Dissolving Self-Interest

A while back, in Chicago, we saw the play Both Your Houses, by Maxwell Anderson, at Remy Bumppo theater. This play was written in 1933 and presented scenes of a congressional committee hard at work – at work churning out legislation to benefit its own self-interest, that is! Performed today, this play still captures much of what the public says it dislikes about congress.

"Generally speaking, voters believe that Congress as a body is lower than the ocean floor. It is the least-trusted public institution in the United States, according to most surveys. Just look at this astounding Gallup poll from June: Only 7 percent of respondents said they had a great deal or a lot of confidence in Congress. That’s so few that the Gallup editors don’t even have room to write the number on the bar graph – they just sort of draw a green smudge down at the bottom and leave it at that."  (Peter Grier, Most US voters now dislike own congressmen. Will they vote them out? Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 5, 2014)
U.S. Capitol Building

U.S. Capitol Building

We don't have to believe that this state of affairs is unresolvable. We can pray about it and expect good results. There was one new congressional upstart in the play who worked to dissolve self-interest. On our part, instead of angry or vengeful thoughts launched toward the other side, we have the silent, spiritual means of love and prayer to impersonalize and defeat partisan shenanigans.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines atonement this way: "Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love." She breaks down the word "atonement" into three words: at-one-ment. This captures both the truth and the goal for living a good life – that we can never be separated from God, good, and that we need to strive to live in a way that echos this oneness with God.

The play Both Your Houses pointed out the less than spectacular way some human laws fully bring about true change in human behavior. Commitment to following God and the inspiration to do it – the Christ – are needed to fully change action to be at-one with God.

Jesus taught the ultimate dissolving of self-interest when he laid down all self-will in facing crucifixion. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." (Hebrews 10: 9) He knew God's plan for him was entirely good. The only real reforming power of Spirit comes when all demands of self-interest, that seem to rule the heart, are replaced by readiness to accept God's direction and let divine will motivate our thought and action. This expresses true loving – even of one's so-called enemies!

Jesus healed Zacchaeus, a tax collector, who was motivated by self-interest. (Luke 19:1-10) The healing caused Zacchaeus to see his corrupt ways and commit to restitution and moving in accord with God's goodness. Jesus had uncovered his true, God-created identity. It was good, selfless and honest. That's a model for our lives today!

Helping individuals shipwrecked by drug abuse

From Tim Mitchinson's Blog of Sept. 24, 2014

“My life was a shipwreck waiting to happen,” Jeff Rice recently told me. “I used to walk around with a lot of fear and anger. I turned to drugs to feel good. I started with marijuana, and that quickly escalated into harder drugs.”
“Eventually I was addicted to crack cocaine, and I felt horrible afterwards because the feelings it gave me left so quickly, but I still chased it for many years. One day, deeply discouraged, I finally prayed, ‘If there is a God, please help me!’”...

Click to read the whole blog post.

Tim is the Christian Science Committee on Publication and the media spokesman for Christian Science in Illinois.


If you get stuck in the clay pit

Sometimes we get in some entanglement with a problem and just keep wrestling over and over with it, trying the same non-working solutions. But, there is a way to free ourselves from continuing to struggle and never see resolution. This was illustrated to me the other day when I was doing a simple task. I was in a hurry to get some big store signs finished and get to a meeting. However, my grommet pliers had become stuck and I couldn't release them from the sign I was making. I needed to have these ready for delivery and the clock was ticking away.

The thought came to me that I couldn't just keep doing the same thing over and over. I needed to walk away from the problem. So, I mentally, and literally, walked away from it. With a new patience I turned to God with complete trust and said: "It's in your hands, God". I completed my other tasks before I needed to leave. When I returned to the sign, the pliers released easily with one light touch. I packed things up and made it to my meeting on time.

Last week, when I planted Black-Eyed Susans and Sedum on the hill next to our back steps, the soil was like a big clay pit. I had to remove a good portion and amend the soil with compost. That dense clay reminded me of what it is like to mentally stay in the problem. That terrain can never provide the fresh air, water and pliancy needed for new growth.

As students, we need to loosen any hard, unyielding mindset to be ready to learn and grow in understanding. If our thought has become a little like the clay, compacted with materialism or old limited perspectives, it's time to amend the soil of our thinking with open, receptive trust in the divine Mind. Let this rich nurturing spiritual inspiration come in to lighten things up and you will be provided with a portal for the influx of new healing ideas from God, divine Love.

Placebos show the significance of thought's impact on health

From Tim Mitchinson's blog on June 21, 2014.

"Increased concern about overmedicating patients is pushing more and more physicians to investigate new approaches to relieving suffering. It’s even prompting some doctors to consider what was once the unthinkable – offering their patients placebos.

