Staying Sane While Staying Informed

…those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection. – Mary Baker Eddy

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A friend posted a great cartoon (by David Sippress) on Facebook the other day. It shows a man and woman walking down the street, and the woman is saying: “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.”

I can really relate to this cartoon.

The desire to be a responsible and contributing citizen means that I want to be aware of, and informed about, the challenges my nation faces. But how does one stay informed about these challenges, without feeling overwhelmed by them? Sometimes the fear and hate that seem to permeate our atmosphere can seem impossible to overcome, and I find myself getting pulled inexorably into the brouhaha. I see inequity and unfairness, hypocrisy and bigotry, and it makes me really angry. And the angrier I get the more real and powerful the inequity and bigotry seem to me, and the less powerful I feel in being able to make anything better.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “We may well be astonished at sin, sickness, and death. We may well be perplexed at human fear; and still more astounded at hatred, which lifts its hydra head, showing its horns in the many inventions of evil. But why should we stand aghast at nothingness?”

I can imagine someone reading this quote by Mary Baker Eddy and shaking his head, wondering how anyone can write off all the hate and fear as “nothing.” And I can imagine someone reading this quote and comparing Christian Scientists to those three monkeys who “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.” But that’s not what Christian Science is about at all.

Eddy writes: “Expose and denounce the claims of evil and disease in all their forms, but realize no reality in them. A sinner is not reformed merely by assuring him that he cannot be a sinner because there is no sin. To put down the claim of sin, you must detect it, remove the mask, point out the illusion, and thus get the victory over sin and so prove its unreality.”

Note that when Mary Baker Eddy writes about exposing evil and removing its mask, nowhere does she say we do this in a spirit of anger.  In fact, earlier in Science and Health, she writes, “The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love.”

I believe our purpose here is to love – love is what gives meaning to life. And so it doesn’t really make any sense for me to be angry about anger, or to be unkind in the name of kindness, or to feel hate about those who hate – because anger, hate, and unkindness defeat the whole purpose of it all.

I really like the thoughts Kathi Petersen, a spiritually-minded friend from Nova Scotia, sent me earlier this week: “Is there something wrong with wanting to concentrate your mind and energy on positive things? Are we shirking our responsibilities somehow, not being actively embroiled with the downward tendency of our society? Does it somehow help the planet if we spend our days alarmed and shouting about what is going on? I feel so much that the opposite is true … That what the world needs most is people who can spread some Joy … Maybe every village needs its Joy-spreaders, and we should be given some kind of stipend to concentrate on good and happy things …”

Isn’t that a wonderful idea?!

I want to be one of the Joy-spreaders. I want to completely overpower the feelings of gloom and doom, of hopelessness and anger and fear and hate, with joy and good cheer and love.

I started off this blog with a quote by Mary Baker Eddy. The one word that stands out to me, as I reread it, is the word cheerfully.  She tells us that Christian Scientists will “aid in the ejection of error” and “cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection.” Isn’t it great that we don’t need to give up our joy to overcome evil? In fact, maybe the only way we can overcome evil is with joy and love.

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At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. – Mary Baker Eddy

The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable. – Mary Baker Eddy


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The Great Heart of Love

Come when the shadows fall,
And night grows deeply dark;
The barren brood , O call
With song of morning lark;
And from above,
Dear heart of Love,
Send us thy white-winged dove.

–Mary Baker Eddy

How wonderfully bolstering it is to recognize ourselves surrounded by the playful, joyful, comforting, cozy, warming, light-filled, splendid, unconditional and unchanging presence of Love. Our hearts are thirsty for it. To know we are loved, to know we are valued, needed, and precious gives us hope, bolsters our courage, and supports and inspires us to reach beyond our human sense of limitation and lack. Love gives us a mission, and gives us the resolve, courage, and wisdom to accomplish that mission.

We’ve probably all had times in our life when we’ve felt unloved, unlovable, and unloving. And maybe most of us have at times felt alone, or wondered if we’d ever find someone to share the joys and challenges of life with. I know I’ve experienced those times in my life. But what I’ve found as I’ve grown in my understanding of Love is that if I‘m not so concerned with whether or not people are showing love to me, but instead am focusing my energies on trying to show love to others, I find myself just naturally immersed in love – in a joyous universal celebration of Life.

Love is not dependent on other people, you know? We don’t have to wait for other people to love us, to express love to them. And we don’t have to wait for other people to be somehow “deserving” of our love. Every single one of God’s creations is deserving of love. No exceptions. And no matter what label people have stamped on themselves, or had stamped on them by others, everyone – young, old, monied, homeless, jobless, corporate executive, conservative, liberal, Christian, atheist, Buddhist, pagan, Muslim, Jew – was born deserving of love.

In his wonderful book, The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond writes: “God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need it most; most of all upon your equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure.”

And in the book of Matthew, Jesus admonishes us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who hate us, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 6: 45)

Now I’m not saying it’s always easy to love without discrimination.

I remember, for instance, that the first time I saw the movie Gandhi I was so inspired by the love Gandhi expressed to everyone around him that I decided to be just like him – I was determined that I’d go through the whole next day without feeling animosity or ill will towards anyone else – in the same way that Gandhi did. This lasted about twenty minutes. As soon as the guy in the blue truck cut right in front of me and then proceeded to go under the speed limit, I completely forgot about the pact I’d made with myself. Afterwards, I felt terribly remorseful and discouraged with myself.

