Second-Generation Geologist Here :)

Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies, nor a special gift from a ritualistic Jehovah; but it was the demonstration  of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick,  not merely in the name of Christ, or Truth, but in demonstration of Truth, as must be the case in the cycles of divine light. – Mary Baker Eddy

        Our Master taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian  Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love. – Mary Baker Eddy

***

My dad’s a geologist. Does this make me an expert in geology? Did I somehow inherit his geological expertise? Was I born with the knowledge to discriminate the difference between igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary? Would it make sense for me to make the claim that I am a “second-generation geologist”?

Umm… nope.  A person can’t just inherit an expertise in geology – you have to do your own work, and put in your own study of it to be able to make the claim that you’re a geologist.

This holds true for any science, really –  including Christian Science.  Just because one’s grandparents or great-grandparents called themselves Christian Scientists doesn’t make one an expert in Christian Science, or the best practitioner of it.  I mean… well… calling yourself a “third generation Christian Scientist”  makes about as much sense, really, as calling yourself a “third generation geologist” –  right?

Lately I’ve found myself making a distinction between the religion of Christian Science and the science of Christian Science, and this has led me to some interesting musings about the nature of my way of life.

For instance, it’s led me to think about how and why we identify ourselves as we do. I’m guessing most people who call themselves Lutherans were raised Lutheran, and most people who call themselves Catholic were raised Catholic – and I’m guessing most people who call themselves Christian Scientists were raised in Christian Science.  And I suppose if you think of Christian Science as a religion – as a set of beliefs – then it would be natural for people who were raised in the religion of Christian Science to identify themselves as “Christian Scientists.”

But if you think of Christian Science as an actual science, rather than a religion, this opens up a whole ‘nother way of looking at Christian Science, doesn’t it? I know there are people who have found the Science of Christianity for themselves – who’ve never stepped foot in an actual Christian Science church, and are not particularly interested in the human organization of the Christian Science religion – but are practicing and proving the Science of Christianity daily in their lives.  And wouldn’t we call them “Christian Scientists”, too?

Is it possible to be a non-Scientific Christian Scientist? And – contrariwise – is it possible to be a non-religious Christian Scientist?  I’ve come to believe the answer to the first question is no. And I’ve come to believe the answer to the second question is yes.

I myself am not what you would call a very “religious” person, I guess.  I enjoy going to church for the like-minded fellowship I find there, and the inspiration and uplift I get from my fellow Christian Scientists – I’m  blest to be part of  a Christian Science branch church that’s very loving and compassionate in its support for its members and its loving outreach to the community.

But, to be honest, I’ve never felt comfortable surrounding myself  exclusively with other people who call themselves “Christian Scientists” or isolating myself from the rest of humanity to hang out with people who only speak Christian Science-ese. That just has never felt healthy to me. There’s a sort of group-think about it that makes me a little wary. And – as far as religion in general goes –  I’ve never been big into tradition or dogma, and the  “exclusivity” often found in  religion has never much appealed to me.

When Mary Baker Eddy first re-discovered the Science of Christ-healing that Jesus practiced more than 2000 years ago she hoped she could introduce it to humanity through the religious institutions that were already in place. She soon realized that the religious institutions of that time weren’t ready to open their doors to Christian Science. And so she established her own religion to spread the word of her discovery. But I don’t believe she ever meant for the religious institution to be the most important part of her legacy to us.  I believe she viewed the human organization as the necessary tool for sharing her discovery – but I don’t think she thought the religion of Christian Science was as important as the Science of Christian Science.

I know I don’t.

***

The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent  of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the  portal of humanity. – Mary Baker Eddy

        Divine metaphysics is now reduced to a system, to a form comprehensible by and adapted to the thought of  the age in which we live. This system enables the learner to demonstrate the divine Principle, upon which Jesus’ healing was based, and the sacred rules for its present application to the cure of disease. – Mary Baker Eddy

        It is essential to understand, instead of believe, what relates most nearly to the happiness of being. To seek  Truth through belief in a human doctrine is not to understand the infinite. We must not seek the immutable  and immortal through the finite, mutable, and mortal,  and so depend upon belief instead of demonstration, for  this is fatal to a knowledge of Science. – Mary Baker Eddy

 Question. – Are doctrines and creeds a benefit to man?        

