Hi Friends —
Here is a 50 minute video of James Dillet Freeman speaking 25 years ago to Tom Thorpe's CEP class, Background of New Thought. It's apparent that Freeman loved engaging with students and at one point he acknowledges that he hadn't always been as kind to them as he should have been. But in this class, Freeman is informative, candid, funny and accommodating.
The video is broken up into 12 segments that cover the origins of Unity (before 1889), how Myrtle's Silent Unity's 4 page newsletter eventually supplanted Charles' early New Thought publication, how he became a writer and how he came to write a few of his best known pieces, including What It Means To Be a Minister, The Prayer of Protection and The Marriage Blessing.
My sense is that the best way to teach leadership is by example. And Tom Thorpe would likely agree, since he always brought in a notable Unity leader when he taught classes, whom he refered to as his “goto person”. After Jim Freeman passed on in 2003, Tom relied on Richard Billings and Dorothy Pierson to help teach Background of New Thought. I hope these 50 minutes will strengthen your skills and enrich your leadership experience.
March 10, 2019
James Dillet Freeman Speaking to Tom Thorpe's CEP Class in 1994 (Video)
This talk was given by James Dillet Freeman on May 11, 1994 to Tom Thorpe's CEP class Background of the Unity Movement.
01 Introduction and Prayer
Tom Thorpe: Then naturally I’d read a number of Jim’s books and one of them in particular is very precious to me and that’s Prayer The Master Key. Coming out here and actually seeing this person behind the words and as a real person was almost more of a thrill than I could bare. Really, and as we get to know the folks at Unity Village we recognize that no matter what their achievements may have been and no matter how much they have impressed other people’s lives, in the final analysis they’re real human beings. That’s probably the greatest glory of any of them. Today you get a chance to meet James Dillet Freeman the human being. That’s going to be a glorious experience for us all. Jim I’ll ask you to lead us in prayer and then we’ll get going.
James Dillet Freeman: [inaudible 00:00:44].
Tom Thorpe: You’ve got to turn your mic on I think.
James Dillet Freeman: [inaudible 00:00:51] what I was supposed to do, too often. Since our prayers are built around God as our source, let’s just think of God as our source, now think of God as the source of what I’m supposed to say to you people. You can think of God as your source for the words you have to put down on that test He’s given you. If we can really realize that, we will be inspired. When you write the way I do, you do seek God as your source. Let’s just know that we’re open to the inspiration of the Almighty. We look for it, we expect it, we accept it and we are grateful for it. God is our source. Each of us has to know this. Each of us has to turn to the God that is real to him and hopefully is within him. Let that power and intelligence and love express itself through him or her. God, You are our source and we are grateful. Amen.
02 How the movement began
Tom Thorpe: Okay, where would you like to start? You know that the course is the Development of the Unity movement and I’ll just let you dive in anywhere you want to.
James Dillet Freeman: Right, I haven’t really prepared to talk. I expect you people to make the talk for me as I go along and I’m pretty sure you will. You will have questions to ask if it’s interesting though. When I chose that monthly prayer in Daily Word, that’s how this whole movement began. Charles taught a class, Myrtle took part in the class too, but probably more to lead the meditation, which is what she did in the church. Myrtle was not that vocal really, though she had a great deal of ability. They each month chose a, well every 12 weeks I suppose they did it at first, because they usually taught 12 classes. He loved that 12 stuff. Jesus and his disciples, and he finally came up in with the 12 powers.
James Dillet Freeman: Really, the whole movement started in a class. Nobody really knows too much about the origins of this movement. They met and whether the Filmores were the only leaders of the group, I don’t know. I’m not at all sure that they were. They had a class and you took part in that class. Each class of 12 weeks or whatever they had it, they had a statement. Then when they began Silent Unity, that’s the way they began it with that statement. It was just a general statement at first, what Silent Unity used to call it K statement, a cover all. Then they branched out into first healing and then prosperity and finally they got around to what they now call the illumination statement. Illumination came after healing and prosperity. They put first things first, and they knew what people wanted and needed and wrote to them about. That’s how the whole movement started really.
James Dillet Freeman: Finally, he began to publish his little magazine called Modern Thought, but the class and oral teaching was before that. He finally got the courage to think, “Hey, maybe I can publish a magazine.” How he ever got the courage I don’t know, because he had no qualifications for it. Didn’t have too much education, almost no formal education, and he had been a printers devil, I don’t see how that would equip you to start a publication. I was a fly boy in a press room and I didn’t feel that qualified me to think of publishing a magazine or a newspaper. He did and it succeeded, but it succeeded because they came up with the idea of Silent Unity.
James Dillet Freeman: There’s no question in my mind that this movement grew out of Silent Unity. It’s still the heart of it. It’s still the most important part of it. It probably is what it has always attracted people to this place, Silent Unity. The thought that you can be wherever you are, sit down, stand up, lie down, do whatever you want and join in prayer with other people who aren’t there. It was a great idea. I don’t know whose it was, nobody else does. We’ve always given credit for Myrtle, to Myrtle, whether it was her idea, who knows. Might have been somebody else in the organization even.
James Dillet Freeman: She was the first one to do anything about it. She published a little column and began a little magazine called Unity, and it was Silent Unity’s magazine. Now Daily Word is Silent Unity’s magazine, but Unity Magazine appeared in order to represent and to present Silent Unity to people. He called his magazine Modern Thought, Christian Science, Thought and finally abandoned him all for Unity. Which originally was just a two page magazine, connected. He gave that away with Thought, but pretty soon it was the other way. He was giving away Thought. In fact, he quit it. Well I will answer any questions you want to ask me.
03 How did Jim get into the movement?
Speaker 3: [inaudible 00:08:04].
Tom Thorpe: The question was, how did Jim get in the movement?
James Dillet Freeman: Ina very roundabout way. How did I get into the movement? When I was 10 years old my family broke up in a very, very unpleasant way. Fred would have loved it and my mother ran off with a guy and we came out to Kansas city, she brought me and one sister. My step-father was a very young man, and he had a bad case of hay fever. This is a very hay feverish part of the world, but he came here because he had a job. As a matter of fact, my father found him the job so he could take care of us kids I guess.
James Dillet Freeman: Anyway someone then sent him a diet that was supposed to cure his hay fever, and it was very strict. No white bread, no butter, no salt, no anything. All vegetables, very strictly, so we became vegetarians. When he became anything, the rest of us became something. He hadn’t been on this very long that he heard of a vegetarian inn at 9th and Tracy. He went to the inn and he was much taken by it. It had a very pretty woman who ran it and I think that’s what really attracted him to it.
James Dillet Freeman: Where he’d only gone once he was an extrovert completely. He gone once and he probably knew everybody in the inn, so he took us on the second time and we immediately started going to Sunday school and that’s how I came to Unity. Very roundabout way and I’m glad I came. I never wanted to come to work here, but I took a job because they offered it to me. I didn’t feel that I was a teenager. I didn’t feel that young men like that should get into religion. I thought religion was for women. The Unity religion was folks, because women have made New Thought what it is. There would be no New Thought without religion. New thought occurred because women wanted to get into religion. It was the liberation of women. All you liberated women wanted something you could do. One thing you could do, have a religion and so you made them. The whole New Thought movement has come out of women’s movement.
James Dillet Freeman: Unity had no men in it for years and years and years, almost none. We probably didn’t have six male ministers in the whole movement until after World War II when we started the ministerial training program, on which we accepted only men. Gave them a job in Silent Unity so that they could support themselves while they were getting their training. The women in Silent Unity didn’t care much for that, but they were awfully glad to have men there. Silent Unity was 99% women and to have a few men in the place lifted the whole morale of Silent Unity. That’s how I came anyway.
James Dillet Freeman: I’m glad I stayed. I didn’t want to stay, but I was only here at work one day. Myrtle Filmore gave me the first job I had. I used to read poetry at every Wednesday evening healing meeting. They liked to have entertainment and when they couldn’t get anything better, they ask me. It wasn’t much good for all of it. She then went to May Rowland who was the head of Silent Unity for 50 years. She didn’t just work there 50 years, she was the director of Silent Unity for 50 years. As Myrtle told May that she had a young poet that she wanted her to put the work in Silent Unity. May told me afterwards, she said, “If there’s anything we didn’t need in Silent Unity Jim, it was the young poet.” She said, “We didn’t even need an old poet.” May told me too, she said, “Myrtle used to come and have all kinds of people. She wanted me to put the work in Silent Unity.”
