The Faith of the Fillmores
"According to Your Faith"
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SPEECH, the fire in the stove went out. When the speaker noticed this, he did not stop his speech — he went right on — but he came down from the platform and picking up a stick of wood took out a knife and began to whittle kindling. With this kindling he re-lighted the fire. As he worked, he kept on speaking calmly, occasionally emphasizing his remarks by gesturing with the stick of wood from which he was whittling. When he had the fire going once more to suit him, he remounted the platform, speaking all the while.
A boy in the congregation had attended other religious meetings but never had he been to one like this, where the minister built a fire and made a speech at the same time. The simple act seemed to light a fire inside the boy. He was so impressed that he volunteered, during the time that he was in Kansas City, to come to all the meetings that the man conducted and keep the fire going.
Fifty years later, he wrote to Unity to tell about the incident, for the speaker had been Charles Fillmore, a cofounder of Unity School. The fire in the stove burned to ashes half a century ago but the fire that was lighted in the boy's heart and mind is today still burning as brightly as ever.
Charles Fillmore lighted many fires in many minds. He was a fire-bringer, a carrier of the Promethean spark. He was highly developed spiritually, yet his spirituality was
salted by a sense of practicality. He was an original and creative thinker and moved boldly into new realms of thought, yet he never lost the common touch. He was always trying to light fires in people's minds, but if the fire in the stove that warmed their bodies went out, he attended to that also. His head was in the clouds, but his feet were on the ground. He was gifted with uncommon sense but he had an uncommon lot of common sense. There was about him the divine simplicity that must have characterized Jesus and some of the great philosophers of ancient times. You might imagine Socrates lighting the fire, if it went out in the middle of one of his discourses with his students. Charles Fillmore was such a man.
Probably few men have spent more hours in prayer than he. He lived for ninety-four years, and the last sixty of those years were for him almost a constant prayer. His life had one purpose — the unfoldment of his own spiritual qualities so that he might help others to find and unfold the Spirit within them.
Afflicted with a physical handicap that kept him more or less in pain, he might have settled for half a life. But he was not content to take life and half live it. He had the divine intuition that life is meant to be something grand and wonderful. He felt that life is good and that it should be full of joy, not suffering; that evil is only the result of man's failure to understand and to apply the truth about himself. He felt that men develop only a fraction of their inherent powers. He spent much of his lifetime praying and thinking and laboring to develop those powers within himself.
Perhaps it was because he himself needed physical help so much that he was not content with a religion that merely taught him to endure his pain. Religion to him was not an
artist's subtle drawing to be hung up on the temple wall and occasionally admired, it was a set of working drawings that he could carry about with him in the back pocket of his mind and apply to any situation that might arise. He sought for a religion that would heal.
He felt that it is as right for men to have an alert mind, a healthy body, and prosperity in their affairs as it is for them to be spiritual. He felt that men are meant to live abundantly on all levels of their being; that it is God's will for them to be strong and vigorous and rich and successful and happy. He never had much sympathy with religions that emphasize the spiritual to the exclusion of the other needs of men. You might say of him, as Jesus said of Himself: "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
Charles Fillmore came to men and women who had been taught that God is far away and hard to approach, that God is a stern judge, and this life is meant to be a trial and a vale of tears; and he proved to them by his own way of living that none of these things is true.
To Charles Fillmore, God was his personal friend. He spent many hours every day in simple conversation with Him. He loved God, and God loved him, and they met together frequently and talked matters over in prayer. Charles took his affairs and his needs to God, and God gave him what he asked. He wrote of God:
"Never be formal with God. He cares no more for forms and ceremonies than do the principles of mathematics for fine figures or elaborate blackboards. "You cannot use God too often. He loves to be used, and the more you use Him the more easily you use Him and the more pleasant His help becomes. If you want a dress, a car, a house, or if you are thinking
of driving a sharp bargain with your neighbor, going on a journey, giving a friend a present, running for office, or reforming a nation, ask God for guidance, in a moment of silent soul desire."
He did not believe that God gives us everything we ask for, good or bad; neither did he believe that there is anything that we should not take to God in prayer. One time a saloonkeeper came to him for prayers for healing and was helped. The saloonkeeper then said: "I also need prayers for prosperity, but of course you could not pray for a man in my business to prosper."
Charles Fillmore replied: "Certainly. God will help you to prosper. 'If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name (John 16:23),' does not exclude saloonkeepers." He prayed for prosperity for the man, just as he would have prayed for anyone else, and learned afterward that the man had gotten out of the saloon business and had found prosperity in other lines of work.
Because Charles Fillmore was a man of prayer, but a practical man as well, thousands of people today have health of body, success in their affairs, and happiness in their lives that they would never have had except for him.
