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Head in the sand?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

February 4, 2009



I can remember one of my early encounters involving the exchange of religious beliefs. Really early, like grade school. My friend had picked up the view that Christian Scientists were a little like the ostrich who hides its head in the sand to avoid problems. I explained why this was a little puzzling to me. After all, I had seen consistent evidence that prayer was an effective way to face problems squarely and intelligently. But the fact that I dealt with issues differently caused others to assume I wasn't doing anything.

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As years passed, I realized that I did tend not to dwell on material discords, physical injuries, or personality problems quite the way my peers did. And such a different emphasis probably looked to others as if I was ignoring issues. This came to mind when I learned of a Christian Scientist who'd badly injured herself. She quickly wrapped her hand so she wouldn't have a graphic picture of the damage. Ah, the ostrich stereotype, I thought. Most people would probably think it strange, even naïve, to look away from such an injury.

Some might challenge the wisdom of Mary Baker Eddy's words, "Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 261). But she goes on to indicate that when we are more at one with God's total goodness, we'll bring this into our experience. The woman was quickly healed. I, too, have found validity in this guidance. In fact, healings have sometimes been instant, not just by my refusing to focus on frightening material evidence, but by my dwelling in the reality of God's perfection – the invulnerable substance that all His creation actually expresses.

For the Christian Scientist, a whole lot more is involved than just looking away, although just looking away may not be a bad idea. Medical news in the Boston Globe (Jan. 11) included this observation: "Last month, researchers at Oxford University announced the discovery of a powerful new painkiller: inverted binoculars. The scientists found that subjects who looked at a wounded hand through the wrong end of binoculars, making the hand appear smaller, felt significantly less pain and even experienced decreased swelling. According to the researchers, this demonstrates that even basic bodily sensations such as pain are modulated by what we see. So next time you stub your toe or cut a finger, do yourself a favor: look away."

While looking away may reduce the pain and swelling, looking into God's allness, the genuine presence of divine substance, can bring actual healing.

If we allow materiality to become a strong emphasis in our lives – a kind of growing material mindedness – we may find ourselves pretty impressed with or at the mercy of matter. This is true whether we think of matter as giving us good health, good supply, good times, or as oppressing us with illness, lack, discord. Spiritual mindedness, emphasizing spirituality, looking away from matter to the honoring of Spirit, God, really isn't an ostrich-like life. Actually, it can be the discovery that right where matter-based reality seems so troubled, right there is a spiritual reality that, when discerned and lived, can heal.

Christ Jesus wasn't naïve about the man who couldn't see, the guy who couldn't walk, the fellow whose hand was withered. You might say he was looking away from a materialistic view and seeing vividly God's reality. What happened? The first man saw, the second walked, the third stretched out his hand and was whole. Now, who really had their head in the sand of materiality – Jesus, or the onlookers?

The Bible describes these and many other examples of Christ Jesus healing with his clear view of spiritual reality. In her book Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy fully explores how and what Jesus saw. And on this same basis, and with reasonable consistency, healings are happening today.

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