Several years ago I was required to travel abroad for a few months, on an arduous and sometimes dangerous assignment as a news reporter. One evening I was trapped with several other journalists in a motel that was under siege by political demonstrators. There were no guns visible, but the demonstrators were provoking the officers in a police line. Several people on both sides had been injured. Periodically, huge rocks were being flung through the windows.
Rather than take refuge in the motel's central lounge (where most people had congregated), I elected to go to my room -- to pray. I sat well back from the windows and turned to Psalm 91 in the Bible. I was drawn to this verse: "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust" (verse 2). With the siege in mind I read this: "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day" (verse 5).
For several minutes, as rocks pounded at the walls, I thought about the way in which all the participants in this drama related to God, whom I knew to be the loving Father of all. It was especially challenging to understand how the noisy and violent demonstrators fitted into the picture. "They're obviously not behaving as though they were made in the spiritual image and likeness of God," I reasoned, thinking of the way the Bible identifies us in Genesis (see 1:27).
At that moment I longed for someone in whom I could confide my fears. My eye fell on the Pocket Edition of Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that I always took with me on such assignments. It dawned on me that no human being could match the companionship of the truth contained in this book!
Not only is Science and Health the ideal companion for all those whom its author called "honest seekers for Truth" (p. xii), but for more than one hundred years it has been acknowledged internationally as a companion -- and a key -- to the Holy Bible. It explains the Science of Christ.
I began reading this: "For right reasoning there should be but one fact before the thought, namely, spiritual existence" (p. 492). Instantly, I knew that I had the best possible starting point; no science can be practiced without right reasoning. I was grateful to have been led to start with "spiritual existence," where self-centered, conflicting human opinions have no jurisdiction at all, because God is the only power.
Then I turned to this passage: "When spiritual being is understood in all its perfection, continuity, and might, then shall man be found in God's image" (p. 325). For the first time, I saw the logical progression implicit in that statement. The first requirement is for an understanding of "spiritual being" -- a vivid awareness that because each individual is created in the likeness of God, each is flawless, enduring, and blessed with an ability to overcome evil. Then, and only then, will that improved, elevated understanding of the actual goodness of God's sons and daughters be seen in our lives.
Time slipped by, and I scarcely noticed that the barrage of rocks had lessened. I got permission from the police superintendent to leave the motel by a back exit to go and talk with the demonstrators.
They were mostly college students who were happy to meet an international visitor and to share their innermost thoughts about the events that had provoked their protest. As is so often the case, there were two sides to the dispute. The students readily admitted that they had overreacted and were ready for peaceful arbitration. Seldom as a journalist had I been handed an easier -- or a better -- story.
Next morning the siege was lifted. There had been no injuries overnight, and I left the motel grateful for the protection we had all experienced. I also emerged with a new appreciation for the fact that Science and Health is a companion volume to the Bible -- not a replacement. It illuminates seemingly obscure Scriptural passages and encourages prayerful examination of already familiar ones. It reveals new views of God as ever present, and as loving and caring for us.
*Other articles on Christian Science can be found in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.