“Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Years ago, when I was a teenager maybe, I remember seeing a Star Trek episode that showed a man who was half-black and half-white in a struggle with another man who was half-black and half-white – they were enemies because of their color – and I remember looking at them, thinking, “But… they’re BOTH half-black and half-white… what’s the issue here?” And at the end of the episode we finally see that the reason they’re enemies is because one of them is white on the right side of his body, and the other is white on the left side of his body, and… yeah… I remember thinking how absolutely ridiculous it all was for them to hate each other just because they were colored differently on different sides. But it is, of course, no more ridiculous than hating someone just because they’re all ONE color, and that color is different than ours.

The summer after I graduated from high school – which was about ten years after the Watts Riots –  I traveled with my dad to California. Dad had grown up in Los Angeles, and he wanted to revisit his old neighborhood and see his childhood home once again. As we drove the streets to his old home, I noticed that we were the only white faces in a several-mile radius.

Dad pulled up in front of a little house, and his face lit up – “This was my home!” he said, getting out of the car. I followed him to the front door, where an African-American woman wearing a house-dress and a really surprised look on her face, appeared. Dad explained that he’d grown up in this house and asked if he could come in and take a look around and go out into the backyard where he’d played as a child. The woman smiled graciously and opened her door for us and allowed us into her home. I followed Dad through the house and out into the backyard where there was still the avocado tree he remembered from his childhood. He looked around, said it seemed smaller than he’d remembered it, and started talking about the happy years he’d spent in this yard as a child. Then he went back through the house, shook the woman’s hand, and thanked her for letting him re-visit his old home. Still looking kind of surprised to find these friendly White people traipsing through her house, she smiled back at dad, and told him he was welcome and it was no problem at all.

A block or so later Dad pulled into a gas station to fill the tank up, and a Black attendant came out to help us (this was in the days before people filled up their own cars with gas). He had that same surprised look on his face as the woman in Dad’s old house. He smiled, and filled up our tank for us, and, as we were ready to leave, said in a friendly way, a big smile on his face, “Come back again!”

Every time I think of this trip through that neighborhood in Los Angeles I start grinning. I’m pretty sure we were the only White people in years who’d come nonchalantly driving through that section of Los Angeles. I remember the surprised hospitality of the gas station attendant and the woman living in Dad’s old house, and it fills me up with a kind of joy. I remember my dad – totally oblivious to the fact that he was in a part of Los Angeles that most White people might find threatening – happily traveling down “Memory Lane,” shaking hands with the woman in his old house, greeting the gas station attendant with an open, natural smile – and it makes me really proud to be his daughter.

I am, likewise, proud to be my mother’s daughter. When I was a little girl – maybe eight or so – Mom took my little brothers and me shopping at the local mall. As we were looking at clothes a young African-American family walked by, also shopping. A large middle-aged White man standing near us turned to Mom and said something like, “Those people should stay in their own part of town.” My mom looked up at him, puzzled – she didn’t know what he was talking about at first. He pointed to the African-American family and repeated what he’d said. When my mom finally understood what he was talking about her face turned red with indignation. She looked up at him from her height of 5’2″ and, her voice shaking with emotion, said, “That family has as much right to be here as you or me! We are all God’s children!” The White man realized then that he’d picked the wrong person to share his racism with, and sort of stepped back and disappeared from the store.

I’m really grateful to have been raised by parents for whom  the color of people’s skin was a  non-issue, and kindness towards everyone was considered natural and normal.

Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
speaks kindly when we meet and part.
– Mary Baker Eddy

“The time is always right to do what is right.” 
– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

(Originally published in 2017.)

For Eugene Goodman

I can’t know exactly what went through your mind that day –
you’ve been reluctant to step into the limelight and say –
you’ve been humble, wanting to fade quietly into the background.
But the impulse that led you to step to the front on January sixth –
the impulse that made you run towards hell –
when our government was on the verge of being felled
by its own people – continues to give me hope for our nation.
Maybe for you the choice was no choice –
you could no more have run away from the terror of that day
than the sun can stop shining. You simply did what heroes do
without question or thought.
You are a miracle. You represent the best in us.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

On Earth Peace

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2: 14

Christmas Eve, 1914. World War I. The trenches in Belgium. 

