Author Archives: Cheryl Petersen

Don’t twist metaphors

???????????????????????????????Metaphors use a blend of realistic narrative and imagistic poetry to address the deepest concerns of humanity. Metaphors evolve within a language and can profoundly influence perception, speech, even decision making.

We use metaphors all the time in order to say something about things we know little about. “It was a hairy situation.”

Metaphors are utilized because it’s impossible to express ideas that can’t be stated in plain language without a loss of meaning.

Conventional wisdom meshes with rhetoric to produce metaphors that give us something to identify with. “God is father.”

Metaphors have proven their worth for millenniums although they are risky and open-ended. The child with an abusive horrible father doesn’t want to hear about a God who is father. So, other metaphors enter the scene, “God is mother, energy, the universe, a river that never stops…”

One must live with the risk of metaphors since there is no way to get at the principal subject of that which can’t be regulated to our limited language. The unlimited God can never be described in full with the human language.

The down-side of metaphors is when theological reflection is replaced with human conviction. It’s when the reader attempts to wed the two subjects of ordinary life and the transcendent. It’s when the ordinary becomes the principal focus and God becomes the subsidiary awareness.

For example, in the study of Christian Science, I read Mary Baker Eddy’s exegesis of the book Revelation, a book replete with metaphors.

In Revelation of the New International Version, chapter 10, the metaphor of an angel “holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand,” is considered. The question is asked, “Did this scroll contain the revelation of divine Science?” (21st Century Science and Health)

This question maintains the metaphorical stance. It’s metaphysical. It doesn’t reverse the ordinary and the transcendent and ask, “Is this scroll, or book in the angels hand the physical book titled, Science and Health?”

There is nothing wrong with identifying a physical book with the book in the angels hand, but to make a decision based on this literal interpretation will lead to flawed circumstances and disappointment because the decision attempted to reduce a revelation to a physical thing, it attempted to make the infinite into something finite.

We can steer clear of the traps of trying to close the open-endedness of a metaphor. And, experience revelations.For example, the common metaphor depicting God as father produces images of horror to a child who was abused by their human father. Or it can be confusing to a child. Therefore we have mothers who see through metaphors and make sure not to interpret them literally.

For example, the other day, my cousin told me about her husband and I felt a touch of revealed divine knowledge.

Her husband is one of 6 children who grew up with a war-bride mom and an alcoholic father. The father drank himself to death when the children were younger. Their mom told them, “You are not your father. You are you. You make your own choices.” All six children grew into responsible, family oriented, successful individuals. What a nice revelation to know we are individuals, separable from human history and capable of wonderful goodness.

The revelation of divine Science is spiritual, a spiritual force, alive and well. It’ a spiritual knowledge that can be applied in the human experience to align our thoughts to divine Spirit, Truth, and Love.

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Gotta have experience

Israel mapMy cousin and his wife have been living and working in Israel. At the recent family reunion, they showed us pictures. Clean. Comfortable. “Don’t believe what you read in the media,” they said. “The people are normal, they go to the beach, have families, and farm just like we do here in America.”

Experience is a powerful tool, when experienced in broad terms. My cousin and his wife didn’t just visit Israel and make a conclusion based on first appearances. They didn’t just live there to be served. They worked and participated in the society.

They could not help but find similarities. People helping people. Love.

Life experiences reveal a love we can share in.

Fostering love in the desert

Mother_son“Are you sure you want to walk with me?”

“Yes.”

“It’s about 90 degrees out there and you know how far I walk,” I added.

“I know, I’m coming with you,” said Dak, the foster child who came to live with our family that year.

Was I surprised when Dak started petering out about half way through the walk? Yes and no. He was a sturdy 9-year old and had come on the walk with me before. But, Dak had a penchant to want to prove himself stronger, smarter, and faster than he really was, more often than not, getting himself into trouble.

