Questions and Answers

Some questions are so recurrent as to demand consideration in a work of this type. Broadly, they may be divided into two classes: (1) those relating to metaphysics, and (2) those having to do with the Movement humanly. Of the former class, typical discussions have been selected to follow.

Question: Is it logical to say that knowing there is no transportation in reality results in good transportation in belief?

Answer: There must be something to transportation, or you would have no basis for rectifying defective transportation. Jesus indicated that the very hairs of your head are rooted in reality and that, because infinite consciousness includes all that is, whatever is true about even the fall of a sparrow must be known to the Father (Matthew 10:29-30). This is a principle, and so applies universally. Take, for instance, the phenomenon of gravity as seen (or mis-seen) in the fall of the sparrow. Is that power material or spiritual? Whatever Newton may have named it, it remains the fundamental Mind force, as Mrs. Eddy says (Mis 22:30-1). Without such a controlling factor, position and relationship would be unknown. Gravity is Mind preserving order, keeping each thing in its place as related to all other things, maintaining all that could be meant by motion and position (S&H 90:7-8). If this were better understood, it would be demonstrated that the airplane could come down (in control), but that it could not fall down (uncontrolled).

While it is true that coming and going belong to the relative sense of being, we must never deny action, however seen (Un 61:2-3). The unfoldment of ever-fresh variety may appear to you for the nonce as a trip to California from Chicago, but it is still Mind disclosing itself. To understand this is to eliminate any obstructions, impediments, inefficiencies, delays, failures, discomforts about that which you are calling "transportation," without minimizing its value. Naturally, omnipresent Mind doesn't travel, either as Principle or idea, and if the word "movement" brings up the picture of something traveling in space, you must revert to your sure knowledge that the unlabored motion of Mind does not utilize nor require space. Mind, infinitely manifest as idea, cannot be put inside of something and transported from here to there. The infinite here of consciousness includes all that appears as there, and to find this out is to have it appear practically in human experience as ever speedier and more satisfactory travel, even unto the transferring without interval of the boat, together with cargo and passengers, to the opposite shore, as Jesus proved (John 6:21).

Question: How must I think, then, to get out of a bad spot?

Answer: What you call locale will continue to shift for the better in the ratio that you apprehend that the only place is inclusive divine consciousness. There are not places. Just one. The only place is Mind and this is it, replete with all that could be desired or required. It is established from all eternity and includes right now every comfort, convenience, utility, every beauty. "As our ideas of Deity become more spiritual, we express them by objects more beautiful" – not by barrenness of environment (Peo 14:1-2). "In my Father's house are many mansions," a satisfying variety of aspects, but consciousness does not come or go, rise or fall, enlarge or diminish. All that changes is your sense of place, so that as you comprehend the divinity of all being, improvement is manifest as a better situation.

You can't get out of your place, the only place, and place is not at the whim of people or the mercy of accident. Your recognition of true place must cancel all the defrauding beliefs about place. God, as Principle, determines all that is meant by place or relationship, and the knowing of this establishes the law of perfection for your current sense of place. This redemption of consciousness may look to you like the perfecting of your home, office or church, or it may appear as your moving to a new and better place: Your individual sense of place, being your interpretation of Mind, you would not attempt to change places through mental manipulation of the finite picture, but would purify and elevate your interpretation through proving the underlying reality (Mis 217:30-1).

In your night dream, you see place as a physical location, with you inside a finite enclosure called ceiled-room or sky-bound universe. Yet where are you? Strictly in (as) thought, and this has actually no boundaries. When you awaken in the morning to the fact that the night's experiences were wholly mental, all the limitations of your dream vanish. Now go a step farther, and get this waking dream – your interpretation of being – straightened out. Getting God alone as Mind, place will be glorified in every aspect for you, so that there comes into your environment (experience) all that is beautiful, good, satisfying, and in a way that is natural, plausible, appropriate.

Question: How can I sell my house?

Answer: Humanly considered, property rights are not intrinsic to either the owner or the property. Property rights are entirely a matter of human opinion. You own only what society concedes you own, for the rules of modern civilization are a question of mutual agreement, the majority opinion governing (Mis 228:21-29). The human view is the relative sense of things, hence the necessity for acting according to what seems best to you at the moment. So long as things appear as they do to us, we are obliged to resort to human expedients or footsteps. But in proportion as we apprehend divine Mind as All, we spontaneously turn from dependence upon merely human means and, conversely, insure the success of our undertakings.

