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How does prayer protect against influenza or bird flu?

- Sentinel Audio Chat host: Many of us are probably accustomed to hearing about flu season each year. But recently there’s been a lot of focus on the possibility of a pandemic of bird flu, or influenza. A pandemic occurs when a disease spreads over a large area, like a continent or around the globe. The last major global pandemic took place in 1918, when millions of people died.

But it doesn’t have to happen again. And here to help us see why this is true is our guest, Bea Roegge. Bea is a longtime practitioner and teacher of Christian Science from Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. She’s also a contributing editor to the Christian Science Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal and to this website.

Bea, would you like to share some thoughts in order to get us started?

Bea Roegge: Oh, I would. I just love the name, of influenza, or that it is named that. It somehow seems so less real—it seems an influence that we do not have to yield to. Actually, that name was given to it, as I understand it, in the Middle Ages, and it was seen as an influence from the stars. Well, I know we don’t have to give in to any influence that is unlike health and holiness and goodness in our experience.

There’s a sentence in the Preface of Science and Health, which many of your listeners perhaps know as the textbook, along with the Bible, of Christian Science. It starts out, “The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus’ time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or ‘God with us,’—a divine influence ever present in human consciousness….”

It’s a wonderful recognition that we can have that divine influence to counteract any false influence or influenza, or any disease that comes into consciousness. Perhaps many of us are familiar, or Bible readers certainly are familiar with the prophecy in Isaiah that “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

And later on in Isaiah, it speaks of that Immanuel fills the “breadth of thy land, O Immanuel,” indicating that this Immanuel, or “God with us,” the Christ, is present everywhere, and individually present in human consciousness to counteract any false influence—influenza or any other disease. host: That’s a great idea.

Bea: Well, I think we can go on from there recognizing God is with us, always with us, and take some questions. host: Your ideas about God being with us tie in with this first one, because the media also seem to be with us. Susan, from Manchester, New Hampshire, is saying, “The news is constantly trying to scare us, it seems. How can we pray to help from being afraid when we listen to the news? Or should we just stop listening to the news?”

Bea: Oh, I don’t think we should just stop listening to the news. And I really got over my sense of being annoyed with the news for dwelling on a subject when I realized that the purpose of it really is to alert us. And we do need to be alerted to whatever is in thought that might be destructive to us that we may need to pray about.

So, no, don’t turn off the television or the radio, or stop reading newspapers, but allow that divine influence in human consciousness to counteract any of the false influence.

It does interest me that Christian Scientists are taught to pray daily to be delivered from false prophesies and from erroneous influence, and influencing others erroneously. So we have a good basis to start, and anyone, of course, can do that—just establish daily that you’re not going to fall for false prophecy. And then take whatever is being said as a warning for you to pray about. host: So, in a sense, it’s almost like they’re doing a favor.

Bea: I really do feel that way. I love the media. I love being informed. And while I know it’s overdone at times, it still is there to help us live globally and live largely. host: Now from BarbieQ in Las Vegas, we get this question: “How can we handle spiritually the public’s morbid curiosity about the large number of losses from 1918 coming true in our own age?

Bea: Well, I think we always just recognize any morbid curiosity as not really natural to man. In fact, we must make it unnatural. Anything that make us zero in on something and be terribly curious is usually not helpful to us.

And as far as overcoming the public’s curiosity, I think each one can meet that himself, and see what he or she wants to take into consciousness, always realizing that the divine influence, Immanuel, is always right there to give the right answer.

And I do like to recognize that Christ is the consciousness of everyone. I often pray that, to see that that really is true for myself, and for my fellow human beings—that right there, there is Christ, Truth, Immanuel, telling us that God is with us. And with that in thought, I think we get rid of any morbid curiosity. host: The thing about the statistics of people who were killed in the epidemic just gives one side of the story. There were many, many people who survived—either didn’t get the disease, or who survived the disease. And, if you don’t mind, I’d like to read a little quotation.

This was a reportable disease at the time. And in Des Moines, Iowa, the city sanitarian, which was like the health official, his name was Dr. W. C. Witty—this is in connection with Christian Scientists and their reliance on prayer during the epidemic—said, “There’s no question that by a right attitude of mind, Christian Scientists have kept themselves free from illness. I have no doubt that many persons have contracted the disease through fear. People can deceive themselves into thinking they have any disease on the calendar, and doubtless, many of them have thought themselves into their graves. Fear is the first thing to be overcome—the first step in conquering this epidemic.

“I am not a Christian Scientist, but I believe that an application of their principles will materially aid in preserving the health of this community. They did not originate with the Scientists, but are to be found by anyone who will take the trouble to read the Bible.”

So that evidence that fear is the thing that really needs to be focused on—and you know, Mrs. Eddy talks about the importance of dealing with fear in any disease, in dealing with anything, doesn’t she?

Bea: Oh, yes. And when fear is gone, she says any disease is healed. host: Then from Elizabeth in Canada, she says, “I have been only studying Christian Science for about a year. My fear stems from the fact that although I think my understanding is growing, I’ve been unable to see any demonstration of improved health regarding chronic but mild health issues for myself, or even intermittent issues for my children. So I’m scared that if my understanding is not advanced enough for mild issues, how can I deal with deadly threats like the avian flu for my children?”

Bea: Great question. And I think we need to recognize that we have what we need when we need it. We can have great glimpses of understanding when we turn wholeheartedly to God, because, we have even been made frightened, and used that fear to turn to God instead of indulging it. And you will have what you need to stem the fear for your children and for yourself.

I find very helpful reading the testimonies of healing in the Journal and the Sentinel. These show how people have worked out problems. As I read those, they always lift my thought to an assurance that God is with us, that we don’t need to fear disease. That whatever comes into our experience, by turning to God we will have what we need. host: This one is from Deborah in Naples, Florida. She says, “I feel I can pray for myself and be sure I’m safe from disease, but I worry about my mother who is quite frail. I realize that’s not right thinking, because God is caring for both of us, but it’s hard to think past the idea that she’s more vulnerable. Do you have any prayerful ideas I can work with?”

Bea: Oh, I think that is a very good question, and based on much that we’re hearing today, that it is children and older people who are more vulnerable to disease. Well, I think that really demands of us to take a sense of the identity of anyone out of the whole realm of age, and recognize that each one is right now a reflection of God.

There’s a statement in Science and Health that the spiritual man’s “consciousness and individuality are reflections of God. They are the emanations of Him who is Life, Truth, and Love.” And I like to think that each one of us is emanating right now from Life, Truth and Love. We’re not mortals having spent a few years here, or many years here. But we can see the spiritual individuality and consciousness, is what the quote says.

And that means a lot to me, that consciousness is stated there as a reflection of God, because it is consciousness that we’re dealing with—this divine influence we were talking about in human consciousness. And our true consciousness is a reflection of God. And that’s true of your mother and true of everyone else. There’s no one, in a sense, frail or vulnerable. But each can experience Immanuel, “God with us.” host: It might be good to talk a little bit more about the relationship between God and man, in the sense that each of us takes our identity and our strength from God rather than from individual people. I know it’s a real struggle to not feel responsible for your parents or for a child, because they are there and you’re taking care of them, but in a way, to whatever extent we can trust them to God, not neglectfully but really firmly—doesn’t that help?

Bea: Oh, I think there’s no doubt about that. In fact, there’s a play on words—it is not our responsibility, but our response to God’s ability. There’s something there for us to do: we must respond to God’s ability, but recognize that the real protection and health and goodness of each one comes from God, and each one is with God. And not only can reflect, but does reflect that. And it can’t be hidden from us.

And I like to think that there is no one frail or vulnerable. I think all of us at different times feel frail and vulnerable, not just through old age or young age, but at any point feel that we may be vulnerable to some suggestion of disease, some false influence. But we really are not.

As a child of God, as this individual consciousness, as a reflection of God, we are emanating from Life, Truth and Love right now, and can turn right now to find that divine influence, that angel message that assures us and reassures us that all is well, and we are safe. host: Now Kathy from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says, “I read that this supposed flu threat could be like the 1918 pandemic, which the government could supposedly recreate. I’m especially concerned, since my hometown was hit bad with the 1918 pandemic.” Kathy may be referring to the recent research that enabled scientists to recreate the virus.