We, previous foster parents, and social workers all strove to bring balance to Dak’s life. But one mile from home, he stopped in his tracks. Dak had sweat one drop too many. Something triggered and he sulked.

I remember sulking in the same way when I was a teenager after realizing I wasn’t getting my way.

But that day, we were on a desert trail. Not a high traffic area. So, I picked Dak up and started carrying him. His grouched weight strained my 115 pound slim (read non-muscular) physique. I started suffering.

Was my love for Dak’s safety carrying the load even though I was suffering? Probably not, I was pretty pissed. But the faith in me knows that God loves Dak. And the realist in me knows this human experience reeks with suffering; so much suffering in fact, that I’ve searched the Bible for meaning.

At the Pool of Bethesda, Christ Jesus healed a disabled man who had suffered for 38 years. Interestingly after the healing, “Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’” (John 5:14, ESV)

In this case, Jesus attributed suffering to sin. On one hand, it appears as though suffering serves to draw us away from sin and closer to God, life and love. But on the other hand, suffering isn’t posed as an agent to God because Jesus stopped the suffering of the man before fully knowing if the sin was stopped.

What about the times when innocent people suffer?

Prior to his crucifixion, the innocent Christ Jesus told Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38, ESV)

I take his “watch” instruction to mean stay awake to God, to life and love, mainly because Jesus went on to show the result of staying awake to God, rather than being mesmerized by, or trying to manipulate the drama and suffering. Although he experienced horrible human suffering, Jesus passed through the suffering alive and useful.

Suffering may get our attention but it doesn’t have to keep it.

Instead of letting suffering use me, I use suffering to repent or think differently.

As I carried Dak in the desert, my attitude cooled off. I gave God the pissy feeling to deal with and felt thankful for the fact that God loves Dak. Mercifully, Dak relaxed and offered to walk on his own and the whole incident never became a thing.

Reversing prayer

Do we sometimes get things backwards? backwards

Do we confuse the beginning with the end and thereby get nowhere?

I’ve been told to pray for healing.

Prayer first, healing next.

But what if God is already healing? What if healing is happening right now?

What if the healing is first and prayer next?

These questions give me the idea that my prayer could be different than praying for healing. I can pray to wake up to the healing that caused me to pray and be thankful for God’s healing.

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers, Luke 17, English Standard Version

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Marijuana in New York

New York State is mulling over the legalization of marijuana. It’s a tough decision for some. My background doesn’t include marijuana so I have no personal experience other than being around a few other people who smoked it in the distance.

I don’t see the legalization of marijuana as right or wrong. I wish the suffering in the world wouldn’t necessitate temporal relief in the form of marijuana or any drug especially when they can be addictive.

The plight of addiction, or giving your mind to a drug, is unappealing. It generates the belief that marijuana can be helpful at times.

The belief that marijuana can be switched out for the opposite belief, that marijuana can be harmful. But, I’ve learned through the study of divine Science, not to vacillate back and forth between beliefs but to remove belief and hold to spiritual truths.

By habit, if the human mind focuses on the object at hand, marijuana, great debates ensue and policies are made. Then we wonder why marijuana is still an issue. Why does it creep back into the lime light?

It’s not the physical marijuana.

It’s “belief” that pokes its head at us. The belief that marijuana is good or bad.

Dissolve the belief. Don’t trade the belief for another belief. If you thought marijuana was helpful, don’t trade it for the belief that it is now harmful. Dissolve the belief that marijuana has power of any kind.

Dissolving belief is difficult because the human mind loses its hold when it no longer has anything to cling to. But, spiritual truths are present and available for recognition by our spiritual senses. And, spiritual truths give us a sense of progress. They help to eliminate constant regression.

Spiritual truths come across as abstract, but they lead past belief into understanding.

For example, attributes of divine Spirit include selfless joy, purpose, and honesty. I can see and feel these attributes around certain people. When I focus on them and try to express those attributes myself, interest in, or judgment of, marijuana fades. Humanity has the wisdom to use temporal powers properly, not abusively.