Never an issue of Unity or Weekly Unity appears that does not contain the stories of those who have changed their life by the application of the ideas taught by the Fillmores. In the column, "Because Someone Prayed," in the copy of Weekly Unity that happened to be published as these words were being written, this story appears:
"Dear Unity: A year ago this month, I came down with what the doctors diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. I was in the hospital for about a week; then my parents took me home in a wheel chair. The doctors had given me up, but the superintendent in the hospital told my
mother, 'All the physicians have given your daughter up, but the greatest physician of all has not. Turn to Him in prayer.'
"I was taken home and put to bed. I tried each day to walk, but my legs were very weak. Then came a day when I stayed in bed all day. Mom brought her ironing and stayed very close to me.
"One morning early, I had the radio on. I was unable to talk very well, but Mom could make out that I said, 'Unity.' She said, 'Yes, I must write to Unity.' She did write, and a neighbor mailed the letter to you. One hour later, I tried to tell Mom that I wanted to go to the bathroom. She said she would put me on the bed pan, but I said, 'No, I want to walk,' and walk I did, although it took a long time to get to the bathroom.
"Today through faith and effort, I am walking, talking, and seeing God's beauty.
"I went back to school on October 24, 1949. Everyone was glad to see me, and all my friends tried very hard to believe that I was all right. It took a while, but gradually my ability to walk and talk came back, and finally I was completely well.
"During the time I was ill, Mom spent hours reading to me God's beautiful words from the Bible, and also reading Unity and Daily Word.
"I graduated this past June from the printing department of Girls' Trade High School in W------.
"I was able to run presses while in high school, and I became editor of the school paper. This past year, I sang in the church choir and also taught Sunday school. I am now working at the H------Press in W------. I am what is known as a copyholder. I hope someday to be a proofreader or commercial artist. I enjoy both types of work.
"I owe all my good fortune to our heavenly Father and to my dear parents, who worked and prayed along with me. The prayers of all our friends and you people out there, who help each and every person who needs
His loving care, have helped in my restoration to health. Today I have no signs of multiple sclerosis whatsoever. I am in perfect health, both mental and physical. May He who watches over us bless you and keep you for ever and ever. — B. J."
Because someone prayed! Because Charles Fillmore prayed! Because he and his wife Myrtle Fillmore dedicated their lives to prayer, and to the service of their fellow man!
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore worked together to build Unity. It was Myrtle Fillmore who first accepted the idea of divine healing; it was Charles Fillmore who edited the first magazine. It was Myrtle Fillmore who first led Silent Unity; it was Charles Fillmore who named the work Unity and developed it into the world-wide organization it is today. It was Myrtle Fillmore who led the people in meditation and prayer; it was Charles Fillmore who made speeches and wrote books. They worked together as heart and head work together, and from their united efforts grew the great movement that is Unity. If Mrs. Fillmore supplied the original impetus, it was her husband who supplied the greater part of the energy that carried it forward.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore had a simplicity about them that endeared them to all who knew them. They soared, but they lived simply. They founded a faith that reaches around the world, yet their humility was as great as their accomplishments. It was Unity, not Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, whose success they worked to forward. There was no pretense about these two. They never took a title to themselves and they were such unassuming people that no one else felt like calling them by a title either. Among their workers and close friends, there was almost a family feeling, and many of these called them "Papa Charley" and "Mama Myrtle." They were the kind of people who, when they
went to the vegetarian cafeteria that Unity built on the corner of Ninth and Tracy in Kansas City, stood in line, took their turn, and paid for their meals just as everyone else did.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore believed that the most important thing in their lives was their ideas and their works, the good they did for others; they were teachers. Those who came to Kansas City after 1906 and studied under them remember them always as they appeared on the platform at 913 Tracy Avenue before the congregation of the Unity Society of Practical Christianity on a Sunday morning. Myrtle Fillmore, wearing her white hair like a crown, gentle, smiling, sitting silent with a look not wholly of this world, and Charles Fillmore standing at the rostrum leaning slightly to one side with his hands braced before him and making in his calm, deliberate style some observation like the following:
"God is the health of His people. God is infinite life. Let us hold to the Spirit of God, demonstrating itself in life everywhere. That is what the scientific world is preaching today, and we cannot get away from this proposition of the omnipresence of the one life. There is nothing else to come but the Spirit of Truth. We do not look for another. We know that the Spirit of Truth is here. It has always been here, but we have turned our face in another direction. We have looked somewhere else rather than to the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth is in the midst of you. It is in you, and you will never have peace of mind, you will never have success in any way, you will never have health of body, you will never have anything satisfactory, until you demonstrate its presence and its power in your life."
