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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Les Miserables in a new light

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Reviews of Director Tom Hooper’s big screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s book, Les Misérables are almost as entertaining as the film. The reviews exhibit barbed, bazaar, candid opinions that human beings are vulnerable to express.

Last weekend, my husband and I ventured out for our quadrennial date and actually got in a vehicle and drove to the Walton Theater to watch Les Misérables.

For a little background, I read Les Misérables decades ago. Loved it. But clearly, I didn’t remember every detail therefore whenever I’m drawn back to the ideas in Les Misérables, through other movies or renditions, I learn something new about broken dreams, religious values, unrequited love, sacrifice, and redemption. The many versions of the book add to the scope of Victor Hugo’s donation to the advancement of humanity.

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I haven’t found a reviewer yet who echoes my impression of the 2012 musical rendition of Les Misérables.  I don’t lean toward the passionate exclamation, “Nothing short of breathtaking, triumphant and beautiful!” I also don’t lean toward the review quipped by Alistair Harkness who commented, and I’m abridging here, “Bombastic, overblown, overlong, needlessly convoluted…” His remark seems backward. The French to English language version of the book, Les Misérables, contains 530,982 words. The 2012 film, scripted by William Nicholson, Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boublil, and Claude-Michel Schönberg, managed to effectively garner at least 250 pages into a 3 minute song. Bravo.

The 2012 Les Misérables impressed me with the fact that time/space and the human language are surmounted with the use of lyrics, music, acting, and visuals. All these layers together produced a grand effect that are provoking the human mind to grow out of its own codes, expectations, assumptions, and flawed views.

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Ash Wednesday and Traditions

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Ash Wednesday brought me to a Taizé church service this year. Surrounded by candlelight, the pastor welcomed us all and explained Taizé is little village in the south of Burgundy, France. In this village, over 60 years ago, Brother Roger founded a community committed to prayer and reunion within the church and the human family. Taizé interjects short melodies in between Scriptural readings. Music laces together harmony with the intent to promote focus on God.

A cantor, violinist, flutist, and pianist centered our prayers. Although the beginning of Lent, we were reminded it is okay to cherish our joys while diminishing our backwardness.

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The Taizé style service is rather modern in context, started in the 20th century. Oddly, the popular Ash Wednesday took many centuries to develop and didn’t become formal until the 12th century.

Knowing the background of traditions keeps our brains from believing certain traditions are laws. We can break traditions or start new ones, it’s just best to remember the goal, to praise God.

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Hospitality in Religion and Healthcare

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Hospitality has become big business in the travel industry and the trend is appearing in the fields of religion and healthcare. Granted, the business of hospitality exposes the fact that we are hospitable when we are getting paid money. Not exactly heartwarming, but it’s a mark better than inhospitable conditions. Moreover, we can still figure out what hospitality is all about.

Hospitality is not a new concept by any means. We read in I Peter, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” We also detect the instruction of a friendly and generous nature in the Hippocratic Oath, “In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients.”

But quite often, human circumstances, beliefs, and cultures make it difficult to be genuinely hospitable. Doctors in the Public Insight Network said, “They need more time—time to talk with patients, time to think through difficult diagnoses, time to analyze data showing whether patients are doing better under their care—and fair compensation for that time.” This need will be met only when the mind makes room for new ideas on how to achieve the goal. And, room is made when old ideas are removed.

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A few old ideas being unloaded are the standard notions that religions and healthcare are supported by the fear of death or the quest to fight death. There are signs of religions and healthcare shifting to a more hospitable outlook of learning to focus on and live a meaningful life. We are admitting that the quest to prolong mortality is desolate. The Los Angeles Times reported February 5, 2013, “New research finds that the proportion of Medicare patients dying in hospice care nearly doubled from 22% in 2000 to 42% in 2009, an apparent bow to patients’ overwhelming preference for more peaceful passings free of heroic measures.”

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Humanity is not only bypassing aggressive healthcare treatments that extend a mortal life but also ducking the hard-hitting dogma in religions that provoke behavior out of fear of death rather than a love of love and truth. Within the last century, we’ve seen the pursuit of spiritualty bust out of inhospitable religious customs and healthcare strategies. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity.”

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Addiction to Assumptions

posted by Cheryl Petersen

If there is one thing I’ve learned after being married 30 years it is that my husband and I think alike, but not really. It appears as though we can read one another’s mind which is nice because we do little extra things for one another every day that make life much easier and more fun. The snag though is that I can out-think my husband. This is not to mean I am smarter, but that I think way more often and specific than him. His thought processing powers can slip into neutral at the sight of brownies.

This ability to think has been strengthened by my study of divine Science, a spiritual quest that involves reasoning and revelation but more so it involves developing thoughts from divine Mind rather than the human mind. Well, that is the intent, to respond to divine Mind full of health, strength, and wisdom.

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The problem is I sometimes don’t know the difference between a divine thought and a human thought.

Of course, if I’m going to respond to human thoughts, I hope to respond to the better ones, like forgiveness, patience, and practicality. But divine thoughts are even greater and they are extremely powerful.

Divine thoughts are not abstract but definitely metaphysical and they permeate the human consciousness to bring about spiritual development and healing. Many times, I’ve been healed or guided wisely by means of divine Mind but to be honest, I get snarky or pious, take your pick they are both unwelcoming characteristics, and worse yet, I start assuming everyone else should think like me. I expect things to be a certain way.

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This is where my husband comes in handy. He helps me break my addiction to assumptions because he isn’t all caught up in my smartness. How do I know it’s an addiction?

Addictions have been exposed and broken down. The signs are obvious:

  • I defend my thoughts to the point that I get on the defense too easily.
  • I blame others for the problems going on. The red flag here is that when the others are out of the picture, the problems still persist.
  • Secrets are kept secrets. Anything that might give my assumptions away is ignored or covered up with fluff.
  • I indulge in my assumptions. I justify my outgrown repetitive thoughts and behavior because they make me feel good.
  • I excuse the guilt and shame that are always hanging around. I stiffen my assumptions, and spend all my hours working hard to show my beliefs are valid and God willing, yet guilt and shame are still niggling in the background.
  • I become isolated from forward thinking people and only hang around those who think like me—a diminishing number.

Fortunately, taking on the task of revising Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, has really exposed assumptions. I laugh now, but it was a shock to learn that words in a book are not truth. Truth is metaphysical. Also, the human language is not a resource for knowledge, only divine Mind is the source of knowledge. I continue my journey and lessen my assumption that those really nice human thoughts are divine and focus on God.

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From the 4th edition of 21st Century Science and Health:

SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF SPIRITUAL DIVINE MIND

GOD: Divine Principle, Mind, Soul, Life, Love, Truth, Spirit.

PERSON (man and woman): God’s spiritual idea, individual, perfect, eternal.

IDEA: An image in Mind; “Synonyms IDEA, CONCEPT, CONCEPTION, THOUGHT, NOTION, IMPRESSION mean what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended) or as a formulation (as of a plan).”[1]

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SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF HUMAN MIND

First Degree: Spiritual unawareness.

PHYSICAL. Evil thinking, obsessions and negative appetites, fear, corrupt will, self-justification, arrogance, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease, death.

Second Degree: Disappearance of self-destructive thinking.

MORAL. Humanity, honesty, constructive inclinations, compassion, hope, faith, humility, moderation.

Third Degree: Understanding.

SPIRITUAL. Wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, spiritual power, love, health, holiness.

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Spiritual universe

In the third degree, human mind disappears and man and woman as God’s image appear.


[1] By permission. From the Merriam-Webster OnLine,©2007 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated (www.Merriam-Webster.com).

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