Our Past Illuminates Our Future

Jeannette Quinn Bisbee

“Illumination will come as man more and more realizes his Unity with the whole, and as he constantly endeavors to let the Truth operate through him.”~Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind, page 421

I enrolled in the Online Practitioner Program in the autumn of 2011. I had completed all of my basic instruction in Science of Mind at my local church in Grass Valley, California. But, through consistent and heartfelt treatment with my minister, my prayer partners, and my classmates in my “foundation” classes, I had been able to manifest my deepest desire: a new partner after the death of my first husband to cancer. That cherished desire was manifested better than I had ever “treated” for—the only slight problem was that my beloved new husband, Mike, lived in Ontario, Canada. So I could no longer continue my education at my local church. Thankfully, Online Practitioner training exists, and it was “a godsend.” One of the key requirements of students in that program is “sacred service.”

Hmm….With no nearby Centers for Spiritual Living, I didn’t quite know what to do for my “sacred service.” Back home, I had worked in our Center’s bookstore—I loved reading and getting to know the books and helping newcomers and others find the perfect book. But what could I do that would assist me in furthering my understanding and knowledge of Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes, and this cherished philosophy and “knowing” that I loved so deeply—and still be a way to do “sacred service”?

My quandary was solved when Science of Mind magazine featured an advertisement about the Science of Mind Archives. I went to their website and spent hours searching around—I was in Love! Many of the old Science of Mind magazines had been copied and uploaded in digital format for easy reading on the Internet, and more go up each week. Also, there were over 200 books or pamphlets by Ernest Holmes to peruse as well as other books by New Thought greats. The site was a treasure trove, and it had a “volunteer” button. I signed up as a volunteer hoping that there was some way I could assist this wondrous “library”—however, it is actually located in Golden, Colorado, so I didn’t suppose there was much I could do from Canada. Much of what the Archives needs are volunteers to scan all the documents into the system, but that was not a task I could do from Canada. Instead, I asked the Manager of the Archives if there was anyone writing a “blog” for the Archives to help publicize the wide range of resources available. There was no one doing that, yet, so I submitted some writing samples, and I was chosen to begin the site’s blog. Sacred service had never felt so good!

One of the first blogs that I wrote was about the first issue of Science of Mind magazine—only it hadn’t been called that back in October of 1927. The magazine’s original title was Religious Science; its brown, faded cover with the Aladdin’s lamp as the symbol of the magazine—instead of “V-logo” of today—sold for just 25 cents and had only 36 pages. However, that slim original issue was filled with essays, treatments, fictional stories, poetry, outreach from the Department of Healing (which grew and transformed into World Ministry of Prayer over the years), a Junior Department, the men and women’s club happenings, a listing of the eight practitioners, and the main feature—an article from Ernest Holmes on “The Theory of Visualization.” In the article, Holmes clearly instructed on the key components and rules of visualization: “Visualization is more than holding thoughts and has nothing whatsoever to do with suggestion in any of its forms. Suggestion is a disease from which we should pray to be delivered before it delivers us to the judge, and we become condemned by the open confession of duality which we have unwittingly admitted. God does not suggest, He knows; and his knowledge is Law and this Law is perfect.”

So, I wrote up my blog on that first issue. When the editor of Science of Mind saw it, she asked me to write an article for this 85th-year anniversary edition about that pioneer issue. But, I didn’t want to duplicate Reverend Jesse Jennings’s wonderful feature he had done in 2007—also written on the first issue, which he wrote for the 80th anniversary of Science of Mind magazine. Rev. Jennings takes readers on a wonderful tour of the year 1927 in America, Los Angeles, Ernest Holmes’ life, and the history of our church. He navigates the first issue page-by-page, pointing out some of the wonders and delights it contains—along with little snippets of Religious Science history that few of us would know. It makes for wonderful reading, and it’s in the Archives!

After I reviewed that 80th anniversary issue, it made me wonder what other retrospectives the Archives contained from past years of Science of Mind that could be found online? When, in fact, had the magazine and our church first started to review and document the history of our church, Ernest Holmes, and Science of Mind magazine? What other treasures would I find in the Archives? (In 1952 is the first time any real retrospective is done. Editors had asked readers to choose their favorite articles from the first 25 years, and they reprinted some of the best.)