 Answer. – The author subscribed to an orthodox creed in early youth, and tried to adhere to it until she  caught the first gleam of that which interprets God as above mortal sense. This  view rebuked human beliefs, and gave the spiritual import, expressed through Science, of all that proceeds  from the divine Mind. Since then her highest creed has been divine Science, which, reduced to human apprehension, she has named Christian Science. This Science teaches man that God is the only Life, and that this Life  is Truth and Love; that God is to be understood, adored, and demonstrated; that divine Truth casts out suppositional error and heals the sick.  – Mary Baker Eddy

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Kindness Science

Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed  by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics,  thought passes naturally from effect back to cause.  Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive  and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal. – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

Science of healing, divine Science, Science of Creation, Christian Science, Science of Mind, Science of being, Science of Genesis – these are all terms one can find in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

And I’d like to humbly suggest  another term for a study that I have found to be  demonstrable and practical: Kindness Science.

Recently I was involved in a dialogue about the nature of science.  Actually, “dialogue” might be the wrong word to use here – a dialogue usually involves an exchange of ideas, a sharing, an exploration. This was more of a monologue, I guess, or a lecture – with me as the student, expected to sit quietly and listen, while others threw their great wisdom and knowledge at me.  I get this kind of thing a lot.  I’m genuinely interested in learning what others think, believe, and feel about things, and so I ask people questions, and invite them to share. But, weirdly, I’ve found that people aren’t always so eager to find out what I think, feel, and believe about things. And so I end up becoming the recipient of a one-sided conversation – often with the other person telling me what I think, feel, and believe and judging me based on his own assumptions regarding my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  It can all be a little odd.

Anyway.  So in this particular “dialogue”  my lecturers let me know how impossible it would be to prove Christian Science to them – that all the evidences and proofs – the physical healings and other demonstrations of Christian Science I shared with them – were just personal anecdotes and proved nothing (in spite of the fact that several of these demonstrations were witnessed by medical scientists), and that I’d have to have at least a level six “sigma” (don’t ask, I’m still trying to figure that one out) if I wanted anyone else to believe what I’d shared.

And I know. Personal anecdotes really aren’t proof of anything to anyone but the person who’s actually experienced them, I guess.

But there were things in what my lecturers were telling me that didn’t quite add up, either. There was some bias. There seemed to be an inability to separate fact from opinion. And – here’s the thing that really exasperated me – there was a pompous bossiness, too – there seemed to be an expectation that if I were a rational person I would, of course, have the same perspective and beliefs my lecturers have about the world.  So. Ahem. I sort of stopped being a good listener at one point. And all hell broke loose.

I took a break from the dialogue.  Took a nice long walk in the sunshine, weeded the garden, and went to the memorial service of one of my mom’s cousins.  Roger had lived a really wonderful life and had a positive impact on the lives of a lot of people. As I listened to all the good that Roger had done for his community – his peace activism, his work on behalf of a clean environment, his scholarly attainments, and the kindness and patience he’d shown to others throughout his life – I felt a little ashamed of myself for my recent impatience and exasperation in the dialogue in which I’d been participating.

Memorial services always help me remember what’s really important in life. And what’s not all that important.

I realized I hadn’t been practicing my own Science with the dedication and devotion to it that was needed to demonstrate its truth.  I decided it was time to practice kindness Science on those very people who would say they don’t believe in kindness Science. I made them a part of my experiment, and a part of my demonstration.  I consciously made the decision to respond with nothing but kindness, and with genuine love in my heart towards those with whom I was engaged in The Dialogue.  And, as I predicted from my previous experience with kindness Science, those with whom I was engaged in the dialogue responded back to me with kindness, too. And we moved on.  “Love is reflected in love,” writes Mary Baker Eddy in the textbook for Christian Science.  Through my use of kindness Science, I was, once again, able to prove the truth of this statement for myself.

Kindness Science is effectual, demonstrable, provable, practical Science – and it has, I believe, a far more direct and important impact on our lives than, say, the study of the movement of the stars in the sky, or the layers of sediment in a rock wall.

***

Because the Science of Mind seems to bring into dishonor the ordinary scientific schools, which wrestle with material observations alone, this Science has  met with opposition… In divine Science, the supposed laws of matter yield to the  law of Mind. What are termed natural science and material laws are the objective  states of mortal mind… the physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals.

God is Mind, and God is  infinite; hence all is Mind. On this statement rests the Science of being, and the Principle of this Science is divine, demonstrating harmony and immortality.

You will learn  that in Christian Science the first duty is to obey  God, to have one Mind, and to love another as yourself.

– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

***

There are several posters in the aforementioned Dialogue with whom I always enjoy exchanging ideas. They’re smart, curious, and genuinely interested in what others have to say.  For anyone who’d like to read some of our exchange, I’ll post an excerpt from The Dialogue here:

Nova:  Just curious and mean no ill-will, just finding out! I’m curious to go into that CS psyche of yours! I know you mentioned one example, that of human fear, but I’m interested in the following. How does this sound:

“Well, when I go see a human doctor, or even when I begin to contemplate needing medical assistance in my healing, then I begin to listen to medical science’s answers. They are ok, to a point. But, then, I feel thoughts arising in me that feel like I’m turning away from healing from divine Mind and trusting in something other than the divine Mind.”

Does that register anything?

Karen: Nope. Honestly, no. My pointy little head doesn’t work in that way. Maybe there are Christian Scientists who do look at it that way, though. I’m not sure. But I’m never motivated by feelings of guilt or a “turning away from healing from divine Mind” feeling or worry about not being loyal to divine Mind or anything. For me, it’s more like…

Well, for instance, when I woke up to find my hand inflated to twice its normal size, and really painful – I couldn’t bend my fingers or anything – I think at first I was kind of… “well, this is interesting”… I wasn’t sure what was going on there. But I got myself dressed and drove to my workplace and I think my thought was that I’d just work around it until it went away or something. But when I showed my hand to my co-workers to see if they’d had any experience with something like this, they were all really scared for me. One of them told me about an allergic reaction that had nearly killed her son. I think three or four other people mentioned that flesh-eating disease or serious infections that had nearly killed them or their loved ones. Everyone advised me to see a doctor post haste. So – I really like my hand, you know – it’s useful and quick and good at sports and kind of attractive, too – although it’s rarely manicured or anything… but I digress… anyway… the thought of losing my hand was pretty scary to me. So I called our family doctor right away and left work to see him. Normally he laughs with me about stuff, but this time he was not laughing. He was pretty serious, actually. He said he thought it was either a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis – although my case wasn’t typical of either one of those because I didn’t have any open wounds and my joints weren’t inflamed. He wanted to start me on drugs right away – some to address the one thing, and some to address the other – and he wanted to run blood tests on me. I agreed to the blood tests, but I told him I didn’t want to start taking any drugs until I knew better what was going on with me.

So I guess the question here would be why I chose not to take the drugs?

I can’t recall exactly now the course my thoughts took. This was several years ago. But my thoughts might have run something like this:

1) The one or two times I’ve ever actually taken pharmaceuticals, I’ve always had a bad side effect from them. I might have thought, too, about the time my son had gotten a really bad reaction from one of the ‘cillin drugs. When we went to the doctor to see what we could do about it, he’d said he could give my son drugs to counteract the side effects of the first drug. My son asked him if this new drug might have side effects, too, and the doctor admitted this was the case – all drugs have side effects, he pointed out. I could see the wheels turning in my son’s head – “And then I’d need to take another drug to undo the side effects of the drug I’d be taking to undo the side effects of the first drug?” he asked. The doctor nodded. My son has a pretty-evolved sense of humor. “No, thanks,” he’d said, grinning. We’d gone home and called a CS practitioner, and the side effects had quickly been removed. With no side effects. 🙂 Anyway. So yeah, I guess I’ve become really skeptical about the whole drug-thing from personal experience with it.

