Christian Science and World Conditions
One of the great failings of the human mind is its tendency to procrastinate. And nowhere, perhaps, is this tendency, at times, more noticeable than amongst Christian Scientists. Outside of Christian Science a certain amount of procrastination, and a very large amount, is deemed to be the better part of wisdom. The world is taught to acquiesce in the postponement of good and to regard any suggestion that anything but the most limited progress is attainable as something very like presumption. And so when the human mind is confronted with the absolute teachings of Christian Science it immediately begins to contrive a way whereby it can indulge its failings.
The beginner in the study of Christian Science would postpone the day when he shall go out and heal the sick until such time as he shall “have a better understanding,” or until he shall have “made a demonstration” upon which he has set his hopes, or until his circumstances are different. He unconsciously almost sets limits to the extent to which he will apply his understanding of Truth, not so much from any lack of faith as from a belief that “the time has not yet come” for doing certain things. First he will “make his own demonstration,” then, perhaps, he will “take a few cases,” and then perhaps, later on, in the very indefinite future, when he has attained much spirituality he will “work over world conditions.” For the present, he is willing to leave these things to “advanced Scientists,” grateful, of course, that the work should be done, having no doubt that it is effective, but quite satisfied that nothing of the kind is as yet required of him.
Now the fact is, of course, that in such a series of declarations, and they are made every day, no trace of a real understanding of Christian Science is discernable. It is the truth that heals. The student of Christian Science has no more to do with the actual healing than has the student of mathematics with the righting of a wrong in a mathematical problem. Thus, in an often quoted passage in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, on pages 96 and 97 Mrs. Eddy writes: “During this final conflict, wicked minds will endeavor to find means by which to accomplish more evil; but those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection.”
This duty and privilege, therefore, is laid upon all who “discern Christian Science,” and it is a duty and privilege of which there is a very urgent need that it should be undertaken much more earnestly, persistently, and faithfully than it is. No one who has discerned even the faintest glimmer of the great truths of Christian Science can fail to see that the world is rapidly coming to the end of its resources in the matter of solving its problems. Old formulas are being abandoned, for the simple reason that they will no longer work; and steadily, as the weeks and months pass, as the light of publicity is shed on methods of government, methods of industry, the methods of carrying on almost all kinds of human affairs, men and women everywhere are beginning to view with some dismay the task which clearly lies before the world, in the direction of purification, before any permanent improvement can be looked for.
“The power behind all government is a spiritual power, and that unless this power can be called to the aid of government no real government exists.”
The reason for this dismay is not far to seek. It arises chiefly from the realization that no amount of human safeguarding can be counted upon as adequate protection. Treaties, laws, regulations, are at last being found to depend for the effectiveness on the determination of at least some party to them to be faithful to his understanding of Principle. Given this, every treaty, law, and regulation will ultimately be enforced. Without it no such enforcement can ever permanently obtain. “Given good will,” said a well-known statesman some time ago, during a time of great stress and strife in the affairs of his country, “and everything is possible. Without good will we can accomplish nothing.”
Briefly then, what the world is rapidly being forced to see is that the power behind all government is a spiritual power, and that unless this power can be called to the aid of government no real government exists. To be sure of this, only the most cursory view of world conditions is necessary. At the present moment, the world seems to be divided more clearly than ever before into two great camps, those that have and those that have not, and the line of demarcation is so clear-cut that something very like a wall is built up between them. In what is called normal times, there is a constant flow, back and forth, between these two camps, but in these days, such is the mortal view of the matter, those that have not are too poor to buy from those who have, and those who have are too fearful of losing that which they have to come very definitely to their aid. A situation representing something very like a deadlock obtains, and for its relief all manner of palliatives are devised, but so far no remedy. Why? For the very simple reason that the cause of the trouble has never been fully probed and recognized. “Marvels, calamities, and sin will much more abound,” writes Mrs. Eddy on page 223 of Science and Health, “as truth urges upon mortals its resisted claims; but the awful daring of sin destroys sin, and foreshadows the triumph of truth. God will overturn until ‘He come whose right it is.’ Longevity is increasing and the power of sin diminishing, for the world feels the alterative effect of truth through every pore.”
Here then is the light on the subject that is needed. The world to-day is not the same world that it was before the discovery of Christian Science. More and more, as the years go by, the world is living under the pressure of Truth. In other words, the human mind is being forced, more and more, into a recognition of its own nothingness. It still rides the ass of its old aims, desires, and ambitions, but ever more frequently is the ass being forced into a narrow place and the human mind compelled to look up, and see the angel. In other words, the world has quite definitely reached the point when it is no longer capable of the delusion of a purely material harmony, and its only, but all-sufficient, hope lies in a recognition of spiritual harmony. The time for real thinkers has in fact come, and the call to thinkers to take charge of the world’s affairs is imperative.
“The true thinker knows that the powers that be, whether in trade, in industry, or in any other concern of everyday life can only carry out the purpose and designs of Principle.”
True thinkers, then, those who are thinking in accord with Principle,—and no others are true thinkers,—must take charge of the world’s economic situation. They must take charge of the armament situation, of the coal situation, of the oil situation, of every other situation, national or international, calling for settlement or readjustment. “The powers that be,” declares Paul in his epistle to the Romans, “are ordained of God.” In other words, the true powers that be are forever acting in accord with Principle. It is the province of the true thinker to determine whether the manifestation of that activity in human affairs shall be the real or the counterfeit. Even to Pilate, on the verge of committing one of the greatest crimes in history, Jesus said, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” And so the true thinker knows that the powers that be, whether in trade, in industry, or in any other concern of everyday life can only carry out the purpose and designs of Principle. Christian Scientists hold the key to the Scriptures, and therefore the key to life in all its manifestations. They are in possession of the great solution and the great discovery for which the world has so long been waiting. “For I tell you,” said Jesus to his disciples, “that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Of those things of which Jesus spoke, Christian Science is the full explanation.
In his book “Memoirs of a Revolutionist,” Kropotkin has a passage curiously illuminating in this connection. “There are not many joys in human life,” he says, “equal to the joy of the sudden birth of a generalization, illuminating the mind after a long period of patient research. What has seemed for years so chaotic, so contradictory, and so problematic takes at once its proper position within a harmonious whole. . . . And when the generalization is put to a test, by applying it to hundreds of separate facts which had seemed to be hopelessly contradictory the moment before, each of them assumes its due position. . . . He who has once in his life experienced this joy of scientific creation will never forget it; he will be longing to renew it; and he cannot but feel with pain that this sort of happiness is the lot of so few of us, while so many could also live through it—on a small or a grand scale—if scientific methods and leisure were not limited to a handful of men.”
This joy which Kropotkin experienced, in one small department of human knowledge, is infinitely available to the whole world through Christian Science. Whatever, in world conditions or in any other conditions, seems chaotic, contradictory, or problematic does, at once, in the light of Christian Science, take “its proper position within a harmonious whole.” This great truth will be seen ultimately, anyhow, by all people, but the great privilege and duty of every Christian Scientist is to hasten His kingdom. Thus in Article VIII, Section 4, of the Church Manual Mrs. Eddy writes, “It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to pray each day: ‘Thy kingdom come;’ let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!” Any study of Mrs. Eddy’s writings, indeed, reveals the fact that on this question of praying for the world, as prayer is understood in Christian Science, she was quite emphatic. No one has recognized more clearly than did Mrs. Eddy that there were no limits to the efficacy of such prayer. To her March primary class in 1889, as recorded on page 279 of Miscellaneous Writings, she said: “We, to-day, in this class-room, are enough to convert the world if we are of one Mind; for then the whole world will feel the influence of this Mind; as when the earth was without form, and Mind spake and form appeared.”
“Whatever, in world conditions or in any other conditions, seems chaotic, contradictory, or problematic does, at once, in the light of Christian Science, take ‘its proper position within a harmonious whole.’ ”
Such prayer for the world, to be effective, however, must be ever accompanied by an earnest, alert interest in the world conditions. The true Christian Scientist is tremendously in the world, although he is not of it. He is forever translating things into thoughts, and forever fearlessly and masterfully examining situations. He is not disheartened by the appearance of sin and deceit, fraud and selfishness. He simply takes charge of the situation when he is confronted by any one or all of them. Nothing escapes him, and he never allows a human bias or a human opinion to intrude, for one instant, into that clear discernment which is his heritage as the image and likeness of infinite wisdom. He not only prays, “Thy kingdom come,” he understands that it is come. He stands determined, to the utmost that he is able, to demonstrate the truth of what he understands, not only in his own affairs, but in the affairs of his country and of the world. He is neither betrayed into undue haste, nor tempted to delay, for he understands, at least in a measure, the great truth embodied in this statement on page 565 of Science and Health: “The impersonation of the spiritual idea had a brief history in the earthly life of our Master; but ‘of his kingdom there shall be no end,’ for Christ, God’s idea, will eventually rule all nations and peoples—imperatively, absolutely, finally—with divine Science.”
(Originally published in the May, 1921 Christian Science Journal)
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