Healed of the Tim Conway Shuffle

“Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect. Whatever purifies, sanctifies, and consecrates human life, is not an enemy, however much we suffer in the process.”
Mary Baker Eddy

For four days this week I was shuffling around like Tim Conway playing his “oldest man” character (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOwmSbD20aQ). My back was all askew and akilter, and I was listing severely to starboard. I was a hurting buckaroo.

My friends at work could see I was struggling, and one kind soul offered me an Ibuprofen – although she wasn’t sure if it was okay to offer this to me, seeing as how I’m a Christian Scientist and everything. (It was okay. 🙂 It showed she cared.)

I declined the drugs- not because “it’s against my religion” or because I have a martyr complex or anything – but because I know, from years of personal experience, that the simplest and most effective way for me to have healing is to figure out what I need to correct in my thoughts. For me, whenever I’m faced with some physical challenge there always seems to be something going on mentally – fear or anger or frustration or whatever – that needs to be cleaned out.

On the fourth night, as I prayed about my situation – opened my thought up to whatever Love might reveal to me – it came to me that I was feeling that I, and another person close to me, were under attack by a person who’d been a part of our lives since childhood. And, almost simultaneous to that revelation, this phrase came to me: “Those whom we would call our enemies are really our best friends.”

I remembered, then, reading something similar to that phrase in a chapter titled “Love Your Enemies” in Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Miscellaneous Writings. I turned on my Kindle, found the chapter, and began to read it. And ohmygosh. What a perfect chapter for my needs!

Check it out: “‘Love thine enemies’ is identical with ‘Thou hast no enemies.’ Wherein is this conclusion relative to those who have hated thee without a cause? Simply, in that those unfortunate individuals are virtually thy best friends. Primarily and ultimately, they are doing thee good far beyond the present sense which thou canst entertain of good…Whatever envy, hatred, revenge —the most remorseless motives that govern mortal mind —whatever these try to do, shall ‘work together for good to them that love God.’…We must love our enemies in all the manifestations wherein and whereby we love our friends; must even try not to expose their faults, but to do them good whenever opportunity occurs…Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last. If indulged, it masters us; brings suffering upon suffering to its possessor, through-out time and beyond the grave. If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget: God will recompense this wrong…Never return evil for evil; and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been.” – Mary Baker Eddy

When I finished reading that chapter, I felt a burden lift from me and I felt enveloped in light and joy, and filled with love. I knew I was healed. I realized that nothing and no one had the power to change who I am, make me angry or afraid, or take away my joy. I realized that no one is my “enemy.”

The next morning I woke up with my back straight and in no pain. Better even than the physical healing – I woke up filled with joy and love for mankind. I went through the day with a bounce in my step and a song in my heart. I greeted the students as they arrived at the school – “Hi! Good morning! Welcome!” and they smiled and gave me friendly “good mornings” in return. I did twirls and leaps down the hall for Pete, the maintenance man, to share my healing with him – and he laughed and congratulated me. My colleague, Edith, and I exchanged a morning hug. Elizabeth, and Linda, and I sang songs from Fiddler on the Roof during lunch, and teared up with sweet and poignant memories when we got to “Sunrise, Sunset.” Kay told me about her kitty, Violet, who turned out to be a Henry. Every single person I met seemed ready and eager to celebrate life with me – it was like everyone was just waiting for the opportunity to smile and laugh and enjoy each other.

For the first time, it became really clear to me that I have – we all have – the ability to create our own atmosphere for ourselves – sculpt our own environment – our own dwelling-place. As I approached the world with joy and love, the world responded in kind. It became very obvious to me yesterday that people are drawn to joy and love – and that the people who have the real power in this world – who are the real leaders – are those who are able to walk through life with love, and irrepressible, unstoppable joy.

I’m very grateful to be free of pain, of course. But I’m even more grateful for the insights and wisdom I gained from this whole experience.

Love rules joy is power

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Just had to share. 🙂

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Who Am I?

Phrenology makes man knavish or honest according to the development of the cranium; but anatomy, physiology, phrenology, do not define the image of God, the real immortal man. 

– Mary Baker Eddy

Years ago a professional astrologer who found me “an interesting case” asked if she could do an astrological chart on me free of charge. When she reported back to me with her findings, she was sort of shaking her head and looking a little flummoxed. I guess I was not at all what the astrological chart indicated I should be (according to the chart I should have been like a computer – unemotional, unsentimental, incredibly brilliant – which… well, I’m sure my chart was right about the last bit there 🙂 ).  She knew I was a Christian Scientist and mused aloud, “Maybe it’s the Christian Science.”