Now consider possession from the absolute. The moment you realize fully that all things are purely mental, you discover that you cannot be deprived of anything. Conflict over possession arises solely from the belief that things are material. You possess what you include consciously – and what is this but God possessing Himself or including Himself consciously, with you God's consciousness of Himself? (S&H 302:8-9, Un 3:20-26). Work from the standpoint that all good already is, and that you are the very knowledge of this fact. Every single thing connected with the transaction which you are now contemplating is established from all eternity, and dates from when the morning stars sang together. The form in which this must appear, then, is a gauge of your current understanding. In any case, if you will not limit this appearing by finite preconceptions, your interpretation of perfection with regard to this, as everything, must be what is nearest right under the circumstances.

Question: So many Scientists who accomplish wonderful healings are defeated in the matter of supply.

Answer: Handle supply exactly as you would health: from the standpoint of isness. In a case of disease, you do not say that health is being brought to man, but that man is already and forever healthy. Confronted with lack, you do not say that the necessities will come to man, but that he is already and in every way provided for. How else could you break the mesmerism that would present man as either sick or impoverished? It is essential to see that "supply" is not something that flows, but something that is, and that it is not therefore something that can be cut off or diverted. The word "supply" is misleading. The word "sustenance" is perhaps more scientific.

Mind, being All-in all, it can obviously never know anything but itself as itself. Thus all that consciousness contains it also maintains, for its perception of substance is its awareness of its own actuality. Mind supplying Mind by reflection is Principle realizing its own satisfying completeness (Ret 56:20 only). Infinitely perfect effect is the inevitable and inseparable result of infinitely perfect cause. Since effect – and all you call yourself and universe is obviously effect – since effect can hardly exceed its own cause, the very presence of effect indicates co-equal cause or sustenance. Being commensurate with cause, nothing by way of effect could unfold as your experience which was not already provided for in every possible respect, since everything must exist as cause before it can be manifested as effect. Hence "the deific law that supply invariably meets demand." (Mis 45:16 only).

"Romeo" must exist in or as the mind of Shakespeare before he can appear as Shakespeare's mind manifest, and the concept could not be without sufficient mind to conceive and constitute it. And so it is that God made every plant of the field before it was in the earth (S&H 512:21-24). All that is unfolding, or being revealed, is already provided for, and before this recognition, belief cannot operate as fear or doubt to obstruct the irresistible disclosure that is Mind knowing its own infinitude. The fact of divine sustenance may be misinterpreted as money, food, clothing, shelter, but we can freely and gratefully accept what seems best in the situation, respecting it for what it really is instead of what it might appear to be.

As usual, our demonstration is imperiled by the temptation to outline in terms of matter (S&H 62:22-26). During the recent financial depression, a ragged man came up to a road boss and asked for work. What kind of work? Oh, any kind.

"Well," said the boss, "do you see that boulder over there on the hill?" Roll that down to the road and then back up again. That's real work for you!"

"You don't understand. I have a family to take care of. What I need is money."

"Why, if that's all you need, here's a five-dollar bill. But just a moment – you'll have to promise not to spend it."

A little bewildered, the applicant hesitated, and then in desperation expostulated, "What I need is food and fuel and clothing – not money!"

"If you're sure, now, that is really all you require, then spend the money for food and fuel and clothing – but don't eat the food or burn the fuel or wear the clothing."

At last the man was forced to realize and admit that what he was really searching for was a sense of security, satisfaction, peace. All wholly mental.

The fact that you are divinely sustained must appear to you, though, as shelter, food, raiment, money, or whatever is required for your apprehension of sustenance. To think of it all as matter, is to invest it with material limitations, of course, and to endanger the outcome of your most earnest work. If, on the other hand, you understand that it is divine sustenance appearing, despite the language of its appearing, you will find it adequate to the point of abundance, appropriate to the point of harmony and satisfying to the point of contentment.

The absolute truth about employment is that Principle employs its own idea of itself to express itself, so that employment is permanent, uninterruptible, ideal. Naturally, it remains for us to demonstrate this, and as we do, it is bound to come in the comprehensible language of people-places-things. Whatever the appearance, you are dealing with Principle, not people, and knowing that gives you dominion "over all the earth." The only business is God's business. Now prove it! You can.

