Fact and Fable
Our revered Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, has written (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 129), "If you wish to know the spiritual fact, you can discover it by reversing the material fable, be the fable pro or con,—be it in accord with your preconceptions or utterly contrary to them."
The great fact for all time and eternity is that God is All, the only presence, power, cause, and creator. Another basic fact is that man is God's image and likeness. Man is, because God is. He is the effect of perfect cause, so must exist at the standpoint of perfection; and his spiritual status is unassailable and unalterable. He knows no bonds or limitations, because God knows none. He needs nothing, because he already possesses all good. Man is God's satisfied idea.
This is the truth about man. Yet the events of our human experience point to the exact opposite. Through many active agencies, such as the radio, the average daily newspaper, the magazine advertisement, an effort is made to convince one that the fact is false and the fable is true—that instead of being spiritual, man is material; that instead of being perfect, everything seems to be going wrong with him most of the time; and instead of being God's complete idea, he apparently lacks much which he needs to make him well and to keep him happy. We are supposed to be living in "a mad world, my Masters!" as Hamlet put it, a sad world, an ugly, war-torn world, steadily growing worse, a fabulous invalid, so ill that it is fast disintegrating into its original state of "chaos and old night."
But the Christian Scientist does not accept that. He knows better. No matter how insistently some temporary passing event may seem to clamor for recognition, he knows that hundreds of thousands of vain repetitions can never turn a fable into a fact. It simply cannot be done. So he does just as does a Christian Science practitioner when he is called to the bedside of someone who is going through some trying experience. He refuses to allow himself to become mesmerized by it, with all its unlovely symptoms, and sets resolutely to work to prove the unreality of the whole evil transaction, to turn the fable into the fact. He realizes that what is sometimes called "the world situation" is not a struggle between peoples and nations, but a conflict between good and evil, Spirit and matter. Although ominous sounds on the far horizon may seem to be proclaiming, like distant thunder, the advent of a storm, they cannot shake his unfaltering trust in Truth's omnipotence. In the case of the so-called patient, it is the false belief about the physical body which needs correction, while, in the other case, the correction may be applied to the body politic. The immediate need of both a frightened mortal and a frightened world is the calm, constructive, clear, vigorous, and untiring mental work of those who have learned in Christian Science what true prayer really is, and what it does.
It matters not what seems to be happening. If it is wrong, it is only a fable, and there is always a right idea about it, a spiritual fact to take its place, and by so doing annul its claims to reality. This idea is the exact reverse of the material fable, and, being ever present, it is instantly available. Its action cannot be obstructed or delayed, or rendered ineffective, for it is a divinely constituted presence, holding within itself its own undiminished and resuscitating power of reconstruction and readjustment. One does not have to "make" it do anything. He has only to let it unfold, in God's own time and way. God is attending to His universe all of the time and all of the way. His hand is ever at the helm, no matter how far from its normal course the ship may sometimes seem to swing.
In times of stress, however, one must ever be on guard lest, all unconsciously, he may be making error personal in his thought, giving it a local habitation and a name. This Christian Science never sanctions. What is back of anything unlike God? Our own belief in it. We are confusing a fable and a fact, accepting something as true which is not true at all, which has no more reality and substance than the fragment of a dream. It is always impersonal evil, claiming to influence us by either audible or mental arguments to believe its sophistries. Refuse to listen or to give it life. Know that error has no mouthpiece and no audience. Those unfortunate individuals who do listen, who habitually encourage and foster such unlovely qualities as pride, covetousness, hate, selfishness, egotism, and blind self-justification, may for that reason become more easily responsive than do others to the subtle operations of the carnal mind, but one must ever watch his own thought lest he be swayed by resentment against those whose human qualities arouse his strong disapproval. We all need to remember that the farther anyone is from the kingdom of heaven the more obvious it is that he must be recognized as a poor dupe, a deluded victim of his own misguided thoughts. Put it all in the mental realm. Until error is relegated to that realm of plain illusion, where it actually belongs, one can never get the mastery of it. Then, and not until then, is it really helpless.
In this world-mesmerism of clashing wills and conflicting human opinions let us never mistake the temporal for the eternal. What if the hosts of error do seem to be gathering with tireless persistence to destroy all that is finest and best in nations, religions, and individuals? "The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." There is but one country, and that the kingdom of heaven. It is God's country, and its inhabitants are always at peace. This one country is my country; it is also your country; and so it really is "our" country after all. We all love it, and no condition can arise which can separate us from each other or from God. It is never beyond the control of divine intelligence. It knows but one Mind, one law, one power, and one presence. Mortal mind says, "Many," Christian Science says, "One." What a declaration is that with which each new day to buckle on our mental armor! One of everything, and that one perfect—now.
It is possible that in our work as practitioners, not only for world conditions, but for individual patients, we may at times, all unconsciously to ourselves, be holding to the thought that there is actually something before us to be healed, something to be changed, remedied, "fixed up," instead of realizing that real healing consists in grateful acknowledgment of the untouched perfection of God's creation, which needs no healing. God's work is already done, and not one of His ideas is ever deprived of the ability and the opportunity to express, by reflection, every attribute and quality of God.
Let every "if" and "but" and "perhaps" be ruled out of consciousness. Amidst all that the material world, the shadow world, may seem to be undergoing, the Christian Scientist can still be at peace, for he knows that everything which now appears to be wrong and unjust and lawless will loosen its hold upon poor humanity in exact proportion to the amount of right thinking which is being done. Let every student of our high and holy religion do his part, accept his share in this prayer, this "knowing." There is no Life, activity, or substance in any human agency which would, if it could, grind into forgotten dust man's inalienable right to be self-governed under the government of divine Principle. There is work to be done, and let no one sit back and expect someone else to do it. The world needs every one of us, from the least to the greatest. Let us be faithful to our trust, never forgetful, lazy, indifferent. It is a glorious privilege to have a part in fighting the "holy wars"; and let no one imagine that such conflicts ceased with the Crusades!
God's kingdom is come. It is here and now. But in demonstrating this, let us remember that if one would really bring peace to the world, he must first of all be at peace with himself, with his family, his friends, his neighbors, his fellow church members, his business associates. There can be no peace without unless there is peace within. Then, no matter what distressing picture the material senses may claim to be presenting, we shall quickly differentiate between the fable and the fact, the unreal and the real. When it intrudes itself within our range of vision, we shall not fear it, nor hate it, nor allow it for one instant to disturb the harmony of our being. We shall not even pay it the scant courtesy of ignoring it, thereby permitting it to continue on its way, unchecked and unchallenged. We know a more excellent way. We shall just quietly reverse it, thereby demonstrating the presence of a spiritual fact, shining out in all its beauty and sublimity, serene, untouched, unchanged, exactly as it has always been "from the beginning."