04 How Jim got into writing
Speaker 4: Your book is wonderful.
James Dillet Freeman: I’m glad you like it.
Speaker 4: [inaudible 00:13:06].
James Dillet Freeman: Ever since I was 10 years old when my family broke up and we came out here, it was a very scary world, very scary and for good reasons. My step-father, I love him. I tried to kill him once, but the only reason I didn’t kill him was, he was so strong. He was the strongest man I ever knew, powerful and I tried to strangle him, but it was like trying to strangle a telephone pole. For which I’m grateful, I would have killed him if I could have. I tried with everything in me, but it was a very frightening life. I began to write poetry. I have always read and I’ve read like poetry ever since I was a little kid.
James Dillet Freeman: I had a grandfather who also was this macho male, the great hunter and had a story of where once he wrestled a bear and all that sort of thing. I was brought up with these guys, but he loved poetry, and especially Poe. He taught me to read and write before I ever went to school. I’m lefthanded, but I write with my right hand because my grandfather would never left-handed grandson you see. I’m grateful that he taught me this. I watched left-handed people write and I’m grateful I write right-handed. He loved Poe and so when I was just a little kid before I ever went to school he had me memorize poems like Annabel Lee. Then he would have me recite those to his friends. He’d give me a penny for that. He was trying to teach me at a very early age that poets don’t make much money, and he taught it. He taught me to love poetry.
James Dillet Freeman: When I was 10 years old when I came out here, I started to write poetry and I had a teacher. I don’t remember too many teachers with great affection, but I remember her with great affection. Her name was Miss Necessary, and she was necessary to me. I would take her those poems and she would tell me how good they were and encourage me to go on, write another one, show her that, and oh I’m so grateful for that woman. Teachers are great folks. If any of your are teachers, you may never know the influence you’re having on people. She sure had one on me. I’m sure without that encouragement I wouldn’t have tried it.
James Dillet Freeman: Then I wrote nothing in high school, it wasn’t macho enough. Who was going to write poetry? I wanted to do other things. When I got out of high school, they gave me a job at the Kansas City Star, the copy boy and everybody was writing. I went to the library and got a book about the art of versification. I sat down and simply copied all those wacky French forms that it had in there and wrote and wrote and wrote. I’ve always done it. I can’t conceive of not doing it. Yes sir.
05 What It Means To Be a Minister
Speaker 5: One of my favorite things that you’ve written is What It Means To Be A Minister. That’s what opened up my desire [inaudible 00:16:45]. I’m just wondering how it came about writing it].
Tom Thorpe: Question is, how Jim came to write What It Means To Be A Minister.
James Dillet Freeman: What does it mean to be a minister? It’s an interesting story too, but I was teaching. I was the teacher in the ministerial training program. I began it. They asked me if I would setup a program. One young man came back from World War II and to be a minister and I did. For 20 years I was the teacher, I was the first teacher in the school. For a long while they only teacher in the school because they didn’t want to spend money on anymore. Finally, we got a Bible teacher, I’ve never been much of a Bible teacher, though I did it once. The only way I did it was just keep a chapter ahead of the students in the class. That wasn’t too hard. I and my students had many get togethers and many get aparts in those 20 years, because we were trying to setup a program. We were trying to set it up you see and get something going, so we’d change it. Some years I’d tell them they had to be here two years to become ministers, some years three years, that would make them very angry. Well if they came here thinking it was going to be two and then it was three. I thought maybe they needed an extra year. It was that type of thing.
James Dillet Freeman: Well anyway finally they were getting rid of me and I was very unhappy. They asked me to give a benediction at the end of an ordination when I had seven students or six students, eight, I don’t remember, all men of course. Women detested me. I was the male chauvinist pig since I wouldn’t accept any of them in the classes for a long while. Anyway had those boys, they’re over there in the what’s now the Filmore chapel.
James Dillet Freeman: It was a Wednesday evening and my wife and I went to the grocery store that afternoon. We used to be off on Wednesdays and I came home and she started fixing me something to eat. I went upstairs and I thought, “I’ve got to give a blessing,” you know it’s like making this talk in a sense. I can get up and say, “God bless you,” and they’re blessed. I was angry they had I think Charles Rickert was to take part in it and Ralph Rhea was take part in it and they had Eric (Butterworth) out here. I knew pretty much what he’d say is, “This is a lot of baloney, just get about your business.” I was just going to give them a blessing.
