"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.
With an intensity probably unknown to any other period in humanity's history a lot of energy is being invested into the mere surface of things, of events, of people. The way things look (instead of what they are), how people, events, or things are perceived (rather than truly are), and who has the best show (in times when trust among is crumbling away, this is what is left). There is a relentless appeal to the surface, the outmost layer of a physical object or space, in a speed that is breathtaking.
Depth and surface are central to debates about virtual reality, computers, and television. Depth and surface also relate to tweets and facebook, fake news and showtime, also in regard to cosmetics, body images and plastic surgery, visual impressions and contrived images, simulations and fakes. In his seminal work Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1995), Frederic Jameson investigates the "depthlessness" of postmodern culture, in particular within the art world. But it applies today, in the 21st century, to many more phenoma. There is f.e. a rapidly growing interest in virtual realities — in holographic projections, computerized games, and technologies designed to create heightened sense impressions. The emphasis seems to be on seeming and feeling, rather than on being and doing.
Interestingly the symbol of the media world is the screen - the symbol of the surface culture.
If surface is all there is, if "depth" is just another superficial layer beyond the initial surface, then nothing remains that is profound. And yet humanity's hunger for meaning is the most significant movement of thought underway in human culture.
Logic tells me there is no way that the five physical senses can ever take us beyond the surface. That is all they can touch, see, hear, smell, or taste. Sensebased knowledge is incapable of grasping something that doesn't have material parameters. It requires thinking and faith — a quiet heart — to perceive something different, something beyond the millions of layered surfaces presented by popular culture.
This "something beyond" was what Christ Jesus saw and taught. Here was someone who literally walked over water — surface — in defiance of material limitations. But as Mary Baker Eddy also noted concerning Jesus, "He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause" (Science and Health, p. 313). Jesus penetrated the surface of the material world that we call "real." He showed that there is a God who is transcendental to the human mind. She adds: "We cannot fathom the nature and quality of God's creation by diving into the shallows of mortal belief." (Science and Health, p. 292)
God's messages break through misperceptions of what is real and show us something else, the reality of Spirit and spiritual existence. In the modern age, long before our present surface culture, Mary Baker Eddy writes: "When examined in the light of divine Science, mortals present more than is detected upon the surface, since inverted thoughts and erroneous beliefs must be counterfeits of Truth. Thought is borrowed from a higher source than matter, and by reversal, errors serve as waymarks to the one Mind, in which all error disappears in celestial Truth" (Science and Health, p. 267). So do we need to believe all we see and hear? How do we get the facts - about Life, about our being?
All it takes to help forward the search for depth is a simple yearning for something beneath and beyond the surfaces of everyday life. We are being invited to dive into the dephts. And we are being asked every day by Life itself: "Hast thou walked in the search of the depth?" (38:16).
How spiritual perception healed someone who had attempted suicide you can read about here: Infinite good - the dawning and the meridian (by Allison W. Phinney)
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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