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Times Union prints my op/ed on Muslim neighbors

‘Anti-jihad’ bike ride picks wrong target

Op/ed at Times Union, Albany, NY

Terrorism is as old as dirt. Incarnate violence and intimidation go way back with human beings. Remarkably, we also have the capacity to gain new knowledge that brings about good-will. In other words, we outgrow knowledge that is no longer appropriate.

A Facebook event page, recently created by the American Bikers United Against Jihad, calls for a May 15 rally ride, headed to Islamberg, in Hancock, Delaware County.

Islamberg is a 70-acre rural hamlet for Muslims of America, Inc.

The jargon on the Facebook page hits me like a bug in the eye. The bug of inappropriate information. You can read about Islamberg online. The community has made headline news for years, nationwide. They’ve been tied to terrorism with a mix of correct and incorrect images.

Images are powerful. Eight years ago, I rode my bike from Washington State to New York. When pulling into towns for a doughnut, disguised in my helmet and armored jacket, I encountered a few people who withdrew. The old image of tattooed Hells Angels made it difficult for them to see me, a 49-year old, graying mom, weighing in at about 115 pounds.

Granted, it’s legitimate to admit our fears and concerns, however the legitimacy wears off when there is little, or no real evidence to validate the fears.

The community of Islamberg got started more than 30 years ago. It consists of about 20 families, more children than adults. Muslim individuals and families moved to Delaware County to get away from unsafe big city life and to raise their children in a rural wholesome environment.

Muslim, Rashid Clark, admitted, “Our family moved from New York City when I was young. While attending the local school, I assimilated. I didn’t talk about my religion because my past taught me that I’d be treated with biases. I played baseball with the Hancock Wildcats, went home, said my prayers, and did my math.”

Basically, prayers and religious celebrations were done in private to avoid bigotry. Therefore, Islamberg, to the skeptical outsider, felt mysterious.

As global consciousness became aware of terrorism linked to radical Islamist groups, specifically the Islamic State, the mysteriousness in Hancock became a target for suspicion. Insidious threats were hurled at our Muslim neighbors.

It’s no wonder they then appeared guarded and secretive.

Residents of Islamberg and other local Muslims made it a practice to work with law enforcement officers. They allow investigations which lead to reports able to clear the false records and invented evidence.

After getting to know them, I have found that my Muslim neighbors don’t identify with Islamism, defined as the determination to enforce a single version of Islam on society, and as espoused by ISIS.

They respect not only an internally diverse Islam, but also other faiths.

I have not noticed an appeal to theocracy, or a system of government in which a religious leader rules in the name of God.

“I am an American,” said Faruq Baqi, spokesman of Muslims of America.

Muslims can be and are Americans. While faithful to their form of spirituality, they abide by a democracy, a system of government by the people. I have only felt good-will from my Muslim neighbors.

We all are entitled to good-will. Come Sunday, I won’t ride with the American Bikers United Against Jihad, but I will wish good-will on them. I hope they ride with good-will as well.

 

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance reporter and author of, “from science & religion to God: a briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.” She lives in Delaware County.

 

Article in Beacon Hill Times

Printed in Beacon Hill Times (Boston, MA) April 12, 2016:

150th anniversary points to a future of good

By Cheryl Petersen

One hundred and fifty years ago, a woman living in Swampscott, Massachusetts, had an ah-ha moment. She couldn’t describe the epiphany, but it resulted in an instant recovery from an injury caused a few days earlier that had left her bedridden.

The attending physician and friends of the New England woman called the recovery a miracle. She explained her healing as the “falling apple” that compelled her to learn “how” she was healed. It led her to discover a timeless spiritual force that she later labeled, Christian Science.

By the turn of the 20th century, Christian Science was all the rage in America and Europe, along with the woman’s name, Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). She was a pioneer in mind-study, though not the human mind, but divine mind.

