Book News

DreamMy friend, Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones has a new book called (Re)Defining Moments – Becoming Who You Were Born to Be. It came out on July 29th. My advance copy allowed me to take a good look and put my stamp of approval on it.

I’ve known Dr. Dennis for over twenty years and I admire him very much. He was a Religious Science minister for many years and he now devotes his time and energy to writing and speaking. He is author of several books and his articles have appeared in the Huffington Post and many other general publications.

I admire the way he has brought our wisdom to a wider public. I know he is a dedicated New Thought teacher and he brings a new and creative angle to everything he writes.

This book is especially interesting because he says we can live an authentic life and avoid the tug-of-war so many people get caught up in when they try to be all things to all people.

Here’s some of what he says in the introduction:

I often wonder how many of us are living our lives based on who we are not rather than who we truly are…If we were to excavate the deepest recesses of our consciousness, we would discover many beliefs about ourselves that are simply not true and that may never have been true. Yet we live from these beliefs as if they were true because we have never identified them clearly enough to question them, to challenge them. This is the power to be found in our redefining moments; they create an opening for us to consciously challenge old ideas and beliefs about who we think we are by accessing the limitless new possibilities that lie inherent in the authentic self.

Dr. Dennis has written a guidebook to understanding our authentic selves, in language anyone can understand. (Re)Defining Moments is in New Thought church bookstores and, Barnes & and many other venues.

I’m especially pleased it will reach so many people because I believe our wonderful wisdom teaching can be useful to people of all faiths. The book does not need to limit itself to Religious Science, Unity and Divine Science church members. Anyone will find value when he or she read it.

The central messages of New Thought, “Change your thinking and change your life” and “There is a Power for Good greater than we are and we can use It” are easy to understand and they work.

Throughout his writing career, Dr. Dennis has made it a point to be a clear spokesperson of these empowering messages. He avoids jargon and writes in a clear manner. His books are perfectly at home on bookstore shelves as well as in church bookstores.

Dr. Dennis and I worked together for several years on the Board of Directors of Religious Science International and we shared the dream of making this teaching as accessible to as many people as possible. His first book, How To Speak Religious Science has been a favorite for many years. Many churches give it away to new members as a welcoming gift.

In distant days, my book Science of Mind Skills and Dr. Dennis’s book, How to Speak Religious Science were the only two really simply written books on the market. We both sold many, many copies and they are both still in print. Often, the simplest language conveys the strongest lessons.

People make a big mistake when they confuse fancy language with power. Did you ever try to wade through Phineas Parkhurst Quimby? It’s not easy and the only reason his work is so famous is because others took it and wrote simplified versions.

Other powerful wisdom teachers including, Raymond Charles Barker, Eric Butterworth, Louise Hay, and Oprah are masters at writing powerfully and simply. Simplicity of language, in writing or speaking, is an important component of good communication.

I’m happy to claim Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones as my friend and I’m happy that he has completed this book, (Re)Defining Moments. I’m especially happy he is offering it to a secular world. This book is designed to appeal to everyone – the churched and unchurched alike. It is a book destined to reach far and wide.

In 1991, I gave a writing workshop to the RSI ministers and I shared my dream of church bookstores filled with books written by New Thought ministers. At that time, there were not so many books by my colleagues. The publishing world was very different and it was a great deal more difficult to get a book published than it is today.

My dream is now coming true, one book at a time. Many of our most talented spiritual leaders are finding the time to write. Dr. David’s is an outstanding success. He has others, including The Art of Uncertainty ~ How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It and The Art of Being ~ 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life. They all have a creative and unique approach to New Thought teaching.

Publishing has changed since 1991 and it is easier to get your book published. Now church bookstores now carry a great many books by New Thought ministers. Some, like Dr. Chris Michaels, are extremely prolific as well as running large, successful churches. Last time I looked, Dr. Chris had five books listed on his website, including Your Soul’s Assignment.

Others have one excellent book that gives their unique outlook on New Thought teaching. Dr. Carol Carnes wrote The Way Within and she has now followed it up with a novel. Dr. Maxine Kaye wrote Alive and Ageless. Both Carnes and Kaye also have brilliant daily blogs.

Rev. Elizabeth Arrott and Rev. Michael Rann collaborated on Shortcut To A Miracle. These are some of the successful books that come to my mind quickly but they are truly the tip of the iceberg. It is a wonderful iceberg that will change a lot of lives.

Books contain wisdom in efficient form. A variety of writers who take on related subjects offer fascinating variations on the theme. Right now, I am helping two other ministers create their first books and I am delighted because I’m certain this is just a small sampling. I’ll bet there are many others working on their own unique outlook on New Thought wisdom.

Dr. Dennis and the others are spreading the word with their books. Of course, there are other powerful ways to teach New Thought lessons but the beauty of a book is that is always there for you. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t pick up a favorite book and browse long enough to find a new quote or to refresh my memory about a salient point.

