Category Archives: Christian Science

Christmas article in newpaper

From The Daily Star newspaper in Oneonta, NY:

Bryan called this week to tell me that I have a new granddaughter. Her name is Aria.

New babies at Christmas time. It happens. And it’s simply amazing. Full of wonder and glory.

It makes me think, with due respect to Christ Jesus, that wonder and glory are not destined only to his birth in history.

But, I still celebrate the birth of Christ as a religious holiday.

In a Pew Research survey titled, “Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life,” it was reported that, “most Christians (72 percent) say they mark the day as a religious holiday, including 60 percent who celebrate as more of a religious holiday than a cultural occasion and 12 percent who mark it as both a religious holiday and a cultural holiday.

Religion is important to me because I need something that explores wonder and glory, rather than only studies the transient things we call physical realities. I need something more than blood to define family and love.

I remember 30 years ago, exactly. I was nine months pregnant. Most people saw my baby bump and were happy for me and my husband. But a couple of people scowled and told me having a baby at Christmas time is a horrible idea.

I discovered it wasn’t blasphemy they worried about, but that they had birthdays at Christmas time and felt cheated. They told me, “My birthday is always forgotten. And if it’s remembered, someone grabs a present from under the tree and gives it to me for my birthday.”

I didn’t ignore their comments. They had a point, or at least alluded to a point.

When we become mesmerized by an occasion, or by one human being, we lose sight of wonder and glory for all.

The intent of Christmas is not to depreciate others. So, 30 years ago, I began making efforts to appreciate all signs of wonder and glory, old and new.

Then came Christmas Eve morning. I checked into the hospital and lay in bed, trying to focus on something other than the discomfort that comes with squeezing a baby out between my legs. I thought about the nativity story from the Bible.

The storyline includes a part about a young woman, Mary, who hears an angel’s message of promise, telling her that she’ll conceive and have a baby and call his name Jesus. The promise was fulfilled.

Arguably, there’s the issue about Mary being a virgin or not, but it didn’t affect the birthed idea of a “fulfilled promise.” It did, however, gently persuade my attention away from the labor pains.

Our daughter was born quickly. We went home and she grew up.

As a teenager, this daughter met Bryan, one of her high school classmates. They became good friends.

It didn’t take long before we realized Bryan had a tough home life. His dad left the family when he was a young child and his mom had mental problems. Bryan suffered from verbal abuse, anger and fear.

He visited our family often.

When encouraging him in life, I had to be receptive to new ways of communicating because he came from such a different place than what I was familiar with. It was difficult, but we all made positive progress.

He was then accepted to attend the local college. Our daughter studied abroad for college and we let Bryan live with us the first year. After he moved out, Bryan hesitated to come visit us without our daughter there.

During the five years it took him to get his college degree, he found a girlfriend. We included them in family events. It was obvious, however, that the couple was falling into the pattern of arguing and compromising in ways that enabled mistrust rather than trust in goodness.

I reminded him we were his family. He didn’t believe me.

I told him, he can have God as a parent, with a family of useful ideas as his family.

He broke up with his girlfriend and spent a year alone, progressing in his career.

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity: Psalms 68: 6

Then Bryan met and married a young woman who shines with wonder and glory. After they established a home together. We now have Aria.

Bio of author: Cheryl Petersen lives in Delhi. Her books are “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter” and “from science & religion to God: A narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.”

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Infomania doesn’t support women

How can we be more productive in conversations about sexual harassment and assault toward women? Don’t cater to infomania. And, do “be” the solution.

We need solutions, because sexual harassment and assault of woman is a problem, it’s been a problem ad infinitum. But infomania, or the desire to accumulate and process information, causes the brain to deceive us into working with the men who use their penis to think and act with.

How do we be a solution? Use information instead of letting it use us.

Contributing Editor at the Atlantic Emily Yoffe wrote for Politico Magazine, “This amazing moment has a chance to be truly transformative. But it could also go off track if all accusations are taken on faith, if due process is seen as an impediment rather than a requirement and an underpinning of justice, and if men and women grow wary of each other in the workplace.”

What is she saying? Take the time to give each accusation due process. Be just. Trust one another.

We can speak out for women’s progress and goodness, fully supported by divine Mind.

From 21st Century Science and Health

Civil laws are created to implement fairness and equity in our rights, but more progress is needed, to say the least. Civilization and Science stand strong on the side of justice and encourage the elimination of discrimination, however, every time an effort is made to remedy unfairness, we must make sure that the effort doesn’t encourage difficulties of greater magnitude somewhere else. Higher aims and motives, as well as improved mental character, must be considered as the feasible and rational means of progress.

Abstinence from debauched sexual activity leads to an advanced state of intellectual and cultural development in human society, marked by progress in the arts, science, and religion. Without integrity, there is no social stability and the Science of Life can’t be achieved.

Quoting from science & religion to God

We can spiritually discern and live by divine laws. We can outgrow false beliefs that work against progress. We can break barriers in ways that benefit humanity through an understanding of Spirit.

Get something out of surprises

Experts say, surprises are good for us. How can this be?

Research shows that surprises work on the brain’s dopamine system and allows us to focus our attention better. Data claims that surprises inspire us to look at our situations in new ways, to keep us learning, or bring satisfaction.

The problem with this data is, it doesn’t feel completely true. And experts even warn against bad reactions to bad surprises.

I remember being a kid and playing baseball with my siblings and cousins. My big cousin swung the bat and hit me smack in the forehead. The whack was totally unexpected. And not satisfying.

What typically happens after a bad surprise?

I’ve caught myself adjusting my expectations and training myself accordingly so as not to be disappointed.

I trained myself to stay away from baseball. It was my best effort to using that surprise-whack to my advantage. And so far, so good, I haven’t been hit in the head with a bat again.

Basically, I avoided baseball in the effort to avoid a disappointing surprise.

But think about this Cheryl, I tell myself, are experts telling me that, if I hadn’t avoided baseball, would I have become a star baseball player earning millions?

Probably not, I can’t even throw a ball.

But for this address, that incident hints at what experts warn against. Avoiding surprises. Experts gently encourage us rather, to grow benefits from surprises.

Which means, I can’t do its opposite of avoiding surprises. Avoidance is a short-term solution, similar to the option to lower my expectations in the hopes it will reduce disappointments when the unexpected comes my way.

Let’s take half a minute here though, to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic expectations. In regard to unrealistic expectations, yes, it is effective, it is to our benefit to avoid or lower unrealistic expectations.

But, when it comes to realistic expectations, expectations of bettering our world, we can treat surprises with more lasting answers or advantages. I think we do it already.

We’re learning about human nature. We learn how resilient and progressive we can be, while at the same time learning how destructive we can be.

We learn how to use reason and conviction, to strive to grow the good in human nature.

Because of my own limitations, I find having a power greater than myself helps in this effort. I call the greater power divine Spirit, or God. And remind myself Spirit is the source of benefits and satisfaction, not surprises. Which means therefore, that surprises can’t take away benefits or satisfaction.

I’ve also taken the time to observe. To look around and ask, just how many people get surprised?

Some people get surprised often, whereas some people don’t seem to get surprised at all. The older I get, the less I get surprised. Every time a surprise comes my way, I shake my head and think, doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Then I plow ahead through the situation, to grow benefits. For inspiration, I often look to others who have successfully grown benefits themselves.

There is the story of Joseph, in the Bible. He was thrown into a pit, by his jealous brothers. I can’t help but assume that the family dysfunction was a disappointing surprise to Joseph.

A tribe came by the pit, brought Joseph out and sold him as a slave.

Joseph’s owner learned to trust him. Until, that is, Joseph was falsely accused and so sent to prison.

Despite the surprise of prison, Joseph kept his God and believed in advantages, not only for himself but also for others. It’s interesting, because whereas Joseph previously worked for the privileged, he now had the opportunity to work for the underprivileged. And, he could, because divine Spirit is in force everywhere, designed to uplift and empower satisfaction.

A couple years after prison life, Joseph was remembered for his good skills, and released. Moreover, he was put in charge of saving the country from starvation, which included saving his immediate family.

In a contemporary book titled, “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” authors, Tania Luna and Leeann Renninger argue that surprise, whether good or bad, brings vitality to our lives.

But what about the times when a series of bad surprises overwhelm the good and eat away at vitality or satisfaction?

This nearly happened to me in religion.

My religious background includes a religion associated with Mary Baker Eddy, born in early 19th century. She realized the value of applying the unseen power of Spirit, and taught it to others through a schooling called Christian Science. She wrote a book titled “Science and Health.”

A group of followers formed, and Mrs. Eddy later started a church. And, one surprise followed another.