The Germans begin setting up Christmas trees with lighted candles along the trenches on their side of the line. They begin singing carols, and although they’re singing in German, the allies on the other side of the line– the French, Belgians, and British – are able to recognize most of the carols. Soon voices are raised from both sides of the dividing line, joining together to sing “Silent Night.” A truce is called. Weapons are laid down and replaced with soccer balls.  Gifts are exchanged – chocolate and postcards and tobacco and newspapers. 

I love that story. I love the hope of peace it represents. Although the soldiers were not able to maintain their truce – within the week they were forced, under orders, to pick up their weapons and begin shooting at each other again – the end of the Christmas truce in 1914 doesn’t diminish the power of what those soldiers were able to bring to each other for that week.

May our world find that peace again, and next time may it be lasting.

“… and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
– Isaiah 2: 4

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
– Isaiah 11: 6

        One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.
Mary Baker Eddy

Aaron Rodgers: Here’s Hoping for a Speedy Recovery

I am vaccinated. Half of my extended family is vaccinated; and half is not.  I don’t love and respect the unvaccinated members of my family any less than I love and respect those who are vaccinated. I don’t think the unvaccinated people in my family are selfish – in fact, given today’s divisive and shaming culture, I think they are very brave for choosing to take an unpopular path. Of those who are vaccinated in my extended family, some identify as Democrats and some as Republicans. Of those who are unvaccinated, some of them identify as Democrats and some as Republicans. The choice to get vaccinated, or not, had nothing to do with political leanings – at least in my family.

I wish Aaron Rodgers hadn’t lied about his vaccination status – but, like the rest of us, he’s human and no human is perfect. To paraphrase Jesus, “Let whoever is perfect among us, cast the first stone.” I’m not going to join in shaming Rodgers because he chose not to get vaccinated. I hope he has a speedy recovery from COVID-19, and I hope he comes back to play football in time to be crushed by the Seattle Seahawks.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Whose Body? Whose Choice? It’s Getting a Little Confusing.

So let me get this straight: People in Texas are going to get a $10,000 reward for following around women of reproductive age and turning them in if they get an abortion? And… will people also get a $10,000 reward for turning in people who aren’t wearing masks and getting vaccinated? I just want to make sure I’ve got it right. When is it “My body; my choice”? And when is it “Your body; my choice”? It’s getting a little confusing for some of us out here.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Newsflash! We’re Allowed to be Kind Even When We Disagree

As you all know, I got vaccinated. Nobody needs to spend any more time and energy on me trying to convince me that I should get vaccinated because the deed is already done. And nobody needs to spend energy or time on me to convince me NOT to get vaccinated, either, because I’ve already been all shot up and there’s nothing that’s  going to change that.

And personally? I am so done with the whole bad guys and good guys and blaming and shaming and name-calling and self-righteous indignation and calling other people “selfish” because they refuse to do something that terrifies them to make US feel safer (it might be useful to note here that the CDC reports that the unvaccinated aren’t the only ones spreading the virus). And people from both “sides” wishing each other sick – or even dead! – just to prove that they’re right.

For God’s sake, we need to stop.

It’s been my experience that telling people they’re “selfish” isn’t helpful. Bashing someone over the head again and again and again with our beliefs and thinking that will somehow convert  them doesn’t seem to work well, either. Both the vaxxed and un-vaxxed have been slinging “facts” at each other every day since the vaccine appeared and I don’t see that the fact-slinging has brought us much progress in this battle. (Have you noticed that people only seem to hear the “facts” they want to hear?)

So I thought maybe I’d try slinging some kindness instead to see where that might take us. You know, we’re allowed to be kind to people even when we don’t agree with them, right? Asking people to be kind to each other isn’t “taking sides” – it’s just trying to bring some civility into an insane and scary time.

Here’s what, I think, matters in the end: Kindness matters. Love matters. Let’s be kind to each other – kind to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Let’s reflect the love of Love; express the courage of Truth; manifest the joy of Life. Love, Truth, Life (God) doesn’t care whether we’re vaccinated or unvaccinated – She’s just going to keep on loving us whatever we do or don’t do. And I believe that’s what we should do for each other, too.

There were several dear unvaccinated friends who were in my thoughts as I wrote this post (none of them Christian Scientists, by the way – interestingly, my CS friends tend to get vaccinated and probably for the same reasons I did). I love my unvaccinated friends very much and I wish them nothing but good. We’re all in this together – both the vaccinated and the not.  Love help us all.

Amen.

