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Stop marginalizing Christian Science!

From the October 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Kari Mashos, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, believes that there is a strong need today for Christian Scientists to be alert to make sure they are not diminishing or devaluing the Science of Christianity in their own thinking. She is especially mindful of an atheist movement of thought that would marginalize all religion, including Christian Science, which heals through the power and presence of God. 

I spoke with Kari about the need to stay awake to God’s ability to heal and provide for us, and how a greater appreciation of and reverence for God’s love can bless not only ourselves but also our churches and even the world—including Greece, where Kari lives part of the year. But that’s for the end of the interview. First, read Kari’s deeply helpful insights about marginalization, which she shared with me the minute she answered my phone call.…

Kari Mashos: Recently I have been thinking about how important it is for us as Christian Scientists to be alert not to let our love for God and our practice of Christian Science be marginalized. Marginalization is nothing new—throughout the centuries there has been a concerted effort to dismiss as irrelevant, at the very least, the spiritual concept of God and man, and those who have understood and practiced it. We read about this effort in the Bible, right in its early pages and all the way up through the depiction of Christ Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christians. 

We need to be aware of the ignorance and hatred of truth that attempts to marginalize the power of God today. We must be alert not to accept any suggestion that our practice of Christian Science is of limited value or has no effect. We do this as we are constantly engaged in having an enlarged view of God, making God the center of every moment of our lives.

Roger Gordon: How have you grown alert to the need to have an enlarged view of God in your own life?

Not long ago, while on a tour as a Christian Science lecturer, I was all set to fly from one airport to another to catch a connecting flight. But then my plane broke down. I had to get to my other flight. The airline said, “We’ll pay for a taxi, and it will take you an hour and forty-five minutes to get to the other airport by car, and you can catch your other flight.” However, my second plane was to board in an hour and forty minutes! 

So, I piled in the taxi along with three other people who were in the same situation as me. As we were driving along, I began to worry about whether we would make it to the airport in time. And then I got this very clear thought to think about the Apostle Paul when he was shipwrecked (see Acts 27). Everyone on the boat had been worried that they would drown, and he’d essentially said, “Don’t worry, we’re all going to make it.” And yet before long they were all in the ocean—the boat was being pulled apart, and everyone’s lives were in danger. That was far more dramatic and significant than what I faced. But through Paul’s spiritual intuition he knew that God was in control, and they were all saved. 

That was a real awakening to me, because I had been complacent with the situation I was in. In a sense, I was marginalizing God, believing that Spirit wasn’t the only power, that the perfection of divine Principle, the law of good, wasn’t present, and that something else was taking over, such as limiting timetables and broken planes. 

As I was enjoying praying about that, the taxi broke down! We were still about ten or fifteen miles away from the airport. But because of the prayer I had just done, I kept with that thought of not marginalizing God, affirming that His power was present, that divine Principle, Love, was taking care of all of us. And you know, within about thirty seconds, a highway patrolman came along. He said: “I’m always in the office—I’m never on the road. But here I am, and let me take you all to the airport.” And we all made our flight. But what was most rewarding to me was that I had been alerted not to marginalize the presence and power of God in any circumstance.

Why is it so important that we be alert not to marginalize God’s power in our lives?

The pressure for all of us is to believe that important knowledge is found in or through matter, and that physiology is the center of our health. When we go along with the pressure to accept matter as all there is, we are pushing God to the outskirts; we’re relegating His law, Christian Science, to the margins. We’re saying that Christian Science is irrelevant or insignificant, or is significant only in certain cases. As a Christian Science practitioner, I hear from people who think that God can work in some areas of our lives, but that He’s not central to absolutely everything about us and our identity. But if that’s what we believe, then we’re devaluing the power of the Christ, Truth, which Jesus lived and demonstrated for us. 

I love that Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, once gave this message to the members of The Mother Church—her address was delivered in January, just after the holiday season: “Beloved brethren, another Christmas has come and gone. Has it enabled us to know more of the healing Christ that saves from sickness and sin? Are we still searching diligently to find where the young child lies, and are we satisfied to know that our sense of Truth is not demoralized, finitized, cribbed, or cradled, but has risen to grasp the spiritual idea unenvironed by materiality? Can we say with the angels to-day: ‘He is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him’? Yes, the real Christian Scientist can say his Christ is risen and is not the material Christ of creeds, but is Truth, even as Jesus declared; and the sense of Truth of the real Christian Scientist is spiritualized to behold this Christ, Truth, again healing the sick and saving sinners. The mission of our Master was to all mankind, and included the very hearts that rejected it—that refused to see the power of Truth in healing” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 122). 

