A Christian Science Perspective

When Mary Baker Eddy founded The Christian Science Monitor in 1908, she gave the directive to publish one article on Christian Science every day. Each article delivers a response to a topical issue in the news from a Christian Science perspective. These articles inspire readers to look through a spiritual lens when responding to the news and focus their supportive prayers toward an issue facing the global community. For more articles than the ones listed below, visit the Christian Science perspective section on csmonitor.com.

A few years ago I was running the last leg of the Detroit Marathon along the new Riverwalk that runs along the Detroit River. As I ran alongside hundreds of others, I watched the boats and scanned the shores of Windsor, Ontario, just across the river. Cruising past the majestic Renaissance Center, the home of General Motors, I drew close to the finish line and felt a sense of pride in my town and a great hope for the future of this city.

However conditioned we may be to look to the media for our impressions of what’s going on in the world, and however dependent we have become on computers and smartphones to give us the latest headline or viral video, we should always remember: There is something else going on.

A welcome retreat

More and more people are planning exciting summer vacations this year that consist of doing ... absolutely nothing.

The moving words of young Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl shot by the Taliban last fall for promoting education for girls in Pakistangave the world a beacon of hope when she told United Nations officials recently that the Taliban had “failed.” “They shot my friends, too. They thought the bullet would silence us, but they failed.... We realize the importance of light when we see darkness.”

As I was considering the protests in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a quotation from Martin Luther King Jr. came to mind. Understanding that violence results only in more violence, he wisely explained: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

Do you feel trapped in a world where only the best and brightest succeed? Do you ever see life as a card game in which the deck is stacked against all but a precious few? Probably most of us have felt this way at one time or another – yet the Bible debunks this dour outlook.

One July, shortly after I had turned 6, my mom signed me up for swimming lessons at the town pool. I loved playing in the water with my friends. But lessons? I dreaded them. In fact, I failed the beginners’ class more than once. Not because I couldn’t swim. Actually, I was a pretty strong little swimmer. But to pass beginners’, you also had to float for one whole minute. Both skills were needed to move ahead. And no matter how hard I tried, floating turned into sinking. That was the problem. I was trying too hard.

Taming anger

The voice on the other end of the phone didn’t even say hello when I answered – just an irate “Who do you think you are?” that nearly jumped out of the receiver. 

Splash! With summer vacation around the corner, lots of people will be heading off to the pool or beach to enjoy a dip in the water or their favorite water sports.

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist, remarked upon his release from a 27-year prison term: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” 

Are your activities constantly being interrupted? Perhaps you establish a plan for the day but telephone calls, e-mails, texts, and social media call for your attention while you try to meet demands from job, family, and friends.

See the 'halo'

In many faiths, artists have painted or sculpted halos surrounding people, symbolizing a glow of holiness, or expression of the divine nature. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Ruth, John, Mary, Paul, and of course, Jesus, are a few of the people in the Bible’s Old and New Testaments who have been depicted with this “halo” of holiness and love.

About 11 years ago, I married a wonderful American gentleman. But I sometimes struggled to face up to the fact that I had committed to a country and culture that felt completely foreign – and this was now my permanent home.

As I write this from BoiseIdaho, where the National Interagency Fire Center is headquartered, I’m thinking of those 19 firefighters who died in Arizonaearlier this week. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to a wide range of individuals who serve in a variety of ways. That certainly includes those who fight forest fires. Sometimes people who serve are recognized only when there’s a tragedy.

Twenty years ago this week I was on a bus headed to a Fourth of July festival in Erie, Pa., and to my new job as a deckhand on one of the famous tall ships touring the Great Lakes that summer. At the time I was celebrating my own “Independence Day” of sorts. 

"What's it to you?"

Jesus would never have said it quite like that. But I like the informality, the jovial jostling of the phrase. It’s my modernized version of the Master’s exchange with Peter about “the disciple whom Jesus loved”: “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:20–22). In colloquial terms, Peter was asking Jesus, What about this guy?

“It’s complicated!” No, it’s not a Facebook update about a relationship that’s heading south. It was a “nutshell” commentary on how difficult it is to understand the brain, from neuroscience professor Henry Markram, addressing a Brussels conferenceon European Brain Research.

My son made his first foray into team sports the summer after first grade. He had never played soccer before. I quickly saw why shinguards were vital equipment. There was no strategy. Every player on the field huddled around the ball at once, and of course the ball had nowhere to go but to bounce off the nearest shins. The coaches repeatedly explained the concept of each child playing his or her position, but so far, this just hadn’t clicked.

Many people have either participated in some kind of group or choral singing – classical, modern, theatrical – or enjoyed being part of the audience. And sometimes family and friends still gather around the piano and blend their voices to create a sound larger than they can make separately.

Two springs pour forth in the shade of the forest, one warm and gushing, the other cold and peaceful. Their waves rush joyously down over their rocky beds, then unite and glisten in the rays of the morning sun. Thus begins the symphonic picture of the Moldau River as painted in music by renowned Czechoslovakian composer Bedřich Smetana.

It’s not always easy to set aside our worries and concerns. They gnaw at thought, keeping us in a state of confusion. But right where they seem so real, right there is an ever-present, all-powerful God, ready to reveal to us what He already knows. 

If we face down the impersonal impulse to act evilly or to see God’s creation as vulnerable to evil actions, we’ll find ourselves better protected. And ultimately, we’ll find all of society itself fully secure.

During summer and fall, television reports of tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires are fairly common. The images can almost be overwhelming as I sit and watch, feeling concern for the affected residents and first responders. It wouldn’t be as bad if there was something we could do to help during the immediate crisis. But there is! We can follow the example of Jesus. Let me explain.

Saying no to suicide

Who that has heard about someone’s suicide has not been deeply touched? Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that suicide is on the rise in the United States. Once viewed as a problem for teens and the elderly, there’s been a surge in suicide among middle-aged Americans and veterans.

“Little things mean a lot,” Kitty Kallen sang in her 1954 hit recording. In Shakespeare’s play “King Richard the Third,” the king’s horse loses a shoe in battle and throws him to the ground. Facing the enemy on foot, the king cries: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” For want of a shoe, a kingdom falls. Little things mean a lot.

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