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Prostituting ourselves

Although prostitution is ranked rather low on the scale of suitable employment, there are a couple of times in the Bible when prostitutes themselves ranked high in the work of God.

In the book Joshua, the prostitute, Rahab, saved the spies sent to Jericho to scout out the land before the children of Israel moved in.

I’ve never entered the trade of prostitution in its common definition, however a friend enlightened me to a broader meaning. Prostitution doesn’t only pertain to sex. It can be anytime someone sells their abilities, talents, or time for an unworthy purpose.

This broader meaning causes me to step back and ask myself as a freelance writer, Do I ever sell an article I wrote for an unworthy purpose?

Do I ever sell my time for an unworthy purpose?

Do I sell my talent to speak before a crowd for a selfish or shameful cause?

I don’t particularly want to prostitute myself. I don’t want to spread lame opinions. I don’t want to try to convert someone to a certain lifestyle even if I think its godly.

I want to use my skills for worthy things…like Rahab the harlot did.

“Then [Rahab] let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” Joshua 2:15-21, ESV



Purify the Emotions

Emotions are varied and across-the-board, like cold cereals. And, I’ve learned to buy into the humdrum Crispix rather than the sugary Cocoa Puffs when it comes to emotional investment. Emotions are feelings which characterize our attitude, which in turn makes a big difference in how our day goes. And I’ve concluded, it pays to invest in reliable steady spiritual emotions.

Financial investors are trained to master their emotions when making decisions and advising. Marriage Counselors remind couples to remove the emotions of infatuation or anger from their relationship in order to advance honesty and common sense.

An emotion is a natural instinctive state-of-mind connected to our circumstance, mood, or relationship with others. It’s a feeling, such as anger, love, hate, obsession, horror, joy, which influences our attitude. But what emotions do we invest in? Finding the answer can be tricky.

Religion helps us find answers, but one must be careful. For example, I was sick with a Streptococcus that caused a terribly infected ear to drip, drip, drip pus. I did not want to invest in the gloomy doctor’s prediction so I took advantage of my certainty that God heals. I sang a hymn with words written by 19th century religious leader, Mary Baker Eddy, part of it reading, “Thou wilt bind the stubborn will, Wound the callous breast, Make self-righteousness be still, Break earth’s stupid rest. Strangers on a barren shore, Lab’ring long and lone. We would enter by the door, And Thou know’st Thine own.” And amazingly, my infected ear stopped producing puss, before I was done with the song.

Was I impressed? You bet. To this day, I can be filled with strong emotion recalling that healing. But, I remind myself not to invest heavily in the emotional passion of amazement tied to that song, or I’d end up adoring the song and neglecting God, the real healer. To be emotionally invested only in that which impresses me personally, or impresses a select few people, is not inclusive or profitable. In all reality, the words to that song mentioned above, may put other people to sleep.

We yield high returns when we capitalize on God, divine Spirit, which is expressed practically and modestly in the lives of human beings. We do have feelings but they are inclusive and wise to the bigger picture. I find there is less human melodrama when I invest in spiritual feelings, while the emotions of empathy, happiness, and mindfulness are very worthwhile.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “It is physical sensation, and not Soul, that triggers ecstatic excitement and emotionalism; however when spiritual perception guides humanity, an improved experience and life will grow out of those impassioned moments. Selflessness and purity are connected to a better life.”


We Don’t Have a Bossy God

Granted, I can be bossy, but if someone doesn’t do what I tell them to do, I don’t start a plague or cause terrible times to befall on them.

I pretty much move on in the direction I feel I am being inspired to move in and pray for peace for all of us.

However, I’ve noticed that God is plastered with the reputation of being not only bossy but cruel. This idea of a bossy heartless God is a meme that has penetrated the millenniums.

A meme is an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture. Thankfully, memes can be advanced and improved upon to the point that they are healing.

Let’s look at the culture of Bible readers.

I grew up reading the King James Version of the Bible and its 10 commandments stressing “THOU SHALT NOT.” This idea of a God standing around barking orders, ready to punish any disobedience, is still a prolific meme in society. Human beings are constantly told by spiritual leaders that they must obey God otherwise trouble comes.

But, when I read in the English Standard Version, “YOU SHALL HAVE,” a peaceful smile comes over me.

I shall have one God.

God made us to have one God. God made us to be and have the image of God before us. God made us to take the name of the Lord seriously, with respect and love. God made us to remember the Sabbath and work for holiness. God made us to honor our parents. God made us to save life. God made us to be faithful. God made us generous. God made us able to bear true witness for our neighbor. God made us to appreciate others and what they have.

God is Love. We are God’s image.

Taking a Big Picture Look at Denomination

As a newspaper correspondent, I cover religion, but bear in mind, in a rural area in upstate New York.

Ironically, I’ve noticed very low attendance in, if not complete absence of, Sunday Schools in the denominational churches. Kids however come to the Community or non-denominational churches and participate in the Sunday Schools.

This observation seems to coincide with a 2010 LifeWay survey where nearly two-thirds of pastors (62%) believed the importance of identifying with a denomination will decline over the next decade.

My take?

The psychological landscape is shifting from exclusiveness to inclusiveness, creating a culture where the denominating force is serving the faith, as opposed to trying to control the faith.

The word denomination has 2 definitions:

  1. The act of naming or designating a person or thing. This is a verb. God and God’s healing power was denominated divine Science (or Christian Science) for the sheer reason of being able to talk about it. The book 21st Century Science and Health discusses this faithful power and our ability to understand and apply it in everyday life.
  2. A body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination. This is a classification, leading down the road of exclusiveness.

I revised the denominational textbook Science and Health and re-established the fact that the book is accessible to people from all different cultures. Readers of 21st Century Science and Health become savvy to the fact that Science and Health was written years before a religious organization was established.

On the job as a reporter, or a revisionist, I find faith is strong and healthy, but in a loving, inclusive God with the ability and willingness to heal and guide.

The Trademark of Christian Science has gone Universal

There is a trend in society. We are becoming more generic in the sense of being universal, all-purpose, common yet broad and basic.

We aren’t into brand names as much.

A brand is a trademark, a marker, or label.

Clothing, perfume, food, furniture, places, and religion are branded.

In the past, brand names had a prominent hold in society. A brand was used to define us or tell others who we want to be. Brand names give off an air of “quality control.” But, branding is no longer lucrative. Branding is dead or dying. Most of us don’t want to be branded, we don’t want to advertise for someone else. We go generic.

What was previously cherished as a symbol has been exposed as nothing more than a stamp of human approval or disapproval. Humanity is advancing past the branding mentality because it has little to do with reality. God.

For example, the brand name, Christian Science, had clout decades ago but is no longer stamped in consciousness. However, Christian Science is nothing more than a brand name. Christian Science is only a term for the law of God and its interpretation to humanity.

Trademark of not, the law of God is still valid, powerful, even under a generic term.

Therefore I revised the Christian Science textbook Science and Health (first written in the 19th century), with this in mind. The law of God is expounded on with generic terms relevant to today. Even if we still cherish a symbol, trademark, or brand name, the power of a healing, hope-giving, life-installing God is still successful and available to us all, generically.

Updated 2021: Click here for sixth edition of 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health

Don’t Get Stuck on the Marshmallow

The famous marshmallow study is referenced in just about every positive psychology book these days, as a thought provoking  example of how time orientation has an effect on who we are and what we do. The experiment, originally conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University in the 1960’s involves 4-year old kids who are given one marshmallow and then told that they can eat the one marshmallow OR wait and receive a second marshmallow.

Follow-up studies came almost 40 years later and it was discovered that the children who exhibited delayed gratification (waited it out to receive the second marshmallow treat) went on have higher SAT scores plus become more successful individuals.

Admittedly, instant gratification hasn’t proven itself too dynamic.

Instant gratification can also trap spiritual seekers. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Audible prayer can be impressive, giving instant gratification and awe. But does it produce any lasting advantage? As we think about this more, we see that zeal “not based on knowledge,”[1] is precarious. Spoken prayer can even tempt a reaction unfavorable to spiritual growth or resolutions. Lip service can also distort a healthy perception of our Godlike responsibilities. Pay attention! Make sure that the motive for prayer doesn’t embrace the love of popularity, because this actually discourages spirituality.”


[1] Rom 10:2

Finding Signs of Renewal in My Oft Maligned Religion

Every Sunday morning when I was a child, my parents would take my brothers and sisters and me to Sunday School. This ritual continued through my teen years and includes memories of learning Bible stories and hanging out with people who didn’t complain a lot, surely the ripple effect of us studying the religious denomination of Christian Science, which seemed to practice the philosophy of positive thinking, however I’d learned enough in the Christian Science Sunday School to know Christian Science is not rooted in positive thinking, but in the abstract soil of spiritual understanding which evidently can produce moral courage, wellbeing, and happy purpose through metaphysical means.

At the age of 12 years old, I became a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and 5 years later I had the opportunity to visit Boston and attend a church service in the regal First Church of Christ, Scientist, constructed in 1906. After the service, I walked around outside on what has been dubbed The Christian Science Plaza which includes a colonnade, a reflecting pool, and a fountain. I also toured the Christian Science Publishing Society with its famous Mapparium, a 30 foot tall stained glass globe of the world map built in 1935. It was magical, walking inside the lighted concave Mapparium and viewing the world map from the inside out, however tourism aside, it was a bit disconcerting to notice the political boundaries were frozen circa 1935, representing pre-World War II views. But, vacation time was up and I returned home.

After graduating High School in Washington State, I entered Colorado State University in the year 1979. The 1200 mile distance between me and my home circle did not break my embedded habits. I found another branch church of First Church of Christ, Scientist, and attended church, with a dwindling congregation, on a fairly regular basis. A question posed itself in my mind, How can a religion that had once been a national leader in Christian Science in the early 20th century reinvent itself as a community of spiritual power in the 21st century?