But I don’t think the government is actually recreating the disease and setting it loose. So I don’t think we need to worry about that. But I wondered if you had some comments anyway about the existence of the virus and the fears that might be associated with that.

Bea: Well, I think virus, for one thing means—among many other things—poison, and there’s nothing unlike God, good, or poisonous in our experience. Even if there is a virus let loose, so to speak, we do have our sense of protection right here.

I’d like to mention something that happened in my family’s experience in the 1918 pandemic. My husband, who was just a little beyond babyhood at that point, caught the flu and so did his mother and father. And they couldn’t get anyone to help them. All the professional nurses were employed. And people were afraid to go into the homes of others because they were afraid of catching the contagion.

This one woman was willing to come into my husband’s family home, and care for them. They learned that this person was a Christian Scientist and was not afraid of the disease. That has always interested me, that my mother-in-law really learned about Christian Science from an experience like that, and it prepared her for when my husband and I began the study of this scientific religion.

But that this person could go into a home fearlessly, and Mrs. Eddy said that deeds of kindness, even if they expose us to contagion cannot harm us. Love is really the power, and this woman was expressing love. And everyone who yearns to help others through a pandemic or through any illness cannot suffer from that.

But the 1918 pandemic has taught us—as well as many other experiences of natural disasters, as well as pandemics—that unselfed love is such a protection. If we go to help others with, as Mrs. Eddy said, “deeds of kindness,” we cannot be harmed even if we’re exposed to the contagion. host: That’s just a wonderful idea. And Brendan in Springfield, Illinois, is going to ask us to build on that, because he says, “First we’ve had hurricanes, then the earthquake this weekend, and now the fear of massive flu. What can we do to stop these things?” Maybe you’d like to comment on the whole picture there.

Bea: I think that’s a wonderful question, and one I’ve thought of, too. Natural disasters are different from pandemics, because they hit only a limited area. My heart is going out to the earthquake victims at this point, and I know we’re all praying for them, realizing, of course, that each individual, even if he or she does not survive, is with God. God is with them—that divine influence is ever-present to care for them and protect them.

I think there’s a great difference between the hurricane and the earthquake and a pandemic. The pandemic has the possibility of getting help to so many more people over a global area. These others are in an isolated area that’s hard to reach. The one thing, and I don’t think it can be repeated too often, is that we can stand up to these. We do not have to be intimidated by them and think, “Well, what next is going to happen?”

As daily we establish that God is with us, this Immanuel, the Christ, is present to heal and to prevent disease, as well as widespread disease as in pandemics, and our prayers can protect us and help us help others who may have been caught up in these tragedies.

I think we should be careful and not just kind of count on our fingers how many bad things have happened. We can really count more the good things that are going on. And they’re the result of God, good, and are permanent and eternal. And I know we’ll overcome these things. There’s no doubt Truth, God, good, is supreme, is the victor. host: I was just thinking about New Orleans and how at first the news was really terrible. And while there’s still a lot to do, the death toll, and so forth, has been much less than they thought at first. So there is a kind of a redemption, you might say, going on in the midst of these events.

Bea: Oh, yes, and the unselfed love that it calls forth is going to outshine and outlast the tragedies. I’ve been very impressed with that, and I know the news media have and the world has, with the flow of good that’s coming from those who care about the people in New Orleans. And this good is also being sent forth already to the earthquake victims. host: Stephen from London in the United Kingdom is writing, “If influenza is influence, what can you suggest to be a counter-influence? ” Maybe we need to be a little bit more specific about the divine influence there.

Bea: Oh, I’d love to be, because that divine influence is, you remember from the quote that I had, that the physical healings are not “supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or ‘God with us,’—a divine influence ever present in human consciousness.” And really there’s one word for that: Christ.

Now it’s not always easy to explain the activity of Christ. Looking at the life of Jesus, we see the exemplification of Christ. I spent two years reading about what Jesus did, and thinking through what the Christ is, and what anybody said about the Christ. And it took two years to have the deepest understanding that I have right now.

