Observing traditional New Thought and New Thought 3.1 growing online, while attendance at New Thought Centers shrinks,
we wondered why?
Why are so many folks going to NewThoughtLIbrary.com to read free New Thought classics, or visiting local metaphysical book stores to buy books by Deepak Chopra and other New Thought writers, but not enthusiastically attending local New Thought Centers?
The decline in attendance at New Thought Centers is dramatic. Since 1999, almost 49% of New Thought Communities have closed. We are concerned.
Why have so many New Thought Centers closed?
When asked why attendance is declining, attendees at various New Thought Centers had differing opinions. One repetitive theme was “all churches are experiencing declining attendance.” While that is true in nations with more advanced educational systems, higher wages and responsive government, in the United States attendance at churches is on the rise.
The religious centers experiencing a rise in attendance are not New Thought Centers for Spiritual Living or Positive Living Churches / Spiritual Centers, rather they are largely fundamentalist Abrahamic Churches and Mosques teaching rigid adherence to doctrines and dogmas. Attending five different such organizations, only one of them “passed the hat / basket.” Only one other offered a “Prosperity Gospel” weekend with a minister visiting from Ohio.
My next step was to interview 9 different former volunteers for the Serving New Thought Universal Directory system who had attended a phone conference 11 years ago in which they discussed their experiences calling New Thought Centers since the creation of the directory.
As we looked back on their work, I took in their collective experience supporting New Thought Communities around the world with free updates and more, it began to become clear why so many New Thought Centers had closed since 1999.
Volunteers from every generation drew attention to the fact that only a handful of New Thought Centers ever stepped up and sponsored the listings pertaining to their centers in the Universal New Thought Directory system. More than one volunteer experienced foul language when offering to update info in a listing for free.
“I worked on the directory for three years, then I simply gave up. I simply couldn’t take the stress. Back then there were almost 3000 New Thought Centers around the world. I added it up and realized I had called them all at least 3 times and spoken with more than one person at every New Thought Center. I can’t say that every call was unpleasant, but it was so many that it altered my view of ‘organized New Thought.’ I told Dr. A, that I simply couldn’t do it anymore.”
I interviewed Dr. A (Avalon) about his experience over the years he worked as an administrator:
“After a decade, we noticed that the majority of New Thought Leaders contacting us to be listed would pledge to subscribe to an ongoing contribution through PayPal, or promise to send a donation, but as soon as they got what they wanted, whether it was an update or a new listing they would drop their subscription and promised donations never materialized. The first one was a Religious Science minister in Sedona, Arizona. I thought it was a fluke. A new minister who hadn’t developed Prosperity Consciousness. After a decade, it was obvious that this type of consciousness was endemic among New Thought Leaders attending organized New Thought Institutions.”
Having listened to countless New Thought talks about Prosperity in which New Thought speakers talked about sowing the seeds to insure ones’ good, I posed this question to several retired New Thought ministers.
Why do you think so many New Thought Ministers never stood up and demonstrated Prosperity Consciousness for their centers?
“They have ‘tithing contracts,’ so they are obligated to tithe to their denominations, but perhaps they are not aware of the Universal Directory system, or they have ‘freebie consciousness.'”
“Yes, they are contractually obligated to ‘tithe’ to their parent organizations. Thus many New Thought leaders feel that fulfillment of this contract is good enough. Also they feel that since they know about their own church and parent organization, then it follows that everyone else will know what they know.”
They believe that everyone knows what they know?
“Yes, some of them believe that, instead of ‘treating and moving their hands and feet.’ In other words instead of taking affirmative actions such as sending in a buck a day to support the listing pertaining to their centers, or reaching out to people to share the good news of New Thought, they rely on inner work without action.”
But that’s not traditional New Thought. We were taught, like you said, that we must “treat and move our hands and feet?” Are these New Thought Leaders simply fatalists?
“I don’t know if fatalism is the right term to describe their philosophy. I think they have taken up a type of ‘Eddyist’ philosophy.”
What is Eddyism?
“Eddyism is what many traditional New Thought folks called Christian Science. It was invented by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy who believed that she was a final prophet. Eddyism teaches that everything is an illusion and that all change including healing comes from the realization of this illusion.”
But that is absurd, change begins within and then by taking actions based on new insights, higher wisdom.
“That is self-evident to someone like yourself who has learned and believes in traditional New Thought, but take some time to understand someone who is embroiled in Eddyist beliefs.”
Ok. I will try.
“Imagine if some hippies have an old VW Van, and because they are Eddyists, they rely on God to do all the maintenance of the van for them. They never attend to it; never change the old or tires etc….”
