Monthly I attend an interfaith clergy association. Yesterday, that group had planned to discuss ways to reduce polarity, so all the way driving over there I thought about it. However, one of the clergy members had a recent suicide among their congregation, and the meeting took another turn to address that topic. Driving the home, these thoughts about reducing polarity were still swirling around, so I decided to set them down in this blog post.
These are not final, well formed ideas, rather just initial reactions to the topic that could be better fleshed out in community. But since the question topic was couched in what my “faith tradition” had to bring to bear on the topic of reducing polarity, I realized Christian Scientists have a needed perspective for addressing this pressing need in our society.
So here goes, in no particular order:
- The Bible says the “carnal mind is enmity” but “to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6-7) It seems to me that sourcing our thinking from a limited sense, or mortal mind perspective, is guaranteed to be a problem, whereas coming together around the one, infinite divine Mind which is God–that we all share– would erase those difficulties.
- Christian Scientists take the “inspired word of the Bible as their sufficient guide to eternal life.” This spiritual sense of the Bible is importantly not literal. It is not open to only one interpretation, which leaves room for perspective. In our family, we use the example of a salt and pepper shaker set on the table between two people sitting across from one another. The question is, is the salt on the right or left of the pepper? Depending on where you are sitting, your answer will be different, and you’ll both be correct. Another day, you might be sitting somewhere else, and your answer will be contrary to that previous steadfast assertion. Right and wrong cannot be based on immovable dogma or doctrine, but needs to be more fluid based on perspective. This doesn’t mean there is no law. But with divine Love as the common, agreed upon baseline, even those on different sides of the table are unified.
- The body of Christ is one in Mind and Spirit, but the right-footed Christians see and do things differently than the left-handed Christians. The body of Christ needs both to do their thing to be whole. Just because someone sees or thinks or acts differently, doesn’t mean one of you must be wrong.
- Where are you getting your information? The divine Mind is the most reliable source. Humanly, however, I’m thinking of a concept in homeschooling called “teaching with living books.” Instead of having our kids learn with textbooks, which are vetted and neutered by a committee to not offend anyone (but also be less interesting), we used “living books” that were written by one person from one perspective. They read multiple books on Abraham Lincoln, for example, and noticed that they all said different things. This led them to have to assess for themselves what they thought, instead of just learning empirical “facts.” These days, I see many news networks acting like textbook authors, deciding on how information will be spun. They previously digest the news, but if you took in all the raw impressions, you might not come up with the same conclusions that they summarize. Instead, read books and blogs, listen to podcasts and Youtube, cobbling together a cross section of thought out there, then taking that to prayer to discern what you think. And don’t listen only to those you know you already agree with. Take in a broad swatch, to actually thoughtfully understand things from a wider perspective.
- Listen with compassion. One of Stephen Covey’s habits of highly successful people is to first seek to understand, then to be understood. Most people listen with their thought focused on what they are going to say next. That is not the Golden Rule, and not how you want them to listen to you. I remember watching my (Christian Scientist) husband and my (fundamentalist) brother-in-law talk about the Bible, each sputtering and red in the face trying to be heard by the other who was just escalating in defensiveness. This went on for years. At some point, they actually started listening to each other in earnest. Now they can’t wait to talk with each other, excited by the exchange ideas. I think the turning point came when they appreciated the mutual passion they both felt for the Gospel, which was more important and more in common, than their different theological positions. Always as God’s children, what we have in common outweighs our differences. And what we have in common always comes down to divine Love. Yes, Love talks, but divine Love gave us two ears and only one mouth, to listen twice as much as we talk.
- “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need,” is a favorite quote by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. It seems to me that so many of our divisions are based on fears that our needs will not be met. If we could all agree on a baseline of unconflicting, met needs, defensive bickering and polarity would evaporate. God meets everyone’s need, with no hierarchy or preferential treatment, so lets start looking together for how that is to happen.
- Polarization stems also from a world belief that we know one thing by its opposite. Like with yin/yang, good/bad, light/dark, it can seem that way. But we are promised that the kingdom of God is “within you” and “at hand.” In the kingdom of God, there is no bad, only good, no darkness, only light, no fear, only love, no lack, only abundance. Infinite, ever-present, all-powerful good/light/love/abundance obliterate their opposites. Jesus’ mission was to get us to choose to live out from that kingdom of heaven consciousness here and now. In that place there is only harmony, togetherness, peace, and no one is afraid, separated, or left out.
- “As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being.” This is another Mary Baker Eddy quote (SH 361:16–18). What is polarity in the face of all-powerful at-one-ment?
- As we enjoy this unity, may we also embrace our essential authenticity. Each of us needs to be respected as God’s highest and best idea. We each have a unique combination of qualities and attributes to bring to bear that are essential for the survival of the race. Remember that because (inherently!) yours is different than mine does not mean necessarily that either of us is wrong! Collectively, we accrue to the fulness of God’s idea of completeness, and every authentic, loving perspective, facet, and voice is needed and precious for that. So can we please stop bickering and start appreciating what each of us bring to the table?
- Also, you may want to read this former newspaper article I wrote about Uncontentious Elections, which is highlighted from a Christian Science church perspective.
Hope this was helpful. Feel free to share what you have say on this subject in the comments.
I must have been in the car with you yesterday. I spent the better part of the day mulling over the dispensing of news we receive from “credible”sources. I was focusing on the irony of” free speech” as a dogma of our society – yet how controlled by outside influences most media outlets actually are. And I worry this is further splitting our country apart.
No simple soultions
Beautifully thought out and expressed. Thank you, Polly.