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The purpose of life, truth, and love

Religion isn’t only about devotion, feelings, beliefs and rituals. It has a function. Current evidence indicates that religion is losing its functionality.

Is that like someone losing their eyesight?

Functionality is the quality of being suited to serve a purpose well, or practicality, as defined by Merriam-Webster.

Instead of asking myself what is the purpose of eyesight or religion, I ask:

What is the purpose of God?


June 11, 2014

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John 9 (ESV)*

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”[c] 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

From 21st Century Science and Health*

“Sin multiplies when we believe life is in matter. If thinking doesn’t shift out of the vicious cycle of believing in a temporal life, life is very disheartening and we feel cursed. Error hides behind a lie and excuses guilt, but can’t be concealed forever. Even the attitude that tries to justify or hide guilt is punished. People who avoid justice and deny truth tend to perpetuate sin, bring on crime, jeopardize self-control, and mock divine mercy. This human mindset tries to eliminate the spiritual idea, or improved thought, whenever and wherever it appears. It is that same mindset which tried to kill Jesus in order to get rid of Truth. However, Truth, through eternal laws, causes error and sin to betray itself.

“The beast and the false prophets are lust and hypocrisy. These wolves in sheep’s clothing are detected and killed by innocence, the Lamb of Love.

“Divine Science shows how the Lamb slays the wolf. Innocence and Truth overcome guilt and error. Ever since the foundation of the world, ever since error would establish rut thinking, evil has tried to kill the Lamb, but Science is able to destroy this lie called evil.

“It is important to examine our inclinations and intentions. Mental examination is the way we learn what we honestly are. If a friend informs us of a fault, do we listen patiently to the criticism and reconsider our attitude? Or, do we react by giving thanks that we are “not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector”?[1] During many years, I have been most grateful for constructive criticism. The misdeed is destructive careless criticism, which does no one any good.

“The test of prayer is found in the answer to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of our prayer? Or, are we satisfied with our prayerful words and yet give no evidence of living consistently with our prayer? If selfishness has given place to kindness, we will regard our neighbor unselfishly and pray for our enemies;[2] but this great responsibility is never accomplished simply by asking that it may be done. Improvement of mind/body/spirit needs to be tangible before we can experience the achievement of our hope and faith.”

“As human thought changes from one stage to another, from conscious pain to painlessness, from sorrow to joy, from fear to hope, and from faith to understanding, the visible manifestation will at last be self-governed by Soul.”

(Scripture taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. ESV® Text Edition: 2011.Text from 21st Century Science and Health copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen)


[1] Luke 18:11 (NRSV)

[2] Matt. 5:44

June 4, 2014

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Psalm 25 (ESV)*

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.

From 21st Century Science and Health, 5th edition*

“Are we irreverent toward sin, or assigning too much power to God, when we ascribe to Him almighty Life and Love? I deny God’s cooperation with evil and I desire to have no faith in evil or in any power but God, good. Isn’t it better to eliminate from so-called human mind that which, so long as it remains in human mind, will show itself in forms of sin, sickness, and death? Why complain of suffering while at the same time tenaciously defending the rights of disease? Wouldn’t it be better to abandon the defense of dis-ease, especially when by doing so, our own condition can be improved and that of other persons as well?”

“When the medical field finds no biological or physical cause for symptoms of disease, various forms of psychotherapy have been known to improve the unhealthy condition. Psychosomatic illnesses or psychophysiological disorders are admitted to be problems caused by mental processes. They are problems in the mind, and once the mind is corrected, the symptoms vanish as illusions vanish. Mental conditions, such as severe stress, anger, anxiety, resentment, depression, and guilt have produced rashes, allergies, loss of hair, eating disorders, and pain, among other problems. So, why not approve of a cure which in effect makes any disease appear to be what it really is—an illusion?

“Here is the difficulty: it is not generally understood how one disease can be just as much a delusion as another. It is a pity that the medical faculty and clergy have not learned this, for Jesus established this fundamental fact when devils (delusions) were driven to oblivion and the mute spoke.

Matt. 14:14-21 (ESV)*


14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

From 21st Century Science and Health

“A fairly common remark heard in society today is: “We know that mind affects the body somewhat, and we try to be hopeful and optimistic and to take as little medicine as possible; but mind can never cure biological difficulties.” The logic is lame, and facts contradict it. I have cured the diseases of organs as readily as I have cured purely functional disease, and with no power but the divine Mind.

“God, divine Mind, administers to all, not partially but wholly. Predicting disease does not dignify therapeutics. Whatever guides thought spiritually, benefits mind/body/spirit. We need to understand the affirmations of divine Science, dismiss superstition, and live truth according to Christ. The world is home to many representatives, living the virtue and healing power of Truth.”

*The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. ESV® Text Edition: 2011. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Text from 21st Century Science and Health copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen, 2014


May 28, 2014

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Job 15: 1-16 (ESV)*

“Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge,
    and fill his belly with the east wind?
Should he argue in unprofitable talk,
    or in words with which he can do no good?
But you are doing away with the fear of God[a]
    and hindering meditation before God.
For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
    and you choose the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;
    your own lips testify against you.

