Finding the root of the problem

A Christian Science perspective.

Christian Science has a unique viewpoint of the nature of life’s storms as we encounter them from day to day and of how to deal with them effectively. It doesn’t matter whether such tempests are in the form of a soured relationship, a sudden controversy at the office or in church, or a flare-up of any kind – on the world scene or at the dinner table.

The key is what lies behind the outward appearance. It certainly may feel natural to blame a person or a group of people – and then dive into the fray either by taking sides or by acting as a kind of referee. Our well-meaning efforts may backfire or simply leave us emotionally exhausted.

But heartfelt prayer to God, a quiet communion with the one Mind or supreme intelligence, can still the storms when we recognize what is at the root of such problems. A useful metaphor is the popular tale of the horseback rider whose horse suddenly rears up, throwing him out of the saddle. The rider reprimands the horse in anger when, in truth, a snake hidden in the path had bitten the horse’s heel (see Genesis 49:17).

The Bible has a term for this hidden agent: “the carnal mind,” a phrase that the Apostle Paul uses and characterizes as “enmity against God,” which is “warring against the law of my mind” (Romans 8:7; 7:23). The Bible story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden also depicts this subtle element through the metaphor of a talking serpent that beguiles Eve into eating fruit from a tree that she has been forbidden even to touch. As a result of this deception, she and Adam are banished from Paradise.

When troubles of any kind arise, we don’t need to be deceived. We can immediately recognize the innate, spiritual innocence of the individuals involved, including ourselves. God made man in His own image and likeness, according to the first chapter of Genesis, and His reflection is good, just as God is good. So what appears as evil or discord is really a deception or a lie. And what is this fundamental lie? That God, divine good, is not all-powerful and infinite, and, according to Mary Baker Eddy, the Discover and Founder of Christian Science, “that evil is as real as good and more powerful” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 103).

The lie claims that there is more than one creator, or Mind – more than one God. Because such a negation is powerless and untruthful, it seems to need a person or circumstance with which to cloak itself. Christ Jesus exposed evil’s method of operation when he said, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Many years ago, I was caring for an elderly person. The rewards of expressing love and compassion for her were numerous, but at one point I found myself feeling burdened and unhappy. She had begun to complain, resist my efforts, and say unkind things, which was most uncharacteristic of her. Feeling overwhelmed, I realized I needed to step back from the situation and recognize the root of the problem. It wasn’t me and it wasn’t her. I saw that it was the carnal mind, or underlying lie of suppositional evil, in the guise of the woman I was helping, that was stealing my peace, ruining her disposition, and turning the whole affair into a joyless endeavor.

Through my prayers, I affirmed that God was the only power; that divine Love was the only caregiver, governing and cherishing us, His children; that we both had a holy relationship with God as His reflected likeness. I began to magnify all the good qualities I saw in this person, such as beauty, gentleness, and consecration, and to realize the illusory nature of anything unlike God in our friendship. If a hurtful comment sprang up, no longer did I give it power over me. In a way, I could laugh at it, knowing it was not true. After I prayed for a few days along these lines, her behavior changed, the negative comments no longer came up, and the whole situation normalized.

Mrs. Eddy, who founded The Christian Science Monitor “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind,” made this stunning statement: “Mankind must learn that evil is not power” (Science and Health, p. 102). No situation is beyond healing when we stand up for good, for God’s supremacy, and refuse to be duped by a lie.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.