Of Pea Soup and Spinning Heads

(Reworked from a post originally published in 2014.)
I’ve never seen The Exorcist, but I have seen that scene with the pea soup and the spinning head – and lately I’ve seemed to encounter a lot of what I would put in the “pea soup and spinning head” category. There have been times, recently, when personalities have seemed to spin themselves out of alignment with the individuals they really are, spewing out all kinds of hell – anger, frustration, jealousy, fear, revenge, hatred, finger-pointing. And I’m embarrassed to say that on at least a couple occasions recently I myself was the spewer – feeling really angry and hurt about someone I felt had treated me unfairly.

It none of it felt good.

But then I came across yet another spewing-spinner on a discussion board, and found myself just stepping back and kind of observing in interested fascination as the pea soup flew and the vitriol sprayed. The pea soup and vitriol had been intended for me, but they were so over-the-top and spewed so high in the air that it simply erupted above the spewer’s head and ended up landing back on her. It didn’t touch me at all. And, standing there on the outside of the mess, it became really clear to me that the spinning-spewing personality was not at all the real individuality of my fellow poster. It was obvious that what I had just witnessed was nothing but a spinning-spewing counterfeit of the real man and woman, made in God’s likeness – made in the likeness of Love.  And it also became clear to me that I had no desire or need to spend my time engaged in conversation with a counterfeit. I was able to step back and move on and find other interesting dialogues that better served me.  I didn’t give the counterfeit the power to push me OUT of a space where I belonged, and nor did I give the counterfeit the power to pull me INTO a space where I didn’t belong. I didn’t have to react or respond to the counterfeit at all.

This encounter with the counterfeit poster helped me come to terms with my feelings of anger and wish for vengeance towards the personality who had treated me so poorly in the past. I had to recognize that the real man is the child of God – that God loves him no less than he loves me – and that God is instructing him, and leading him down his own path in life, with its own lessons waiting for him. And none of that is any of my business.

My business is keeping watch on my own thoughts and actions. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, – to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success.”

As Paul says, we all must work out our “own salvation.”  It’s rewarding work. It’s satisfying work. And it’s also enough work to fill my moments and my days for eternity. Who has time to worry about working out someone ELSE’s flaws and foibles, when I have enough of my own to worry about?

Spinning heads and pea soup, be gone!

“Follow that which is good…”

“Follow your leader, only so far as she follows Christ.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Message to the Mother Church, 1902

About a month ago I changed my “Way Cool People for Bernie” FB group to “Way Cool People for Progress.” I’ve never been someone who followed personalities – I’ve always tried to follow ideas – and I realized that when I made my group I was doing the opposite of what I’ve always done. I was following a personality. That never works for me. Never. And on the flip side of that – it has never served me well to demonize personalities, either. And I’ve found myself doing THAT in the last couple years, too. So. I’m going to work really hard to get back to my roots. Wish me luck.

“…ever follow that which is good…” – I Thess 5:15
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace…” _ Romans 14:19
“…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” – I Timothy 6:11
“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.” – 3 John 1:11

follow peace 2

(Skyline Divide Trail, North Cascades, Washington State)

What will it take?

“The baneful effect of evil associates is less seen than felt. The inoculation of evil human thoughts ought to be understood and guarded against. The first impression, made on a mind which is  attracted or repelled according to personal merit or demerit, is a good detective of individual character. Certain minds meet only to separate through simultaneous repulsion. They are enemies without the preliminary offence. The impure are at peace with the impure.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

Have I ever changed my mind about a politician? Oh yeah. I’ve never had a problem with switching from one candidate to another as my thoughts evolve. Two cases come immediately to mind:
– I voted for Reagan in 1980. By 1984 – after I’d witnessed him fire all the air traffic controllers, break up workers’ unions, sell weapons to Iran, take money from social security, support Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein – I no longer supported him, and voted for the other guy.
– I voted for Clinton in 1992, but by 1996 my inner BS detector was beeping – and I voted for Ralph Nader instead.

I have never really been one of those people who gets attached to personalities. I tend to follow causes – not people. I tend to vote for candidates who share the same values as me (championing the poor and disenfranchised, working to clean up our environment, fighting for social justice and equality) – rather than showboat egomaniacs surrounded in glitz and gold.

And maybe that’s why it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that there are still people in my country who are blindly loyal to a politician who has – from what I’ve seen – shown no glimmer of genuine kindness or generosity or honesty since he’s been in office. A politician who oversaw more than 2000 children being separated from their families. A politician whose longtime lawyer has admitted that he was directed by the politician to pay hush money to at least two women to keep them from talking about their affairs with the politician . A politician whose campaign manager was just convicted of eight major financial crimes. A politician who is methodically dismantling the environmental regulations that protect our air and water.

How anyone can justify or rationalize any of this is beyond me. How anyone can spin any of what this politician has done into something good is a mystery. What will it take for his followers to finally say they’ve seen enough?

“Christian Scientists should beware of unseen snares, and adhere to the divine Principle and rules for demonstration. They must guard against the deification of finite personality.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

Let’s Not Stop Fighting for the Ideas, Okay?

I took my Bernie bumper sticker off my car before I left for work yesterday morning. Bernie Sanders had a noble and honorable run for the presidency. I believe he accomplished a lot that was good and important during his bid for the White House, and I’m beyond grateful to him for that. But, for me, it was never about rooting for a personality – it was always about the ideas Bernie supported. I’ve always tended to follow ideas more than people. People die or they don’t get elected or whatever, but the ideas live on. Let’s not stop fighting for the ideas, okay?


My Bernie bumper sticker.



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

I’m not really interested in Mary Baker Eddy’s personal life. Does that make me, like, a bad Christian Scientist?

“Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me.  I hope and trust that you and I may meet in truth and know each other there, and know as we are known of God.”  – Mary Baker Eddy (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, page 120: 2)

 “… follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ.” – Mary Baker Eddy (Message for 1901)

So I got this flyer in the mail today, telling me about a good deal on biographies about Mary Baker Eddy’s life.  And… I found I wasn’t at all interested in it.  And I’m wondering… does that make me a “bad” Christian Scientist?

The thing is, I’ve always been someone who’s more apt to follow ideas than personalities.  I cherish the ideas that Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, brought to us.  I am beyond grateful to Mary Baker Eddy for the sacrifices she made in her life, and the challenges she had to overcome, to bring her discovery to the world – and I know enough about her life to know that those sacrifices and challenges were immense – her early widowhood, the betrayal of friends and family, poverty, her young son taken from her when she was ill, trumped-up lawsuits, hatred, bigotry, prejudice…


In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science, Eddy writes: “In founding a pathological system of Christianity, the author has labored to expound divine Principle, and not to exalt personality.”

I don’t believe Eddy wanted adulation. I do not believe she wanted those who consider themselves Christian Scientists to worship her, or to focus on her personality.

Eddy writes in Science and Health: “People go into ecstasies over the sense of a corporeal Jehovah, though with scarcely a spark of love in their hearts; yet God is love, and without Love, God, immortality cannot appear.”  And later she writes: “It was now evident to Peter that divine Life, Truth, and Love, and not a human personality, was the healer of the sick and a rock, a firm foundation in the realm of harmony… In an age of ecclesiastical despotism, Jesus introduced the teaching and practice of Christianity, affording  the proof of Christianity’s truth and love; but to reach his example and to test its unerring Science according to his rule, healing sickness, sin, and death, a better understanding of God as divine Principle, Love, rather than personality or the man Jesus, is required.”

So there you go.

The healing Truth, Love, is what a Christian Scientist follows, right? Not a human personality. Not a man. Not a woman. But the Christ – Love and Truth and Life.

In one of my favorite books, The Greatest Thing in the World, a sermon on I Corinthians 13, Henry Drummond writes: “‘Love rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth.’… for he who loves will love Truth not less than men. He will rejoice in the Truth—rejoice not in what he has been taught to believe; not in this church’s doctrine or in that; not in this ism or in that ism; but ‘in the Truth.’ He will accept only what is real; he will strive to get at facts; he will search for Truth with a humble and unbiased mind, and cherish whatever he finds at any sacrifice.”

I love that – “…he who loves will love Truth not less than men.” It seems to me that thought is really the basis for all Science.  I believe that to be a true Christian Scientist one must seek Truth,Christ, not human personality.