James Dillet Freeman: I went up stairs and I picked up, I thought, “What does it mean to be a minister?’ I thought that sentence. I picked up the dictionary and said, “Well what does it mean, what does the dictionary say?” Unfortunately I picked up an older edition of the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary because in that dictionary it had the word miniumum above the word minister. In the newer ones it doesn’t have that word, but I thought I was looking at the entomology. I love words, see I love words. I always look at the etymology of words when I look up a word. The etymology of the word minister, I thought, I looked at miniumum and there it says, “To make small,” or just small or something. In the newer dictionaries it isn’t there. I had to look at the wrong word or I could never have written that. Ain’t that strange? God has very strange ways of using it, that’s what it really means. I saw there what does it mean to be a minister, it means to make small. The moment I had that, it means to make you small so that others may feel large or whatever I said there, I had the whole thing. It was just 15 minutes and it was written then because the whole thing was there.
James Dillet Freeman: When I read that one thing, that’s how I wrote that. That night when I read it, see I didn’t do anything, but I read that and here are all these seven boys all angry about something. Their wives and one of their wives in fact painted a portrait of me because of that. I guess they were all crying. Anyway, what they did was they all demanded that they give them a handwritten copy of that, six or seven or eight whatever it was. I had to do that and I have handwritten copies. Then I ordered you know what you mimeographed it. I used to give those out for years to, many years to graduates of the ministerial program. I was glad I wrote it.
James Dillet Freeman: It’s wonderful to write things like that and not because they’re wonderful, but because they aren’t there and then suddenly they’re there. That’s great! That’s a wonderful sensation, I wish it came more often. Some of the time I’m sitting there struggling and struggling and struggling and saying, “God where are you?” It doesn’t always happen, but when it does happen, you are just lifted. I’ve told people, writing poetry doesn’t pay you that much, it doesn’t, but it does wonderful things for you. It’s like sometimes when I write something like that, don’t know that that did on that one, but I felt good. I knew I had something that they would like. They said, “It’s like a cheap drunk with no hangover.” It’s fun. It’s fun when it occurs, but you have to pay the price.
06 The story about the astronauts
Speaker 6: Could you tell the story of the astronauts?
James Dillet Freeman: Yeah. Two astronauts have taken stuff that I wrote to the moon and I didn’t know either the astronauts. I didn’t even know, it was 10 years after they took it that the first thing. We knew that one of them, we knew that I Am There was taken to the moon when it was taken. It was taken on Apollo 15. I was the director of Silent Unity at that time and I got a little pamphlet. When it came into my office, I didn’t read it, it was called the Apollo Prayer League. I wasn’t thinking about the men on the moon and the Apollo program. I just threw it to one side, because it sounded “occultish” and I’m not very occult. I picked it up because when you write my kind of stuff, everybody in the world feels free to reprint it. Sometimes they tell you and sometimes they don’t, which is all right with me. Once I’ve written it, I’ve written it. I don’t care what happens to it and I would love it if everybody in the world wanted to reprint it. I don’t care about money from it, I’ve never had to.
James Dillet Freeman: There are two. There’s something in this thing folks that you don’t have to. When I first began to write, when I first worked here, Charles Filmore stopped me one time. He said, “Young man you ought to find something practical to do, you can’t make your living off poetry.” He didn’t know it, he was going to give me a job which would enable me to make my living off of writing poetry. I’m a believer, I really am. Gosh it’s worked in my life. Poets are at the bottom of the economic financial chain folks, they’re at the absolute bottom, their lower than belly dancers or opera singers or anything else. How do you make your living? It worked for me. I’m a believer. If you will do, takes lots of courage and you’ve got to believe in yourself. If you will do what is yours to do, life will provide you the means to do it. I really believe that. Takes a lot of belief though and there may be many times when you wish you could quit it.
James Dillet Freeman: A little girl came up to me the other night in the grocery store of all places. Says she writes poetry and all. Well their father came up first, she probably feels, “Dad you’re a nuisance,” and I wouldn’t blame her. She asked me about that and I told her what I tell kids. I said, “Can you do anything else? If you can go do it.” You only write poetry because you have to do it. Probably all of you have written poetry, I bet there isn’t a soul in this place who hasn’t written poetry at some time or another in his life. That’s why you write it. You quit, you can’t quit of what you really want to do. You’ve got to keep on persisting in it.
James Dillet Freeman: Anyway, we get back to the astronauts, I picked up that little pamphlet and began to read it. Right in the middle of it I saw that it had a poem by James Dillet Freeman. I Am There, James Dillet Freeman, then I read the pamphlet a little more curiosity and on the back page it was then I found out by a group at NASA. Who when those three men burned at Cape Kennedy, Grissom, Chaffe and White, they formed a prayer organization to pray for the astronauts. They sent out, apparently, little pamphlets to people that they thought might pray with them. I read the whole pamphlet and on the back page it had acknowledgments. It said, one of the astronauts, didn’t name him, has taken I Am There this poem in the middle to the moon to live on the moon. I thought, “Could that be possible?” You can’t. How could you possibly believe something you wrote was going to get to the moon?
James Dillet Freeman: That night as we were listening on the television, the phone rang and it was the girl on the switchboard over here. She said, “Oh Jim, we just had a call from Houston and they said one of the astronauts, Colonel James Irwin, has taken your poem, I Am There with him to the moon, to live on the moon.” I turned to Billy and I said, “Honey do you think somebody is putting me on? I thought maybe you know some of my student friends and the like were playing a joke. Then it took us a week to find out whether it was true or not, because everybody at NASA had an unlisted telephone number. Finally, one of our people a PR guy here got through. I never did get it completely straight, but I think what he reached was the minister of the Baptist church at NASA, at Houston. It’s called the NASA Bay Baptist Church, big church. This guy told how Irwin had brought I Am There with him to the moon, with him to the church. Read it to them and then when they saw how much he liked it, they took it, that little pamphlet and put it on a big poster to which they could all sign their names. It was their names getting to the moon I think that encouraged them. Some 600 people signed, a lot of kids I imagine in Sunday school.
James Dillet Freeman: They microfilmed this and for him to take to the moon. When he came back he called me and said, “You know, your poem has meant so much to me that I’d like to meet you and I’m going to make a speech at William Jewell College,” which is right across the river, “and if you’ll pick me up at the airbase out here, I would love to meet you and go with you to your Unity Village. I want to talk to you.” When an astronaut asked you to pick him up, you go pick him up. I went out and picked him up and on our way back, he’d flown his own plane in. He was dressed in his gold flight suit. As we drove he turned to me and he said, “Oh I should have changed to civilian clothes.” I asked, “Don’t you ever talk to people when you’re dressed like that?” He said, “Oh sometimes to children.” I said, “Do you think we’re not?” When he walked into that Silent Unity building, it’s now the education building, nobody, I don’t think anybody who’s ever visited this place has given our people such a thrill. He came in on that gold flight suit. If he came in looking like this, he’d be an ordinary guy.
James Dillet Freeman: In that gold flight suit he was the man from the moon! Everybody ran up to him and grabbed him and they were twirling him around and wanting to shake his hand and get his autograph. Couple of them had cameras and they wanted pictures. I got scared, because I thought, “Gosh this guy’s a national hero.” I turned to him and I said, “Looks like they’re going to ask you to do an awful lot of things.” He said, “I’d be happy to do anything they ask me to do.” Most gracious man I ever met. He’s dead. He was the first astronaut to die, first of all the 12 who went to the moon to die. Most wonderfully gracious man. I got to know him and we visited ... I write Christmas stories or I did. They want me to write another one this time, pray for me that I can.
James Dillet Freeman: The planetarium in Colorado Springs you know that’s where the air force academy is. They called me and said, “One of your stories called The Christmas Star, we’d like to put it on in our planetarium.” Somebody had sent it to them and they thought it was nice and said, “We would like you to come out and visit us, see it, because it’s very popular.” My wife and I went and while we were there we visited Irwin who lived he and his wife in Colorado Springs.
James Dillet Freeman: While we were there sitting on the floor, talking, she turned to me. They’re fundamentalist folks, very fundamentalist. I think she’s a Seventh Day Adventist. He was very much a Baptist, but she said, “You know, it is strange, very, very strange only 12 men have walked on the moon and two of them carried something you wrote. It is.” Somehow I feel I had some sort of a connection with this program and heaven knows they couldn’t have got me into one of those places. Rockets, they’d had to put me in a straitjacket, because that’s pretty much what they put them into probably in a way to get me out there. I was meant to take part in it and so two pieces of my writing went up there with those guys. It is amazing, isn’t it?
James Dillet Freeman: You know the thing I feel about it, it shows how effective what we are doing is. It’s Unity. I’m Unity and my writing is Unity. It says, the only reason for a religion in my mind is that it helps people to live more effectively, that’s all. Two of these astronauts in the most dangerous moments of their lives, you know they have to be a little tight when they put them into that rocket, who picked Unity literature to carry with them. There can’t be too much room in those space suits, but they picked Unity literature because the first one, it was 10 years later that we found this out.
James Dillet Freeman: On the very first flight to the moon, the Prayer for Protection was carried by the astronaut by Aldrin. We didn’t know this for 10 years, somebody sent us a magazine in which he was interviewed. He told the reporter that as he circled the earth in Gemini, he carried with him a prayer and the prayer was, “The light of God surrounds me, the love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me, the presence of God watches over me. Wherever I am, God is.” When we read that interview, our PR person got on the phone, found out where he lived and what his phone number. Called him and said, “We read this, is this true?” “Yes.” “Did you carry that prayer with you when you walked on the moon?” He said, “Yes I did.” The interesting thing about Aldrin is, he had never heard of Unity. The guy who talked to him on the phone said, “He sounded like he never wanted to hear of it.” Our literature which he didn’t know, he didn’t know it was our literature, he didn’t know where it came from. It was important enough to him, sustaining enough to him that he put a copy of it in his suit and carried it with him.
07 Myrtle and Silent Unity
Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:34:26].
James Dillet Freeman: I wish I knew more about Myrtle, but remember I was a little boy. Nobody knows much about Myrtle. The grandchildren were what, five or six, that’s pretty early to remember very accurately. Myrtle was very busy at Unity and was busy with Unity. Charles’s mother took care of the children, Grandma. She lived in the golf clubhouse down here and they had the Arches alongside of it. Remember the Filmores never really lived there, they just came out on weekends. The Filmores, Myrtle and Charles lived in an apartment which they called gasoline alley, which was right there at 9th and Tracy. They built a building right behind those big buildings that you’ve seen in the picture to hold the shipping department. The second floor of that was an apartment for the Filmores and the third floor was WOQ, their radio station. That’s where they really lived. On weekends they would come out here if they didn’t have anything else to do and maybe spend a day out here.
James Dillet Freeman: Grandma would feed them. She was the cook always. She kept house and kept the family going. She was supposed to be a very good cook and I assume she was. They didn’t have anything when this movement started. They had nothing, they were very poor, often broke. She kept it going. She knew how to feed them and Lowell told me, once she said, “You can’t imagine the stuff we had to do.” They send him to school and he said, “I didn’t have gaiters to protect me from the snow.” It snows in Kansas city folks, occasionally. “Grandma made gaiters for me out of curtains,” and he said, “You can imagine what the other students thought when I showed up in school with those gaiters made out of curtains.” She kept them going. Myrtle was busy at Unity, 9th and Tracy. Stayed pretty busy. She had her own healing group and again 12 and they called them healers. Both she and Charles took part with Silent Unity.
James Dillet Freeman: As a rule Charles led the meetings when we were at 9th and Tracy. Out here for the most part I believe May (Rowland) led them. Myrtle if she was here took part in them too. She may have led them. I don’t know. When I worked out here, I came to work here in 1929. At that time they were, Silent Unity was out here and the rest of the work was done at 9th and Tracy. We couldn’t afford to move it out here and for another 20 years. Not until after World War II. Part of the reason was, nothing was available after the war began and they had to wait. You had to work here at least two years folks before they let you into their healing meeting. The healing room was upstairs in that building. It’s not there anymore. It’s down beyond where the faculty sits, it has offices if you know where that is, in the education building which was Silent Unity. It was a room Rick built it and in his mind at least and certain element of truth in it.