Karen Molenaar Terrell

Review for *Scrapbook of a Year and a Day*

It means a lot to me that Mary Metz took the time to read and review my book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, on Goodreads and on her blog. If you are an author yourself, you know what her words meant to me. Mary wrote:

Karen Molenaar Terrell’s Scrapbook of a Year and a Day is, essentially, a compilation of Facebook posts written between January 19, 2020 and January 20, 2021. If I were to collect my FB posts, it would be very, very dull indeed, but Karen eliminated the silly cat videos, if she ever posted any, and has instead put together a moving and coherent account of the tumultuous year we all lived through and her personal experience of the year following the death of her father, Dee Molenaar. What I particularly love about Karen–and this book–is her perspective on things and her constant striving to live up to her ideals.

I’m really not a dog-earrer–I find it a vile habit–and yet I folded down the corners on several pages. For example:

August 25, 2020
Please do not tell me what I believe, feel, and think.
-Do not assume because I am a progressive and tend to vote for Democrats that I don’t believe in God, “hate the Bible,” and want to kill babies and take away your guns.
–Do not assume because I believe in God that I am anti-science, believe the earth is flat and the world was, literally, created in seven days.
–Do not assume that because I’m white, middle-aged and named “Karen” I am racist and want to talk to your manager.
–Do not assume because I identify as “Christian” I am conservative, opposed to LGBTQ rights, opposed to women’s rights, travel heavily armed, and am voting for you-know-who.

I think that if we see each other in terms of stereotypes we miss out on some beautiful friendships and kinships with our fellow humans.

My biggest challenge right now is myself. I guess that’s always my biggest challenge, isn’t it? Stay kind, Karen. Stay true. Keep loving. Look for ways to bring humor to those in desperate need of a good laugh. Don’t hate. Never hate. Be wise–but don’t be cynical. Be discerning–but don’t be cruel.

Love, help me be what you need me to be.
Amen.

October 17, 2020
{A lot of anecdote, involving buying shoes for a guy on the street, deleted here because there’s only so much typing I’m willing to do. But it’s a beautiful story.}

People WANT to do right by each other, don’t they?

I felt like I was walking on holy ground today. I think . . . I think it all balances out, you know? –Good disperses itself throughout the cosmos–and I know that I’ll always have what I need–there’s no lack–there’s no competition–there’s no need to go through life clutching and afraid and feeling like Good is limited and finite, and if someone else has enough then I won’t have enough.

Solace at the Cemetery
In these panicked times
In these fretful, frenzied, frantic times
I have found solace at the cemetery.
The shells of those who’ve lived
here and moved on
to whatever comes beyond
no longer need to distance themselves
from anyone, from me.
I find peace with them–the chrysalises
of my friends–Mike, Rachael, and Debby.

I wander amid the tombstones, snapping
photos of them, and the spinning wheels–
the bright spinners are the only movement
in the cemetery and I feel
drawn to the movement of their rainbow
spinning, faster and faster as I approach,
in a show just for me.

I’m allowed to be here. In the sunshine.
In the peace of the cemetery.
And no one disturbs me as I wander
through the final beds
for the shells of those who
are no longer scared of what lies ahead.

I’m not saying it’s a flawless book–there are a lot of commas I’m itching to add to these excerpts–but it’s a truly beautiful book, full of genuine goodness and kindness. These days, I’ll really, really take that.

My Friend, Jack

You may remember our dear friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines last December when he fought his way through a terminal medical diagnosis to cast his electoral college vote for president. Jack has, with honesty and incredible courage, been keeping us updated on his condition since his diagnosis/prognosis and let us know early this week that he was admitted to the hospital. He has not been far from our thoughts this week. I included a chapter about Jack in the book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day. Here’s an excerpt:

December 15, 2020

There’s a story about my friend, Jack Arends, in the Huffington Post. I’d recognize that hat anywhere. Jack’s friendship with the Molenaar family goes back more than 60 years – his mother worked in the same office as Dad – Jack’s mom was pregnant with Jack at the same time as my mom was pregnant with me (I arrived on earth a couple months before him). Our families have shared both tragedies and celebrations over the years. Yesterday Jack was my hero.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“A Washington state elector who has a terminal health issue broke down in tears Monday after casting his vote for President-elect Joe Biden, telling a local media outlet that being an elector is part of making his time left ‘count.’…A retired aviation industry analyst, Arends entered the floor of the state Senate in a wheelchair and wearing a brimmed cap reading ‘Play Nice.’ He took a less-than-subtle jab at Trump by bringing two Sharpie markers ― the president’s writing tool of choice on several headline-making occasions – to cast his vote for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”
– Curtis M. Wong, Huffington Post, December 16

Climate Change

“The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals. Physical force and mortal mind are one.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
– I Kings 19:11-12

“God quieted the storm to a whisper; the sea’s waves were hushed.”
-Psalms 107:29

From a human standpoint, our planet is in a bad way and in need of urgent care. Some of our most important heroes today are those people committed to saving our planet and its inhabitants from environmental destruction : Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough come immediately to mind. And I’m thinking the planet needs us ALL to be heroes right now.

We all know that there are things we can do, humanly, to help our planet: reduce; reusue; recycle; compost; buy local; get hooked up to solar or wind-powered energy; use an electric or hybrid car; use reusable shopping bags; and etc. (A good resource for ideas can be found in Columbia Climate School‘s article “The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”).

And, as a Christian Scientist, I also believe it’s important to align ourselves mentally with the power of Truth and Love to help our world. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science: “The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals.” If Eddy is right, when our thoughts are full of fear, greed, carelessness, and apathy – that’s what we’re going to see expressed in the physical universe. And, contrariwise, if our thoughts are full of kindness, gratitude, appreciation, and the desire to nurture what’s good in the world – THAT’s what we’ll see manifested in our physical environment.

Maybe one thing the human race has to work on is the problem we have with taking good for granted. I believe it’s a positive thing to have an “expectancy of never-ending good” – but part of that expectancy should include gratitude for the good we already have. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “We plead for unmerited pardon and for a liberal outpouring of benefactions. Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.”

The race in our culture to acquire and accumulate more matter has not led us to a healthy place. It seems to me that if we really trusted in God, in Love, to supply our daily need, we wouldn’t be driven by fear to hoard matter. In the Bible, Jesus tells his followers: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” (Matthew 6.) And Mary Baker Eddy begins Science and Health with this line: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”

As a Christian Scientist, I believe it’s possible to use the power of Love (God) to control our environment and to bring health to our planet – to transform the world. I believe nothing is impossible to Life, Truth, and Love – to God. I believe it is never too late to change our mental environment, and so change our physical environment. But I also believe it is never too EARLY to change our mental environment. As Anne Frank says, “How wonderful it is that nobody need waste a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise, which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, unpright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is.

“Mind’s control over the universe, including man, is no longer an open question, but is demonstrable Science.”
– Mary Baker Eddy (p. 171)

“Is there no divine permission to conquer discord of every kind with harmony, with Truth and Love?”
-Mary Baker Eddy (394)

“When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm.
The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!”
– Matthew 8:23-27

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass…”
Deuteronomy 32:2

“Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. They belong to divine Principle, and support the equipoise of that thought-force, which launched the earth in its orbit and said to the proud wave, ‘Thus far and no farther.'”
-Mary Baker Eddy

“The true Logos is demonstrably Christian Science, the natural law of harmony which overcomes discord, — not because this Science is supernatural or preternatural, nor because it is an infraction of divine law, but because it is the immutable law of God, good. Jesus said: “I knew that Thou hearest me always;” and he raised Lazarus from the dead, stilled the tempest, healed the sick, walked on the water. There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

Genesis 9:
11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

“In atmosphere of Love divine, we live and move and breathe…”
Christian Science Hymnal #144

I Taught History for Two Decades…

“Covering iniquity will prevent prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause. Ignorance of the error to be eradicated oftentimes subjects you to its abuse.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

I taught history for two decades. My students learned about the Holocaust, slavery, the Trail of Tears, attacks against Chinese railroad workers and miners, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the killing of Charlie Howard. They watched “The Grapes of Wrath” and learned about the struggles and inequity the poor faced during the Great Depression. They learned about the Constitution – about their rights and the rights of others. They practiced being lawyers defending clients against injustice. They created their own presidential candidates out of construction paper and words, and learned about the qualifications their candidates would need to run for president. My students learned about heroes in history, too – they learned about Georgio Perlasca, Irena Sendler, Oskar Schindler, Ghandi, Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Susan Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and the unheralded acts of kindness “common” people showed to others during times of challenge and struggle.

My students learned about these things and people to help give them tools to be heroes themselves one day.

To force teachers to skip over the ugly parts of history – injustice, inequity, racism, political and corporate greed and dishonesty – is not a help to our world, our country, or our students. It is not preparing our young people for the challenges they and/or their friends will be facing in their lives or helping to create the heroes our world so desperately needs.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking.”
-Mary Baker Eddy