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Frederick L. Rawson

How To Overcome a Sick Government and a Sick Race Consciousness

BULLET-PROOF SOLDIERS Cover

Hello, Friends,

I am embarrassed to say that I actually laughed out loud when, several years ago while I was going through booklets in the Unity Archives, I came across Bullet-Proof Soldiers a tract published by Unity during World War I, based on the testimony of Frederick Rawson. The content of the tract is just what the title suggests, that some soldiers are protected from harm because of the treatment of prayer.

In times like these, I no longer laugh. I’m not entirely convinced that soldiers are really bullet-proofed by prayer treatment, but the following describes how I’ve come to respect the mindset that raises up the whole issue of peace and prayer.

Frederick L. Rawson
Frederick L. Rawson

Frederick L. Rawson was a well-known English leader of Christian Science and New Thought ideas. A quick Internet search returns several short biographies, most of which are based on what Charles Braden wrote of him in Spirits in Rebellion (pp. 431-446). I have included one at the end of this post.

According to Braden, Christian Science and others taught that healing occurred when a patient became free of error thinking. But Rawson taught in his book Life Understood that healing only required the healer, not the patient, be free of error thoughts. In other words, healing takes place on a purely impersonal basis. If that is the case, then civilian groups could gather to pray for the safety of soldiers in WWI. In the Bullet-Proof Soldiers tract Unity describes how Rawson’s treatment protected soldiers from harm.

Glenn Clark
Glenn Clark

I didn't think much of Bullet-Proof Soldiers until I learned that Glenn Clark had also been influenced by Frederick Rawson. Clark writes in his autobiography, A Man’s Reach, that he was part of a group in Minneapolis who studied Rawson’s book, Life Understood. He writes, “A little group representing many churches and almost all denominations met once a week in Minneapolis to study Rawson’s book. ... The first real discovery we made was that we did not need to try to send telepathic messages to the person involved; all we needed to do was to lift our own consciousness to a state of positive assurance that all was well” (p.160).

That’s when I understood that Rawson’s claim has a much deeper application than bullet-proofing soldiers. In the years leading up to and during World War II, Rawson’s idea of impersonal prayer intervention was pursued by both Charles Fillmore and Glenn Clark. Neither Charles Fillmore nor Glenn Clark were peaceniks. But both men had come to understand war in a way that world leaders—in government and in religion—were unable to see.

Can Christ Prevent War?

In December 1937 Charles Fillmore published an article entitled Can Christ Prevent War? Charles Fillmore argued that the Christian church doesn’t really believe that peace is possible. He said, however, that there is a “stump of Jesse that may be quickened” and that “If our world leaders would only see that there is a power behind this world chaos that, if invoked or even consulted, would straighten out everything for us! Sooner or later we must come to a recognition of that guiding power. We must incorporate it into our civilization. Then we shall have world peace, and then we shall know what it is to celebrate the birth of the Christ mind. We shall know what it is to reincarnate in our mind and in our life that wonderful Spirit which was in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Glenn Clark agreed. He devotes two chapters in his autobiography describing why he believed that WWII could have been prevented (pp. 280-297) and how he and two associates left their jobs to organize a “third front” tour across the United States, not to pray for victory, but rather to “turn to the paradoxes of Jesus, reverse the world process, lift up your eyes to the hills, and see God’s plan unfolding before you; look away from the negatives of suspicion, hate and fear, and fix your gaze upon the positives of faith, hope and love that can redeem the world. We tried to show people that Love can sweep out hate as darkness has to flee before Light; and that all evil—even war-can be transmuted into good” (pp. 293-4).

In making his case for the power of "The Lord God in the Affairs of Men," Glenn Clark quoted Carl Jung: “[Hitler] is the mirror of every German’s unconsciousness ... the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate, especially since the defeat in the first World War, and the one characteristic which colors every German soul is the typically German inferiority complex ... and he allows himself to be moved by it. He is like a man who listens intently to a stream of suggestions in a whispered voice from a mysterious source and then acts upon them.”

After quoting Jung, Clark gives his solution. “That which would bring this war to an end quicker than anything else would be the recognition of what the true nature of war is, and the recognition of the planes upon which it is being fought. The only way to counter the powerful attacks of the enemy that are initiated on these subconscious levels is to launch a defensive movement on a higher level of the superconscious plane bringing into play the full use of the power of prayer and the full use of the power of love” (p. 291).

What Charles Fillmore and Glenn Clark understood is that the sick leaders feed off the sick subconscious Voice of the people. The solution that Fillmore and Clark offer is not to attack the consciousness of a sick leadership, nor the consciousness of the sick collective Voice that feeds it. Both draw from a sick subconscious realm. The war is won or lost in the superconscious realm—the realm of the healers who pray and who love—the realm or kingdom of God. Glenn Clark said, and I believe that Charles Fillmore would agree, what we need to do is “to lift our own consciousness to a state of positive assurance that all [is] well.”

