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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Investing in Reconciliation

posted by Cheryl Petersen

The universe is a heady mixture of relationships. Not only are the stars, moon, and earth connected by an invisible force, but people are also constantly dealing with relationships. Our personalities and expectations determine the quality of our relationships however there is an invisible force that can override those personalities and maintain rewarding relationships whether in marriage, in church, or at our job. The force is apparent when we invest in reconciliation.

Reconciliation has a history. The Old Testament contains a record of priests killing animals and throwing blood on the walls to reconcile for sins. Fortunately, humankind has evolved out of that tradition. We can better relate to the New Testament thought on reconciliation. We read in II Corinthians, “From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come…All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.” (II Cor. 5:16-18, NIV)

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The Greek word for “reconciled” is katallagē, defined in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as: exchange (fig. adjustment), restoration to (the divine) favor, atonement, reconciliation (-ing).  To invest in reconciliation is to act on the fact that Christly characteristics and expectations reconcile us to God, Love, Truth. In other words, God can’t be reconciled to the personalities and expectations of human beings. God is not of the human but of the divine and the human is exchanged for the divine, not vice versa.

An astonishing example of investing in reconciliation was given in the late 1990’s when the people of South Africa made a great effort to transcend the divisions and strife generated during the period of apartheid. Meeting the demand for justice and unity, former enemies came together but with the emphasis to uncover truth, rather than prosecute individuals for past crimes. Records from victims and perpetrators have been cataloged, new laws have been established, and humanity witnessed a semblance of reconciliation.

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If we have rocky, rotten, or evaporating relationships, there is a good chance that truth is being covered up and even buried. The untruths must be exposed because many human beings don’t want to be reconciled to lies. To hide or ignore untruths is a fake reconciliation. But, we can be honest and ever uniting.

For example, my husband and I still get on one another’s nerves. Yes, after thirty years. But we know to give one another space and invest in reconciliation. That sounds contradictory however it beats blaming one another or trying to appease one another. A profitable reconciliation is to regard our self and one another, not from a worldly point of view, but as one with Christ, Truth. This opens the mind to productive communication and understanding. We can admit our mistakes and move forward.

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When relationships have clearly broken, reconciliation can still occur. We can return to the experience of love while seriously remembering to reconcile each day with truth. Here is a list of truths I’ve noticed in the last few years:

  1. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse mistakes but aids in reconciliation.
  2. Divine Love comes with the wisdom to respect new ideas.
  3. Reconciliation is inevitable. A commitment to the inevitable is invigorating whereas resigning myself to the inevitable is wearying.

 

I’ve experienced reconciliation with religion also by reconstructing my view on it minus superstition and false reverences. It is inevitable for reconciliation to escape the old-time religion that we all are a bunch of lousy sinners separate from Truth, God. Religion is also escaping the nonsense that we are good human beings reconciled to God through human approval. But, Truth is paramount, not human approval. From 21st Century Science and Health, “If Truth is overcoming error in your daily walk and talk, you are a better person and can finally say, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’[1] This is having our part in the reconciliation with Truth and Love.”

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We cannot reconcile ourselves to the past or to out-grown thinking. Reconciliation is not a matter of putting-the-old-back-together. We are one with God, not one with a human life, and can reconcile to truth right now and every day. Exchanging the human for the divine requires honest finesse and the result is strong relationships built on that which lasts.


[1] II Tim. 4:7

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Selective Hearing, Selective Religion

posted by Cheryl Petersen

courtesy Frank Plant emptykingdom.com

Why is it that my husband can hear me think, “The cookies are done,” and yet he can’t hear me verbally repeat over and over, “Please don’t wash my blouse with the mudroom rugs”? He can be on the other side of the farm and know to come home and get a warm cookie. But, standing together in the laundry room, while using the blouse and mudroom rugs as visuals and verbally explaining not to wash my blouse with the mudroom rugs, he can’t hear me say, Please don’t wash my blouse with the mudroom rugs.

