Pope’s one year anniversary

Pope Francis has been a year almost walking the streets rather than sitting on a throne. Irregular to the religious position, Pope Francis comes across as one of the people. Conversations surrounding his less judgmental approach ring with hope. But, some shake their heads slowly. A neighbor recently told me, “Pope Francis is disingenuous.”

Suspicion threads through the disingenuous opinion. “The Pope can sound accepting but religious organizations don’t follow through,” said the neighbor. “People shouldn’t be fooled with feel-good words.”

Sylvia Poggioli wrote thought provoking statements in her NPR article, “One Year Later, ‘A Pope for all’ keeps Catholics guessing.”

Negative and positive human traits can seem to neutralize one another, however if the positive outweighs the negative, it serves as reason to keep our hope and continue striving for spiritual understanding.

The Samaritan at the well

wellOn his way to Galilee, Jesus stopped at a well in Samaria. We read in the Gospel John, “A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus and the woman talked for a while. Christ was recorded to have said, “24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth…

“27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why are you talking with her?’” English Standard Version

This event apparently took place rather early in Jesus’ ministry. It’s chockfull of lessons.

  • -Christ Jesus was objective.
  • -The message Jesus shared was uncomplicated and fruitful.
  • -The woman was content with the shift in thought about worship that Jesus presented to her. She didn’t expect a “sign.”
  • -The disciples marveled yet kept their mouths shut. They didn’t protest when Jesus listened to the woman and then spoke to her in a way she understood.

Interestingly, the woman returned to her city and told other Samaritans about Jesus, who then invited Jesus to stay with them for a few days. Many recognized Christ.

From 21st Century Science and Health, Christ is defined as “The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error.”

The incarnate error of restricting Christ to a nation or ethnic group has been destroyed. And, Christ isn’t pushy. Christ offers spiritual truths without expecting us to be like Jesus. We can be who we are.

Food and God

A deer near our home

A deer near our home

On a whole, I eat fairly healthy. But, evidence shows that food isn’t all it claims to be.

I live in upstate New York, where weather is hovering around zero degrees lately. Deer are a natural part of our environment. You can’t help but take pictures of them. Currently, they are so fuzzy, I stop the car, dig out my camera and take a shot.

I wonder, how can the deer stay healthy, strong, and warm during these winters? They eat bark, leaves, no meat, and dry grass.

I’m not going to stop eating healthy, and I’m not going to stop eating, but my mind can move past thinking food has more power than God. I can grasp better what I read about food in the modern Science and Health, first written by Mary Baker Eddy. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “Semi-starvation or anorexia is not acceptable to wisdom and it is equally far from Science in which being is sustained by God, Mind. Food has less power to help or to hurt us after thought has transformed to the spiritual. Without the consent of human mind, food and the stomach can’t make you suffer. This new-born understanding brings with it another lesson, that self-indulgence, gluttony, or bulimia, are sensual illusions and can’t give you satisfaction. It is a human deception to believe you have to eat if you feel hungry. It is another deception to believe purging food will help you stay thin. As human deceptions disappear we better understand our spiritual existence and ascend the mountain of a balanced life.

“Food affects the body only as fleshly mind has its material methods of working. One method is to believe that proper food supplies nutriment and strength to the human system. The human mind’s recipe for health never gets it right, whereas Truth regenerates this fleshly mind and feeds thought with the bread of Life.”

Visiting the Tenement Museum in NYC

At the Tenement Guided Tour in NYC

At the Tenement Guided Tour in NYC

As my friend, Matt, says, “The stars aligned.”

Not that we depend on the stars to determine an outcome, but sometimes, when everything falls into place, we use the phrase as a funny expression of gratitude.

Upstate New York winter weather this year has kept the snow shovels and plows in high demand. But, when Bryan came to visit us from Washington State last week, the temperatures relaxed. We got to travel to New York City and walk around comfortably. It was a long, but fun day.


