This week we are pleased to reprint an article by Patricia Boyer, an accomplished author and editor. Ms. Boyer skillfully traces a powerful line of connection from Transcendentalism to New Thought to Alcoholics Anonymous. She briefly mentions the influence of Fox’s Sermon on the Mount on AA, a topic we plan to explore in greater depth on this blog.
We invite you to visit and peruse Ms. Boyer’s website.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
Emmet Fox: New Thought Leader and AA Influencer
by Patricia Boyer
“There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer, no disease that enough love will not heal, no door that enough love will not open.”
“You must build up by faithful daily exercise the true Love consciousness, and all the rest of spiritual development will follow upon that. Love will heal you. Love will illumine you.”
Emmet Fox was a leader in the New Thought movement, a philosophy which flourished during his lifetime. He wrote many great books based upon a literal Bible interpretation, upon spirituality and positive thinking.
He was born on July 30, 1886, in Ireland, but was raised and educated in England where his Catholic family had moved when he was very young. His father was a physician and a member of Parliament who died when Emmet was 10 years old.
Though Fox attended Stamford Hill Jesuit College in England and became an electrical engineer, he discovered his own passion and desire for spirituality as a young adult, and began studying works of men and women involved in the “new thought” movement.
“New thought” in America probably had some roots in the ideals of Deism, the belief in a spiritual life and a personal communication between God and man. This was an idea shared by many of the founding fathers of the United States. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were among the contributors to Deist thought in the early 19th century and Emerson had a particularly great influence on Emmet Fox, as well as his being influenced by the works of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. Quimby, a New Englander was the earliest proponent of “New Thought” in the United States and many people began to follow his philosophy of positive thinking and spiritual healing.
Emmet Fox was influenced more by Ralph Waldo Emerson than by Quimby, though he studied both; and he also became personally acquainted with Judge Thomas Troward, another leader in “new thought” at that time. Troward, had studied, in depth, most of the world’s religious and spiritual writings including the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad-Gita, and was, therefore, of great influence on Fox’s thinking.
Among Fox’s most famous works are Sermon on the Mount, The Ten Commandments, Alter Your Life, and Power through Constructive Thinking.
He gave his first New Thought talk in London in 1928 and thereafter went to the United States where he became the successor to James Murray as the minister of New York’s Church of the Healing Christ. He was ordained in the Divine Science branch of New Thought, and while he lived he spoke to some of the largest audiences ever gathered to hear a single man’s thoughts on the spiritual life. Fox spoke publicly throughout the 1930’s in both Europe and the United States. One estimate states that ten million people have read his books.
The mother of one of the men who worked with Bill Wilson, founder of AA, became Fox’s secretary and, because of this relationship, early AA groups went often to hear Fox’s lectures. His influence was strongly felt in the AA organization and his writings, particularly The Sermon on the Mount became popular with that organization.
After retiring to France he died on August 13, 1951.
Nearly half a century after his death his spiritual, non-sectarian works remain enormously popular. His books are still in constant demand, and he is widely read by ministers of all denominations. His works are a testament to his life and genius.
In closing, this writer would like to quote a beautiful and powerful paragraph from Emmet Fox’s The Power of Positive Thinking, as follows:
“This extraordinary Power, mystic though I have rightly called it, is nevertheless very real, no mere imaginary abstraction, but actually the most practical thing there is. The existence of this Power is already well known to thousands of people in the world today, and has been known to certain enlightened souls for tens of thousands of years. This Power is really no less than the primal Power of Being, and to discover that Power is the Divine birthright of all men. It is your right and your privilege to make your contact with this Power, and to allow it to work through your body, mind, and estate, so that you need no longer grovel upon the ground amid limitations and difficulties, but can soar up on wings like an eagle to the realm of dominion and joy.”