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Selective hearing is a hoary trait known to humankind. It can be funny but usually it is annoying. People apparently choose to ignore things that they don’t want to hear while accepting only those things they want to hear. Our ears still work but the words bounce off the mind when they are not what we want to hear. The habit has been around a long time. We read in the Bible, “With their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears.” Matt. 13:15, ESV)

There is more to selectivity than can be written here. It is not only an entrenched habit, but also an ability, maybe even a blessing. If I am listening to music while driving a car with a loud engine, and my mind is mulling over the grocery list, I’m glad to be able to hear my husband say, “Cheryl, slow down, there is a stop sign up ahead.”

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Curiously, the activity of selectivity percolates into religion. Religion was generally designed to encourage the discernment of Spirit and immortal being. Sadly, selective religion rears its ugly head and takes us in the opposite direction of discriminating against anyone who doesn’t live up to a particular human ideology—an ideology that its promoters can’t even live up to. It is one thing to be discerning when it comes to religion however quite another thing to discriminate.

Religion is unfolding, evolving. To repeat constantly outgrown religious ideals or rituals is the same thing as ignoring progressive healing instruction. What was selected today as pertinent to religion may not be useful tomorrow. The human need must be met with a living religion that embraces all humankind. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. Do not imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number of people or for a particular period of time, since to all humankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”

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Mindsets No Longer Living in the Past

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Mary Baker Eddy was a household name one hundred years ago—Christian, preacher, author—a Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer of the 19th century. However, Eddy’s main book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures made some rather bold statements for a time period filled with horses, buggies, and a scientific field that stressed the solidity and stability of matter and physical laws.

Circa 1900, before women had the right to vote, imagine reading these words from Science and Health, “The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars,—he will look out from them upon the universe…thus matter will finally be proved nothing more than a mortal belief.” Not only was Eddy refuting a static material universe and its indelible physical laws, but she predicted that humankind would harness the ability to travel into outer-space.

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The first half of Eddy’s life was spent grasping a system supported by divine law, able to allow us to overcome physical laws of limitation and sickness. Eddy discovered the system to be metaphysical. She spent the last half of her life broadcasting this understanding of divine law to the masses. People studied and applied the mental power and quite a record of healings was racked up, even among members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, established by Eddy in 1879.

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During the 20th century, Christian leaders, e.g. Aimee Semple McPerson and Frances and Charles Hunter, also emulated divine healing powers. The Hunters book, How to Heal the Sick parallels the intent of Science and Health even though the approaches differ. But why does it seem as if these charismatic healers are a thing of the past? Why isn’t Christian healing more systematic today? Is it because of the human minds tendency to live in the past?

Mary Baker Eddy warned against living in the past because it produces a hypnotic state. A mind stuck in the past becomes suspicious. It starts to rely on that which it should avoid or it becomes confused. Eddy admonished, as recorded in Miscellany, “Other minds are made dormant by [living in the past], and the victim is in a state of semi-individuality, with a mental haziness which admits of no intellectual culture or spiritual growth.” Is this lack of intellectual refinement contributing to the dying churches?

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Living in the past also tempts personality worship. Human beings fixate on the personalities of Christ Jesus, the apostles, Mary Baker Eddy, the Hunters, or even modern day healers. The fixation cripples self-sufficiency.

Paul told the Corinthians, “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’” (I Cor. 1:12, NIV) Christ isn’t a human personality. Christ isn’t a human culture or language. Christ is forever, undivided. To follow Christ is to live in the now. Eddy counseled in a Message for 1901, “Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ.”

A fixed familiarity with personalities tends to buffer the impact of divine law. We think we know it all because we have stories and scenes etched into our consciousness in regard to these great healers. Our minds become static—although often disguised as devoted. It takes a mental earthquake to shake the mindset stuck in the past to wake up to a new reality that includes healing.

