-3/73) (Helen's 2nd re-typing)
5) Intermediate edited versions, editors' working papers (1973-1975)
6) The Nun's Version (Jan or Feb 1975) (25% of the first five chapters removed)
7) The Xerox Edition (June 1975) (substantially identical to the above)
** The idea of and application for copyright occurs here
8) The "Freeperson Press" edition (August 1975) (a photo-reduced version of the above)
9) The "First Edition" (6/75) (few changes from the above)
10) The "Second Edition" (1996) (substantial but minor changes)
Up to the middle of 1975, probably August, no copyright had been claimed or suggested though at least two versions were published and were (and remain) available when you can locate a copy, and there are copies in existence and circulation.
Bill Thetford made 12 copies of the "HLC" Version,(15) of which we have some indication of the disposal of 5:
1) Hugh Lynn Cayce
2) Personal friend of Bill (probably Charles Parrish)
3) Personal friend of Bill (identify unknown but fragments of the copy survive)
4) Father Michael
5) Cal Hatcher
6) Ken Wapnick (May 1973)
What happened to the rest is not known.
The early history of the Course can then be broken into two periods, the "Scribal Era" and the "Editorial Era" with the dividing line being Ken Wapnick's arrival on the scene in May of 1973.
The final outcome of the "Scribal Era" was the 1973 Thetford Version, or HLC, which by Helen's account involves no changes other than removal of personal material.
The "Editorial Era" which began shortly after Ken first read the Course, in the fall of 1973, involved substantial alterations to the Thetford Version of six kinds:
1) Capitalization standandardization, minor word substitutions which do not significantly alter the meaning, re-working commas.
2) Removal of roughly 25% of the first five chapters and substantial rearrangement of the rest, the 53 miracle principles were abridged to 50, etc.
3) The addition of small amounts of material not found in the Thetford Version, probably from the urtext.
4) A few alterations of chapter and section divisions and titles.
5) Significant word substitutions which alter the meaning of the text. "Spiritual Eye" is replaced by "Holy Spirit", for instance, evenwhere it doesn't fit. "Foolish Journey" is replaced by "useless journey", and many others.
6) Re-working and re-arranging sentences and paragraphs.
While the product of the Editorial Era, the various nearly identical versions of 1975, are very close to the Thetford Version, retaining most of the structure, chapter and section divisions and titles, it is not entirely an edit of the Thetford Version, as evidenced by the addition of small amounts of material not found in the Thetford Version. The editors appear to have made some reference to an earlier, pre-1973 version while being strongly influenced by Bill Thetford's formatting and structural decisions.
3. But I've always heard there were "virtually no changes?"
You not only heard it, you can read Helen Shucman's own words in the preface to the Second edition:
"Only a few minor changes have been made. Chapter titles and subheadings have been inserted in the Text, and some of the more personal references that occurred at the beginning have been omitted. Otherwise the material is substantially unchanged." - Helen Shucman (16)
While this may reflect Helen's memory of the editing, during which she "invariably" fell asleep, according to Ken, this recollection of Helen's is not corroborated by the evidence. (27)
In the 1987 FIP video Bill Thetford, Ken Wapnick, Judith Skutch, and Charles Parrish all face the camera and speak the words "virtually no changes" in their descriptions of the editing process. Bill and Ken and probably Charles all had seen the 1973 Thetford Version (the HLC) and the 1975 Version. Judith may not have seen the earlier material at the time she made that statement.
When the Thetford Version finally resurfaced in January of 2000, there was considerable astonishment and consternation when it was discovered that the first five chapters were 25% smaller and substantially re-written with numerous other word substitutions and changes throughout the text.
The claims that the editing made no changes of significance are many and conspicuous. In "Absence" Ken goes into considerable detail about how they worried about commas and capitalization but nowhere suggests that large portions of material, other than personal material were removed.
The official story of the Editorial Era was "virtually no changes" and it was never seriously challenged or doubted by anyone other than Bill Thetford himself, and that only in private. Hugh Prather makes the following remarkable comment in July of 1999
"First, a disclaimer: The information I give here about the early days of the Course is sprinkled with a few direct observations but comes primarily from many conversations my wife Gayle and I had with Bill Thetford over the years. If there are any inaccuracies, please chalk these up to my faulty memory of what Bill told us, because nothing here is taken from books and biographies about the Course.
