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.


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

True Censorship in religion and politics

placardsPolitician placards pop up out of the ground this time of the year marking the landscape with a hoard of names. Although the freedom to publish in America duly deserves respect by eliminating censorship, we can remind ourselves that censorship can take many forms.

The gluttony of published information fails to marshal the will to be active productively. We can keep our minds safe from being distracted away from important political issues.

Random bulletins, lacking any sense of ongoing relevance, undermine our capacity to grasp reality. We need to take mental stands against becoming dangerously unable to grapple with the dilemmas and possible solutions facing our country today.

I find this same principle useful in religion. The complexities in religions don’t have to be confusing, disorganizing, or fracturing. The important issues of outlining realistic goals, working together, and offering practical assistance to the people can be grasped within religion.

Censorship can try to dictate exactly what should and shouldn’t be published or read. It can bombard society with publications and drain us of the will to decipher what is true and what is not.

But we have the spiritual capacity to overrule censorship in both religion and politics.

We don’t have to be intimidated or bored. We can publish and read that which encourages the will to change for the better.

words hug

Passenger Pigeon broadens definition of extinction

passenger pigeonThe last passenger pigeon died September 1, 1914, a century ago. Her name was Martha and she died alone in a cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Unlike past mass extinctions (think dinosaurs), caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Passenger Pigeon presentation at the Woodchuck Lodge, the cabin where Activist and Naturalist, John Burroughs, lived from 1910-1920.

We learned Burroughs (1837-1921) grew up when the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America. As a boy he was spellbound at the spectacle of untold thousands of them descending on his Roxbury, New York farm. He wrote, “The naked beechwoods would suddenly become blue with them, and vocal with their soft childlike calls. The very air times seemed turned to pigeons.”

The passenger pigeons flew in large colonies. LARGE. So large they oftentimes darkened the sky as they soared and circled overhead. The ostensible abundance of pigeons aroused people to freely reveal their baser instincts of gluttonous devastation. From 1800-1900, people slaughtered the pigeons in every way imaginable.

Even people who hated to kill any living thing were sucked into the unfolding extinction of the pigeon, through complacency. Burroughs, probably conscience struck, wrote later, “In the fall of 1876, out hunting for grouse, I saw a solitary cock sitting in a tree. I killed it, little dreaming that, so far as I was concerned, I was killing the last pigeon.”

Burroughs didn’t kill the last passenger pigeon in 1876, but by 1900, there were only a handful left. The last confirmed sight of a pigeon in flight was in Indiana, April 3, 1902. Burroughs, aroused from complacency went on to lobby for what later became the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, protecting all nongame birds today.

I contemplate this whole scenario next to my knowledge of what I read in Science and Health, first written by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century.

The idea of a different kind of extinction comes to thought. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Sputnik and NASA changed the world view when launching into outer space. Setbacks happened, but courage set the precedence. Consequently, outgrown philosophies, based on what physical senses say, have become extinct. The physical law of gravity can’t define us. Space exploration, thought expansion, bravery, and open-mindedness, continues.”

Interestingly, the philosophy: once an animal is extinct it is gone forever—is becoming extinct.

September’s Smithsonian Magazine reported, “A handful of naturalists and molecular biologists believe that we could one day undo what happened by re-engineering the bird’s genome from preserved specimens and a closely related extant species.” The de-extinction proposal is being debated.

I now reflect on this from Science and Health, “We want to carry the day against physical enemies—even to the extinction of all belief in materialism, evil, disease, and death. Pure metaphysics insists on the fact that God is all, therefore, temporal substance is nothing but an image in human mind.

“The Science of being shows it to be impossible for infinite Spirit or Soul to be in a finite body, or for person to have intelligence separate from our Maker. It is a self-evident error to suppose that there can be such a reality as biological animal or vegetable life, when such life always ends in death. Life is never for a moment extinct. Therefore Life is never structural. Life isn’t established through levels of organization, and it is never absorbed or limited by its own formations.”

passenger pigeon swarm

“Christian Science requires us to improve our intentions. Hatred is to become extinct through kindness. Lust is conquered with purity. Revenge is triumphed over with charity, and deceit is defeated with honesty. Starve errors in their early stages if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success.” Science and Health

Taking strong mental stands

Movies have to be really good for me to remember them.

First off, if the movie is bad, foul, or idiotic, I turn it off and find something better to do.

But, I can watch a humdrum movie on Tuesday and 2 weeks later rent it again because I forgot it already. Ten minutes into the movie, I remember it and turn it off because I don’t typically watch a movie twice. Maybe, I will watch The Matrix a second time someday, because that is one cool movie.

In The Matrix, Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, learned the power of thought, and used it for the good of humanity.

