Deer Around the Corner and Otters in the Bay

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Originally posted on Scenes from Bellingham Bay:
I witnessed magic in Bellingham this morning! A family of otters – four babies and their mom – were there, scampering around on the rocks, and swimming in the bay. I watched as…

Christian Science: Lobbying It or Living It?

Karen Molenaar Terrell:

Regarding exemption from prosecution for child neglect: I don’t believe ANYone – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or non-religion should be exempt from prosecution for willful neglect of a child.

Originally posted on Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist:

The letter of Science plentifully reaches humanity to-day, but its spirit comes only in small degrees. The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love. Without this, the letter is but the dead body of Science, – pulseless, cold, inanimate. – Mary Baker Eddy.

***

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines “Church” as the “structure of Truth and Love” and says the role of Church is to rouse “the dormant understanding… to the apprehension of spiritual ideas…”

Lately some individuals have been busy lobbying their politicians for exemptions for Christian Scientists from health insurance and laws regarding child neglect. And I’m sorry, but I have to ask – how is exempting Christian Scientists from health insurance laws and child neglect laws in any way going to help rouse anyone’s “dormant understanding” to the “apprehension…

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My Two Little Brothers

My parents found an old photo album that I hadn’t seen before and looking through it brought back a flood of happy childhood memories…

I have two “little brothers” – Pete and Dave. I can’t remember a time before Pete – he’s only 13 months younger than me, and my accomplice in toddler shenanigans. I see those old black-and-white photos of us, our heads together, big grins on our faces after we’ve managed to escape unscathed from some new exploit. We were always up to something. We kept Mom on her toes. And there’s my youngest brother, Dave – he’s four years younger than me and I DO remember the first time I met him – I remember looking in his crib as he slept and whispering in awe to my mom, “He’s got long legs!” And he did. And he does. At 6’3″, my “littlest” brother is now a full foot taller than me.

Pete and I both went to Washington State University and worked at Mount Rainier during the summers – we climbed to the summit of Rainier together back in ’76. Dave took a different route – went to Western Washington University to study marine biology and spent time with NOAA, traveling on Japanese fishing boats around the Pacific. Life took us separate directions - to our own careers, travels, adventures, marriages, children, trials, failures, achievements, successes (among other things, my long-legged youngest brother, Dave, turned out to be an ultra marathon runner – yup, he’s one of those dudes who runs 50 miles a day on mountain trails for the fun of it). But a few times a year we all come together again to tromp around in the mountains together, or to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays.

Just a few weeks ago we met up to celebrate Dad’s 96th birthday. At some point in the festivities Pete and I found ourselves standing together at the folks’ fence, looking with some longing towards the fields and woods at the back of their property. Neither one of us had been back to the creek for a really long time. There were thistles and thorns and an over-grown trail between us and the creek. Pete was wearing shorts; I was wearing capris, and sandals. Trying to bushwack our way to the creek could be tricky. We put our heads together, as we ‘d done when we were toddlers, and once again conspired shenanigans. “How hard could it be?” “What’s the worst that could happen?” And then – just as we’d done when we were toddlers – we set out together for a new adventure – Peter opened the gate and we maneuvered our way around the thistles, stomped down the thorny things, and set out for the creek. Half-way across the field, we turned around and saw that Dave and his son, Casey, and my husband, Scott, and our son, Andrew, had seen us, and were all coming to join us.

The creek holds some really rich memories for my brothers and me. Over there, under the canopy of cedar branches, was my “Secret Place” – the place where I’d go to be alone and watch the squirrels doing their high-wire act in the treetops.  Past my Secret Place, my brothers had made forts and bridges in the woods with their friends, and, later, our own sons had built the imaginary little community of “Bridgeport”. While Casey and Andrew went off now to check on the fate of Bridgeport, the older generation stood by the creek and breathed in the rich smells of wet earth and green growing things – skunk cabbage and cedar trees and wet ground cover.

It hit me, then, how very glad I am to have my brothers. We’ve known each other since the beginning of our lives. We’ve been there for each other during the good times and the bad. They hold my history in their memories, and I hold theirs. I am proud to be their big sister, and grateful for our sibling friendship. How different my life would be without my brothers, and how very glad I am to have them in my life.

Sibling relationships — and 80 percent of Americans have at least one — outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.
-Erica E. Goode, “The Secret World of Siblings,” U.S. News & World Report, 1994 January 10th

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.
-Clara Ortega

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…
-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

Health Insurance: One Christian Scientist’s Thoughts

As a Christian Scientist I feel the need to say this: I believe health care should be universal – a basic right of every man, woman, and child – and no one should ever be denied the care they need simply because they’re poor, or unemployed. Health care should not be dependent on employment or the whims of employers. And a bunch of politicians should not be the ones who decide what kind of treatment and care the residents of this nation can use. Okay. That’s all. Carry on then…

 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. – Matthew 22

The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love. Without this, the letter is but the dead body of Science, –  pulseless, cold, inanimate. – Mary Baker Eddy

Tony Kushner: “…With Key to the Scriptures”

“Oh God, I’m going to now read this Christian Science text… and it’s going to be heavy sledding… and I was stunned to read this absolutely magnificent kind of prose… Mary Baker Eddy was a wonderful writer… she writes gorgeously… and I kind of fell in love with it… I didn’t become a Christian Scientist, but I found it tremendously moving.” – Tony Kushner, talking about the title to his new play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.  http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201405151000

If you were to venture onto Amazon and scroll through the reviews for Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science, you would see a lot of reviews from people who really loved this book, or really hated it, but very few reviews from people who walked away from this  book with an “eh-so-so” feeling about it. (There are 51 five star reviews, 14 one star reviews, and only 4 people who gave the book two to four stars.  http://www.amazon.com/Science-Health-Scriptures-Authorized-Trade/dp/0879520388/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0X6VT8G4FVS730E7129P)

I think one of the reviewers, Tobin Sparfield, explains this disparity really well in his review: “It should be addressed here… that many reviews are about the Christian Science Church rather than the book itself. Some individuals have had negative experiences with the Church/religion, and while their experiences are certainly valid, I am not about to defend the shortcomings of a human institution in this space. I do feel the need, however, to distinguish between a religion and its book.”

Although I might not be considered a very religious person, I am very grateful for what the study of Christian Science has brought into my life – the healings and my growing understanding of the Consciousness of Love. And I’m very grateful to Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health, for bringing us the textbook for Christian Science. Science and Health was published back in 1875, but it’s still timely today. Even in 1875 Eddy was talking about consciousness, the nothingness of matter, invention and discovery, evolution, and atomic power – topics that we see being discussed among those who study quantum physics and other physical sciences today. And the topics that are still being debated on religion discussion forums today are topics that she addressed and dealt with almost 150 years ago. God, she told us, was not an anthropomorphic being, but “God” was just another name for Love, Truth, Life, Spirit, Mind, Soul, Principle. Hell and heaven were not literal places, she told us, but states of mind. For her, the story of Adam and Eve was an allegory, not an actual event. She was progressive, far-thinking – a visionary.

The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed. Thus matter will finally be proved nothing more than a mortal belief, wholly inadequate to affect a man  through its supposed organic action or supposed existence. Error will be no longer used in stating truth. The problem of nothingness, or “dust to dust,” will be solved, and mortal mind will be without form and void, for mortality will cease when man beholds himself God’s reflection, even as man sees his reflection in a glass. – Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

 

 

Suggestions for talking with…

We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities…
- Mary Baker Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings)

I wonder if I might make a few suggestions for conversing with others about religion on a discussion board?   I have had some experience with this, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve observed and learned.

The most important thing to know, I think, is that if you ever encounter me on a discussion forum I am always, always right. And if you disagree with me about this you are wrong.

Once we have established that basic and most fundamental of all facts, we can move on to other stuff:

  • Might I suggest that we never, ever, ever presume to know what other people think, feel, and believe just because they identify themselves as atheist, theist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, pagan, Christian Scientist, or as a member of any other ideology.
  • Generalizations, stereotypes, and lumping whole groups of people together as one “type” are not helpful when trying to understand someone else’s perspective.
  • Don’t tell other people what they think. Let them tell you.
  • Although pomposity cracks me up, not everyone shares the same reaction as me to puffed-up know-it-allness. Humility is a beautiful thing. Let’s be willing to laugh at our own nonsense before we laugh at someone else’s.
  • Remember that we’re all human – we all have our own flaws and foibles – none of us is perfect here. Might I suggest that we correct our own flaws before we start trying to correct someone else’s?
  • Give each other grace.
  • Listen.

More specifically:

When Christians are talking with atheists –

  • Do not assume all atheists think, feel, and believe exactly alike – the only thing, really, that all atheists have in common is the conviction that there is no god.
  • Do not assume atheists are unfamiliar with religious texts. Some of them are very familiar with religious texts, and, in fact, that is the reason some of them want nothing to do with religion.
  • Think about using quotes from the Bible sparingly. Remember that not everyone believes the Bible in the same way that you do, and quoting from it to prove that you’re right probably isn’t going to have the effect you’re looking for.
  • Do not assume that atheists have no sense of ethics, no humanity, or no “moral code” simply because they do not believe in a god.  Belief in a god is not necessary to know right from wrong, or to be a kind and compassionate person.
  • Do not end disagreements with atheists by condescendingly telling them that you will “pray” for them.

When atheists are talking to theists –

  • Do not assume that all theists think, believe, and feel exactly the same about everything.
  • Do not assume all theists have the same definition for “God”.
  • Do not assume every theist is a Christian. There are, among others, theists who are Muslim, Jewish, pagan, and non-religious. (Contrariwise, not every religious person is theistic – some religions, such as Buddhism and Universalist-Unitarianism, do not include a belief in a god.)
  • Do not assume all theists are superstitious scaredy cats, hoping to God there is an after-life. For some theists a belief in God follows a logical thought process, and doesn’t necessarily lead to belief in an after-life.

When atheists are talking to Christians –

  • Do not assume all Christians think, feel, and believe exactly the same – the only thing, really, that all Christians have in common is the belief that Jesus was the Christ.
  • Do not assume all Christians have the same definition for “God”.
  • Do not assume all Christians interpret the Scriptures literally.
  • Do not assume all Christians belong to the same political party and hold the same political ideology.
  • Don’t assume that when you’re talking with a Christian, you’re talking to someone lacking in logic, intelligence, or education. This kind of prejudice tends to lead to a really speedy end of civil discourse.
  •  Try to quote only sparingly from The God Delusion and God is Not Great, and avoid the over-use of Latin and terms like “strawman” and “Nirvana fallacy”. (Writing over-much in Latin and over-using or mis-using terms like “strawman” does not so much make you look intelligent as kind of silly.) Just as some Christians are sometimes prone to over-quote from the Bible, some atheists are sometimes prone to over-quote Hitchens and Dawkins. I think we all value a nicely–stated original thought much more than a canned response, don’t you?

When non-Humoristians are talking to Humoristians –

  • Don’t assume all Humoristians think, feel, and believe exactly the same about everything. Pretty much the only thing Humoristians have in common is the ability to laugh at themselves and the absurdity of life.
  • The only effect pomposity, stodginess, self-righteous indignation, and sermonizing are going to have on a Humoristian is to get her laughing so hard she’ll have tears pouring down her face. Unless that is the effect you’re going for, don’t waste your time with it.

When non-Unitarian-Universalists are talking to Unitarian-Universalists –

  • Don’t assume all Unitarian-Universalists think, feel, and believe exactly the same about everything… because… I mean… these are Unitarian-Universalists, for crying out loud! Trying to herd U-U members into one ideology would be like trying to herd cats.
  • Don’t waste your time trying to get U-U folks to get defensive about their religious beliefs. It ain’t going to happen. Although you might see the U-U coming to the defense of social justice and freedom, you are not going to see them getting defensive about their religious beliefs because they don’t have any to defend, really. So you can give THAT whole plot up right now.

