Popular religious writer Neale Donald Walsch has been caught in a plagiarism scandal trying to pretend that the words someone else had written were his own.
Writer Candy Chand had written a sappy Christmas story called Christmas Love back in 1999. Neale Donald Walsch liked the treacly nature of the story so much that he started telling people that he had written the story himself, and that, what’s more, the story had actually happened to him and his family. He started giving lectures during which he talked about how it felt when he had the experiences behind the Christmas Love story, and then recently even cut and pasted the story onto his blog, claiming authorship.
Remember, all along, it was Candy Chand who had written the platitude. She was surprised, therefore, to find that her exact words, copyrighted in 2005, were being claimed by Neale Donald Walsch.
Walsch’s explanation is that he did it all by accident, that he told the story so many times that he really started thinking that it had happened to him and his family, and so he didn’t realize he had plagiarized another writer’s work… word for word.
Walsch said that he had “somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience.”
Here’s what the Associated Press article won’t tell you, and I don’t know why, because it wraps the story up rather neatly, with a bow on top: Neale Donald Walsch has made his career out of doing this sort of thing – only in reverse.
Walsch gained prominence by writing a series of books entitled Conversations With God. It’s a series in which he claims to be actually speaking with God, by just sitting down and writing a question, and then waiting for inspiration to write the answer. He came to realize, he says, that it was God who was really writing the answers to his questions.
It was Neale Donald Walsch who kept the profits, though.
For Walsch to commit plagiarism by convincing himself that another writer’s words were his own should not be surprising. After all, Walsch had already convinced himself that his own words were the words of God.