Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Q: How to handle rebukers (part 2)

Warning: This blog entry gets a little scrappy.

Interestingly, yesterday's question didn't release the firestorm of comments I thought it would. It almost seems like, at least for readers of my blog, the answer is obvious. You'd respond the same way you would whenever someone's rude to you—try to be gracious in return.

I happened to be on the phone with a friend of mine who reads my blog, and she said, "I just couldn't answer that question because it's such b.s." By this she meant there was no issue there for her at all—it was just obvious to her that what the person did was rude by any definition.

And I have to agree. That's my honest response as well. I don't care how experienced or professional a Christian Scientist you are, you do not have the license to rebuke others at will. It's simply a breach of good manners. I think if Mary Baker Eddy had ever caught her students rebuking each other indiscriminately, she'd have had a few immediate rebukes for them.

Many of us have had experiences like this. I remember once when I gave a testimony that for me was truly heartfelt in a church where I was new, a member came up to me afterward and said, "Your comments would have been more effective if you'd not said 'you know' so often while speaking." After a stunned moment, like yesterday's questioner, I just said, "Thank you for your input," and left it at that.

So now I'd just like to say to these self-appointed correcters: Cut it out. Love first. Get to know me before offering any input. If you're perceiving some error in me, overcome it in your own thinking and leave me out of it. If you haven't taken the time to find out where I am on my spiritual journey, you're probably not qualified to have an opinion.

I'll end with this from MBE:

Any exception to the old wholesome rule, "Mind your own business," is rare.

--Miscellaneous Writings p. 283

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 4/25/2007 10:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the original old lady rebuked the "error", not the person, so where's the beef? I was in a church meeting last nite and got a bit testy over something, and would have welcomed someone rebuking that error, so I turned to my wife and a neighbor and said I'm impatient" over what was happening, and the neighbor said, "You must be patient," so I was.

As for frequent "you knows," they're as bad as "errs and uhs" in giving testimonies or in communicating any kind of information: they waste time and detract thought from what the speaker is trying to say. We have a member who does it often in her testimonies and I often am puzzled as to what her testimony was really about.

At 4/25/2007 11:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is possible to "rebuke error" silently, strongly and in your own thought. Unless the other person has asked for your input, then I think there is a danger that "rebuking error" may come accross as unsolicited criticism. Even if someone has asked for your help, or if you are doing it out of love, I still think there are ways of rebuking error strongly without being rude or tactless. Obviously if it was an emergency then tact is not so important. It might be excusable to grab someone's arm hard if you were preventing them from walking under a bus, but if you just grabbed their arm roughly gratuitously, then it would be unacceptable.
Mrs Eddy makes this point about unsolicited treatment in her writings (Mis p283) and while "rebuking error" is perhaps not giving someone unsolicited mental treatment, I think perhaps it falls into that category and should not be done unsolicited except in an emergency or by a close friend in a very tactful, loving and non-invasive fashion. (And always in accordance with the Golden Rule)

At 4/25/2007 02:13:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Thanks Laura for echoing my own response...I love "minding my own business" and letting God be the Mind in everyone else's...even when I am praying with someone my most basisc prayer is "Open Thou their eyes that they may see You in every detail of their lives...governing, unfolding, celebrating, rejoicing in the All-in-allness of Your being."

all love, Kate

At 4/25/2007 03:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I would have told the old broad to drop dead! Not really!! In deference to her seniority and good intentions, I think a warm smile and a polite “Thank you” would probably be a good response.

I believe this incident is indicative of a larger problem that has really hampered the Christian Science Movement. It seems to me that at many (if not most) branch churches, there is handful of individuals who have appointed themselves as the arbiters of Truth to their fellow members. You know (oh, there’s that dreaded “you know” again!), the folks who will give a testimony immediately after someone else’s (either to “one up” the previous testimony or “correct” the other person’s faulty statement of the letter of Christian Science); the folks who try to position themselves as having “arrived” metaphysically and whose opinions therefore carry more weight than anyone else’s when it comes to church business; the folks who would try to define for the rest of us how a “real” Christian Scientist should live and practice his religion. And, sadly, many church members are willing to go along with this nonsense and let someone else lead them around by the nose. It recently occurred to me that I have only one Leader when it comes to Christian Science, and that I’m perfectly willing to take her at her word. When she says that Science and Health provides a “full statement” of Christian Science, she means it. I don’t need someone else to interpret it for me. Of course, I’m grateful for CS teachers and practitioners, the editors and writers in our periodicals, etc. Their dedication is undeniable. But at the end of the day, each of us has the capacity to know and understand the truth directly from its source.

Thanks, Laura, for your great website. I’m sorry to vent a bit on this issue. I’d be interested to know what you and your readers think about it.

At 4/25/2007 06:11:00 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

I think on any given day, any one of us could fall into either of the categories mentioned by Anonymous above -- and often without realizing it or meaning anything by it.

Individuality is a two-edged sword: It's great to see all the different forms that Love's reflection takes, but sometimes -- especially where those forms differ from our own experiences or expectations -- it's easy to misinterpret them. And of course mortal mind LOVES to take advantage of this and use it to drive wedges between us or provoke us to anger. At those moments when we slip up and forget who we are for just a minute, it's even worse -- all of us make mistakes, and when we do, it's often like pouring gasoline on a fire, particularly if the person we've offended responds in a less than loving fashion.

At the end of the day, we can't control what others do. All we can control is how we respond. The challenge is to keep mortal mind sufficiently at bay so we can respond with Love in every situation.


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