Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Gen. 1:31

The knowledge that God made everything good can be difficult to act on. Everyday life experience contradicts that knowledge. Even second-hand experiences contradict the knowledge that God made everything good.

As a former foster parent, I would fail to see good in bad parents. However, when looking into the eyes of a confused unwanted child, the only knowledge that saved our situation was the knowledge that God made everything good.

We’d talk about what was good and how we could tap into it every day. Children are more adaptable than adults so I learned from them.

First lesson: Even though it’s difficult to act on the spiritual truth that goodness is the only reality, we can.

Second lesson: Prayer helps me focus on a good God.

Third lesson: I can’t just sit around in a contemplative life. I must take explicit social actions in which to make a good God a reality.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “Every student’s mind should be strongly impressed by divine Science; by an exalted cognizance of the moral, social, and spiritual qualifications requisite for healing, well knowing it to be impossible for error, evil, and hate to accomplish the grand results of Truth and Love.”

Today, in homes and churches, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, Mary Baker Eddy’s words are repeated.

That is, of course, appropriate. Her words are thought provoking and filled with many profound images. Borrowing effectively from Christ Jesus, the apostle Paul, John Wesley, the Declaration of Independence, and Alfred Tennyson’s “Hope, Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier,’” Eddy laboriously called upon citizens of the world to recognize and realize “the healing power of the divine Love in what it has done and is doing for mankind.”

Her words speak clearly over a century. From her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“Now is the time in which to experience salvation in spirit and in life.”

“My weary hope tries to realize that happy day, when man shall recognize the Science of Christ and love his neighbor as himself.”

But today it is important that we remember not only Eddy’s iconic words, but the period that led to them. It was the 19th century. Sickness was God’s will, Darwin’s theory of evolution was a lightning rod strike to religion, and salvation came after death.

Eddy made herself known, “through her laborious publications,” emphasizing “how much time and toil are still required to establish the stately operations of the [Science of Christ, Love]. She organized a contemporary church and a mass consciousness moved toward advancing deliverance from sickness and evil through divine Love.

On the one hand, gone into the dustbin of history are preachers that shriek predestination and damnation, gone are absolutes in science, and gone is the notion that death will bring heaven or hell.

But on the other hand, after 100 years, these issues still are in the forefront of our lives and thoughts. It is no wonder Eddy wrote, “Time and toil are still required to establish the stately operations,” of the power of love.

The late 19th and early 20th century crowd may have shared a sense of history, mission and community when Eddy’s words first were gathered and articulated, but there is more work to be done.

I may not fully understand the dynamics of the thought movement during Eddy’s time, but I do recognize the benefits of knowing I can find a healing Love now. And, instead of repeating Eddy’s words, I need to apply the love in today’s spirit and life.

It’s not over. The work Eddy labored over is unfinished. Time and toil are still required to advance the Science of Christ, Love.

Many people think we are in a post-religious stage, but the legacies of predestination and damnation linger and have thwarted progress in the church Eddy established. Dogma, fear, and suspicion became subtle and systemic. Eddy’s words are confined to repetition.

Divine Love continues its need of expression. We have made progress, but we still have work to do to make Eddy’s weary hope become realized.

 

clean faceThe bigness of God’s love and help can be found easier than we think.

It’s natural for us to help each other. For example, I always leave a dead mouse for Cheryl. At least three times a week. But, during the winter, when the snow is a foot high, I know Cheryl will leave food for me in a bowl. I also let Cheryl pet and hug me because it makes her happy.

The Gospel Matthew reads, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7, ESV)

But remember, when helping, we need to be prepared ourselves otherwise we do more harm.

Helpers need to be sensible. They need to provide what is necessary. God wouldn’t give costume jewelry or an electric oven to someone who is starving and without electricity.

Moreover, helpers can’t come in with a boat load of unfulfilled promises.

Helpers and healers need to supply useful, up-to-date equipment and instruction.

Too often, helpers reverse the procedure. They assume the victim needs to complete a list of duties before receiving aid. Churches vainly tell people they must read something, go to church, or accept Jesus, before being helped.

Instead, it is churches that need to satisfy requirements before being able to help others. They need to give up their rituals and prepare themselves with useful tools to help and heal others.

We can let go of that which isn’t helpful.

God does know what we need. We can find and feel what we need.

The end of year 2001, with the prospect of religious-based terrorist attacks terrifyingly real, many are quick to cast the nonreligious as the liberator. The prospect of a 21st century nonreligious-based society forms part of a larger narrative about the shifting trends in belief systems. Fueled by anger over tragic consequences, myopic decisions, and sexual abuse indissolubly connected to religious organizations, society isn’t merely repudiating the status quo. In choosing the nonreligious position, society is transforming believers into thinkers—faith into understanding.

Amid the euphoria surrounding the nonreligious rise and religious fallout, they both need to find a triumph. Let not free-thinking or understanding get lost in the rise of sound-bite beliefs, of snarky bloggers, braying talk radio, Twittering nincompoops, or the media preoccupied with fanatics and fundamentalists.

The fruits of victory can sometimes contain seeds of defeat. Minus the deep-rooted organization attached to the religious, and with postmodern science unable to explain reality, confusion and disconnectedness spread through the nonreligious ranks. The nonreligious are criticized for misreading its mandate, spending time pushing for fallible science at a time when millions fear the power of thought. It is the same as the religious devoting their time to tradition and creed instead of spiritual understanding.

In pursuing what is believed to be a responsible course, the nonreligious echoes free-thought or atheism. But, today’s free-thought is not the same as one-hundred years ago. We are in the era of postmodernism. The optimism of any scientific or religious truth claiming to explain everything is met with hefty skepticism. A zealous nonreligious person is categorized with the religious zealot.

In the postmodern understanding, interpretation explains what the world means to us. Postmodernism also relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be relative, rather than certain and universal.

My experiences of spiritual healing do not qualify me to define absolute truth, which will be experienced differently by others. So, letting survival of faith trump ideology, I look past the rise and fall and find the nonreligious and religious working side by side. Instead of distinguishing ourselves from one another we distinguish spiritual faith from blind faith. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Faith is necessary in science, medicine, and religion. Consider the researcher or scientist who is trying to find a cure for cancer; they obviously have faith that a cure exists; otherwise they would not even try.” The demand to think and increase understanding—in science, religion, and psyche—is supplied by individuals escaping the mass consciousness content with status quo.

It’s not any easier or better to be either religious or nonreligious. It’s just tough to challenge beliefs and advance faith into understanding.