“New Thought,” “Prosperity Gospel,” and Christian Science

This question was posed in a Facebook group: “What would you say are the main differences between Christian Science and other New Thought teachings?”

I love questions like this – questions that lead me to think in a deeper way about my way of life.

Here was my response:
Okay. Hold on. First, I’ve got to find out what “New Thought” means. 🙂

The Encyclopedia of Chicago says: “New Thought, a mental healing cult closely related to Christian Science, first emerged in the 1870s. Its leaders promised that thought could shape reality, and that if one meditated upon a goal, that goal—be it health, spiritual enlightenment, or wealth—would be reached.” (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/886.html)

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, does talk about the power of our thoughts on our experience (“Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupation of your thoughts…”) – but, I think – for me, anyway – the goal in Christian Science is a little different than the goal in “New Thought.”

Although Christian Science has sometimes been viewed as a “prosperity gospel” by people outside of it, that’s not what Christian Science is, for me. For me, Christian Science isn’t all about the “end product” – it’s not about if you meditate the right way you’ll get this this, or if you have enough faith you’ll get that – it’s more about how to live my life in every moment – not for what I’ll get at the end – but to recognize the reality of the universe and God – to recognize the good that is already here, everywhere, always – and to recognize my place in that. So it’s an active knowing and being and doing. It’s actively applying what I know and understand about Love and Truth (God) to bring me into my at-one-ment with Love and Truth.

I’m not using my mortal mind to change my situation – I’m endeavoring to draw close to the one Mind – to the thoughts of Mind Itself. Mary Baker Eddy defines “angels” as “God’s thoughts passing to man…” and I believe that’s where the healing, transforming power comes from – it comes from the thoughts of God, not from the thoughts of mortal minds.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Embodied in Love

I’m nervous about this one. It’s kind of wordy and “out there.” But I just had this amazing cosmic experience and I had to share…

I wake and feel Life quivering
around me and through me.
The presence of Love is here
and I am within the presence,
connected to the Cosmic Body.
Not a “Borg” body –
not a matter-body of
computer chips and nanoprobes –
but the Body of Spirit,
the Body of Love.

You are embodied in Me, too – not embodied in “me” – but embodied in the one Me – the one “I AM.”  We are cells of the same Body. Not competitors. Not separate. But connected. Inseparable. What is good in you – all that is smart and courageous and beautiful and graceful – is good in My Body, too – for we are in the same Body, and have the same Body. All that is wise and kind in you – is mine, too, for we are in the same Mind. And all that is good in me is your good, too. We can claim all that is good – all that is OF Good – for our own.

Faces pass in front of my vision –
loved ones who’ve died and loved
ones who are with me, here.
And I’m connected to all of them still
– not separated by time or space or place
in this Body of Love,

.And then other faces pass in front of my vision – people I’ve thought were my enemies, my rivals, my competition. And I see that they are embodied in Me, too – not the little me, but the big Me, the Cosmic Me. And the cells are distinct, but not separate. And I love them, too – we are all in the Body of Love.

I feel Earth breathing through my window
smell her sweet breath of dew and life
and know she is embodied in God’s body, too,
and we are connected – all of God’s creatures and I.

Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Yes, Jesus is embodied in Me, too, and we are embodied in the one Body – not the body of the human Jesus, but the body of Christ – the Body of Love.

We are nothing less than the perfection of Love.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”
– Matthew 26:26

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 2:5

For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
– I Corinthians 12:14-18, 21, 25-27

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent…”
– John Donne

“The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

The Yearning for At-One-Ment

Death ends a life, not a relationship. – Jack Lemmon

Lately I’ve found myself thinking of the final scene in that 1984 movie, Places in the Heart – the scene where all the characters in the movie are brought together in their neighborhood church to share in communion. As the wine and bread are passed around amongst the congregation we see a husband and wife who had come close to breaking apart, tentatively reaching out for each other, and then clasping hands. The camera pans down the pew and we see other characters, some of whom had been antagonists in the movie, sitting side by side, and sharing in the communion.  The camera continues to pan, and now we see characters who had died in the movie sitting next to their loved ones once again. And it suddenly becomes clear that this communion is not your typical communion. This isn’t just church tradition and ritual – this is a coming-together, a beautiful depiction of love.

Recently I’ve felt a sense of separation from people I love. There’s been death. There’s been physical distance. And there’s been estrangement. And I’ve felt these yearnings to draw close to those dear to me, and to commune with them, and to re-connect with those with whom I’ve been separated.

Life seems to be a process of embracing and letting go, and embracing and letting go. The embracing-part is easy for me. The letting-go-part has been a little more challenging.

I think I’m making progress, though.

Here’s my latest thought about it all: I think the love we create in our relationships with others continues on, forever and ever, even after we’re “separated” from each other, physically, and even after we’re gone from this world.  And maybe the love we create with each other adds to the world’s collective consciousness of good and its human stockpile of kindness and compassion – maybe the love we express to each other helps bring the waves of love ever closer to the shore of the human yearning for peace.  I don’t believe the love we share with each other is ever wasted.  Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science: “Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.”

Do all men and women have a yearning to connect with one another? Does all of mankind feel a yearning for atonement – at-one-ment – with Love? I know I do. And I know I’m not alone in this yearning.

In the Christian Science church we don’t have the wine-and-bread kind of communion.  Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, ‘which cometh down from heaven,’ is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers.”

“ATONEMENT,” Eddy writes, “is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated   man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life’s work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals,- to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility… Are all who eat bread and drink wine in memory of Jesus willing truly to drink his cup, take his cross, and leave all for the Christ-principle? Then why ascribe this inspiration to a dead rite, instead of showing, by casting out error and making the body ‘holy, acceptable unto God,’   that Truth has come to the understanding? If Christ, Truth, has come to us in demonstration, no other commemoration is requisite, for demonstration is Immanuel, or God with us; and if a friend be with us, why need we memorials of that friend? If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, – the receptive thought, – they will bring in the millennium.”

Oh my. For me, there is a sense of urgency to those words. It seems imperative, for the good of mankind, that we seek at-one-ment with Love.  And now would be a good time to do that.

We worship spiritually, only as we cease to worship materially. – Mary Baker Eddy

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 3: 38-39