What must it have been like to have been a slave in Galveston, Texas, the moment that news of emancipation finally reached this community? I thought about this as I viewed an original copy of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation displayed in our North Carolina Museum of History.
What is it like to be suddenly free from any enslavement: from dangerous addictions, unhealthy relationships, abuse, hatred, fear, depression, even disease?
Spiritual seekers and thinkers have been finding freedom from these evils as they pray for better models of mankind to follow, and as they pray to know more of God’s great love for His creation. Many learn how to experience this love as they study the Bible and other holy writings where so many individuals prayed for deliverance, and deliverance came.
Today, when emancipation from our suffering comes, we feel the ringing truth of the joyful shout, “Free at last…free at last…thank God we are free at last.”
As one famous spiritual seeker and healer wrote, “The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking…oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon’s mouth. Love is the liberator.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.)
Do you want to be happy? To be in an exalted state of happiness continuously and for the rest of your life? To feel the *harmony and bliss of the reign of Soul? (*from Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of Heaven, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)
Who doesn’t? Led Zeppelin, Fred Astaire and a Welsh Choir certainly do.
Everyone yearns for this perfect sense of happiness. Everyone yearns for Heaven. Is it possibly here after all?
Imagine this scenario: you’re ready for the Prom, but you come down with your usual allergies right before the Big Night. What’s worse, the allergy situation is so discouraging it threatens to become a full blown depression.
Good thing this is all imaginary. But if any of these situations sounds woefully familiar, give a read to our three guest bloggers, all who offer solutions based on how you think about these problems. (Note: No drugs were used in these solutions.)
On stress at Prom time: blogger Wendy Margolies writes in part:
“Prom can be the most important event in a high school experience – a special night to look forward to for months. For some people, though, prom becomes just another reason to worry and feel stressed out. Even people who are looking forward to it can feel nervous.
“ The pressure of the perfect prom is on months before the night even begins. YouTube is bursting with “promposals” and “Best Yes” videos of high-school students seeking prom dates.” Read more…
Next, colleague Eric Nelson writes about two healings of allergies, both attributed to a change in thinking and loving:
“Here’s a story about a guy who suffered from asthma, allergies, and sinus infections his entire life,” [a correspondent's] post begins. It was a constant, every day affliction. It was part of him…. It was his identity. And then, he figured it out.” What was it he figured out? Two things, actually.
“First, he learned that no amount of antibiotics, nasal sprays, steroids, or inhalers could relieve his symptoms, let alone cure him. Second, he learned that what he chose to believe about himself could have a significant impact on his health.” Read more…
Finally, Ingrid Peschke writes of new takes on the age-old challenges of mental health:
“As an avid follower of news regarding the intersection of spirituality and health care, I was particularly intrigued by a new study about the effects of spirituality and religion on mental health outcomes. I decided to call the Boston-area doctor behind the study, Dr. David H. Rosmarin. He’s a McLean Hospital clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and he helped to examine patients who participated in the study over a one-year period. He explained that spirituality is not only important, but key to the future of mental health care.”
You can read the results of her interview on Huffington Post.” Read more...
So if you have any combination of prom stress, allergies or mental health issues, it’s possible there are new ways of thinking and dealing with these challenges. These new ways might be helpful even if you have only ONE of the problems.
Jean Stapleton died this past weekend and we are deeply in her debt for what she gave to stage and television. For all the triumphs of this fine actor, it was the character of sweet Edith Bunker in TV’s “All in the Family” whom we remember most fondly. This dear lady, the otherwise hapless wife of stolid and stubborn Archie, shuffled and chirped her way into our hearts. Her good cheer, selfless humility and steadfast fidelity to good lit up the screen even when Archie’s moods would have darkened it. Edith softened us even as she softened Archie. She was just that good.
NORMAN LEAR: Jean Stapleton is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever known.
NORRIS: That’s Norman Lear, the creator and producer of “All in the Family.” He says there was a co-mingling of the character Edith Bunker with the woman Jean Stapleton.
LEAR: When Edith had some deep problem, we had to answer – how would she react to this transsexual, to that murder, we always thought she would react the way we thought Jesus might, that she was that pure. And Jean Stapleton was that pure.
