Friday, January 12, 2007

Credit where credit is due

Got an interesting email from a blog reader. It read in part:

I am bringing this topic up to you because you seem to be a well-read open-minded seeker of Truth. One thing I have noticed in visiting Christian Science sites is that Christian Scien[tists] seem on the surface to be somewhat insular when it comes to reading material.

I love some of the writings that Christian Science offers. … At the same time, though, I like other metaphysical authors. I am very eclectic myself and somewhat of a syncretist, so I like studying different sources.

Maybe this is something you would like to bring up for discussion.

And here's my edited-for-blog reply:

Thanks for your note. You make a great point.

I've observed some of that insularity myself, and in fact used to be that way. But, my own intellectual curiosity caught up with me—I love reading too much to reject anything out of hand. Truth is universal, and it finds expression in myriad diverse ways. Isn't that cool?

Sometimes it seems to me that avoiding certain reading material can sometimes betray an insecurity with one's own beliefs. Having said that, there are some authors that I do avoid because having sampled them I've found they just irritate me. But at least I sampled them!

Sometimes students of Christian Science may have a problem with a particular author because his or her work is derivative without giving Mary Baker Eddy any credit. Many now well-known authors studied Christian Science early in their careers but do not mention it in their writings. Eddy had a lot of trouble with people plagiarizing her works even in her own day, so her followers feel especially honor-bound to make sure she gets credit for her ideas.

When I read some of the literature from these other writers, I find a lot that echoes Eddy's writings but then no mention of her and her ideas. I have to admit this troubles me. I don't mind people taking the ideas and running with them in their own way, but at least give credit where credit is due.

I will definitely give this some more thought, and will probably blog about it. (Just about everything winds up on the blog!) Would love to know any further thoughts you have.

Thanks for your support and interest.... I'm so glad to know you're out there!



Thoughts, anyone? What have you read lately?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 1/12/2007 09:57:00 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

I read Richard Bach. Although he does not cite Mrs. Eddy in his novels -- and his writings are philosophical but not necessarily overtly religious -- her fingerprints are all over the thought expressed in his early books (no coincidence, since he was a Scientist).

A practitioner and teacher here in town also put me onto Henry Drummond's The Greatest Thing in the World, which is very good.

I find that other authors touch on bits and pieces of Truth here and there. Can't think of any specific examples offhand, but I run across tidbits in just about everything I read -- magazine articles, newspaper articles, blogs, etc. My practitioner is fond of movies and frequently draws parallels from different films to whatever metaphysical concept we are discussing.

At the moment, I'm rather "insular" in my reading, simply because my time is terribly fragmented, and it's hard to justify taking time away from metaphysical study to read other materials, particularly when there's so much I don't know about Science and so much of Mrs. Eddy's work I haven't had time to read. I'm sort of like the English major who never reads anything for pleasure because she's so snowed under with responsibilities that she barely has time to finish her homework. (Come to think of it, I was that English major.)

I have, however, been revisiting some favorite children's books as I shop for my new nephew, and I find a lot of wisdom in those. Sometimes I just need to be reminded of the childlike lessons of Seuss and Sendak.

At 1/12/2007 03:58:00 PM, Anonymous Carrie said...

Richard Bach is the first person I thought of when i read this post! Mostly because I've been reading Jonathan Livingston Seagul over and over recently to get me into the spiritual zone.

It's really no surprise to me that people dont site Ms. Eddy regularly, when they use these ideas, for two reasons.

First, these ideas are based in universal Truth and I can't tell you how many people I've met who have come to all the same conclusions and not even known about her writings.

The second thing is that it doesn't feel very freeing to be connected to the Christian Science society because it is kind of a strict and tight atmostphere and in this age of people distrusting all religon it's hard to communicate with that looming church presence. Often times I've talked about spiritual ideas and even managed to leave the word God out as best I could because it rubs people the wrong way.

But now as I've written about it... I dont think that mentioning Ms. Eddy really has to make the person feel like they are looking at a religion. Because what she really wrote was something like a text book on those spiritual ideas and laws.

and wouldn't anyone have to cite a text book if they used it for their own exploration and writings?

At 1/12/2007 04:56:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

hmmm....I read, and listen to, the insights and inspirations of a wide range of thought-leaders from many different traditions...religious, political, social...all spiritual...and what I am most intrigued by is how often I get caught up in what is being said (and the language that is being used in saying it) rather than the HEART of the questioning...the deep spiritual longing that it represents....this is what we have in common...not our answers...but our questions. As I sort through someone else's blog, article, book, program, speech, lecture...I try to listen for the common thread of longing, yearning, hungering that unites us...I love that Jesus said Blessed are those which do hunger and thirst...for they shall be filled...the blessing is in the hunger and thirst...I am happy to stay with the blessing and see the filling as the outpouring of gratitude...not the imparting of a is the wise who hunger..the wise who are thirsty...and never lose their longing in the midst of being filled.

that's my longing...and my gratitude...and perhaps will be the starting points for a you all ends up in a blog...

thanks laura for this question...i love you...