Books are here to stay and more good books are written all the time. Congratulations to Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones for his latest addition to the body of wisdom called New Thought Literature. Thanks and Good Luck, Dennis. Keep up the good work!

Ask yourself

Read any good books lately?

Want to read a good one soon?


Community News

LadieswithUmbrellasI didn’t want to wait for the sheriff to knock on my door. I packed my evacuation bag and then sat down in front of the TV to watch the news and assess the fire situation.

Two days later, I was still glued to the TV and I never had to leave my home. I had a slight headache but no other damage or difficulty. Was it a waste of time?

Maybe I  could have been established  a more balanced program of news watching but I wasn’t sorry I’d sought information while it was happening. Not only did I get to see the fires come under control, I could also see what was going on in my friends’ neighborhoods.

My particular area was not impacted as much as many of my friends were. Thank God, none of us was harmed. Nor did we suffer any major losses. Two of my good friends had to evacuate and others were put on warning. As I write this, the eight North Country fires are nearly all out and the TV is off.

Just before the fires started, there was an email discussion within my minister’s group about how much news we should watch. It started in reaction to my last blog when my theme was that things are usually all right so the events that make the news are the exceptions.

The minister’s exchange  moved quickly to a question of whether we should watch the news at all. Some ministers  believed they needed to be informed to serve their congregations well. Others believed that any news was bad for us and they advised avoiding it altogether.

It was an interesting discussion and the opinions were all over the place. It was especially fascinating to read the emails and then have the responses followed so quickly by dramatic local news. I thought the  fires were a definite illustration of why avoiding the news doesn’t always work.

Anyone can see we need to know what is happening in our immediate world if it is potentially harmful. Fires are a clear cut examples. On the other hand CNN’s coverage of the lost Malaysian airplane was so obsessive and attracted so many obsessive watchers that it was fodder for jokes from the late night TV hosts.

The idea that we should avoid all news is fairly prevalent among followers of New Thought. They believe that knowing the bad news and all the trouble in the world is not useful. They think we are simply overloading our minds with negativity. Of course it is true we want to be as positive as possible so they have a point.  One well known self -help author wrote about going on a “news fast’ several years ago and that idea spread rapidly.

I am always a bit shocked when people I think are intelligent tell me they never read a newspaper or watch the news. It makes no more sense to me to avoid the events of the world than it would to avoid eating correctly or taking care of my health.

I heard the Dali Lama say once that we should take care of our planet’s environment because, “That is where we live.” He made perfect sense to me then and in the face of global warming, he makes even better sense now.

The Dali Lama’s words were a very simple statement and most of us would agree with it. We must decide what to do and how to do it to deal with the impact of global warming on the planet. Certainly, we must pray. Just as certainly, we must act in new ways.

I believe it really is important to know what is happening in our community. In ways, our community includes local, statewide, national and global connections. The idea that we need to keep abreast of what is going on in these communities seems just as clear as taking care of our environment. When we know what is going on, we can pray and we can also take action.

We cannot expect to avoid our responsibility to the natural environment just because we are spiritual people. Nor can we expect to avoid all political responsibility. There are times when we need to be informed and to take action.We learn about events through our news media although some venues are more reliable than others.

Should a spiritual person avoid the news? Some of my friends don’t vote because they think living a spiritual life means avoiding politics. I cannot agree. Not only do I want to know where the fire is going next, I want to know what is happening around me in social or political events.

Perhaps because I grew up during World War Two, I formed a definite idea of my place in the scheme of things. The “good people” who tried hard to avoid knowing what was going on, before World War Two, learned a big lesson. War broke out anyway. Millions were killed on both sides. Hitler’s hateful beliefs resulted in the killing of millions of Jews and others.

.I learned that a good citizen participates in his or her government.Deliberate ignorance made many things worse.

I formed the habit of reading newspapers in the sixth grade and kept it up until fairly recently. Now I find I depend much more on TV and internet to keep me informed. Although I buy the Sunday paper in San Diego and get the daily NY Times online, I mostly scan headlines. I only read what interests me. I watch Rachel Maddow most evenings and Melissa Harris Perry on weekends because they cover issues nearest to my heart.

I always vote. I use absentee ballots and I always take the time to inform myself. I donate money to some causes and I write letters from time to time. There was a time when I was much more active and even if I can’t march,  I still want to help steer the country into equality, liberty, etc. I truly believe that no man is an island.

The question of whether or not  to pay attention to the  news is an interesting one and I was happy to see it so fully discussed. I know that everyone has a right to make his or her own decision however, I can’t help wishing more New Thought people were more interested in current events.

The question of  the importance of the news was solved in my neighborhood when the recent fires were a few miles away. Issues like the narrowing of voter registration and closing Planned Parenthood centers are just as urgent in their own way. Let’s not wait till the knock on the door comes before we know what is happening.

Ask Yourself

What do I really believe about following the news?

Is there anything I want to change in relation to the news?

Kindness News

JoyFlowerMy helper was waiting in the driveway cradling the cutest, fattest, little Cocker Spaniel. “His people are coming for him,” she said. “I’ll be in as soon as they get here.”

Later, she told us the doggie was in the street and she’d almost run him over before she rescued him. Then she read his tags and phoned his owners.

The doggie’s owners came quickly, thanked her, and that was the end of the story. No tragedy. No reward. Just a kind-hearted young woman who protected a darling dog.

There is nothing very remarkable about the episode. Our young heroine might tell her boyfriend about it that evening, but that would be the end of the tale.

I decided to write about it because it seems like an important story to me. It is an example of the kind of interaction we depend upon in civilization. Our lives depend on cooperation, courtesy, and kindness, all of which are milder examples of Love – or God -in action.

This story depends on trust and kindness. My helper trusted and wasn’t afraid to call the number on the doggie’s tags. The owners trusted her to return the dog. There was nothing unusual there.

Most of us trust most people most of the time and we think little or nothing about it. We trust the strangers we contact during our normal day.

I trust the person at the check out counter to put all my groceries in my bag. I trust the water company employee to read my meter correctly. We trust our teachers to educate our children. And so it goes.

Civilizations are built on cooperation, mutual agreement and trust. While my sweet helper went a bit farther to help that doggie than some people would, it certainly was not a rare or exceptional story.

We find feel-good stories everywhere, all the time. We may not notice, but we count on the civility of others. The stories of robbery, car-jacking, and vandalism are on the local news because they are unusual. Good deeds are not scarce so they are not TV news.

It’s important to remember that there are many, many more happy encounters than bad ones. If you doubt this, try an experiment. Pick a day and count the pleasant and unpleasant exchanges, then compare.

These days, I am very aware how much people love to help. I’m using a wheelchair lately and it almost seems like a joke the way people rush to open doors for me. My helpers and I laugh sometimes when it looks like slapstick comedy – especially when grown men seem to race to see who gets to the door first.

My doggie rescue story is cheery but it won’t be on the evening news. I’m writing about it because I want to remember that it might have had a very different ending. A small dog in the middle of the road could be killed. A dog without tags could end up in the pound. A different person might not return the dog but keep it for herself. There are other dramatic endings possible.

There was not much drama in the real story but it made a lot of people very happy. The kindness expressed in that ordinary deed made me happy. I thought about it several times during the day and smiled every time I remembered.

My helper was thrilled to have been the rescuer. The owners who looked for hours for their beloved pet were even more thrilled. It was a lovely event that brightened several people’s day. It was wonderful to have an example of how kindness lights up the world.

I heard a lot of New Thought – New Age people talking about Random Acts of Kindness a few years ago. It was a very popular idea within my circle of friends. Once, my friend and I discovered our tickets to the movies were paid by a generous stranger who was ahead of us. We never knew who performed this typical deed.

There were Random Act of Kindness cards anonymously distributed on cars. I heard a couple of Sunday talks on the subject and there was a movie based on that idea.

I hadn’t heard much about Random Acts of Kindness lately so I looked on google, and I discovered more than anyone needs to know. There is a website, a long article in Wikipedia, and many, many other resources.

It seems some woman thinks she invented the concept in 1982. Actually, the Jews had an idea like that at least 3000 years earlier. They call it the mitzvah. You can check it out for yourself but you don’t really need to know a whole lot of history to see it is a great idea.

Judaism teaches that the world is built on kindness and Christianity teaches that Jesus, was the Master Teacher of Love. Performing kind actions anonymously toward strangers is a practice that shows up in most religions somehow. Think of all those nickels dropped into all those poor boxes throughout the centuries.

In New Thought, we teach that God is Love and Love is the Source of all creation. We believe in something called the Law of Attraction which means that the good you give out will come back to you.

The Law of Attraction operates something like a boomerang. For example, if you do something nice for someone, Spiritual Law will prompt someone to do something nice for you. Whether your deed is anonymous or not, it may not be quid pro quo. You will not always get your reward from the recipient of your kindness, but Love will definitely find a way to reward you.

You don’t really have to know anything about organized religion to see the value in performing acts of kindness. All you really have to do to appreciate the uses and delights of acts of kindness is to experiment. Haven’t you ever noticed how people who do a lot for others are happy? Check it out.

Try being especially kind one day and note the results. I guarantee you will feel better internally. I also believe you will find that kindness is returned. The Universe always finds a way to pay back what you put into life.

One of the things I know and love about New Thought beliefs is that they are not complicated. You can test them in your daily life, one day at a time. Why not make kindness your hobby for the next few weeks or month? Do something kind for five people every day and track the results in your own life.

Opportunities to be kind are all around you. Opening doors for those with physical challenges is kind. Telling someone how much you appreciate or admire them is kind. Giving away clothes you don’t wear to the Salvation Army is kind.

There are so many opportunities to practice kindness and there is so much to be gained. Why not start today?