Tim McMullen's Missives and Tomes

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bobby Jameson, Science of Mind, Emerson, and Me

Much of my writing in the last year has been in comments on other blogs. In fact, most pieces on this blog so far, including the last post in response to Craig Bickhardt’s blog, come from such writing. Today’s piece is a personal anecdote that was added as a comment to Bobby Jameson’s latest blog post at about 3:00 this morning.

For those unfamiliar with Bobby Jameson, he offers perhaps the most interesting and eclectic blog that I have discovered. His is a truly remarkable story. He is a songwriter, recording artist, poet, video artist, autobiographer, and blogger extraordinaire. From huge success as a teenager to relative anonymity to internet resurrection, his is an alarming and cautionary tale about being a casualty of the music business, a casualty of personal excess and addiction, and it is a story of personal redemption. His telling begins in the 1950’s, and over the course of 155 posts, his personal reminiscences have brought us to about 1976.

His autobiographical blog is a painfully honest reflection upon the great possibilities and the potential dangers of a creative life. Bobby has the ability to tell a truly compelling personal story articulately and analytically, with vivid recollections and contemporary reflection. In his journey, he crossed paths with the following (and played or recorded with many of them): Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Andrew Loog Oldham, John Lennon, The Monkees, Frank Zappa, Jesse Ed Davis, Randy Newman, Red Rhodes, The Rockets/Crazy Horse, and Curt Boetcher, just to name a few. He was there at the beginning of Tony Alamo (of Tony and Susan Alamo’s Christian Crusade); he was nearly there at the end of Diane Linkletter’s (daughter of Art Linkletter) tragic suicide; he was in the middle of the Sunset Strip “riots” in the 60’s….

I could go on, but I have a much better idea. Click on the link in "My Blog List" to the right, and see for yourself.

Make no mistake: His story is neither pretty nor pleasant, but it is quite intriguing and compelling; it is often tragic; it is often frustrating; and it is just as often uplifting and encouraging.

And be forewarned; addiction is one of Bobby's themes, and once you start exploring his blog, you just might get hooked. The night that I discovered it, I spent six or seven hours straight reading his fascinating story.

Check it out!

What follows is a brief quote from Bobby’s blog and my response.

Bobby said:

"In 1976 my life was a disaster. My actions had led me to Alcoholics Anonymous and to the growing understanding that change was inevitable or else. I was living in a halfway house and attended AA meetings daily. I studied the book continuously and constantly reminded myself to turn problems over to the care of God, as I didn't understand him at the time.

"While working in the office, answering the telephone at Clare Foundation, one weekend, I came across a book called Science Of Mind, written by Ernest Holmes. Basically, it was about the Spiritual or Universal Law of Cause and Effect and how that law works. In my own oversimplification of the subject, it stated that, what one tends to focus on or think about begins to take shape over time in real terms. Thinking, the cause. Tangible evidence, the effect.

"The book said that this took place whether people were aware of it or not, so it would make sense to focus on what you wanted in your life as opposed to thinking about things you didn't want: A negative view or positive view of your own ongoing circumstances. Still, oversimplifying, I for some reason found this belief to be easily acceptable and the basis of a new adventure, which I was eager to go on."

I said:

Okay, I did not see that coming. Despite some superficial similarities, our lives have taken very different paths, but this one is a real coincidence. My grandmother and great aunt were spiritual seekers all their lives. They were vegetarians for a while in the thirties and forties. They knew Dr. Ernest Holmes personally and attended his church in Los Angeles. My parents also attended the church occasionally before I was born.

When I was in kindergarten, my parents felt that I should have a basic Christian background, so I went to the First Baptist Church in Whittier for about a year and a half. Although I learned to recite the 23rd Psalm and a few other scriptures, even at five years old I found that I could just not accept the supernatural trappings or the dogma of the church, but it did fascinate me enough that eventually Philosophy and Religious Studies became one of my minors in college.

By the time that I was in the second grade, my family all began attending the Church of Religious Science. They didn't actually have a regular church: for a year or two we met in the gallery of the Whittier Art Association. Then the venue was moved to the pastor's own home. He lived in a great old Victorian style house on about 5 acres along a stream. The adults would have their service, and the kids would have "Sunday School" classes, but they were lead by volunteers, and every couple of weeks we had a new leader. We would have a discussion about some premise, then we would be let loose to swing on the vines and play on the banks of the creek until our parents came out from the service.

Eventually, that minister, Reverend Wally Strait, passed away, and my aunt and grandmother had to find a new church. They were actually instrumental in helping to create and support several Science of Mind churches over the next twenty years.

Here's the thing. You found a profundity and a philosophical outlook that truly spoke to your condition—I told you in an earlier comment that you needed to read the text and make sense of it for yourself rather than be told by others—looks like that was true again. For me, though, it happened at a much earlier age, and it came directly from something that somebody said to me. When I was about 9 or 10, we were sitting in a "Sunday School" class—probably about six kids and one adult. It was a fairly serious discussion for ten year olds about beliefs.

After a few minutes in direct conversation with me and addressing some of my skepticism about dogma and spiritual claims, this "leader" said something to the effect that "Nobody can tell you what to believe. Not your parents, not your teachers, not your minister nor your Sunday school teacher, not your friends. Not anybody! Only you can decide what is right and true for you!" This, of course, mirrored my own philosophy; yes, by ten-years old, I had developed a personal philosophy. Years later, when I came to study the American transcendentalists, I found that this admonition to “Trust Thyself” echoed the teachings of Emerson in his remarkable essay, “Self Reliance.” This essay had a significant effect on Ernest Holmes as well. As for me, this revelation, at 10 years old, sent me on a lifetime quest to understand the myriad perceptions of truth and to try to reconcile them with my own sense of the world.

I have attended many different denominations, with friends and in my course of study, but I never found a religious doctrine that was more personally empowering than Ernest Holmes and the Science of Mind.

For fifty years my great aunt had a thin strip of card on her refrigerator emblazoned with the fading letters: LIDGTTFTATIM. As a joke we kids would refer to it and pronounce phonetically as “Le-jit-fa-tat-um,” but we all knew what it meant. When she went into the hospital, I made a large copy of the phrase to put on her hospital wall. The meaning: "Lord, I Do Give Thee Thanks For The Abundance That Is Mine." She made miraculous recoveries (truly astounding the doctors and thereapists) from broken hips at the age of 91 and 95. She died two years ago at the age of 102, and her positive attitude right to the last was a wonder to behold.

I generally don't use profanity, but I just can't help it on this closing (it seems to fit my basic, non-believer status so well)....Really, Bobby, Science of Mind? Well, I'll be damned!


JULY 12, 2009 3:06 AM


  1. Wow, I just bought 'The Science of Mind' and started reading it. Thinking some personal insight from others might help me navigate this project, I decided to search google blogs and voila! What an awesome post. Thanks, Cori

  2. Thanks, Cori. You might want to check out Bobby Jameson's blog; he is exploring the impact of addiction and his eventual approach to getting "clean and sober."

    Again, I appreciate the comment.