At 1/12/2007 07:14:00 PM, Anonymous rev. Veronika said...

This is such a good topic to bring to our attention! In one way I feel that I don't need many books any more because truth is within. Inner stillness for me is more important now than a lot of reading. Yet I also have found A Course in Miracles by not closing myself off. Had I stuck only with Science & Health a lot of wonderful inner progress would not have come about for me.
Love, Veronika

At 1/13/2007 02:00:00 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

I think the point about people getting spooked by overt discussions of religion is well-taken. I run into three issues a lot:

1. People are sometimes leery of religion if they've had run-ins with well-intentioned folks whose particular brand of Christianity involves judging, condemning, or threatening nonbelievers with hellfire and brimstone.

2. For whatever reason, a lot of people are firmly convinced that Christian Science is some kind of weird cult, and their minds snap shut and lock up tight at the very mention of Mrs. Eddy's name.

3. Some people think we worship Mrs. Eddy -- a misconception that is only reinforced if we get too carried away with the name-dropping.

I don't hide my faith, but I try to be mindful of others' feelings and respectful of their views and just meet them where they are ... so I don't hide Truth or turn away from it, but the way I present it will vary depending on the circumstances and the person I am talking to.

For instance, if someone is upset and needs prayer, I try to find some common ground -- maybe a Psalm or a line from the Sermon on the Mount -- so we are at least starting on the same page.

If, on the other hand, someone is interested in comparative religion and has a question about what I believe, we might dive right into a discussion of the theological minutiae of CS.

And on my blog, I frequently talk about Christian Science, but I try to frame it in a very accessible, comfortable way, because my readers represent a wide spectrum of faiths and backgrounds, and I want to make sure my comments to them are understood.

Mine is just a general-interest blog about what's going on in my life, and if what's going on today includes a special healing or noteworthy insight that I think somebody else might be interested in hearing about, I'll mention it. But I just try to let it happen naturally and keep the tone conversational, as it would if I were just sitting around shooting the bull with my readers.

For instance, I did a riff this evening about cleaning up after my rat terrier. It started out as kind of a helpful hint on getting stains out of carpet, but I wrote it as kind of a humor piece on strange canine (and human!) behavior, shared my housekeeping tips, and then ended up sharing a spiritual insight I'd had as I thought about what was involved, metaphysically, in cleaning up after an impetuous little dog.

I think expressions of faith have to happen naturally. You can't force them or put them in one specific framework and demand that they stay there. I used to belong to a church that had this whole "plan of salvation" thing that you were supposed to present to "unsaved" people. I never once encountered a situation where I felt that "plan of salvation" was even remotely germane to the conversation. Oddly enough, when I left the evangelical crowd and came back to Science, I found myself engaged in conversations about religion on a daily basis -- and I found I was far more comfortable having those conversations, because they happened naturally. Go figure.

At 1/14/2007 10:45:00 AM, Blogger Maria said...

I have been greatly enriched lately by reading books from faith traditions other than my own (Christian Science). Not only have some of these books really spurred my spiritual journey but they've also helped me to communicate and share my own faith with others. It is so much easier to dialogue in meaningful ways when you have a basic understanding of another's faith. I read two good books over the holidays: Rabbi Harold Kushner's exposition on "The 23rd Psalm" and "Hind's Feet on High Places," an allegory by Hannah Hunard. Kushner's book was a perfect present for Jewish friends who recently had a death in the family. My favorite part of this book was ideas on "Thou anointest my head with oil"--how each one of us is anointed by God to a special purpose. "Hind's Feet" spoke to me so personally. Like the main character, Much Afraid, I've needed to bring my personal sense of many things to the alter and change my paradigms for more spiritual views. I recommend both books. Like Veronika I too have been blessed by ideas from A Course in Miracles, while I've not read any ACIM myself, my cousin has shared some of its principles with me. ACIM's concept of a Holy Relationship has hepled me understand some of the special friendships in my life. I feel like my understanding and practice of Christian Science has been greatly strengthened by my openness to diversity of thought.

At 1/15/2007 03:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some writings that are like poison, just as there are some videos and movies and songs that are disagreeable and I avoid them. However I read fairly broadly because I'm a writer.

At 1/16/2007 11:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also love Jonathan Livingston Seagull and like to think that Mrs Eddy would be delighted that her message is being shared with millions of people who are hungry for truth. She might wonder why it's not the Christian Scientists who are reaching these people.


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