Beyond jarring headlines – a reason for hope

A Christian Science perspective: In spite of sensational news reports, tragedy does not define our times.

I’ve noticed that many of the headlines on some well-known news websites have become larger and more sensational. They suggest that tragedy, brutality, danger – including a growing array of threats to our health – pretty much define life in these times.

There are, of course, many difficult issues that need to be squarely faced and dealt with in wise and courageous ways. Human suffering and the evils that underlie it can’t be ignored. Our desire is to help, not to turn away from mankind’s needs. Yet jarring headlines tend to rivet thought on what’s wrong in a way that suggests very little, if anything, is right. They would have the effect of impressing thought with the belief that God, good, is absent.

Humanity greatly needs to learn of the one infinitely good God – the one all-powerful God – whom Christ Jesus referred to as “Spirit,” and demonstrated to be unfailing Love. The Master showed through his works that God is undeniably “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

Where trouble arises or persists in the world, sometimes very aggressively, we’re seeing the influence of what St. Paul, a follower of Jesus, termed “the carnal mind,” which he said is “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). But a spiritual view of the Bible’s message, highlighted by Jesus’ marvelous career, tells us that the carnal mind’s harmful influence can be counteracted through prayer – prayer based on an understanding of God’s allness as the one true Mind governing all, and a growing recognition of the supremacy of good. This is a great reason for hope, as many individuals, striving to follow Jesus’ example, have found through healing in their own lives.

I’ve found this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, to be helpful: “It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 390). Jesus understood God so completely as the loving Father-Mother of the universe, as the one entirely good power, that he was able to prove it at every point in his career. He defied what the senses insisted was true.

In line with Jesus’ teachings and works, Christian Science encourages us to look beyond appearances. That might include an entirely different way of viewing the headlines – not considering them as an indication of God’s absence, but as a call to better understand His presence. To me, attention-getting headlines are calling for a universally deeper perception of the divine nature and power; also, a willingness to live more in accord with basic biblical precepts, such as the First Commandment, which are so central to humanity’s well-being. The headlines are calling for prayer that springs from a deepening realization of God’s infinite goodness and the actual nature of His creation. The Scriptures show that God’s children aren’t, in truth, clashing mortals immersed in materialistic pursuits – but God’s spiritual, perfect offspring, expressing the pure, loving nature of their creator.

To bear witness in thought – in the “closet” of prayer, as Jesus taught (see Matthew 6:6) – to the presence and might of infinite Love isn’t naive or unrealistic. It’s a sound basis for progress. It’s a way of helping to shed much-needed spiritual light on specific issues. That, in turn, can be a support in revealing appropriate solutions.

Good isn’t absent. Every day there are countless loving, unselfish deeds, even heroic actions, that will never be widely known. There’s progress on various fronts, and Monitor journalism often highlights that progress or the potential for it, even while it reports – without sensationalism – on the tragic conflicts and pressing needs in our world.

True existence is something far different from and better than the impression that jarring headlines convey. It’s the spiritual, ideal outcome of the one God. It’s the divine and only reality, which Jesus illustrated through his works. It’s the reality that step by step must ultimately come to light around the globe through prayer based on this understanding and through better lives – faithful to the things of Spirit.

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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.”

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