"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." These words are not potent in and of itself, but because they stem from experience and demonstration - the life of Nelson Mandela, who would have turned hundred July 18, 2018.
One of the puzzle pieces that kept Nelson Mandela alive and hopeful in prison was The Christian Science Monitor. This newspaper, founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, founded on an idea, is one of humanity's miracles of unselfishness and care. Its honest mission is to "injure no man but to bless all mankind". It breathes and stands on this idea.
In 1990, quickly after being released from 27 years of prison in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, on a visit to Boston, went to see the Church that published The Christian Science Monitor. He met one of the Readers of the Church and the Editor at that time, Richard Cattani. And this meeting was a humble and special one, unannounced --- as I heard from a friend of Cattani's who had noticed Mandela standing in front of the Publishing Building on One Norway Street in Boston's Back Bay and looking up and wondering how to get in and thank the editors for their work. A journalist working away at his desk suddenly exclaimed: "I think there is Nelson Mandela standing outside!" Read more about the Christian Science Monitor and this visit here.
July 18 also, unnoticed by many, the most recent peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea was put into practice with a flight linking the two countries which had been engaged in a brutal border war for the past twenty years. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, is behind this stunning development of reconciliation and peace, a Prime Minister who underlines the need "for a country to be built on ideas, not on division under guise of 'nations and nationalities'." Ideas!
So on board of this first commercial flight linking the two formerly war torn countries, the 315 passengers were reminded of the historic moment. On the flight families separated from loved ones sat next to dignitaries - the war is ended, the future is an open book.
Mary Baker Eddy states the most powerful idea of all:
"One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, political, and religious codes..." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340)
A wonderful visual of the family of man is in this video. Matt is dancing with humanity, you see him dancing in several African countries, too, and, very special, on Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned 18 of his 27 years, the island which was reached by The Christian Science Monitor, delivering its message of the unconditional meaning and promise of man, based on an idea. The idea of "One infinite God, good...". Robben Island.
October 31, 1517, the monk and university professor Martin Luther marched up to the castle church in Wittenberg, with a piece of paper, a few nails and a hammer, and posted 95 theses at the door. What was intended to start a theological disputation lit the flame of the reformation, the split between the catholic and protestant churches. It changed the world forever - it not only changed the landscape of Europe, leaving millions dead, it also pushed open the door for the modern age, moved forward the freedom of conscience, the respect for learning --- and, for many people most importantly, put the Bible into the hands of the people. Luther who had been excommunicated for challenging the authority of the Roman-catholic church, was hid until march 1522 in the Wartburg, where he translated the New Testament into German - into the vernacular, the language people spoke in their homes, on the market, in the field. When the first edition was printed in 1522, the 3000 copies were sold in three days, and Luther saw the 1 millionth copy sold before he died in 1546. Although this was not the first translation into any vernacular, it was his Bible which broke the walls of translation in western Europe, and once this wall was down, the Bible was no longer the privilege for the clergy. It was the people's book. And with this empowerment of the individual the world was never the same.
In Germany, this translation was continually revised in a respectful way to keep up with the intention to have a book that speaks a language people can understand. The most recent Luther Bible, used in all protestant churches, is a revision of the most recent years - and is still called the Luther Bible. The newest revision, as it was published by the editorial board, is so fresh because it went back to the original in many places.
It seems to me that all true reformative movements don't start with strategy but with fearlessness and one very good question. Luther is reported as saying, that he was looking for a God he could love. Authentic fearlessness comes from a deep love, a link to conscience, to true understanding. You never desert what you truly love. Once you have reached this place in your own heart, the world is no longer a match. Luther's fearless trust in the Biblical message led not only to reformed Christianity, it also opened his life to several healings, and you can read about some of them here.
I have been pondering fearlessness and courage as a golden thread running through Luther's life, and this thread is evident in quotes from his many theological writings, sermons, and notes from his "table talks". They ring true today.
Here are some of Luther's sayings:
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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