The power of thought isn’t a new idea. Most of us know that when we put our mind to something, it gets done. The trick is learning how to do it for good and on a consistent basis.

Christ Jesus had a rare take on the power of thought. His strong mental stand can’t help but grab our attention.

I’m curious when reading in 21st Century Science and Health, “It is believed by many that Jesus’ rebukes were serious; he used strong language. The only polite comment Jesus had for error was, “Get behind me, Satan!”[1] His words support the necessity for a sharp, penetrating, mental stand when driving out devils and healing the sick. Does the evidence show us that downward spiraling thinking is reversed due to a forceful and direct mindset, backed by Spirit? Error must be compelled to quit itself. The false human perceptions must be replaced by true perceptions.”

I’ve met people who follow Jesus’ example. My husband’s grandmother lived to be over the age of 100-years. She was amazing. On her 95th year, she gave her great granddaughter an afghan she knitted herself.

Years before that, grandma told me a story when we were discussing the power of thought.

During her middle years, she went to the doctor. The doctor looked her over and said, “You have arthritis in the hands and won’t be knitting much longer.”

As if the doctor had accused of her holding pornographic materials, Grandma retorted, “I most certainly do not have arthritis.”

“And, sure enough the arthritis never came about. So, Cheryl there is power in thought,” Grandma said.

Writer, Jim Tankersley, wrote, Science fiction come true: Moving a paralyzed hand with the power of thought, in The Washington Post, June 24, 2014. It tells about Ian Burkhart, paralyzed since 2010. Scientists and doctors, using a brain implant, electrodes, and wires, worked with Burkhart to see if he could use his thought to move his hand.

We read in the article, “Ian Burkhart thought about his hand. ‘You really have to zone everything else out,’ he would say later, ‘and focus on that movement.’”

Burkhart was able to move his hand, again showing that thought power exits. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when,” says the article, a fact that includes us all, with or without the technology, we all can practice focusing on thought power or strong mental stands.

The key is zoning out distractions and focusing on the movement of good. I think mental stands for integrity, equality, and accountability is naturally strong, when grounded on divine Mind.

Granted, we see strong mental stands from hateful, fearful people, however they aren’t strong, just loud, obnoxious, and persistent. They are distractions.

We are capable of standing strong mentally and utilizing divine Mind’s power of thought to move in harmony, be responsible, and act for the betterment of society.

[1] Matt. 16:23; Mark 8:33; Luke 4:8

thought power

When to step back

When I was a teenager, Dad wanted me to learn how to drive the old 2-stick Mack dump truck so I could haul gravel for road making. I was shown how to shift without using the clutch. The gravel pit was on the lower property. While hauling 10 ton of crushed rock up the hill, I never got over second gear. I’m sure I could have walked faster than I was driving. At least that is what it felt like, but Dad didn’t say anything, though he could handle the truck much better than me.

After I got married and had children, Dad’s example of letting me learn became a model for me. There were so many times when my children wanted to do something themselves—but it would have been much faster, cleaner, more efficient, and easier if I’d done the job myself—so I’d think of Dad.

I didn’t want to close that window of time when children happily want to learn. And, the more I let the children learn how to do new activities and skills, the better I got at being patient and the longer that window of wanting to learn stays open.

The same tactic goes for adults. I’m still learning and I appreciate everyone who stands back and lets me learn, though I may call on their expertise at some points.

The same goes for my husband. When we first got married, it perturbed me to no end that he was a helpless nincompoop when it came to cooking, cleaning, or laundry. His mother did all the housework, but it wasn’t her fault. I realized, I was contributing to the problem by not teaching and allowing him to learn how to do housework.  We all can learn even when it’s a different times in our lives. And, he now contributes a lot to the household.


Resting life and death in peace

Our culture avoids it, fears it, is attracted to it, and uses it as a threat.


But every now and then, an anomaly shows up. I met a couple who raised 7 children, successfully, on a farm. The mother told me, “The farm life taught the children about life and death.”

Interesting. She spoke of life and death as equal, mortal elements that shouldn’t absorb so much attention when the true task is to live.

How can we live life and death?

By not making life and death something they are not.

Mortal life and death are not immortal or lasting.

Life isn’t a competition for wealth and fame and human approval. Death isn’t something we escape or dodge.

Life expresses itself through us as spiritual beings. Life is God, manifesting itself, in countless individuality, through us.

Death is the human interpretation of spiritual life unattached to mortality. Someone dies and we realize they are still alive in consciousness.

Human life and death can be beautiful, but it can also be ugly. We read in Matthew 16:21-23:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

I bet it was somewhat of a struggle, but Jesus didn’t focus on human life and death. Christ Jesus lived immortality; he expressed integrity, forgiveness, courage, and wisdom.

??????????????????????????????? cow halters at DC Fair



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