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Human mindsets must be revised. Today we no longer need to argue for the insubstantiality of matter. We are now dealing with quantum energy fields. We read in the revision of Eddy’s book, 21st Century Science and Health, “While dwelling on a physical plane, human terms must generally be employed to speak of the things of Spirit. It takes time for human thought to adjust to the higher meaning.” During the 20th century, mounting evidence was collected to verify the fact that matter isn’t solid and physical laws are subordinate to metaphysical laws therefore human terms are adjusted accordingly. No longer living in the past, we can continue to reach and experience the higher meaning, including metaphysical Christian healing.

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Reciting Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Speech

posted by Cheryl Petersen

With a poignant sonorous voice, Reginald Brunson recited Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. “Every Friday before the Martin Luther King, Jr.  Holiday, I recite the speech at South Kortright Central School,” said Brunson. “I also delivered the speech at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ceremony in Oneonta on Sunday.”

South Kortright Principal, John Bonhotal, includes Reginald Brunson as a regular guest to recite King’s speech every year at the school. The audience for the Friday production at South Kortright School consists of Kindergarteners through fifth graders. Students from the fifth grade participated with poster cards that illustrated a timeline. “Important events from 1929 to 1983 were written on each poster card,” said Azalyn Brunson, fifth grade student and introducer of Reginald Brunson.

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Brunson stands before the listeners, commanding attention as he draws in his breath. The words are familiar yet so potent they require concentration. Brunson comes to the part of the eight minute speech, repeating with appropriate intonation: “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

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“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

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“Every time I recite the speech, the audience has my attention,” said Brunson. “To touch hearts is my goal. I work with the fact that the audiences in upstate New York are non-minority.” Brunson grew up in South Carolina and was the minority. He remembers the signs clearly stating, “For White’s Only.” “There were seven of us kids in y family and at first we went to a segregated school.” Brunson was in the seventh grade when school segregation was diminished.

“Growing up in central South Carolina was totally different from growing up here in the north,” said Brunson. “There is no comparison and I chose to raise my kids in the north. They didn’t have to be exposed to the prejudices more common in the south. A lot of progress has been made, I love my country, but more progress yet needs to be made.”

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Brunson and his siblings were growing up at the tail end of what is now known as The Great Migration, the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the West, Midwest, and North from 1916 to 1970. The Migration was one of the greatest numbers in history. African Americans left their homes to relocate where there were more satisfactory economic opportunities and less segregationist laws. The burgeoning industrial age was a resource for employment especially during the World Wars. The Great Migration came with problems however such as poor working conditions and competition for living space. Racism and prejudice still existed but African Americans began building their own niches of black urban culture that grew to exert enormous influence. “I remember the marches and the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed,” said Reginald Brunson. “I was eight years old when I watched King die. I don’t forget it.” Years later, Brunson was asked to recite the “I Have a Dream” speech and he memorized it. “I don’t forget it,” said Brunson. “The words and meaning are in my long term memory to stay.”

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“I’ve torn apart the speech, realizing what to emphasize,” said Burnson. “I’ve watched videos of Martin Luther King Jr. giving the speech.” Burnson utilizes his background in theater during the oration. He realized his love of theater while in High School. He went on to study accounting and theater at what is now Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Since moving to Hobart, he has been involved in many productions in and out of Delaware County. Plays of notice are: Witness for the Prosecution, Twelve Angry Men, and Out Town along with a one-man act at Franklin Stage.

“Martin Luther King Jr. had given the speech 5 or 6 times before the Washington D.C. event,” said Brunson. “I recite the final version which King had developed to a full power.” Martin Luther King Jr. gave the final speech August 28, 1963, fifty years ago this year. Brunson has given the speech at a multitude of places. “I will recite it next month when our family goes to Carolinas for vacation,” added Brunson who is scheduled to give the address in Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, and his hometown of Sumpter, South Carolina.

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“I’m excited to visit South Carolina, it’s been a while since we’ve been back,” said Brunson. “But, this is home. I love Delaware County. The people in Bloomville, Hobart, and South Kortright are the salt of the earth. They’ve always had my back and they are my family.” Reginald and his wife, Cynthia Hillis Brunson, have a home in Hobart. They have six children and three grandchildren. “I love them all,” adds Brunson.

A fulfilled promise to Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

 

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