Frank Robinson had an experience which changed his life. He felt that anyone could have the same experience, and that Christ, Buddha and Mohammed all experienced the same thing. He gave lessons with a money-back guarantee on how to reach this state yourself.
" I am not interested in the traditional 'god' of any system of religion, I am interested only in the God who is big enough to embrace all systems of religion, with the rest of the world thrown in."
Psychiana parallels the effects of today's networking - flattening the vertical hierarchy, spreading out the power - you can all have a direct connection with this spiritual power, you don't need to go through any intermediaries. The rewards were not in some time or place in the future, but here and now. Frank felt that the Christian church was not working, and many of his ideas caused controversy.
Psychiana originated from Moscow Idaho in the nineteen-thirties and -forties, and was sending mail to 67 countries within its first year. It quickly became a thriving media business during the depression. It would soon be the country's eighth largest religion; and the world's largest mail order religion.
Frank fashioned a religion for people who were groping the way he had - not an elite. "If there is anything to religion, it ought to produce results," it should work.
Frank Robinson probably spent as much time criticizing Christianity
as preaching his own. Though his movement was worldwide, his main
market was Christian America and he felt that certain ideas needed
to be dispelled before a true vision of God or reality could be glimpsed.
Frank's story was similar to that of Preston Tucker the automobile maker, introducing a new car and having the big three try to put you out of business. Frank came up with a new religion which the big three Christian religions did not want around. But Frank used the controversy, problems and persecutions to his advantage whenever he could.
He was called a huckster and godless and the devil. His business was called a 'shrewd' business. He was even criticized for his grammar. A small newspaper was started just to criticize him and Psychiana. But, his teachings seem sincere, if only from the fact that it would have been so much easier for him to give people what they wanted, rather than smashing so many of their cherished beliefs.
". . . we have worshipped the messenger instead of living his message."
To Dr. Robinson, most religions had failed because all of the world's
strife had been caused by a population waiting for salvation when
it was available to all at any time. Frank Robinson gave the world
a religion which was fairly simple and straightforward, though
it helped if you had an open mind.
The Reverend John Henry Robinson, Frank's father, was his first experience of religion. In his autobiography Frank states,
" I have seen lots of "religion" in my day. I have seen religion in action. I saw it nearly beat its own sons to death. I saw it guzzling beer by the gallon. I saw it having illicit intercourse with members of its own church. I saw it lie under oath. I saw it steal. I saw it as it exists today. I do not want that sort of religion, for religion, or what masquerades as religion, has not changed for the better since my boyhood days. It has gone so far that the whole world knows it for what it is - a ghastly sham perpetrated on the world by the church in the name of God."
Originally Frank founded Psychiana on Corinthians 1 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God liveth in you." He also stated that many of Christ's original expressions were true, but that most people missed the point.
Because of the abuse Frank suffered in the name of religion, he never stopped teaching his philosophy and then contrasting this with Christianity, rather harshly. It was the one thing Frank did that many of his associates thought was over done. Part of it was his past, part of it was a belief that you had to shatter old conceptions before you could understand him, and finally, part of it was salesmanship.
Frank thought that Christianity was the same as the Hindu religion. He could go on forever (Gleams Over the Horizon) about their similarities. He would also point out the similarities between all religions. But since Christians claimed that any religion before theirs was pagan, with the similarities, Frank concluded that Christianity was pagan.
Frank once saw an exhibit in New York of instruments of torture used in the Inquisition. In his mind, the idea of torture to change someone's idea of God is in itself Godless. And he felt that the church had not changed much from that time.
He considered Jesus as God to be a mistake which takes you away from the real source of power. Virgin birth, resurrection and the trinity all lead people astray. Frank would also list fifteen other crucified Gods, to show that it was not unusual.
Another of Frank's views followed what Joseph Campbell said comparing the priest and the shaman. The priest was a functionary, who without necessarily having a profound experience, passed on the church tradition and laws. The shaman was chosen because he had that profound experience. There is a huge difference in how these two teachers approach the world.
Frank tried to discredit theology not religion. To his detractors there was little distinction.
People reacted immediately to Frank's philosophy. The town of Moscow never knew quite what to think of this man. The local ministers felt threatened and thought him a Godless huckster. Locals criticized him even though they had never read any of his writing. Frank wouldn't give lessons to local people. He didn't want to stir things up in his own home town.
The more popular Psychiana became, the more controversy followed. The 'Sunday School Times' started the national attacks. Many articles were written wondering just what this man in Moscow was doing. These attacks led to official Post Office inspections, but Frank ran everything above board and was never cited.
The attacks went to another level when Frank was looking into his printing bills. A man named William T. Marineau from Elk River bid on some Psychiana print jobs, and it came in at half what George Lamphere at the Daily Star Mirror had been charging him.
Lamphere had already called a meeting of the Ministerial Association to try to get Psychiana out of town, but the incident was stopped by Clifford Drury, the pastor of the Presbyterian church.
Marineau offered to sell the press to Frank and move it to Moscow. Frank agreed. One day Frank ran into Lamphere downtown and Lamphere told him that he had the only newspaper in town and if Frank didn't watch it, he would put Frank in prison through his political pull. He also boasted that he controlled the advertising in town, so there was no reason trying to compete with him. Frank had only planned to use the press for his own materials, but after the run-in with Lamphere, he decided he'd start a paper too.