Isn’t that a type of walling off ones’ good?
“Yes. That is a form of walling. Now imagine if the same hippies decide to use the van to deliver goods to people; the van breaks down repeatedly, eventually not running at all. Our hippies fail to deliver the goods and thus they are now walling off the good for more people.”
So, a great deal of these problems are a result of New Thought leaders walling off their good?
“This is what appears to be happening.”
Why don’t you do something about it?
“I am retired now and in most cases in these organizations everything is done by committee. There is a great deal of politics.”
Politics in spiritual organizations?
“Yes. Spiritual politics. So even if I was not retired, it would take a lot of work to change the situation. Most New Thought leaders within ‘organized New Thought’ are comfortable with things the way they are, others have become enamored with that might be called ‘Late New Thought.'”
Late New Thought?
“Yes, this is a phenomena which emerged in the latter half of the 20th Century and became particularly strong in the latter quarter of the 20th Century?”
What is Late New Thought?
“Late New Thought takes on a lot of the beliefs of Eddyism, then combines these with New Age practices such as crystal beds, ancient alien theories and of course the Prosperity Gospel.”
Looking back over the past decade of talks on Prosperity at different New Thought Centers, it became apparent that some New Thought leaders appeal to congregates to “tithe to our center because when you do, God will prosper you.”
Consulting with several New Thought ministers and practitioners as well as other Spiritual Leaders I discovered that the term: “Law of Attraction…” is actually an abbreviation for the “Law of Attraction and Repulsion.” Learning this made other dynamics clearer. I started to understand why the passive approach being advocated by some Late New Thought Spiritual leaders was making things more difficult for them.
I had not heard the Prosperity Gospel being flogged at any of the local fundamentalist Abrahamic organizations, either churches or the mosque I visited. Only one weekend seminar being offered at a mega church, so I made the decision to watch some TV ministries and saw that many broadcasts had that same message: “Give us your money and God will prosper you.” I began to wonder if those teaching the Prosperity Gospel were actually sowing seeds themselves or simply telling others to do so. Obviously they didn’t care about the listings pertaining to their centers.
I went back to Rev. Dr. Avalon to ask him about changes to the Universal New Thought directory system.
Have there been any adjustments to the system since you left the administration of FindACenter?
“Yes, they changed it to more of what I would call a ‘membership system’ or a claim your listing system.”
How did that change things?
“Basically it means that an individual at a New Thought Community claims the listing, demonstrates Prosperity and thereby gets updates or upgrades. The argument is that this model is better aligned with what today’s New Thought leaders are looking for. I am sure all the info is on the website.”
Is this helping to change the situation?
“I think so. The important thing is they are doing things differently than how I did them. I believed that New Thought leaders would naturally want to demonstrate prosperity and support the growth of New Thought as a movement. I believed they would see the work such as NewThoughtLibrary.com and happily contribute to help the movement grow.”
You don’t believe they want New Thought to grow?
“I believe they want their particular forms of New Thought to grow. After decades of experience, I think that often New Thought Ministers become indoctrinated in whatever their organization is teaching and thereby come to believe that is the only way.”
What made you come to this conclusion?
“I witnessed how some New Thought Institutions treat ministers from ANTN, the University of Metaphysics and the old New Thought Alliance group.”
What do you mean? How do they treat them?
“Often they don’t look at the individual and what that person is teaching, they judge them as ‘unworthy’ to do a talk about their centers because they didn’t opt to be institutionalized through their organizations.”
Do their institutions provide a better education?
“An individual can learn anywhere. The institution is not as important as the person learning. Ultimately it is the student who learns, not the teacher. “
What else has the new administrators changed?
“They have opened the door to third party sponsorship to make up for the challenge New Thought leaders seem to have sponsoring the listings pertaining to their centers.”
What are you doing now that you are a Minister Emeritus?
“I focus on NewThoughtLibrary.com and working with young people online who are interested in traditional New Thought and New Thought 3.1.”
I learned a great deal through working on this article. Here are some of the other things I learned.
New Thought versus “Late New Thought”?
In the light of the powerful resurgence of New Thought evidenced by increasing patronage of NewThoughtLibrary.com, it seems that by extension the attendance at New Thought Centers would grow because so many seekers read books then go to the Universal New Thought Directory system to seek out New Thought Communities.
Surveys answered by thousands of Library Patrons revealed a troubling deviation.
While traditional New Thought teachings embrace science and human rights teaching the driving principle that “as we change our thinking, we change our lives,” in the latter third of the 20th Century a deviation occurred away from traditional New Thought into what can best be termed “Late New Thought.”
