Book Review: Eric Butterworth: His Life and Teachings

Published on: September 1, 2012

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Neal Vahle is Unity’s and New Thought’s historian, who has offered us a scholarly yet readable look at many of our leaders, including Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Here he gives us an eye-opening look at one of Unity’s most famous and popular ministers, Eric Butterworth, who passed in 2003. Along with James Dillet Freeman, who died within days of him, Butterworth is Unity’s finest writer and popularizer.

Butterworth was a private man despite his bestselling books, cassettes, radio show, and weekly Avery Fisher Hall lessons. Neal Vahle has done extensive research into Unity’s archives and interviewed just about everyone still alive who could provide facts and insights.

Vahle provides us with an overview of Butterworth’s early life, filled as it is with hints of the boy he was and the man he was becoming. He also gives us details of Butterworth’s two marriages and the impact they had on him. He interviewed Butterworth’s youngest son Alan, a fundamentalist Christian who never agreed with his father’s expansive approach to spirituality. Alan indicates that his father, in raising him, did not always practice what he preached, an accusation that all ministers with families can appreciate.

A very useful summary of Butterworth’s teachings fills a whole chapter, as does an accounting of his churches, from Detroit to New York City. The experiences of those who served with him in New York—Glenn Mosley, Paul Tenaglia, John Strickland and Justin Epstein—are educational and illuminating. The preface by Rev Vern Barnet, Kansas City Star columnist, interfaith leader and teacher, and long-time friend to Unity, invokes the issue of denominational allegiance, one that may spark debate. Furthermore, the section on the illness that took Butterworth’s life is crucial, especially as it raises the issue of whether admitting an illness is truly negative, or is instead a positive and courageous action.

Eric Butterworth: His Life and Teachings is for everyone who has read the books and wondered who the author really was. It is for everyone looking to gain what Butterworth so famously called, “a new insight into Truth.”

The book is available at many Unity bookstores, or directly from Neal through Open View Press. To contact him, email [email protected], or call 415.831.2455.

Michael Maday
Rev Michael A Maday, M. A. was ordained in 1984, served churches in Michigan and Missouri, and is adjunct faculty for Unity Institute and Seminary, as well as former editor of Unity Books and Unity House.

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