But at any moment, of course, the Christ is both simple and profound, and one can gain enough sense of the Christ to be freed from fear, and to emulate the healings of Jesus. I think to look at the healings of Jesus would be most helpful in seeing this divine influence in human experience. host: Sarah in Rhode Island is asking, “What about protecting those we love that may live far away and don’t turn to spiritual healing?”

Bea: That, of course, is interesting, because they don’t have to live far away not to turn to spiritual healing.

But anyway, how can we help those who don’t turn to spiritual healing? I think one thing, is not to set up an argument, and condemn and criticize them for what methods they’re using for healing, because they’re doing the very best they can at this time. And we want to support the effectiveness.

I’m absolutely convinced that there is no healing but spiritual healing. No matter what methods we may use, that there is a spirit, or a reflection of the divine Spirit, that really heals us. We somehow become aware that we’re not a victim of disease. It appears as healing. I think of it as revealing the perfection of God and man.

Everything that is true about us, or about one who is relying on spiritual healing, is true about everyone. There’s nothing self-centered in that or selfish in that. And so our loved ones are under the same laws of divine health and goodness that we are under. The Christ is present as every consciousness.

A friend of mine who lived in Africa asked me how I was praying for Africa. And I said, “Well, I was just praying that the Christ was there, and the true consciousness of everyone.” And he said, “Oh, that’s good. Most people seem to think they have to take Christ to Africa.” And that’s been very inspiring to me, because I think so many times we think we have to take the Christ, Truth, the healing, spiritual message to someone.

It’s already there. It’s that divine influence already present in human consciousness. And our prayers can affirm this. And I think that’s the most genuine, and the strongest help we can give our loved ones—here or there, wherever they are. host: Constance, who is writing from a Chicago suburb, says, “Some people look at these disastrous or pandemic events as the beginning of the Second Coming. Any thoughts?”

Bea: Yes, I really have thought about that. I’ve thought a lot about the Second Coming because I used to be so scared. In fact, a story in our family that I've always loved: my great-grandmother got new screens on their house. Houses didn’t have screens then—I don’t know how they kept the bugs out, maybe they didn’t. But anyway, they were really thrilled with these screens.

And that first night, she looked out the window, and there was a cross on the moon. And she ran outside to get her husband to come up on the roof, because at the Second Coming, believers are supposed to be taken away, I guess to heaven.

But when she got outside, the cross wasn’t there, and she realized it was because she was looking through the screen.

And that, to me, has always been very interesting. Actually, a Second Coming, I feel, has come, in a way, as we have the revelation of Science and Health. But to think everything’s going to be destroyed, I don’t see that as happening in one fell swoop, and everybody being separated, the good from the evil.

But I feel that evil is being separated from us right now. That we are destroying error. That the Second Coming, or the end of the world, end-time, whatever, is right now.

And one of the answers to that question of an end-time, which I think this must be getting at, is to look now at the good that is coming about. We mentioned earlier in New Orleans the unselfed love that we’re seeing coming forth—that’s going to outshine everything. Good is the reality. Evil is the unreality. And good stands, no matter what evil would pretend to be, or would come to our thought as a pandemic.

The good that is really being transferred from one individual to another through unselfed love is the reality. And I’d like to think we’re in the final days of the destruction of all evil. And that’s the only final to me that there can be. Good cannot be destroyed. host: So in essence, the more we focus on the good that’s coming to the surface, the more authority that good will have, and the less authority evil will have.

Bea: Yes. And I love that. I love thinking of authority. host: I love that idea, that the stirring and the turmoil and everything else is kind of like the cleansing, the evil being lifted away.

Bea: Yeah, it’s being stirred up and poured off. And the good will remain. Universal, global good. We’re talking about pandemics, or pan—universal and global. That really is what is happening and what is contagious. The reality of good is the reality of our experience. And evil is unreal. That’s the basic theme of the Bible, and certainly the basic theme of Christian Science, that good is real, evil is unreal. host: Our next question is from Mary on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. She says, “Every day we are given what we feel is an overwhelming number of issues to pray about—influenza, dishonest politicians, dishonest business practices, poor school test scores, family issues, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., etc. Should we pray on each of these issues specifically, or should we take a broad view and cover all of them in one prayer? It just seems we would not have enough time in the day to cover all of them individually in specific prayer. Or should we acknowledge that whatever prayer we accomplish each day is important, and enough to help?”

Bea: Well, I think that last is very important. What we do achieve in prayer each day is important and will help. I often liken Christian Science to science in math. You know, you can add up two and two and get five, seven, nine, thirteen, whatever. Once you get the real answer—four—the other just disappears.

And so I think as we really get an absolute sense of God’s goodness and allness, presence and power, then we can specifically handle the others, and it doesn’t take that long. It really doesn’t take that long, if we start out from the absolute truth.

If we start out from just, “How am I going to solve the problems of dishonest politicians or businessmen?” then we go around in circles. But if we start out from what really is true, that man is the image and likeness of God, and is good, and can do only good, then we can quickly say, “Well therefore, he can’t be a dishonest politician or businessman,” or whatever the argument would be. I know that starting with the right answer is what enables us to cover great areas of concern very quickly. host: Someone I know once said to look for one inspired idea each day. Not that there couldn’t be more, but to expect to have an inspired idea to work with each day in whatever comes into your experience—whether it’s dishonest politicians or a pandemic or whatever.

Bea: Good. I think that’s right. And I think we kind of naturally do that. Most Christian Scientists study the Bible, and many others study the Bible every morning, and start out their day from an inspired spiritual standpoint. It’s as different as night and day—I can be really pulled down with lots of concerns and worries, and then read a little bit of the Bible or our textbook or maybe some of our periodicals, the testimonies, and I’m in an entirely different world. I’m in reality, where God, good, is supreme. host: Now Anne in Washington asks, “Can you give another specific experience, either in your own practice or others that you know of, where contagion was healed or avoided?”

Bea: Well, I just love this one. In fact, I was wanting an excuse to share it. A friend of mine told me this recently, and I find several good messages in it.

This was when she was a young girl, and she and her mother were to take a trip a nearby city. But she felt terribly ill that morning with all the symptoms of flu. And she wanted to stay in bed. And her mother said to her—and her mother was a Christian Scientist and so was this girl: “You think staying in bed is going to heal you, or the truth will heal you?”

Well, she knew really that staying in bed wasn’t going to heal her. So she did get up and get dressed and got on the train, but she was still feeling terrible.

They arrived in the city, and they got into a cab. And she began thinking about something she had heard in a lecture that was entitled, “God is right here, right now.” And she asked herself did she accept that, did she believe that. And then it came to her that she didn’t have a choice. That God was her Mind, and she could only have the thoughts of health, the truth. And she was instantaneously healed right there in that cab, and said she felt marvelous.

And I know in my own experience that we do have to give consent in order to be ill. We can withdraw our consent at any time. When we first began studying Christian Science, I came down with the symptoms of the flu, and I really didn’t want to deny them. I knew they weren’t true according to Christian Science, but I kind of wanted to spend two or three days in bed, and get rested up. The illness didn’t seem too extreme.

But I knew that that was not consistent with what I was learning, and so I did deny that these symptoms were true. They did not come from God, and I did not have to accept them, and I must not accept them. And again, I was instantly healed and have never had flu symptoms since then. And that was over half a century ago.

So there are just many instances of healing. And I refer you to the Sentinel and theJournal, where there are wonderful written testimonies of all kinds, instantaneous and otherwise. host: I think that was a great example of how the refusal to accept disease is going to turn it around.

Bea: Yes, not to be influenced. And it’s that divine influence, if I may say that again, the Christ in consciousness that keeps us from being influenced erroneously. host: Well, one thing that occurs to me as we’ve been talking is that there are all these different things trying to get us to consent. It’s almost like an advertisement for a product. They keep saying, “Well, you’re really going to need to have this,” or “You really need to buy this product.” And if you just hear it again and again, pretty soon you find yourself going to the store and buying it. And I’m not speaking against advertising or anything like that, but the disease can seem as though it’s trying to persuade you to take it in.

Bea: Well, yes. And one of the earlier questions about listening to the news, it would seem they might be trying to persuade us to believe in it. But we can always do our own thinking and decide whether this is something we’re going to believe. I know I’ve heard recently that there have been ten pandemics in the last 300 years and that we’re overdue for another.