"Bill thought it amusing that many "official" details about how the Course came were not what he recalled, even though he was by that time the only one alive who had been there from the beginning. For instance, once he laughed and said, "Now they're saying the Course came over a period of ___ years. I always thought it was ___ years." For reasons that I hope will become clearer as we go along, my purpose is not to correct historical details and for that reason I am not getting into them. "Getting into details" instead of getting into God is what causes all the trouble.
"The lesson for Gayle and me [sic] was that although Bill disagreed with some of the "facts" that were being recorded about his and Helen's lives, and some of the actions that were being taken in the name of the Course, he did not feel the need to impose his position on other people. However, please note that he did have a position on these and many other subjects, and, primarily as a form of humor, he often would voice his position.
"It simply isn't possible to have an ego and yet have no position, no opinions, no attitudes. In fact, when we look at our minds honestly, we see that we have mixed feelings and multiple opinions about almost everything. It is how we respond to our positions, to our own points of view--not staying unaware of them--that determines our sense of wholeness and peace. Bill's gentle example was: Do not become preoccupied with your position--which you inescapably will do if you try to force it on someone else.
"In 1978, Gayle and I met Bill Thetford, Judy and Bob Skutch, Jerry Jampolsky, and several other people associated with the Course, all of whom were living in Tiburon at the time. Even though there was an underlying sense of family and mutual support among these people, several of them seemed to be wrestling with two contrasting attitudes toward the Course . One was that the Course needed protecting and promoting. In those days, this point of view was still quite weak because the original thinking--during the period when the Course was being turned over to The Foundation for Inner Peace--was that "the Course is for everyone" and shouldn't even be copyrighted, which of course would mean that no one organization could control it. "
At the time Ken became involved with Helen and Bill, in May 1973, "Helen and Bill were each firmly convinced that the other -- now more than ever -- was the cause of all problems and failures: past, present, and future." (17)
Bill, being a passive-aggressive personality, avoided confrontation (18) and was quickly supplanted as "Editor-in-Chief" of the Course by Ken, as was his policy of "virtually no changes." This idea, this "Virtually no changes" was Bill's idea and is reflected in his Version of the Course. The words were kept by Ken and Helen in their subsequent editing, but the idea was left behind.
On February 19, 2000, Ken told the Salt Lake Tribune
"A lot of changes had to be made because Helen's hearing was not all that good," he said. "The early material was not polished or well-written and had a number of inconsistencies."
Schucman became better at discerning the words as the dictation continued.
"If you have a faucet that hasn't been used for a long time and turn it on, you first get a lot of rust and impurities. Helen's experience in the early weeks and months was like that," he said.
But, Wapnick insists, no editing was done without Schucman's approval.
" The editing that Helen and I completed was Helen's work," Wapnick said this week. "Any thought that it was I who did the editing could only be held by someone who clearly did not know Helen." (18)
The story changes when the long-suppressed evidence is produced.
Bill, for his own reasons, rightly or wrongly chose not to challenge Ken's and Helen's "story" and their departure from his policies in public or directly, though his relationship with her deteriorated after Ken became involved. Bill certainly did challenge the story in private however.
4. Did Jesus author the Course?
On February 19, 2000 the Salt Lake Tribune reported:
"Kenneth and Gloria Wapnick, executive directors of the Foundation For A Course in Miracles [FACIM] of Roscoe, N.Y., which holds the book's copyright, say the early manuscript is nothing but a rough draft. They believe they are protecting Schucman's interests by keeping the draft out of the public.
"If you are an author, and you have written several drafts, you want the finished product published," Kenneth Wapnick said this week. "This was Helen's working draft. It was never meant to be published." (19)
Here as in sworn testimony in court, Ken asserts that Helen is the author of the Course. Yet in the 1987 Video he states the following:
"One of the things I was most impressed with about the course was that Jesus was the author of it. I just could not believe that anyone else could have written it. It was very clear to me that Helen could not have written it and I just could not imagine it having any other source than Jesus himself."
Somewhere between then and now, Ken's opinion on authorship of the Course has changed somewhat.
Helen's opinion on the authorship, quoted in the Video and in Robert Skutch's "Journey" from her autobiography was fairly clear:
"At several points in the writing the Voice itself speaks in no uncertain terms about the author: Jesus. My own reactions to these references which literally stunned me at the time have decreased in intensity and are now at a level of wonder and acceptance." - Helen Shucman (20)
Skutch's rendition of this quote in "Journey" is subtly different.
"At several points in the writing the Voice itself speaks in no uncertain terms about the Author. My own reactions to these references, which literally stunned me at the time, decreased in intensity until they reached a level of mere indecision. I do not understand the events that led up to the writing. I do not understand the process and I certainly do not understand the authorship. It would be pointless for me to attempt an explanation." - Helen Shucman (21)
Ken reports the existence of at least three versions of Helen's autobiography. (22) Perhaps the authors of the video were quoting from a different version than was Robert Skutch. While the video stresses the authorship of Jesus as a major theme, Skutch's book downplays that element, suggesting it without affirming it. Perhaps this explains the slight difference in the quote from Helen, as Skutch's is not quite as definite about the author being Jesus.
The Course itself is clear that the Biblical Jesus is the author. One may believe or disbelieve the Course, but it does in no uncertain terms identify the author with biographical details of Jesus of the New Testament, frequently quoting the New Testament, sometimes in the language of "when I said [quote from NT]."
Quoted here from the COA vs. FIP lawsuit pleadings is the nub of the issue:
11. Dr. Schucman believed that she was scribing the actual words of Jesus as communicated in a voice to her, a process she described as a form of rapid inner dictation. Upon information and belief, Dr. Schucman expressly disavowed that any part of the text or organization of A Course in Miracles invoked her own creativity, expressing instead the belief that the voice would not allow her to inject her own creativity into the work.
The response from Ken's Lawyers:
11. Defendants admit that Dr. Schucman believed a voice had communicated with her and that she described the process of her authorship as a form of "rapid inner dictation." Defendants deny the remaining allegations contained in paragraph 11 of the Complaint. (23)
This is one of numerous statements made since the litigation began, by FIP, FACIM or Dr. Wapnick, denying the authorship of the Course by Jesus.
The "official story" has curiously changed with the affirmations of Jesus' Authorship made over the past 25 years now being resoundingly denied, under oath, in Court.
5. Did Jesus Direct the editing?
While Ken Wapnick and Robert Skutch have maintained that any changes were made at Jesus' instructions, just how those instructions were received or how, when Ken and Helen both agreed on a change they sought to check with Jesus is less clear.
Robert Skutch tells us that whenever a difference of opinion arose between the two editors, Helen and Ken, they'd both seek guidance and always end up in agreement. No mention is made of how changes on which the two agreed were checked with Jesus.
There is certainly nothing suggesting anything resembling an "inner dictation" mentioned with regard to the final editing.
Ken describes the process thus:
"Our basic procedure was that early in the morning I would read through the material we would cover later that day, or review our previous day's work. I would pencil in those corrections and changes I thought were necessary. Helen and I would then go over these together, after which I would go back over what we had done, and re-present this to Helen. This procedure went back and forth in these early chapters, until we felt it was the way Jesus wanted it." (24)
At this juncture one might well ask what is the difference between "feeling it was the way Jesus wanted it" and "agreeing this is the way it should be?"
Ken goes on:
"We both felt his presence guiding us in this work, and it was clear for the most part that our personal preferences and concerns played no important role in these decisions. I added the qualifying phrase "for the most part," as Helen did feel that Jesus allowed her the license to make minor changes in the form, as long as the content itself was not affected. This license only extended itself to questions of punctuation, paragraphing, capitalization, and minor word changes (such as switching "that" for "which," and vice versa; see more below), but never to the inclusion or exclusion of important material." (24) (emphasis mine)
Helen and Ken believed they were being guided by Jesus. We must now ask what each of them might have meant by that. Ken as claimed in court that Jesus of the New Testament whom the Course itself claims as its author is not its author, that Jesus is a "mere symbol" Helen used to "symbolize the abstract love of God" and that Helen is the author and as in the quote from the Salt Lake Tribune, that Helen and not Jesus wrote the book and directed the editing. Insofar as "Jesus" is mere a symbol for Helen in Ken's view, what difference could there be for him between Helen agreeing to a change and "Jesus" agreeing to a change?
As for Helen, how did she understand or come to discern "the way Jesus wanted it?"
Ken offers us a clue:
"A cute yet strange aspect to our editing recurred every once in a while, when after reading a particularly difficult passage Helen would turn to me in laughter, explaining that she did not have the remotest idea what the words meant. And so I found myself in the rather unusual situation of explaining the Course to [her]." (25)
Not understanding it herself, and not obtaining an explanation from "Jesus" she asked for and got an explanation from Ken who, at the beginning of the editing where most of the changes were made, was himself a Course novice, having only been exposed to it for a few months.
The "belief" in the direction of Jesus appears to be little more than that the pair were both in agreement and comfortable with the changes they ended up making. There was no process of consultation with Jesus nor any way in which the severe reservations with some of the changes voiced by other scholars subsequently could have been considered.
It appears necessary to at least consider the possibility that both editors were self-deluded about Jesus' role. There was no "supernatural voice" offering information that was its own best argument for its authority. There appears to have been some wishful thinking and in one case at least, a serious factual error:
"The content of the Course was never jeopardized as a result of our editing." (26)
The HLC provides irrefutable textual evidence that the content was very significantly altered and the meaning reversed in a few cases, changed in many others, and the material suggestive of God having created matter, spacetime and bodies as teaching devices for the mind and to further the Atonement went missing. In many cases the iambic pentameter of the original was destroyed by the editing and in a few cases the substitution of "Holy Spirit" for "Spiritual Eye" results in an obviously incorrect, or at least dramatically altered meaning.
Yet Ken asserts that when changes destroyed the poetic meter, the original form was restored. In the view of many, his report is incorrect here also. While some changes may have been reversed, as suggested by both Helen and Ken in various places, many were not, as we can now see from the HLC.
As for Helen's supervision and even participation in the process of discerning "the way Jesus wanted it" Ken writes:
"We did most of the editing either in Helen's offices at the Neurological Institute and Black Building, at my studio apartment, or at Helen's apartment, the last being Helen's favorite place. Thus we would often sit together on her living room couch and work. Invariably, however, Helen would start to fall asleep. We would be editing, and suddenly I would look to my left, and there Helen would be, slumping in the corner ..." (27)
The claim to divine inspiration of the original dictation has, as its strongest support, the quality of the material itself which allows for no plausible explanation other than a supernatural source. The claim to divine direction of the editing, however, has as its greatest weakness, the lack of quality in the work. Not only has the process been misrepresented, Ken has taken strenuous measures to cover up and suppress access to the primary textual sources which contain the evidence of what really did happen.
Up to 1998 or 1999, while some readers dismissed the idea of Jesus being the author as impossible, mostly because their personal beliefs did not admit the possibility of a human personality, such as Jesus, speaking from beyond the grave, there was no argument that the Course claimed in its own pages authorship by Jesus. Readers were really left with the choice to accept or reject the Course's own claims as to its own authorship, claims affirmed repeatedly by Helen, Bill, Ken and Judith.
Recently however, Ken's story has changed, and he has variously affirmed Helen as the author and sometimes "another Jesus" as the author.(28) The latter claims about authorship may be at least partly inspired by a rash of lawsuits in which authorship is a central dispute. It would appear that "divinely authored" or anonymous material is not eligible for copyright protection. To defend the validity of the copyright, which is necessary for Ken to maintain his several lawsuits, Ken must convince the court, at least, that the copyrighted material is of human rather than divine origin.
Although Ken affirmed Jesus as the author of the Course for two decades in innumerable verbal and written statements, it has been suggested by some that he never actually meant "Jesus of Nazereth" whom we know from the New Testament, but always understood Helen's "Jesus" as a "mere symbol" which Helen used to refer to "the abstract love of God." (28) He's also stated that the abstract content came from an otherworldly source but that the form, the specific words, came from Helen. Yet at other times, most recently in the Salt Lake Tribune interview, he affirms that Helen heard "the words" and not just abstract ideas.
