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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Ingredients in the Bible

posted by Cheryl Petersen

My last post talks about how we want to read the whole Bible, not just our favorite parts.

I keep digging in the Bible and find yet another story about some dude named Sheba who figures he wants to rebel against King David. (II Sam. 20) The King and his men ride out to put a stop to Sheba’s nuisance behavior. Sheba runs to hide in a city called Abel Beth Maakah. The King’s men start beating on the wall until a “wise woman” yells out to get the leaders attention. She asks, What is the deal here with all your noise and trouble making?

The leader answers, We want Sheba.

The woman rolls her eyes and says, Give me a little time. The Wise Woman goes into the city, finds Sheba, gets his head cut off, and then throws the head over the wall. The men bent on making a huge scene, left town. Peace was restored.

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Bible story number three. In Judges 9 we read about Abimelek, a ruler in the land of Shechem who was bent on becoming king. At one point, his ambitious plan was looking promising, but he had to kill anyone who challenged his authority. During a battle, a woman dropped a millstone on his head, crushing his skull. Abimelek knew he was a goner but hurried to ask his armorbearer to kill him off so it would not be said that he died at the hands of a woman. His action only confirmed that conceit has no equal, but kills itself under the weight of aplomb and grace, ingredients which are equally expressed through both men and women.

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All the Ingredients of the Bible

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Chocolate cake rates pretty high in our household. We use a favorite recipe that includes the ingredient of sour cream. Yum. Normally, the cake gets eaten before it gets frosted. Needless to say, the recipe sometimes doesn’t turn out. I forget an ingredient, or use a wrong ingredient, or don’t measure an ingredient right. Yuck.

When I read the Bible, I remind myself not to forget an ingredient. I strive to avoid the human habit of “selective reading” or “measuring” only what I think is right. Every ingredient, or element of the Bible, needs to be recognized and respected.

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My dad raised me and my brothers and sisters as equals. He taught us all how to work on the farm. Dad also was a church going man, hauling the family to worship services every single Sunday, where we heard about a God that created children who had no superior or inferior complexes.

Later, as a woman, who eventually came face-to-face with male domination, I decided to grit my teeth and strive to read all the Bible, even though its text leans heavily on the side of a lousy view of womanhood.

I am rather familiar with the Bible stories reiterating the strength and courage of Ruth, Mary, and Tabitha—women who seemed to always have everything in place and work out quite nicely. But, reading these stories is like watching a feel-good movie. And, we all know the world’s reality is nothing like feel-good movies. So I dig a little deeper in the Bible and find other stories, for example of Abigail, the wife of a puny minded, cranky drunk, Nabal. (I Sam. 25)

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The story claims that King David had asked Nabal for food, but Nabal refused the request. King David got peeved and decided to plunder Nabal’s possessions and kill him to boot. So, here is Abigail, stuck between 2 hot-headed self-righteous men. She gathers a hefty portion of food, loads it on donkeys, and goes to meet King David, bowing to the ground, Abigail requests a less turbulent outcome. That grant was requested.

Comparing this story to my own situation can be touchy because I really do have a great husband but one time, years ago, we were in the office of our tax accountant, feeling as though the tax bill was going to plunder us. A deduction occurred to me that might help. I mentioned it. I knew my husband didn’t know what I was talking about and the accountant, well maybe he got twirked that he hadn’t thought of the deduction himself, it was his job after all, but he pooh-poohed me as if I was talking about a new way to change baby diapers. My husband glared at me to be quiet. I bit my tongue. But I absolutely did not submit to egotism. I acted on the spiritual truth that egotism has no equal and self-destructs as patience and wisdom equally are expressed. For the next year, I changed baby diapers with patience and wisdom. Again, we were sitting in the tax accountant’s office and unasked, the accountant not only admitted his mistake by neglecting the deduction I’d mentioned the previous year, but figured out a way we still got reimbursed, because it was legitimate.

 

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Direction Other Than Big Bangs

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Well, it was a bit of a bummer for thousands of people in San Diego who were prepared to watch July 4 fireworks over Glorietta Bay. Instead of seeing a distinct stream of fireworks for 20 minutes, there was a 15 second big bang of blur. Apparently, a computer glitch is the reason the 2012 fireworks went off all at once.

Of course, spectators were rather disappointed. Instant gratification is not all it’s cracked up to be.

It reminded me of the Big Bang theory.

Collider in which evidence of Higgs Boson was located picture Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

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Oddly enough, around the world, in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 4, scientists were smashing sub-atomic particles together at enormous energy levels and finally made the claim to have detected what has been dubbed the “God particle,” formally known as the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is believed to have originated during the Big Bang, thus helping to shape the subatomic particles that make up all matter in the universe.

Okay, I’ve never been a proponent of the Big Bang theory, mainly because physicists keep making new discoveries that undermine their theories about how the universe works. It’s kind of funny when you think about it and thankfully I’ve met physical scientists who will admit their truth today is probably going to change tomorrow.

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I’ve also met religionists who have stopped arguing the unscientific truth that God created a material world in 7 days, rampant with beginnings and ends to everything from happiness to health.

It is unnecessary to flop between the material and the abstract. There is another alternative. After contemplating this statement from Science and Health, first written by Mary Baker Eddy, “The infinite has no beginning. This word beginning is employed to signify the only—that is, the eternal truth and unity of God and spiritual being, including the universe,” my approach to life has shifted.

Instead of trying to figure out beginnings and ends, my goal is to understand, or interpret, the infinite, the only. When I focus on infinite Love, I feel a reduction of the hate/love cycle. When I become more familiar with infinite Spirit and its resources of spiritual goodness, I become less bedazzled or disappointed with material things. When I realize infinite Mind, people and things around me exhibit more intelligence. When I feel infinite Soul, the past and the future don’t dictate my decisions as much as the now.

The infinite, the only. It’s interesting.

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Memory Expansion

posted by Cheryl Petersen

There she was, Naomi, teeny-tiny and sleeping peacefully in the baby carriage. Her parents are our friends, so of course, my husband and I went to meet Naomi. I stood there looking at the newborn and smiling. A flood of memories bombarded me. Naomi is adorable, no doubt about that, and a good baby, I can see that too, however my mind became discombobulated. Surely our daughters were never that small. Memory has it that our children were at least three times that size at birth. “Naomi was born weighing six pounds and three ounces,” said new mommy, Thanya. My brain did a minor calculation and realized that was only a few ounces less than our second daughter.

Okay, I know memory is malleable, but it’s only been about 25 years. Can I already forget that our children were small?

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The picture I have wallpapered on my memory is of independent, strong, and on the go kids. I can barely keep up with them. Moreover, I am pretty sure they were born that way. Maybe, if I dig into the depths of my memory archives, I can vaguely remember sitting somewhere quietly and breast feeding them, because I am an advocate of nursing; however, even that memory includes a motorcycle or snowboard revving or swishing nearby.

The power to remember is our memory. This is a power we don’t want to lose. Scientists are realizing that memory can be exercised or kept in shape. So, we are encouraged to read and do cross word puzzles. I can read. But, I can’t do cross word puzzles, unless the clue is really clear, like: spell c-a-t.

Anyway, for the very reason pliable memories are a fact, I read Scripture with healthy skepticism. Whether we want to admit it or not, Scripture is being filtered by our “power to remember.” We use our memory to read, or listen. This is why the same verse can mean different things at different times, or why the Bible is interpreted differently between people. What we are learning is affected by past activities and experiences—by our memories.

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Memories are morphing constantly. Normally, I try to forget the crap and remember the good times. Sometimes, when I am grumpy, I recall only the bad and forget the good. There are the times when a selective memory kicks in. For example, I can remember to eat a snack but not take out the garbage.

When it comes to my spiritual search for a healthy memory, I come across statements in the Bible about God remembering characters such as Noah, Abraham, or Rachel (Genesis 8:1, 19:29, 30:22). It’s real nice to learn God remembered Noah and saved him from floating indefinitely in the ark after the flood; or that God remembered Abraham, and saved his beloved nephew Lot; or remembered Rachel, who then conceived a child and was no longer barren.

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I can remember this nice God when I feel flooded with problems, or our kids are not with us, or when I am feeling unproductive. It gives me hope to think God will remember and help me. But, reading more in the Bible, I find even a better picture of God; a God who forgets wrongdoings. “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

But, so as not to delude myself, I must read the Bible further, because any thinking person with an ounce of memory knows it is ridiculous to assume there is a God who lets us get away with hurting our self or others while He remembers us in time of need.

Interestingly, the whole concept of memory and God can enlarge into a conscious powerful knowing. From Jeremiah, “No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.”

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I take this to mean that God is more than a mind that remembers or forgets but a mind that knows. Mind, God, knows only that which is good, otherwise to know lack would imply forgetting plenty. This logic is supported in divine Science, or Christian Science. And, because God isn’t lost, no faculty of Mind is lost, including memory. The logic gives me the credible ability to affirm that I do not have to lose my memory. I can remember that I know a spiritual God and I know myself, my children, and others, as Gods image. This is a good starting point to remembering what I need to know during the day. And, I do know Naomi is bringing her parents an ocean of joy.

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