Both Charles Fillmore and Glenn Clark grieved that so many in the world today do not believe in the miraculous power of prayer, nor the superconscious kingdom of God and the power of love. Mr. Fillmore wrote in his article, “In ignorance of the principles which Jesus taught, Christians have worshipped and looked to His personality and told us about His miracles that occurred nineteen hundred years ago. Now with the millions of ministers, billions of church property, and the largest following of any religion in the world, Christ is not given any place or power as a living presence in any government of the world.”

Similarly, Glenn Clark writes in the closing chapter of his autobiography, “Skepticism of the validity of prayer on the part of those who make no claim to a religious interest in life is relatively easy to explain. It is the skepticism of Christians in regard to prayer that defeats the Kingdom. ... Anyone who becomes interested in the power of prayer will soon enough find out its requirements of selflessness, of forgiveness and lack of resentment, of unremitting determination to bring to pass the good for which one prays. More people outside the orthodox churches will understand this contention than conventional church members. And yet it is to the people within the churches that one still looks longingly for kinship.”

Did you catch that? Glenn Clark wrote, “More people outside the orthodox churches will understand this contention than conventional church members.” World Day of Prayer is coming up in one month. May we, who are outside the orthodox church, invite conventional church members who long for kinship with those who, like Charles Fillmore, proclaim Christ as a living presence in the government of the world.

Mark Hicks
Sunday, August 16, 2020

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Frederick L. Rawson
Frederick L. Rawson

Frederick L. Rawson

(1845-1921)

Frederick L. Rawson was a brother to a great engineer in England. F. L. Rawson took 100 men into world war one. They all returned without a scratch on any of them. “There is nothing but God” was his statement to that miracle. “There is nothing but God in God’s perfect world. Man is the image, the likeness, passing on God’s ideas to his fellow man with perfect regularity and ease.”

F. L. Rawson, like many other leaders in the field of New Thought, was not a clergyman. He was an engineer and businessman. Born in England in 1859, he became a distinguished practicing engineer, had achieved a marked success in his profession as consultant and as businessman, and had retired before he founded the Society for Spreading the Knowledge of True Prayer.

Among other things, he was a pioneer in the field of the practical use of electricity and engineer of the first company in the field of electric lighting. He laid the first electric railway in England. He was also interested in other things and drew up plans for the first gas-driven automobile and was consulting engineer for the first airship built in Britain. He had the respect of serious minded scientists of his day. He also excelled at various sports and was first violinist in an orchestra for more than a dozen years.

He was widely read in the fields of science and philosophy, and it was through his scientific interest in the remarkable claims made in the area of religion and the occult which led to him studying them to discover for himself whether or not the claims were true, and if they were, what scientific basis there was for them.

Christian Science had come to Britain in the late 1880’s with considerable success, and its claims of ability to heal the most stubborn of diseases could not fail to attract the attention of thoughtful people. The London Daily Mail resolved to find out the facts concerning these claims and publish them. The paper commisioned Rawson to make a study of the new cult and write a series of articles on it. Rawson accepted the assignment and began a study of Christian Science, with the result that far from exposing its errors, he was convinced of its truth and became an ardent Christian Scientist.

Eventually though, his brilliant creative mind could no longer yield itself to the rigid, authoritarian organization that Christian Science had become and he parted ways with the church and began his own work, which ultimately grew into one of the most active and influential metaphysical healing groups in England, and affiliated itself with the growing New Thought Movement.

In 1912 he wrote a book entitled Life Understood, which was to be revised and edited again and again, used as the textbook of the movement he founded, and studied far beyond the limits of his own groups of metaphysical healers the world over. He attended the first meeting of the International New Thought Alliance, held in London in 1914. Rawson was personally acquainted with another very influential English New Thought teacher, Thomas Troward.

During the first war his groups took to adopting “absent treatment” for the protection of soldiers, and some remarkable results began to appear with testimonies coming to him from persons benefited by the treatments, and in 1916 he began a weekly publication called Active Service where he published these testimonies. At the masthead of the first were the words: “A weekly paper devoted to the spreading of the knowledge of the truth. YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.”

In 1917 he set up an organization called the Society for Spreading the Knowledge of True Prayer (SSKTP); the method of prayer was to be that of the realization of and conscious communion with God. He lectured to large audiences throughout the British Isles and in 1920 made an extended tour of the USA and Canada, lecturing and giving class instruction and treatments, with the result that a goodly number of SSKTP centers were established in American and Canadian cities. Rawson was arrested in St. Louis in 1920 near the end of his tour of teaching and healing. He was charged with practicing medicine without a license and was released and the charges were dropped when he promised to do nor more healings.

Although Rawson was distinctly Christian Science in his basic outlook, he co-operated enthusiastically with the New Thought groups. Great scientist that he was, Rawson entertained a number of ideas that find no acceptance among the majority of scholars. One of these was that the British and the Americans were the true Israel--that is, he held the expounded Anglo-Israel theory, which commended itself to a good many within New Thought and the metaphysical field in general, as for example Mary Baker Eddy.

Rawson died in 1923, but the SSKTP movement went on and Active Service continued publication weekly up until August 1940 when it became a monthly, and was still in publication in the 1960’s.