Progress and underlying perfection

A Christian Science perspective.

It’s natural to look for signs of progress. The sun peeking out from behind the clouds. The first green shoots bravely poking up from the frosty ground – harbingers of harsh winter yielding to spring.

In an Upfront Blog on this website, Monitor editor at large John Yemma proposes that in spite of the so-called cycles of history – birth and growth, followed by decay – the real story of civilization is one of progress (“Why progress endures,” Jan. 25). Beyond the grim cascade of news about war, tyranny, poverty, and terrorism there are waymarkers of progress. “Progress ... builds,” Mr. Yemma writes.

So how do we look beyond heart-wrenching images depicting countries ravaged by need? Can we pull back the veil of despair and disappointment to find something beyond building progress: genuine good that stands uninterrupted and inviolate?

For Christ Jesus, progress wasn’t enough. His healing ministry was about revealing something remarkable: the kingdom of heaven, present and perfect. In this kingdom, there isn’t a gradual inching toward progress. In every healing instance, Jesus revealed the powerful fact that Spirit, God, made man and the universe – wholly good, now and forever. Jesus challenged aggressive cycles of evil, no matter how longstanding. And in urging us to “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), he demanded that we do the same.

This kind of repentance requires a humble yielding to an understanding of Spirit’s intact, spiritual creation, where no evil exists to undermine good. And an effective starting point is a single word: “No.” We can say “no” to discouragement, which is one of the greatest enemies of our own healing authority, since it argues that situations are hopeless and that tyranny has the upper hand.

Feeling hopeless may sometimes seem inevitable, but hopelessness is actually a mesmeric distraction that would keep us from seeing the wholeness of God and His universe. “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick,” writes the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 476-477). If, like Jesus, we begin with the conviction that there can never be a problem because God’s creation is continually perfect, then despair can have no foothold. Instead we prove through healing that we live in the allness of good.

Devoting ourselves to the joy that comes from feeling God’s presence and knowing His power – this is more than a commitment to progress. It opens our eyes to the only reality that exists: God’s universe, where every idea of His is gloriously and eternally in bloom.

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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.