There are thus two views, at least, on the authorship of the Course. The most obvious and most strongly supported from material in the Course itself, and probably the view held my most Course students is that Jesus did indeed resurrect after his execution in A.D. 29 and remains "alive" as his human self, though without a body, and that he can dictate messages to people who are present in space and time in bodies. This view has been characterized by Ken as "simple minded" (28) and he offers another view in which "another Jesus" (28) provided abstract content to Helen which she then put into form in her own words.
This latter view is flatly contradicted by many of Helen's own statements in which she states that she received the precise wording, occasionally got some words wrong, and was specifically told to change specific words later. She further states that she often had no idea what the words meant at the time she heard the Voice utter them. This would seem to argue against the idea that she received an abstract content which she then put into her own words.
The question of authorship of the Course has been extensively discussed and will likely be debated and disputed for a long time to come. While some Course teachers suggest that the value of the teaching isn't altered by the student's beliefs about authorship, others point out that since the Course unambiguously claims authorship by Jesus, (Helen's words) rejecting that aspect is a rejection of the authority and authenticity of the whole work.
The depth of irony in this dispute will not escape the notice of many readers. The strongest proponent of the "authority" of the 1975 abridged edition, who rejects the HLC as flawed and full of errors, is also the one who, more than anyone else, questions the authorship by Jesus and thus the underlying "divine" authority. If Jesus is not the author of the words, in Ken's view, what does he mean when he says that Jesus directed the editing and that the abridged form is as Jesus wished it to be?
In the view of this writer, Helen did indeed channel a disembodied spirit who clearly identified himself as Jesus of Nazereth. Few if any channelers claim 100% accuracy, and that claim can't be made for the Course. By all accounts, what was originally received contained errors that required fixing. The question from that view becomes "is the subsequent editing and abridgement by Helen and Ken a correction of a flawed work or a curruption of the same?"
To a very real extent this is a question which each person who wonders about it must answer for him or her self. Scholarship, through a careful study and comparison of the original with the subsequent renditions, can sometimes produce powerful evidence for one view or the other. In some cases it is simply a matter of personal impressions, which rendition "rings true" for the reader.
Unfortunately, this comparison and study of the original and subsequent redactions is forbidden by Dr. Wapnick who is in physical possession of the primary sources without which scholarship is severely hampered, indeed for the most part impossible, and refuses to permit any access to the material. While the HLC has been widely circulated, Ken has taken extreme legal measures to remove it from circulation and to suppress the document.
6) Why is the HLC being suppressed?
Ken's motives for this fear-filled protectiveness "of Helen's privacy" are probably as complex as the material being suppressed and his own psyche. It is beyond the scope of this paper to engage in a detailed effort to explain them. A few possible motives do suggest themselves however:
1) "The Story" of the Course's editing that has been popularly promulgated is now known to be false and incomplete from the textual evidence of the HLC. Whatever actually did happen between Helen's "taking notes" from 1965 to 1972 and the 1975 publication of the Course, is at least partly revealed by the discrepancies between the original dication and the final published abridgement of it. It is a story Ken apparently doesn't want to be known and he cites as a reason, the protection of Helen's privacy.
There would seem to be a secret shared by Helen and himself which Ken feels honour bound to protect. We don't know the truth but we do know that what we've been told, while almost certainly partly true, is not the whole truth and that there are things we have not been told and which Ken is determined we shall not find out.
2) The copyright itself is probably part of Ken's motivations. He now owns it and due to the commercial success of the Course, that copyright is worth some millions of dollars. A 1998 appraisal valued it at US$2.8 million. There is a blunt commercial reality here. Were the HLC offered for sale freely in the open market alongside the later abridged edition, it would certainly cut into the sales of the latter and reduce it's commercial value. Indeed one might wonder who would buy Ken's abridgement if the unabridged original were available? Given that Penguin/Viking purchased exclusive rights to the Course for a five year period for US$3 million, that large publisher would have reason to ask Ken for at least some of its money back should the commercial value of the abridged edition decline as the result of the publication of a previously unsuspected unabridged original.
At the very least this presents an emormously tricky commercial and contractual problem and understandably Ken hired the best IP lawyers he could find to handle the problem. Who would not seek expert legal advice when faced with such a dilemma?
