A Christian Science perspective: Understanding God as good helps correct any false ‘news’ about what we truly are.

The recent US presidential election campaign, among other major world events, has brought the problem of fake news to the fore. In essence, fake news is information that is purposely misleading or completely false but designed to be taken as truth. Its goal is often to entice readers to click on a web link so that the site’s owners can make money from advertising, or to persuade readers to act in a certain way, such as voting, that will favor the interests of the inventor of the “news.”

There’s another kind of fake news that for too long has gotten away with being seen as credible. My study of Christian Science has revealed a deeper, more spiritual way to discern truth when consuming the “news” coming to us daily through the physical senses, including the news about our own health. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Monitor, wrote this about the insightful way in which Christ Jesus saw the world: “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” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 476-477).

The interesting thing about this Christly, law-based vision is that it isn’t static. It doesn’t just passively and helplessly observe what the material senses say, as if witnessing some objective reality that we can do little or nothing about. Jesus’ vision – his understanding of God as good, and of man as God’s spiritual likeness – was active and powerful and led to actual healing. Jesus could correct the “news” about our real identity, and he showed that this spiritual vision is available to everyone.

For example, we may wake some morning to the “news” that we are sick. At that point we have a choice. We can “click” on this news and start reviewing the potential causes of the illness to see if we are guilty of any, thus fixing this news as an objective “fact” about ourselves, or we can immediately look at the news in a scientifically Christian way by bringing God into the picture. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good,” the Bible says (Genesis 1:31). This is the spiritually correct perspective on any news, the Christly perspective; God, Truth, created man and the universe spiritual, whole, perfect. God’s view, the eternally true view, is naturally ours because we are His spiritual image and likeness, and we discern this fact through prayer that sincerely seeks to understand the true nature of God and His creation. Turning to God in this way, we begin to see that sickness and inharmony aren’t as real or lasting as they may seem, because they have no foundation in our true nature as God’s reflection.

When I was younger, I woke up one morning with a very sore throat. My immediate reaction to this “news” was concern for my health, and I went over in my mind what might have caused the problem. Ultimately, the condition got so bad that I could hardly eat or drink. I prayed, but without much conviction, as my fear was strong.

At that point I realized that I needed help, and I called a Christian Science practitioner, a professional who heals through a prayerful understanding of God’s healing love. He prayed for me and helped me to see who I really was as a child of God, His spiritual, “very good” image. Because of this true, spiritual identity, I had a right to perfect health.

Within 24 hours after calling the practitioner, the pain disappeared and I was back to normal. What’s more, I was left with a gorgeous view of creation as entirely spiritual and perfect, the real identity of us all. The physical news of sickness was exposed as a lie about who I was and replaced with this true view of reality.

Praying to know and express God, Truth, is the best defense against fake news of any kind. Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). Striving to “bear witness unto the truth” is a good motive for all of us, and a good way to help plant truth more firmly in human affairs.

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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.