The truth about ghosts

Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

My Grandfather, Joe, was a newspaper writer. Sometimes for fun, though, he wrote ghost stories. Years ago, I ran across one of them. The story was set in a large, spooky house, where some delightfully eccentric people lived. They did such funny things that, even in the scariest parts of the story, you just had to laugh. It was more a spoof than a real ghost story.

My grandfather had succumbed to illness and died at an early age, as his parents had before him. The specter of poor health had hung over the family for generations. A few years after Joe's passing, however, some members of the family learned that God never intends such a destiny for any of His sons and daughters.

It happened this way. A local tailor gave Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" to my great uncle, who was in the last stages of tuberculosis. In a matter of weeks, he totally recovered.

Suddenly, after that extraordinary cure, there was hope! And one family member after another began studying Science and Health - including my grandmother. She wanted so much to offer her little daughter (my mother) something more than a heritage of illness. So she agreed that each week some relatives could take my mother to church.

At Sunday School, my mother - who had already had several operations - learned that she didn't have to be frail. She could choose something better. She could discover what God had, in fact, already made her to be: the daughter of the one, divine Father-Mother, who blesses all His children, and never curses them. She could choose the gift of spiritual wholeness and health that she had inherited from her heavenly Parent - pure Spirit.

For my mom, this wasn't a hard choice to make. Her Sunday School teachers helped her understand that she could throw off the "ghosts" of fatalism that had tried to control her family. She learned she could expect a happy, fulfilled life, because God was her Life - forever.

Words like these from Science and Health must have seemed written especially for her: "If you think that consumption is hereditary in your family, you are liable to the development of that thought in the form of what is termed pulmonary disease, unless Science shows you otherwise.... Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take" (pg. 392).

A new kind of expectation took hold in my mother's family - even an exuberant acknowledgment that God provides only good for His children. Increasingly, they understood that there's nothing fickle about good. Because it depends on God. Because it's a matter of divine law. Because it's inconceivable that a good God could predestine anything but good for His creation. The Bible explains this with such simple logic: "Thou [God] art good, and doest good" (Ps. 119:68).

Understanding this more each day, my mother grew up as a strong, healthy young person. And she continues to be strong and healthy today. For us, the family history of ill health now seems totally unrelated to the present. It seems like a ghostly myth that was never true.

The notion that fate plays favorites with some families - and curses others with disease, bad luck, failure, tragedy - is mistaken. And so is the notion of capricious, good-and-evil fortune. Such superstitions are as unreal and fictional as the ghosts in my grandfather's stories. And they're destined to oblivion.

The Science of Christianity has drawn the clear line of distinction between such haunting beliefs and spiritual reality. It challenges humanity to shed the burden of curse. It demonstrates that real, spiritual life operates according to fixed, benevolent Principle - to God and His law of perfect good. It shows that we're all held, eternally secure, in the arms of our Father-Mother, who loves us beyond measure.

Be strong and of a good

courage, fear not, nor be afraid

of them: for the Lord thy God,

he it is that doth go with thee;

he will not fail thee,

nor forsake thee.

Deuteronomy 31:6

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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