???????????????????????????????We visited the Tenement Museum, which I highly recommend. A guided tour took us through a Tenement housing where thousands of American immigrants lived. My appreciation for the energy and strength of people who overcome many odds to succeed and expand their perceptions increased.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “The calm, strong forces of true spirituality are manifest as health, purity, and a magnanimous self. Spiritual mindedness must expand the human experience until the beliefs of temporal being are clearly exposed as impositions. Confusion, danger, and disorder will then give everlasting place to the scientific demonstration of divine Spirit and to God’s perfect child.”







Overview of Chicago meeting

Below you will find comments and thoughts collected from two meetings in Chicago, February 18 & 19, 2014, while a group of truth seekers and students of Christian Science considered updating Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.

  • Why is there a decline in church membership when Christian Science can’t decline?
  • The purpose of Christian Science is to heal humankind but it must be presented usefully.
  • Science and Health needs to be easier to read for people unfamiliar with 19th century language.
  • References in Science and Health need to be relatable.
  • Footnotes are necessary so the book doesn’t look like plagiarism.
  • There is a difference between Christian Science and Church. Christian Science doesn’t revolve around church but church should revolve around divine Science.
  • Give people credit for being able to understand Science and Health and make their own translations when reading the book.
  • The Christian Science Publishing Society is already updating foreign texts in Science and Health.
  • Updating Science and Health protects the books integrity and progress.
  • The phrase, “if you read this book you will be healed,” is misleading.
  • We are students of Christian Science, rather than Christian Scientists.
  • Fear of change is based on the culture of a judging church.
  • Methods of communication have changed over the last century.
  • Old language turns readers away.
  • A revision of Science and Health isn’t for people who like Eddy’s version, but for other truth seekers.
  • Being afraid that Mary Baker Eddy will be displaced in status actually stops progress and can also build her up as an idol.
  • Word definitions change over time and actually change the meaning of Science and Health.
  • The Board of Directors at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, can appoint a committee to update Science and Health.
  • Can “church officials” reliably translate Eddy’s explanation of Christian Science without pushing an agenda?
  • Any update should contain the author, or authors, names. Never act as though we are speaking for Mrs. Eddy.
  • Look in the mirror to see what the problem is facing Christian Science today.
  • A huge decline in readership of Science and Health exists in the 21st century.
  • Be real, be honest, connect, love
  • Overcome fear.
  • Choose love.

Click here and you can make a comment on a blog post discussing a modern version of Science and Health.

Cheryl Petersen listens as truth seekers consider updating Science and Health

Cheryl Petersen listens as truth seekers consider updating Science and Health

Tweaking the approach to healing

uncooked rice in fieldAfter getting married, I began teaching myself how to cook. I made cookies when I was a kid, however, as much as I’d like to, I figured my husband and I couldn’t live off cookies. So, out came the rice.

Looked simple enough. I filled a pot with water, threw in rice kernels and brought it to a boil. I boiled it until it was done. Always turned out rather mushy, but my husband knew better than to complain.

Then one day, we had dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. I watched them make rice. After bringing the water to a boil, they turned the burner to simmer. Thinking this was a waste of time, I mentioned my technique of keeping the water at a rolling boil.

cooked riceMy brother showed me the directions on the back of the bag. Hmmmm. Yes, indeed, the recommendation was to lower the heat to a simmer and leave on the stove for 30 minutes.

The rice turned out better than I’d made. So, I took up this method of cooking rice in the future. The end result is not nearly as mushy.

It’s amazing what a little change in technique can do.

When I’m praying for healing, I refer often to something Christ Jesus was credited to saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)

Logic has it that if God is perfect and God made me in His likeness, then I too must have access to this perfection.

But all too often I pray with the intent to be perfect now, rather than aim for perfection, which impacts the effect of my prayers differently.

If I try to be perfect, pray to be perfect, I become discouraged, for the mere fact that there is no perfect human being or human existence. So, I tweak my prayers.

I can feel a sense of perfection when I am aiming for perfection.

The success of a willingness to exist amid uncertainty

arbor of vine Science and Health encourages readers to be obedient to God, and also to be observant, flexible, and intuitive. Because Christian Science, as explained in Science and Health, is a living thing, there are no hard and fast rules for its management. Success in the practice of Christian Science demands a certain amount of negative capability—a willingness to exist amid uncertainty.