2) The other thing that probably came into play, though, is that when I’m working out a problem through my understanding of Christian Science, part of the process for me is real-izing the “reality” of Spirit, and the nothingness of matter – and, in taking drugs, I’d, in essence, be giving power to matter, and working contrary to what I needed to do for a healing in Christian Science. I probably wanted to give myself the opportunity to work this out in Christian Science first. My husband, who’s not a Christian Scientist, has, from the beginning of our marriage, sort of sets thing before me like this: “If you don’t get your healing by (and he’ll give me some time frame) you’re going to the doctor.” In the first years of our marriage he meant this as an ultimatum – now it’s more of an… he expects me to get healed now… and he seems to know it helps me when he gives me a challenge. (A couple years after we were married, he said: “You know with other Christian churches when someone gets healed it’s a miracle – a really big deal – in Christian Science it’s just an every day thing.”)

So I didn’t take the drugs, I went in for the blood tests, and came home and called for prayerful support from a Christian Science practitioner.

Although there’s no format or template or anything for CS healing – sometimes healing can come so quickly – instantly – with just a quick change of thought – that there’s really no process involved. But usually I start with an affirmation of God, Good, Love, as the only power, the only reality. Then… well, I’ll do a copy and paste here of a post I wrote somewhere else – imagine me talking to myself here –

You are the idea of Love and Truth and Life – eternally perfect and whole, healthy and active, unchanged, undimmed, loved, loving, intelligent, alert, aware of all good. The belief that you can ever be less than your perfect, ideal self, is a lie. The belief that you can ever be separated from Love, Good, God, is a lie. As an idea, you dwell forever within the consciousness of Love. You are the image and likeness of Love. You are the perfect child of perfect Love. You reflect nothing but Love, Spirit, Life, Truth, Principle, Mind, Soul. There’s nothing about you that is imperfect, for there’s nothing in your Father-Mother out of which imperfection could come.

And, for the treatment of my hand, I definitely handled the fear in my thought: “Fear, which is an element of all disease, must be cast out to readjust the balance for God… Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man… ” (from the CS textbook by Mary Baker Eddy)

The next morning my hand was even MORE puffed-up. But the fear in my thought was completely gone, and I felt that my thought had been healed…

And by the second morning my hand was completely back to normal. 🙂

When I called the doctor’s office to find out what the results of the blood test were, the receptionist said that one of the markers in the blood test indicated rheumatoid arthritis, and they wanted me to set up an appt with a rheumatoid arthritis specialist. I told her my hand was completely fine now. She was really surprised by this, and called a nurse to the phone to talk to me. I told the nurse the hand was deflated, and there was nothing wrong with me at all. She was… I could imagine her trying to process what I was telling her… she finally said that if anything changed to let them know, but she guessed they wouldn’t “go any further” with it right then.

That was, as I said, several years ago, and there’s been no return of the condition. 🙂

Nova: So, we are talking about a very personal choice, that may appear to be in opposition to something (say, medical science) at some level, but really isn’t against it, per se, but is simply you choosing something else.

Karen: Exactement!!! 🙂
Yes!
Thank you, Nova, for staying with me as I worked my way through this one and just letting me share with you. I know I’m probably the only one on here who sees things the way I do – in fact, if another CSist joined me on here, I’m not even sure he’d have the same perspective as me – but it’s just such a relief to be able to share, and not be blasted at the get-go. 🙂

Nova: ” If this same outcome (jumping to the healing of the hand without medical science intervention) happens to a non CS person, what do you say is the source of healing?”

Karen: Love. Truth. Good.

I don’t believe Christian Scientists have any monopoly on the power of God or anything, any more than those who study geology have some kind of monopoly on the beauty of rocks, or those who study physics somehow own gravity. 🙂

Scoby: Why do you suppose God would have any preference at all for having his people be healed by means other than these things (vaccinations and antibiotics)?

Karen: I don’t think God – the one I believe in, anyway – has any preference one way or the other. I don’t think God has any thought about that stuff at all. And I think when we try to attribute human opinions and preferences to God then we’re anthropomorphizing God. Trying to put God inside some kind of human framework, and limiting God. Love just keeps on being Love, and Truth just keeps on being Truth – and unchanging Love and Truth (God) aren’t affected one way or the other by what humans do or think or opine or prefer.

Lincoln City, Oregon: 1984-2013

The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. – Robert Ingersoll, The Great Agnostic

Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and dreams of Time. –  H.P. Lovecraft

I think it would be interesting if old people got anti-Alzheimer’s disease where they slowly began to recover other peoples’ memories. – George Carlin

My husband and I just returned from our most recent trip to Lincoln City, Oregon. We’ve been going there since 1984 – when we discovered the magic of Lincoln City  on our honeymoon.  We were trying to figure out how many times we’ve been there in the last 29 years, and we figured we’ve made a pilgrimage to Lincoln City probably 27 times – every year, with one or two exceptions.

You know how photographers do time lapse photography to show Nature unfolding in quick time? Yeah, I’m thinking if we took the days my family has spent in Lincoln City and sort of condensed them into a time lapse photography kind of deal, we’d see something like this…

There we are in 1984 – young, confident, and hopeful – starting our life together – unaware of the challenges ahead, and unaware of the blessings, either – running on the beach – limbs strong and quick and joints well-oiled. My aunt Junie showed me the art of agate-hunting when I was a youngster, and now I’m teaching my new husband how to pick up the glow of an agate on the beach – how to discern the difference between a bona fide agate and a rough piece of quartz…

1992:  Introducing our firstborn to the ocean for the first time. His baby body rests on my knee, facing out to the sea. His eyes have locked onto the ocean and taken note of it – he’s chewing his lower lip, eyes moving back and forth along the sea’s horizon, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s becoming a part of him.

1994: We have come to Lincoln City as parents of childREN. We are old hands at parenthood now. Today it is our youngest son’s turn to meet the ocean. We take off his booties and lower his toes into the water. It is a sort of ritual baptism of baby feet – a bonding with the Pacific.

1999: The sons are playing with the surf – letting the waves chase them up the beach. The ocean is their comfortable old friend now.

Jump to April, 2008: I am in crisis.   Struggling with severe depression. I am desperate to escape from myself and my constantly-churning thoughts. Oldest son knows I need to get away and asks me if I’d like him to go to Lincoln City with me for Spring Break. How many 16 year-old sons do you know who’d be willing to accompany their moms on a 14-hour (round trip) road trip? I am blest beyond words. On the way to Lincoln City we stop and visit my Aunt Junie, who shares our kinship with the ocean and lives in Depoe Bay, an hour north of Lincoln City.  I confide my struggles to Junie, and the feelings of guilt and unworthiness that seem to be a symptom of my illness. Junie is appalled at my feelings of worthlessness. “All her instincts” tell her that I am a good person, she says.  “There are no unrightable wrongs, no unforgiveable sins, no fatal mistakes, no fatal diseases, only the eternal now.” She is like Yoda.

July, 2008: Still struggling with the  depression. Lincoln City is my respite. I sit on the balcony in the sun and look down on the beach and watch the sons running and cavorting on the sand below.  There have been times lately when I’ve wished myself not born. But, watching my sons, it hits me that if I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have been born, either. They give me purpose. And the ocean gives me comfort. We stop in Tilamook on the way home and I am drawn to a garden plaque that quotes The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll: “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.” On impulse, I buy it. It will sit in a place of honor on our mantel when we return home.