Frank soon put out 5000 copies of the first edition of The Daily News-Review; with twenty-six pages compared to Lamphere's eight. They had also secured all but three of the local advertisers. Again, Lamphere confronted Frank on the street, hitting him with a newspaper and threatening prison.
Many obstacles were being put in Frank's way - flowers pulled up on the front lawn, the pharmacy locked up because of license problems, and machinery was confiscated. After more threats, Frank started carrying a gun.
Between 1934 to 1936, while getting a passport, he was indicted for "willfully and knowingly making false statements on a passport application, by stating that he was born in the United States, when he knew full well that he was born in England." Frank was always under the impression he was born in New York, where his parents were visiting.
The courtroom drama which took over this small town was reaching the world. Besides the locals and the press, university law students were there in number to watch Edward W. Robertson, one of Frank's high profile lawyers. It was in all the papers - people following a trial which Frank thought was the result of his religion and not his passport. He thought it was the church and Washington D.C. behind all of this.
He was acquitted of the false statement, but was then taken to Spokane to be mugged, fingerprinted and deported for illegally entering the States on a return trip to Canada. Senator William Borah interceded and helped Frank enter the country legally through Cuba.
He got through all of this and continued on his way. But he was always able to use the episode as examples of his persecution and his faith at work - overcoming adversity.
Frank's views of Jesus evolved over the years; from proving he didn't
exist to looking at him as a man who had the same experience he had,
though Frank didn't think his was quite as profound.
" No man ever lived who saw and understood the mighty truths that will be presented to you, as did the Galilean Carpenter 2000 years ago. But because those to whom He preached had other ideas as to what God should be, they refused to accept the truth as He preached it. . . BUT THEY WENT A MILLION MILES OVER THE HEADS OF HIS HEARERS, and those who did attempt to follow Him, after His death immediately began to place their own interpretations on his teachings, until today, nearly 2000 years later, we have almost 3000 different systems of religion in the world . . . In the effort that has been made to put a 'human' interpretation on truths too great for that, we have had 2000 years of tragedy, error, bloodshed, and strife - and most of it in the name of God. What a blasphemy!"
When asked if he thought Jesus was a calm, peaceful sage, Frank replied that he thought of him more as a hard-hitting prophet, a hellraiser, pushing everywhere and opposing corruption in the church and the state.
He listed 58 reasons why Jesus was not God. Jesus, to him, was an example of someone who knew God and taught that the important thing was here and now and not hereafter. He also felt that Jesus was enlightened toward helping humans, but turning him into a diety defeated the purpose.
"It is quite evident that after 2000 years of Christianity, the world is no better off than it would have been without it. The same thing applies to every other system of religion which has God removed from the greatest creation God ever made, and has him "seated on a throne in heaven."
" . . .the inability of Christianity to reveal any factual knowledge about God, which knowledge could be put to experimental use and prove the actual existence of God."
"A religion which seeks only to save the souls of its followers is not worth the name . . . And all the while our churches stand idly by (World War II), telling us that if we believe their preachments and theory of God, we can't stop this war but we can 'save our soul' after we die."
"We have been 'faithed' to death."
"Not long ago, a Methodist Conference passed a resolution damning every Methodist who reads any of my books, studies with me, or has anything to do with the Psychiana Movement. Instead of trying to show me wherein I am wrong, these good Methodists attempted to stop their adherents from reading what I write - rather a hard thing to do, for the best way to have someone read a certain book is to tell him not to."
Frank felt the following oft spoken religious message missed the point:
" If you believe what we teach, you shall be saved and if you don't believe what we teach, or if you have never heard of our religion, you shall be damned" Frank replied,
" I can't see any justice in this philosophy, though. Somehow or other, it just does not ring true. It's too mandatory - too dictatorial. It is exactly the type of religion one of the world's dictators might draw up."
". . . the feelings of many may be hurt by the contents of this book. There are, however, deeper things in life than feelings, and if the hurt to your feelings awakens you to the fact that the realities of life and of God are more important than your feelings, we shall be happy to have hurt them."
"They all (the church) claim to have and know the truth of God, but none of them seem able to demonstrate the fact."
". . . I know, and I know positively that there is in existence a God of a spiritual power that the present day systems of religion know absolutely nothing about. I know that to be a fact and I also know just a little tiny bit about the way this God-Law operates."
"Wise, wise men who wrote the Constitution of the United States! Wise beyond their time. Religion and government forever separate. Indeed wise, considering the condition of religion in this land today. And our leaders continue to be wise just so long as they continue to keep religion (as we have it today) forever separate from government. If this is not done, what happened in Russia may happen here. For somehow or other, these religions seem to be more interested in political power and influence than they are in the god they are supposed to be worshipping. At any rate, we find all of them trying to accumulate political power. Until religion can prove what it is, it has no right to political or any other sort of power. To date, religion has not proven itself."
"A Godless church means a Godless world. And we have both today. So please don't blame me if I write and work day and night to save the world from the church, and the church from itself."
"Every so often we run into someone who claims that there cannot be any true revelation of divine inspiration or Power outside the Christian Bible and the story of Jesus. These profess to believe in the immaculate conception, virgin-birth, vicarious atonement, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, not as a man but as a God. With them we do not quarrel. We respect their religious beliefs, provided they are honestly held. We suggest that the same respect and honesty be attributed to the author and his religious ideas. That is something which those who claim 'orthodoxy' are never willing to do."