What Is New Thought?

Published on: September 1, 2013

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Attempting to describe New Thought in terms that a general audience will understand and find interesting is a challenging task! Jon Miller’s film What Is New Thought? responds to the challenge with a remarkably comprehensive and engaging overview of our New Thought movement and its growing influence and significance.

Miller’s film begins with examples from the earliest Christian writers of ideas that would, nearly two millennia later, develop into New Thought concepts. Moving forward more than 1500 years, What Is New Thought? continues with a look at some of the ideas and people—Anton Mesmer, for example, and the work that would one day evolve to what we know as hypnosis—that influenced the earliest New Thought thinkers and healers.

The film tells the story of the New Thought movement’s earliest days, introducing viewers to Phineas P Quimby, Emma Curtis Hopkins, and others whose work helped shape the emerging movement. An overview of the major New Thought spiritual movements—Divine Science, Unity, the Universal Foundation for Better Living, and the Centers for Spiritual Living—follows. Ministers and teachers from the different movements describe their organizations’ work. The narration includes just the right amount of detail, enough to engage and inform the viewer without ever becoming either tedious or overwhelming.

Having introduced the New Thought movement and its pioneers, What Is New Thought? explores New Thought beliefs and practices, focusing on prayer and transformation. Miller includes examples of the strong and growing influence of New Thought beliefs and practices on “mainstream” religion and the “self-help” practices that have become common in secular culture.

Jon Miller first became aware of New Thought through his acquaintance with New Thought musicians and their work. Insights from New Thought musicians add to a soundtrack rich with New Thought music.

Probably every viewer with any depth of experience in New Thought will discover something with which s/he disagrees in Jon Miller’s film. Not every presenter, for example, shares an identical God-concept or an identical perspective about New Thought’s relationship with its Christian roots. Uniformity of expression and of belief are most definitely not characteristics of New Thought and its practitioners! Miller carefully weaves the points of view of more than thirty ministers, teachers, musicians, and other New Thought notables into a remarkable tapestry, letting each one speak for himself or herself in a beautifully crafted work that, more than any film I’ve seen or book I’ve read, captures the spirit of New Thought. I give What Is New Thought? my highest recommendation.

Detailed information about the film, including purchasing/viewing information, can be found at www.newthoughtmovie.com.


Tom Thorpe

Rev Tom Thorpe is minister at Unity of Independence, Mo., and adjunct faculty at Unity Institute and Seminary.

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