Category Archives: Science and/or religion

Reading from my book

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Refining our thoughts and words

Until human beings had words, nouns specifically, the ability “to think” was vastly limited.

The thoughts and words of our very far ancestors could have been: Get food. Eat. Ran away from scary thing. Find cave.

Time passed. Ideas came. Nouns were detected and identified and thoughts advanced, maybe to: Hey Rocky, you’re better at running and I’m better at aiming, so how about we work together to get food.

Today, human beings repeat this advancement process.

For example, if I see a child with too much screen time, my first reactions may be: Bad. Lazy. But, after a bit of contemplation and inspiration, new ideas and new words come to light. Maybe: Honey, there are better things to do, let’s go outside and pick up litter. You don’t want to lose your mind to what other people want you to think and do. We aren’t here for entertainment but for improvement.

In this process, no one is at fault really. Distant ancestors had what they had to work with and we have what we have. The key is advancement. Advancement out of thoughts and words that lead to discrimination and fear. Advancement toward thoughts and words that lead to scientific foresight and capabilities.

Therefore, my book 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, will constantly be revised.

You’ll see below, a recent revision I’m working on. To keep it in context, two paragraphs are included:

Eddy’s version:

“We need a clean body and a clean mind,—a body rendered pure by Mind as well as washed by water. One says: ‘I take good care of my body.’ To do this, the pure and exalting influence of the divine Mind on the body is requisite, and the Christian Scientist takes the best care of his body when he leaves it most out of his thought, and like the Apostle Paul, is ‘willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.’

“A hint may be taken from the emigrant, whose filth does not affect his happiness, because mind and body rest on the same basis. To the mind equally gross, dirt gives no uneasiness. It is the native element of such a mind, which is symbolized, and not chafed, by its surroundings, but impurity and uncleanliness, which do not trouble the gross, could not be borne by the refined. This shows that the mind must be clean to keep the body in proper condition.”

From 21st Century Science and Health:

“We need a clean body and a clean mind—a body rendered pure by Mind as well as washed by water. One says: ‘I take good care of my body.’ Physical care requires the pure and spiritualizing influence of the divine Mind on the body. The body is best taken care of when it is most out of thought. The Apostle Paul said he “would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.’[1]

“Take the hint from a combination of archival and experimental studies that shows links between air pollution and unethical behavior and anxiety. Experimental findings published in Psychological Science[2] reveals that increased exposure to air pollution, either physical or mental, accompanies increased crime and cheating. Hint: Align with divine Mind and strive to purify the environment, and human mind and body.”

Back to me, Cheryl and I conclude:

If you find yourself in a situation where communication with someone else feels blocked, it’s okay to give up on the human will trying to hard to get a point across, and its better to rely on the divine will which enables better thoughts and words that show truth and love has the final say.

 

[1] II Cor. 5:8

[2] Jackson G. Lu, Julia J. Lee, Francesca Gino, Adam D. Galinsky. Polluted Morality: Air Pollution Predicts Criminal Activity and Unethical Behavior. Psychological Science, 2018; 095679761773580 DOI: 10.1177/0956797617735807 (Accessed 4/13/2018)

In a foreign land?

The prophet Jeremiah points to the benefits of following God from the start, rather than veer off into idolatry and spiritual apathy to be brought back on track through suffering.

Jeremiah warned Judah that Jerusalem and the holy Temple would be destroyed due to their spiritual apathy. The people didn’t heed the warning. The temple was lost and the people were captured and exiled to Babylon.

However, even in captivity, in a foreign land, the Israelites learned they could worship God. Of course, the spiritual apathy had to be overcome and attention given to divine spirit, but it was possible.

If we find ourselves in foreign territory, whether physical or mental, God is with us. Truth is with us. Spirit and love is with us.

Mentally, new ideas come to mind. The ideas may feel foreign, but it’s okay. God is with you, helping you understand the idea.

Jeremiah 30: 18-19

“Thus says the Lord:
Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
    and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its mound,
    and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
    and the voices of those who celebrate.

 

Caring for Religion, Commentary in The Daily Star newspaper in NY

My article printed in The Daily Star February 10, 2018

Reading in The Daily Star about closure of First Baptist Church in Oneonta provoked flashback. I don’t know their circumstances, but my church community folded about fifteen years ago, and I now offer one piece of advice. Care for religion.

This is not to say religion hasn’t been cared for, but there is a difference between caring for religion and taking care of sacred centers or defending religious policies.