“Are you the first man who was born?
    Or were you brought forth before the hills?
Have you listened in the council of God?
    And do you limit wisdom to yourself?
What do you know that we do not know?
    What do you understand that is not clear to us?
10 Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us,
    older than your father.
11 Are the comforts of God too small for you,
    or the word that deals gently with you?
12 Why does your heart carry you away,
    and why do your eyes flash,
13 that you turn your spirit against God
    and bring such words out of your mouth?
14 What is man, that he can be pure?
    Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?
15 Behold, God[b] puts no trust in his holy ones,
    and the heavens are not pure in his sight;
16 how much less one who is abominable and corrupt,
    a man who drinks injustice like water!

Prov. 14:30 (The Message)*

A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.

Matt 4:23-25

From there [Jesus] went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all


From 21st Century Science and Health*

Divine Science silences human will, disables fear with Truth and Love, and illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy in healing the sick. Self-indulgence, envy, emotionalism, arrogance, hatred, and revenge are dissolved by divine Mind which heals disease. The human will which makes and works a lie, hiding the divine Principle of harmony, is destructive to health and is the cause of disease rather than its cure.

Mortal passions and appetites must end in pain. They are “of few days and full of trouble.”[1] Their temporal joys cheat us. Emotionalism and cravings belittle their satisfactions and surround their achievements with thorns.

Mortal mind accepts the erroneous, material conception of life and joy, but the true idea is gained from the immortal side. Humanity may ask, What on earth do we gain through this toil, struggle, and sorrow? We gain by giving up our belief in perishable life and happiness. We gain when the mortal and material return to dust and the immortal is reached.

“We physicians do not fully understand the relationship between mind, body, and that intangible element known as spirit…Medical educators have often taught that religion is an irrelevant or even detrimental factor in physical and emotional well-being. But a growing body of research has established that religious people, both young and old, often enjoy the psychological and physical benefits of a positive emotional outlook.”[2]Harold G. Koenig, M D., Director of Duke University’s Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health.

Doctors, it is best not to implant disease in the thoughts of your patients by declaring disease to be a fixed fact, even before you go to work to eradicate the disease through the material faith inspired. Instead of furnishing thought with fear, try to correct the turbulent emotion by the influence of divine Love, which removes fear.

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. uses common sense to move thought into a new biology, saying, “Genes are not destiny! Environmental influences, including nutrition, stress and emotions, can modify those genes, without changing their basic blueprint.”[3] We can’t be our DNA because it is constantly renewing and dying. Every day, DNA falls off us as dead skin, or it hangs around in our skeleton after we die, so, where is our life? Our individuality and life is metaphysical, known in Mind, in thought.

If we came from genes, how did Mind come to human beings? DNA surely does not possess Mind or a consciousness. God is the life or intelligence which forms and preserves the individuality, consciousness, and identity of the universe, of people, and of animals.

When governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, we know that with God all things are possible

*Scripture taken from English Standard Version, and The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. Text from 21st Century Science and Health copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen 2012


[1] Job 14:1

[2] Koenig, Harold G. The Healing Power of Faith: Science Explores Medicine’s Last Great Frontier. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1999.

[3] Lipton, Bruce, Ph.D. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the power of Consciousness, matter, and miracles. California: Mountain of Love/Elite Books, 2005.


The History of Spirituality IV

Saint Ignatius of Loyola statue at Boston College

Saint Ignatius of Loyola statue at Boston College

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was our next subject of study at Boston College. I’ve never heard of the guy and had to snicker at my ignorance as I connected the dots. I’d spent days walking around campus locating the place to check-in, finding the bookstore, the library, the place to print off papers and had been walking by a huge statue of St. Ignatius, plus a fabulous church named after St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Ignatius, a 16th century man established the Society of Jesus. The book we had to read confounded me until it was discussed in class. Ignatius designed a 30 day exercise program to develop our spirituality. Every minute of each day was planned out.

My classmates had a few priests, who had practiced the 30-day exercise. Other classmates had done a shorter version. Apparently, there are 3, 5, and 8-day retreats.

Saint Ignatius’ method is also reaching into the 21st century through social programs. One classmate said her work of place uses a St. Ignatius method to help homeless women.

The professor talked about Aristotle’s practical wisdom, Phronesis, which spilled over into St. Ignatius’ type of spirituality.

A Nuance of Mary Baker Eddy

With her delicate, impressive, poetic features, Mary Baker Eddy seemed the embodiment of the modern evangelist as Renaissance woman. This 19th century figure was turned to for answers regarding God and healing by people who became her followers. At the prime of her career, Eddy had sacrificed her own work for the good of her followers by becoming manager of a Church she established, rather than its chief scientist.

Eddy managed to foster an atmosphere of unusual freedom. Her church resonated with a romantic, palpable sense of magic. As a leader of a people who were solemn, egocentric, and difficult, Eddy behaved with motherly sensitivity. She mustered managerial skills that no one, including herself, previously knew she possessed.

Friends and family knew her as fragile, privileged, and sheltered. Her childhood didn’t prepare her for a world full of callous bitter things. She had no normal, healthy way to be offended. Her apprehension of “the power of pride” and the “pride of power” was partly responsible for her circumspection. She wrote a Church Manual, hoping followers could interpret her words outside their own agenda and favoritism.  With an uneasy personal life, she was only saved from herself by the sheer power of her spirituality and, for brief time at least, the world’s need to employ it.

After her death, church members began to find out the limits of their power. In the end, they had little control over the consequences of their work. They pursued the unknown world of divine Mind, because it was there, but ventured into a world filled with moral ambiguities, if not pure absurdity. Rifts between marginal leaders turned into chasms, however the spiritual truths promulgated by Eddy continued to be understood and practiced, even by people outside her church.

Spirituality and healing is alive and well. Thinkers are thinking for themselves. God is being worshiped and turned to as a power of Love and Truth. We are experiencing improvement.

Spirituality, scientifically approached, accompanied the 21st Century into existence. Today, every city, town, and hamlet has some form of outlet for spiritual learning. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, that although Eddy and the ideas in her book may be temporarily abused by means of neglect or idolatry, she did indeed still predict that “the Science and truth therein will forever remain to be discerned and demonstrated.
Read more:

Martin Luther King’s Dream is Being Fulfilled

With a poignant sonorous voice, Reginald Brunson recited Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. “Every Friday before the Martin Luther King, Jr.  Holiday, I recite the speech at South Kortright Central School,” said Brunson. “I also delivered the speech at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ceremony in Oneonta on Sunday.”

South Kortright Principal, John Bonhotal, includes Reginald Brunson as a regular guest to recite King’s speech every year at the school. The audience for the Friday production at South Kortright School consists of Kindergarteners through fifth graders. Students from the fifth grade participated with poster cards that illustrated a timeline. “Important events from 1929 to 1983 were written on each poster card,” said Azalyn Brunson, fifth grade student and introducer of Reginald Brunson.

Brunson stands before the listeners, commanding attention as he draws in his breath. The words are familiar yet so potent they require concentration. Brunson comes to the part of the eight minute speech, repeating with appropriate intonation: “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

“Every time I recite the speech, the audience has my attention,” said Brunson. “To touch hearts is my goal. I work with the fact that the audiences in upstate New York are non-minority.” Brunson grew up in South Carolina and was the minority. He remembers the signs clearly stating, “For White’s Only.” “There were seven of us kids in y family and at first we went to a segregated school.” Brunson was in the seventh grade when school segregation was diminished.

“Growing up in central South Carolina was totally different from growing up here in the north,” said Brunson. “There is no comparison and I chose to raise my kids in the north. They didn’t have to be exposed to the prejudices more common in the south. A lot of progress has been made, I love my country, but more progress yet needs to be made.”

Brunson and his siblings were growing up at the tail end of what is now known as The Great Migration, the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the West, Midwest, and North from 1916 to 1970. The Migration was one of the greatest numbers in history. African Americans left their homes to relocate where there were more satisfactory economic opportunities and less segregationist laws. The burgeoning industrial age was a resource for employment especially during the World Wars. The Great Migration came with problems however such as poor working conditions and competition for living space. Racism and prejudice still existed but African Americans began building their own niches of black urban culture that grew to exert enormous influence. “I remember the marches and the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed,” said Reginald Brunson. “I was eight years old when I watched King die. I don’t forget it.” Years later, Brunson was asked to recite the “I Have a Dream” speech and he memorized it. “I don’t forget it,” said Brunson. “The words and meaning are in my long term memory to stay.”

“I’ve torn apart the speech, realizing what to emphasize,” said Burnson. “I’ve watched videos of Martin Luther King Jr. giving the speech.” Burnson utilizes his background in theater during the oration. He realized his love of theater while in High School. He went on to study accounting and theater at what is now Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Since moving to Hobart, he has been involved in many productions in and out of Delaware County. Plays of notice are: Witness for the Prosecution, Twelve Angry Men, and Out Town along with a one-man act at Franklin Stage.

“Martin Luther King Jr. had given the speech 5 or 6 times before the Washington D.C. event,” said Brunson. “I recite the final version which King had developed to a full power.” Martin Luther King Jr. gave the final speech August 28, 1963, fifty years ago this year. Brunson has given the speech at a multitude of places. “I will recite it next month when our family goes to Carolinas for vacation,” added Brunson who is scheduled to give the address in Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, and his hometown of Sumpter, South Carolina.

“I’m excited to visit South Carolina, it’s been a while since we’ve been back,” said Brunson. “But, this is home. I love Delaware County. The people in Bloomville, Hobart, and South Kortright are the salt of the earth. They’ve always had my back and they are my family.” Reginald and his wife, Cynthia Hillis Brunson, have a home in Hobart. They have six children and three grandchildren. “I love them all,” adds Brunson.

A fulfilled promise to Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”


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