Eddy became a prolific writer on the subject of Christian Science, defined as a law of God interpreting a divine order. She taught classes on the power of prayer. She started a publishing house. She started a church. She founded a secular newspaper. She revised her principal book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, hundreds of times up until her death.

Visitors today can visit the Swampscott house, along with other houses connected to the life of Eddy. The houses are maintained and open to the public by Longyear Museum, founded by Mary Beecher Longyear (1851-1931) and headquartered in Chestnut Hill.

There is also a Mary Baker Eddy Library on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. The museum and library contain documented evidence about Eddy and Christian Science to intrigue the mind to learn the actual historical environment from which Eddy plucked her ideas.

In 1866 and the decades that followed, racism was rampant and working conditions were unfair and unsafe. The schools, if you went to school, taught that physical matter and cultural standings were fixed. Science and religion were butting heads as Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution took hold.

Despite the dreadful circumstances, mass consciousness was poked to explore ideas that inspired people, not to take what came, but give what is worth giving to improve humanity. People took a stand for more credible science and religion.

Science was becoming more systematic, separating itself from philosophy. Eddy valued the systematic approach and applied it to religion. Christian Science was acknowledged and chronicled by thousands of people as the power behind remarkable spiritual healings of hate, fear, addictions, depression, tuberculosis, tumors, constipation, and fatigue. Christian Science was noticeably celebrated more than it was satirized.

Christian Science isn’t well known, or known well today. It’s confused with scientology. It carries baggage, the heaviest burden picked up in the 20th century when Christian Science was nearly redefined to mean radical reliance on prayer or sacred words, instead of relying on a spiritual understanding of God.

It is disingenuous to argue that committed prayer is divorced from Christian Science, as it is to assert that ritualistic prayer is synonymous with Christian Science. Human beings make mistakes. Mary Baker Eddy made mistakes.

Some may wonder, is Eddy original or a fraud? Is Christian Science Christian or cult? Is it’s spiritual healing genuine or bogus?

Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science will be any of those to different people at different times. Their accomplishments will always be up for debate. History shows however, that Christian Science challenged the thinking that health is only a state of matter. It challenged thinkers to examine how that thinking distorts approaches to mindful healing. It challenged thinkers to consider how spirituality improves approaches to health, science, and religion.

As we wonder about any religion or science, let’s remember that the fine museums offered within the greater Boston area offer lessons that humanity can act on the courage that promotes progress, not fear. The good can outweigh the bad.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen’s book is, from science & religion to God: a briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health. Available at Amazon.com  Cheryl’s website is www.HealingScienceToday.com

Past and present thoughts

“Heredity is a breakable string of past and present thoughts.” —from science & religion to God

When reading that statement, I got a bit of a jolt the other day. I could see how what my parent’s thought wasn’t necessarily what I thought, so heredity isn’t all-encompassing. However, the jolt came from me realizing that I’ve been unconsciously attaching myself to past thoughts through history.

I love history. Read and write about history all the time. I caught myself identifying with thoughts from the past.

I’m certainly not going to continue respecting and learning history. It is a tool to understanding, however, I can see my opportunity not to attach myself to thoughts not from God, divine Mind. Sorry for the double negative. But, I can see my opportunity to detach from human thoughts from the past.

This isn’t a loss, but a gain. It opens wide the door of opportunity to acknowledge my unbreakable connection to divine thoughts from Mind, Love.

 

Spirit speaks

I have two cats, Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is really a girl, but I get all cats spayed and it was easier to remember their names by using Calvin and Hobbes, names from an old-time favorite comic.

My cats have never spoken a word to me. They meow. Or look at me.

I can tell when they tell me they want food. I can tell when they tell me to think better.

I try to follow Calvin and Hobbes’ instructions, while all their communication goes on without one human word being said.

They make me feel loved. The cats make me feel better on days when I feel glum.

Whatever the power is, I call it divine spirit, it is real and independent of words.

