Ok so, before I read ACIM itself, I read Gary Renard's Disappearance of the Universe. It was quite shocking at the time and certainly eye-opening.
The general vibe tended to frame Earth as a trashcan. It was described as an illusory dream world, which was spinning its wheels and having no redeeming features.
The message seemed to be one of forgiveness, in terms of forgiving unconscious guilt and forgiving people for what they didn't really do - since it's just a dream. And then escaping the crappy world.
The way it was presented was kind of all-or-nothing. Either the world - as hell, or heaven. There wasn't even the slightest mention of "the real world". There also was very little mention of working miracles or having any reason to do so. It kind of skipped over the real world and the forgiven world.
In a way it seemed to be trying to jump from "the world is hell", to "I'm in heaven now" with nothing in between. Indeed, in many ways it framed the world as rotten and tired and worthless and a dark dreary place. It seemed to combine somewhat negative judgements of the world with the world, wrapped up in one picture. So that meant the only way to get out of it was to jump out of the fire into heaven's safety.
I later learned that Gary's interpretation of ACIM was based heavily on Ken Wapnick's, and indeed in DU Gary praises Ken as being the best teacher ever. Ken taught basically the same stuff that Gary taught, which took me many years to realize.
The world was seen as a generally dark depressing place. We were told to try to be normal within it but not to do anything outrageously different. I don't know if Ken taught about the real world and maybe he did, but overall his whole teaching style was just like Gary's. ie, the world is hell, and you want out, so you need to do your homework and leave as soon as you can.
This became groundwork for me and a foundation for how I started to view the world. This was also coupled with my own false perceptions, attack thoughts, judgements and unforgivenesses. They framed the world as fundamentally hell and wrong and evil and something to leave behind.
The trouble is that when you go and read what ACIM really says and you examine what worlds are being referred to, it becomes extremely clear that our attitude about Earth has been completely wrong this whole time. The framing of the world as dark and evil was an unforgiving attitude.
What I see ACIM now saying clearly and repeatedly, is simply that we made a false world, kind of like how a child might make something which is somewhat amateur. It was somewhat lacking. It symbolized death and destruction and so on. But in and of itself it was essentially neutral and nothing. A meaningless world which was neither good or bad, rather than inherently evil.
Then I see it saying that we start out with false perceptions, which are false projections onto Earth. We give it all kinds of nasty meanings and interpretations. We judge the hell out of it. We condemn it and blame it etc. And so it gets framed as though the bad stuff is so "one with" what the world "is" that it is fundamentally a part of it. As if Earth is hell.
But ACIM isn't saying earth is hell. It's saying that it only seems like hell when you are unforgiving. And that in fact it is so neutral that you could feasibly read heaven into it and see it as though it is lovely and welcoming and harmless. In fact I now see that it is even going so far to say that we are to essentially take that same world, minus the guilty accusatory crud and the labels, and project God onto it, so that it reflects heaven. And in our sight of that forgiven world it will look so lovely and sparkly and new that we'll love it like God loves it.
The simple fact is that ACIM does in fact state that God does love the world. He loves the real world, ie the translated view of the world, which has passed through the "filter" or "re-labeler" of truth. A loving healed forgiving mind looks upon a neutral meaningless world and gives it temporary beautiful meanings. And as such Earth appears now to resurrect as a shiny new world filled with light and joy, so close to being like heaven that heaven and earth seem to be practically "one", ie of one nature.
In this view, Earth isn't inherently framed as evil and bad, and even its seeming cruelties are open to question as "faulty interpretations". Even its seeming murdeorus deadliness and the things made in hate, are reinterpreted through such kindness and gentleness that light can be seen in them still. That even the stuff we made as a symbol of attack and death can have these "labels" and "judgements" and "attack thoughts" lifted from them to such a degree that Earth starts to look positively heavenly.
This is the transformation of our view or interpretation of Earth, from being a seeming hell and nightmare, to being a peaceful lovely place to hang out for a while. All of the seeming sights of hell and despair and hopelessness give way to a higher form of sight that translates the world so well that it makes even horrible things look glorious.
And that at first may seem like some totally insane notion, offensive, awful to even consider, that murderous deadliness might be thought of as "not that'. Or that sick screaming dying bodies might not be heard AS offensive gut-wrenching sounds but as beautiful melodies. An interpretation of the happenings of a strange world, a neutral world, so transformative, that Earth barely even seems like the same world you once thought was there.
This intermediary "real world" or forgiven world, was nowhere whatsoever on the map of Gary and Ken. In all their approaches they seemed to skip it entirely. This seemed to render no "reason" to have any kind of positive warmth towards the world. It removed the basis for miracles as expressions of love, or as a power capable of modifying the dream. It just kind of "skipped over" the part about seeing this SAME WORLD in such a different light that you LOVE IT.
The result of this either/or ego-based separation-based duality-versus-nonduality "be in hell or heaven" approach to the course, is that you then feel like you want to get away from the world. It becomes a scapegoat. You then have trouble discerning whether you're even having false perceptions anymore, or whether the world really DOES just suck like hell. And then it becomes a favorite habit to attack and slander it, as if that's what it really is. But that's not forgiveness.
I found myself wanting to get away from the world because it indeed seemed negative and cruel and hopelessly awful. Bad things happened. Or at least, that I interpreted as bad. And clearly as you look, perhaps WITH the ego, at the world's seeming ego-interpreted nature, it indeed does seem to be a horrible cruel stupid world. But this vantage point is NOT a forgiving view, or a reality-based truthful view. Not really. It's judgmental and attack-thought laden.
"Knowledge (heaven/non-duality) is not the remedy for false perception since, being another level, they can never meet. The one correction possible for false perception must be true perception (the real-world/reinterpreting Earth)."
So I kept trying to "get out of hell" by labeling the world as hell and finding all the things wrong with it. Which puts you in hell of course. And it's really not Ken or Gary's fault per-se, but they do seem to SUPPORT this way of handling the world, so that really didn't help, and indeed confused me for many years.
What I now recognize is simply that Earth is not fundamentally hell or evil or wrong or bad. Let's jump on the bandwagon and just call it totally neutral and nothing. Because it is nothing, it has no meaning of its own, so it's meaningless. And that now means that we can put meaning onto it. We have been so used to putting negative meanings onto it that we thought the world WAS inherently negative. But now we're finding out that we can peel away those meanings to reveal "the world itself" behind them. And now we can let God project his LOVING meaning onto the mirror.
The clear view I have now is that Earth is simply a mirror. Just as "perception is a mirror". It in and of itself is not evil, bad, wrong etc. It may seem strange or destructive of symbolic of death in its FORM, in its appearance of the laws of physics at work, but to evaluate the world from a similar viewpoint just compounds it. That's a false perception of it, putting "bad meanings" onto it. Maybe the world is strange and unnatural but it's not actually really anything, so these again are just judgements. Maybe it's NOT a cruel hell disgusting shit-hole, when you look at it with enough love.
I have to now sort out what attack-thoughts and judgements I have put ONTO the meaningless world, rather than just throwing the world in the trashcan... like, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The baby needs to be kept around for now until it's perceived correctly and its purpose is done.
The baby has to be translated into something so like to heaven that it seems to be a part of it. EARTH, seen with forgiveness and love. Not a special-love relationship or an attachment love, but an unconditional love. Not a love that is deceived by forms, or even acknowledges their difference, but a love that transcends them. Not to just go back the other way and exclusively fixate on Earth and on "loving it", but loving PAST it to the light, overlooking it, which has a SIDE EFFECT of loving it. An indirect love.
Only when the real-world, the translated Earth, is seen correctly, can the mind be ready to take the tiny step out of the happy dream and into heaven proper. So I have to stop attacking the world. The world is not an enemy.
It's perhaps only because I've had so much unforgiveness and guilt that had to be undone, that I could not entertain the idea that Earth COULD ever be seen in a happy loving way. I'd thrown it in the trash right from the start, where it seemed to belong. But now I'm taking it back out of the garbage and taking a second look.
And the second look promises to offer a redeemed way of looking at this same world, even the physical world, in such a manner that it seems entirely new and fresh and lovely. A world seen through the eyes of Christ. A world which is not the hell that I once thought it was. Because hell is just an interpretation, and is not a part of what the world is. The world is an illusion, yes, but it's not sinful. I was SO wrong about the world because I was so wrong about myself.
"You HAVE been wrong about the world, because you have misjudged YOURSELF. From such a twisted reference point, what COULD you see? All vision starts WITH THE PERCEIVER, who judges what is true and what is false. And what he judges false, HE DOES NOT SEE. You who would judge reality CANNOT see it, for whenever judgment enters, reality has slipped away. The out of mind is out of sight, because what is denied is THERE, but is not recognized. Christ is still there, although you know Him not. His Being does NOT depend upon your recognition. He lives within you in the quiet present, and waits for you to leave the past behind, and enter into the world He holds out to you in love."