July 19, 2001
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
This was our first meeting at the remodeled Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Center on West 13th Street. In its beautiful and luxurious recreation, it barely hints at the austere spaces we left for temporary quarters three years ago.
The topic Destiny arose last meeting as we considered the move back to 13th Street. It's a dressed-up form of such rejected possibilities as Homecoming and Destination, which continued to exert their own gravitational pull on our study and practice.
Our readings clearly show the depth Christian Science brings to the biblical concept of predestination, a subject Mary Baker Eddy, raised a Calvinist, knew well in its deleterious classical form. (The Britannica says it's the "doctrine that God has eternally chosen whom he intends to save and whom to damn.") It's hardly stretching the truth to say that her recovery from a life of invalidism resulted from throwing off this belief in favor of the fact that man is the full reflection of God, good.
A couple of members pointed to an interesting wrinkle here. Yes, man in Science is perfect, therefore beyond any need for salvation. The mortal belief about man — or his fictional rendition, where most of us still think we live — is in desperate need of being saved or transcended. The quote from Science and Health, p. 428:22-28, in our readings artfully weaves back and forth from the divine to the human, indicating our absolute destiny but also the scope of the problem getting there. So we have to be frank in assessing how we're living ourselves and careful about where absolute statements of Science are coming from — our true self or its material counterfeit.
This carried us into a discussion about the emphasis in Christian Science on the Ten Commandments. The religion's origins are in the 19th century and Mrs. Eddy was touchy about charges of immorality by her critics, but as we thought about how we'd feel as the victim of theft, murder, misjudgment, envy and adultery, this simple code drew much less flak. Jesus and Mrs. Eddy boiled the commandments down to two — to love God supremely and our neighbor as our self. (See Matthew 22: 35-40 and Science and Health, p. 340: 15-29).
One member observed that the sins proscribed in the commandments arise from a dualistic "take" on life, where all sorts of problems can and do come up. We need to keep ourselves aligned with divine facts to avoid a sinful mindset.
Another member said we were veering way off topic with all this talk of sin, but it was soon apparent that sin and eternal damnation are important aspects of any discussion of destiny. And it's not just a concern of the orthodox. We recalled this statement from Science and Health: "Either here or hereafter, suffering or Science must destroy all illusions regarding life and mind, and regenerate material sense and self." (p. 296:6-9) Most felt we'd experience both suffering and Science in working out our salvation.
A member then brought up how much our lives seem to be at the effect of material determinism. For instance genes, upbringing, race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, birth religion. Our human destinies are hugely affected by the law operating in these and so many other areas. We even touched on astrology, numerology and other arcane systems.
One member says he uses what Mrs. Eddy says of astrology and spiritualism to debunk material laws, where appropriate. Here's a quote: "Astrology is well in its place, but this place is secondary." (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 334: 5-6) Thus genes, race, sexual orientation — or say, weather or stock market forecasts — are well in their place, but they are effect, never cause, of my at-one-ment with Deity.
A couple of absolute statements of destiny emerged:
1) My destiny is to live in belief, as I do in fact, my true Selfhood — or rather be lived by it: never influencing or being influenced by anyone or anything, but including all — as they include me — as divine idea.
2) Christian Science is the actual experience of reality; it's not a philosophy about or search for reality. Pain and problems are dualistic modes of identifying that I'm here and functioning. Just eliminate the dualism from the experience and there'll be healing.
A member made an interesting point about age. He held up his hand and asked how old it was. He then said that as matter it's as old as the universe and as divine idea it's as old as God.
Two healings were reported:
1) One member experiencing erratic income flow discovered that if she would stand before a mirror and give herself a treatment, there was a far greater effect than when she merely sits with her eyes closed in prayer. She recalled Mrs. Eddy's illustration of the Christian Science teaching on reflection. Here man before a mirror takes various actions which are reflected exactly in the mirror. Thus the action of God is reflected by man. (See Science and Health, p. 515: 25-8). This technique was endorsed by another member who had the healing of a tumor as he wept and prayed before his mirror some years ago. It occurred to another member that this way of praying would be helpful for those who were narcissistically wounded as children, receiving inappropriate or insufficient mirroring from parents.
2) As a member walked through a park recently he saw an ex-lover absorbed in reading and passed by unnoticed. A few moments later he asked himself why he hadn't said hello but quickly realized there was nothing to do now on the superficial social level. He also realized that the healing from this relationship was virtually complete — all the pain and turmoil were gone; but there remained one grand step to take. He now needed to retire the projected divine energies he had allowed to remain "in" this person. As he did this, feelings of joy, forgiveness and infinity rose from deep within and he was free.
For next week we fished a bit for a topic but finally settled on Demonstrating Love.
What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Belief in a material basis, from which may be deduced all rationality, is slowly yielding to the idea of a metaphysical basis, looking away from matter to Mind as the cause of every effect.
The pains of sense are salutary, if they wrench away false pleasurable beliefs and transplant the affections from sense to Soul, where the creations of God are good, "rejoicing the heart." Such is the sword of Science, with which Truth decapitates error, materiality giving place to man's higher individuality and destiny.
Error presupposes man to be both mind and matter. Divine Science contradicts the corporeal senses, rebukes mortal belief, and asks: What is the Ego, whence its origin and what its destiny? The Ego-man is the reflection of the Ego-God; the Ego-man is the image and likeness of perfect Mind, Spirit, divine Principle.
The great spiritual fact must be brought out that man is, not shall be, perfect and immortal. We must hold forever the consciousness of existence, and sooner or later, through Christ and Christian Science, we must master sin and death. The evidence of man's immortality will become more apparent, as material beliefs are given up and the immortal facts of being are admitted.
Human skill but foreshadows what is next to appear as its divine origin. Proportionately as we part with material systems and theories, personal doctrines and dogmas, meekly to ascend the hill of Science, shall we reach the maximum of perfection in all things.
Let it not be heard in Boston that woman, "last at the cross and first at the sepulchre," has no rights which man is bound to respect. In natural law and in religion the right of woman to fill the highest measure of enlightened understanding and the highest places in government, is inalienable, and these rights are ably vindicated by the noblest of both sexes. This is woman's hour, with all its sweet amenities and its moral and religious reforms.
Drifting into intellectual wrestlings, we should agree to disagree; and this harmony would anchor the Church in more spiritual latitudes, and so fulfil her destiny.
Let the Word have free course and be glorified. The people clamor to leave cradle and swaddling-clothes. The spiritual status is urging its highest demands on mortals, and material history is drawing to a close. Truth cannot be stereotyped; it unfoldeth forever. "One on God's side is a majority;" and "Lo, I am with you alway," is the pledge of the Master.
The question now at issue is: Shall we have a practical, spiritual Christianity, with its healing power, or shall we have material medicine and superficial religion? The advancing hope of the race, craving health and holiness, halts for a reply; and the reappearing Christ, whose life-giving understanding Christian Science imparts, must answer the constant inquiry: "Art thou he that should come?" Woman should not be ordered to the rear, or laid on the rack, for joining the overture of angels. Theologians descant pleasantly upon free moral agency; but they should begin by admitting individual rights.