The 26th idea

Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

Businessweek had it right with its issue of August 26 offering "25 Ideas for a Changing World" – ideas about corporate ethics, finance, technology, health, trade. We offer a 26th idea – a deeply founded spirituality to guide and govern all human interchange.

My undergraduate major in economics required an ungraded paper on the economics of the Sermon on the Mount. The content of that effort is long lost to the years, but the assignment lives on. A scan of that Biblical sermon in the Gospel of Matthew shows it is packed with ideas about economics, honesty, human relations, exchange, investment, integrity. While these verses come through the vehicle of New Testament scripture, the document is really undenominational and embraces the deeper spiritual teachings of much of the world's religious thought. Here are a few samples:

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

The meek shall inherit the earth.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God...

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.

Our proposed 26th idea rests on the spiritual discipline of the Sermon on the Mount. In this dawning post-materialistic era, the values of spirituality are giving new creativity, strength, and substance to commerce, government, law, and to public and private institutions, families and individuals. The utility of goodness is asserting itself right through the sin of terrorism and fear, and the extravagances and conspiracies of greed and competition.

Human development is now poised and yearning to move out of the vestibule of uncertainty into a more God-centered, and therefore self-acknowledged, level of ethics and values. God is All-cause, and the effect of that All-cause must be Godlike. The divine care for the universe, including all ideas and interchange, is found, through spiritual reasoning, to be all good. The human condition under this spiritual Science becomes more blessed and blessing. A higher tone of trust and trustworthiness invades and conquers, benevolently, the lives of all humanity.

This 26th idea is universal. It belongs to no sect or class or tribe. Spirituality is a realized force for good. It makes no mistakes. It does not take from one and give its largesse to another. It is unlimited and grows through exercise. It does not turn its back on our best efforts, but reinforces and empowers them. It brings to the surface surprising new ideas and solutions. There is no place or form of human endeavor outside the vitalizing or reforming offices of spirituality.

Spirituality is a still, small voice.

This is another Biblical reference, to the desolation of the prophet Elijah when escaping the wrath of Jezebel. In a desert hiding place, a violent vision of earthquake, wind, and fire assaulted him in a cataclysmic life lesson. In the calm after the storm, he was given the spiritual promise that the Lord was not in the chaos, but rather in a "still small voice" (I Kings 19:12). In the chapter named "The Apocalypse" in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy wrote about the power and reach of that small voice: "The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound" (pg. 559).

This "scientific thought" is the essence of spirituality that has its source or cause in God, Spirit. It knows no limits. It is at the heart of this still, small 26th idea.

Thanks, BusinessWeek, for your initiative. At hand are the occasion and the time for all good ideas to weave their power together into a benevolent force for progress that touches all our lives and institutions and geographies, relationships and moments.

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