ISIS in Iraq, and being free from the grip of fear

A Christian Science perspective: How  we can contribute to the melting of fear worldwide.

A recent editorial in The Christian Science Monitor about terrorist acts perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) spoke to me as a call to prayer: “The world cannot remain frozen in the face of this brutal form of killing.” The editorial pointed out that these acts are used to “cast dread far and wide” (“Rally Iraq Muslims against beheadings,” June 15).

Even as our prayers reach out to those who are struggling for their lives and for the families of those who have been the victims of such heinous acts, maybe you are asking, as I have, How can my prayer contribute even a little to unfreezing the grip of fear that surrounds these tragic events?

I’ve found that I can pray the prayer of gratitude for the times that God has taken away my fears and restored my hope, and that this has contributed to the larger melting of fear worldwide. Prayer to the one all-powerful God has influenced my life for good and can influence the world for good. Fear can be destroyed on a wider scale through the understanding that God doesn’t create fear, and, therefore, it fundamentally has no law to back it up or through which it can operate. If God, the one divine Principle, Love, is all-powerful, then it doesn’t share this power with fear, but makes fear powerless.

Throughout the Bible, leaders such as Moses, prophets such as Elijah, and Christ Jesus and his disciples told those of their day – and their message still speaks to us today: “Don’t be afraid.” Why? Because there is one all-powerful and ever-present Father-Mother God who loves and cares for each one of His-Her children beyond anything we can imagine. Even getting a glimpse of this has brought a sense of God’s all-encompassing nature and law to my life and has made this fact present as my own and others’ identity.

Courage is gained by knowing that even that glimpse can begin to unfreeze any terror individually and collectively, however slowly this melting seems to move. The Psalmist encourages us, “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me” (23:4, The Amplified Bible). Fear can’t darken thought and paralyze life when we become conscious of our deep union with God, who is our only real Life and Love.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, was not unfamiliar with fear, with what it tries to do, and the different forms it takes. But she also knew the power of Love to destroy fear. In her book, most important for all spiritual thinkers, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she wrote: “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear” (p. 559).

I find it reassuring to know that correct, clear individual thinking reaches far and wide. When it steadfastly honors the powerful allness of God and man – meaning each one of us – as the image and likeness of Love reflecting all that God is, it is a force for good, acting as an irresistible law to silence the evil of fear and its ungodlike effects.

Mrs. Eddy also wrote in Science and Health, “Fear never stopped being and its action” (p. 151). Fear can never stop God from being Love and Truth no matter what the material senses are telling us. It may feel like a leap to include in prayer those who commit such atrocities, but fear owns no one. The fear of being dominated is the same fear that moves someone to dominate. It belongs to no one because we belong to God and His good purposes, which are incapable of being frozen by fear. Each time we are willing through trust in God to confront fears – whether they appear large or small, far away or at home – we are shown a little more of our God-given dominion – our fearless nature. And the world will feel it, too.

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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

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