And I heard a medical doctor say recently that he thought it was being built up too much, that we were not overdue, we did not have to expect a pandemic. And I think that’s very important for us to keep in mind: we don’t have to expect that influenza, that bird flu, to come into our experience, because it doesn’t come from God.

I think we’re just beginning to learn what Immanuel means, or “God with us,”—what it really means that God is with us, with each individual. And we have the authority for turning away from false suggestions of illness, of even what would seem to be symptoms, and to turn to God, good, who creates only good. host: We have a message from Mallory in Colorado, who’s going to ask us to get back to the real basic nitty gritty. He says, “So what’s the first step? When we start to feel the first signs of what seems like a case of flu, like a sore throat, what should be our very first step?”

Bea: Well, the very first step would be turning to God in prayer. And I think we can be specific and start with the Lord’s Prayer. If our thought rises to that elevation of the Lord’s Prayer, Science and Health tells us it will heal instantaneously anything.

So starting with prayer is the first step. And that begins with “Our Father which art in heaven,” and is a universal prayer for ourselves and for everyone else. So as we’re working out and getting through the symptoms for ourselves, we’re helping everyone. It never is a selfish endeavor to turn to spiritual sense for healing, spiritual remedies. So I’d say the very first thing is to start with the Lord’s Prayer. And if you happen to have Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, there’s a spiritual interpretation of that Lord’s Prayer line by line that is very helpful. I think it’s page 16 and 17.

And then, again, if you have Science and Health, on page 468, “What is the scientific statement of being?” And that begins with, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.”

And getting that sense of the allness of God and the goodness of God will fill consciousness with the divine affluence in which the influenza just disappears, because it is not based on fact. Its influence from the stars or wherever is not the divine that heals and frees and protects and prevents disease. Christian Science prevents disease as well as heals it. And I like to think of it that way—that even as we're seeking a healing for ourselves, we are preventing it for others. host: I think one other thing that we can say to Mallory is to say the prayer with a kind of spiritual authority. One thing that often seems to come with that sort of bad news is that one feels like a little mouse underneath this giant blob, trying to push it off, when the reality is that the omnipotence of God is actually on our side.

And to say the prayer with the conviction that there is no power apart from God and that this prayer has authority, total authority, and is what actually defines existence. I think “the scientific statement of being,” in particular, defines existence specifically: that it is spiritual, it’s not material. And that we can speak with that kind of spiritual authority toward any feeling that we might be getting this disease.

Bea: I love the fact of authority that you’re bringing into this, because it is so important. It is a recognition of God’s authority really, and that we’re recognizing that. And that we’re not timid little things pleading with God to save us. host: Exactly. Now we’ve got another question from BarbieQ out in Las Vegas. She says, “In today’s day and age, many of us have been exposed to computer viruses, and the deadly havoc they wreak. I lost two computers to this in the last five years. How can we handle all viruses, whether technological, viruses in an organic garden, or virus or contagion affecting humanity?”

Bea: That is a great question. And often, when I see something coming on my computer that I don’t understand, I think through, “There isn’t God and a computer. There is God expressing Himself through a computer.” And that’s not as simple as it might sound.

If we start out with everything is God, and God’s power and authority, as you said, then there can’t be anything that defies the good. And of course, a computer is essential these days, and accomplishes much good. A virus, among other definitions I think I mentioned earlier, means poison—that which would just spoil things.

And we definitely can pray for our computers, we can pray for everything in our world, because are we accepting that all is God and God’s infinite manifestation? Are we saying that there’s God and then there’s a lot of other niggling things around that can interfere with that? God is All-in-all. All really is good.

There is a definition of Spirit in the Glossary of Science and Health that I love that includes, “all that is good.” All that is good is spiritual, and therefore has that divine authority. And the good that a computer can remedy certainly comes from the divine source of good, and no material theories can interfere with that.

I have to admit that I’ve often found correction and ideas to correct problems with my computer—I’m not an authority on it, but I certainly do use it a lot. And I remember one time something came up, and I just did not know what to do, what button to push, and finally I just closed my eyes and prayed to God, and pushed the right button.