The spiritual attribute of wisdom also exists and if the vote comes to the public, I will assess the situation according to the current circumstances and make a decision nearest to spiritual truth, but without the belief that marijuana is helpful or harmful.

 

Sacrifice to resolve tragedies

A local Village is celebrating its 60th year of Emergency Medical Services. What started in 1954 has touched the lives of many people and continues today. While interviewing Jerry, he said, “Oh, the best parts are I can get up early in the morning, 2 a.m. and it’s my weight lifting. I carry people to the ambulance. But seriously, in reality, it’s pitching in and helping others.”

And, he meant it. Jerry retired from police officer work and immediately joined the local EMS squad. “Idleness is not good so I went through the training and joined what I found out was a group of the best people ever to work with. Many of the other volunteers are still working to make a living and yet when that siren or buzzer goes off they go answer the call to help.”

Coming onto the scene of a tragedy tightens stomachs however these volunteers are found overlooking the horribleness that sometimes happens in life and help to the best of their ability. It reminds me of a true sacrifice.

Facts fill out an answer from church leaders

lop-sided tree can be filled out

lop-sided tree can be filled out

Oh boy, oh joy, time again to round out the facts concerning seminal textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, first written by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century.

A statement from the leaders of First Church of Christ, Scientist, has been brought to my attention. Their statement, found in the 2014 July edition of The Christian Science Journal, answers the question: “Should Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures be changed to keep up with the times?”

The Q&A appears to be one-sided. Therefore, I would like to offer another viewpoint.

I would also like to defend Mary Baker Eddy. The answer given by the church leaders immodestly speaks for Mary Baker Eddy as if they personally know what she is thinking or would say.

Speaking on behalf of someone not present grates the reader’s senses, both physically and spiritually, and there is nothing wrong with figuring out why.

Mary Baker Eddy authored the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures to explain what she termed Christian Science, a.k.a. divine Science, the Science of Christ, spiritual Science, or Christ Science. She revised her book hundreds of times until her death in 1910. Basically, she changed her words numerous times while keeping the complete explanation of Christian Science intact.

Mary Baker Eddy’s published book can’t be changed, but it can be updated and published as a new version with the new author/authors name/names. To advance Christian Science as presented by Mrs. Eddy, revisionists have interpretations of Eddy’s writings to work with, and God. Quite enough.

For the last one hundred years, people have been interpreting Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. Every conversation, every lecture, every article or testimony, every answer, encompassing the subjects of Science and Health and Christian Science involves interpretation. Thinkers, practitioners, teachers, and lecturers, and church leaders, repeat in their own words, what they interpret in Eddy’s writings.

I myself interpret Eddy’s writings, literally and spiritually. The spiritual interpretation inspires the clearest literal interpretation, whether read or written. The spiritual interpretation frees us from the belief that a human being was perfect. Mary Baker Eddy made mistakes and more importantly, she corrected them.

The spiritual interpretation also disallows us from establishing the unwritten church commandment: Thou shalt not read any other Science and Health but Mrs. Eddy’s.

I understand the feeling of being healed after receiving an inspiration while reading a book, however over-emphasis stressing the claim that “reading Science and Health heals” gives the wrong impression to readers ill-equipped to understand the meaning. Who wouldn’t love to simply read a book and be healed? But this is not the case.

To write as though Christian Science and a book is the same thing misleads readers. Christian Science involves metaphysical rules, like mathematics, and mathematics is not in a math book, no matter how clearly that math book teaches how to add, subtract, divide, and multiply. Reading a math book won’t solve math problems.

On another note: oftentimes Mary Baker Eddy is quoted, a habit that fragments Science and Health.

Therefore, to express the usefulness and wholeness of Science and Health, I’ve published the book 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, now in its 5th edition. I’ve discovered that paraphrasing the letter assists the reader in focusing on the spirit of divine Science.

 

 

 

 

 

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