True womanhood has no limitations

A Christian Science perspective: Understanding that everyone is valued and capable because we are the creation of one Father-Mother God breaks down barriers.

A recent Monitor editorial about the broader implications of giving Saudi women the right to drive (see “Saudi Arabia hands women the keys,” CSMonitor.com) helped me appreciate my own journey in breaking barriers in thought regarding women.

For instance, I once was appointed to a position that automatically made me a member of a regional ecumenical group. I was the only woman in a group of about 10 members, and the first woman to participate in this group in a number of years.

I approached this membership tentatively. At my first meeting, I was welcomed cordially, but I didn’t particularly feel I belonged. Still tentative at my second meeting, I was surprised to find that most of the members who had met me at the previous meeting didn’t even remember me, despite my being the only woman among them!

This was a wake-up call. I recognized that this was not a campaign, or even an intentional slight against me personally, but an opportunity for me to rise to a fuller, and more spiritual, concept of womanhood.

The most important role model for me in this regard is the woman who founded my church as well as this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy. Born in the United States in 1821, she lived in what was almost exclusively a man’s world, where the opportunity for women to contribute beyond the home was mostly suppressed. They were not allowed to vote and were not generally welcome as entrepreneurs, authors, or members of the clergy.

Through her life experience and a wholehearted quest to grasp and prove the nature of God, Mrs. Eddy came to understand the status of women from a fresh perspective. She came to see that womanhood is not dependent on human organizations, but is God-bestowed and powerful. This enabled her to go against the grain of expectation for women of her time. She wrote a revolutionary book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and founded several magazines and a church in which all members are equal. Her example of overcoming limitations and prejudice shines as a beacon of light for women’s rights across the globe.

Through her dedicated study of the Bible, Mrs. Eddy came to see that both manhood and womanhood represent equally vital attributes of God, the Father and Mother of us all. She wrote: “The ideal man corresponds to creation, to intelligence, and to Truth. The ideal woman corresponds to Life and to Love” (Science and Health, p. 517). Here Truth, Life, and Love are synonyms for God. When we begin to understand that everyone is actually the spiritual image and likeness of our Father-Mother God, it becomes clear that manhood and womanhood are on completely equal footing. This enables us to more fully demonstrate unlimited abilities in our lives, individually and collectively.

Inspired by this perspective, I saw I needed to embrace my place at that ecumenical table, literally and figuratively, as representing the womanhood of God – “corresponding to Life and Love” – both for myself and because I represented the Science of the Christ as discovered and articulated by a woman.

From that point my attitude toward the group completely changed. I began mentally cherishing the other members, recognizing all of us as part of God’s family, affirming that no one is invisible or inferior, but all are needed and valued. I recognized that not only did I have a place at God’s table, but it was a place of honor.

At the next meeting, everyone remembered me warmly, and a couple of members whom I hadn’t previously met told me how much they had been looking forward to meeting me. It was a new beginning and became a fruitful collaboration over the ensuing years.

According to the Bible’s opening chapter, God made all and made it good (see Genesis 1:31). All God’s children are equally blessed. We can all be witnesses to the spiritual reality that true manhood and true womanhood, having one divine source, commingle harmoniously and productively.

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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.