Terry's Spiritual Inspiration
I was raised in the Baptist tradition – never heard  anything called New Thought Christianity. 
When we moved from the little town of Coos Bay, Oregon to the suburbs of Oregon’s “big city”, Portland, we attended a Methodist church.  Not because the family’s beliefs had changed, but because it was two doors from our home and we knew that we’d attend more regularly in a church that was close by.

That was in a time before the “our way or no way” mentality that seems to have permeated so many traditional churches – it was the basic beliefs that mattered, not the minutia. But even at that, the traditional churches that I’d grown up with ceased to serve my needs by the time I was in college, and I stopped going. Oh, I tried from time to time, sometimes to please my mom, other times because I wanted my toddler son to have some spiritual foundation, but I felt disconnected.

In the late sixties (after the “Summer of Love”) and into early seventies, though, everything seemed to take on a spiritual overtone – at least it sure did for me. Back then, passing a joint around with friends felt like a form of communion. And of course after 1967, “love one another” became the imperative by which many of us tried to live – not so far away from what Jesus had asked of us, in line with “God is love.” And though I didn’t attend church, my beliefs had held firm – if at odds with the traditional churches. After all, I also found comfort and enlightenment in the words of Alan Watts and Baba Ram Dass. The mystical experience I’d had when I was baptized had always stayed with me. Jesus had remained my foremost teacher and source, as well as my steadfast companion. But that was all internal, and not terribly well focused. A couple of events gave me focus and changed my outlook.

In a class at work in the late seventies, students were asked to name the historical figure most important to them. Most named people like John F. Kennedy, or Abraham Lincoln. But my friend and coworker named “Jesus Christ”. That simple statement transformed my perspective, as I suddenly saw Jesus as a real man from history, rather than an ethereal character from a book - and I felt a renewed interest in Jesus, the man. Not all revelations come in thunderbolts.

The other event is harder to share, but I’ll try. By the early eighties, the shine had gone from the imperatives of the summer of love. Many friends, indeed my generation, had turned away from those beliefs and, not only that, began to denigrate the whole period. Anything bad was blamed on the “excesses” of that time, and rather than try to reshape their experience or reign in the excesses, many just rejected it all, the whole of it. Looking back, I see this as a sad time. I guess I looked everywhere for comfort except to Spirit during this time.

It was after an all night binge that I turned on the TV looking for something to watch, and stumbled into a very different television ministry – Terry Cole-Whittaker. I was blown away. Nobody I’d ever heard explained things the way she did – which was somehow the way I’d always understood them since that mystical baptism experience as a kid. And there was a whole auditorium full of people who apparently felt the way I did. This was my introduction to New Thought Christianity, and the beginning of the end of my self-destructive habits. (Terry Cole-Whittaker may have saved my life.)

A while later I discovered that a classmate of mine from high school had a New Thought Ministry, called the Living Enrichment Center. I went to check it out, and the first Sunday I attended the congregation stood and sang Kate Wolf’s Give Yourself to Love. I really knew I’d found a spiritual home. That church later folded under a cloud of financial issues, but all that I learned (including how to teach myself and interpret for myself) remained valid. Mary Manin Morrissey has since moved on and speaks all around the country – but she once told me that her goal was to take people to a level where they didn’t need her messages, but could rely on themselves as their own best teacher.

And so I know that God is my source, and I believe God wants nothing but good for all of us. Even those who don’t know Him. Jesus remains my foremost teacher and guide, and I think we’re supposed to try to follow in his footsteps, guided by forgiveness and loving acceptance. He is accompanied by Buddha, Ram Dass, Ernest Holmes and all who teach of God’s love and compassion. And I think all of this informs my musical direction, from the lyrics of our own music to the selections we choose to listen to, or cover. Maybe even some of the parts I play, on Dobro, lap steel, bass or…? Basically I’m just trying to walk the walk, with musical accompaniment.


Back to Inspiration Main Page