THERE IS AN OLD CHINESE PROVERB, "Open a book and it will open you." And that, I must say, is exactly what happened to me.
When I was in my 20s, I was eating lunch with my colleagues at work, and while they all sat around eating a normal lunch, one of them questioned me about the severity of—and my obsession with—my diet. For over two years I had suffered with a debilitating digestive disorder, and after various medical regimens brought no improvement, including an alternative approach that had me drinking clay diluted with water, I became a vegetarian, hoping for any relief whatsoever.
That colleague was a Christian Scientist, and he took me aside to speak to me briefly about the Bible and the healing power of prayer. He told me that I had an already-established identity—as God's perfect child. Already established? God's perfect child? Having grown up in a religion that led me to believe that my spiritual purpose was to somehow work myself back to completeness, this was news to me. My ideas about my relationship to God were based on the "facts" of Genesis 2 and 3 in the Bible—that God created us from dust, and that because of Eve's susceptibility to the serpent's wiles, she set the whole of humanity on a course of permanent guilt and suffering. Every one of us, I had believed, was now "fallen," and needed to work our way back to perfection.