Archive for Mary Baker Eddy
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!
I like to do things the right way so I often check out Ms. Manners’ column for the proper etiquette. For example, when introducing two people, one of whom is much younger than the other, Ms. Manners says to present the younger to the elder so that the elder receives the “honor” of being more important. Example: “Brittany, I’d like you to meet Professor Jones. He’s the Chair of the Chemistry Department here at State University. Dr. Jones, Brittany will be a freshman there next year.”
(That went well, I thought.)
Another tip for introductions: it’s always nice to state some good things about the two you’re bringing together. Example: “Mary, John here just won an award for his graphic design. John, I knew you would want to meet Mary because she’s the CEO of a start-up design company. You two are so creative!”
(I’m really getting into this. You have anyone you want me to introduce you to? Look around the room.)
I need to practice these introductions because a big etiquette test is coming up. I know many who would like to know God, but they don’t know how to meet Him. I’m trying to know Him better too, so I thought we could practice our first steps in getting acquainted with Him together.
How’s this for starters:
ME to YOU, practicing to meet God:
“I’m so glad you came to our gathering. There’s someone here I’d like to introduce you to because He’s the most amazing Person you will ever meet. He’s our Best Friend Forever, the Almighty King, our Eternal Life and Infinite Love. He’s our Comforter, Savior, and a Very Present Help in Trouble, says the Bible. You say you’ve never known anyone this wonderful? Well, let’s fix that. Come with me into His Divine Presence.
“No, God doesn’t care what you’re wearing. He’ll like you just as you are. OK, here He is. To tell the truth, He seems to be everywhere! Let’s bow our knees as we approach Him.”
ME for REAL: “My dear neighbor, I’d like you to meet the Most Important Person in the room, even the universe: The Great I AM, the Altogether Good, Healer of all our diseases, God Himself.”
ME, after reflecting a bit: “Forgive me, merciful Father-Mother. I forgot You already know my friend here. You know me as well, don’t You? Come to think of it, You created us. You thought us up! Thank You ever so much.”
BOTH of US, my neighbor and I, are silent now in humble prayer and adoration.
Is Ms. Manners listening? I don’t see her here and I don’t remember reading any columns of advice about introducing God. But I think she’d approve of my first try. She may already know and admire Him herself.
NOTE: Thanks to my local YMCA director who brought up this subject on our National Day of Prayer.
NOTE also: Many religions today refer to God as Mother. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Church, was apparently the first.
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
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
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.
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)”
See more at:
Does illness have its own language? And is it universal, or do we have to learn it? Yes to the first, and not really, for the second. Common terms for illness recur regularly and across the ages, and these are nearly universal because the experience of illness, though an abnormal condition, is so often a part of the human condition.
Take the example of severe, though benign, facial tumors. As a healthy observer of these abnormal conditions, one might use terms like “ugly,” “scary,” even “shocking.” But if one is the sufferer, that one might sadly add “lonely,” “repugnant, even “cursed” as words to describe himself.
Not to despair. There is a more powerful language of love at work when illness or abnormality appears. It’s the language of compassion, caring, respect, and persistent courage. It is the language of wonder at the individuality and beauty which is temporarily hidden in the sufferer, but which comes to light in the healing process.
The ship Africa Mercy, a charitable and Christian mission, speaks this language of love. Comprised of medical professionals who volunteer to offer their services to the sick, this special ship speaks love to severely deformed Africans who have had no access to care, and whose very presence has caused their families to shun them. As the surgeons and nurses go about their work they speak of their precious patients in these ways: “Someone has to look at them and recognize that they are human…they are not rubbish as they’ve believed. They are all individuals behind these illnesses…one needs to see this rather than the tumor…”
The staff operate, they improve faces, they come back and operate again until near normalcy is restored. And how lovely, how joyous, how grateful are these faces as patients see themselves for the first time as normal, even beautiful.
Does this loveliness come to light because of surgical instruments? Or is there more going on here? Does it have something to do with the compassionate eye of the beholder, and more?
The Christ spirit motivates Africa Mercy just as it did for Biblical healers in the Old and New Testaments. Christ Jesus healed the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame, the insane, the leper and others. Although many of the sick were thought of as unclean according to the strict rabbinic law of that time, the plight of the lepers and the hemorrhaging woman were especially poignant, given that they were barred from human contact because of their disease. Yet, like all the others, each one experienced the touch of the Christ, and each was healed with scientific predictability.