So I think nothing in our experience can act as something that would separate us from God, good. But we can take our understanding of God, good, to any experience, and find healing, find a revealing of the good that is right there, right now. host: I was just thinking computers in particular are very mentally or thought-based. So the whole idea of “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation,” not that computers would replace God, but just that idea that the thought involved in using a computer can only be good. I mean, we can really affirm the presence of good even in dealing with the computer viruses and so forth.

Bea: I’m sure of that. In fact, I have found that if I’m working on my computer and I’m kind of upset about something, that’s kind of when the mistakes come. But if I’m really at one with God, everything in my experience is harmonious—at one with good. host: Speaking of that, I know of a situation where there were four women who had computers in an office. And every time they were impatient to get home at the end of the day, they would start to have computer problems. And it was because they just wanted to get out of there, you know, that impatience.

And they realized that. And when they stopped the way they were thinking and forestalled it, they didn’t have computer problems at the end of the day any more.

Bea: Yes. There’s no doubt that we live in a mental world. And thank heavens that we do, because at any moment we can always change our thought from believing in error, evil, disease or something, and see God’s goodness right where we are. As my friend said, “Right here, right now.” host: And to extend it, we could even say, so the world’s thought can change. You know, not only change our own thoughts, but when the preponderance of good becomes evident—

Bea: Oh, I’m sure. And that one on God’s side is a majority. One holding to the realization that God, good, is here and now, can change many things, and we’ve seen examples of that. host: Now we have a question from Phillip in Stockton, California: “If bird flu comes from birds, can we work to heal the disease in animals before it reaches humans?”

Bea: That’s a wonderful question. And of course we can, because birds, whatever is created—the first chapter of Genesis—is good. “God saw every thing that He had made,” and saw it as good. Now I’m not talking about material birds, but the idea of bird. And the idea of bird is perfect. And I love the fact that we can heal the birds.

I’m so glad about that question, because I hadn’t taken it that far. But of course, it can’t continue on in bird, or animal or in vegetation, or in anywhere, because it doesn’t come from God. And it’s good—we will heal the birds.

My son is a birdwatcher, and so I hear a lot about birds. And they need protection in our city from lights and so forth. I do pray for them that way, but I hadn’t prayed in this connection, and I’m certainly going to do that now, because there’s no reason for birds to be infected. host: That leads me to ask my own question which is about cyclical evil. Every year there is this cycle of time where the flu comes and it’s often associated with birds. And you were answering my question a little bit in the answer you just gave, but I wondered if you wanted to talk about that belief that evil has certain cycles that we are affected by, and then we get through it, and then another one comes around.

Bea: Well, I guess when I think about cycles, I always think that there’s never been a beginning. There’s never a repetition. And we know that’s true, that everything is new every moment. There is no repetition, and that’s why we can stop any moment what would call itself a cycle— beginning or ending or middle of a cycle.

If it doesn’t come from God, it doesn’t exist. There is no reality in evil of any kind. God, good—God with us—is right here, right now, and the only thing that is going on. And so repetitions and cycles and so forth have no real place, and there really can’t be a cycle, there can’t be a repetition, because all things are new. host: And in a way, that gets us back to the whole 1918 thing, doesn’t it, because the world’s thought has changed so much since 1918, and I’m not just talking about technology and so forth. But the spiritual progress the world has made in the time since then, in terms of the awareness of the spiritual nature of individuals and all the study of spirituality that has been going on for many years now. There is a higher sense of even what human identity is, quite apart from the spiritual relationship with God we’ve been talking about. And I think that has to count for something in terms of dealing with the possibility of a pandemic, don’t you?

Bea: Oh, I think there’s no doubt about that. I think we’re too far along to experience a pandemic. And as I’m saying that, I realize I’m sticking my neck out. But I do feel that mankind has become more spiritually minded, more aware that there is a spiritual cause, and that matter is not, in itself, a reliable cause for anything, or a continuous cause.

But I love taking right now—what am I thinking right now? This is the only reality. There isn’t a five minutes ago, really. Nor is there a future. There is this beloved now. And what are we doing with it right now? As we take care of now, we’re taking care of both so-called past and future, because we’re seeing God’s allness as being the only thing that’s ever been or that ever will be.

