How many of us have had this experience before, I wonder? You tell a story about someone else, then you tell it again and you add some colorful detail here and there, then you tell it again and introduce some secondary characters, then you claim you were there to observe the hilarity/tragedy of the event, and then you tell the story as if it has happened to you – before you know it, it actually did happen to you:
Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling series “Conversations With God,” recently posted a personal Christmas essay on the spiritual Web site Beliefnet.com about his son’s kindergarten winter pageant.
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.” It was a heartwarming Christmas story from a writer known for his spiritual teachings.
Except it never happened — to him.
Mr. Walsch’s story was nearly identical to an essay by a writer named Candy Chand, which was originally published 10 years ago in Clarity, a spiritual magazine, and has been circulating on the Web ever since. Mr. Walsch now says he made a mistake in believing the story was something that had actually come from his personal experience.
You know what? If anyone is actually smart/stupid enough to claim that even though it is clearly a case of plagiarism, but that they believe that it was actually something they came up with, then I seriously need to revisit the whole issue of “believing” because it clearly has an amazing power. C’mmon now – really? I could buy his explanation if the story he told was similar but not the same words:
Except for a different first paragraph in which Mr. Walsch wrote that he could “vividly remember” the incident, his Dec. 28 Beliefnet post followed, virtually verbatim, Ms. Chand’s previously published writing, even down to prosaic details like “The morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down.”
I mean I attach a long quotation from the university policy on plagiarism to every syllabus that clearly states that even if you did not intend to plagiarize, it is still punishable by death – who does this person think he is fooling? Unless, of course, God’s syllabi are inferior to mine and do not mention plagiarism as a possible offense, which cannot be true since God’s syllabi by definition must contain all the perfections of all the possible syllabi…