Of course, research into the placebo effect has been going on for centuries.  Nineteenth century health researcher and Christian healer, Mary Baker Eddy, described her treatment of a patient with edema.  Fearing the prolonged use of her current medication, Eddy finally gave the woman unmedicated pellets – and the woman continued to improve until she was well...." Read Tim's entire blog post here.

Unthink Sickness

Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "How are veritable ideas to be distinguished from illusions? By learning the origin of each. Ideas are emanations from the divine Mind. Thoughts, proceeding from the brain or from matter, are offshoots of mortal mind; they are mortal material beliefs. Ideas are spiritual, harmonious, and eternal."

The False Mirror by René Magritte, 1928

The False Mirror by René Magritte, 1928

Yesterday, at the Chicago Art Institute, we saw the really wonderful, eye-opening Magritte show. He was a surrealist painter who resonates today because he delved so deeply into the subject of images and representations of things. He saw how pictures are really illusions but can be unquestionably accepted into thought as facts. He wanted to wake the viewer up to the tendency to accept the outward appearance as the reality.

Interestingly, the advertising campaign being used by the Art Institute to promote this show is called UNTHINK. Shown here on this Chicago sightseeing tour bus.

UNthink Sightseeing Bus in Chicago

Christian Science shows how to "unthink" many widely accepted thought images the world holds about sickness. Just as Magritte jolts us to beware of what images we tacitly accept in our thinking, Christian Science says:

"Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself  harmoniously." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.)

Question what you are viewing, as Magritte pointed out. Think about what your eyes take in, as Jesus noted in Mark, chapter 8, "Having eyes, see ye not?" Christian Science helps us see what is real and what is illusion. We have God-given dominion over false representations of ourselves and the universe.

You Don't Have to be Afraid

The Bible tells of so many experiences where fear is conquered. Putting our trust in God, Spirit, gives us confidence that all will be well. Doubt in God's care brings on fear. A little child has certain trust and complete reliance that his parent will keep him safe. We can begin to understand that our connection to God is a lot like that parent/child relationship. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, puts it this way in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation." (Page 331)

Instead of thinking that God is out there somewhere, looking in on us once in a while, we can know that God is right with us all the time – as close as our thought! When we have the inspiration and conviction that everything God made is good and that God makes everything that exists, we are freed from fear. Fear can only come in with the opposite conviction that bad exists somewhere to harm us.

Paul says, in I Thessalonians 5: 21: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." In my experience I've seen when I completely stop fearing some problem it goes away. I had a little growth on my forehead for a long time. One year I had an insight, a strong conviction that God never made it. From that point, all concern and fear of it was wiped out of my thought. Not long after that it got worse, but that didn't alter my confidence that God never made it. Soon after, it just dropped away and has never returned.

"Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 260.)

Try mental detoxing for your health

Tim Mitchinson's Blog Post of May 15, 2014

"More and more individuals are considering detoxing and cleansing their bodies of impurities for health reasons. But interestingly, some of the most toxic problems we suffer are negative mental states." Click here to read more from this post.

Tim Mitchinson writes a column on the relationship between thought, spirituality and health.  He is the Committee of Publication, or media spokesman, for Christian Science in Illinois.

Becoming New

Chicago's Aqua building by Jeanne Gang. Photo by Erik Unger.

Chicago's Aqua building by Jeanne Gang. Photo by Erik Unger.

Ever wonder why a building is called a "building" instead of a "built"? To me a verb shows the ongoing newness, liveliness and progression of the ideas that Spirit is building.

These immortal spiritual creations, which are the basis of all real things, are spoken of in the Bible in many different figurative ways:

  • living waters flowing from a fountain - abundance
  • strong houses built on rock - permanence
  • beautiful ornaments of decoration - beauty
  • flowing robes of clothing - goodness

I have to ask myself often:  "am I building earthward on a material level or working with heavenly plans"? As if we were all carpenters, Christian Science is showing us how to follow the heavenly plans, not the popular material blueprints. We can become familiar with and study the spiritual sense of being, instead of looking at the mortal model. Our buildings are the result of the thoughts we hold. Mary Baker Eddy likens this to a sculptor, holding in thought either a perfect spiritual model or an imperfect and suffering mortal concept of life. (Pages 248-249 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.)

At any time you can clean up your construction site and start fresh. Begin to build your foundation the way Spirit, your Foreman, is showing you – from a new standpoint of spiritual life, health and goodness. Let these good, God-given thoughts fill your mind instead of complaints, sickness, suffering and death.

Our weekly Bible Lesson Sermon will give you some great insights for building freshly from a spiritual basis. Our Sunday service starts at 10 am and everyone is welcome!