NORRIS: Stapleton was a Christian Scientist and, according to Lear, a woman of great faith. She was also involved with social activist and feminist causes. For more than 30 years, Stapleton was on the board of a think tank that focused on issues affecting women. Stapleton would say that when she was in public, people would often approach her and ask her to say something in that high-pitched voice, which was nothing like her normal speaking voice.
Stapleton would politely refuse, saying: Edith was just a character she once played. But that’s how she’ll be remembered: as a good-hearted housewife, navigating the country’s changing times of the 1970s. (End)
Jean Stapleton proved that living a life of faith, hope and love is good enough, but sharing these gifts so widely and generously is the finest legacy. That legacy of love began many years ago when we first met Edith Bunker.
Those were indeed the days.
Can a simple lesson from Sunday School days inspire an iconic sculpture, known and loved universally today? Here’s one story from guest blogger Dave Horn:
Famous Maine sculptor Robert Indiana recently agreed to have his iconic LOVE carving appear on a proposed new license plate promoting the arts in Maine.
Indiana, who was born in New Castle, Indiana, in 1928, attended a Christian Science Sunday school in Indianapolis as a child. He was impressed by a small plaque on the wall which said, “God is Love.”
It stuck in his mind as he grew into a young man and moved to New York City in 1954 to become an artist. He created his famous Love carving in New York City in the ’60s. Since 1978, he has lived in Vinalhaven, off the coast of Maine.
LOVE is a formally sophisticated abstract composition, as well as a one-word poem. The brilliant contrast of the colors and the bold contours of the letters imbue the word with an extraordinary visual intensity. Indiana has arranged the word so that it fits in a square format, with the stacked letters touching one another in a manner that suggests physical intimacy.
Many assume the original work reflected opposition to the Vietnam War, but Indiana has said often that he got the idea from the Christian Science motto he saw in church as a child.
Even though he is no longer a member of the church, Indiana still insists that the message of LOVE be taken as a spiritual one.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, would agree. In her book, Miscellaneous Writings, she writes, “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 250)
As soon as 2,000 Maine residents put down $25 deposits for the plate, production will move ahead, and Mainers will have a license to LOVE.
Is health Big Business? You bet. Is it your business? Obviously! If so, can you take charge of it over the dictates of Big Medicine and Big Pharma? Perhaps, according to some experts.
Now I’m not saying anything bad about business, Big or not. Nor anything critical of the health care industry. But let’s hear out a couple of well-known folks on this subject.
You might expect Dr. Travis Stork of TV’s The Doctors to weigh in on the latest in health theories. But would you expect George Barna, the famous pollster of Barna Research, to share rather personal views about health and healing? And from the perspective of how it was brought about in the Bible?
Here’s a blog that gets these two experts together, giving us more reason to take charge of our own health.
Thanks to Bob Clark of Florida for this guest piece.
The problem with polarizing people is that they are so sure of their views, so doggedly dogmatic, there’s no listening to reason. Right? Well, maybe wrong, as it turns out.
An intriguing bit of research gives us reason to hope that even these so-called “wing nuts,” those crazy extremists from both right wing and left wing, are capable of backing down when the facts about the issue are presented. They are actually capable of… (drum roll) …humility! A spiritual quality!
Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein writes of a University of Colorado study in which people were asked for their positions on several political issues or policies like merit-based teacher pay, a national flat tax, and a cap and trade system for carbon emissions. They were asked to rate their opinions on a scale from “strongly in favor” to “strongly opposed.” Second, the participants were asked to rate their own degree of understanding of each issue. Third and most importantly, they were asked to describe all the details they knew about the issue, explaining how each step or detail caused or connected to the next one, presumably leading to their opinion or conclusion. Last, participants rerated their understanding of each issue.
As Sunstein reports it, “The results were stunning.” The rerating for each issue resulted in participants admitting they understood less than they thought they did. After being pressed for facts and details, they must have sensed they had few of either. Thought shifted. They now expressed more moderate views and hence, a new humility. Is this encouraging news for today’s polarized society?
The Colorado study should have been around when Christopher Columbus was getting started and everybody just knew the world was flat. With this study in hand, Chris might have persuaded Queen Isabella to finance his New World venture even sooner. In that case, instead of in October maybe we’d be celebrating Columbus Day in August–which really needs a holiday. (I feel very strongly about this.)
There may always be a somber atmosphere at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, also known as the Western Wall. That’s because this revered place so sacred to Jews represents the only remaining part of the temple which they believe the Romans destroyed in 70 AD. The “wailing” refers to the Jews’ mourning for the temple’s destruction. Up until now, privileges of special entrances and special clothing have been reserved for men only, based on the orthodox teaching that men and women ought not to pray together in some places, and that women should not be allowed to wear prayer shawls.
But there’s a crack in the old Wailing Wall tradition. On May 10 Israel’s attorney general brought turmoil to the Wall in an attempt to end gender segregation in public places like buses, health clinics, cemeteries and radio airwaves. Emboldened liberal women’s groups are now demonstrating and praying in shawls at the Wall, and conservative groups of young women are attempting to prevent them.
I don’t need to weigh in with personal opinions about other religious practices or how other democratic governments deal with religious diversity in public places. But spiritual seekers can agree that anyone can pray anywhere in their hearts and deepest thoughts, Wailing Wall or not.
I hope that people everywhere are exercising this right to pray regularly. Today we see more and more evidence that prayer not only brings inner peace and comfort but better mental and even physical health. Prayer, says one thinker I know, changes the course of everything
Prayer in the public square may still need to be a private, silent thing between oneself and one’s God. But we can cherish these quiet moments for ourselves and others. Individuals and whole countries have much to gain when they pray.
Confession One: In this gadget-loving world, I am not a gadget lover. Confession Two: I own two health-monitoring gadgets, nevertheless. Confession Three: I use all of them except one.
If you’re having trouble with the math, I’ll explain. I never step on my scale except maybe once per year (the fit of my clothes tells me all I need to know about that). But I do have fun wearing a pedometer when I take a walk and then measuring my steps at the end of the day. Otherwise, computer desk-itis and couch potato-hood set in. For me, the pedometer is a pleasant little nudge toward moving more in this sedentary life.
I was interested to read about, on the very same day I heard about it on NPR, the trend toward measuring personal health stats with more gadgets. It was in my new friend Ingrid Peschke’s blog.
I wonder, is scrutinizing the body with ever more statistics going to get us to better health? I have my doubts, and apparently Ingrid does too. Take a look.
Ingrid Peschke’s guest blog:
“Is monitoring your health just a bracelet away? It’s a trend that’s catching on to people’s wrists across the country. Similar to a trendy watch, these bands–like the Basis–monitor your sleep, heart rate, calories burned, body temperature, etc. With a USB or Bluetooth the gadgets send data right to your computer or smart phone, so you can monitor and track your stats.
“A friend of mine got a sleek white one as a gift and recently showed me how it worked. As an active mom, she was excited to more accurately know how many stairs she’s climbed in a day or how many calories she’s burned.
“Other monitoring devices are catching on, too. And some recognize that simply monitoring body activity isn’t going to cut it. Take, for instance, Huff Post’s recently released “GPS for the Soul” app that monitors stress levels.” Read more.
When asked “What is your faith?” you may answer like many others today, “Well, I don’t have a specific faith. I’m not a churchgoer.” Or you might say, again like many others today, “I don’t belong to any organized religion, but I do believe in spirituality. But that’s not exactly faith, is it?”
However, if you were asked, “Do you have values?” it would be hard to imagine an answer of “No, none at all.” Everyone seems to admit to having values like honesty, integrity, kindness and hard work.
Interestingly, the word faith doesn’t have to mean religion. It refers to where we place our trust, loyalty or reliance. We put our faith in whatever we think has power. This could be in material living and success, in medicine, in luck, or in God– however we define Him. And values have to do with what we deem worthy or useful. With these definitions we might agree that we all have both faith AND values.
Faith and values then are universal concepts. Faith and values set forth the deepest questions in life, and we all want better, clearer answers to these questions.
I recommend a good source of intelligent discussion of faith and values. Many thinkers and seekers of diverse views weigh in daily, and Editor Amanda Green has just been awarded 28th Woman of Achievement in Communications by the YWCA of Lower Cape Fear, her community near Wilmington, NC. Topics on politics, culture and ethics are also explored, and the latest issue presents a Pew poll on the power of prayer in healing.
I’m unashamedly plugging this online medium where my own column on Christianity and Health is published toward the end of each month. (Search blogs for Cynthia P. Barnett) Clearly, I hope to make you a frequent reader!