Author Archives: Cheryl Petersen

Muslim neighbors

I have more in common with people who practice Islam than I realized. After getting to know some new neighbors who are Muslims, I’ve been more open to learning about the faith.

Many views afford clearer views, so I not only speak with Muslims but also read about the faith.

The book, The Qur’an, by Bruce Lawrence has been interesting. Lawrence explains that the Qur’an was first enunciated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in early seventh-century Arabia. This fact portrays the feeling that the ideas in the book were inspired.

Therefore it is up to readers to read those words with the same inspiration in order to identify with correct meanings. The same goes for my Bible reading. I need to read the Bible through the lenses of love and spirit.

Lawrence also wrote, “Contexts are crucial. Although the Qur’an as a whole is authoritative, its content must be applied to particular contexts. Which aspect of the Qur’an applies and where? When does it apply and for whom?”

Unless the contexts in inspired writings of any kind are read correctly, the rhythm and spiritual power gets lost.

Readers can misinterpret the words and find misgivings and misfortunes. However, over the centuries, more good than bad has come out of reading scriptures. I’m thankful for the people who strive to read and practice faith with inspiration.

An old house in Boston, MA

An old house in Boston, MA

The power of intelligence

By attributing more and more intelligence to spirituality, and giving less and less power to physical laws and human beings, we promote wisdom and health.—21st Century Science and Health

The educational systems and technology seem interrelated with intelligence. Life experience on the other hand keeps proving that intelligence can’t be measured, quantified, or invented.

If we met a family that moved to a foreign culture, it wouldn’t surprise us that the children learn the new language quicker than the adults yet we wouldn’t say the children had more intelligence than the parents.

The more we learn about indigenous communities, even those who had no secular educational systems, the more we realize they were very intelligent.

Sometimes we meet very educated, scholarly people and yet they lack common sense.

Sometimes we meet uneducated people who are powerfully wise.

Animals express intelligence.

The kind of intelligence we want is found in infinite Mind, the divine universe. Spiritual intelligence tempers the world’s intelligence. It keeps us safe and guides us in times of trouble. Spiritual intelligence exists and we can always identify with it. We don’t have to earn it, create it, or restore it. Universal intelligence is ours to manifest and image forth.

Intelligence is connected to progress, forgiveness, insight, respect for others and our self, and healing. Intelligence can’t be destroyed or lost.

If intelligence seems to be lost, it is only clouded over by world-centric thinking, fear, arrogance, hypocrisy, and so on.

Fortunately, we have the one divine image, Christ, to remove the clouds and reveal spiritual intelligence, forever ours.

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The rim of an abyss brings insight and farsight

???????????????????????????????My husband and I took the day off last week to visit an aunt who lives more than 3 hours drive away. Blue sky, colorful tree leaves and off we went.

Near Ithaca, New York, we noticed a sign to Taughannock Falls.

On the way home, after a fun visit with our aunt, we stopped at the waterfalls. Pronounced Tuh-GA-nick, Taughannock falls carves a 400 foot deep gorge through layers of sandstone, shale and limestone that were once the bed of an ancient sea. With a 215 foot plunge, this waterfall stands three stories taller than Niagara Falls.

A narrow trail around the rim of the abyss was hiked by sturdy visitors so we decided to follow.

We didn’t bring water so when we discovered the hike was much longer than we were aware of, we had to make a decision to return the way we came or continue on around and circumvent the entire abyss. We asked a gentleman who was walking his dog and concluded we could make the entire hike.

Following Christ isn’t about following physical footsteps, but about following wisdom, insight, friendliness, patience, and common sense—spiritual qualities we all can access and manifest.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “The divine demand, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,”[1] is scientific, and the human footsteps leading to perfection are requisite. Individuals are consistent, who, watching and praying, can “run and not grow weary…walk and not be faint,”[2] who gain goodness rapidly and hold their position, or attain slowly and yield not to discouragement. God requires perfection, but not until the battle between Spirit and flesh is fought and the victory won. To stop eating, drinking, or being clothed materially before the spiritual facts of existence are gained step by step, is not legitimate. When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, Spirit directs our thought and action. Imperfect human beings grasp the ultimate of spiritual perfection slowly; but to begin aright and to continue the strife of demonstrating the great problem of being is doing much.”

[1] Matt. 5:48

[2] Isa. 40:31

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Faith and thinking

As an advocate for both thinking spiritually and for faith, I was taken aback the other day when a person referred to thinking and faith as two separate entities. He stressed that “faith” not “thinking” was key to getting to heaven because it is God’s doing, not ours.

First off, I don’t think we die and go to heaven or hell. We don’t really die. Our consciousness of love goes on to live no matter what the physical body does, however in the meantime the consciousness of hate does die.

But, this proposed disconnect between thinking and faith at this level of earthly experience intrigued me. It seemed to assume my thinking wasn’t all that important because God does all the work. God will make me think better if I only have faith.

There is some truth to this, when faith is true to God.

Sometimes, I do rely too much on my “thinking” and prayers become intellectual exercises. I try to self-medicate myself with godly cliches. But, faith is an intellectual exercise. We have to think about faith, what we have faith in…

Thinking and faith can’t be divided. I think the key is checks and balances.

Too much thinking and psychobabble takes over.

Too much faith and stupidity takes over.

The main core of Christ Jesus’ teachings is aimed at thinking better, thinking spiritually, yet he commended faith on many occasions.

Instructing ourselves to think better or have more faith misses the point. We can instead get to know spiritual thoughts and faith.

When I was a young mother, I was so afraid for the children. The fear lessened when words in Science and Health charged my thinking to new thoughts.