James Dillet Freeman: Silent Unity was this little group of healers, who sat in a kind of circle there and all in with themselves. Nobody else allowed in there and prayed. He hadn’t put any windows in that end of the building. He had however, this was before air conditioning, but he had built a huge fan down in the basement over there. At their first meeting after they came here, they all went up into that healing room just a select group who were the spiritually advanced. They turned on the big fan and it blew dirt all over them. They had to get out and then the meetings were always held downstairs in what’s the Filmore, what’s called the Filmore meeting hall there. It wasn’t until we came back here in 1949 that we were able to use that room.
James Dillet Freeman: The very first thing we did before we got here when we knew we were coming out was say, “Rick put windows in that room.” Silent Unity never meant to be this little daily. It had advantages however. That room over there downstairs, it’s too big, too formal and too much some kind of a cathedral. The healing room as it was, was very, very simple. Very simple. You walk down a long hall which was good too, to get there. There was this simple room and you sat down at a desk and it was a much smaller room, so the people were close together. To have you people scattered all out folks it’s punk way to teach, it’s a punk way to do anything. It’s called Silent Unity. You ought to be shoulder to shoulder in all this. It’s six times as hard for somebody standing up here to talk to you when you’re all scattered out. When you’re all rubbing against each other, the lowest common denominator in the class usually works, both for inattention and also if somebody snickers, we all snicker. If somebody cries, we all cry. Speakers love it, I would hate this. I’d rather speak to people standing around the walls and crowded or a little group, but I want them right there. We’re supposed to be together in this thing, not all scattered all over the place.
08 The Prayer of Protection
James Dillet Freeman: What other questions? Did I answer? Oh the Prayer of Protection. I wrote the Prayer of Protection when we went into World War II and they asked me to write a pamphlet, which Silent Unity still has. I think it’s called His Protecting Presence or something, maybe spirit, I don’t know. They still have it and they still use it. You see, we weren’t quite in the war yet I don’t think, but Europe had been in flames for a couple of years. They said, “Write this pamphlet,” so I did. On the back page they wanted prayers, affirmative prayers because we were very, very affirmative prayerish then, never anything else but an affirmation. The only affirmation we had at that time was, “Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for though art with me.” One of the girls who was reading my manuscript said, “Jim I think if I were a soldier being shot at or if I was a woman and they were dropping a bomb on me, I wouldn’t want to feel I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Can’t you do better than that?” I said, “Good heavens, you want me to do better than the 24th Psalm, you’ve got to be crazy.” It’s 23rd isn’t it?
James Dillet Freeman: I had written a prayer, a protection prayer for our Silent Unity, at Christmas always has a very special service that we prepare. I had prepared the service that year. I had written a protection prayer to put in, because the world was in flames. The prayer was a rhymed four lined verse. I hadn’t really liked it much because I thought I’d forced it a little to get it to rhyme. When the girl said that to me, that verse was probably floating around there in the back of my brain. I brought it up, changed Christ to God, because it was Christ because it was a Christmas prayer when I wrote it. Took the rhymes off, I didn’t want rhymes, I felt that does something to it that I don’t like. Added a fifth line and that’s the way the prayer of protection came into existence.
09 Things Jim didn't write
Speaker 8: [inaudible 00:43:03].
James Dillet Freeman: I doubt it.
Speaker 8: [inaudible 00:43:06] it says, “Love is my God, light is my [inaudible 00:43:10].”
James Dillet Freeman: No.
Speaker 8: “Humanity is my church, loving my neighbor [inaudible 00:43:14],” this is Unity, isn’t it?
James Dillet Freeman: It’s fine.
Speaker 8: [inaudible 00:43:19].
James Dillet Freeman: I don’t have any idea. I’ve heard it, but I don’t know. I don’t know where most prayers come from and our prayers I don’t know which are ours or which are somebody else’s.
Speaker 8: You did it.
James Dillet Freeman: No, I didn’t. “I behold the Christ in you” I know where that came from. As far as I know Whitty (Frank Whitney) had it, but it may be before that. It may have been before Whitty. I suspect, well we always have because he wrote the poem, the little song I Behold The Christ In You. I have a feeling that was a statement that was used in Unity back in the very beginning of this movement, that’s my feeling about it, so fundamental to us.
10 The Marriage Blessing
Speaker 9: Talk about the marriage blessing.
