New Thought Editorials > Elevator Speech


Spring 2005

Elevator Speech

The INTA Executive Board members, meeting at the Paradise Valley, Arizona Embassy Suites for their January semiannual meeting, found themselves sharing the hotel with a convention of service dogs, who were thoughtful enough to bring their owners along. I had no idea that such an amazing array of breeds could and did perform as service dogs: there was a Great Dane, a Standard poodle, a Yorkshire terrier, plus an array of Labs and Goldens—it looked like the Westminster Kennel Club!

The Board interpolated between its two days of meetings a summit meeting of leaders of New Thought schools and denominations. We came together to share our ideas and plans for INTA, to give a tour of the INTA Archives, and to listen to what these leaders had to say about INTA and what it could do for their organizations. It was an interesting and exciting time for us all, and towards the end of our day, we agreed to work collectively on a simple, clear definition of New Thought, something that one might deliver to a stranger on an elevator ride together.

Returning to the hotel, we found ourselves boarding the elevator with a man whose badge proclaimed that he was one of the leading lights of the service dog convention. Glancing at my badge, which identified me as First Vice President of INTA, he asked, "What is INTA?"

"It stands for International New Thought Alliance," I responded. "New Thought is a philosophico-religious movement. Its principles underlie most American success literature from just after Benjamin Franklin onwards. It originated in nineteenth-century New England with the work of a healer named Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. Quimby began as a mesmerist and found that although he was really healing people, the explanation of mesmerism he had been given was invalid. Realizing that most of his patients were ill because of toxic beliefs they had picked up from what Quimby called ‘the priests and doctors’, he studied the Bible on his own in order to refute these beliefs. He actually argued his patients out of their belief that they had to be sick. Quimby believed he had rediscovered the lost healing methods of Jesus. Others who came later formed a movement and eventually ordained ministers and founded churches, so New Thought has its own denominations, including Unity, Divine Science, and Religious Science; but because New Thought is based on the teachings of Jesus without requiring allegiance to a particular creed, there are many independents; and one might also be a New Thought Presbyterian or New Thought Buddhist, remaining in one’s own denomination. Norman Vincent Peale and his disciple Robert H. Schuller are two well-known examples of people strongly influenced by New Thought who remained in traditional Christianity.

"What does New Thought consist of? Alan Anderson and I have defined it as ‘the practice of the presence of God for practical purposes’, or ‘God-aligned mental self-discipline’. It is optimistic, upbeat, positive thinking, but not in a "chirpy cheerfulness" way; New Thought is about what you say to yourself when things go wrong. It began with the idea of healing at a distance, as in prayer, and quickly expanded from healing bodies to healing pocketbooks and relationships as well. We largely create our world with our thoughts, one thought at a time, co-creating with God, however defined. Anyone who believes in a good God and an abundant universe can use and benefit from New Thought principles. Two of the best-known New Thought authors are Catherine Ponder and Emmet Fox, if you want to learn more. We’re holding our annual INTA Congress in this hotel next July."

The elevator doors opened, and we stepped off. The dog man turned to me. "That was a good elevator speech," he remarked.