Whenever I take personality tests, I always end up coming out of them sort of evenly spread out over everything. I’m some of this. I’m some of that. I may be one thing on one day, and another thing on the next. I’ve been INTJ and ENFP. I’ve been labeled an “explorer” and a “counselor”, been told I was serene and calm, energetic and passionate, bookish, physically active, out-going, introspective, solitary, friendly. creative, analytical, timid, and brave.

I don’t take any of that too seriously.

Like probably everyone else, I’ve sometimes found myself asking, “Who am I?” I’ve wondered about my identity and individuality and purpose. I’ve wondered what makes me unique and what makes me special – things probably most of us have thought about now and then. And, for me, the answers to those wonderings and questions have come to me through my study of Christian Science.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy gives this response to the question “What is man?” : “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science. Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of  God, including all right ideas; the generic term for  all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is  the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his  own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.”

For a while I wondered (and worried) if being the expression of God, with all of God’s other expressions, meant that I was just like everyone else – that maybe we were like The Borg in the Star Trek series – with no individuality or uniqueness of our own. I mean, wouldn’t we all be beautiful and smart and talented in the exact same way, if we were expressions of one Mind? But at some point I realized that Mind has infinite expressions, infinite manifestations, and that all of Her creation is the reflection of that infinity. Eddy writes, “Through spiritual sense you can discern the heart of divinity, and thus begin to comprehend in Science the generic term man. Man is not absorbed in Deity, and man cannot lose his individuality, for he reflects eternal Life; nor is he an isolated, solitary idea, for he represents infinite Mind, the sum of all substance.”

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, upright, 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.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Absorbed in material selfhood we discern and reflect but faintly the substance of Life or Mind. The denial of material selfhood aids the discernment of man’s spiritual and eternal individuality…
– Mary Baker Eddy

Personality is not the individuality of man. A wicked man may have an attractive personality.
– Mary Baker Eddy

        Material personality is not realism; it is not the reflection or likeness of Spirit, the perfect God.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Personality chart

Immortal Corporeality or Immortal Consciousness?

Life, Love, Truth, is the only proof of immortality.  Man in the likeness of God as revealed in Science cannot help being immortal.
– Mary Baker Eddy

A young friend was conversing with me about the strides science has made towards giving humans immortality. My friend told me that one path science is taking to find immortality is one that would keep the body alive and un-aging. The other path, he told me, is one that would somehow keep our consciousness alive.

A quick google search led me to this story:”At the recent Global Future 2045 International Congress held in Moscow, 31-year-old media mogul Dmitry Itskov told attendees how he plans to create exactly that kind of immortality, first by creating a robot controlled by the human brain, then by actually transplanting a human brain into a humanoid robot, and then by replacing the surgical transplant with a method for simply uploading a person’s consciousness into a surrogate ‘bot.He thinks he can get beyond the first phase–to transplanting a working brain into a robot–in just ten years, putting him on course to achieve his ultimate goal–human consciousness completely disembodied and placed within a holographic host–within 30 years time.”
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-03/achieving-immortality-russian-mogul-wants-begin-putting-human-brains-robots-and-soon

Another google search took me here: “”The discovery of Turritopsis, along with many other recent observations of longevity, suggests that science may help us find the fountain of youth. With a host of new biological techniques and the rigor of the scientific method, investigators at UC Berkeley and around the world are poised to take the human race closer to everlasting life than we’ve ever been before…”
http://berkeleysciencereview.com/artic…/chasing-immortality/

So I’ve been thinking about all this – about the scientific search for an immortal body and an immortal consciousness – thinking about which of these two scientific methods I’d prefer, if I had to choose, and thinking about immortality as it’s referenced in the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. 

If I had to make a choice between an immortal body and the disembodied immortal consciousness that is Itskov’s goal, I’d opt for Door Number Two. I don’t want to be carrying this corporeality around for eternity. It’s a lot of responsibility. It has to be hydrated, fed, clothed, cleaned – and society has certain aesthetic standards that we are expected to maintain. This body is a lot of work.

Door Number Two sounds kind of cool – but, again, our consciousness would be inside a holograph, and that sounds limiting. I kind of like the idea of not being contained in ANY form – of blending my consciousness in with a collective universal consciousness maybe. I’ve sometimes toyed with the idea that maybe that’s what “God” is – a collective consciousness of Good that we all maintain together.