2009:  The family meets on the Oregon coast to celebrate Aunt Junie’s life, and spread her ashes on the ocean.  We will not get as far as Lincoln City this time, but the ocean that she is now a part of will touch the beaches that have provided such solace to me over the years.  And every time I’m near the ocean, I’ll think of Junie – her humor and wisdom and kindness to me.

2010:  Hoping, but not with high expectations, I ask my youngest son, who’s just turned 16, if he’d like to make the same road trip that I made with his older brother two years ago. To my surprise and delight, he says he would! We spend two days at the ocean – flying a kite, looking for agates, running (well, okay, he’s doing most of the running now) along the beach.  Before we leave on our trip I ask Xander if he’s remembered his swimsuit, long pants, shorts, sweatshirt, sneakers, toothbrush, and sandals. He assures me he has. When we arrive at Lincoln City, I realize that am the one who’s left her clothes, laptop, and toothbrush back home. It is all very humbling. But there’s a certain freedom in the forgetting, too. I’m scraped down to the bare essentials. Having no laptop is a good thing.  I have become big into photography in the last couple years, and I have, at least, remembered my camera. Camera, son, ocean, and the clothes on my back – what else does a person really need? 🙂

2013: The sons are all grown-up now. They have jobs and things to do.  For the first time since we became parents, we will be making our Lincoln City pilgrimage alone.  We eat at our favorite eatery there – The Lighthouse Brew Pub – take long walks together, hunt for agates, and remember together who we were when we first found Lincoln City.  Young, strong, confident, hopeful. Our lives stretched out ahead of us.  And we think about all that’s happened in the 29 years since. And it’s all been good. All of it. Even the bad stuff has been good, really. Just like those blossoms unfolding in time lapse photography – our life together has unfolded most wonderfully.

Happy Mother’s Day to Nurturers and Reflections of Love Everywhere!

Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. – Mary Baker Eddy

Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality,  the infinite Father-Mother God. – Mary Baker Eddy

I love this video of Mom – it totally captures the essence of who she is – warm, loving, joyful. Here’s Moz, at age 80, singing her unique version of  Mamma Mia:

I couldn’t have been more blest than I’ve been to have this beautiful reflection of motherhood for my mom.

Moz was wise: I remember coming home from school in the first grade, telling Moz about my day. My first grade teacher was not what most people envision when they think of a first grade teacher – she was not sweet-voiced, smiling, or nurturing. She was, to put it starkly, kind of cranky, and didn’t seem to like her students all that much. What I didn’t know at the time was that my first grade teacher had recently lost her son and husband. She was going through some pretty rough times in her life. Mom didn’t know about any of this, either. But when I came home from school, and told Moz that I didn’t think my first grade teacher liked me so much and that she was a crabby old lady, mom’s response was, “Well, Sweetie, we just need to love the hell right out of her then.” Moz didn’t commiserate with me, didn’t call up the school and complain about this teacher – nope – instead she used this opportunity to teach me a life-long lesson about the power of love. I started my Campaign of Love the very next day,  bringing in hand-picked flowers for my teacher, and leaving little notes of love on her desk. And by the time she met with my mom to conference about my progress in school she told my mom how very much she enjoyed me, and how much my kindness had meant to her.

Moz was our hero: When my little brother was a toddler he’d gotten ahold of some marbles from somewhere and swallowed them. My grandma was there as my little brother started turning blue. She said to Mom: “We’ve lost him!” Mom grabbed my little brother by his ankles, held him upside down and said, “No,” and wacked him on the back, “we,” wacked him on the back again, “HAVEN’T!!!” and four slimy marbles popped onto the floor. My brother took a big gasp of air and turned back to his normal shade of color.

Moz taught us the power that comes with understanding God, Good: When the same little brother was about seven years-old he became very sick. Dad and Mom took him to our family physician who told them that they had a very sick boy – he had mastoiditis. There was a good chance he’d lose his hearing, and he might lose his life.  Surgery would probably need to be scheduled for him. Dad and Mom brought my brother home from the doctor’s office and Mom asked Dad (who was not a Christian Scientist) if she could call a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful support and my dad agreed to this.  I remember lying in bed that night, listening to my little brother screaming in pain in the next room, and my mom comforting him, singing hymns to him. And then – I remember this very clearly – suddenly he was snoring. The healing was that instantaneous. “He’s healed! He’s healed!” my mom called out – the joy in her voice filling our home. And he was, too. The next day the doctor confirmed that my little brother was well. And he never lost his hearing, either.

Moz had been a Music Performance major in college – she had a fantastic voice. She’d been accepted into the Portland opera company when she graduated from college, but she realized that wasn’t the life for her. She wasn’t particularly ambitious when it came to a profession in music.  She wanted to be a mom.  And we got to have her for our mom.  The opera company’s loss was our gain. 🙂

Moz thinks of herself more as a hobbit than an elf – she likes being home, puttering around in the garden, taking care of her cats, llamas,and  goats, and keeping the bird-feeders full for her feathered friends. But make no mistake – if she’s a hobbit, she’s more a “Baggins” kind of hobbit than a regular hobbit. She has had her share of adventures in life. She’s climbed Mount Rainier twice, ran track in college, birthed three children – and all this after she was apparently told as a youngster, following a bout with rheumatic fever, that her heart had been damaged and she should lead a quiet, sheltered life. None of us knew anything about this until last year, when, 80 years after the rheumatic fever, she was told she needed to have open heart surgery.  I talked about that experience in this blog post: https://madcapchristianscientist.com/2012/05/28/the-world-outside-akkima-theresa-and-the-man-in-the-fairy-wings/ . I’m happy to say that now, one year later, Moz has completely recovered from the surgery. Once again she’s puttering around her garden, feeding the birds, singing her songs, sharing her sense of humor and her huge capacity for  love with everyone she meets.

I’m so blest – happy I can still pick up the phone and give her a call and hear her voice. Happy i can still see her and talk with her and be enriched by her wisdom and kindness and humor.

May all who have nurtured and loved and cared for others know how appreciated they are this Mother’s Day. God bless.

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A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her  child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal. – Mary Baker Eddy

Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man. – Mary Baker Eddy

Satyagraha, Ahimsa, and A Rule for Motives and Acts

Creeds, doctrines, and human hypotheses do not express Christian Science; much less can they demonstrate it. – Mary Baker Eddy

To seek Truth through belief in a human doctrine is not to understand the infinite. We must not seek the immutable and immortal through the finite, mutable, and mortal, and so depend upon belief instead of demonstration… – Mary Baker Eddy

        The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love. – Mary Baker Eddy

***

Mahatma Gandhi, that great leader of non-violent resistance, said, “I have discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself.”

According to Wikipedia “Satyagraha” ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha) means “soul force” or “truth force” and can be loosely translated as “insistence on truth.”  “Satyagraha” was a term created and used by Mahatma Gandhi in his non-violent struggle against foreign control of India.  “Ahimsa” – the Hindu belief that all living things are connected and that we should treat all life with kindness and non-violence – is fundamental to Satyagraha.  Gandhi believed we are all morally interdependent on each other – we depend on each other to do the “right thing” – that it is imperative for us to cultivate what is decent in each other.

Recently, as I was pondering A Rule for Motives and Acts for members of the Christian Science Mother Church, it struck me how similar it is to the idea of “Satyagraha” –

A Rule for Motives and Acts (Article VIII, Section 1 of the Manual for the Mother Church): “Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a Christian Scientists reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The members of the Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing, or being influenced erroneously.”

First Readers of the Christian Science branch churches read this rule from the podium the first Sunday of every month.  When I’ve served as First Reader in our branch church, and read this rule out loud to the congregation, there’s been a part of me that cringes inside a little. I’m a little embarrassed.  A little awkward. And hugely humbled.  I mean… well, who am I to be reading this rule to the congregation? I know with certainty that there have been times when I have not lived up to this rule.  Have I always been loyal to God, Love, Truth – the Principle of Christian Science – rather than to persons? Have I always had the courage and humility to “rebuke sin” – not in a way that personalizes it – but in the manner of Gandhi, weaning “from error by patience and compassion” and with self-suffering, or – as Mary Baker Eddy puts it – extracting error from mortal mind and pouring in truth “through flood-tides of Love“? Have I always been charitable and forgiving? Have I always refrained from “judging, condemning, counseling, influencing, or being influenced erroneously”?

Yowza.

We don’t have a lot of doctrine, dogma, or creed in the Christian Science church.  There are not a whole lot of detailed rules, really, about how we should eat, dress, stand, sit, wear our hair, or address one another, and there are no rules that separate men and women in any way, or create a church class system and hierarchy.  We are pretty much free agents when it comes to that stuff – free to follow our own conscience and understanding.

In the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity.” A little later she writes, “Our Master (Jesus) taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love.” Eddy writes, “Surely it is not enough to cleave to barren and desultory dogmas, derived from the traditions of the elders…”

So. Yeah. Which brings us back to A Rule for Motives and Acts. All the other stuff that one sometimes finds in humanly-organized religion – the dress codes, the class system, the distinction between genders, the rules about food – all of that pretty much seems meaningless when put next to the idea that “divine Love alone governs man,” doesn’t it?

Do Christian Scientists have a doctrine at all? Well, there is this: “This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death. The perfect man – governed by God, his perfect Principle – is sinless and eternal.” (from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy)

Perfect Principle and perfect man.  Perpetual, uninterrupted joy.  Unconditional, unending Love – shining on everyone, without distinction. Endless Life. That’s a goal worthy of our time and energies, yes?

The hour has struck when proof and demonstration, instead of opinion and dogma, are summoned to the support of Christianity, “making wise the simple.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“I’ll pray for you.”

So, have you ever, like, disagreed with what someone was saying, and been told “I’ll pray for you” in response?

What the heck?

Could it be  that if we’re seeing some  fallible, imperfect mortal when we look at someone else, it’s our OWN perception of God’s perfect creation that needs to be corrected? Could it be that it’s not the OTHER individual who needs to be “prayed for” – but that we need to be praying to correct our OWN thoughts?

It seems to me there’s a certain un-Christly smugness about the thought that someone who disagrees with our mortal opinions and beliefs needs to somehow be “fixed” to conform with how we think about things.  And telling someone who doesn’t want our prayers that we’ll pray for him is really pretty presumptuous, isn’t it?  A Christian Science teacher once made the analogy that unsolicited prayers are akin to going, uninvited, into someone else’s home and re-arranging their furniture. I think  we need to be careful to mind our OWN business, to mind our OWN thoughts, and trust that others are being led – just like we are – no more and no less – by God and Truth, too.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The heavenly law is broken by trespassing upon man’s individual right of self-government. We have no  authority in Christian Science and no moral right to attempt to influence the thoughts of others, except it be to benefit them. In mental practice you must not forget that erring human opinions, conflicting selfish motives, and ignorant attempts  to do good may render you incapable of knowing or  judging accurately the need of your fellow-men. Therefore the rule is, heal the sick when called upon for aid….”

In the chapter titled “Prayer” in Science and Health, Eddy asks: “What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to  make ourselves better or to benefit those who hear us, to enlighten the infinite or to be heard of  men?” Are we praying with humility,  quietly putting ourselves “in the closet” as Jesus admonished us to do, and humbly drawing our own thoughts near to the heart of Love and Truth? Or are we trying to use prayer as a sort of bully stick – trying to knock others around until they agree with us? 

When I’ve been asked by someone else to pray for him – well, that’s a whole ‘nother thing, of course. That’s a prayer of support coming from a place of love – and that’s the kind of prayer that heals.  Eddy writes: “If Spirit or the power of divine Love bear witness to the truth, this is the ultimatum, the scientific  way, and the healing is instantaneous.”

Now we’re talking! 🙂