Drawn toward New Thought, but with reservations

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6/21/2006 2:01 PM
1 out of 38

I've visited a lot of churches (about 20 denominations, I think). My membership is with a Congregational church that is very inclusive and tolerant of divergent views.

Of the churches I've visited, the services at the nearby Unity church were the ones that made me feel most at home. The music was good and woven well into the day's worship theme, and I especially enjoyed the five minutes or so of silent meditation during each service.

Investigating Unity and New Thought, I really relate to the concept of a Divine Essence within each person, and the importance of recognizing your oneness (unity) with the Sacred. With my Christian background, I can identify Jesus as the Way-shower, as a person at one with God. But I can also accept that he wasn't the only one.

I have experienced moments of transcendent love and joy and peace, and it all seems to validate the New Thought theology.

My reservations are that the people I meet at Unity, while as open and loving as I expected, seem to really be hung up on prosperity and possessions. When the minister speaks of "manifesting" things into your life, it always seems to be a higher-paying job or a new car. I have a different way of thinking, I guess. When I think of manifesting things into my life, I think of having so much love, joy, peace, and faith, etc., that these things will just radiate into the lives of those I encounter. To me that would be true prosperity.

I'm not much into the teachings of metaphysics, either. To me it's equivalent to the doctrines in a Christian church: extraneous stuff. I'll just skip that and wait for the teachings, affirmations, and inspiration that brings me closer to God. That's what I'm looking for in a church.


6/21/2006 5:36 PM
2 out of 38

Hi, Gary!

If you've read any of my other posts, you're already aware, I'm sure, that I'm a mighty poor spokesperson for New Thought. But, if I might, I'd like to comment on your post.

I think you've raised a mighty fine issue, which I understand to be, "What does New Thought have to say regarding what we SHOULD want in life". And, without putting words in your mouth, it seems to me that I detect a degree of estrangement between you and the Minister and/or Congregation of the church you visited around that issue.

When I look at what I, personally want in life, I'd say it would be financial security and a reasonable level of worldly goods, sufficient for my family to live in physical comfort and to provide my children with a good start in life attained (and this is important) as compensation for significant value provided to my fellow man.

There are other things as well, but I feel comfortable with this as a basic statement of what has been the guiding light of my life. Most every thing else I can think of would be subordinate to this. I also feel that whatever may happen in the Great Free Market in the Sky, I can go there feeling comfortable with my choice of "Life Callings".

When I was young, say High School/College Age, I wanted to do good for Humanity. Later, when I came to grips with the questions around the issue of acting as the primary provider for a wife and children, I developed something closer to my current views. I still wanted to do good for humanuty, but I also wanted to be fairly compensated for it.

Hence, my needs for prayer have changed over the years and are now much closer to the needs that have been identified by the minister you visited than the needs you mention. MY question about the function of prayer in Unity is much more around the issue of how effective "Unity Prayer Technology" really is (see my "Magical Thinking" thread), then what an appropriate object for it should be.


6/21/2006 11:42 PM
3 out of 38

Fred and Gary,

Just as it is in any denomination/church organization, the Unity churches have a wide variety of congregations and ministers. I'd say this is a reflection of the variety of personalities in the general population.

Fred, I think I posted it to you before; I'm sorry to hear that the minister in the one Unity church was a Bush basher. My minister is definitely conservative in his political views, yet he does not bash the liberal side. And if he does make a statement with a political slant to it, he balances it with a statement toward the other side. Let me explain. A couple of weeks ago he made a statement to the effect that Bush was the President by right of consciousness. Then he stated that the same had been so for Clinton. He only shares his true political feelings with congregants that he knows well.

As far as the prosperity emphasis - I can see how that would leave a bitter taste in one's mouth. However, to put it simply, many faiths in the past (and perhaps currently but I'm not sure), taught that poverty was a virtue. The prosperity teachings will relate the opposite, and that as children of a loving heavenly Father we are heirs to the kingdom and all its glories. HOW or WHAT that prosperity is will change with each individual. Prosperity has not been taught to me as a material pursuit but rather as a state of consciousness.

Gary, the metaphysical teachings are a way of conveying the original teachings of the early Christian church. The meanings and symboligy (sp?) behind the words and names are derived from the Hebrew words. To me, the metaphysical interpretation makes sense. If the Bible is the book for all times, then we need to see the words for the symbols for which they stand for all time. Emmet Fox's books are very useful in explaining Biblical stories and characters in the metaphysical and understandable manner.

Fred, I don't think that Unity, and probably other New Thought movements but again, I'm not sure, actually teach or tell you what you SHOULD want. The basic message would be to tell you to look at what you have in your life. You have it by right of consciousness. If you want something different, change your thinking.

Fred, you wrote:

"MY question about the function of prayer in Unity is much more around the issue of how effective "Unity Prayer Technology" really is (see my "Magical Thinking" thread), then what an appropriate object for it should be."

My experience with prayer in Unity is that prayer changes US, not God. Prayer is a manner in which we center our thoughts in a positive light, envisioning and affirming the outcome/desired result. At my church, we say a prayer for others every Sunday which is as follows:

"As I behold the Christ in you, I see you happy, healthy, prosperous, loving, and beloved, going forth joyously to meet your good."

Of course, the flip side of that is that the person for whom you are praying needs to be open and receptive to receiving their good......

I hope that some of this information that I've shared with you is beneficial in your spiritual unfoldment. Remember, Unity is about balancing the head and the heart, and the gifts that it has to offer people are developed and opened in each individual over time.

Peace and blessings,

6/22/2006 1:58 PM
4 out of 38

Fred and Lori,

Thank you both for your thoughtful responses.

I think Jesus taught that true prosperity is not a financial thing. We should store up "treasures in heaven," he said, rather than treasures on earth. He said that a man's life isn't measured by the abundance of his possessions. I want prosperity as much as the next person, I suppose. I just define it differently.
And in doing so, I think I move into a place where I can co-create wealth.

Like you, Fred, I have trouble with "magic." I can't create a ten-dollar bill or a piece of silver, either to keep for myself or to give away. But communing with Spirit, I CAN co-create qualities such as joy and inner peace for myself, and I believe I can help spread this sort of wealth into the lives of others. I can manifest prosperity into my life and the lives of those around me!

I've run across the notion that God wants his children to prosper financially before. I've heard it from those televangelists who seem to say, "Send me money and God will make you rich." If you're not rich, they imply, you're not doing it right. And it's not that I think poverty is a virtue. It's more that financial wealth is a powerful temptation that can easily cause a person to turn his focus away from the things that truly bless.

Lori, I had a native American friend who would say, "Any religion that brings you close to God is a good one." To me, it's that unity with Spirit that is essential and common to all the world's great religions. I consider the doctrines and dogma, the ritual and ceremony and traditions, to be the external trappings that distinguish one religion from another. These external factors serve a purpose if they can help lead a person to God. But they are, in and of themselves, non-essential. And I would place the metaphysical teachings in this category.

Just my opinion: God is what God is. Any attempt to describe, define, or explain God beyond that statement is bound to be the product of someone's imagination.

Having said all that, I still think Unity (or perhaps some other New Thought church) is closer to my own way of thinking than others I have looked into. I was just wondering if there is a school within New Thought that feels the same way I do. I kinda hope so.


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