January 31, 2011
Every material belief hints the existence of spiritual reality; and if mortals are instructed in spiritual things, it will be seen that material belief, in all its manifestations, reversed, will be found the type and representative of verities priceless, eternal, and just at hand.
"It's the topic for Annual Meeting at The Mother Church."
"Great — we can use it here too but let's see that church can only live if God's the source."
"Think of the energy expended to make churches lively — I mean human, possibly misguided, energy."
"How are we being our own individual demonstration of church?"
"Well, I'm beginning to regret joining a branch church. There are very few members and lots of work. Some of the personalities are poisonous — you know the type: they have a direct line to God, but it's just human will run wild. There are some really sweet types who retreat into 'God is Love' platitudes."
"It makes you wonder what the purpose of a church like that is. Any newcomer'll feel it."
"And not come back."
"One way to look at it is as a situation screaming for healing. Take it on — it's your cross."
"No really. I'm reluctant to say too much because I'm not a member of a branch, but it is part of your experience. If we were talking about a problem with someone's body we'd recommend Christian Science treatment until everything got back to normal."
"If you're having trouble getting a healing perspective, call a practitioner."
"What are we doing about The Mother Church?"
"Good point — that's our demonstration. It should flourish."
"And get beyond homophobia."
"Right. But it's up to us, not 'them'. As a practitioner said to me once, when you hear of a problem, don't wait for others to work on it. Work yourself as if you were the only practitioner in the world."
"You said you don't belong to a branch, but do you go to church?"
"Seldom — to the classic churches. But I come here Thursdays — I guess this is my organizational demonstration of church. I try to live church 24/7 and go many different places that might be seen as church."
"An Edgar Cayce group, an astrology club, Mormon meetings and private sex parties."
"What do any of those have to do with Christian Science?"
"I don't think we can judge each others' working out of church. I know a class-taught student of Christian Science who sees getting laid on a regular basis as church."
"It all depends how you're seeing it. Of course, if you see people, places and things as material, mortal exercises, then you've chosen the via dolorosa — the way of suffering — to reach heaven."
"So you'd see a Catholic mass or a hospital stay or a seance as church?"
"I'd better! Not in a personal sense way, because they're no more absolute church or the structure of Truth and Love than a Christian Science ritual perceived through personal sense. We have to prophesy correctly — like Elias."
"Here's Mrs. Eddy's definition of Elias in the Glossary of Science and Health: "Prophecy; spiritual evidence opposed to material sense; Christian Science, with which can be discerned the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold; the basis of immortality."
"Something very interesting came up about Carl Jung's 'Red Book' at a lecture I went to. A woman who's studied it carefully said the central issue was his need to symbolically slay Siegfried — his hero image — in order to relate to his inner feminine and thus get into contact with the Self or his divinity. It sounds like a model for progress in Science too."
"That reminds me of the commentary on the Lesson on Sacrament in the January 3rd Sentinel. The writer points out that Jesus' command to drop the net on the right side of the boat was a resort to the feminine. I have the article here — I'll quote: 'In the Greek, the "right side"of the ship is the "feminine"side, and that side evidently reveals the superabundance and immeasurable outpouring of God's Mother-love.' Later in the Lesson Jesus sits 'on the right hand of God' — again showing the unique role of the feminine in the practice of Christ consciousness!""Tell us about Benin."
"Well, it was a hard trip, what with the long flights and tough local conditions — but well worth it because of the information we got in film footage and interviews."
"What were you doing there?"
"We wanted to get at the Voodoo roots of the Bonfim activities we filmed last year in Brazil. Remember we filmed in Bahia in January, then we went to Portugal in May for the European part of the story."
"The Brazilian festival syncretizes Portuguese Christian and African Voodoo practices — right?"
"Exactly — thanks. Benin is a hothouse of religion, but devotees of Voodoo see their practice as the real thing because it's locally derived. Islam, Catholicism and Evangelism are imports — but you see their structures and billboards everywhere. There's a Christian Science society in Cotonou."
"Don't Christians denounce Voodoo as evil?"
"Oh sure, but many of them go to Voodoo practitioners for health and personal problems. The interviews we had with those involved — masters, professors and devotees — all claimed Voodoo is only for good. If you cross someone or do something evil, then evil will befall you — but isn't that more or less standard Judeo-Christianity?"
"I understand they sacrifice animals — chickens and goats."
"Yes — I was put off by it but they do eat the animal. Don't we eat animals for food?"
"Well, the Bible is full of animal sacrifices. Think of Elijah's contest with the Baal folks over who's cut up bull God would consume followed by execution of his opponents. Or remember Abraham, Isaac and the ram."
"Some segments of Christianity believe Jesus was a kind of sacrificial lamb killed for mankind's sins."
"Let's get back to Christian Science, please."
"Those stories appear in the Lesson all the time."
"Because our church is still caught in ego driven and unthinking biblical hooey."
"Could you see any Christian Science shining through Voodoo?"
"I prepared for the worst and was pleasantly surprised how ordinary and normal everything was. It's an attempt to deal with the fact that Spirit pervades all and to have contact with that rather than just the surface of things. Since it's so closely nature-based it's a kind of ecological practice."
"How were the people and conditions generally?"
"The people were really fine — we had no problems, other than maybe some slowness here and there. But you had a New Yorker and two Brazilians in tropical Africa — I mean, I probably needed to slow down and get some serenity. In fact I had demonstrations several times when I got in a snit because we were dragging on something and I found myself hoping we'd miss the plane or whatever so I'd be right and they'd be wrong! How destructive can you get? I had to kill Siegfried — to let go of personal sense and let God be all. Then everything worked out perfectly."
"What is the Fa?"
"As far as I can tell it's analogous to Christ Jesus. You can consult it as a kind of oracle: will the trip be okay, will I get the girlfriend? But it also has an absolute property which I'd equate to our Christian Science Christ. It's the supreme power, totally good, approachable and available to humankind."
"We used to hear people in church say you bring your own sense of church with you to services and meetings, but from what we've been saying here I think we can go further. Each one is his own church — Truth and Love resting on Principle and proving his or her worth in daily action."
"Haven't we also seen the value of letting go of personal sense or ego in the living of church? Can we live church egoistically rather than egotistically? Here's what Mrs. Eddy said about these concepts in Unity of Good: "There are two English words, often used as if they were synonyms, which really have a shade of difference between them. An egotist is one who talks much of himself. Egotism implies vanity and self-conceit. Egoism is a more philosophical word, signifying a passionate love of self, which doubts all existence except its own. An egoist, therefore, is one uncertain of everything except his own existence. Applying these distinctions to evil and God, we shall find that evil is egotistic, - boastful, but fleeing like a shadow at daybreak; while God is egoistic, knowing only His own all-presence, all-knowledge, all-power."
"We need a topic for February-March."
"I'd like to explore Love more — in all its ramifications. The current Lesson on Love is a good start."
"I remember one member who couldn't stand having it as a synonym for God. He thought it was completely bogus."
"No. It's the greatest of the synonyms. Mrs. Eddy says it'll heal anything."
"Let's do it — okay?"