3) Ken's actions at the moment are probably significantly influenced by the advice of his IP lawyers for whom "The Works" in question are simply a commercial commodity and whose interest is confined to the protection of their client's commercial interests. For them it's all a problem of legal tactics, manouvres, and technicalities. Needless to say they are far more concerned with what a judge or jury might be convinced is true than what actually IS true. Their concern is money, period. The circulation of the HLC is a commercial threat in their view. According to Sandy Hodes, one of Ken's lawyers, in a conversation with myself, Penguin's "only interest is money" and Ken is under "enormous pressure" from Penguin.
4) The value of the HLC and other versions of the Course, right back to Helen's original notes, from a scholarly, historical and theological perspective is obviously enormous from the point of view of Course scholarship. But such "values" do not easily translate into dollars and cents. Open Course scholarship and academic investigation and debate about the Course is something to which Ken has sometimes paid lip service but has never been willing to encourage or participate in. He has maintained that he is THE Course Scholar and his interpretation is definitive and correct, even where it can be proven false. As the only Course scholar with access to the primary sources, his position as sole authority and "Official Teacher" is to some extent unassailable. Insofar as "information is power" and the primary sources, including the HLC are the crucial information in this instance, as long as he can suppress it, he can effectively render scholarship by others impossible. This makes any serious challenge of his interpretation and recollection of the "facts" by the facts themselves, significantly problematic for other Course scholars.
Over the past 25 years Ken has claimed and been accorded by many Course students this "special status." By virtue of it his net worth has increased from US$10,000 in 1975 to approx US$9,000,000 in 1998. The HLC represents a challenge to Ken's prestige and his interpretation of the Course as well as a threat to his income from Course-related sources. There lies a motive to suppress the HLC, the primary sources and as a consequence of that suppression, Course scholarship in general. The copyright is the only legal device he has available to conduct that suppression and the HLC, which is a public domain document in the view of several IP lawyers, is most certainly a threat to his copyright.
Who can know the mind of another man? Many have observed that one can know a man better by his actions than by his words. However Ken understands the problem, one thing is indisputable: he doesn't want people to know about, read, study, quote or publish Helen's autobiographies, Helen's notes, the urtext, the HLC or any Course-related material produced before he arrived on the scene in 1973. He's drawn the curtains on the Course's origins and he's published his version of events and he's got the millions necessary to erect huge legal barriers in the path of those scholars interested in such questions as the Course's origins and authorship. We don't know exactly what it is that he's trying to hide, nor exactly why he's trying to hide it, but we do know he's trying to hide something!
The HLC does offer clues at to what he's trying to hide. It has only been widely available since January of 2000, and at this time (May 2000) scholarly work on the document has only just begun and very little has been published. Indeed, if Ken's current attempts to suppress the HLC in court are successful, very little may ever be legally published. There is however some scholarly consensus already that the material removed from the HLC significantly alters the thought system of the Course, notably in regard to creation and the purpose of the physical universe. How significant this "different thought system" might prove in the long run is a matter of speculation. What is not a matter of speculation is that the existence of this material which offers a "different thought system" was systematically denied, not just by Ken, but also by Judith, Helen and Bill.
One thing they did not want us to know and which was consistently and adamantly denied for 25 years is that the content and thought system of the Course was changed significantly between 1973 and 1975. Again, whether that is correction or corruption is open to question. What's not open to question is that there were significant changes and that we have been told otherwise. What's also not open to question is that Ken is doing his utmost to prevent these facts from being known and those changes from being read, quoted, studied and published.
What we are supposed to believe is that Helen was wrong in her opinion that a resurrected Jesus of Nazereth dictated the Course to her, that what she took down was flawed and incorrect in many places, and that Ken and she corrected the errors under the guidance of the same "another Jesus" who didn't dictate the words of the Course. That's the current story, which is substantialy different than the story that was told for 25 years, that there were "virtually no changes" in the words "Jesus" (there was only one Jesus until quite recently) dictated.
The HLC must be suppressed because neither story is corroborated by its textual evidence. Whatever the truth as to the Course's origins and authorship, it is something Ken isn't telling and doesn't want anyone else to find out.
1) Absence p 359
2) Absence p 330, Journey p 80
3) Journey p 78
4) Absence 329
5) Shuchman's autobiography quoted in Absence, p 329