Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

I often hear about how people in the West “feel entitled,” and that the entitlement distorts our priorities. I just might agree with this analysis.

I am a Baby Boomer, who has strong ties to members of the Greatest Generation, who fought in World War II. The idea of freedom for oneself and for our neighbor was instilled in my psyche. Everyone is entitled to freedom.

On the heels of entitlement to freedom came entitlement to social welfare care, bailouts, and large pensions. The result was a slackened can-do attitude. We expect others to take care of us, which in turn makes us blame others for our own problems.

It’s a situation that isn’t so healthy for civilization and it reminds me of a story in the Bible.

Isaac had eleven sons, the youngest was Joseph. The elder brothers didn’t like Joseph, for a multitude of reasons including jealousy and anger. They felt as if their dad was treating them unfairly compared to Joseph.

So, behind dad’s back, the brothers sold Joseph to travelers passing by and he was eventually forced into slavery. Joseph worked the best he could and moved up in position but was again cheated and sent to prison.

Life on earth is unfair. That fact will not change, but how we react to the unfairness can change.

Joseph trusted God to deliver him to betterment, especially since he couldn’t rely on human beings to help him fairly. Eventually, Joseph was freed and made ruler over the harvests, to make sure the people wouldn’t starve.

Joseph’s brothers traveled to Joseph to ask for food. They didn’t recognize Joseph because he’d matured and held a high position (the brother’s selfish minds couldn’t even imagine the power of God that overcomes unfairness).

The story ended well. Joseph fed his family and revealed who he was by forgiving his brothers. In other words, he didn’t take advantage of entitlement.

I can be responsible for myself. I can be accountable and work for my entitlements, constantly. Entitlements on this earth are fragile and finite, but my ability and spirituality is able to infinitely achieve betterment.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

Spirituality isn’t in limited supply. It isn’t controlled by a person or organization. The spiritual idea and its healing power can’t be monopolized. The widespread belief that only specific people are entitled to spiritual authority implodes in light of the Biblical stand that all believers “will be called priests of the Lord.”[1]

The supremacy of Spirit entitles us to antidote the chaotic existence of relativity with Truth and Love. We establish the divine Being and its rule by demonstration, by destroying the imaginary partnership between matter and the eternal Mind. Where is unity found? Where is infinite meaning found? In the Being of infinite Mind.

[1] Ex. 19:6; Isa. 61:6; Rev. 1:6

Holy Friday and Easter has come and gone, commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. But, I don’t forget to honor his ascension.

An ascension can be defined as: leaving no trace of death; no physical body left behind; attention focused on the spirit of an individual.

Jesus isn’t the only person to have ascended. Thousands of years before Jesus walked the earth, the Bible mentions Enoch and Elijah, who at different times, were said to have ascended also.

The ascension of Christ amounted to Jesus’ participation on earth for another 40 days. The number, 40 days, is usually used symbolically in the Bible and I don’t make it an arguing point. The point is, that although Easter is done and gone, I can think about the significance of this celebratory season.

In fact, I don’t want to forget the complete picture of Christ’s story.

I can imagine Christ Jesus talking with friends and people. I can imagine Jesus praying in quiet places. I can imagine him laughing and healing and touching hearts. I can imagine Christ alive on earth. All the time. Forever. Here and now.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

The spiritual growth that allowed Jesus to rise from the dead was increased even more to allow him later to ascend, prompting closure to his earthly record.

After the ascension, his students received the Holy Spirit, meaning they stopped interpreting people through human knowledge and turned their thoughts instead to divine knowledge.

Only as we ascend above all habituated feelings and sin can we reach the heaven-born aspiration.

The duality of the unseen and the seen—the spiritual and physical, the Christ and the flesh—continues until a pure ascension in thought. Through spiritual progress, the human concept, or body, disappears in Mind-science, yet the Christ spirit continues to exist and take away the sins of the world.

More than 30,000 Christian denominations exist worldwide, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia.

Thirty thousand. That’s an enormous number.

A 2018 Barna Research study reports that, “Churches of all stripes practice their own flavor of ministry in cities across the United States, all based on particular interpretations of scripture and style.”

Arguably, there is no lack of interpretations and style, although it’s unfortunate when they provoke confusion or havoc. However, the surplus of understandings and style can promote spirituality and peace of mind.