Contrary to popular opinion, the term Christian Science was not originally assigned to a religion or church, but to a system of metaphysical healing based on spiritual law. In the 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) defined Christian Science as “the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony.” (Rudimental Divine Science) Eddy discovered this new/old spiritual law, and taking a scientific approach, she learned how to tap into its power to benefit humanity. It could be said that Eddy engaged the power of Mind and spirituality through divine Science and because of her embedded proclivities to God and Christianity, the spiritual law was later juxtaposed with religion and church.

mother churchIn 1867, Eddy began teaching other people her method of Christian healing. She taught for almost a decade before publishing her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875 to reach more people with her explanation of the power of Mind. Eventually in 1879, Eddy established First Church of Christ, Scientist, to promulgate Christian Science, and for the rest of her life she battled to keep the institution grounded on Christian Science, not an unrealistic human ideology.

Christian Science, in the form of religion, had a heyday during the end of Eddy’s lifetime. Even after her death, magnificent branch church edifices—filled with members of all ages and attendants from all backgrounds—dotted the land, nay more, the world. But, typical to religion, time and change crept up and began suffocating the cultural or social force that bound the Christian Science community together. Uncannily, Christ Jesus’ statement seemed to be confirmed, that “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matt. 10:36, NIV). A reliance on unwritten church rules, instead of a reliance on God and independent thought and action, set the church on a dais to be maligned, especially when it came to member’s decisions concerning medical care.

I was sensitive to the bad press mainly because I happen to be bearing and raising children during the 1980’s when a rash of charges around the nation was brought against Christian Scientists whose children died under prayer treatment. The fact that children die every day under medical treatment did not condone Christian Science and certainly did not eliminate the fear factor. Consequently, I returned to the principles of Christian Science and learned in Eddy’s Science and Health, that God can guide “into the right use of temporary and eternal means,” of healing.

I did feel God guide me, and our family experienced noteworthy spiritual healing. However, it was a decade before the upheaval in the religious organization settled down somewhat. On August 12, 1993, the Los Angeles Times printed an article titled, Court Overturns Conviction of Christian Science Couple, reading, “Between 1980 and 1990, seven Christian Science parents in the United States were prosecuted on charges ranging from murder and manslaughter to neglect. Four of those were convicted, with two convictions eventually being overturned. One set of parents pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, and two cases were dismissed.”

However, the calm was besieged by more drama when millions of church dollars were spent to launch a multimedia broadcasting system. Regrettably, the executive decision from church headquarters instead launched the church membership into a divisive fury. The New York Times, Peter Steinfels, stated in his article, Plan to Expand Church Media Reveals Christian Science Rift, dated January 4, 1989, “Christian Science, a faith that has come to epitomize a quiet, disciplined spirituality, is being rent by discord provoked by the denominations’ rapid expansion into radio and television broadcasting.” My own involvement in the Church confirmed the damning conclusion, yet history has taught me that schism and religion repeatedly go hand in hand therefore I gave divine Science the benefit of the doubt and continued to look for signs of renewal.

Then, I was caught in a terrible accident in 1998 and taken to the local hospital’s emergency room. To make a long story short, I did not need the predicted surgeries or even pain relievers, and I was healed of 2nd degree burns on half of my face through Christian Science treatment, all within 3 weeks. But, more importantly my mind broke through the boundaries of religion bias and I noticed a vivid array of spiritual seekers and leaders from different denominations, or from no religious affiliation, who were welcoming people to discover spiritual principles that interpret wellbeing and happiness to the universe.

I also read books written by doctors and researchers who expounded on the benefits of spirituality. I realized, the hard and soft sciences are actually leading people to spiritual insights. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., author of The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles, wrote,”Genes are not destiny!” Lipton now believes that, “the physical body can be affected by the immaterial mind,” a mind of love.

Cheryl today

In the year 2002, I traveled to Boston to attend a pre-opening of The Mary Baker Eddy Library and savored the sight of a renovated portion of The Christian Science Publishing Society that now houses a lending library and gallery. The multimedia venture had since gone defunct and interest in the church had changed. Although the Church more resembled a museum than a religion, I accepted the historical perspective.

History can offer a storehouse of information to understand the future of religion. Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God: The 4000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam wrote, “Human beings cannot endure emptiness and desolation; they will fill the vacuum by creating a new focus of meaning. The idols of fundamentalism are not good substitutes for God, if we are to create a vibrant new faith for the twenty-first century, we should, perhaps, ponder the history of God for some lessons and warnings.” The history of God and religion reveals how doctrines and dogma give way to new grassroots movements based in community, social justice, and spiritual experience.

Religion is not a statistic to control or dominate the spirit of Christian Science. Religion is full of flux as it is but a complex, human mechanism of uncertain pasts and futures, while Christian Science is a steady life force manifesting universal Love. While revisiting Christian Science, signs of renewal in religion, spirituality, and science are found—all of which bring me full circle to a feeling of coming home.

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