Reaching beyond resistance
Lifelong civil rights activist Sallie Letterlough recently shared with me her great appreciation of Martin Luther King, Jr. At the same time, she reminded me that the civil rights leader wasn’t as popular among his fellow Blacks when he was alive. Many felt his nonviolent approach was too restrained.
Yet within two years of the March on Washington, where King spontaneously shared his “I Have a Dream” vision, segregated public facilities and discriminatory employment and voting practices were outlawed in the United States.
Looking back on that march as we prepared for a Sentinel Watch podcast interview, Sallie recalled the civil rights movement during King’s era as embracing what she called “the most compelling of ideas for all people, love.” She said, “As a Christian—a student of Christian Science—I understand this from the teachings of Christ Jesus: that the greatest commandment in the law is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and that “the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39, Christian Standard Bible). As a people, we are in the process of practicing and demonstrating this old/new idea in all phases of life, including making progress in overcoming ‘systemic racism.’ ” Sallie also quoted a phrase from Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, saying that new ideas aren’t necessarily “speedily understood” (p. vii).
This phrase in Science and Health points in particular to the “new thoughts” within the book’s pages. These thoughts reveal the Science of Christ, the true idea of our relation to God as His boundless spiritual reflection, which Jesus exemplified in his life and proved by his healing works. This spiritual idea of ourselves isn’t “speedily understood” by reasoning grounded in a finite, material view of existence. To this material sense, resisting the divine idea of what we are comes more readily than accepting it. But resisting Truth, God, is never our real thinking, whereas accepting that we are expressions of an infinitely good God is deeply natural to the spiritual sense within us. This sense perceives our pure identity as God’s sons and daughters, living in Spirit, not matter.
The opposite belief that we are material finds expression in such traits as apathy, egotism, sensuality, and irritability. These can seem to stubbornly, even relentlessly, tell us that they are our nature. But that claim is itself a denial of Truth’s all-power and of our real being as God’s offspring. Our need is to discern between the human mind’s insistence that we are mortal sinners and the truth of ourselves as Spirit’s pure, immortal expression, and increasingly yield to this glorious reality.
The struggle to do this isn’t a solo effort. Divine Love is with us. Love’s presence steers us in the direction we truly wish to go: Godward. “Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity, . . .” Science and Health says (p. 323).
These “wholesome chastisements” come through Christ reaching human consciousness. From tender nudges to a mighty roar, Christ reveals God’s loving, course-correcting rebuke when we “kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). That’s how the Bible’s Saul heard Christ describe the Truth-resisting, self-righteous rage Saul expressed before becoming the apostle later known as Paul. The phrase “kick against the pricks” portrays Christ’s constant prodding of human sense to move forward spiritually. This indicates how the Christ is always alerting us to whatever resistance we’re conceding to (consciously or unconsciously) and points the way out of it. Our need, as well as our inherent desire and ability, is to listen for God’s guidance, hear it, and heed it.
As we do this, we’re uplifted beyond the matter-consciousness that resists Truth. The paragraph about “wholesome chastisements” concludes: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause,—wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.”
This exalted thought manifests the infinite divine Mind, God. Because Mind is infinite, there is no other mentality, so this is our true consciousness, our real, spiritual being.
Even glimpsing this truth, we see how everything that seems to resist what Mind impels is Mind-less and therefore powerless, unreal—as evidenced by healings reported in this issue of the Sentinel. Contributors Annu Matthai and Nitya Thomas, for instance, both faced obstacles that made applying for immigration status feel precarious. Yet they received their visas as they became conscious that Mind was the determining factor.
That truth of Mind’s control is true for all, whether as citizens continuing to stand for a full realization of civil rights or as individuals facing sickness, sin, or financial hardship. The starting point for outward progress is inward change. Recognizing the unreality of whatever seems to resist Truth can change the trajectory of a day, or even our lives. And it will always bring a healing impetus to efforts to fully actualize each nation’s highest ideals.
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor