When Charles Fillmore Got Political
What I have to offer this morning is an article Charles Fillmore published in the October 1928 issue of Unity magazine, one month before 1928 United States presidential election. This article is important because it demonstrates that Charles Fillmore would, in some cases, “get political”, it shows what kind of issue would cause him to do so, and it provides an example of how to talk about political issues without rancor.
The issue, as put forth by Charles, is not the election but rather individualism. Charles declares “The soul has its own revelation from on high. It is not dependent on church or minister. Divine guidance floods in on it, directs it, comforts and sustains.” He then endorses Hoover because, “Hoover is imbued with this sort of reverence for the individual.”
What we can learn from this is because Charles Fillmore did not speak for the masses he was able to speak freely to the issues, and he was able to do so in a non-confrontational way. By not speaking for anyone but himself, but rather by speaking to the personal issue of individuality and religious freedom, Charles was able to engage people at a human level instead at a political or social level, and to offer a perspective that would help people align their personal and political life.
Sunday, March 5, 2023
Charles Fillmore Comments On Quakers
Extracted from Unity Magazine, October 1928, pages 304-306
Listen/Download Audio of Charles Fillmore Comments On Quakers
NOTES AND COMMENTS
By Charles Fillmore
Is Unity a branch of the Society of Friends, popularly known as the Quaker church?—Extract from a letter received by Unity School.
UNITY is not a branch of the Quaker church. Unity is a school of religious inquiry, investigation, and demonstration. We study and apply Christianity in its broadest meaning. Our research has convinced us that Christianity combines in a practical way more truth of man’s spiritual being than does any other religion. In fact Christianity is the youngest and most up-to-date religion that has been evolved by mankind.
The Quaker church stands very high among the sects of Christianity. It has maintained a unique and impregnable place in the Christian religion, because of its reliance on the “Inner Light,” instead of on written authority, for the guidance of its adherents.
Quakers are universally credited with honesty, justice, and peaceableness. No religion of modern times has so stamped its tenets upon its people as has the Quaker religion. Quakers seem to have an ingrained spirituality. With most persons religion is one thing and daily life is quite another. Usually in modern Christian civilization a man’s religion cannot be detected by his costume or his conduct. Quakers are the exception. By this we mean orthodox Quakers. Reformed Quakers have their up-to-date churches and are hardly distinguishable from other Christians. But old-time Quakers, who silently seek the “Inner Light” and are moved by the Spirit within in all their ways, are a “peculiar people.” They are peculiar because they are so steadfast in their reliance on the indwelling God as the moving factor of their lives. They are noted as a dependable people because they rely on the immanent God for inspiration and conduct. This reliance develops individuality and poise. It sometimes tends to too much self-sufficiency, but never to intolerance. A Quaker is often blunt in stating his opinions, but he allows others the same privilege.
The practice of silent prayer is fundamental in the Quaker religion. In this respect Jesus was a Quaker. He told His disciples that when they prayed they should enter into the inner closet, close the door, and pray to the Father in secret. He said, “The words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.” Jesus told His followers that they would be tempted to follow false spiritual lights from outer sources. “Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus taught that the Scriptures are not authority for man but that they tell of the Christ within man. He said to the Pharisees, “Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.”
George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, once rose in one of the principal English churches and rebuked the minister in his sermon for declaring the Scriptures to be the source of divine truth. “No,” cried Fox, “it is not the Scriptures; it is the Spirit of God.” He was immediately imprisoned for his audacity.
Unity’s interpretation of Christianity is much like that of George Fox, which is not original but quite in harmony with the teaching of Jesus.
There is a very pronounced revival of interest in the Quaker religion since the nomination of Herbert Hoover for President. In this connection The Kansas City Star recently printed the following editorial, “The Inner Light”:
Herbert Hoover is a Quaker. He was born of Quaker stock. He regularly attends services at the little ivy-covered meeting house of the Friends on I street in Washington. The Quaker doctrine, which he drank in throughout his boyhood, is evident in the social and political philosophy of Hoover the states man.
That doctrine centers about the teaching of the “Inner Light.” George Fox, who established the Society of Friends in England in the seventeenth century, was the promulgator of this teaching. “I saw,” he wrote, “that the grace of God which brings salvation had appeared to all men and that the manifestation of the Spirit was given to every man to profit withal.” Again Fox wrote, “The Lord opened to me how every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ.”
The Quaker needs no intermediary to approach the throne of grace. He approaches it through the witness of the Inner Light. So in the Quaker service there is a period of silence while each worshiper is communing with the Unseen. Then various members testify as they are “moved by the spirit.”
Here is the very essence of individualism. The soul has its own revelation from on high. It is not dependent on church or minister. Divine guidance floods in on it, directs it, comforts and sustains.
In his theory of business and of social progress, Hoover is imbued with this sort of reverence for the individual. The future of America, he has said, depends on the initiative and resourcefulness of the individual. Any policy that weakens that initiative and resourcefulness he instinctively distrusts. Society cannot save us, he says in effect; government cannot save us. Each of us must work out his own salvation. We must cultivate the Inner Light and be guided by it.
This belief runs through all his writings and actions. His little book, “American Individualism,” expressing his fundamental philosophy of life, is inspired by it. Should he be elected President the Quaker influence would be dominant in the nation—the doctrine of individual responsibility, developing the individual to his highest capacity, guided by the flame that burns within.