Millions of unprejudiced minds – simple seekers forTruth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert – are waiting and watching for rest and drink. Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, and never fear the consequences.
– Mary Baker Eddy, from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
I’ve started reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy again. This is probably the fourth time I’ve read this book. I get something different out of it each time I read it – I come upon lines that, for whatever reason, I never noticed before and that leap out at me and grab my attention. It’s like going on a treasure hunt.
This time what is jumping out at me is the sheer audacity – the unabashed chutzpah – of the book’s author. She doesn’t beat around the bush. She doesn’t try to sugar-coat what she believes to be Truth. She doesn’t write what she believes will make her popular. She doesn’t try to appease anyone else’s ego or try to make her book more palatable to the cynical or worldly. There is a kind of innocent, almost child-like, honesty in her words. I like her. She writes, “The author has not compromised conscience to suit the general drift of thought, but has bluntly and honestly given the text of Truth.” And she ain’t kidding.
She first published Science and Health in 1875 – almost 140 years ago – and when you think about what the world was like in 1875 – what most religious folks believed at that time, what most scientists believed, what the common thought was regarding spiritual healing – I cannot help but admire the courage it must have taken to publish a book that pretty much went against most peoples’ most cherished beliefs. Her thoughts were progressive then, and they are still progressive today. She writes about atomic power, space travel, evolution, and what today might be classified as ideas found in quantum physics. She went against the common religious beliefs of her day with her thoughts on eternal damnation, heaven, an anthropomorphic god, the story of Adam and Eve, and atonement.
Regarding an anthropomorphic god, Eddy wrote: “The word anthropomorphic, in such a phrase as ‘an anthropomorphic God,’ is derived from two Greek words, signifying man and form, and may be defined as a mortally mental attempt to reduce Deity to corporeality. The life-giving quality of Mind is Spirit, not matter. The ideal man corresponds to creation, to intelligence, and to Truth. The ideal woman corresponds to Life and to Love. In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity.” (Holy shamoley! Can you imagine how well THAT passage must have flown in a society in which women didn’t even have the right to vote, yet!)
Regarding heaven and the idea of God sending her children to a place of eternal damnation, Eddy wrote: “Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind…” and “It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose Him capable of first arranging law and causation so as to bring about certain evil results, and then punishing the helpless victims of His volition for doing what they could not avoid doing. Good is not, cannot be, the author of experimental sins.” (Even today you’ll find people in “civilized” countries who believe that God sends his own creation to a place of eternal, torturous “time-out” – can you imagine how Eddy’s ideas about heaven and hell must have been received by the general population 140 years ago?!)
Eddy several times referred to the story of Adam and Eve as an “allegory”, she wrote, for example: “In the Scriptural allegory of the material creation, Adam or error, which represents the erroneous theory of life and intelligence in matter, had the naming of all that was material.” (In 1875 the story of creation and Adam and Eve was interpreted as a literal happening by most Christians. Her thoughts about the book of Genesis might have been considered heresy by some. Actually, her interpretation of Genesis might still be considered heresy by some.)
And regarding the atonement and the belief that Jesus died for our sins, Eddy wrote: “ATONEMENT 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.”
Yeah. I am not at all surprised that there were – and still are – people who got all ruffled and riled up by her views. The close-minded, the arrogant, pompous, stodgy and self-righteous, were alive then, just as they are today. They can be found in every group (ahem, even, I am embarrassed to say, amongst those who call themselves “Christian Scientists”). But I don’t think Eddy was at all worried about what those people thought of her. She wrote her book for the other ones – the open-minded, the humble and the honest.
In the spirit of Christ’s charity, as one who “hopeth all things, endureth all things,” and is joyful to bear consolation to the sorrowing and healing to the sick, she commits these pages to honest seekers for Truth.
– Mary Baker Eddy, from the preface to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
Experiencing heaven here. Experiencing heaven now…
“The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear.” – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
Five years ago, on a discussion forum, I learned for the first time about the belief that the world will end on December 21st. Someone asked “What will happen in 2012?”
I gave the question some thought, and then answered, “Seriously then? I think mankind is at a crossroads here. We can choose which direction we want to head – towards an Apocalypse (which I swear some people actually seem to be praying for) or away from one. My dad was talking with some friends, once – great, cynical old farts – and one of them said something like, ‘The meek will inherit the earth – sure – because nobody else will want it by the time everybody else is done with it.’ I thought that was funny, and really, really sad, too. I think we’re at a place in our history where mankind has to learn some lessons, and learn them really fast. The first thing we have to learn is to be kind to our environment. But we need to learn to be kind to each other, too – no matter what beliefs or non-beliefs we each have. We’ve got to give up that whole ‘eye for an eye’ mentality – learn forgiveness, and generosity. I have hope for us. I think there’s a movement of good in the world. I believe Good (Love, Truth) will win in the end.”
I think the world manifests what’s going on in the collective “thought” of mankind. I believe a lack of appreciation for God’s beautiful creation – choosing an accumulation of material “Things” (money and personal possessions) over the expressions of Spirit (the beauty of a clean and healthy environment) is causing mankind some problems.And I believe if mankind is full of fear – if people come to expect doom in our future – then doom might be what they see manifested.
A friend of mine was telling me about this book – The Hundredth Monkey – that talks about how this group of monkeys started doing something different in their community and – without ever going to another monkey community – other monkeys in other communities started doing the same thing. It was like the idea, or the thought, was contagious – even without any physical connection between these animals. Anyway, I think thoughts can be contagious – and I think good thoughts can be contagious, too – and if mankind comes to expect good, good will happen.
I believe that if we really want to help our world, we need to stop living in fear. Stop being afraid of each other. Stop being afraid of what the future holds for us. We need to fill our mental atmosphere with love, joy, and hope – with heaven. In the book of Luke in the Bible, we read: “And when he (Jesus) was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” And in II Corinthians, Paul says: “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
I don’t think the world has to end, or we have to die, to experience heaven and salvation. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within us – in our thoughts. If our thoughts are full of hope, joy, and love we’re in heaven right now. Likewise, if our thoughts are full of hate, fear, and anger we’re experiencing hell right here, and right now. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy has this to say about “Heaven”: “Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind…” and she defines “Heaven” as “Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle’; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul.”
What does our future hold? Good. Our future holds Good. Nothing can destroy Love or Truth – God – we will always have Good in our future. Count on it. 🙂
Buck up, my friends! It is our duty – maybe the greatest thing we can do for our world – to stop being afraid. We need to be alert, yes. We need to be aware and we need to be wise. And we really need to stop being afraid.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41: 9-11
“Christian scientific practice begins with Christ’s keynote of harmony, ‘Be not afraid!'” – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy