Do you hear...

In the fields the shepherd boys
                    silently watched their sheep.
                                  How could they prepare to see
                                                 the herald angels filling the skies?
Glory streaming from heaven 
                    to the slumbering earth below.


Peace on earth
goodwill to men.

Handel is to Christmas as...

What would Christmas joy be without Handel's Messiah. 
Messiah has been performed in every conceivable venue
It has been sung by operatic greats and the tone deaf
But to be sung by the vowed silent requires ingenuity.
Here is such performance...



The Story of the Ages is wonderful in any age. 
The telling in the vernacular of the age renews interest. 
We are now in the Digital age and the vernacular is social media. 
for your enjoyment, here is Nativity 2.0


I keep wanting to move the apple...

The Son of Man by Magritte

Magritte's Son of Man gets me involved. I keep wanting to move the apple. I keep wanting to see behind the apple. I find it hard to just turn away. Magritte knew that would happen. So he painted it and for years viewers like me have had to keep their hands behind their back.

Mankind's desire to see face-to-face stems from the undeniable attractiveness of transparency. It comes from man's heart's longing for intimacy, to know and be known. Magritte's green apple creates tension, it denies access to the intimacy that seems so close at hand. It inserts doubt and even fear. And that reminds me of Adam.

After eating the forbidden fruit, everything changed. Adam probably saw the fruit hang like Magritte's green apple hiding the countenance of God. Transparency was gone. Intimacy was replaced by naked distance. No more seeing face-to-face.

Magritte's work illustrates the value and nature of countenance. By hiding it, he uncovers our tremendous attraction to it and its necessity status.

In an interview, Magritte had this to say: 
At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It's something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.[Wikipedia]

After reading that, I thought, "Of course, it is our nature to want to see what is hidden by every material picture we see." Then I wondered, "Why is that?" 

Instantly, this thought came: We are not satisfied with what two eyes report, we seek the spiritually fashioned. Mary Baker Eddy wrote: A mortal, corporeal, or finite conception of God cannot embrace the glories of limitless, incorporeal Life and Love.S&H 258:1-3  And Paul tells us the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.Hebrews 11:3

O, yes, my heart does seek the lighter, finer things of Mind and nothing more opaque.

NOTE: The Son of Man is part of a private collection so we don't have an opportunity to even try to move the apple!


Embrace the grieving or heal the grief?

Today I saw a notice for a Blue Christmas Worship Service at the Lake Palestine UMC in Chandler, TX. Similar services are being offered in a variety of Churches during this Advent season. They are offered as a way for congregations to comfort and embrace members who have experienced loss and are grieving in this time of joy and celebration

But it was another Blue Christmas Service notice that really caught my eye. It is to be held at the very Plymouth Congregational Church I remember for its fantastic brass ensemble that made every Allelulia pop during the Easter Service I attended many years ago. On the way to that service, I probably drove past another Church that at that time was located just 4 short blocks away. But it wasn't until some years later that I drove to that other Church for a Wednesday Testimony meeting. The First Church of Christ,Scientist in Des Moines, IA was part of my earliest introduction to Christian Science.

It was there that I began realize that while two neighboring Churches may have equally imposing structures in beautiful settings, their views of grief might not be the same. The Blue Christmas service idea, familiar from my childhood, affirms the necessity of grief as a natural emotional and rational response to loss. Grief, a raw emotion, is believed to require much binding up, deeply felt pain and sense of abandonment, personal will to continue and ample time for mourning before one no longer feels its rawness.

A very different view is held by members of the Church of Christ, Scientist, founded by Mary Baker EddyThey view grief in a totally different light, one that not only expects but almost demands that grief be healed and healed now -- like the issue of blood, withered hand and other diverse diseases healed by Christ Jesus. They know that years, months or days of sacrifice to an idol called grief is unjust and not a law of God! They know God is Love and could never make such a cruel law.

Yes, the Christian Science view may appear startling at first with its uncompromising rejection of pain and sorrow related to loss. Yes, it says "NO" to unlawful idol demands. Yes, it says with authority, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" Yes, it says, "Awake! There is no death. There is no loss."

Who drew this line of demarcation for mankind to see? Christ Jesus drew that line with a sword and his Apostles and disciples wrote Testaments and letters about his authority.