But here’s a cool thing: If sometimes we mess up, worry not – Life provides us with limitless opportunities to love. Every moment we have a new opportunity to discover and feel and prove the power of love. Isn’t that awesome?!!!

Drummond writes: “The test of religion, the final test of religion, is not religiousness, but Love… For the withholding of love is the negation of the spirit of Christ, the proof that we never knew Him, that for us He lived in vain. It means that He suggested nothing in all our thoughts, that He inspired nothing in all our lives, that we were once near enough to Him to be seized with the spell of His compassion for the world.”

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You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love. – Henry Drummond

The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love. – Mary Baker Eddy

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

The Real and Ideal

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good”. – Genesis

“The Bible declares: ‘All things were made by Him [the divine Word]; and without Him was not anything, made that was made.’  This is the eternal verity of divine Science. If sin, sickness, and death were understood as nothingness, they would disappear.  As vapor melts before the sun, so evil would vanish before the reality of good. One must hide the other. How important, then, to choose good as the reality!” – Mary Baker Eddy

“Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.” – Mary Baker Eddy

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One of the things that people just learning about Christian Science sometimes have a problem cogitating is the Christian Scientist’s belief that all of creation is perfect and good and flawless, without disease, death, or sin.  And I can understand, for sure, the perception that the way Christian Scientists look at the world is just wacky. I mean, if you turn on the news or connect to the internet, we seem surrounded by chaos, cruelty, wars, dishonesty, cheating, betrayals, greed, destruction, disease, death.  To deny there’s evil in the world must seem really naïve, if not totally delusional, to most people.

And I have to admit that there have been times in my life when this way of looking at the world – with an intentional and conscious expectancy of good – has seemed sort of delusional to me, too.

But several years ago I went through an experience with depression that taught me a lot about what’s “real” and what’s not, and the power that lies in purposely and purposefully aligning myself to the good surrounding me.  There was a moment when I had a sort of epiphany – when I realized that right where there appeared to be pain and darkness and gloom – in that very same place there was incredible beauty and goodness and love.  It occurred to me that there are sort of parallel universes filling the same place and space – one that’s full of despair and discouragement, and one that’s full of hope and incredible generosity – and I could choose which one I wanted to live in, and accept as real.

Up until the time of the depression, I’d always been a naturally happy person – joy was not something I’d had to work at. But when I was in the grips of the depression it sometimes seemed like a Herculean task to put myself in a place of joy. I was sometimes overwhelmed by the sadness and hopelessness of “life.”

At the time, the depression seemed like the worst thing I’d ever gone through. In retrospect, though, I see it was one of the best.  It was, in fact, an incredible time of growth for me.

In the moment when I stood in a ray of sun bursting through the clouds, in that moment when I saw that, right where there appeared to be overwhelming darkness, there was spectacular light and joy – in that moment when I began to wake up from the depression – I made a commitment to myself to always try to keep my thoughts and being in harmony with the universe of joy, love, and beauty.

In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “We are sometimes led to believe that darkness is as real as light; but Science affirms darkness to be only a mortal sense of the absence of light, at the coming of which darkness loses the appearance of reality. So sin and sorrow, disease and death, are the suppositional absence of Life, God, and flee as phantoms of error before truth and love.”

I know what Eddy writes here might sound kind of strange on the surface of it, but I have actually proven her words to be true in my own life. I have experienced those moments where I felt overwhelmed by sorrow and sickness, and, with a simple change of thought – by filling my thoughts up with love and knowing I was loved – have experienced healing.

In fact, the analogy of light and darkness that Eddy brings us has been really useful to me in understanding the power in Good.  When I think about the properties of light and darkness I recognize that Light has a source – it comes from somewhere – the sun or a lightbulb or reflected off water; Darkness, on the other hand, has no source – there’s no darkbulb we can turn on to create darkness, and there’s nothing I know of in the physical world that reflects darkness.  Darkness is nothing, comes from nowhere, has no cause or source – it’s simply the absence of light.  I picture the way light fills the darkness – light curving around dark corners, gliding into crevices, bouncing off the Moon – and wherever it touches, darkness disappears. Isn’t that cool?!  And I believe the power of good – the power of Love and Truth and Life – are like the light in that respect – everything that love and truth touch is transformed.

I don’t believe we can transform our world into its ideal by letting ourselves get pulled into the anger and hate and confusion and ugliness that seem to be trying really hard to overwhelm us.  I believe we transform our lives and our world by transforming our thoughts – by lifting our thoughts up to the ideal, and making that our reality.  I don’t mean to suggest that we ignore the sickness and misery that challenges humanity and pretend it’s not “there” – we need to recognize and expose the bad stuff, for sure – bring it out into the light and then let love and truth do to evil the same thing that light does to the mold and fungus that thrive in dark, dank places – put an end to it.

Mohatma Gandhi said, “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”  I think we need to have the courage to deny power to evil in whatever form it takes. And yes, I think we need to deny it reality, too – not with rose-colored glasses obstinately placed on our noses, but resolutely, with the courage of our ideals, knowing that the ideal of good will win in the end. As Gandhi said, “When I despair I remember that all through history there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always.”

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 “The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable. Evil is not power. It is a mockery of strength, which erelong betrays its weakenss and falls, never to rise.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“The time to be happy is now; The place to be happy is here.” – Robert Ingersoll