Giants (aka mighty dual-ism)

October 26, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

Do we ever feel like grasshoppers compared to our big government, big banks, big pharma, or any other big problems that we might encounter? What is the symbolism of these giant mixtures of good and evil, the semi-metaphysical, the semi-pure?  Mingling material and spiritual may lead to “mighty” conflicts in our life; and pardon the pun, some mighty dual-ism (duel-ism).

We’ve all heard about Goliath, but were there other giants in the Bible? Remember the giants who scared the children of Israel away from the Promised Land?  Have you heard of the famous Og, the king of Bashan, whose 13 foot long iron bed became a tourist attraction in Ammon?  What about the four sons of the giant in Gath, all of whom were killed by King David’s family and servants?

I remember in Sunday School wondering about those “five smooth stones” David selected from a brook before battling Goliath. He only used one stone, so what purpose were the others? Then in preparing these readings, I discovered there were four more giants which adds up to five giants conquered by five weapons of truth (or stones or swords). That is a very cool connection for a precocious Sunday School class!

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes of the five erroneous postulates and of the five physical senses as the basis of pantheism. Pantheism is defined in the Webster 1828 Dictionary as “the doctrine that the universe is God”; a contemporary definition is that the Universe and God are identical. According to the son of science educator Carl Sagan: “My father believed in the God of Spinoza and Einstein, God not behind nature, but as nature, equivalent to it” (Pantheism in Wikipedia).

I have a much better understanding of this subject in Christian Science after reading this article by Helen Wood Bauman:

The denial of error is essential in the healing method of Christian Science. And the basic claim of error, or mortal mind, the claim that needs the most thorough and emphatic denial, is pantheism—the belief that life and intelligence arise from and depend upon matter. Until this belief, which is so deeply embedded in human thought, is understood as unreal, as sheer delusion, the healing of sickness and sin is likely to be protracted or unfinished. . . .

Mary Baker Eddy denied again and again the belief of pantheism. In fact, she made the first sentence in the vastly important “scientific statement of being” such a denial. This statement is found on page 468 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and the beginning sentence reads, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.”

To believe that the use of this first sentence should be avoided in the practice of Christian healing is to believe that one of the most powerful arguments in such healing should be discarded. The importance of this denial of pantheism is shown in the position it is given in “the scientific statement of being.” One sometimes hears that it is wrong to use this first sentence at the time of the birth of a child. Nothing could be farther from the fact. One who denies pantheism for the new infant is starting him off in human life with a definite release from the binding error that he is dependent upon flesh for his life, his substance, and his intelligence. (The Denial of Error” by Helen Wood Bauman, from the December 21, 1963 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel).

Wow! I had never thought about the Scientific Statement of Being as such a powerful denial of pantheism and what a reminder that the child we see physically is never the child that God sees. That is definitely a blow to error — the fire melting the frost.

On page 269 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy capitalized Pandemonium, which is the demon-filled capital of hell in John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost. (Yes, Mrs. Eddy has other quotes from Paradise Lost, and I’ve included a painting of Pandemonium on the research page.)

Here is some research on the Rephaim or giants:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

REPHAIM

ref’-a-im, re-fa’-im (repha’-im, from rapha’, “a terrible one “hence “giant,” in 1 Chronicles 20:4, . . ., “sons of the giant”; the King James Version, Rephaims): A race of aboriginal or early inhabitants East of the Jordan in Ashterothkarnaim (Genesis 14:5) and in the valley of Rephaim Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8). They associated with other giant races, as the Emim and Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:10, 11) and the Zamzummim (Deuteronomy 2:20). It is probable that they were all of the same stock, being given different names by the different tribes who came in contact with them. The same Hebrew word is rendered “the dead,” or “the shades” in various passages . . . In these instances the word is derived from rapheh, “weak,” “powerless,” “a shadow” or “shade.”

http://biblehub.com/topical/r/rephaim.htm

REPHAIM, VALE OF

. . . This was a fertile vale (Isaiah 17:5), to the Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; the King James Version “Valley of the Giants”), on the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here David repeatedly defeated the invading Philistines (2 Samuel 5:18, 22; 2 Samuel 23:13 1 Chronicles 11:15; 1 Chronicles 14:9). It is located by Josephus between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Ant., VII, iv, i; xii, 4). It corresponds to the modern el-Biqa`, which falls away to the Southwest from the lip of the valley of Hinnom. The name in ancient times may perhaps have covered a larger area, including practically all the land between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the head-waters of Nahr Ruben are collected.  Click here for a good map:

http://bibleatlas.org/valley_of_rephaim.htm

So, David as a shepherd boy was in a land of giants. No wonder he needed to be prepared with five stones!

The mingling of material and spiritual left the Israelites with an illusion of giant problems. Yet, God multiplied the Hebrews after a generation in the wilderness so that they could cast out the giants when they finally entered the Promised Land; and David’s government matured to conquer the remaining giants roaming his kingdom. With the Christ (Caleb/Judah) and the Comforter (Joshua/Ephraim), we cannot fail to fulfill the promise!

“Elect Angels”

October 19, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

Don’t you love the title of this Wednesday’s readings? It is a quote from I Timothy 5:21, and it makes me think differently about this presidential election.  I’ve included a poem and some Sentinel articles on the research page which are also very helpful for these elections. Here is John Randall Dunn’s definition of “God’s elect”:

Who are the elect but they who elect to think rightly—to reflect God, Love, Principle? The right thinkers, those who elect and strive to be spiritually-minded, are therefore the hope of the race. Theirs is the privilege of uncovering and annulling the secret efforts of mental suggestion to befuddle and control thought, to keep in darkness through mass hypnotism men and nations. It is their privilege and duty to halt mortal mind outrages and atrocities through the understanding that the Lord God omnipotent reigns, and that there is no Mind but His; to know that Love is and cold barbarism is not; to know that God’s kingdom, the reign of harmonious being, is come, and that evil, war, hate, greed, misunderstandings, minds many, and all the etceteras of hell and suppositional demons, are nought but phantoms of the night, and therefore are not happening in the realm of Truth. (“Look up, and lift up your heads,” by John Randall Dunn from the April 20, 1940 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

I also appreciated this article on “Saying goodbye” which was addressing the sadness of divorces, moving on, passing on, but which could also apply to the time after an election when a preferred candidate doesn’t win. James Robert Blunt wrote:

Pray over relationships until you can honestly give everyone his or her proper name: God’s elect, His very own child, image, likeness, or idea. Nothing can impede our spiritual progress—not even our own or others’ false classifications. Mrs. Eddy clearly spells out the requirements for all healing in this concise statement: “To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science.” (“Saying goodbye,” by James Robert Blunt from the September 20, 1982 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

The Second Epistle of John is dedicated to the “elect lady.” No, I am not predicting an election outcome; “elect lady” is a reference to a local church. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 2146)

At the end of the readings are some of Mrs. Eddy’s prayers about government found in Prose Works. There have also been some helpful short podcasts (under 10 minutes) on Sentinel Watch about prayerfully supporting the upcoming elections and which you may access here:

http://sentinel.christianscience.com/sentinel-audio/sentinel-watch

I would love to hear your angel-messages on this topic. Please share online (via the reply button) or in person at our Wednesday meeting.

Help Meets

October 12, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

These Bible readings were selected last week — before the emotions unleashed over the past few days. When I was preparing these readings, I was tempted to skip over three obscure verses in Exodus because of the raw anger expressed in that story, yet that “hardness of heart” is so timely, how can I leave it out? Now back to the blog I had written originally.

———

Mary Baker Eddy quoted this poem in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection:

Ask God to give thee skill

In comfort’s art:

That thou may’st consecrated be

And set apart

Unto a life of sympathy.

