Science of Mind Archives
A Book Review by Jeannette Quinn Bisbee
In His Company by Dr. Marilyn Leo
If you are like me, then you are eager to not only read Ernest Holmes writings and books, but also to get to know a little more about him. Many good books about Ernest Holmes have been written–probably the most famous is Neal Vahle’s biography, Open at the Top published in 1993. But his brother Fenwicke wrote a biography, his longtime associate, Reginald Armor wrote two as well. But, the book that most brought Ernest alive for me was written by Reginald Armor’s daughter, Dr. Marilyn Leo. Dr. Leo is a longtime Religious Science minister and holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree as well as Doctor of Religious Science. Because of her father’s intimate relationship and their next-door status when she was a child, she grew up knowing Holmes all of her life. In 2006, Dr. Leo wrote a wonderful biography of Holmes called In His Company, Ernest Holmes Remembered, and it shares some of the most vivid stories and anecdotes of Holmes’ interaction with and his effect on others. I received the book at 4:00 p.m., and I had devoured it by midnight.
The book covers Ernest’s roots and his childhood, of course. But, it covers in more depth and detail his relationship with his beloved wife, Hazel, and their long friendship with the Armor family. One of the most touching episodes of the book is when the author’s sister, Dorothy Armor Procopenko, who at the time was only six, brought a new doll over to the Holmes’ house to show Hazel. Hazel was in the kitchen with the family cook, Lena, getting dinner ready when Dorothy dropped in with her new doll. The anecdote is so touching especially when Hazel decides that upon the little girl naming her doll, Penny, she needs to be ‘baptized’ by whom else? Ernest Holmes!! So, Dorothy and her doll go into the living room–only to be met by Ernest in official robes. Dorothy chooses Ernest and Hazel to be the ‘godparents’ and Lena, the cook, and Prince, the Holmes’ German Shepherd, to be the two witnesses to the ceremony. So, Ernest and Hazel lived there love and faith even in the smallest interactions with a young child.
Another chapter is devoted to the memories of Bill Lynn, a son of a friend of the Holmes. Lynn first met Holmes when he was attending UCLA, and eventually lived with Ernest and Hazel while he was still in college and waiting for his fiancé to also graduate. Bill Lynn joined the staff of the Church of Religious Science in 1953–right about the time it went from being an “institute” to being a “church”. From the time he spent living and traveling with Ernest and Hazel he was able to give insight into the “human” Ernest–sometimes a little disappointed in some of the people who tried to twist the Church to serve their own motives, but he shares how hopeful Ernest was about scientific discoveries that would keep Science of Mind constantly “open at the top”!
My favorite chapter of the book was the one entitled, “Thousands Loved Him”. Dr. Leo shares either anecdote from approximately 35 people ranging from the famous like Robert Stack, Peggy Lee, and Norman Vincent Peale to the lesser known. My favorite story is the memories that William Hornaday, the minister of the Founder’s Church in Los Angeles shared. Ernest liked to come early to church services as he felt it was important to feel the needs of the people as they came into the church. He always stood outside the church and shook hands with people BEFORE the service; he wanted to make them feel welcome right from the start. Bill Hornaday was going to be giving the talk at the pulpit, and Ernest spotted what was obviously a “lady of the night” on the sidewalk outside the Congregational Church in San Francisco on a road trip the two were on. Ernest convinced the prostitute to sit with him during the sermon in the front row, gave her a couple of Science of Mind texts after the talk, and asked her to accompany him back to the hotel after the sermon. Bill admits to being embarrassed and worried by Holmes’ behavior, but Ernest’s amazing ways with people were demonstrated thoroughly when he came out of the hotel room, and said the young prostitute wanted to return home to Kansas City. They only had a short window of time to get her on a bus, as she was owned by the Syndicate, and was due to check back in a few hours. Ernest paid for the young girl to get some new clothes, escorted her to the bus station, paid for her ticket, and, personally, escorted her onto the bus–treating her always as a sweet, young girl and not a prostitute. The young girl waved goodbye with tears in her eyes, as she made an amazing transformation back to the truth of who she was–all orchestrated by Ernest who saw far beyond appearances.
Dr. Leo’s book is filled with touching stories, memories, and even a discussion of the “split” of Religious Science. It is so personal, rich, and warm. I cried when I read it, and I was inspired to even deeper levels of wanting to live this philosophy and teaching. I recommend that all of you add it to your library of books; it will be one you read and reread throughout the coming years!!!