I really like what Mary Baker Eddy has to say about immortality. She writes that, as ideas and expressions of God, we already ARE immortal. Love and Truth and Spirit are immortal – and she tells us that we are the reflections of Love and Truth and Spirit. Christian Science teaches that our immortality is based on a spiritual foundation, rather than a material one.

If we call the Christian Science idea of immortality Door Number Three, I’ll pick that one over the other two. The other two sound kind of complicated and convoluted and iffy. Both of them are depending on matter. I say let’s forego matter altogether – let’s just skip that part and claim the immortality we already possess and express – the immortality of Love and Truth.

Immortality, exempt from age or decay, has a glory of its own, – the radiance of Soul. Immortal men and women are models of spiritual sense, drawn by perfect Mind and reflecting those higher conceptions of loveliness which transcend all material sense.
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Echo Chambers and the Vaccination Debate

I first became familiar with the term “echo chamber” when I was visiting the sciencebasedmedicine.org site a year ago. An “echo chamber”, I learned, is composed of people who insulate and isolate themselves from world perspectives that differ from their own, and surround themselves with people who echo their own beliefs and opinions. I discovered on the sciencebasedmedicine.org site that people who accuse others of belonging to an “echo chamber” are often living in their own echo chamber.

And, really, who can blame anyone for wanting to surround themselves with people who think and believe as they do, and share their opinions about stuff? An echo chamber is a comfortable place to live. When we live in an echo chamber we get a lot of kudos and pats on the back and thumbs up for espousing our beliefs – our little egos are given free rein to grow and prosper, to puff up and expand. We can feel really good about ourselves because everyone else agrees with us and thinks we are cool.

It takes courage to leave our echo chambers – to peek out of our little caves and venture forth into the Big World of Ideas. It takes courage to allow others to question our most cherished beliefs, and to allow ourselves to question them, as well.

Right now I’m seeing two major echo chambers when it comes to the vaccination debate. In one chamber there are the anti-vaccination folk who can rattle off statistics and personal anecdotes about the dire effects of vaccinations on one’s health, and the ineffectiveness of some vaccines – such as the flu vaccine – in stopping disease. In the other echo chamber there are folk who can rattle off statistics and personal anecdotes about how the use of vaccines has dramatically stopped the spread of diseases such as polio and small pox, and has helped to eradicate some diseases entirely.

From my perspective – sitting by myself outside the chambers and listening to all the echoes coming out of them – it’s all kind of fascinating.  From my perspective, the people involved in these debates – whether they’re pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination – are actually a lot more closely connected with each other in the way they view the world than they may think they are.  Both groups see a material world that has danger in it – that can be capricious and random and scary. The people in both groups are motivated by a fear of getting sick – the anti-vaccination people are afraid the vaccines will make them and their loved ones unhealthy, and the pro-vaccination people are afraid that NOT taking the vaccines will make them and their loved ones unhealthy.

As I see it, there are no bad guys here – there are just people who want to help keep their loved ones safe, and are doing what they think is the right thing to do to help make that happen.

Because I’ve always identified myself as a Christian Scientist – and a lot of people think of Christian Scientists as “the ones who don’t go to doctors” – I’ve often been asked if I had my children vaccinated. The answer is yes. This is not something of which I’m either ashamed or proud. It’s not something I’d brag about in the pro-vaccination echo chamber, and not something I’d feel guilty to admit in the anti-vaccination echo chamber.  (I’ve also had vaccinations myself – right after my oldest son was born I was vaccinated for rubella; I went in for a tetanus shot once when I fell kiester-first through a hole in the porch and snagged my legs on rusty nails as I was going down – I still crack up every time I think about that adventure – I am such a doof; and several years ago I voluntarily went to the doctor and got the pertussis vaccination to help alleviate the fears of the people around me when I began working at a high school during a time when pertussis was running rampant through my state. [As a youngster I had mumps, measles, and chicken pox – I was quickly healed of all of them – and a titer test later confirmed I carried the antibodies.])

When I took my sons in to be vaccinated I had to sign consent forms that listed a lot of possible side effects to the vaccinations, and I remember feeling frightened by what I read there. I did not sign those forms glibly – my sons are the most precious people in the world to me. As a Christian Scientist I used my understanding of God – of Love – to know that those vaccinations had no power to hurt my sons – that they were held safe in the arms of Love. My sons, I reasoned, are the perfect, whole, untouched, unaltered, unmarred, complete reflections of Life and Love – never for a moment separated from all that is good. As ideas of God, their real spiritual being is always safe, and never for a moment separated from the consciousness of Truth.