At the turn of the 20th century, people were flocking to churches of Christ, Scientist, led by Eddy.

The institution gained in credibility especially when it came to spiritual health and healing. Christian Science was so in vogue that nonreligious and religious people clamored to be in her church.

Thousands of Jews left the synagogues in the 1920s to join her church.

Jewish leaders were taken by surprise by the migration, but used the surprise to a greater advantage by acknowledging their own access to mindful health. Morris Lichtenstein, wrote and published the “Jewish Science and Health.” He could, because the unseen force of Spirit, supporting Eddy was also supporting him. Jews began staying in the synagogues.

The Society of Jewish Science organized in New York City and is still there today.

Back to Mrs. Eddy, after she died in 1910, her church began losing leadership throughout the 20th century.

By the time I was born in 1961, the state of the church did not resemble the early history of Christian Science.

The church was in decline, and at that point, Christian Scientists were known as the people who never go to doctors. It was an accepted stereotype, believed by both admirers and critics of Christian Science. Even I believed it, until it became unpleasant and alarming.

I felt guilty when I went to the doctor. I also heard remarks that children’s health care was compromised by parents who were praying.

I heard people justify or debate this stereotype using one sentence from Eddy’s Science and Health. The sentence reads, “Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized.”

In efforts to discuss healing or benefits, that sentence was repeated as if it meant healing comes through radical reliance on prayers. But it doesn’t say that.

Reliance on prayer is not the same thing as reliance on Truth.

Sure, prayer is a big part of Christian Science, but prayer isn’t equal to Truth. Prayer is only a method of discovering truth, even discovering the proper use of medicine.

I also learned the definition for radical had, well, radically changed during the 20th century. The definition of radical found in a 19th century dictionary, was “pertaining to the root or origin.”

Today, radical means extremism.

So, the religion I was familiar with, did not condone extremism or fanaticism, but encouraged reliance on truth for progress and satisfaction.

In other words, religion has no power other than what human nature gives it. And human prejudices make mistakes.

Surprisingly, this conclusion made my mind more peaceful. It made my mind not so quick to link religion with radicalism.

Honoring that lesson to my advantage, I practice not judging a person by their religion, and not judging a religion by a person.

But I had to do more, because sitting around thinking I was no longer involved with the stereotyping and extremism, I was still indirectly letting the misconceptions carry on. To reverse this, I revised and published a revision of Eddy’s Science and Health.

In my latest edition of 21st Century Science and Health, the sentence I referred to earlier now reads, “Only by advancing from the root of Truth can scientific healing power be realized.”

Advancing from the root of Truth, realizes healing power.

Writing and publishing are only a few of many ways the force of Spirit encourages us to grow benefits, for ourselves and the world.

Now, I’ve noticed something else about surprises. They can be confusing. So confusing, that I forget to reap any benefits.

But can I reap benefits later in life? Yes.

In the 1960s, I was barely old enough to be amazed and confused at what NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency were doing. When the elementary school “emergency test” alarm came over the speaker system, we kids dove under our desks for protection from Russian bombings that never came. At home, I watched on the black-and-white television, American and Russian astronauts, respectively, escape the powers of earth, orbit in outer space, and return to earth. It all came with elements of surprise. But I didn’t reap any benefits.

And now today, outer space adventures are ho-hum. After five decades and spending a bazillion dollars, we have astronauts, today, living where we once thought no person could live. And they’ve been doing it continuously, since year 2000, at the International Space Station.

I later-in-life determined to reap benefits on a mental level. I used my memories to serve as symbols of our ability to escape physical limitations, orbit in freedom, and return with new perspectives.

We can, escape limiting thoughts, live in spiritual freedom, and share actively new perspectives with humanity.

A couple of weeks ago in the New York Times, American liberal journalist and commentator, Charles Blow, wrote an op/ed titled, “Checking my male privilege.” The author addressed the recent rash of high-profile accusations of sexual harassment and assault toward women. Blow confessed that he was shocked by these men’s vulgar behavior toward women, because he hadn’t and probably won’t harass women.

As a male outside the harassment issue, Blow admitted though that he still needed to check himself. He didn’t want to work implicitly, or indirectly, on the side of sexism. He wanted pro-actively, to stand on the right side of fighting for justice.

He also wrote, “There is no magical solution here for the infinite and permanent expansion of empathy and awareness. It is work, hard work.”

“The infinite and permanent expansion of empathy and awareness.” What a cool statement.

I believe, the force of divine Spirit, is behind this infinite and permanent expansion of goodness.

Spirit is in force. It’s universal. It attracts and surprises us with our ability to fight for justice and equality. And then, what happens to the sexism, racism, and fanaticism?

No, wait, that’s not the question to ask.

Here’s the question:  When we act with divine Spirit, what happens to justice, respect, and lasting satisfaction? They expand. As does our ability to face any surprise, and use it to benefit our self and humanity.

(Text above is sermon written and delivered by Cheryl Petersen at Unitarian Universalist Society in Oneonta, New York, November 26, 2017)

 

 

 

Riding horses with gratitude for what’s real

horse ride 2017I haven’t been on a horse in years. So, when Nichole came to visit and asked about horse riding, it took me a while to locate accommodations.

In Walton, New York, Country Meadows Equine, was the place. Very nice.

We rode twice. Two different days. Both days were radiant with vivid color and peacefulness.

Nichole had a grand time learning about horses. We walked, trotted, and cantered.

For me, it all came back. Like riding a bike, I guess.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

Being grateful is an important rule; however, being grateful for material wealth and physical health is different from being grateful for spiritual qualities sustained by Life, Truth, and Love. Gratitude for honesty, humility, and hard work, while we live the honesty, humility, and perseverance is powerful.

The prayer for grace is shown in courage, forbearance, love, and good deeds.

Better expectations, better Halloween

pumpkin 2017Do you have your Halloween pumpkin carved yet?

We carved a pumpkin a few weeks ago when our granddaughter was here. Always aiming to carve a happy face.

Happiness on a pumpkin shows me that superficial happiness is something less than the power I give it.

Example:

Eating chocolate makes me happy. But not really. Knowing this fact allows me to improve my expectations. Instead of expecting chocolate to give me happiness, I can expect truth and love to come with happiness. I can expect honesty and a willingness to try something new to come with happiness. Maybe eating an apple is good.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

“How we interpret life affects not only our outlook and expectations, but also the consequences.”

Nurture respect already in place

Archeologists have uncovered evidence interpreted to link not only ideas but also actual inscribed words in the Bible back to thinkers and writers who pre-dated Biblical authors.

In his 2016 publication of the book, The Cities That Built the Bible, Archaeologist and Biblical scholar, Robert Cargill gives tangible examples that show some ideas and even words, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, can be traced back centuries before biblical authors were even born.

Correct. Scriptural words were not traced back to God, but to other human beings.

No, no, no, this is not an argument against the presence of God and it isn’t a burial of the Bible or religion. It’s a release.

What if we stopped fearing or revering religion and its accompanying materials? What if we doubled up our efforts to cultivate the respect for one another already in place? What if we acknowledged a truth presenting itself anew for the sheer fact it identifies with ongoing purpose and eternal life?

From the introduction of Sixth Edition of 21st Century Science and Health:

“Truth is ever-revealing itself, it can’t be stopped. It embraces and moves us. With respect to all truth-seekers, I share 21st Century Science and Health.”— Cheryl Petersen

best cover

 

Cheryl Petersen

Q & A’s on Christian Science

What is Christian Science? The mental process for improvement; the law of Truth and Love interpreting harmony to the universe.

When did Christian Science come into being? It’s existed forever.

How do I discover Christian Science? Through prayer, meditation, and revelation. It finds you.

Where is Christian Science? Everywhere.

Who has written about Christian Science? Many people however in the 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy wrote extensively on this Mind-force she termed Christian Science.

What has happened to Christian Science since Eddy’s time-period? The law of Truth and Love is still intact and translating harmony, health, and holiness to humanity however Christian Science has been buried in misunderstandings.

Why is Christian Science confused with a church? Because Eddy founded a church before she died and human beings began linking the law of Truth and Love to a religious organization and its behaviors rather than share it as a universal Mind-power for good.

How do I separate Christian Science from a religious organization? Know yourself as the representative of Truth and Love, not the representative of a religious organization. Know Christian Science as never able to be locked into a church or book.

Christian Science is free. The law of Truth and Love illuminating life and wellbeing is free. You are free. You can mentally know this power as able to support humanity in its endeavors to improve mind, body, and spirit.

Happy thoughts: The flower hat my granddaughter made me…

flower hat no eyes

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