Who traced that same line centuries later? Mary Baker Eddy traced it with a pen, "the pen of an angel". She wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesthe singular textbook for today's students of the teachings and healing method of Christ Jesus. 

Students of Christian Science demonstrate the 1st Commandment by taking an un-selfed, radical stand for the one and only, omnipotent God. Christian Scientists understand that God, good, is the only power, creator and preserver. They understand that He created nothing that could challenge His absolute power. Therefore, loss or a lack of good is an impossibility. This Truth, when known, sets captives free from grief, ready to return to the business of proving that our Father-Mother God is infinite good. Truth calls every heart to join with the Shunammite woman and sing: "It is well."

As if to confirm Truth's call, the Texas UMC Church program shows that Psalm 27:1-5 will be read and an "It is well" hymn will be sung. Here are two version of the selected grief-rejecting hymn:


MAHALIA JACKSON (pure gospel audio version)

AMY GRANT (Amy tell the hymn's back story)



Advent means coming

     Take a break and click to listen

  Daily Lift: 12/9: Advent
             with Ron Ballard from
              Ashland, Oregon, US

Comment #61
Advent, when “every man that hath this hope in [Christ] purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
Advent, when faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” impels our journey to “where, in cradled obscurity, lay the Bethlehem babe,”
Advent, when “The footsteps of thought, rising above material standpoints, are slow, and portend a long night to the traveller; but the angels of His presence …tell us ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand’”
Advent, when the angels stoke the fire of our anticipation and expectancy of wholeness such that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
P1:  “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”  I John 3:3.
Hebrews 11:1 
       Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (vii:6).
Science and Health (174:9).
P4:  I John 3:2

a blogging conundrum

What should one do with "saved" "draft" posts? Post the ready one and add earlier saved drafts when ready with later dates? But wait! The dear reader does not know their chronology.

Working with ideas is demanding and disconcerting at times. It is especially so when an idea invites or rather, insists upon, research and the weaving in of thoughts and posts of others. Often at those times, I find that the journey becomes a solitary one and you, dear reader, are not brought along. You are left like properly packed but unloaded baggage at the terminal. Lovingly and thoughtfully prepared, complete, well-dressed and suddenly in need of a new itinerary. Yes, leaving you thus may be seen as self-indulgent on this blogger's part, but when a new idea unfolds with undeniable and seemingly unquenchable promise... 

To continue, I am a serious thinker, even though, at times, I'm labeled "funny." That label is usually applied when I arrive at the point of really getting the point. The serious thinker part precedes arriving at that point. It starts at the moment an idea presents itself at the door of my thought. At its knock, the anti-virus porter [me] tests its spirits. If the idea passes and shows promise, it is admitted to undergo further investigation. Sometimes that process continues beyond its "hot topic" status. Thinkers, like Plato knew about the ebb and flow of social-interest. But they continued to think and write with indifference to it. So standing with Plato, saved drafts should and may well be posted as they mature.

With that conundrum sifted 1x, a comment posted earlier this day on a currently "hot topic" - Advent - will be posted before saving open drafts on my desktop and casting away the unsaved cuttings on my floors.

Still you may wonder, dear reader, what might be unshared if the saved drafts remain drafts. To that I say:  Let us see as "day by day the manna" falls.

last paragraph quote is from Hymn 46


Who proved that never-give-up pays off?

A lot has been written in recognition of Mary Baker Eddy today. Here are excerpts from various blogs.

In 1907, a New York newspaperman was sent, with other reporters, to dig up sensational stories about a woman in Concord, New Hampshire. It was said that they were a belligerent bunch of old-timers looking for a scandal. After staying in Concord for some time, they were surprised at the loving treatment they received from the woman’s workers and friends. They wanted to hold the woman up to scorn and ridicule.
The New York newsman was known as a hard-nosed reporter. For many years he suffered with a cancerous growth on his throat that left him unable to speak at times and in extreme pain. But the only scoop he took back to New York was knowledge of the healing power behind this women’s spiritual discovery. He had come looking for dirt about a woman. Yet, he went away cured because of the woman.
Here was a woman who wasn’t a punching bag, but a powerhouse, at a time when society considered men superior to women...

1. Her writings have helped millions understand the power of prayer to heal
5. Her awareness of fear as the cause of disease and divine Love as its cure have been confirmed and adopted by many health professionals today
9. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for “making an indelible mark on religion, society, and journalism.”
10. She received praise from Clara Barton, founder of The American Red Cross, who said “Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman – so great, I believe, that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great.”
11. She got Mark Twain’s attention, who called her “the most interesting woman that ever lived and the most extraordinary.”
15. Einstein once attended a Christian Science church service and remarked to a member afterwards, “Do you realize what a wonderful thing you have?”
20. She riled up the leading men of her day, including Mark Twain and Joseph Pulitzer, who summarily criticized and publicly humiliated her
21. She challenged religious doctrines based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, including the doctrine of everlasting punishment and a fiery hell
50. Her ideas are still ahead of their time a century later
Good is a quality not a quantity and as such it cannot be confined, interred or expired. MBEddy was visible to the human eye 100 years ago but the good she expressed is visible to the human eye today!

2. ...She…grasped the full import of Jesus’ teachings: how and why the healing of all physical and moral problems is possible today without drugs, by understanding man’s spiritual nature and his unique relationship to God...
8. ...The headmistress of my mother’s school was touched by her plight and knew that Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings, explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, could change her life for the better. And so they did – so much so that my Grandmother was even able to help others, sometimes dramatically, with the ideas she shared from that book.  …
19. ...She has logically explained, and consistently defended, the idea that there is ONE human race–not multiple lesser or greater races of people....
31. ...When I was a baby I survived what seemed to be life-threatening suffocation after I had stopped breathing and lost the color in my face.  I was revived through Christian Science treatment ..
32. I love her uncompromising love of God and her trust in His goodness...
55. ...Mary Baker Eddy not only broke through the glass ceiling for women, she also built her church without one, in a time when everything was dominated by men – including religion – and when she seemingly had no rights...
42. ...Her life proves to me that there is no hopeless situation, since there is no situation which is not already filled by the presence of Christ...
80. Eddy defied the status quo, and is still one of the most influential Americans, according to The Atlantic
66. ... Her system of health care takes no sides. It is both individual and universal...
73. ...One person saw [a divine] Science where others just saw a [Bible] with black and white pages full of commandments and dogma. This person was Mary Baker Eddy. ...
89. ...The recognition that Christianity is scientific and that there are laws of God that govern heaven here and now is revolutionary. What a discovery! What a discoverer! ...
98. To me, she is a great example who proved in her life that Jesus was not joking when he said that those who understand his teachings will heal the sick as he did...

One hundred years ago, tonight, Mary Baker Eddy quietly passed away at her home in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, with her dearest friends close by. Her last written words, in her own hand were, "God is my life." I think she discovered, not only the better part of herself, but the best. A sense of "self" that understood exactly why God identified Himself to Moses as "I AM."
...This is my story about how that night, 100 years ago, had an impact on my life, 87 years later.
...I was feeling overwhelmed by our circumstances. I was facing down some pretty aggressive demons and was feeling quite alone. At midnight, I offered to make the walk up the long drive to the "big house" and do the security check myself...
It was a bone chilling night …But all I felt was the weight of our plight. Health concerns, financial uncertainty, looming homelessness...seemed to have actual mass that night, as they sat heavily on my heart...

Friday, December 3, 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of The First Church of Christ, ScientistMary Baker Eddy.
Mary Baker Eddy was not one to celebrate birthdays. In fact in a letter she once called their commemoration meaningless. She was making a point about the timeless nature of man as must be the case in light of one eternal God. Eddy felt the same about memorializing death.
So rather than making a fuss over a 100 year anniversary, this is a good time just to look back and see the impact Eddy had in Christian theology, medicine and science...
Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) 
...Born on a farm in Bow, New Hampshire...

If you are facing challenges and feelings of hopelessness meeting the woman who never gave up will awaken you to unseen opportunities just as she was. What she learned and knew is that there is only one enemy, ignorance of one God, infinite and impartial good.

So if you have not taken the opportunity to learn about the remarkable life lived by Mary Baker Eddy, do so soon. Your heart will thank you.