Hi Friends -
A later note added May 6, 2019. Quite a few people responded to this post after it was sent on April 28, 2019. For example, a spiritual leader recently wrote:
Thank you, Mark. I am launching this as a campaign. I am asking my congregants to fill in the blank: I am here so that..." We will use their answers in our marketing and sharing in the community. I hope that this gives them the boldness to tell more people about Unity and reach them where they may have had a "because" and are ready to join with us in the "so that".
The image you see to the right is the opening page for Unity Magazine in January 1925. What’s interesting is that the Fillmores used the same opening page every month from July 1922 until at least the end of 1925. Here’s what it said:
“The purpose of Unity is not to found a new sect, but to give the people a practical application of what they already have through their church affiliations.”
That is brilliant writing. It’s non-threatening (not to found a new sect), it’s assuring (our teaching is practical) and it’s affirming (of what you already have).
If you have ever struggled with explaining Unity to friends and family, then spend some time digesting that line. It doesn’t get any better than that single sentence.
Why does it work? Why does assuring and affirming people in a non-threatening way bring friends and family to take a second look at what we have to offer? My sense is that, like prayer, it’s not about the words we use. Rather it’s about our mindset we are in when we’re communicating. Here’s what I mean.
Many of us in Unity say to ourselves, “I’m here because I was shamed, I’m here because I didn’t believe, I’m here because I felt inadequate, I’m here because I never felt accepted.” While Unity can be a place of love and acceptance, my sense is that the Fillmores understood that embracing a new faith is not effective if our mind is filled with painful baggage of an old faith.
The problem is that word “because.” Justo Gonzalez, a well known church historian and theologian says that it’s too easy to say “I’m here because...” “I’m here because“ looks back. Back at the painful moments of the past, of shame, of confusion, of guilt.
Rather than saying “I’m here because...” Gonzalez says it might be more helpful to say “I’m here so that...” “I’m here so that“ looks forward in time. Forward to healing, to understanding, to freedom. I believe so that gets us closer to the spiritual teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.
It is possible to say, I’m here in Unity so that I can get a practical application of what I already leaned through my church upbringing. I am here in Unity so that I can learn to love and heal like Jesus loved and healed. I’m here in Unity so that I can learn to live peacefully like Jesus lived peacefully.
That’s worth repeating for three and a half years.
Sunday, April 28, 2019