James Dillet Freeman: The Marriage Blessing? Yeah, I wrote that because I’m a great believer in marriage. I really wrote it for my wife and me, just sitting there. I changed it afterward, but I wrote it for that and then I’m a minister. I’ve never been the parson and I never married anybody if I could avoid it. I avoided it pretty successfully for years. I would bury them if they asked me, but I wouldn’t marry them. Well I felt very strongly how much human beings need help when they lose somebody, it’s desperate folks and desolate. I never turned anybody down when they asked me to have a funeral. Fortunately they didn’t often ask me, but marriage I would just turn down. I would say, “No, I don’t do that.” There was a girl who came to work for us in Silent Unity, I’d known her before she was born and met her parents, my friends back in teenage days. She came to me and said, “Jim, I’m going to get married and I want you to marry us.” I said, “No, I don’t do that.” She said, “I know but you’re going to do it for me,” and I said, “No, I’m not.” She said, “Yes you are.”
James Dillet Freeman: I said, “Look, why don’t you go get some of these other ministers?” She got all these ministers like Bill Fisher and Tom Thorpe and all these people, they love to marry people. She said, “But I don’t want them, I want you.” I said, “But I don’t know how. I’ve never done it before.” She said, “Neither have I.” I did marry her and I took that thing that I had written for my wife and me and turned it into The Marriage Blessing. Then Daily Word decided to publish it. They changed it a little, because my original form assumed, especially since these were young kids, that sex was part of their marriage. Daily Word doesn’t believe that sex has anything to do with it. They cut that out. It was just as well, just as good.
11 How did people travel out the farm?
Speaker 10: I have a question about the practicality of the farm being out here and in those days transportation being part of it. How did they come out here, cars or?
James Dillet Freeman: Buses, no street cars no, no. When we moved out here in ‘29, ‘28 they moved out here in ‘28, they arranged a bus system that would pick people up. They had three different buses and they had several pick up spots in Kansas city. You met the bus at one of those pickup spots if you didn’t get there tough. I don’t know how you got out here, it was up to you to get out then. Then they took you home and dropped you off at those pickup spots. Very impractical. Then when we moved out in ‘49 we talked about doing that and maybe did it for almost no time, because almost immediately everybody had a ride.
James Dillet Freeman: Then slowly people began to move out here, to live around here. It was impractical. There were people that never wanted us to move out here. People didn’t move. We owned a spot on the plaza and they wanted to build big office building there. I don’t know, but it would have been very practical in many ways. I’m glad we’re out here though, so beautiful.
12 Hands on healing and personal prayer in Unity
Tom Thorpe: Time for one more question. Just one.
Speaker 11: Jim what with Charles and Myrtle, since a large part of their life was healing [inaudible 00:47:43].
James Dillet Freeman: I’m not sure they did hands on healing ever.
Speaker 11: [inaudible 00:48:00]?
James Dillet Freeman: No, personal healing, oh yeah there was. My step-father for instance went to a healer you see. He’d go every week, had in a session with that particular, I can’t remember her name. These healers were in the 913 building, they had a little offices and they’d come at office hours. Probably not every day, just certain days that they’d show up and they would pray with people, probably get an offering for the prayer and they did it that way. The Filmores did too. They did it personally.
Speaker 11: [inaudible 00:48:40].
James Dillet Freeman: Well for a long, long time I don’t know whether they still do or not. When I was there, both as the head of the education thing and also as Silent Unity, we always had people here. I used the ministerial students largely to meet with anybody who wanted personal prayer. When I worked here for years in Silent Unity down in 9th and Tracy I would be sent. If people came and wanted personal prayer, I’d get down and pray with them. Or someone else would, we’d be sent down, an individual would be sent down to pray with those people. I don’t know. I think they still do that, don’t they?
Tom Thorpe: There’s a renaissance of it now in many of our churches, they have right here at the chapel after church on Sunday there were people waiting outside to pray with anyone individually who wants it. Yeah, it’s coming back.
James Dillet Freeman: I would assume they still do that if someone needs it.
Tom Thorpe: Yeah. Jim we’re out of time.
James Dillet Freeman: Okay.
Tom Thorpe: That was a pretty quick hour and I really thank you for being here and I know these folks do to.
James Dillet Freeman: I’m glad to do it.
Tom Thorpe: All right.
James Dillet Freeman: Thank you. Bless you all.