Dr. Joseph Murphy

Dr. Joseph Murphy
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A Visit With Dr. Catherine Ponder about Dr. Joseph Murphy

Joseph Murphy, Religious Science and Divine Science
Dr. Josephy Murphy

In one of our bi-coastal telephone visits, my sister asked, "Have you ever heard of the writer, Joseph Murphy?" Astounded at my skeptic-sister's question, I replied, "Of course I've heard of him. I've even met him, and read his books."

It was my sister's turn to be startled and maybe just a little impressed. Although a token church-goer, she had not shown much interest in spiritual matters, except to attend an occasional church wedding or funeral, when the situation called for it, over the years. Now in her early 70s, what had hit her? I wondered.

She explained, "I recently met a woman who had cancer. I asked her how she was coping with it, and she replied, 'By taking the traditional treatment, but also by reading inspirational, self-help books.'"

"What are you reading?" My sister casually asked. "At the moment, I am studying Joseph Murphy's books." She then showed my sister the Murphy book she was studying. My sister asked me, "Just what do you know about Joseph Murphy, and what has your association with him been?"

"Well, to begin with, had you asked, I would have suggested your friend order his most famous book, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, now probably available from my publisher in paperback. He was a down-to-earth, no-nonsense inspirational writer; first giving a technique, method or principle to use; then citing an illustration of how someone had read and used that principle and gotten happy results."

Incredulously, my sister replied, "Oh really?" I could tell she was still a little skeptical that I had really known the Joseph Murphy, so I decided to fill her in, the best I could.

The man was a dynamo of brilliance and energy. He had been, I believe, a Catholic priest originally, who found the New Thought teaching and later became a Divine Science Minister, writer, and lecturer. He followed in the footsteps of another Divine Science minister, Dr. Emmet Fox, who had filled the old Hippodrome Theater in New York City with thousands of students in the 1930s for his services; and whose books are still popular, the most famous perhaps being The Sermon on the Mount. When I saw Dr. Murphy for the first time, I recognized him from his pictures and ads in New Thought Magazine. It was 1967, and I was the banquet speaker at the Regional New Thought Convention at the Hilton Hotel in Portland, Oregon. I met Dr. Murphy on an elevator between floors, and when I introduced myself, he responded graciously.

Even though I was based in Austin, Texas, where I was pioneering a new ministry, I had been serving as a guest minister for Dr. Ernest Wilson at the mother church of the Unity Movement, Unity on the Plaza, in Kansas City, Missouri to fill in while Dr. Wilson was on a trip around the world. After delivering a mid-week service at Unity Temple, I had flown from Kansas City to Portland. Dr. Murphy was among the first New Though leaders I met, since that was my first attendance at a New Thought conference.

The last time I saw Dr. Murphy was at a private dinner party given by my long time friend, Dr. Ruth Elmer, of Unity Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had lectured several times for her and her mother, Dr. Ruth Murphy at their Frank Lloyd Wright-type oval church, located in the prestigious Garden District on the famed St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. I had flown in first from Birmingham, Alabama, later from Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and more recently from Palm Springs, California, to help them celebrate various anniversary events in that beautiful church.

At Dr. Ruth Ann's private dinner party, held in connection with the New Thought convention in Honolulu, she seated Dr. Murphy and me next to each other, where we chatted about our various lecture experiences all during dinner. In the background we were able to look out over the well-known Waikiki Beach below. Dr. Murphy nonchalantly and rather matter-of-factly told me he was on his way to Europe to lecture to 40 scientists. He said he had been doing it for 40 years. What he did not tell me was that he had lectured all over the world: India, Africa, etc. Another Divine Science minister told me about his world travels, and all the different types of people he had reached with his books and lectures.

I recall being at another private party attended by Joseph Murphy, this time in Dr. Donald Curtis' suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, where the INTA Congress was being held. Dr. Curtis had invited about a dozen people, including my editor from Prentice-Hall. This was especially appropriate since Dr. Curtis, Dr. Murphy, and I were all authors for this Prentice-Hall editor, Mr. Charles Chintalla.

Joseph Murphy attended various New Thought parties that I gave over the years from coast to coast. I have a Palm Springs friend who says she used to drive from Beverly Hills way down the beach to hear Dr. Murphy speak every Sunday. He was an outspoken person, and when asked why he did not build a church, but preferred to speak in theaters, he said he did not have time to build a church, but preferred to speak and lecture worldwide. And he felt he could personally do more good ministering through books and his worldwide lecture ministry, though he felt church ministries were important too. My most recent observation (through my sister's contact) proved him right.

The great thing that impressed me about Dr. Murphy was that he always talked from a positive level, even socially and when he was not on stage. Furthermore, he did not hesitate to correct any other person in his presence who got negative. Everything was upbeat with him, all the way.

I suspect the spiritual awakening going on in the world today, has come in part through New Thought leaders such as Dr. Joseph Murphy (many of whom were members of INTA during the 20th Century), traveling the world and planting spiritual seeds into the consciousness of humankind. Although Dr. Murphy has finished his work on this earth plane and moved on, it is interesting that his books have not only reached around the world, but also into Carolina—a far stretch, even for Joseph Murphy. It shows how powerful an idea is "whose time has come." The New Thought teaching will get to you, one way or another, when you are ready for it in your soul growth. It first reached out to me in North Carolina, my home state, more than 50 years ago. I am glad to know that it is now reaching others there through the power of the written word. I trust this answers my sister's questions on the subject of Dr. Joseph Murphy—and more.


(Excerpt from New Thought Magazine - Spring 2009)

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