From Our Archives, a “Prescient” Profile of Marianne Williamson
Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.Each Friday, we bring you an article from our archive to propel you into the weekend.
In 1997, Mother Jones profiled Marianne Williamson, then a New Age icon. It is—as was noted by the New Republic when Williamson ran for president in the 2020 primaries—a “prescient (and slightly mocking)” piece. Take that for what you will. Williamson has since gotten the treatment from the New York Times Magazine.
The main thing the piece predicts, correctly, is that Williamson would move her self-help style into activism and a political-first attitude. Here’s a section from 1997:
“I’ve always been the first to say that spiritual seeking without service is self-indulgent,” [Williamson] says. “I think the question is: Dear God, how can I serve? Not that I’m trying to figure out what someone needs…I am saying we don’t have the time on this planet to wait until we’re more spiritually evolved to check out what’s going on in this country.” Appendix A to The Healing of America is called “Resources for Activism.” Appendix B consists of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
It’s a nice read, filled with smart points about the evolution of self-help mythology. And it’s got some wonderful one-liners (even if you disagree): “Offering religion without rules, salvation without sacrifice, the former cabaret singer has remade herself into the perfect priestess for a culture steeped in pop.”