The unwillingness to exist amid uncertainty, by default, assumes it can use Christian Science to define and dictate the human circumstances. It falsely reads into Science and Health a precise set of instructions on a trajectory toward fundamentalism. It over-processes certain guidelines and spiritual truths in such a way as to actually render them detrimental to their practice; similar to over-processing flour to make it pure white, but ending up with a product void of all nutrients.

Christian Science is a metaphysical system of divine healing, grounded on one God, Spirit.

Science and Health offers a fairly open-ended set of guidelines, along with specific knowledge of God and us. While making a full statement of Christian Science, the narrative leaves a lot up in the air, with ample allowance for the vagaries of human circumstances, backgrounds, economics, and even one’s personal schedule.

The reader can identify, not with conforming human beings, but with a God that loves us all and blesses us no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We can discover a divine Truth that can set us free whether we are plastering a wall, praying, traveling in a car, or typing information into a computer.

Meeting in Chicago

you are invited

To renew together our endeavor to make clear the meaning of religion, rather than debate religious jargon or words.

This event will open with a talk, titled, “The evolving language of timeless divine Science.” Reference will be given to the religious textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. The same talk is given both days.


Edgewater Beach Apartments

5555 North Sheridan Road

(Corner of Sheridan and BrynMawr at 5600 N.*)

  Tues., in the Scarborough Room                 OR                          Wed., on the Pool Balcony

       February 18, 2014                                                                                 February 19, 2014

                 7 p.m.                                                                                                             10 a.m.

Guest speaker: Cheryl Petersen, lifelong Christian Scientist, will speak for 20 minutes before the forum will be opened to an interactive discussion.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer living in New York, currently writing for three newspapers and magazines. She reports on local events, religions, politics, social services, education, and more. Cheryl has revised and updated Mary Baker Eddy’s book, producing 21st Century Science and Health, now in its 4th edition. She is an annual guest speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Oneonta, NY.

*Parking available at south end of the building, follow ramp to lower garage

Prayer specialist gets too comfortable

Comfort zones can be large or small. With the arrival of “specialization,” comfort zones began shrinking noticeably. A specialist in food preparation might starve in the woods if they have no survival skills.

Specialized jobs limit opportunities. Foreign Service Specialist can work at one of over 265 posts overseas and in Washington D.C. and other parts of the United States. That’s not a lot of opportunity for 7 billion people.

change-flat-tire-medium-newSpecialization is undeniably a powerful social and economic tool, but it has its drawbacks. When I started studying Christian Science and learning how to ply the tool of prayer, I began devoting more and more time to the practice. After recognizing and experiencing its powerful healing force, it occurred to me that to specialize, or focus solely on one goal, could be very debilitating. Specialization breeds helplessness, dependence, and ignorance. It can eventually undermine any sense of responsibility when we stop doing other things for ourselves.

I took back my skills. Thankfully, I had a non-male-chauvinist dad and he taught me how to operate heavy equipment, change the oil, and perform basic mechanical exercises. My mom taught me that I could learn how to cook and sew and take care of children.

Although I love praying for myself, the family, or others from the public who requested prayer, I still need to get off the prayer chair.

If a tire needed changing, I’ll change it. If a neighbor needed help putting up a wall, I’ll grab a hammer. If the bathroom needs cleaning, I’ll get the cleaner and scrub.

The human mind is a fickle agent. It thinks limitedly and remembers limitedly. Christ Jesus is referred to so often as the healer and teacher, we may forget he knew how to build a house.

Yes, dedicated prayer is useful and valuable and I won’t quite it, but it can’t take over my life, my thought, and my career. To pray all day is to shrink that comfort zone down to an incapacitating size that squeezes inspiration out.

If you feel like prayer isn’t working as fast as you’d like, re-evaluate your skills. To be able to pray a long time, and for many people, may have weakened the effect of your prayer because you stopped doing things for yourself. And, those people who you are praying for, may not be responding as quickly because they are so busy cooking for you, feeding you, and cleaning up after you.