When non-Christian Scientists are talking to Christian Scientists –

  • Don’t assume all Christian Scientists think, feel, and believe exactly the same about everything.
  • Don’t assume that because you were raised in another Christian denomination you are an expert on Christian Science. There is a vast difference between fundamentalist Christianity, for instance, and Christian Science – as many fundamentalist Christians would be the first to point out.
  • Do not assume that because you are the child of Christian Scientists you are an expert on Christian Science. (I am the daughter of a geologist, but I would not consider myself an expert on geology.)
  • Don’t assume because you read a Wikipedia article on Christian Science, or because someone once told you that they’d heard from someone else something about Christian Science, you are an expert on Christian Science. (I have actually been told by non-Christian Scientists to refer to Wikipedia to better find out what I believe as a Christian Scientist. I have spent more than 50 years practicing this way of life, have led the services at my church, and written books about my experience with Christian Science. Do not tell me to go to Wikipedia to find out more about what I believe. Sheesh.)
  • The “Christian Scientists are neither Christian, nor scientists” thing has gotten pretty old and is neither original nor helpful in maintaining thoughtful discourse. Let it go.
  • Do not assume all Christian Scientists hold the same political or social beliefs. Christian Scientists are a pretty diverse group of people – there are Christian Scientists who are Democrats, Christian Scientists who are Republicans, Christian Scientists who are liberal-progressives and Christian Scientists who are conservatives. Unlike some other religious institutions there is nobody in the Christian Science church who tells Christian Scientists how to vote. That is left up to individual conscience.
  • Along the same lines, recognize that private Christian Science schools and institutions – and the people who are part of them – are not necessarily representative of the views and experience of every individual who is practicing Christian Science.
  • Do not assume that because you know one Christian Scientist you know them all.
  • Do not assume that Christian Scientists who go to doctors are not “real” Christian Scientists. For some Christian Scientists, Christian Science is neither a religion nor an alternative health care system, it is a way of life – a way of looking at the world that has brought them healing and a lot of good.

When Christian Scientists are talking to non-Christian Scientists

  • Avoid, if you can, using phrases like “working on a problem” or “the belief of” – most people are not going to understand what the heck you are talking about.
  • Avoid, if you can, using absolutes. None of us have ascended, yet. Christian Scientists are still dealing with the same challenges as every other human being. Recognizing the common human experience we share with the rest of mankind is not a bad thing.
  • It’s alright to show natural human feeling – to cry, laugh, grieve. These are the feelings that connect us to the rest of humankind. Embrace them. Don’t be afraid to bring human emotion into your conversations with others. Christian Scientists are not automatons.
  • Do not talk down to others. Being a Christian Scientist doesn’t make you any better, wiser, or more spiritually-minded than anyone else.
  • Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself now and then, and don’t be afraid to let others laugh at you, too. Recognize that to people unfamiliar with Christian Science some of the teachings found in Christian Science might seem completely ludicrous. And that’s okay.

I guess that’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

(excerpt from The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New)

Birthing another book – I didn’t even know I was pregnant!

Just published the third book in the Madcap Christian Scientist series. Yippy skippy! Yee haw! And stuff. I brought Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse Five and other wonderful reads), and D.E. Stevenson (author of the Miss Buncle books) along with me in this book. I had to, really – I became acquainted with all of them just in the last year and they have become an important part of my life. (I know, right?! How could I have missed their gifts all these years?!) It was a pleasure working with all of them while I tapped out the latest Madcap. Of course, they’re all… well… dead… so I didn’t actually work with them in the person – but their humor and wit was with me during the process, and their quotes begin each chapter.

I didn’t actually know I was going to write another book until – much to my surprise! – I discovered myself writing it. “Whoah. I guess I’m writing a book!” I said to myself as it started taking form. “How the heck did THAT happen?!” I probably felt sort of – but not really – like those women who discover as they go into labor that they are pregnant. Who knew?!

And, like labor, birthing a book can be pretty intense. The focus narrows. Dinners burn. Calls go unanswered. Contractions come in odd hours of the night and one finds oneself ensconced in one’s office in front of one’s laptop tapping out words when one should be… like… sleeping.

As I was designing the new book cover, it came to me that I really should change the book covers of the previous two books to make them look like they’re all siblings in the same family. And THEN it came to me that… well, wouldn’t it be cool if I made a color wheel of them? Make the first one purple, the second one blue, the third one green… and so forth…? And THEN I thought… hey! I can use my own photos on the covers!!! So. Yeah. Here’s what I came up with…

Whatd’ya think?

Okay, I know that my hero Stephen Colbert suggests we should all boycott Amazon right now – and I understand his reasons for this, and I can’t say I disagree with them – but for authors like myself, boycotting Amazon kind of stinks. It’s like boycotting the midwife who helped birth my baby – or like refusing to look at photos of my new baby because you don’t happen to like the photographer who took them. Ahem. So I’m thinking that if you’re boycotting Amazon right now,  maybe you can make just a teensy weensy exception and… have I mentioned that my new book is now available on Amazon as both a printed book, and a Kindle book?

Print: 

Kindle: