Evil is not power. That's a pretty big idea to take in. The world's stage plays out the drama of good and evil daily, so how can we make this claim? It's been made before. Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer and founder of Christian Science, wrote "Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness. " (from Science and Health p. 102)
But have I ever experienced this phase of nothingness? I think we all have in some degree. One time, I had a disagreement with a neighbor, but I refused to give in to anger and self-justification. Instead I deliberately decided to love this individual and to do something kind. The result? We became good neighbors for years, until we moved! A small thing perhaps, but looking at it more closely, I saw that evil - showing up as anger - could only be acted upon if I agreed to it. And if I agreed to it, it would only become more self-destructive. No resolution toward peace would have been made. But as I agreed to something good, my actions took on a meaningful and multiplying influence that lasted.
So what happened here? What principle of peace was operating? Is it that goodness is the only power and that evil is a supposed vacuum needing to be plugged in to a power source in order to have influence? Evil is not a power source as it has only the power it is given. So when we are deliberate about not giving it power, not entertaining it, not fearing it, we feel the Love that is already there.
To divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear, — this is the great attainment by means of which we shall sweep away the false and give place to the true.
Evil would blind us to the good already operating. Taking on the identity of a person or place or a thing, it may appear frightening and insurmountable. But we can choose to detach evil of any identity. Evil, unplugged, no longer has influence. Once the fear is gone, only what is real, substantial, harmonious -- all that is sustainable -- fills consciousness. We then feel the divine energy of Spirit, the calm strong currents of true spirituality and are at peace.
The calm, strong currents of true spirituality, the manifestations of which are health, purity, and self-immolation, must deepen human experience, until the beliefs of material existence are seen to be a bald imposition, and sin, disease, and death give everlasting place to the scientific demonstration
For victory over a single sin, we give thanks and magnify the Lord of Hosts. What shall we say of the mighty conquest over all sin? A louder song, sweeter than has ever before reached high heaven, now rises clearer and nearer to the great heart of Christ; for the accuser is not there, and Love sends forth her primal and everlasting strain.
For victory over a single sin -- any inferior idea that would take us away from Life, Truth and Love? What a hopeful victory this is! And when we see even one such victory, it maps out the path for more. And when we see a victory over prejudice, well then, we are just opening the door to greater possibilities of freedom, cooperation and compassion.
Prejudice always is about limitation and ignorance. Based on fear, it never lends itself to the higher order of intelligence, but generalizes into simplistic categories to a point where it becomes downright wrong.
The relationship between prejudice and categorical thinking was first addressed by Gordon Allport (1954) in his classic book The Nature of Prejudice. Allport wrote that: “The human mind must think with the aid of categories....Once formed, categories are the basis for normal prejudgment. We cannot possibly avoid this process. Orderly living depends upon it. (p. 20)”
But this is where all limitation and regression rush in. As it says in Science and Health (p. 144) "Ignorance, pride, or prejudice closes the door to whatever is not stereotyped." It follows then, if we are to progress individually and as a group or a nation, we need to challenge these categorical prejudices and replace them with a more universal and spiritual understanding of who we are in the world. This takes courage, and this takes love. Fortunately, we are made of both.
There continues to be hopeful and progressive news on the human rights scene. As much as these have been forward steps for human rights, these steps are also victories over sin - over ignorance and prejudice. What is even more hopeful is that it demonstrates a thinking public willing to go deeper than stereotypes.
In each of these cases, there was controversy, but there was an insistence to go further than categorizing an issue as imminently evil and therefore only needing to be controlled, tolerated or forced to change.
In each of these cases, there was a deliberate commitment to blast out of stereotypes that had been accepted for so long and re-think the issue from a higher standpoint. Jesus' instruction to love one another helps us break through the categorical stereotypes so easily attached to others. Prostitution is seen as reversible, instead of inevitable. Homosexuality is no longer equated with sensuality. Resentment is seen as temporary and fleeting, capable of being healed. Each higher idea makes way for new solutions, and lets stand a higher understanding of the very nature of man as spiritual, pure and innocent.
In the New Testament, it reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) There is no prejudice in oneness. There is no accuser standing outside of us, pointing the finger. There is no “outside."
We are all one in Christ. This is radical. It is also true. Our unity with God and man gives us the expansive platform in which we can find peace and progress – infinite and immediate potential for good in all ways. Now that's worth a louder song!!
Reading the news about the breakthrough in the carbon emission deal between China and the US made for headlines all over the world. So what pushes progress of this nature and what can sustain it?
Has thought reached critical mass to see that we need to drop the lesser posturing of politics and work together for life saving measures? Have we reached a time where act together with an unselfish and pointed realization of our responsibility to safeguard the future?
“Life demonstrates life.” This simple statement from Mary Baker Eddy assures us that all that is life-affirming and life-giving is the force behind progress.
“Good is not helpless....” is another simple statement that points to the power of good – of all that is helpful, sound, appropriate, and honest. Goodness, as a quality of God, is not passive. It will not be hid or passed by. Goodness demands expression, just as life demands life.
The US and China have promised to take steps that can profoundly advance the health of our planet. Can this endure? Can this act lead to fuller cooperation? Our witnessing to God's law of harmony and trust in God's law of progress help to clear the path to greater works
There are so many of us joining in prayer. Whether it is a prayer of petition, a prayer of affirmation or a prayer of celebration for the good done and to be done, all these earnest and expectant voices are not given in vain. In fact, some may say that this is what turns the world – a constant, attentive connection to God, Love and the insistent and persistent expectation for a better world.
In addition, one of my favorite sources for news is The Christian Science Monitor – daily international reporting written for thinkers serious about understanding the mechanics of peace, progress, health and opportunity for all.
Please feel free to share your prayer and news resources!
This just needs to be spread around! Pets for Vets is an amazing program that puts together partnerships of dogs with soldiers struggling with PSTD. Story after story show how healing happens in these partnerships. It is brilliant. Its spiritual basis points to Love, God, to help heal, comfort and redeem.
If one is struggling with recurring nightmares and re-living traumatic experiences, a dog's sense of the nowness of life helps restore focus on the present. It hints at the omnipresence of Love. If one is trying to avoid or escape from these experiences, a dog's loyalty can move thought to experience life now.
If overwhelming guilt or self-condemnation argue that one doesn't deserve happiness, a dog makes demands that you feed, walk and care for them. It is instantly gratifying to know you are needed and can take of another. Giving care helps to open thought to receiving care. A dog's loyalty and love lets you know you deserve care. Regardless of how traumatic a situation was, a dog who may have even experienced trauma can help show the recuperative power of forgiveness for oneself and others. Forgiveness helps to bring closure and peace and frees up the ability to live – to create and to love again.
When everything is changing, slight changes can set off a flood of emotion. The constancy of love, the unconditional outpouring of Love are at the root of the comfort and assurance expressed by these animals, reflecting God's omnipotent love.
I grew up with dogs and made sure my kids had dogs when they grew up. The love, loyalty and playfulness and companionship of these devoted animals point to the timeless spiritual Truths that Love heals. Love understands. Love never leaves you. God never sends or creates trauma, but gives us the strength and dominion to overcome these problems. The loyalty, devotion, innocence, forgiveness and playfulness of these beautiful animals reflect the power of God's love and help show us the way.
“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
We are all children of God. I think people of most faiths would agree. But then came Oliver Bear. With a name straight out of some yet-to-be-written classic children's book, and the latest addition to our clan, his birth has me thinking about the childlikeness in each of us, and how this childlikeness never ends. It is as immortal and forever - even longer!- as love itself.
Childlikeness is Godlikeness --- you can see it in the calm and untamed eyes of the newborn and in the parent's eyes --deep set with satisfaction and quiet joy. But does this purity and peace ever die off? Never!
There is a story I recently heard about a new older sister who demanded to spend time alone with the newborn. She was so adamant about being alone with the baby, the mother wasn't quite sure how to go about it. She finally relented and kept the baby monitor on high, so she could hear what was going on in the room during their visite. Once alone with the baby in the nursery, the sister went to the newborn, and in a low whisper, said, "Tell me what God looks like. I am forgetting."
Heart tugging as that story is - and if any of you can reference this story, please do - we can never lose or forget our connection to God, that pure and ever-fresh connection to divine Love itself.