I’d taken the sons in to be vaccinated because my husband had requested that I get them vaccinated, and because it seemed the responsible thing for me to do for the other people in my community who don’t share with me the same perspective about the reality of Spirit, and the unreality of matter. It felt, to me, that NOT taking my sons in for vaccinations would have been, in a way, like forcing my beliefs on other people.

But I have to admit to harboring some respect for the people who consciously withstand the peer pressure and refuse to follow the herd into whatever echo chamber is loudest. It ain’t easy to stand alone for what you think is right.

And this reminds me of a dream I had years ago.  In this dream I was maybe 12 or 13 years old – and there was this ominous, oppressive feeling to the atmosphere. The sky was dark and roiling with purple storm clouds. A bus filled with my classmates and their families pulled up. All the popular kids were either on that bus, or getting onto it. In the dream I realized that everyone was getting on the bus to go get exterminated – that people were voluntarily going off to get shot or something to save mankind.  And everyone was laughing and congratulating each other for their self-sacrifice, and patting each other on the back. And I really wanted to get on that bus, too, and be with the other popular people. But my Dad (who is not a CS, by the way) came running out of the house and down to the bus stop to stop me from getting on the bus. “No,” he yelled to me, “You can’t get on that bus! We’re going skiing in Sun Valley next week!”

So I didn’t get on the bus. I watched it pull away, loaded with my friends. It felt bad. At first. But hey, I got over it. I mean, I had Sun Valley to look forward to, right?

The chemist, the botanist, the druggist, the doctor, and the nurse equip the medicine with their faith, and the beliefs which are in the majority rule. When the general belief endorses the inanimate drug as doing this or that, individual dissent or faith, unless it rests on Science, is but a belief held by a minority, and such a belief is governed by the majority. – Mary Baker Eddy

An interesting youtube clip about the safety of vaccinations since 1989.

Reality and Simulation

(Author’s note: This is one of those posts that I hesitate to publish. It’s… well it’s my “pondering stuff” voice, I guess.  But what the hell, right? What’s the worst thing that can happen here? No one reads it? P’shaw! I ain’t ascared. of having no audience for this one. In fact, that might be a good thing. 🙂 )

“Simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time… Historically, simulations used in different fields developed largely independently, but 20th century studies of systems theory and cybernetics combined with spreading use of computers across all those fields have led to some unification and a more systematic view of the concept… Simulation is extensively used for educational purposes… Virtual simulations represent a specific category of simulation that utilizes simulation equipment to create a simulated world for the user. Virtual simulations allow users to interact with a virtual world.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation

I’m reading Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures again. Every time I read this book I notice things I never noticed before. This time one of the things that has popped out at me is Eddy’s use of the word “simulate”. I probably didn’t notice this word the first time I read Science and Health – back in 1980 or so – because it wasn’t as commonly used as it is today. I wouldn’t have been able to relate it to anything in my own experience back then.

Eddy seems to have, once again, made a leap into the future with her use of the word “simulate” in Science and Health. Though her book was first published in 1875 – almost a century and a half ago – it makes mention of space travel, atomic power, and what today might be called quantum physics. So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I came upon the word “simulate”.

Contrasting  the creation of Adam in the second chapter of Genesis with the creation described in the first chapter, Eddy writes: “Beginning creation with darkness instead of light, – materially rather than spiritually, – error now simulates the work of Truth, mocking Love and declaring what things error has done.” She writes, “Close your eyes, and you may dream that you see a  flower, – that you touch and smell it. Thus you learn that the flower is a product of the so-called mind, a formation of thought rather than of matter. Close your eyes again, and you may see landscapes, men, and women. Thus you learn that these also are images, which mortal mind holds and evolves and which simulate mind, life, and intelligence.” A little further into Science and Health, and the author writes, “When we put off the false sense for the true, and see that sin and mortality have neither Principle nor permanency, we shall learn that sin and mortality are without actual origin or rightful existence. They are native nothingness, out of which error would simulate creation through a man formed from dust… Sin, sickness, and death are comprised in human material belief… They have neither Principle nor permanence, but belong, with all that is material and temporal, to the nothingness of error, which simulates the creations of Truth.”

It has been very helpful to me to see material existence as just a simulation – maybe one of those training simulators – providing me with the opportunity to practice separating the true from the false, to practice recognizing the real and eternal, and to practice translating all the good and beautiful we see represented  in the “simulator” back into its spiritual form.

“Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love, but human belief misinterprets nature. Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, – all point to Mind, the spiritual  intelligence they reflect. The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity.” – Mary Baker Eddy