Well, the answer to all those questions kept me in reading on my computer until two or three in the morning for a number of nights. What wonderful treasures are to be found to inspire any of us who look in the “Internet” vaults of the Archives.

The first place that I would send you is to the year 1987—January issue. That is the 100th anniversary of the year Ernest Holmes was born, and the 60th anniversary of Science of Mind magazine. Reverend William Hornaday, the famous minister of the Founder’s Church and a longtime colleague of Holmes, is interviewed about his long relationship with Holmes, and he shares some really personal memories of how he got into the teaching, and what Holmes was like as a teacher, speaker, mentor, colleague, and close friend.

Among the fascinating anecdotes Rev. Hornaday shared with readers were some of his early experiences working alongside Holmes. His interview is filled with charming memories and details of Ernest Holmes, the man—not just the church leader. At one of Holmes’s very first talks, three immigrants were among the seven people who attended, and they barely spoke English.

“Of course it made no difference to Holmes if there were just two people to hear him talk. Even if there was only one person, it was important to him. The immigrants he spoke to that evening, for example, had little money and needed work. One of them had been in the foundry business in Germany, so Ernest said, ‘We have the Los Angeles Foundry here. Go down there and apply for work.’ He did so and discovered they were making manhole covers by a process that cost too much. He showed them a better way to do it. Seven years later, the man owned the Los Angeles Foundry Company. The other young man had been in the banking business, and Ernest suggested a place where he could apply for work. Years later, he started a small savings and loan company, which eventually became one of the biggest loan companies on the West Coast….Ernest saw each individual as a unique expression of God….Out of billions of people, he recognized that there had never been a duplication of any person; therefore, everyone was special. He knew, by using the Power within, that they could express their talents and abilities if desired.”

All throughout 1987, famous people who knew Ernest well are profiled. They share hundreds of warm memories, and an inspiring, thoughtful portrait of Ernest Holmes emerges: he had an eidetic memory and used no written notes for his sermons given to thousands of listeners; Holmes had hundreds of poems memorized and incorporated them off the top of his head into all his talks; he read several books each week, but gave them all away; he was short in stature, but mesmerizing as a speaker; and he had a self-deprecating, pixyish sense of humor! Some of the famous people interviewed for that anniversary year are Robert Stack, the actor; David Bushnell, founder of Bushnell Optics; Adela Rogers St. Johns, the most famous female reporter of the 20th century; Peggy Lee, the noted singer; Norman Vincent Peale, the author of runaway best-seller, The Power of Positive Thinking; actress Rhonda Fleming; fitness guru Jack La Lanne; and writer Elaine St. Johns, who did the final interview with Ernest Holmes before his death. In the interview, Holmes talked openly of the mystical vision he received as he spoke at the dedication of a church in the year before his death. The taped recording of that dedication with Holmes suddenly stumbling abruptly in his words and quickly ending his speech is also in the Archives!

Throughout 1987, wonderful little nuggets of history about Holmes are shared in each issue, illustrated with wonderful, rare photos of him. One of my favorite anecdotes is shared by Carleton Whitehead in the March, 1987 issue. Entitled “Universal Laws Applied to Him, Too” Whitehead writes a story that Ernest loved to share about his own human weaknesses:

“One day early in January, Dr. Holmes and his wife Hazel were taking down their Christmas tree. Hazel was removing the ornaments and carefully packing them in their respective boxes, while Ernest was carrying the boxes to the garage to place them on a shelf for storage. The shelf, however, was a little higher than he could reach comfortably from the floor, so he got a small box to use as a step. On one of the trips he missed his footing and fell backward.

“Hazel, hearing the commotion, came running up to see what had caused it, and there was Ernest lying on the garage floor covered with Christmas tree ornaments. ‘Ernest, what happened?’ she asked.

“Wistfully, he replied, ‘I forgot to tell the law of gravity that I am Dr. Ernest Holmes.’”

All of these great memories, stories, anecdotes, interviews, vignettes, and retrospectives can be easily read today. Where? They’re in the Archives, and they are as near to you as your computer!