For heavy is the weight of ill

In every heart;

And comforters are needed much

Of Christlike touch. (Ret. 95:4)

Who are our comforters? Who are our help meets? Is it our spouses, our family, our friends, communing with nature, good laws, the judicial system, a Good Samaritan?

The Bible always seems so conflicted about women — are we help meets or not?  These three verses in Exodus (Ex. 4:24-26) truly highlight how differently Bible scholars will characterize women. (When I told my husband about these verses, he complained, “I don’t hear Joel Osteen talking about that!” Yes, the events are gory, but the subject is really about interfaith marriages, divorce, hardness of heart, and the role of women as helpers or hinderances.)

In summary, the male Hebrews in Egypt were all identifiable due to the covenant of circumcision, yet at least one of Moses’ sons born in Midian was not circumcised. On the way to Egypt, Zipporah, the pagan daughter of a priest, performed the ritual, which apparently saved Moses’ life as the Lord “met him and sought to kill him.” Zipporah and sons were then sent away, so she becomes either a divorced ungodly character or an heroine, depending on which commentator you read. For example, here is the traditional view from a commentary on Bible Gateway:

Zipporah, as a woman of Midian, did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband who found himself acting against the sacred tradition of Israel. This may be one reason why he named his second son Eliezer, meaning “The Lord of my father was my help.” To keep the peace, Moses compromised with his unbelieving wife and withheld circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant, from Eliezer. The Lord intervened, and as a sign of divine displeasure, Moses is stricken with a mortal disease. Both Zipporah and Moses became conscience-stricken over the profanation of God’s covenant, and Zipporah yields. Moses is too prostrate to take a knife and circumcize the child, so his wife severed the boy’s foreskin and, throwing it down before Moses said, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.”

When Moses was restored to health, relations in the home were not congenial, for he went on alone to Egypt, and Zipporah and the two sons went back to her home in Midian. Of this unhappy incident, Alexander Whyte says, “There are three most obscure and most mysterious verses in Moses’ history that mean, if they mean anything at all to us, just such an explosion of ill-temper as must have left its mark till death on the heart of Moses and Zipporah…When Moses became the mighty leader and law-giver of Israel, there was the episode when Jethro, his father-in-law came out to the wilderness to see Moses and brought with him Zipporah and the two sons. The union was devoid of any restraint for Moses graciously received them and neither disowned nor ignored his wife and sons. But after this visit during which Jethro gave his over-burdened son-in-law some very practical advice, nothing more is said of Zipporah. She disappears without comment from the history of the Jewish people in which her husband figured so prominently. “Neither as the wife of her husband nor as the mother of her children did she leave behind her a legacy of spiritual riches.” How different it would have been if only she had fully shared her husband’s unusual meekness and godliness and, like him, left behind footprints in the sands of time! https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Zipporah

Now, here is a more contemporary spin from U. S. News:

Zipporah plays more than a supporting role in the future of the Israelites. … Moses is at risk of losing his life, except for the intervention of Zipporah. The entire fate of Israel rests with her. She, the pagan daughter of a priest, stood up to God….

The story may also be saying that marriage to foreigners can be a good idea and work out well and that, within the family structure, women may be more active in the religious sphere than men. …

A new novel, Zipporah, Wife of Moses, by Marek Halter, puts a fictionalized spin on Zipporah by making her the “Cushite” or Ethiopian wife of Moses. Halter portrays Zipporah as a proud, black-skinned woman who refuses to marry Moses, even after bearing his two sons, until he accepts God’s mission to lead his people out of slavery. In this version, it’s Zipporah who changes the destiny of Moses and his people. “Zipporah is black, and a foreigner, and she poses the problem of how we relate to the other,” says Halter. “Moses is ignorant, so Zipporah becomes his principal adviser.” Zipporah, the outsider with black skin, helps Moses fulfill his destiny as a liberator of the enslaved.

http://www.usnews.com/news/religion/articles/2008/01/25/zipporah-may-be-obscure-but-the-wife-of-moses-mattered

Who do you think was the real Zipporah? And was Moses’ severed relationship with Zipporah the “hardness of heart” that Jesus referred to when the Pharisees asked about Moses’ law of divorce?

If we are to be as merciful as the Good Samaritan, helping strangers; then what kind of help meets should we be for our spouses, our closest friends? What about relatives, fellow church members, friends, and others? First, Moses’ wife was his help meet, and later he relied on assistants under the advice of his father-in-law. But really God was always his Help Meet and Comforter, his ever friend whom he knew “face to face.”

Does Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, remind you of a type of Melchizedek? According to my Wikipedia search, Jethro was a “revered chief prophet in the Druze religion.  The Druze believe Jethro was a ‘hidden’ and ‘true prophet’ who communicated directly with God and then passed on that knowledge to Moses.” What an example Jethro provides of hospitality and Universal Love everywhere, undivorced from truth!

Here are some Bible notes:

Exodus 2:15 – Midian, probably in northwest Arabia. The Midianites, said to be descendants of Abraham and Keturah (Gen 25:2), were caravans whose routes stretched across Sinai to southern Palestine. Moses meets his future wife at a well, a pattern appearing in the stories of Rebekah (Gen 24) and Rachel (Gen 29).

Exodus 2:16 – Seven daughters, making a total of twelve female figures featured in the life of Moses, the deliverer of the twelve tribes.

Exodus 4:20 – Moses’ staff, which he used as a shepherd, has now become the staff of God, the instrument through which he and Aaron exert divine power. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pages 84, 85, 88)

David and Absalom – In the House of Love forever

October 5th, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

This Wednesday, we are finishing our series on King David, including finding some of David’s connections with the New Testament and with our textbook, Science and Health.  Have you noticed that Mrs. Eddy begins and ends the text of her book with a shepherd (p. vii) and a Psalm (p. 578)?  Throughout the triumphs and trials of his kingdom, David continued to sing his psalms of mercy and joy in the Lord — a joy that wasn’t the result of a supply of wants, but a joy having its source in God Himself.

Here are some Bible notes:

II Samuel 19:20 – House of Joseph, the northern tribes, Israel, as opposed to Judah.

II Samuel 19:25-30 – Ziba had accused Mephibosheth of plotting to take the throne. Mephibosheth here defends himself, saying that Ziba refused to help him to flee with David, and he could not leave on his own accord because of his physical condition. David’s decision indicates that he does not know which of them is telling the truth. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 474.)

Who do you think was telling the truth — Ziba, the servant; or Mephibosheth, the grandson of the anointed King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin? David told them to divide the land between them.  Did young King Solomon use a similar strategy when faced with two women — both claiming to be the mother of the same baby? If the true mother wouldn’t let Solomon divide the baby, then who might be the rightful owner of Saul’s land?   (I didn’t find this comparison in any commentary, although most scholars believe Mephibosheth’s affection was for his master, not for his property.)

Did a New Testament Saul, also from the tribe of Benjamin, originally choose the side that persecuted the Anointed One? Did this Saul let a “thorn in his side” stop him from claiming his place at the King’s table?  (The Bible doesn’t state exactly what Paul’s thorn was — some commentators think it might have been something physical such as poor eyesight; others think it was a strictly emotional battle over guilt which is why he writes so much on grace.)

We need the enthusiastic Pauls in our midst. Paul knew no borders in his outreach — geographic or cultural or religious. In my Bible study, I have really begun to see Paul as a symbol of the Comforter because, despite the thorn in his side, he was always “earnestly striving” to give birth to the real spiritual man. I think having that grace to see the real man in yourself and others is the true “primitive Christianity” desired in our Manual of The Mother Church (page 17).

Does anyone have anything to share from our study of David? There is a “leave a reply” link at the bottom of this blog, so I’d love to receive a response from those who have been reading along!