Divine innovation

A Christian Science perspective: What God has to do with an increased capacity for invention and creativity, and the ability to find innovative solutions.

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Though I never knew my grandfather, I remember him for his most notable achievement. He was one of the key engineers involved in inventing the forklift at Clark Equipment Co. in 1917 – not an insignificant invention.

A simple, but unconventional, concept in its time, the forklift has been improved upon by several companies over the years to become an indispensable tool in modern manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution. It’s just one example of many thousands of inventions from out-of-the-box thinkers like my grandfather, inventions that have quietly improved the quality of life over the last century.

As a recent Monitor feature points out, great products evolve from this kind of unconventional thinking – through persistent innovation, making continual improvements, and striving for perfection in every aspect of the product cycle. Quoting Apple marketing maven Regis McKenna, the article states: “Innovation allows you to get a premium from the marketplace. And no matter how good you are, you can always do it better.”

More than a century ago Mary Baker Eddy made a similar observation on the value of striving for what she called “the perfect Principle of things” – a divine (God-given) standard of perfection applicable to any human endeavor, including the practice of religion. She wrote: “This age is reaching out towards the perfect Principle of things; is pushing towards perfection in art, invention, and manufacture. Why, then, should religion be stereotyped, and we not obtain a more perfect and practical Christianity? It will never do to be behind the times in things most essential, which proceed from the standard of right that regulates human destiny. Human skill but foreshadows what is next to appear as its divine origin” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 232).

She saw that underlying “standard of right” as originating in God, but attainable in each of us, improving human skill, even shaping human destiny.

Striving for perfection through an understanding of God as the source of infinite intelligence, or Mind, opens in us an enlarged capacity for invention, creativity, and perseverance. It lifts limits on our thinking. It takes us out of our own preconceptions. It inspires with fresh perspectives and unique solutions to human needs.

Many times I’ve found that, while I’m quietly listening for divine inspiration regarding some creative task or technical challenge, answers begin to appear in thought like stars being revealed in a dark night as the clouds clear. The Bible describes this beautifully: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17, New Living Translation).

God is the source of all bright, innovative ideas. And God’s ideas come to us not as shadowy, vague concepts, but as clear, consistent, continuous inspirations. We can apply them to define, refine, and perfect any worthwhile human endeavor.

I like to think that my grandfather, who brought Christian Science into our family, realized his higher capacity for human innovation through divine inspiration.

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