Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hey, Get Your Own Coincidental, Cloying Anecdote!

In case you missed it, one of the first "literary" controversies of 2009 involves mega-bestselling author Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God, etc.), who published an essay online that was nearly identical to something previously written by a woman named Candy Chand. The essay was about a winter pageant at the kindergarten of Walsch's -- er, Chand's -- son:
During a dress rehearsal, he wrote, a group of children spelled out the title of a song, "Christmas Love," with each child holding up a letter. One girl held the "m" upside down, so that it appeared as a "w," and it looked as if the group was spelling "Christ Was Love."
Chand first published her story a decade ago, and it's been reprinted several times in various places. (Even from her, doesn't it sound a little...made-up?)

Walsch's explanations are hysterically strained:
"All I can say now — because I am truly mystified and taken aback by this — is that someone must have sent it to me over the Internet ten years or so ago . . . Finding it utterly charming and its message indelible, I must have clipped and pasted it into my file of 'stories to tell that have a message I want to share.' I have told the story verbally so many times over the years that I had it memorized . . . and then, somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience."
The same thing happened to me a few years ago, when I earnestly and unsuspectingly told people that I was raised by an aunt and uncle on the planet Tatooine.

Chand, not in the mood for turning the other cheek, says, "Quite frankly, I'm not buying it." And goes on to sarcastically ask if Walsch is familiar with God's commandments, which include, in Chand's calculation, "thou shalt not covet another author's property."

But by far the most entertaining part of this nonsense is Chand's claim that, "I have strong issue with anyone who would appear to plagiarize my work and pretend it is his own. That takes away from the truth of the material, it takes away from the miracle that occurred . . .”

The miracle that occurred?! Have I been under the wrong impression of what constitutes a miracle? Let's check the dictionary:
1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
I'm pretty sure that a kindergartner holding a letter upside down doesn't count. Nor is it miraculous when I miss my exit on the highway.

As a friend of mine summed it up, "They both need to be struck by lightning, by a vengeful god."

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Blogger TK said...

God will strike you down for this blasphemy. Or at the very least, shake up your next can of soda before you open it.

3:51 PM  

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