WHAT WE DO.
By Ross Keatinge
This is one person's 'real world' view of what goes on at New Thought
Ministries in Auckland, New Zealand. It doesn't necessarily reflect official opinion,
philosophies, policies etc and other people may well see things differently. It is
intended to answer the question of 'what should I expect if I come along?'
There are really two faces to New Thought Ministries. One is the Sunday service and the other is the small groups and courses going on
during the week. The Sunday service is the public 'shop window' if you like and is
probably the best place for a newcomer to have a look at things. It has the form of a
church service. There are talks by the minister and others, singing, a quiet time of
meditation, notices etc and a get together afterwards over tea or coffee.
The theme is that we all have an inner power, flame, spirit, energy or
whatever you want to call it, which is our true self. We are not our bodies! To achieve
our goals we must nuture and listen to that inner self. Perfect health, prosperity,
relationships, happiness and other 'good things' are all within our grasp. To an extent,
New Thought could be called 'positive thinking' but it goes deeper than that. It is a
belief that these things will happen or in a sense, are already here even if they are not
apparent in the physical sense.
I enjoy New Thought because there is not the dogma and restrictions of
traditional religion. One of our important sayings is that we teach people how to
think, not what to think. There is no 'weird stuff', whatever that might mean.
Everyone is down to earth and practical. It's not a 'shut up and listen' type thing. You
are allowed to disagree and encouraged to challenge and discuss. No activities are
compulsory. It is not some sort of high powered 'I always feel great' self
transformational thing either. It's honest. Nothing is denied. There is nothing wrong with
feeling bad or down. People from all walks of life are attracted to New Thought. Some
people who come to New Thought are also involved with more traditional churches. There is
no conflict there. Many people in New Thought are interested in things like natural
health, creativity, music, the arts, the environment, alternative housing. In short, we
tend to be a group of people who try to think 'outside the square' and see past the
humdrum that everyday life can easily become.
You may be like me and be somewhat turned off by the mention of 'church'
and 'minister'. New Thought is not really religious in the usual sense of the word. Sure,
there is talk of 'God', 'Christ', 'Bible' and other 'churchy' things but in a
significantly different context to a traditional church. We are much more interested in
the symbolic meaning of the teachings rather than the literal interpretation.
It is a valid question to ask, 'Is New Thought Christian?'. This was the
topic of discussion at a recent Sunday gathering when it was learnt that this web site was
being built. The answer is yes and no. Much of New Thought is taught using Christian
principles. Our minister, Graeme Johnson, trained and was ordained at the Unity School of
Christianity in the USA so enviably, New Thought in Auckland is taught with a Christian
bias as is probably the norm in most New Thought groups in the western world.
To me, there are two important issues related to the above. Firstly, the
word 'Christian' is somewhat ambiguous. New Thought differs considerably from many of the
attitudes and traditions found in mainstream Christian churches. People in New Thought
don't talk about 'giving their life to Christ' or similar rhetoric, but rather, they
recognise the 'Christ spirit' within themselves and others. Although Jesus was no doubt an
impressive individual, the emphasis is on his teachings rather than the man himself.
For me personally, it is important to recognise that Christ was one of
many thoughtout history who have taught similar principles. The principles are
universal. They can be applied in any context. There are many modern authors
effectively teaching New Thought principles without using the name or reference to
Christianity. One of my favourite authors in this group is Stuart Wilde. A lot of modern
business management encompasses New Thought ideas.
The midweek courses and groups are usually small gatherings of people in
private homes, usually to follow a programme of several weeks of study about an aspect of
New Thought. These are informal, fun, stimulating and informative.
Look us up some day soon. You won't be disappointed.