Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Florence Scovel Shinn

If ever there was anyone willing to "speak the word" of positive truth, it was Florence Scovel Shinn, an early 20th Century illustrator, New Thought preacher and bestselling writer. Her little book The Game of Life and How to Play It is still in print and is perennially popular.
Her books are slight and wonderfully old-fashioned in their language and examples. Florence was a dyed-in-the wool positive thinker, and in example after example she illustrates how people's lives have been turned around through taking a more optimistic view of things and employing the tools of prayer, affirmation and visualisation. Like many teachers of the time, she cast herself as a "metaphysician" (a wonderful job description!), and it is certain that her early training as an actress greatly helped her in her later career as popular preacher.
She died in 1940, and her books have influenced many modern writers in the self-help field, most notably Louise Hay.

"There is a supply for every demand."
Florence Scovel Shinn

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Myrtle & Charles Fillmore

The Fillmores, founders of the Unity School of Christianity, were the great popularisers of New Thought, and their cultural importance and influence reach far beyond actual members of the Church.
Meeting reasonably late in life, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were always an odd couple. At some point soon after their marriage, the sometime Christian Scientist Myrtle Fillmore attended a lecture in which the idea that God created only perfection sank into her consciousness at a really deep level. She meditated on this idea, and soon after she was cured of the tuberculosis which up until that point had been a death sentence for her. She never again suffered from its effects, and lived to a ripe old age.
Her husband Charles, a younger man, was an atheist and exceedingly sceptical about this new method of spiritual healing. However, upon witnessing his wife's complete recovery, he decided to investigate the metaphysical ideas of Christian healing in depth.
He and Myrtle became converts to this new religious idea, and after many years of study they established their own group, which eventually came to be called the Unity School of Christianity.
Charles Fillmore survived his wife by many years, and until his dying day he kept applying the principles of spiritual healing to his own legs, one of which was much shorter than another and required special shoes. He never managed to cure himself completely, but he maintained that his bad leg had grown many inches over the years, and the type of orthotics he required changed drastically as a result.
The religion they founded, The Unity School of Christianity, is still going strong. It is a positive thinking religion par excellence, with branches all over the world (including Australia). The Church is famous for publishing The Daily Word, a monthly magazine providing day-by-day affirmations and positive reflections. The world headquarters of Unity is also famous for maintaining Silent Unity, a 24 hour global prayer ministry.
The Unity Churches have distinguished themselves by being at the forefront of both New Age and progressive social thinking. They have sustained the careers of many notable self-help authors by inviting them to speak and lead worship, and Unity has an outstanding record when it comes to respect for gay people and other minorities. The majority of Unity ministers are women.
Charles Fillmore was a reasonably prolific writer, and he is most famous for his Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, his magnum opus that attempts to analyse the entire Bible according to New Thought metaphysical ideas.