How can I pray about something as horrible as the terrorist attacks in Paris? Our world is so scary.

Rosalie Dunbar says: Big events like the one in Paris can seem overwhelming, and sometimes we feel frozen in place, unable to think or pray. But even when it seems

Rosalie DunbarRosalie Dunbar says: Big events like the one in Paris can seem overwhelming, and sometimes we feel frozen in place, unable to think or pray. But even when it seems hard to pray, I’ve found that it helps me to challenge evil, and to refuse its claim to power. Speaking personally, I’ve tried hard to discipline my thoughts so that whenever I hear bad news, I immediately affirm that there is only one Mind, God, who is governing all, that this Mind is always present, and that its goodness can become evident. I’ve seen that spiritual goodness in my own life and have found peace and healing even in troubling circumstances.

Our prayerful insistence on the one Mind’s control can also support the police and other authorities in discovering what needs to be known about the event, help those who are endeavoring to save lives, protect those who are examining a crime site from hidden dangers. This one Mind is only good, and knows only good. Through its guidance individuals who are working to preserve good can work effectively. And each of us can make good choices as well. In one of her letters , Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “Into His [God’s] haven of Soul there enters no element of earth to cast out angels, to silence the right intuition that guides you safely home”. 1

This may seem kind of theoretical, but the insistence on the oneness of Mind reminds me that God is the only power and that evil, no matter how aggressive it seems, can’t trick us into believing that it is more powerful than good. Such prayer is a firm rejection of evil’s claim to make the agenda for our—or anyone’s life. And it can give us the spiritual intuition to make good choices about where we go and what we do. And we can expect our prayers to be effective not only for our sake but for the people around the world for whom we are praying.

Rosalie is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Massachusetts.

Notes:

  1. Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 152

Trayvon and “torn” communities

Last weekend, George Zimmerman was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter in the Florida shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The trial featured little hard evidence and sharply divided testimony

Last weekend, George Zimmerman was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter in the Florida shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The trial featured little hard evidence and sharply divided testimony on whether Zimmerman or Martin was the aggressor. As one legal analyst said, “Nobody really knows what happened out there.”

At the same time, the trial was surrounded by a constant swirl of media commentary on racial conflict, gun control, and rising community violence. After the verdict, several prominent people, including the Martin family’s attorney, compared Trayvon to civil rights martyrs Medgar Evers and Emmett Till.

As protests erupted nationwide, President Obama asked Americans to “ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.” In the same vein, the Martin family’s lawyer said, “For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful.”

But with the nation’s racial wounds all gory again, and memories of Medgar Evers and Emmett Till tearing our hearts, how can any of us feel peaceful? Or gather strength to plant seeds of peace in our own communities?

In some translations of the Bible, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Other translations say, “Integrated are those who joyfully knit themselves together within,” and “Healthy are those who strike the note that unites.” 1

Of course! Only a clear perception of unity, within and without, can bring a sense of peace. As long as we’re seeing duality — black and white, good and evil, just and unjust — there’s always friction and discomfort.

Fortunately, we have all the tools we need to challenge the perception of duality. Because “Unity is the essential nature of Christian Science. Its Principle is One….” 2

So let’s each find one apparent conflict that’s troubling our own thought, and “joyfully knit [ourselves] together within.” Then, fresh from that experience, let’s reach out in prayer to the Martin family, to George Zimmerman, and to all our “torn” communities. Let’s clarify, together, that every conflict that seems to present itself in this situation is . . . not.

“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” Or, “Healthy are those who strike the note that unites; they shall be remembered as rays of the One Unity.” 3

Notes:

Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus, p. 65. ↩Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 264. ↩Prayers of the Cosmos, p. 65 ↩

S+C | Politics and Religion

Episode #26 is a conversation with Will Buchanan on the relationship between politics and spiritual ideas. Sometimes the effort to discuss politics and religious convictions in the same conversation can be hazardous. All the more reason to find a basis for successful conversations. Will is a student at Principia College, where he’s studying political science. […]

Episode #26 is a conversation with Will Buchanan on the relationship between politics and spiritual ideas.

Sometimes the effort to discuss politics and religious convictions in the same conversation can be hazardous. All the more reason to find a basis for successful conversations.

Will is a student at Principia College, where he’s studying political science. He’s also deeply committed to  his spiritual growth. Our discussion raises questions and uncovers possibilities for those who deeply care about the relevance of spiritual living in a political context.willandshirley

Whether you lean left or right, it’s encouraging to find common ground in the belief that God’s goodness is available to everyone at all times. It gives hope for peace, and it encourages grace in the midst of our differences.

It might be helpful to clarify one point in the podcast conversation. Near the end of the podcast, Will is discussing “three degrees” of human experience, which come from his study of Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (115). He is distinguishing between the second and third degrees, in which the second is a transitional state of thought to the third level, which includes spiritual understanding and power. Will describes the meaning of that third state of human thought without clearly identifying it; but his point is that it’s helpful for us as humans to be clear about the type of thinking we bring to our experiences. We are able to achieve wisdom, spiritual understanding, and spiritual power (the “third degree”) as we grow spiritually; and on that basis we are not victims of politics, but contributors to society’s well-being.

Please do join us in this conversation. We’re interested in they way you make connections between your spiritual searching and your political pragmatism. Share your comments at the end of the show notes on the website, SpiritualityandChristianity.com.

Some relevant links:

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Religion and Ethics Newsweekly See spirituality.com for podcast reference to Science and Health