In May of 1942, it chanced that Adelaide Still and I were fellow house-guests of the Gilbert C. Carpenters in Providence, when one of our Leader's unpublished statements on supply was authenticated, which it is a joy to share.

"Whenever there seems to be a need or lack in your experience, this simply indicates the scientific fact that this seeming need is already supplied by God's gracious abundance."

"Mrs. Eddy dictated this to me," Miss Still said, "and I wrote it in the back of a Bible. When I showed it to her, she took her pen and added this to it:

"'Then give thanks with your whole heart because you have learned in Christian Science that God's supply is on hand'."

Question: Is there anything metaphysical about Mrs. Eddy's agreement with Rev. Talmage, that where are wit, humor and enduring vivacity among God's people? (Mis 117:10-12).

Answer: I have never known a successful metaphysician who did not have a keen sense of humor. Mr. Kimball was famous for his. So was Mr. Young. Innumerable episodes are officially recorded of Mrs. Eddy's rapier wit (Powell biography, pp. 223-225). Christian Science should give a balanced sense of values and surcharge all with vitality. It is evil which would slyly suggest that spirituality is indicated by a long face – or a long record! A clear thinker enjoys a situation for all it is worth, whether it is solemn or ludicrous. True mirth, of course, is not to be found in the malicious sarcasm of the newspaper cartoon, but rather in the kindly sharing of an exhilarating thought. Correctly understood, it is the spontaneity of pure Mind, shining with the gleaming unction of Spirit. Where there is no joy, there is no Science.

Mr. Young often reminded us of the usefulness of humor when we were taking ourselves too seriously. He illustrated this with a story. Before a church meeting in Kimball Hall, he was standing with a group of Scientists when a sad-looking friend joined them. After a few restless remarks, the man burst out with, "Did you see the evening papers? Reverend So-and-so has been attacking us again. He says we're not a Christian denomination!" "Why not?" retorted Mr. Kimball. "We take up a collection don't we?" With a laugh, everyone relaxed.

Question: Some people feel Mrs. Eddy expressed disapproval of marriage by putting a prohibition in the Manual against our own readers performing the ceremony.

Answer: If you will again read Section 1 of Article IX in the Manual, you will find it is not a prohibition, but a requirement that the ceremony shall be legal (Man 49:19-22). Responding to a letter from First Church of Chicago on the subject, Mrs. Eddy said that this was an important question and that her answer of December 7, 1897, should be read at a church meeting. She wrote them: "A Christian Scientist ordained according to our laws and religious usage can unite people in wedlock . . . but no infringing the law on marriage by one unqualified as per law and order is admissible." It is only because our readers are not legally authorized to perform the ceremony, you see, that it must be left to others.

Question: How could Mrs. Eddy justify her eating of meat when that involves the killing of animals?

Answer: You wear shoes don't you?

Question: I know a student whose metaphysics are unquestionably faulty, yet she has had some wonderful healings. How is that?

Answer: Many of us heal in spite of our funny notions – even though we may believe it is because of them! I know a student highly successful in cancer healings who insists upon handling sin in every case, and I know another who has had even greater success in curing cancer victims, although he would consider it grossest malpractice to associate sin with malignant growths. Obviously, they have something in common outside their approach to the problem. What would that have to be? The only thing requisite is divine realization. If we manage that, the other things which obtrude themselves on the scene cannot thwart our honest endeavors (S&H 199:21-22).

Mrs. Eddy's epochal healing in 1866 took place before she had ever enunciated her Science, and it was three years she tells us before she was able to formulate a satisfactory explanation (S&H 109:11-24). Discussing her singular recovery after that historic fall on the ice, she said to Alfred Farlow that she had been thinking about God, and that it must have been the attitude of mind she was in which made it possible for the spiritual power to heal her. She said that in some unknown way she had reached that consciousness of Divinity which heals the sick, comparing this to the touching of harmonic chords by the natural musician without scientific knowledge (Powell biography, 117:1-27). She had yet to trace and retrace her steps, and then to chart the way for others.

Question: One on our local board insists that applicants for church membership should be rejected if they are coffee drinkers.

