Marianne Williamson was raised a conservative Jew; she is a survivor of the hedonistic sixties and seventies and the psychotherapy and 12-step programs of the eighties.

Now, after appearances on the TV talk-show circuit, Williamson is an increasingly popular spiritual guru for the nineties. In fact, Christian bookstore owners report that seemingly well-intentioned Christians have been seeking to buy her book, obviously unaware that Williamson’s pop metaphysics is devoid of Christian principles. According to Williamson, there are no moral absolutes, and human moral judgments spring from an unbridled ego.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if doctrinally naïve Christians bought her book and were harmed by it,” said Paul Carden, a researcher for Christian Research Institute, an evangelical cult-watching group.

Williamson, 39, has lectured and counseled Hollywood stars for nine years. But her TV appearances have put her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on a Course in Miracles, atop the New York Times best-seller list. It has racked up sales of more than 700,000 copies, placing Williamson’s photo on the covers of both People magazine and New Age Journal.

Williamson credits Oprah Winfrey and a more metaphysically inclined public with her success. “People coming from a traditional religious viewpoint are ready for more sophisticated metaphysics and a more evolved understanding,” she says.

Williamson’s book and lectures are based on A Course in Miracles, an increasingly popular metaphysical book claiming to be the channeled writings of Jesus, which Williamson began reading in 1977.

More than 800,000 people have bought copies of the 1,188-page Course, which offers God without guilt, says that love is real and the physical world is illusory, and ...

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