"Conversations with God" author charged with plagiarism

 Neale Donald Walsch, author of the "Conversations with God" series, admitted yesterday in his blog on the Beliefnet website that a Christmas essay he had passed off as his own was actually written by someone else.

Walsch had written a story about what he said was a Christmas  concert at his son's school 20 years ago. In the story, the children held up letters that were meant to spell out the words, "Christmas Love." But one child held the letter "m" upside down, so the message read "Christ was Love" instead.

It turns out the story was originally written – in nearly identical form – by a writer named Candy Chand, who published it 10 years ago in Clarity, a spiritual magazine. It has been circulating on the internet ever since.

Walsch's blog has been taken off the Beliefnet site. But yesterday he wrote an apology to readers and said he must have unknowingly internalized the story.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Chand, however, is not convinced. “Quite frankly, I’m not buying it,” she told the New York Times.

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