Answer: In her remarkable diary, Caroline Foss Gyger relates that when she went to live at Pleasant View, Mrs. Eddy early rang for her and said: "I forgot to tell you that if you want tea or coffee, you will have to provide it for yourself." Although Mrs. Eddy did not drink coffee, she did not forbid its use in her home. Quite the contrary. She served it in abundance to painters working on her house in wintertime (Ibid. 192:22-25). It is recorded in the Christian Science Journal that she presided at gatherings serving "ices, berries and cakes – and coffee." (Journal, Vol. IV, p. 94). The reference in our textbook to "the depraved appetite" for coffee condemns depravity, not coffee (S&H 406:28-31). One who is addicted to any habit must take cognizance of the error and handle it away.

But if you attempted to eliminate all the foodstuffs containing extractable drugs, you would have a scant bill of fare, since few eatables are devoid of items in the Pharmacopoeia. Escaping the caffeine of coffee, you would encounter the stimulant theine in tea – unless you chose rather the equivalent theobromine of cocoa or the capsicum of pepper or the opium-like lactucin of ordinary lettuce, to mention but a few examples! Verily it is not the things that enter into a man's mouth which defile him, but the things of thought admitted consciously.

Dr. Andrew Graham's story is a good one. His first morning at the Christian Science sanatorium on Chestnut Hill, a solicitous waitress asked him if he would like some Postum with his breakfast. "Good heavens, no!" he exclaimed, "I was healed of that years ago!" He wasn't thinking of coffee as something indispensable for which he was obliged to find a substitute.

Question: What about exercise?

Answer: A demonstration of Christian Science always resulting in "what is nearest right under the circumstances," the genuine Christian Scientist will be found leading a normal life according to universal human standards. No one has ever been known to live without eating – Jesus ate even after the resurrection, you will recall – and no one has ever been known to be entirely healthy without a reasonable amount of physical activity. Any tendency to defy basic human requirements, like air, exercise and food, shows not a scientific attitude, but a morbid impracticality. We must not just sit with our books until we grow pale! (S&H 329:7-23).

An immature student encountered Bicknell Young on horseback, cantering through Lincoln Park. "Oh, Mr. Young," she blurted, "do you ride for your health?" "No," he corrected, "I ride because I am healthy!"

Question: Wasn't Mrs. Eddy more than exacting with her staff?

Answer: She required a great deal of the people in her home, but this may have been with the design of driving them ever to higher levels. There is no doubt that she urged them on to more advanced demonstrations constantly, and it is the Carpenters' contention that her Divinity Course was based upon an unrelenting demand for something just beyond the student's proven capacity (Man 68:12-16). The newcomers, for example, were put to work on the weather – something they never dreamed Scientists seriously attempted to do anything about – and this forced them to undertake a wholly new orientation. No sooner did one accomplish his assigned duty than a new and more difficult task was set for him. Adelaide Still regales us with amusing tales of John Salchow's inventiveness under duress. There was a period when Mrs. Eddy insisted her stockings be dried without wrinkles. After many failures, John solved the problem with wire drying frames. As soon as she learned of this, she ordered the frames disposed of – but never again complained of the wrinkles. Her interest in that matter stopped with the surmounting of the difficulty. But John grew. "If Mother told you to hang a lantern on the moon," Margaret MacDonald said to him, "you'd try it." "Well," countered John, "if she told me to do it, there would be a way to do it!"

Question: Aren't there any truly historical biographies of our Leader, books uncolored by the gratuitous effort to defend her or else warped by the venom of attack?

Answer: The book entitled "Mrs. Eddy," by Hugh A. Studdert Kennedy, is a carefully documented, tenderly written and inspiring account of this great spiritual genius, written with eager breathlessness and with the freedom possible only to an author who accepts her statement that "nothing has occurred in my life's experience which, if correctly narrated and understood, could injure me." (My 298:3-5).

Question: Is not Spirit gained through the conquest of matter?

Answer: No. As spirituality is gained, materiality is automatically lost. We cannot emerge gently from matter into the allness of Spirit while militantly concerned with that which, from the standpoint of Spirit, does not exist (S&H 485:14). Our reliance on Truth is necessarily in proportion to our understanding of Truth. The more we are engaged with spirituality, the less we are concerned with materiality. Meanwhile, because we must see good in terms of current comprehension, it would be unreasonable to reject that which appears at the moment to be most practical. Human expedients are indispensable until actually displaced by demonstrated metaphysics. Regarding the so-called temporary concession, Cornelia C. Church very sensibly told her classes, "You can't do away with it until you can do without it."