Category Archives: Bible

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

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

 

 

Resting life and death in peace

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

Death.

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

 

The union of meditative prayer and active prayer

Meditative prayer involves thoughtfulness, introspection, and reflection; usually a lot of sitting around.

Active prayer involves action. Looking, feeding, cleaning, traveling, knocking, etc.

Marrying the two allows us to better experience what Christ Jesus talked about in his Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7

Both prayer types must be treated equal.

If meditative prayer dominates the consciousness, harmony and expression shrivel. If active prayer rules the roost, substantial mindfulness wavers and weakens.

In reviewing Christ Jesus Sermon on the Mount, we find concerted effort given to meditative and active prayers.

Jesus began his sermon with what we know as the “Beatitudes,” mini-proverbs packed with blessing and meaning; each deserving of thorough study.

Then he said, “You are the salt of the earth,” coaxing the mind to move.

We are warned to guard against insincere prayers that make us look pious or busy.

helping handsChrist Jesus flops back and forth between meditative prayer and active prayer, showing that one or the other doesn’t take precedence. There is no hierarchy in prayer. It is a mistake to assume we must pray meditatively first before active prayer kicks in. They work simultaneously and are invoked by love and truth. They are equal.

Although we are given the Lord’s Prayer to repeat and contemplate, the Sermon on the Mount continues on to overflow with verbs: serve one master, be faithful, be reconciled, look at the birds, see the lilies, keep your pearls from pigs, knock, give fish, watch out for false prophets, put good words into practice, and even, gouge out your eye if it causes you to sin.

I try not to confuse meditative and active prayers, just like I try not to confuse a meditative prayer with repeating words, or an active prayer with going through motions.

The other day, I took a plastic bag on my walk through the woods. I picked up litter, thanking God for all the beauty. I also responded to the idea to drop in on a neighbor. Her husband recently died and she was delighted to have a visitor.

A meditative prayer is quiet time with God, Truth. An active prayer is our Godlikeness in action. We know they are true when they bear blessings seen and felt, not only by our self, but also by others.

walk in woods

The woman with insight

A blip in time chronicled an account that is notably relevant in its implications and deeply momentous in its conclusion. The story is of a woman who by all modern standards would be considered brazenly excessive. Ridiculous. Yet Christ Jesus said she did a beautiful thing.

The story involves Christ Jesus and his disciples. They were visiting Simon the leper, of Bethany. The group was sitting around the table, probably eating and talking about God. A nameless woman came into the room with a jar of very expensive ointment. The oil has been referred to as precious, fragrant, a costly perfume, pure nard.

The unadulterated ointment was stored in a vessel made of alabaster to preserve its purity. But unafraid of corrupting the ointment, the woman opened the vessel and poured it out onto Jesus’ head.

The disciples didn’t ask the woman why. They didn’t ask her name. They seethed in their perception of the woman’s misuse of that which they deemed valuable.

Since then, scholars have tried to give the woman a name, but it misses the point. The point is the woman’s Christ-like insight, which goes on forever.

Annointing-Jesus-headAt the supper table, the nameless woman became the object of the disciple’s scorn. They whispered among themselves with disgust, figuring the oil could have been sold for a high price and the great sum of money given to the poor.

But, Jesus asked them, “Why do you trouble the woman?” (ESV)

He continued, “For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

The woman honored Jesus. Her respect toward his life and work was appreciated by Jesus. The woman wasn’t preserving a human body. Her actions exalted Truth, Christ.

The slack thoughts of the disciples, on the other hand, clogged their thinking with self-righteousness and they censored the woman. They blamed her for not helping the poor. They criticized her for not allowing them to help the poor. They assumed her action was all a big waste; completely unnecessary. Why be inspired to anoint Jesus’ body when his body appeared fine?

Thankfully, the woman’s insight into the eternal Christ precluded her from being deterred by the disciples bad manners and myopic stance. She was prepared for his death and woman would be prepared for the birth of a new idea.

The disciples lacked bravery and spirituality and could not see beyond the superficial appearance. Their reality was human status-quo, familiarity, and money.

The woman saw the eternal divine Spirit ready to take on a new form. She was motivated by heavenly inspiration to acknowledge Jesus’ manifestation of God, for what it was then and what it would be a few days later. Her insight advanced truth, life, and love.

The disciples, probably even unknown to them,  were bent on preserving the superficial. Apparently, the idea of the woman expressing Christ in her own way, added to their irritation and confusion, or rather added to their love of the world. For very soon after the woman anointed Jesus, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and all of the privileged disciples ran from Jesus when he was arrested to be crucified. Peter denied knowing Jesus until after the resurrection.

The human body of Jesus, poor people, and all other material symbols come and go, but Christ always remains with humanity and deserves utmost attention and care. The underlying impetus of the Holy Spirit must not be neglected.

Jesus, other spiritual leaders, language, and symbols are a means to the end of knowing Spirit, God, not the end in itself. To confuse the two is dangerous.

The disciples failed to keep a line of distinction between means and ends.

There is nothing wrong with selling things and giving the money to the poor. It is a means to an end. but not the end.

The tragedy is letting the end get swallowed up in the means. The more money given to the poor, the more poor people. The more rich people. Time must be spent enriching oneself, the poor, and the rich intellectually and spiritually.

The indignant minds of the disciples were closed to the insight of the woman which honored that which was about to die.

The disciples believed they could live and grow in their little self-centered world. They could not see the woman was following God, not them.

Although nameless, the Christ woman imaged forth a love of Truth and purity that caused her to go down in history as one who depended on God for her guidance.

What to bring to the table

During the 19th century, healing was divided as religion took on the task of healing sin, while science took on the healing of body.

But during the 20th century, healing took on a new look. Interest in spirituality seeped into religion and science and healing began to encompass mind/body/spirit.

Being a student of Christian Science in the 21st century can be challenging.

I wonder, What can I bring to the table?

I don’t want to bring fundamentalism to the table. Religious doctrines need to be modified to reflect inclusiveness rather than division.

I don’t want to bring false promises. The hard and soft sciences still include guessing.

I don’t particularly want to bring to the table a mix of religion and the sciences, but I can bring to the table a metaphysical view of both.

I can appreciate both religion and science, while keeping spirituality the primary focus. I can incorporate into my practice of religion and science the spiritual qualities Paul spoke about in the Bible.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)

???????????????????????????????

 

Every single second, listen to Principle

When the people of Israel camped outside Moab, the local leader became alarmed. Balak, the King of Moab didn’t welcome the Israelites, or even bother to go out and say, “Hi, so, ya, uh, where did you come from and what are you all up to?”

Instead, King Balak has a knee jerk reaction. Suspicion and fear create a disturbing reality in Balak’s imagination and he sends his messengers to another nearby leader, Balaam. The message decodes into, “Balaam, dude, you have to help me. There are a zillion Israelites camping outside out town. They are a terrible influence and need to be cursed.”

Balaam looks past the knee jerk reaction and tries to take in a bigger picture. He may even have learned in his life that cursing others doesn’t ever reap the kind of rewards that make life worthwhile. Balaam, looking past the human reaction to something higher, he explains to the messengers that he needs to talk to God.

donkeySure enough, Balaam’s intuition about the cursing tactic comes through as a voice and he feels God is telling him to go ahead and return with the messengers to Balak. But, God reminds him to pay attention because God will be giving minute by minute directions.

The next morning, Balaam gets on his donkey and they all head to Moab. The angel of God comes before Balaam to tell him what to do next but Balaam is not paying attention.

The donkey is attentive though.

The donkey tries three times to get Balaam to wake up and pay attention to the angel. The donkey walks off the road, then walks close to a wall so Balaam’s leg gets squished, then the donkey just sits down. Balaam meanwhile is getting pissed. Balaam starts yelling at the donkey, who finally just talks to Balaam, saying, “Wake up you numbskull. The angel is speaking and you don’t even see the angel.”

Groggy Balaam had to shake himself awake. First he realized he not only was ignoring the angel but he didn’t even trust his donkey, the donkey that had proven a lifetime of devotion to him.

Balaam was probably ashamed, but he straightened out and went to Balak to tell him blessings are in order, not cursing. Numbers 22 tells the whole story. Listening to God is great, but spiritual instructions don’t come in a one-time-shot. Spiritual guidance is continual.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 138 other followers

%d bloggers like this: