Joseph Sieber Benner
Joseph Sieber Benner (January 3, 1872 – September 24, 1938) was an American author, New Thought writer and Representative of the Brotherhood of Christ who used the pen name "Anonymous". He was the first to introduce the Knowledge and Teachings of Impersonal Life (also known as the "I AM" Teaching) to the world in his first book, The Impersonal Life published in 1914. His other works were The Way Out, The Way Beyond, Wealth, Teacher, Brotherhood, The Way to the Kingdom, Papers (65 Lessons), etc.
Benner was born in Akron, Ohio, USA on January 3, 1872. His father John W. Benner was a businessman. Benner attended public schools and held positions at J.F. Seiberling & Co., People's Savings Bank Company, Central Savings Bank Company, and Akron Trust Company. He was chief owner of the Akron Printing Company. Benner was also on the boards of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Akron People's Telephone Company, Akron Coal Company, Globe Sign and Poster Company, Hower Building Company, Permanent Savings and Loan Company, Bannock Coal Company, and the Young Men's Christian Association. He remained an officer of the Central Savings and Trust Company for the rest of his career.
In the 1890s, while Secretary of the local YMCA, Benner was also listed as Gymnasium Director of Buchtel College in Akron, and he contributed at least one macabre illustration, titled "Murder", to The Lotus, an Intercollegiate journal published in Kansas City.
According to author Jon Klimo, "by 1916, Benner said he felt he could no longer resist the growing inclination to give himself over as a vehicle to a larger presence, to let his mind be subsumed by (or co-creatively interact with) a larger Mind or Being." His book The Impersonal Life contained words Benner believed were recorded directly from God, and was first published in July 1914. Benner taught that Christ's proclaiming "I AM" indicated "the true spirit that resides in every human being." The "SUN center" was an Ohio group formed in 1920 around Benner's teachings. One of the group's practices was to "enter into the silence, stillness and peace" each day at noon. Benner also made a series of lessons called the "Inner Life Courses" he intended to develop discipline in life, discernment and the awakening of the Christ within the soul.
Benner died in 1938. According to his daughter, letters were found after his death in which he expressed devotion to God and his belief that God had chosen him as a medium.
In the 1960s Elvis Presley was introduced to Benner's work by his hairdresser-turned-guru, Larry Geller. In the last 13 years of his life, Presley gave away hundreds of copies of the book. A copy was allegedly with him on the night he died.
- The Impersonal Life (1914)
- Christ in You (1919)
- The Way Out (1930)
- The Way Beyond (1931)
- The Way to the Kingdom (1932)
- The Teacher (ca 1919/1920)
- Brotherhood (1927)
- Wealth (1927)
- The "Sun Papers". Approximately 65 essays on different subjects, published monthly between 1929 and 1935.
- Good and Evil (out of print)
- Receiving and Giving (out of print)
- The Great White Brotherhood (out of print)
Notes and references
- Progressive Men of Northern Ohio 1906
- Source: Centennial History of Summit County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, published by Biographical Publishing Co. - Chicago, Ill - 1908 p. 406)
- Walden's Stationer and Printer. V. 21-22, Jan 1904 - Jan 1905 (p.12)
- The American Printer and Lithographer V. 39 Sept 1904 - Feb 1905 (p.143)
- Jon Klimo (17 April 1998). Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources, Second Edition. North Atlantic Books. p. 157. ISBN 978-1-55643-248-4. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
- James R. Lewis (2002). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Prometheus Books. pp. 705–. ISBN 978-1-61592-738-8. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
- Wilson, Charles Reagan (2006). "'Just a Little Talk with Jesus': Elvis Presley, Religious Music, and Southern Spirituality". Southern Cultures. 12 (4): 74. doi:10.1353/scu.2006.0059.
- Biographer Albert Goldman in the History of Elvis 1964