What gets depleted, what never does

A Christian Science perspective.

A recent book, titled "$20 Per Gallon," by Christopher Steiner, imagines a future in which oil is depleted and the price of gas soars out of sight. Surprisingly, a hopeful rather than an apocalyptic mood surfaces a number of times in the book. Its upbeat subtitle promises: "How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better."

Steiner hit on a nifty structure for his work. The opening chapter is about life at $4 a gallon. Each following chapter ratchets the price up two dollars and then imagines how civilization will realign at that level. For example, at $8 the airline industry is crushed. At 14 bucks, Wal-Mart – and pretty much all of exurbia with its extreme dependency on the car – is no longer a going concern. Despite the subtitle's promise of a life changed for the better, the reader might reasonably wonder, "Better for whom?" as the middle class in places like China and India race ahead, until they see America in their rearview mirrors.

Which of the author's speculations might actually happen remains to be seen. But the debate concerning the underlying hypothesis is largely over. Almost no expert disputes that known oil reserves around the planet are headed toward depletion. Or that tapping into reserves yet to be discovered will only postpone the inevitable. Lifestyles based on the premise of nearly endless, cheap oil have to undergo profound change.

That change will be less painful and more productive if it's buttressed by some key spiritual insights. One such insight appears in the Bible, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. It records the Almighty as saying, "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed" (54:10). It's as if God concedes: "Yes, some physical things may come and go. They may get depleted. But what you truly need, My kindness and My promised peace, for instance, will never depart, will never be removed, will never get depleted."

Of course, when it comes to His spiritual truths that are available to us, the list contains far more than just two items, kindness and peace. He also provides us with His spiritual idea of power, His spiritual idea of energy, His spiritual idea of unpolluted purity, and on and on. These also remain. These, too, never diminish or become depleted.

Even before the book of Isaiah comes a tremendous moment of discovery in the second book of Moses, called Exodus. Here, Moses encounters the Divine. He sees a bush burning with fire. Almost unbelievably – at least from a purely material perspective – the bush is not consumed. Fuel is not used up, or apparently even used at all. Think of that. Does it hint at the possibility of energy as a spiritual idea, rather than a limited material commodity? Could it even suggest the generation of power without any negative side effects? (For instance, at the burning bush with Moses, if no fuel was consumed, were no carbon emissions generated?)

Regardless of how one sorts out those questions, a key point to grasp is this: A spiritual idea doesn't become exhausted. Ever. No one fears that a mathematical theorem or the multiplication tables will become exhausted from overuse. Why? Because they are ideas. In much the same way, a spiritual idea is not susceptible to exhaustion or depletion. And this fact has practical consequences, because a spiritual idea, understood and realized in consciousness, gets expressed, at least to some degree, in everyday life.

There is a spiritual idea of energy, inexhaustible and clean. This idea is not abstract or theoretical. It is practical and scientific. When understood, it will be found to have meaningful and tangible impact. It will manifest power, God's power. It will manifest that power in everyday life, our lives. As people begin to know the realness of a spiritual idea, evidence of that idea will begin to pile up on the human scene.

Using the term Love as a synonym for God, Sentinel founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her seminal work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Divine Love blesses its own ideas, and causes them to multiply, – to manifest His power" (p. 517).

Even as oil is depleted, and a host of related problems crowd to the front, solutions to those problems can multiply – solutions that are inexhaustible and clean. These solutions are not remote. They are as close as thought. To find them, however, it will help if we first turn to the divine source, in the same way as did Isaiah, Moses, and especially Jesus. Then more and more we will find, emanating from divine Love, an ever-multiplying, never-depleting river of spiritual, problem-solving ideas infused with His power.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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