Taking the Bible to court

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Every day on my commuter train and subway, there is at least one person quietly reading a Bible. When I first moved to Washington, D.C. 16 years ago, hardly anyone did.

Later, I would see an Ethiopian or two reading in Amharic from time to time, then a Latina lady studying in Spanish, and now it seems spread through all the demographics of riders - the African-American man in a suit, the Nordic-looking fellow in a telephone lineman's uniform, and a Korean grandmother who somehow reads and knits at the same time.

What this indicates to me is that an increasing number of people are communing with these sacred Scriptures.

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I've also lived in several Muslim countries over the years and was always impressed with those co- workers and colleagues who performed their prayers five times a day. Often I would find them studying the Koran in their spare time. There is, I believe, an inherent need in humankind to continually refresh ourselves with God's Word.

That's why I was surprised at a recent decision in Colorado, where a sentence in a grisly murder case was changed because the state Supreme Court ruled that the jurors had erred when they had consulted the Bible in their deliberations.

This decision, of course, has evoked a firestorm of opinions. The majority of the Court felt that reading the Bible equated to reading newspaper accounts about the case, which is illegal. The minority opinion stressed that the jurors' reading of the Bible was to "look for wisdom" in reaching a verdict in the particular case. While no decision has been made as of this writing whether to appeal to the US Supreme Court, it's certain that there will be ongoing dialogues in various forums that spring from this case.

I have found the Bible an invaluable guide in my life. Pondering the wisdom of the Scriptures has helped me sort out my priorities and has guided me in making all sorts of decisions. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, loved the Bible and referred to it as "the supreme statute-book" in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (page 437).

In her statement of the Tenets of Christian Science, she wrote, "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (page 497).

I join the millions of people worldwide who turn to the inspired Word of the Bible for guidance. Not long ago I was worried about money. Because we felt the public schools in our community were woefully inadequate, we had enrolled our children in an alternative private school that welcomed them and immediately began to challenge them academically.

It certainly seemed a right fit, except for the looming tuition bill. How was I going to pay for it? I turned to the Bible for inspiration. I knew I needed to trust in God, and I knew the Bible's inspired Word would help put me on the right road. I found this wonderful promise in Deuteronomy: "The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure" (Deut. 28:12).

The Bible didn't tell me to get a second job or to sell certain investments or anything about my particular case. What I got from reading this verse of wisdom was the reminder that God is always at hand, always caring for all His children. This reassurance calmed me, reduced my level of anxiety, and let me shift the responsibility to God.

Almost immediately it occurred to me to take several years of back tax returns to a tax specialist, and in less than an hour we found that I was due an amount that exactly matched the school's tuition bills plus the tax specialists' fee. I had never had any idea that I was due anything, and perhaps if I'd stayed back at Square 1 and not consulted my Bible, I might have been so distracted by the static of the impending problem that I wouldn't have had my thinking calmed, through divine inspiration, to find the solution that was already at hand.

I don't know what I would have done if I'd been on that jury in Colorado. I do know, however, that years of studying the inspired Word of the Bible have informed my moral compass, and I could no more divest myself of that than I could of my own skin.

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