I think it’s interesting to deal with cycles, because there claim to be many cycles in our lives. But when I learned that there couldn’t possibly be a repetition, I got rid of the fear of cycles. host: I wanted to just talk a little bit more about the earthquake, and about even the cycles of earthquakes, and the process of earthquakes, and wondered if you had any thoughts for people who are praying about that situation.

Bea: Well, I think to pray about false prophecy. And I know I’ve mentioned this earlier, and I maybe should go into it a little bit more. We need to be alert that we don’t accept that while today is good, there’s going to be evil tomorrow. But that we see this eternal unfolding of good as the day of God’s creating.

And that we cannot prophesy earthquakes or pandemics or hurricanes as reality. We need to be sure that our news media, which of course is there to inform us, cannot also make us afraid and predict that something awful is going to happen.

I know one person said to me that instead of saying “it’s too good to be true”—and sometimes when things are going well, we think that—say “because it is good, it is true, and because it is true it is good.”

Good is the reality, is the truth of human experience. And the more we recognize this and live according to it, and love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves, we’re bringing more good into the human experience. The ultimate has to be the supremacy of good. That’s the only thing that is real and continuous. And we’re going to see more of it. It often appears to us as healing, but it’s revealing the good that is always there and always will be, because God, good, is supreme and universal. host: Well, I wanted to share this one from Jackie in Wisconsin, who says, “I must tell you, I sat down to listen to this conversation and I was feeling terrible, very physically tired and heavy, as though I was getting a flu. But now I feel as though I have a lot more energy and will be able to finish the rest of my day easily. So thank you all.”

Bea: Oh, thank you, Jackie. host: I’d like to get this question in if we can. Our time is running a little short, but this is from David and Susie, and it’s not an easy question to answer quickly. They’re writing from Hollywood, California, and they say, “Is there a difference in our prayerful approach to a pandemic and the AIDS plague?” And they might be thinking both of the US and of course of Africa.

Bea: Well, I don’t think there really is. I was thinking of the 91st Psalm, which I’ve prayed a lot: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” And then it goes into the verse that “no plague shall come nigh thy dwelling.”

And I think as we are dwelling, not running in and out, as a friend of mine said, but dwelling in God and letting this divine influence dwell in us, then no plague, whatever it’s called, can come nigh our dwelling. But the important thing is to dwell. Not to just pray a little bit here, and then go on and think thoughts of disease and death and fears and so forth, but to dwell in the “secret place of the most High.” And it is Christ, Truth, Immanuel, that enables us to do this. host: That’s a wonderful idea about dwelling. Bea, we’re coming to the end, but I wondered if you had some comments you’d like to make as we do.

Bea: Well, I think I'll end as I began, with a recognition that we do not have to accept any erroneous influence of any kind—disease, or even that we are just forced into committing some sin, moral evils, or just mistakes. We do not have to accept any of that, because God, good, is supreme and is our true consciousness, and always through His Christ, this Truth, this wonderful influence is in our consciousness, able to free us from fearing evil of any kind or from acting it out or from giving in to it, consenting to it.

That at this moment, and at every moment, we can always turn wholeheartedly to the God that is Truth itself, and find an answer, an inspiration, that will lift us above merely consenting to disease, sin, sickness and death. We are, man is—and that includes all of us, men, women and children—the very image and likeness of God, as the Bible states, and we are above sin and discord of every kind. And we can stay there. host: God is a merciful God, isn’t He?

Bea: There is no doubt. And we can love that mercy. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Walking humbly is very important, and perhaps something that we have not stressed today, that we don’t do things on our own—we walk humbly with God.

And therefore we have infinite protection, infinite healing, and infinite ability to rise above whatever mortal mind—which we call sometimes negative thinking—would present to us. And we can always stay on the level of “God with us,” this divine influence ever present in human consciousness. host: Walking humbly helps us to hear that influence, doesn’t it?

Bea: Oh, yes. Anything else gets in the way. host: Well, thank you so much, Bea. And I’d just like to let you all know that the November 14 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel will focus on safety from contagious diseases, including flu. And Bea will have an article in that issue.

In the meantime, there are articles on flu on this Web site that you can read right now. Thanks so much for joining us in prayer and with your questions. We always love hearing from you. And thanks again, Bea.

Bea: You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.

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