Charles Fillmore was always a student and a teacher, seeking, always seeking, for further insight into the mys-
teries of life. He spent years poring over the Bible, working out his volumes of interpretation, trying to uncover the hidden meaning of the Scriptures in terms of human life and affairs. He spent years on years in prayer and thought, seeking a knowledge of the mysteries wrapped up in his own being, slowly working out his doctrine of the twelve powers of man, seeking in the silence to unfold and quicken these powers in his own body, working night after night into the early morning hours to send his word down into the cells of his body, to quicken and regenerate them to eternal life.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were more than teachers. They were healers. They were not content merely to have ideas or even to tell others of the ideas. They took the ideas and worked to demonstrate them in their own lives and bodies. The very heart of the Unity teaching has to do with healing the ills of mind, body, and affairs. Unity began with the healing of Myrtle Fillmore. Its first fruits were the healing of her friends and neighbors, accomplished by her realization of the Christ power within. The heart of Unity today is the Society of Silent Unity, which sends its message of healing to hundreds of thousands of persons throughout the world each year. In the anteroom outside the Fillmores' offices each day, people waited their turn to have these two teachers, who had touched God's power and whom God's power had touched, utter a healing prayer for them.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were builders, too. Go out to Unity School today and walk down the shady lanes or stand and gaze at the buildings that house Unity and you get a sense of what they built. It was their son Rickert who erected the buildings at Unity Farm, but it was they who envisioned such a spiritual center; and it was they who from nothing but an idea and faith in that idea, in half a
century built the Unity work of which the buildings are but a visible expression.
Today the presses in the vast Unity printing building are rolling out literature in a dozen languages to be sent to millions of people in most of the countries of the earth. On the radio from scores of stations in the United States and other countries, the Jesus Christ message as interpreted by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore goes out to more than three million people. Teachers and Truth lecturers in hundreds of Unity centers are every day expounding the ideas of these two pioneers to thousands of eager students.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore had many abilities. They were practical people: teachers, ministers, healers, builders. But they had vision, too. They worked to turn their ideas into magazines and buildings, into restored bodies and renewed minds and illumined lives. But their ideas soared even beyond their accomplishments. They had the vision of the perfect man in God, and this perfection was their goal. They aimed at the highest, and how high they mounted! They aimed at eternal life, and how much of life they won, not only for themselves but for how many others! Because they lived close in thought and aspiration to God, there was about them an atmosphere of spirituality that those who were near them felt.
About Myrtle Fillmore, there was always an unworldly quality that once made her husband say of her, "Myrtle belongs on another planet." She was not much concerned with worldliness. Almost all the writing that she did was in private letters, most of which have disappeared. Her speaking rarely consisted of formal addresses, but was more likely to consist of the inspiration that came to her at the moment. When she spoke, thought moved through her as a butterfly moves through a field of summer flowers, lighting
on an idea, hovering for a moment, tasting its sweetness, then moving on to another. Little that she said was ever written down. Yet though most of the words she uttered have vanished, their effect has not vanished from the hearts and minds of those who heard them and were lifted up, nor from the flesh of those who heard them and were healed. Unity itself is the ever-living, ever-growing expression of her spirit.
About Charles Fillmore, there was something of the prophet. He lived simply and he lived very close to God and he felt very strongly that God was speaking to him, using him to convey divine ideas. Like Joseph and Daniel, he felt that God came to him in dreams and visions of the night and revealed to him much of the Truth about which he wrote and spoke. He was always looking forward. He foresaw radio and talked about it in sermons and articles. He foresaw that the atom would be split and become a source of power. His mind was always ranging far ahead of most persons', even ahead of his fellow workers.
The mother of one of the editors at Unity School recalls that the first time she ever went to hear Charles Fillmore speak she thought he talked about such "crazy things, such as talking through the ethers and harnessing the ethers to do our work for us" that she almost never went back.
Once one of his editors questioned an article Mr. Fillmore had written about atomic energy. Years later, the first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore followed the "visionary gleam." They were pioneers of mind and spirit. They were never bound by limited conceptions about life but were always striking out into the new. They were people with the courage to step out on faith. "Judge not according to appearance," (John 7:24) said Jesus, and Charles and Myrtle Fillmore
took Him at His word. Appearances might say, "You cannot do it," but Charles and Myrtle Fillmore did not believe in appearances. "If you need something," said Mr. Fillmore, "go ahead and get it, do something about it."
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were a man and woman of faith. In the word faith is summed up the story of their life and works — and the story of Unity. They did their works through faith. They soared beyond their works through faith. They were teachers through faith. They were healers through faith. They were builders through faith. They were overcomers through faith.
Many, many times in the history of Unity they came to a place where it seemed that they could not go on, yet they went on through faith.
They taught that God is a help in every need and they prayed in this simple faith. Over and over when they were in need, they went to God to prove that what they taught is true. All that they thought and wrote and did they wrought through faith. Through faith, they turned to God in the beginning. Through faith, they healed their bodies. Through faith, they brought healing to others. Through faith, they founded Unity. Through faith, they persevered in their idea when everything seemed to say that they were destined for failure. Through faith, they built a work that rings the world around with faith and prayer.
They never lost faith.
Once Unity was in serious financial straits. Bills that had to be paid were piling up, and there did not seem to be money enough to meet the pay roll. The Fillmores called their staff together to pray about the matter. One of the staff said, "Let us pray that the money holds out."
"Oh, no," whispered Myrtle Fillmore, "let us pray that our faith holds out."