Your Invisible Church: Ernest Holmes’ Radio Ministry

This Thing Called Life

Beginning in October of 1949 in national syndication, Ernest Holmes began a part of his expansive teaching and ministry that “he frankly admitted was his first love.”  What was it exactly?  It was his radio program titled, This Thing Called Life; it was a half-hour radio program recorded in the Hollywood ABC-studios and aired on radio stations in California and around the United States at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoons.  It featured an organist, a singer, and a stirring lecture/sermon by Ernest Holmes.  The Archives are very privileged to have some of these radio shows from the 1950s available to listen to or download in the E-Book/Audio section of the Archives.  All of the talks are directly taken from the radio show, and when you download one of them, you can hear the powerful voice of Ernest Holmes—once a platform speaker who toured all over the United States and trained at the famous Boston school called the “Leland Powers School of Expression.”  That school was the only formal education that Ernest Holmes received after grammar school.  His voracious reading and meeting and talking with the mental giants of the twentieth century were the only other education Ernest Holmes ever needed.

The famous slogan of the radio show was “There’s A Power for Good in the Universe…Greater than You are…And You Can Use It!” If you have never listened to an old-time radio program, you will be taken back into what popular culture in the 1940s and 1950s sounded like.  You’ll hear the dramatic organ music, the announcer’s voice, and then the richness and the power of Ernest Holmes’ voice deliver a sermon and close with a moving meditation.  Holmes wrote all of the scripts of his weekly radio program, and he tried to have scripts written three months in advance, so passionate was he in reaching out to his listeners across the country.  This Thing Called Life received hundreds of letters from listeners each and every day, and Holmes employed a staff of three to answer all the letters and to follow up with distributing Home Study Aids that included “Ten Lessons of Religious Science,” reprints of radio talks, and other material especially written by Holmes for the Invisible Church—his radio ministry.  Holmes accepted no salary or other remuneration for the show, and, instead, funneled any and all donations to keep the radio show on the air.  Over one million lessons and study aids were mailed out to listeners from around the nation.

In fact, in a letter that the Archives has on Institute of Religious Science letterhead, L.F. Atwood, head of the Executive Committee, makes a direct appeal to “radio friends” to keep the radio program on the air.  Listener donations were providing the funds to finance half of the radio show, and further donations were requested.  Specifically, Atwood’s appeal stated that $10,000 dollars over the next six months were necessary to keep the program alive or it was going to have to go off the air on November 12, 1950.  Fund-raising efforts were obviously successful as some of the radio programs we have in our “vaults” are from 1952.

Holmes’ radio program began with a single local show on KMTC in Beverly Hills, California, in October of 1933.  He then wrote one of his most famous books, This Thing Called Life, which was distributed free-of-charge to U.S. serviceman during WWII.  In 1949, the radio program took the name of his little bestseller and was syndicated nationally on the Mutual network.  When the U.S. got involved in the Korean War, This Thing Called Life was the only radio program with religious content to be carried on the Armed Forces network.

In an article written for listeners of This Thing Called Life in Science of Mind magazine in January of 1952, Holmes talked directly to his radio listeners to answer their questions and share with all of them his philosophy and his life work, Science of Mind.  In words that seem directly and prophetically addressed to citizens of the twenty-first century, who have been shaken by the terrorist acts of the Boston Marathon, 9-11 in New York, and other disturbing events, Ernest Holmes says this to readers at the close of that article:

It is our simple and sincere conviction that if millions of people were affirmatively praying every day for our nation and for its leaders, spiritual powers would be loosed across the country which would impel it into right action.  America is the great dream of the ages.  Let us keep this dream fresh and fair in our minds, and through our united faith create a spirit of unity and solidarity against which the waves of disruption beat in vain…..

Please take a minute to download “This Thing Called Life” and listen to Ernest Holmes talk direclty to you—the listener—from beyond time….