James Dillet and Billie Freeman Reflect on Unity

Reflections on 1926 Unity Video

This audio recording was made in 1985 at an event where James Dillet and Billie Freeman had commented on the 1926 Unity video. We know the recording is incomplete because there are some comments about having just watched the video and also because the recording ends abruptly.

What we have is important because we catch the Freeman's sharing informal comments. Some of the comments offer new perspectives on the personalities of Charles and Myrtle and on the often troublesome relationship between Unity School and the field ministries.

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TRANSCRIPT (Partial)

03 The Library at 913 Tracy

[TruthUnity editor's note: James Dillet Freeman talks about the evolution of the Unity Library. Note that he describes three stages: (1) before 1910 when it was just a room at 913 Tracy, (2) after Unity School was incorporated (1909-1911) when the library served the Editorial Department as a reference library and (3) after the residential school was estabished in the late 1940's when the library became an essential component for a ministerial school.]

1. The Library was at 913 first. It was always there. Remember, there was a division. The society was really the original organization. When the temple claims to be the original organzation, they weren't really the originals. That was established long before the publishing. They became incorporate earlier, at least. But that was their library. And then the Unity school, wasn't incorporated until about 1909 or 1911 or sometime like that was the big building on the corner. They're having that thing down there. Have any of you been to see Greg's church? It hasn't changed, folks. It really is very much like it was.

2. But in the big building, they got a library that was just the editorial department's library. The editorial department was on the fourth floor of that building, clear back in the south corner. That was the editorial department. And all the editors were there in a big room, except Whitty, who's Daily Word was down with Silent Unity, his office. All the rest of them were up there. And then the studio that Rick had built for himself was along side of it, had a skylight, which had a north exposure, you know, and skylights, so he could go in there to go do his art. They turned that - he didn't use it. He came out here after he built the tower and lived out here - he never went to 9th and Tracy - he never showed-up there except once in a moon - but they changed that into the library. You see it was connected with the editorial department. It was the editorial department's library. When we built this building, the library was up where the director's room now is. Again, right under the Editorial Department, because the library was a function of the Editorial Department. And we had it there simply because an Editorial Department has to have access to reference books.

3. And then it was moved down where it was, that was much later, after we began to develop a residential school and all that sort of thing, and the AUC got into the picture, and we realized hey ... Well I brought a man out here from Drew when we were first starting the residential school. And he was the Executive Director of the American Association of Theological Schools. And the thing that he told me was that he told me, us, rather, was you must have a library. And the little seven thousand volumn library that we had for the Editorial Department was nothing that he would think of as a library for a school. So at that time we began to build the library that we now have, which is a pretty substantial library. That's why we built it, really. He said "that's the first requirement if you're going to have a ministerial school here."

 

13 Why the school gets angry with churches

And then the other thing, the thing that has made us angry with churches, sometimes. God! God, do you see what some of them do? And the incredible, fantastic and unbelievable things they teach? There is a limit. My only feeling is that Unity is a very free and liberal organization and within that free, liberal organization we permit you to go pretty much your own way from robes if you want them and maybe even kneeling benches -- out there on the far side (laughter) -- alter lights and crosses, we've got them. We haven't squawked about that. And clear over to the other side to the guy who does nothing but get up and give a psychological lecture.

But, when you bring every kind of screwball New Thought organization that exists, we get irritated! You know, it is Unity -- we do have some kind of a teaching. And we do stand up for certain things in our literature, so that the people who take our literature expect a certain approach fundamentally. It's free, but it's still there it is. And we may go to a Unity center and get an approach that's altogether different from this, or stresses something so -- anything from seances to life readings to what-have-you. We're disturbed, because they're disturbed.

We don't think that this is what they ought to give in the name of Unity. Now we're not against some people doing that; but go do it with some organization that believes in it. I'm for that. I'm for people having seances, life readings, anything they want to have. But not in the name of Unity. That's all. That seems fair enough to me. And I think that basically to a great extent that's why there has been some collision between the two, don't you?

We see, we get those things and people write to us and we're taken aback. Doesn't seem to be unfair for us to ask if you want to be Unity, who don't you stick, pretty much -- you can be very free. The teachings of the Fillmores and the teachings of Unity magazines and Unity books leave you very, very free, folks. But why not do it in the name of Unity if you want to do it in the name of Unity? That's all. Go do it in somebody else's name.