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Our spiritual provenance

From the August 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The word provenance is defined as the history of a valued object or work of art. I recently read the book Provenance, by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, which tells the true story of two men who created and sold hundreds of fake paintings. One man painted copies of the original, and the other created a fake provenance for each painting. Each provenance might include the history of who had purchased the paintings, how much they had paid, which museums had owned the paintings—creating a complete history that supposedly verified the painting’s “authenticity.” Even experts in the art field who had doubts that some of the paintings looked real were convinced of the painting’s authenticity, by the thoroughness of its fake provenance.

Sometimes, it may be that the “provenance”—the history of a challenge we are facing—seems so authentic that it would lead us to think that the challenge itself, or a belief that history determines experience, must be real. But as our prayers target and destroy the false history of a material belief, it disappears. Since God created everything, there’s no authentic history or authentic present to a challenge.

A couple months ago, I woke up with a sore and swollen throat. After four days of prayer, I called a Christian Science practitioner for treatment. In a matter of hours, the sore throat disappeared completely. In thinking about this healing later, I realized that scientific prayer has the effect of “de-authenticating” the supposed historical reason for a material belief to appear real. 

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