In my memoir, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter, I talk about the mental confusion experienced as a child when I was sexually abused. I talk about learning to say no to someone using me for their own self-satisfaction.

I also talk about the power to say yes to life instead of to death.

Saying yes to life stirred me to survive a fiery terrible accident. Moreover, it eventually helped me prioritize divine rules before church rules, probably because my church was dying.

A unique feature of these churches is the idea of an objective Pastor, communicated during services by lay-readers reading from the Bible and Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. But, what worked in the past wasn’t working in the future.

Multiple reasons are found for the demise of my church and its pastor, however, I discovered that even if church was gone, I still have the religion, Christian Science, simply defined as the law of divine Spirit interpreting harmony to the universe.

It was curious to learn that my religion wasn’t dependent on church.

If I learned anything else through my religion, it is the value of not acting as if other people solve my problems for me. Sure, I can watch and follow quality examples, but I need to be accountable to the divine.

Pew Research reported that about half of United States adults switch churches sometime in their lives. The Pew study found that, “Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation.”

I think the choice isn’t so much between 30,000, or more, denominations, as it is choosing the collective enormous divine Spirit as alive and well.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and author of, 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and from science & religion to God. She lives in Delaware County.

The attention given to women during March annoys me. It only takes half a minute to look back and see the future. A month of admiration given to women, then comes April Fool’s Day. Just joking, women are on the front line in the fight for equality and respect and our casualties outweigh the survivors.

A study on the 2017 state of women in corporate America reported that women, especially of color, remain underrepresented, hit low glass ceilings, get less support on the job, and then, 54% of them go home to do most or all the housework.

What are we up against? The human system. It’s rigged for inequalities by its very nature of diversity, yet we keep giving it power. And that power is abused.

Through research, social scientists find that when participants are assigned positions of power, they often willingly take candy from children or give near-lethal shocks to strangers for no reason other than being told to do so.

Professor of Psychology at University of California, Dacher Keltner reported last fall in Harvard Business Review, “These findings from laboratory studies tell us that abuses of power are predictable and recurring.”

I talk about recurring abuses of power in my memoir, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter. I also talk about stumbling upon better strategies to expand equality and respect.

First, I learned how to isolate the enemies.

The enemies aren’t men, they aren’t submissive women, and they aren’t nature or nurture. Whether believed or not, the enemies are inequality and disrespect.

It’s that simple and yet that complex. And to keep it simple, uncomplicates a better plan of action. An example from my memoir.

I grew up learning about Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) and about Christian Science as taught through her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

Christian Science is a divine system sourced to help improve the human system.

Eddy developed Christian Science into a religion by founding a church in Boston. Her accomplishments struck powerful chords early 20th century. Individuals were transformed, the church flourished, and then branched out worldwide, as successes far outweighed failures.

Mary Baker Eddy was a household name. Respected more than not.

By the 1980s, however, when I was in my twenties, her storyline backfired.

The backfire can be traced to contemporary controversies about the practices of healthcare and prayer, especially regarding children. Arguably, these sharp challenges are necessary to expose spiritual failures on the part of Eddy’s self-professed followers, but the result is Eddy’s original reputation and her accomplishments plummeting to obscurity.

Another female casualty. It’s tiresome, even if she’s used as a tourist attraction.

But, I uncovered and confronted my own guilt of being pretty proud of myself for admiring and following a woman. Basically, my arrogance pushed the limits of respect into a reverence for Eddy’s personality and her words. I admired the wrong thing. It was disrespect disguised as respect.

I pulled back to figure out a better plan of action: Use the power of admiration correctly.

The power of admiring women can’t go unchecked. What are we admired for? Sex appeal? Stop it now.

Intelligence and skill? Okay, but don’t let your guard down, because the power to approve of feminine intelligence and skill is limited and quickly slips into disapproval with any prodding from envy.

Are women admired for patience and empathy? Fine, but arm yourself, everyone, women and men. Arm yourself with better teachings and better learning, untainted by annoyance.

I just learned something.

Yes, the fight to give power to equality and respect is teachable and learnable. It means not trying so hard to give power to gender or positions in life. It means fighting correctly during Women’s History Month, instead of complaining about what I don’t like.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and student of Christian Science living in upstate New York. Her books are: 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, and, from science & religion to God.