To me, that whole passage is a wake-up call. Without that sense of awakening to “grasp the spiritual idea unenvironed by materiality,” we lose hope and confidence in our prayers, in our ability to heal and to be healed, and we become demoralized. 

It sounds like you’re saying we need to ask ourselves if we believe that the power of healing lies with matter or with God.

Yes, that’s one way of putting it. The mortal view is constantly being pressed on our thought, that life, truth, intelligence, and substance are in matter instead of in Spirit. And so it takes a very active faith, an understanding of the allness of Spirit, to mentally rise to grasp the spiritual idea unenvironed by materiality. But that’s what makes Christian Science so thrilling to me. It cuts right through the myth of life and truth in matter, and reveals the spiritual reality of God and man and its consequent healing effect in our lives.

Once I came down very suddenly with severe pains across my chest. I was paralyzed, couldn’t speak or breathe, and in extreme pain. I began to lose consciousness and fall to the floor. But Truth was uncovering error, because what occurred to me was that I had had a horrible conversation with someone the day before who absolutely hated me. That thought of the seeming power of hate was so aggressive, and the thought along with it to be afraid for my life was so aggressive, that I could have been caught in marginalizing the power of God as infinite, universal, all-inclusive Love, but I refused to do that. 

I immediately clung to the fact that “Love alone is Life,” as Mrs. Eddy says in her poem “Love” (Poems, p. 7). The full verse reads:

Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part.

I stayed with that prayer, wanting to know more of God, to get an enlarged sense of Love. This was the opposite of marginalizing Love. I knew that there is no other presence or power than divine Love, and that man as God’s idea can only love. I began to recover immediately, and within a few hours I was completely well, and those symptoms never returned. That was years ago, but I still remember the enlarged sense of God, Love, that I felt. I believe it saved my life.

The definition of marginalize is “to put or keep (someone) in a powerless or unimportant position within a society or group.” Understood in that light, God and His idea can never truly be marginalized. Those who conspired against Jesus believed that the Christ could be killed, and that led to his crucifixion, but it was never actually possible to kill the Christ, the spiritual offspring of God. It’s important to recognize that and see where power really lies, isn’t it?

Yes, that’s exactly right. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy writes, “The power of Christian Science and divine Love is omnipotent” (p. 412). It’s vital that we reject the fear that anything, including disease, could overpower divine Love and the healing power of Christian Science in our lives. Truth is eternal and present. 

This includes staying alert not to marginalize our efforts as church members, especially our own healing practice of Christian Science and our efforts to heal others. Some people might think: “I’m so afraid. There’s no way I could be victorious over the flesh.” Mrs. Eddy quotes a hymn by Jerome McCauley: 

What if the little rain should say,
“So small a drop as I
Can ne’er refresh a drooping earth,
I’ll tarry in the sky.” 

(Pulpit and Press, p. 4)

Each one of us is vital to our churches, but the mortal thought, the anti-Christ—the aggressive, false view of God and man—would try to make us devalue our efforts and limit our church activity, the prosperity of our churches, and our practice of Christian healing.

To defend against this, it’s helpful to look at our thoughts and ask ourselves if we are marginalizing the power of God. Do we understand God in a more enlarged sense today than we did yesterday? We need to be magnifying our sense of God and our practice of Christian Science. Every spiritual truth that we put into practice, every truth we share with another that brings comfort and relief—they all carry weight, because they are the power of God with us, the operation of the Holy Ghost. Divine Science gives us an expanded and deeper sense of God and of man as His likeness. It naturally grows our healing practice, and that makes all the difference in our churches. 

Several times in her writings Mrs. Eddy quotes abolitionist Wendell Phillips, who said, “One on God’s side is a majority.” Maybe we need to ask ourselves if we really believe that that’s true, and how we can demonstrate its truth.

Christian Scientists sometimes say, “One on God’s side is a majority,” but the problem is that often the Science behind the statement is not understood. Mrs. Eddy gives us the Science behind that statement. 

