Love Can Open Prison Doors by Starr Daily was published in 1934. What I have to offer here is the text of the book so you can read it online, a PDF of the original edition so you can print it out and read it anywhere, a transcript and link to audio of Starr Daily so hear his testimony in his own voice and several notes about him and how he was influenced by Unity (given below). There are several ways to look at all this. Let me start with the most important ones first.
Most important is how a criminal without hope experienced a surreal opening to Spirit after 15 days of being chained upright 12 hours each day in solitary confinement. In a sense, this is a story about crucifixion or at least a mystical description of a crucifixion. The audio talk brings in some details that are not clearly expressed in the book, but they both describe a total surrender of self-will to God, giving birth to a new life.
Second is how Starr Daily came to understand that “love is a medium through which man contacts and applies the creative principle of the universe,” enabling him to realize freedom and then demonstrate release from self (chapter 2), ignorance (chapter 3), violence (chapter 4), death (chapter 5), disease (chapter 6) and, eventually prison (chapter 7). These chapters are much more metaphysical than they are mystical; they are practical Christianity at its best.
Third is how Unity and/or New Thought contributed to his transformation while still in prison. Starr Daily describes how the prison chaplain withheld from him some publications because they were “pantheistic.” And it is unclear from his book and talk whether these metaphysical publications instigated his transformation or if they only supported it afterward, but we do know from a well respected Methodist minister that “when [Starr] first read a Unity publication he was a sour, disgruntled prisoner ... His use of the Silent Communion technique and of his absolute faith in the power of God had really opened prison doors...” I am so happy to have a resource that may support those who are incarcerated and the family members of those who are incarcerated.
Fourth is the story (given in his audio testimonial) about how Unity and DeVorss enabled his writing career after he got out of prison. In 1933, Unity published three articles which led to the book being published by DeVorss in 1934. Here is what Unity magazine said in June 1933:
Love Can Unlock Prison Doors. This month Weekly Unity publishes a series of articles by Starr Daily, entitled “Demonstration,” in which a former prisoner tells of gaining his release five years ahead of time through the freeing power of Truth. Three articles make up this series, each recording an actual, remarkable demonstration made through the realization that love is the most potent force in all the world. This unusual story, vividly told, teaches a powerful lesson in Truth. Unity Magazine 1933-06 p.87.
What’s really interesting is that the book as it was published by in 1934 by DeVorss almost looks like a prototype or a pre-publishing advance copy. There is no copyright. The cover is cardboard. There are numerous punctuation and spelling errors. In his talk, Starr Daily talks about getting $20 from a company in Los Angeles in December 1933, the peak of the depression. Later editions from larger publishers came out in the 1940s that refer to themselves as the “first edition.” My best guess is that everyone in the 1930s was desperate and that Starr Daily had not yet become well known. I believe that Unity and DeVorss gave him his start as a religious writer.
Regardless, Starr Daily went on to become a well-known speaker in Glenn Clark’s Camps Farthest Out, from which we have the audio testimonial. You will notice that his testimonial, likely given in the 1950s or even the 1960s, is less metaphysical and more Evangelical. If that impression is correct then we see Glenn Clark influencing Starr Daily as he had also influenced Agnes Sanford—away from New Thought and toward evangelical and charismatic Christianity.
Let me close by saying that the authenticity, integrity and seriousness of Starr Daily’s story reminds me of twelve-step AA spirituality. There’s no nonsense here, no spiritual exploring, no fluff in him whatsoever. If you’re at the end of your rope, he’s the one to be reading.
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Click Here to Download Love Can Open Prison Doors (1935 Edition) by Starr Daily in PDF format.
LOVE CAN OPEN PRISON DOORS
By Starr Daily
DeVorss & Co., Publishers
843 South Grand Avenue... Los Angeles
TO DAD TRUEBLOOD, A WISE OLD LIFER, AND A TRUE FRIEND, WHO STILL CARRIES ON BEHIND THE WALLS, TO YOU I DEDICATE THIS HUMBLE EFFORT, AND REMEMBER YOU ALWAYS AS EVERY GRATEFUL PUPIL SHOULD REMEMBER HIS KIND AND PATIENT MASTER.
Stone walls do not a prison make.
Nor iron bars a cage;
He is not free who beats his wings
In bitterness and rage:
That man alone is free who loves
Creative virtue’s way.
But dares to reach a hand to those
In the clutches of decay.
—Paraphrase of Lovelace.
1935 Edition Printed by DeVorss & Co., Publishers
No copyright shown. No copyright listed in Stanford Copyright Renewals