As one Bible scholar concludes, “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man…In this perfect man the Savior saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.”*
Today countless people have experienced this healing touch through prayer alone. They have felt the presence of the Christ reassuring them, “I see you as God sees you, as you really are. You are lovely and lovable in God’s sight and therefore in mine.” In one church alone in my community, at least nine people report healings of tumors through this spiritual approach to care. In how many other churches and communities is the same wonderful outcome experienced through prayer alone? Perhaps more than we know. Prayer is surely the language of love.
*Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
Guest post by Dave Horn
If our churches are in decline, does that mean they will surely fail or fall?
A 2002 survey of more than 1,000 churches found only 6% were growing. ”Stated inversely, 94% of our churches are losing ground in the communities they serve,” said researcher Thom Rainer, who authored the survey. Here’s a video explaining why some members abandon the faith of their fathers and mothers.
On the bright side, Rainer found membership of the nation’s smallest congregations (attendance 1-49) grew 16.4%, exceeding national population growth of 12.2%. Why did smaller churches grow?
“In an age when human interaction is being supplanted by modern technology, many younger families are looking for a church that offers community, closeness and intergenerational relationships,” says Shawn McMullen, author of “Unleashing the Potential of the Smaller Church.”
And that’s not the only reason. Bob Coy, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, says, “The next generation is screaming for a relationship with God.” But church attendance is only the beginning, he adds. “We have to get serious and begin to live it every day.”
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science church, agrees church-based spirituality must embrace every aspect of daily life.
“The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth,” she writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
The sunlight of spirituality doesn’t glint from the pleasure-dome of material amusement, or the astro-dome of human competition, or the teapot dome of political corruption, but from the church dome, where instead of an idle halo, it’s in perpetual motion. It glints, glances, glides, brightens, beautifies and blesses.
“For millions of men and women, the church has been the hospital for the soul, the school for the mind and the safe depository for moral ideas,” said former President Gerald R. Ford. Surely such a church can never fade into oblivion.
Will churchgoers work in these new ways to see that it doesn’t? Will they actually live church so that it survives and thrives? Their very lives may determine the future of the church.
Guest Blogger Dave Horn writes:
A man was stranded alone on an island for 20 years. When he finally saw a ship on the horizon, he built a bonfire and its smoke attracted the vessel. Soon a handful of sailors arrived on shore, prepared to take him back to civilization. But before leaving, he wanted to show the sailors how much he accomplished during two decades as a hermit.
He showed them the home he built, and a storage shed, and a large building with a cross on top. “I’ve always believed in God,” he said, “and that’s my church. That’s where I go each Sunday to pray.”
But the sailors noticed a second building nearby with a cross on top. “If this is your church,” they asked, “what’s that?”
“Oh, that’s the church I used to go to,” said the hermit, “until it refused to change with the times.”
Many denominations today understand how the hermit felt, and try to accommodate his needs. Some churches even advertise “Contemporary Worship 9:30 a.m. Traditional worship 11 a.m.”
Like their neighbors, Christian Scientists sometimes wonder which church they prefer — the church where members attend meetings online, or wait patiently “in line” for the doors to open. The old church or the new one?
Mary Baker Eddy, a spiritual seeker and author, never described church as old-fashioned or new-fangled. As the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, she envisioned Church as a holy institution that “affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas…”* In this ideal concept of Church, available to each of us to discover and practice, there are no pointing fingers. No open wounds or hidden hurts. This Church never causes problems. Nothing but love should be expressed in this Church.
To see how see this kind of Church heals problems with love, let’s imagine a Sunday School class. A new boy is visiting for the first time, and he was born with only one arm. Will the other children make fun of him?
No, he fits in well and everyone gets along. Near the end of the hour, the teacher invites the class to use their hands and fingers to make a church. The children love to clasp their hands and repeat, “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple. Look inside, and see all the people!” Suddenly the teacher realizes the boy with one arm can’t make a church. She feels sad, until a little girl sitting next to him solves the problem with love. Placing her tiny palm against his, she says, “It’s OK. We can make church together.”
If we witnessed this scene, would this be a church we might choose to attend?
*Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.583