To care for religion isn’t to worry about religion. It isn’t to get distracted by thinking religion is dying. It’s not dying. Pew Research Center reports that 84% of the world’s population is religious-minded and it’s on the increase.

Religion is part of human life, like dirt. And, it is the religious-minded who provide the best care for religion. In other words, pointing fingers at the nonreligious-minded is silly. We don’t expect people who don’t own pets, to care for our pets.

So, how do we care for religion?

I started pondering that mystery when a teenager. I had plenty of time. I spent a gazillion hours operating tractors on the family farm, working the dirt. Plowing, planting, harvesting.

In between listening to Elton John on the AM radio, I’d think over narratives from the Bible, such as the parable of the sower, reportedly given by Christ Jesus. The storyline starts with a sower, throwing seed everywhere. Seeds on the road, on rocky places, in shallow soil, in thorns, and, yep, “on good soil.”

Despite my inclination to debate the waste and inefficiency of randomly throwing seeds everywhere—we used precision planters on the farm—I still was able to grasp the possibility of seed bringing “forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:8)

Arguably, religion has brought forth the fruits of spiritual texts, guidance, relief, wellbeing, and meaningful lives. But, the farmer in me knows that growing fruit depletes nutrients in the ground, big time, and diminishes soil.

That’s why farmers fertilize or amend soil, alternate crops, or leave the land fallow.

Nevertheless, it was that very strategy of caring for soil that moved my mind to care more for religion than for the soil depleting religious practices and policies. I’ll give an example.

When a child, my parents introduced me to Christian Science, defined as an infinite force of divine spirit interpreting harmony to the universe.

As a religion however, it was established by Mary Baker Eddy late 19th century. Early records show churches prospering and members enjoying noteworthy healing and advancements in the study of both human mind and divine mind.

I, myself, experienced tangible benefits from the religion. These fruits, so-to-speak, were self-satisfying until the 1980s when I was first surprised, then grieved, to see churches headed toward their deathbeds.

To be honest, it took me years to stop reminiscing or trying to relive the glory days even if they were in my imagination. It took me years to stop advocating for a human ideology and start advocating for improved religion or convictions.

In my situation, I carried an unfounded conviction that Christian Science required radical reliance on prayer for healing. Why did I have such a conviction?

Good question, and I didn’t get good answers. So, I confronted language used by both admirers and critics of Christian Science, either excusing or condemning going to doctors or not. I traced the language to a sentence in Eddy’s textbook on Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She wrote, “Only through radical reliance of Truth can scientific healing power be realized.”

A 19th-century dictionary showed me that the word “radical” has, well, radically changed in meaning during the last one-hundred years. It meant, pertaining to the root or origin, and didn’t carry todays weight of extremism.

But the regrettable notion of “extreme prayer,” paled next to the mistake of grossly confusing reliance on Truth with reliance on prayer.

Sure, prayer is a big component of Christian Science, but prayer is not synonymous with truth. And this new conviction sprouted. I could see it and hear it.

More accurate language was used to discuss and write about religion, teaching me indirectly that spiritual texts also aren’t synonymous with truth, but are interpretations. The conviction multiplied.

Religion is not synonymous with truth. Science, politics, and the media are not synonymous with truth. These institutions aren’t even sources of truth but are methods to discover and share.

Unfortunately, these methods can be used to notice and share information that does little or no good, even harm, to humanity. That is why we should be careful before repeating information. That is why our institutions need continual care.

Historically, proper care doesn’t come from anger, complacency or arrogance. Care comes from insight, education, and an openness to take the time to listen to others to learn where they started from and how they got to where they are. It comes with courage to outgrow the old and wear the new.

Posted online January 9, 2018, Barna Research reported that, “In a post-truth climate, the challenge, particularly for faith leaders, may be to find that balance between encouraging positive signs of introspection while confronting wholly subjective approaches—whether in interpreting facts, discerning truth or practicing faith.”

After reflecting on the bygone Baptist Church, I felt positive respect for its 185 years of singing praises and serving the community. I also was urged to confront and rethink that parable about the sower.

Remember that sower mentioned above, sowing seed willy-nilly? Is it telling me that my religion, or religion in and of itself, isn’t the only place where seed was sown? I’m feeling a growing conviction that seed is everywhere, ready to bear fruit. Let’s get the soil ready.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen lives in Delhi. Her books are “21st Century Science and Health,” “from science & religion to God: A narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health,” and “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter.”

Woman walks El Camino Santiago

Rocks from Delaware County were carried to Spain and placed at the foot of an iron cross, by Kathy of Delhi, New York. The iron cross, also known as Cruz de Ferro, marks the highest point of the El Camino de Santiago, a network of trails that converge at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The cathedral is said to be the resting place for the bones of Saint James, an apostle who spread the news of the gospel throughout that region of northern Europe, two-thousand years ago.

In the 10th century, European Christians trekked their way to the cathedral and made it a popular pilgrimage. By the 11th century, businesses along the routes built up. In the 12th century, a handwritten guidebook was compiled for pilgrims.

Although a dip in walkers occurred during the Renaissance Age, pilgrims still walk the routes, generally for spiritual reasons.

Kathy, a Buddhist, walked 500-miles from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela, from October 1 to November 3, with a group of 14 pilgrims. “We walked about 15-miles each day,” she said.

A support services was enlisted to transport baggage from stop to stop.

Kathy, 73-years old, carried rocks from home and some of her mother’s ashes, with the intent to leave them at the iron cross.

Pilgrims leave rocks at Cruz de Ferro as a symbol of shrugging off the weight of one’s sins or worries. “There are a ton of rocks there,” said Kathy, who wanted to leave behind a sense of hopelessness.

“Really, I’d lost hope before the trip,” she said. “The American political situation and environment need so much help. I have too many sick friends. It all felt hopeless.”

In Spain, after placing the rocks at the cross, she then released her mother’s ashes and, “Tears welled up and I started to cry,” said Kathy.

A young woman came to Kathy and “patted me gently,” she added.

Affected with relief, Kathy then walked down the hill only to discover she had left behind her hat and gloves. “It was cold, about 30 degrees,” she said, so she dug through her backpack and found socks to put on her hands.

“A man came over and gave me his gloves. He insisted I take them,” said Kathy, who brought the gloves back to Delaware County.

Also brought home was a scallop shell marked with the cross of Saint James, passports, and certificates. “I carried the shell as a memento, but a thousand years ago, shells were the proof that pilgrims made it to the coast of Galicia,” said Kathy.

During the journey, Camino passports were stamped at churches, restaurants, and hostels. Certificates show how far pilgrims traveled before arriving at the cathedral.

History and architecture delineate the walk.

“It was an interesting and easy walk. Not a hike,” said Kathy, who has, in the past, hiked the John Muir Trail, Appalachian Trail, Anapurna Circuit, Catskill’s Peaks, and others.

She said, “Because it wasn’t physically demanding, and because I was away from America’s stimuli, I was able to enter a zone of reflection on the history, art, and people. It was illuminating.”

Kathy arrived home in time to vote. “I have no explainable reason why, but my hope was restored, and I was glad to be home.”

Kathy Mario camino de santiagosmall.jpg

Eliminating radical thoughts for peace

Radicalized religion has our attention. What else does it want?

War with religion? War with those of us struggling to practice a religion of love and a life of meaning?

I doubt it. No matter how much destruction radicals inflict upon religion, radicalized religion would be destroyed if they messed with religion.

But we can ask, why did radicalized religion reach such a crisis point?

Perhaps it’s because our religious policies are failing us.

Perhaps it’s because religion is divided by creeds specific to human behaviors and thinking rather than specific to worship of God.

Perhaps it’s because we are so busy lighting candles, reading Bible lessons, and maintaining buildings rather than increasing spirituality and correct interpretations of spiritual texts?

Thing is we need to do more because radicalized religion doesn’t only bother the religious. The nonreligious are also afflicted since radicals aim at anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

The nonreligious try to stop the radicals with bullets. How can the religious help?

It is time for religious thinkers to take the baton and run the race that eliminates radicalization by designing relevant policies and practices. It is time for religious thinkers to hold off defending their beliefs and go full force advocating the love of Christ.

The new ideas that come with progress don’t mean we give up lighting candles or stop reading sacred texts.

The other night I attended a village prayer vigil. We came together with our differing religious backgrounds.

Scriptures read were: I John 4:7-8, 18-21 and Isaiah 58.

A moment of individual prayer was respected.

And we all sang together a couple of times. The departing song was:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Everywhere I go, let it shine, let it shine. Won’t let anyone blow it out; I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. All around the world, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

prayer vigil

 

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 the physical forms of Christian Science as set by Eddy, are dying.

Why is Christian Science confused with a church? Because humans confuse spirit and its physical forms. Eddy founded they physical form of Christian Science as 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 Christian Science 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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