Matt. 28:19

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

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The disciples role in the resurrection

On Easter, a few of us got together to discuss the resurrection. We read out loud a Bible Lesson then threw around some ideas on how our thoughts today could transform from death to life.

Looking to Christ Jesus as a signature example, we sensed that Jesus looked past the temporal to the eternal. Like looking past the sinner to the sin, to replace the sin with goodness, thereby manifesting a less sinning person.

J.C. said, “We have to remember that the human mind is plastic, even when it gets stuck in a temporal attitude that makes problems, it still can change or resurrect.”

H.S. said, “I remind myself to look past the human emotions and behaviors in others and see Christ which is our spirituality.”

D.P. said, “It occurred to me that Christ Jesus proved our spirituality can’t be killed. But I also realized that the disciples played a role. The followers who admitted Jesus’ spirituality was ever alive helped in the resurrection. They saw the spirit that lives forever and it strengthened them.”

Christ Jesus’ resurrection can also be our resurrection. We can see the spirit in all.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

“Resurrection. Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding.”

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Wind blows in peace

Walking in the woods is a favorite past-time for me. I listen to the trees and birds. I pick up litter.

The other day it was windy. Urgh. The wind kept blowing off my hat. It felt as though my mind was being blown into despair, until I remembered God has power over my human mind.

I re-thought wind.

Rather than coming from the standpoint that wind is annoying, I took a metaphysical approach to looking at wind.

It symbolizes stirring stagnate thought.

It renews the atmosphere.

It shows movement, progress.

I cinched on my hat and my walk went much better.

In my new book, from science & religion to God, we can read, “Spiritual consciousness requires a mental effort. We start with thought and work patiently to conquer all that is unlike God. We have to begin at the highest standpoint possible. Start with mind instead of brain. Start with humanity instead of egotism. Start with spiritual history rather than mortal history. Start with God instead of many creators.

“Giving our attention to spiritual interpretations should move us to new standpoints.

“…Understanding comes through spiritual logic and revelation. Following the signposts of divine law, we comprehend the Truth that is changing the world for the better. In this path we find progress attended by life and peace.”

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Truth never absent

An excerpt from my new book, from science & religion to God: a briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health:

Overcome beliefs instead of restrict yourself to them. We can uproot disease and throw it out of the mind. We can comprehend that disease is not a fixed fact. We can feel the influence of divine Love casting out fear. Spiritual consciousness masters fear instead of avoids or cultivates it. The more that is said about moral and spiritual law, the better will be the quality of life and the further mortals will be removed from mental illness or disease.

Spiritual consciousness guides us to locate and employ physicians who see us as more than just a physical body. Honest conversations with practitioners are appropriate.

We don’t need to be negatively affected by advertisements paid for by pharmaceutical companies. It’s beneficial not to give time and attention to selfishness, coddling, or fear-based guessing about our minds and bodies. It’s beneficial not to discuss our maladies with others as if it’s a competition to see who is worse off…

Every human being must learn that evil has neither power nor reality in Spirit. Evil is a denial of truth, as if Truth could be absent, but it can’t. There is no absence of God, omnipotent and omnipresent good.

Evil is self-assertive, but its only power is to destroy itself. Evil is not immortal; if it was, goodness would be a myth. Every attempt of evil to destroy good is a failure and only aids in punishing the evildoer. Do not concede reality to disorder while dealing with it realistically…

Incomplete human beings get flustered when following Truth, but don’t give up. Be practical when abandoning the material for the spiritual. Eat healthy food, exercise wisely, work with integrity, use common sense, and be law abiding while you discover your spirituality.

The human footsteps are indispensable. Truth seekers are consistent who, watching and praying, can “Run and not be weary…walk and not be faint.”[1] We can gain spirituality rapidly and hold our position, or we can attain slowly and yield not to discouragement. God requires our due diligence. The battle between Spirit and flesh is fought and the spiritual facts of existence are reached step by step before the victory is won.

[1] Isaiah 40:31

final front cover image

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