It was a definition in the Glossary.

“Abraham…faith in the divine Life and in the eternal Principle of being…This patriarch illustrated the purpose of Love to create trust in good.”

Abraham’s thinking improved during his life, as it was grounded on a faith in good that showed thoughts of eternal life.

abraham

 

 

A wicked day in New York City

My sister-in-law and her husband are traveling the United States by car. They started month ago from their home in Washington State. We didn’t know exactly when they’d be here in New York until a few days before. Sure enough, they arrived for dinner last Monday and after dinner we were asking them what they’d like to do together.

What about going to NYC and taking in the Broadway show Wicked?

After making a few phone calls, we had 4 tickets to Wicked for the next night.

It takes 4 hours to get to NYC, so we got up the next morning and headed out the door after a quick breakfast. We drove to Beacon and caught the Metro North to Grand Central Station and had plenty of time to go to the top of the Empire State building, eat lunch at W Café (highly recommend), and meet more relatives in Times Square.

Yes, we had a niece and her husband who happened to be in NYC for a conference. They flew in from Spokane, Washington, for a couple of days and met us at Times Square.

We all visited the Times Square Church and were invited inside by friendly people.

The Church is near Gershwin Theater, where Wicked is performing, so we went in before the 7 p.m. show.

Our seats were excellent. The acting superb. The lyrics and singing incredible. I wore earplugs and heard everything.

I understand why Wicked is famed for being the best musical of the decade. It’s based on the novel by Gregory Maguire and has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman.

Life, joy, folly, sadness, forgiveness, integrity, humility, and love kept my attention.

The lyrical wordsmithing BRILLIANT.

Of course, the scene, costumes, and setting are necessary to get the full impact but read this:

(Galinda, spoken) Dearest, darlingest mumsie and popsicle…
(Elphaba, spoken) My dear father…
(Both) There’s been some confusion over rooming here at Shiz.
(Elphaba) But of course I’ll care for Nessa.
(Galinda) But of course, I’ll rise above it.
(Both) For I know that’s how you’d want me to respond, Yes. There’s been some confusion, for you see my roommate is…
(Galinda) Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe…
(Elphaba) Blonde.
How can one word say so much? Nothing against blondes, because hair color has no power to determine our lives, just as the color of our skin has no ultimate say to life when we let love rule.

The trip, the timing, the show, reminded me yet again of our ability to express intelligence, creativity, and power in ways that put a cork on human planning. I could never have planned the day better.

wicked

Spirituality in the nonsecular and secular world

Don’t get trapped in the time warp of tradition

The “boom and bust” phenomenon has conditioned my mind to be wary of getting trapped in the time warp of tradition.

Boom and bust is an obvious manifestation that nothing in this world remains forever. What was once all-important, grand and amazing, can easily fade into oblivion.

Traditions parallel the boom and bust spectacles.

I’m all for tradition, as long as it doesn’t become a trap that confines my common sense or spiritual growth. Staying out of the trap requires mental diligence. For example:

holiday dinnerI grew up with my family traditions of never opening presents on Christmas Eve and not attending Christmas Eve church services. Three generations of my family went to bed at a reasonable hour on Christmas Eve and got up to open presents before a Christmas dinner.

When I first got married, I learned about my in-laws family tradition of opening a few special presents between the 8 p.m. and midnight Christmas Eve church services, at which they participated.

Get out…I thought. I tried it a couple of times. I liked the church services but the routine of opening presents late at night verified my instinct that staying up late makes for grumpiness. When we had our first child, I put my foot down and declined to wrap my baby up and drive to a relative’s house to open presents when we should be sleeping.

“But, it’s family tradition,” I was told.

The guilt tactic worked for a couple of days until I rationalized that this “family tradition” has only been occurring for one generation, a young one at that, my husband’s generation.

Thankfully my husband didn’t squawk and we started the new tradition of attending the early Christmas Eve service and going to bed at a reasonable hour without the added excitement of present opening. He did not insist on his current tradition and I did not insist on my old tradition.

Traditions fall away, whether by choice or force. Circumstances force change therefore traditions will reflect change, and we want to choose to change for the better. We want to watch the human mind.

The human mind gets sucked all too easy into the eccentricity of time warps as if the passage of time is suspended and what happened yesterday, or 100 years ago, or a thousand years ago, is today’s reality.

Busted.

The only way a tradition is kept alive is by revising and reinventing it to fulfill today’s needs. In other words, the way to keep a tradition alive and useful is not to allow it to become a trap.

Our human mindedness needs common sense. The tradition that met a need yesterday won’t meet the need today. This is why repeating yesterday’s inspired words may not heal today, or why the pill that worked yesterday may not work today, or the yoga move today may be miserable tomorrow, or the yoga move miserable today may be perfect for tomorrow.

The human traditions are not priority. Spiritual mindedness is priority.

Our spiritual mindedness needs wiggle room, it needs to be encouraged to flow out and express itself. It can never be limited to time or time periods or traditions.

Divine Spirit inspires our manifestation of life, truth, and love. By design, we express life, truth, and love, not traditions. Our expression may look attached to human traditions, but they are not controlled by those traditions.

It isn’t a point to try and eliminate traditions because no matter what we do it comes across as a tradition. The point is seeing that our spiritual mindedness has never gotten sucked into the trap of time warped traditions. Our spiritual mindedness is alive, colorful, useful, healthy, and beautiful.

We can base our practices and traditions on the spiritual truth that God never repeats the same manifestation, but expresses creativity, practicality, wellbeing, and joy.

tradition african dance

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