There is an old Woody Allen stand-up routine in which he says he stayed up all night writing “Great Expectations” only to find out Charles Dickens had already written it. A very funny riff by Mr. Allen. What’s not funny is author (I use the term loosely here) Neale Donald Walsch’s insistence that he somehow convinced himself that he wrote an essay that had been written by someone else.

Mr. Walsch is known for writing the best selling series, “Conversations with God.”

The story goes like this. According to the New York Times, author (I use the term here with great confidence) Candy Chand wrote a lovely, heart warming Christmas story about her son, Nicholas, and his Christmas pageant. It was published in 1999 and again in 2000 in a book called “Chicken Soup for the Christmas Family Soul” where, according to the Times, Ms. Chand is clearly identified as the author.

Mr. Walsch’s response to all this, his apology, which I don’t believe, and his explanation, which is beyond belief, is worth telling in case any of you are trolling about for science fiction story lines or are gearing up for a remake of The Twilight Zone series.

According to the Times, Mr. Walsch said he was “truly mystified and taken aback by this — is that someone must have sent it (Ms. Chand’s story) 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.”

In case your eyebrows are only halfway up your forehead and you have the overwhelming desire to drive them right up to your hairline, read on. Mr. Walsch went on to say, “I am chagrined and astonished that my mind could play such a trick on me.” Gee, Neale, I hate when that happens.

Your astonished that your mind could play such a trick on you?? Are you fucking kidding me? Your mind is you, knucklehead.

Ms. Chand does not believe Mr. Walsch. Good for her. Neither do I. And while I would like to end this essay with my own parting shot at Mr. Walsch, I think what Ms. Chand said in a telephone interview more than deserves total sway here.

“Has the man who writes best-selling books about his ‘Conversations With God’ also heard God’s commandments? ‘Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not lie, and thou shalt not covet another author’s property’?”

All I can say is, You go girl!


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