Archive for Christian Science
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!
Let me introduce you to a great online newsletter—full of varied perspectives on faith, values, and from my monthly column, health from a spiritual point of view. See www.WilmingtonFAVS.com for the full piece, or get a glimpse here:
Stress relief…in a bottle?
I am not kidding when I say that you can now buy stress relief in a bottle. Mine is tucked into the shower cubby where it promises to “clear your mind so you can relax.” The label adds, “Breathe deeply for best results.” The name of this elixir? Why, “Stress relief,” of course. (Full disclosure: it’s a body wash and foam bath. Find it at your local mall.)
Stress is trending today as a serious topic and a suspected cause of many ills. Sleep disorders, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, accelerated aging, even premature death—stress worsens or increases the risk of each, experts agree. One physician, Dr. Edward T. Creagan, has found stress management to be vital to our health, predicting, “Stressed today, sick tomorrow.” He describes an experiment where subjects jot down their recent illnesses and then recall whether a stressful event came first. Most report that it did. This was especially true with astronauts, students and athletes, whose pressured lives seemed to produce more respiratory illnesses.
With all this stress, can a mere potion provide a cure? (If so, you’re gonna need a bigger bottle.) Read more
With all the shock and misery each shooting brings with it, let’s never forget the remarkable responses some are capable of. We can only call it Amazing Grace.
This piece by guest blogger Dave Horn reminds us. He writes:
On October 2, 2006, a shooting occurred at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, PA. Gunman Charles Roberts IV took hostages and shot ten girls aged 6–13, killing five, before committing suicide. That same evening, a local Amish man visited Roberts’ parents and wife to assure them of forgiveness. The following week, when the killer was buried, several Amish attended the service, including parents of some of the slain children. For a few days, forgiveness was national news.
Forgiving is part of the rhythm of Amish life. Many of their European ancestors died at the stake or were beheaded for practicing adult baptism. So it’s in their DNA to forgive opponents.
But what about the rest of us? How should we cope with anger, resentment or a desire for revenge?
Many psychotherapists discuss forgiveness with patients only in a religious context, and that’s not surprising. A survey* conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan found that “Protestant and Catholic groups showed higher levels of forgiveness…compared to the non-religious group,” and “personal religiousness and spirituality explain some of these differences.”
But forgiveness may do more than get you into heaven. It may improve your life here on earth. Many studies available on the Internet conclude that hatred is bad for health; forgiveness relieves hatred, and spirituality enables greater forgiveness.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered a link between Christianity and science, agrees that health and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. “If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget,” she writes. “God will recompense this wrong, and punish, more severely than you could, him who has striven to injure you. Never return evil for evil; and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been.”
*National Survey Results for Protestant, Catholic, and Nonreligious
Experiences of Seeking Forgiveness and Forgiveness of Self, of Others
and by God, by Loren Toussaint, David Williams
Speaking of health, (and we were, weren’t we?) here’s a thought provoking take on two important health topics. So for today’s reading you get two for the money! Such a deal.
On Parkinson’s and placebos, Australia’s Kay Stroud writes in part:
“World Parkinson’s Day, aimed at public awareness of the disease and advances in its treatment, is being observed this week on [April 11]. A cure, dearly desired by so many, may lie in the mind and outside the realm of the biophysical.
“Surprisingly, ‘The best known mechanisms underlying the placebo effect have been illustrated for pain and Parkinson’s disease’, write leading placebo researchers, Pollo, Carlino and Benedetti. These and researchers doing similar work tell us that they’re experiencing consistent results in Parkinson’s patients with placebo-induced motor improvement, giving credibility to using placebo studies to identify how thought can have an effect on health similar to that of drugs.” Read more
Sure enough, April 7 is World Health Day. So in honor of that, let’s raise a glass* to our dear old World. May it ever be healthy and happy.
*Maybe a glass of orange juice. It’s healthier!
To celebrate, here are some great ideas from colleagues on the subject:
From John Clague of Oregon: Ground breaking thinking from physicians and others for World Health Day
From Steve Salt of Ohio: documented studies on positive attitudes and specific health outcomes
From Anna Bowness-Park of British Columbia on the therapy dog in the waiting room. One doctor’s story
The jubilation of Louisville’s basketball victory over Duke was marred by a serious injury on Easter Sunday. Team member Kevin Ware sustained a broken leg, in two places as it turns out, and horrified NCAA fans could be seen gasping for several awful moments.
What happened next began to lift the pall. As Ware was being attended to, teammates fell to their knees, presumably seeking comfort and help from a higher power. Some Duke players clapped in respect for Kevin’s efforts. And Ware himself? His only words to Coach Rick Pitino were, “Just win the game!” (Which they did). According to the tearful Coach, Ware thought of his team before himself. Coaches and commentators asked for thoughts and prayers in support of Kevin Ware as he was whisked to a local hospital.
Does prayer help when bones break? The Bible writers believe it does. “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous.” (Psalms 34:19-20)
Some years ago I broke a small bone in my foot. It could not be set, so I was given crutches and a boot from the kind hospital team. They made me as comfortable as possible and then released me with no drugs or medical interventions. I was so grateful for their help.
I also prayed; the break healed and I recovered. But I had to pray again a few weeks later when I was with my husband on a business trip in Orlando, Florida and decided to tour Disneyworld’s Epcot alone one afternoon. Having long ago shed the boot and crutches, I suddenly found myself in pain. The old injury acted up with great soreness, and I realized fearfully that I had a long distance to walk to get back to my car.
How did I pray? I asked God, who is infinite, ever present Love to me, to show me that very love in some tangible way. I needed help– and there was no one with me to give it. But Love was there, and I suddenly saw a nearby bench beside a lake where I could rest. After resting a bit, I saw a little boat pulling up right where the bench was. It was a launch to take tourists to the parking lot! I boarded the boat, crossed the lake, found my car next to the dock, and drove back to the hotel relieved and refreshed. I don’t remember the injury acting up ever again, and I had felt proof of the caring Love that I prayed for. Love had teamed up with me big time.
Many people face broken bones besides Kevin Ware. In these instances, we might consider if our relationship with Love could ever be broken. Love’s compassion and practical help may be as near as our thoughts and prayers. We can lovingly include Kevin Ware in our thoughts and be on his prayer team today.
A guest post by Dave Horn:
Is love the key to health?
After failing for two hours to stabilize a woman’s heart, her physician called in the woman’s family to say good-bye. The moment family members touched the dying woman, her heart rhythm improved and within 30 minutes she was awake and helping undress herself for additional care. (K. Loraine, “The Energy of Love,” Advanced Clinical Care, July-Aug 1991)
This change for the better would not have surprised cancer surgeon Bernie Siegel. In his book, “Love, Medicine and Miracles,” he says all healing is related to the ability to give and accept unconditional love. On page 180, he writes: “The truth is: love heals.”
Nor is this a new, western discovery. The Dalai Lama of Tibet teaches that affection improves bodily health. Loving-kindness meditation has been used by Buddhists for centuries, and a study at the University of Berlin confirmed that it helps reduce chronic pain and anger. The study found that “Love, compassion and joy make our immune system function better and help to battle diseases.” “Love Promotes Health,” Charity-University Medicine Berlin, Institute for General Practice and Family Medicine, Neuroendocrinology Letters No. 3, Vol. 26, June 2005)
Gary Zukav and Mary Baker Eddy, both best-selling authors and spiritual teachers, agree that love is more than alternative health care. Zukav is quoted as saying, “Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is.”
“Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need,” writes Eddy in her seminal work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and more than a century of healings searchable at JSH-Online.com confirm this claim.
“The power of love to change bodies in legendary,” agrees Dr. Larry Dossey, former Chief of Staff at Medical City Dallas Hospital. “Throughout history, ‘tender loving care’ has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing.”
As Pope Benedict fades into his much deserved solitude, newly chosen Pope Francis I takes his place on the balcony and in history.
World watchers were focused today on that unique chimney in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square The white smoke signals rose to cheers of joy from the Catholic faithful: they have a pastor again. Habemus Papam! (We have a Pope! A Father, A “Papa!”)
This new pope was apparently chosen for his many and much-needed spiritual qualities: humility, scholarship, steadiness and compassion for the poor. The cardinals who elected Francis I value these qualities in this time of turbulence in their church.
What is a pastor to the faithful? The word means shepherd, with all the beautiful spiritual qualities that word suggests: leadership, gentleness, courage and faithfulness. Like the shepherds of biblical times, pastors of churches have flocks whom they love, guide and care for. Like the sheep, the faithful congregation knows the shepherd’s voice and will not be led into a strange fold. They are safe with their shepherd.
If the pastor or chief “shepherd” retires, as did Pope Benedict unexpectedly, it would appear that the Catholic Church is leaderless for a time. The Catholic pastor is a personal one, and only one man can be pope.
But what if one considers the pastor, or shepherd, not as personally associated with any one human being, whether clergy or pope? What if the chief pastor or shepherd were understood as the forever appearing of Christlike qualities? These qualities of leadership and love are always present because God and His Christ are always present.
A radical thinker, leader and founder of one Christian church decided to ordain the Bible and an inspired textbook as the official Pastor of her church. She was Mary Baker Eddy and her church is the Christian Science church. Its members study and hear a unique Bible lesson sermon each Sunday, read by two members elected from the congregation. Their pastor is thus not personal in the traditional way, but available to all no matter who the elected leadership may be.
The Catholic Church is never leaderless or without a shepherd simply because a new pope is not yet chosen. Its worshipers can be comforted that love, guidance and safety were theirs to express and experience even while they joyfully awaited the white smoke and its good news.
If you’re like me, you respond to the stories people tell about their lives. If the person seems credible, you trust the sincerity in their voice. If they’re talking about what made a difference in their approach to health care, you might really listen up. Who doesn’t yearn for a more sure solution to illness and health care concerns?
While I”m on vacation for the next week or more, I’m sending you to a wonderful and rather unusual website which does all the above.
These various individuals have something important to say about their recovery from illness and trouble. There’s Judy who recovered from a troublesome diagnosed growth on her eyelid through prayer. There’s Edwin who was restored to health quickly despite the doctor’s diagnosis of muscular skeletal problems. And Carolyn–what a wonderful healing of blood clots on the lungs and more she experienced.
I hope you feel the ring of authenticity that I do in these people—maybe their stories will encourage your own search for answers.
Meanwhile, I’ll be back to visit with you soon.
Dr. Koop, Rear Admiral Dr. Faye G. Abdellah Photo by USUHSPAO, Sandra Carbajal
Praise is pouring in for an American surgeon general who was courageous for his time. Dr. C. Everett Koop passed away February 25, and, although some disagreed with his controversial positions, many remember his tenure with respect and gratitude. Koop, an appointee of President Reagan, was known for his early support of AIDS sufferers, breaking the stigma of the label in order to bring these individuals compassionate care. He was also known for his brave advocacy against smoking, calling it an addiction.
But the fact that Dr. Koop admitted to praying with his patients might just be, in today’s environment of spiritual seeking, the most important legacy of all. His conviction that prayer affected health positively is now being studied and accepted more and more.
Here’s one tribute from guest blogger Dave Horn, a Raleigh writer from Indiana:
…“It’s becoming easier to integrate faith and healing today than in the past,” [Koop] explained in a 1998 interview, recalling that “in the sixties and seventies students and nurses who talked about their faith were reprimanded. Today, the popularity of mind-body medicine has made faith and prayer very acceptable, opening the door for Christians in medicine to share their faith.”
“Fellow physician and neurosurgeon David Levy agrees with Koop. In his book “Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer…One Patient at a Time” he writes, “As I have addressed patients’ spirituality and made prayer a regular part of patient interactions, the response has been impressive. I have seen lives brought to a level of spiritual, emotional and physical health that my patients had never enjoyed before.” (Tyndale House Publishers, 2011, page 11)”
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