Purity, adventure, wonder, exploration are just some of those childlike qualities derived from our God, who is Love. We are created as representatives of Love, so that we are each others' reminders that Love is here, adventure is here, wonder is here. Regardless of our age ( or how many times we have circled the sun) we can never lose our childlikeness, because it is God's likeness.
All we need to be reminded of this is to look into one another's eyes.
"All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered."
One of my favorite sites posted an article "The disease of being busy". So poignant it made me wince, and got me thinking......
Contemplation and rest are a regular part of a balanced day and so for every effective and meaningful expression, there needs to be equal time for reflection.
Like the moving wheel on a bicycle, rollerskate, wagon, etc., if you look at one part it looks like it is moving forward, but if you look at the lower part it looks like it is moving backward. And yet, if it weren't for both parts, it wouldn't move at all! Looking at the whole experience of the moving wheel, there is continuity and progress, made up of many moments of up, down, back and forth. A wheel whose parts only go up is no wheel at all. Neither is a life whose busyness is always up, up up.
Our lives need those moments of up, down, back and forth to continue to move us forward. For every effective and meaningful expression, there is equal time for reflection.
It takes a conscious effort, but I need to constantly remind myself and give myself permission to be still. And most importantly, to remove the fear that if I am still, I will miss out on important moments.
It's a big fear, this fear of missing something. It blares at us constantly. The best way to counter it? Radical satisfaction.
To be still and to realize the wonder of today. Does that sound schmaltzy? Too bad. In the mad marketing world of convincing us that we need something faster, fuller, or freer, we can stand up to this and recognize all that we have, Deeper still, to recognize the grace and the gift of our lives now is truly radical. Radical as in rootedness. We counter the hurry of pursuit to feel satisfied, grounded, and in our right place.
Taking the time to feel rooted, grateful, and still feeds the soul and strengthens us for the times we are productive and going full steam.
The gentleness of yielding to a balanced and grateful life is seen in so many ways, including this joyful group surge of gratitude like RAK Friday. (You'll just have to click here to love this!)
Here is a poem I've shared often, and I'll share it again. I hope you take a moment and drink it in.
Be still and know that I am God.
So God created humankind in his image,
Have you ever had concerns about your body image? Or how about keeping up a professional image? And what about concerns like what other people think about you - in other words, what image of you they hold in thought?
The first account of Genesis states that we are made in the image and likeness of God.
That would seem to trump any other image we could come up for ourselves! We may be ready to accept the idea that God is the first and foremost Creator. But how much of our Creator do we really know? And if we are indeed created in His/Her image and likeness, then how much do we truly know about our true image.
The first chapter in Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God and that male and female were created at the same time. God's work was complete and God concluded Her creation declaring it all very good. God's work was completed. and God does not undo or redo Her work.
Think of ourselves now, being made in the image and likeness. We are whole. Male and female are equal. We are not only good, but we are very good. God was pleased with Her creation. There is no undoing or redoing of who we are.
What a contrast to the image-making that can take up so much of our efforts. Diets, make-up, self-help courses, even branding ourselves or trying on different personages via social media. Any effort that starts from a basis of lack and then tries to fill that hole with our self-created attempts can be exhausting!
But to see ourselves as the image and likeness of God, of Love itself. To know ourselves as starting from the basis of being complete and whole. Satisfied. From that basis, we are free to be creative, to be less fearful and less self-oriented.
In the days of kings and queens and as is recorded in Old Testament times, royalty used to have their images on coins and as statues placed around the kingdom as reminders to the people of who ruled them. Taking this idea to the first chapter of Genesis, we see that God has created us in His image and likeness. We are the likeness, the representatives of God. We are reminders to one another that God is with us. We are the evidence of God.
Like the story of the little boy who was asked "How do you know that God is here?" His response: "I know God is here, because I am here."
Our world view shifts as we shift the very understanding of who we are - as it goes from a material and personal basis, to a spiritual and immortal basis. A whole new world of possibilities open up before us, which before were buried as we were preoccupied trying to maintain an unsustainable view of oneself.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Kim C Korinek, CSB
banner photo (c) Micah Korinek; other photos by Gabe Korinek, Kim Korinek, Brad Crooks. Leslie Larsen (c) 2016