The New York Times has a story on its web site tonight about a best-selling author who copied Murietan Candy Chand’s personal Christmas essay and posted it on a spiritual web site as his own work.
The story, which Chand wrote 10 years ago and published in print and online, has been circulating on the Internet ever since, often without attribution. Chand has tracked its many unauthorized appearances and says she has even received anonymous versions of the story in her e-mail. The story was published last year in a holiday edition with illustrations.
It’s a heartwarming tale about finding the meaning of Christmas, based on something that Chand wrote happened to her son, Nicholas, at his kindergarten winter pageant.
The virtually identical version by Neale Donald Walsch has been removed from Beliefnet.com. Walsch, who has resigned as a blogger at the site, posted this explanation today: “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. 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.”
The Times quotes Chand: “If he knew this was wrong, he should have known it was wrong before he got caught. Quite frankly, I’m not buying it.”
See the New York Times story here.