When looking into traditional New Thought Prosperity teachings, it was suggested that I read George Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon. Considered one of the finest traditional New Thought books on Prosperity, Clason’s book is explored in my Secret to Prosperity article. It stands in stark contrast to “Late New Thought” teachings about Prosperity which convey the belief that “Money is God…” with something tacked on after “God,” usually something like “in action” resulting in slogans such as:
“Money is God … in action”
“Money is God … expressing”
I looked at the surveys conducted through New Thought Library using Lime Surveys and questionnaires. What inspired people on their visits to New Thought Centers and what turned them off?
The answers were revealing. People felt that the empowerment messages were excellent, but that some New Thought speakers, practitioners and ministers were teaching a “blame the victim” consciousness. This was especially apparent after the Bush Recession of 2008. A comment that repeated itself in multiple forms was:
“I was working hard and paying my mortgage, but for some reason foreclosure was filed against me. When I sought emotional and spiritual support at my New Thought Community, I was asked ‘What did you do to bring this into your consciousness?'”
This answer was not limited to those with economic problems. People who had experience violence of all kinds had experienced this same attitude.
When speaking with Dr. Avalon, he told me about a practitioner he spoke with on the phone. He asked her about the murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. This was the one in which Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King dragged Byrd for three miles behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. “Whose consciousness was responsible for that?” he asked her. The practitioner replied that it was James Byrd Jr’s fault, according to her Byrd had “attracted that into his consciousness.”
Why do you think she felt that way?
“I think it has do with certain New Thought institutes which have abandoned traditional New Thought and are teaching ‘Late New Thought.'”
What is Late New Thought?
“Late New Thought came along after World War 2, it is heavily influenced by Christian Science.”
I thought Christian Science was not part of the New Thought movement?
“It isn’t, but you have to realize that the ‘illusionism’ proselytized by Mary Baker Eddy is like a powerful drug.”
I thought that Ernest Holmes defined New Thought as:
“a correlation of laws of science, opinions of philosophy, and revelations of religion applied to the needs and aspirations of humankind”
“He did, he was referring to traditional New Thought teachings such as his Religious Science which is part of the Science of Mind form of New Thought. “
It seems obvious why so many New Thought centers are having problems with attendance. They are not teaching New Thought. They teaching something else, something which we now term: “Late New Thought.”
Such “Late New Thought” communities have declining attendance because they have shifted away from traditional New Thought into this kind of consciousness.
How did this shift in consciousness occur?
In the latter half of the 20th Century, some New Thought leaders began discarding traditional New Thought teachings in favor of embracing odd concepts that had nothing to do with New Thought. This was primarily due to post World War 2 economic transformations in the United States which emphasized salesmanship over creativity.
The consequence of this shift had negative effects across the spectrum of society including New Thought organizations creating what some have come to call “the thrall” of delusions.
Under this thrall of delusions some New Thought leaders embraced a new type of Eddyism, others embraced FU-ism; still others embraced Nonsense Teachings; some embraced all of these things.
What is FU-ism?
FU-ism is a teaching which centers on the self without regard to others. While FU-ism may feel empowering in those professions which benefit from sociopathy, it is detrimental to spiritual development.
FU-ism is characterized by the old Dominator paradigm and is thus antagonistic to the New Thought core concept of co-creation. FU-ism is diametrically opposed to the Partnership paradigm.
New Thought teaches that change begins within, and New Thought adherents have a responsibility to co-create a more compassionate world. New Thought leaders are tasked to be life long learners who understand that Wisdom is manifested through the combination of knowledge with compassion.
We took note of the fact that “Late New Thought” talks, including videos on the web do not seem appeal to a broad audience. This contrasts with traditional New Thought media which has a broad appeal.
New Thought leaders teaching traditional New Thought and New Thought 3.1 attract bigger audiences.
Explorations of original New Thought teachings and the works built upon those teachings reveal a dynamic and wonderful spiritual path which is both uplifting, practical, compassionate and recognizes that we are all interdependent with each other and life.
There is no need for nonsense such as “crystal beds,” “celestial substances” “healing powders,” and magical thinking.
These insights should help New Thought leaders with an interest in growing attendance at their communities to comprehend why 49% of late New Thought communities have closed since 1999 and begin the process of personal change necessary to rekindling the spiritual light within themselves and thus rebuilding attendance at their communities.
Writing this article helped me to better understand and clarify what led to such a dramatic shrinkage in attendance, and even closure of those New Thought communities flogging Late New Thought. It seems obvious that relying on crystal beds and the “Prosperity Gospel” may not be the best method for thriving in an age of information.