She writes: “Is not a man metaphysically and mathematically number one, a unit, and therefore whole number, governed and protected by his divine Principle, God? You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun. Each of Christ’s little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer’s declaration true, that ‘one on God’s side is a majority’ ” (Pulpit and Press, p. 4). I find that spiritual law incredibly helpful as a church member.

That makes me think of Mrs. Eddy’s experience in starting Christian Science. She started with just one student, and faced severe challenges all along the way, but she lived the truth of what she wrote. She preserved a “scientific, positive sense of unity with [her] divine source,” and she built the Christian Science movement out of that.

And those of us who are church members, we all love God. We love Christian Science; we love the master healer, Christ Jesus; we love and revere Mary Baker Eddy for all she did—so the problem is not that we don’t love. Perhaps it’s that we’re going along with the marginalization of anything truly spiritual, going along with a material view. That’s why I find it so helpful to keep asking myself: “What am I doing today? Am I getting an enlarged sense of God, through the study of the Bible and Science and Health; through demonstration, even if it seems like one little drop? Have I healed by applying Christian Science, and have I not allowed it to be devalued in thought, word, or deed?” 

When we were preparing for this interview, you mentioned that when people get on top of the feeling of being marginalized or demoralized, it makes such a difference not only for themselves and the Church, but even for the nations. 

That word marginalization seems to pop up everywhere in the news these days. People say “I’ve been marginalized from society” for all kinds of reasons. Even whole nations are being cast off. I live part of the year in Greece, and as you know, the country has been, and is, facing some major difficulties. As a citizen, I have become even more aware of the need to prayerfully and demonstrably reject the idea of marginalizing anyone, or any nation. 

Greece has taken in a massive number of refugees from different parts of the Middle East and Africa. The examples of care many Greeks have shown to these refugees highlight the fact that—even though it might be easy, perhaps, to dismiss the refugees as a burden on society—it is actually natural for us to help others. It’s unnatural to put some people on the outside, on the margins. That is not divinely scientific. There’s no marginalization in the law of God. Each one is equally cherished by God, equally loved, worthy, and valued. 

We find solutions to whatever needs correcting in society as we refuse to devalue anyone and love as Jesus did. As Jesus showed throughout his healing career, no one, including sinners, is left out of the love of Christ and the recognition and demonstration of their value and worthiness as a child of God. 

Do you believe that your prayers are making a difference in Greece? If so, how can you know?

When I pray for Greece and other places around the world (as many people do), I often remind myself of a passage from Science and Health: “There is to-day danger of repeating the offence of the Jews by limiting the Holy One of Israel and asking: ‘Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?’ What cannot God do?” (p. 135). That leads my prayers because of the word danger. Mrs. Eddy doesn’t use her words lightly. This statement makes me alert to the danger of repeating the offense, by limiting—devaluing, marginalizing—the power of God. 

In doing this we’re making less of God and His creation, and we need to be doing the opposite. Mrs. Eddy says, “We do not conceive rightly of God, if we think of Him as less than infinite” (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 2). It’s important to recognize the spiritual reality; the expansiveness of good; the continuing power of Truth and its manifestation of honesty, integrity, and health in everyone; Love’s care for every voice crying out for help. People all around the world need to know their prayers are heard and answered by God.

But if we’re looking through a material lens, becoming impressed with the seeming scale of the problem, it’s tempting to think good is on the margins. In reality, it’s impossible for the one infinite God to be marginalized, but our practice of divine law becomes limited if we’re seeing the world through a material view. Mrs. Eddy writes: “Mortals seem very material; man in the likeness of Spirit is spiritual. Holding the right idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people’s individuality, health, and morals; …” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 61–62). 

One person recognizing spiritual truth, one person’s demonstration in Greece of good over evil, of love over hate, of supply over limitation and lack, is, as Mrs. Eddy says, “as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right.” I have seen evidence of this, because while resolution is very much still going on, I have seen tangible proofs in Greece of people being provided for.

And even more encouraging, there is an awakening going on not only in Greece but in other places around the world, to resist corruption, and to refuse to accept that nothing can be done about it. There is a loud cry around the world for the dignity of man to be respected and to shine forth. That’s so beautiful to me because this awakening is the Christ coming to human consciousness, giving us the true idea of God and man; it shows that honesty and integrity are inherent in man as God’s likeness, and that honesty and integrity must be proved in our world, demonstrating that “the power of Christian Science and divine Love is omnipotent.”

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