September 13, 2001
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
What an odd topic for the week New York had to deal with terrorist attacks. But as our members sat stunned and mournful at our coffee shop — the Center being closed because of the emergency — we certainly experienced our own church, undefeated, as a structure of Truth and Love and Principle which could hold us as we worked to shift our understanding to an apprehension of spiritual ideas.
It was important to have some fixed structure and guiding principles to lean upon: a place where we would be heard and felt — where we could proceed with the work of resolving dark shadows into spiritual realities.
Our topic came from some remarks by an English priest, who turns out to have been Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. His September 5th speech can be read at http://westminsterdiocese.org.uk/.
For those not here, New York is a vision of heaven and hell rolled together. The death and destruction, the constant sirens of ambulances and police cars needing right of way, traffic officers on every corner, and the smoke everywhere in the city. But also the outpouring of love and support, the many heroic acts and all those poignant fliers bearing pictures and descriptions of the missing placed not only on walls and lampposts but borne through the streets by dazed people hoping for some miracle.
Our readings referred mainly to how Christian Science enables one to translate the worst appearances into the most wondrous spiritual realities and thus bring harmony to human perception. A tall order in such circumstances and we were hardly alone in this effort, as others of faith struggled to find solace and consolation. Here are a few thoughts that came up for us.
1) The belief in geographic separation from problems no longer seems to offer safety. Israeli-Palestinian animosities and the war between Islamic fundamentalists and secularists arrived rudely on our doorstep September 11th. Now anything seems possible anywhere. We must now rest upon the Science of God's presence and power. It's the First Commandment.
2) The terrorism has acted as a catalyst to awaken the U.S. from naïveté in foreign policy and the pursuit of the inane and trivial. The very idea of having let our policies be controlled by the tantrums of people like Jesse Helms while we became mesmerized by Monica Lewinsky and Gary Condit now looks sadly off base. Our members could see the need to buckle down with Science — or other true approaches to divinity — to help guide the nation in its immense responsibilities, which are now made plain.
3) The member who looked up the Archbishop's speech told us of its main features and took the time to rework them into Science. The prelate feels that Christians are now adrift in a hedonistic alien land and basically offering nothing to help out. He recommends bringing the sacraments (e.g., baptism, marriage, Eucharist, ordination, anointing) back to life — by which our member felt he must mean lifting them out of their current compulsive meaningless rut. Furthermore he would like to see his flock getting into small study groups where they can really undergo education in the faith. Our member then said he had gone to his local Christian Science service Sunday celebrating the funeral of mortal mind (perhaps an unfortunate choice of words in view of the events two days later at the World Trade Center — but remember he was referring to mortal mind, not man). He also enjoyed experiencing his wedding "from all eternity"to his divinity during the service. Mrs. Eddy had a lot to say of baptism, the Eucharist and ordination. Even here the experience of these concepts can be deepened by recovering their underlying mythologies. Our group has proved the value of the Archbishop's other recommendation — to gather in small groups to educate one's self in the faith.
4) Israeli and Palestinian spokespeople observed that after the attacks America now feels the fear and pain they've had to deal with for years. If there was ever a useful cross to take up this looks like a good one, even if we now have no choice. Scientists and others of fact-based faith should be able to take this from the dual into the oneness of being, so that "Error will be no longer used in stating the truth"(Science and Health, p. 126: 2).
5) One aspect of the problem is the struggle the U.S. is having with "ego". The member who brought this up had just been healed of a physical problem which would not yield until he let go of trying to be a person pumping up his understanding of Science in place of just letting Truth do its work. Once Truth reigned the illness evaporated. Our country's devotion to going it's own way, dropping treaties and picking needless fights may have to be dropped. As we see things the way they are, perhaps we'll be able to see them as they really are.
6) Another member felt perhaps a deconstruction of the attacks à la Melanie Klein would be helpful in getting at the unconscious problem and thus the solution. The paternal and filial penises in alignment — i.e., the Twin Towers — indicating resolution of the Oedipal drama plus the Pentagon or maternal vagina came under such vicious attack as to show murderous dissatisfaction with the supposed adjustment. The U.S. has allowed itself to slip into a misplaced paternalism vis-á-vis the perpetrators. If Jesus can say only God is good (Mark 10: 18), we can take our rightful place as reflection of God among reflections of God, who alone is the source and condition of being.
7) Osama bin Laden, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson — the latter two having just stated that Gay people and others who do not agree with them have made God so mad that He destroyed the World Trade Center and Pentagon — would give Mrs. Klein pause. But we went straight to metaphysics. We can leave their disposition entirely to the true God whom they do not yet consciously know. We can and must keep our focus on their divinity in order to drain away the potential for harm. This seemed to us the only possible basis for forgiveness.
For the next week we'll continue to work for the recovery of our community and the peace and harmony of the world. Our theme is The Apocalypse, and we'll study the chapter with that title in Science and Health.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
CHURCH. The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.
The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.
In Isaiah we read: "I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things;" but the prophet referred to divine law as stirring up the belief in evil to its utmost, when bringing it to the surface and reducing it to its common denominator, nothingness. The muddy river-bed must be stirred in order to purify the stream. In moral chemicalization, when the symptoms of evil, illusion, are aggravated, we may think in our ignorance that the Lord hath wrought an evil; but we ought to know that God's law uncovers so-called sin and its effects, only that Truth may annihilate all sense of evil and all power to sin.
Human sense may well marvel at discord, while, to a diviner sense, harmony is the real and discord the unreal. We may well be astonished at sin, sickness, and death. We may well be perplexed at human fear; and still more astounded at hatred, which lifts its hydra head, showing its horns in the many inventions of evil. But why should we stand aghast at nothingness?
In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one. What the prophets of Jehovah did, the worshippers of Baal failed to do; yet artifice and delusion claimed that they could equal the work of wisdom.
Christian Science brings to light Truth and its supremacy, universal harmony, the entireness of God, good, and the nothingness of evil.
ARK. Safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle; the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter.
God and man coexistent and eternal; Science showing that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him and exist forever. The ark indicates temptation overcome and followed by exaltation.