Tag: Bible

Ready to Give

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Budapest. Munich. Bodrum.   These beautiful, historic places have become symbols of unanswered global questions about our moral obligations to mankind.

This question is just as important here in the Southwestern US, as anywhere.

Seeing reports of masses of refugees fending for themselves at Keleti railway station in Hungary, having just escaped the chaos of warfare, begs many questions and demands serious thought.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”, could be a natural response. But what is the grace of God? To me, it’s the inspired effect on human behavior of understanding God’s universal love. Such boundless grace must hold answers for each individual, oppressed or free, in conflict or at peace, in Syria or Arizona.

We could, of course, simply view these challenges as someone else’s problem. But we have a track record of doing better than that. In the 1970’s the influx of Vietnamese families torn by conflict was met with magnanimity. Many churches opened their hearts and doors to those in need. And more than just being a morally sure-footed thing to do, it was a mutual blessing.

For instance, our family benefitted from knowing the Pham family. Their daughters proved to be terrific babysitters for our children. In turn, we found a home for our “well-seasoned” Volvo wagon that helped them move their wonderful, talented family about.

“Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals,” wrote spiritual thinker and humanitarian, Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p.13). She was referring to divine Love, God. When we express such love — for example, living the Golden Rule by doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, which is found in some form in every faith tradition — then we are living this God-given, universal love. Adaptable to any situation, love is meant to be bestowed impartially and universally and we can each pray to know how best to adapt and bestow our love for those escaping war, whether or not they actually make their way to our country.

Does doing so deplete us? No. On the contrary, there’s a wonderful statement from the Bible, “…now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality.” (II Cor. 8:14)

How can this be? It is because “our Maker” is infinite good, and as we draw on such an inexhaustible grace on behalf of others we better grasp God’s endless grace for all. We are proving something which, if universally understood, would surely help mitigate at the root the kind of thinking that causes such crises — namely, that fear and greed are misconceptions of a need to compete for resources based on a limited, material sense of their source.

Love is the generosity that comes from understanding God’s infinite, spiritual nature. As we dwell on God’s abundant, impartial grace for all, would we not find ourselves ready to give abundantly to those in need?

This Article was published September 23, 2015 in the Arizona Silver Belt Newspaper.

Health: Dependence or Independence?*

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Dependence is certainly not what a toddler wants after learning to walk, or a teen after getting a driver’s license. They don’t seek to return to dependence on that which they have outgrown. They are overjoyed at the progress they have made in taking charge of their life and asserting their independence.

But is regression from independence a risk in regard to our health? Are there aspects of typical, modern health care that foster dependence? Can our attitude and thoughtfulness help avoid this dependence.

A young adult friend was in a serious automobile accident and consequently immobilized because of broken bones. A skilled and attentive surgeon set the bones and prescribed rest and low level activity that would aid recovery. Medications were included to control pain and address other precautions. This was normal protocol. The young adult adhered to the regimen initially, but unwelcome side effects accompanied procedures, and he wanted to diminish or cease the usage of the medications. He respected medical opinion, but he did not hesitate rethinking the nature, duration and intensity of these prescriptions as an independent thinker.

Expecting healing, rather than perpetuation of chemical assistance, helped him diminish the dosages until half way through the expected program there was no need for pain medication because there was no pain. Why? Because, in part, this young man was not perpetuating the thought of the accident. He held no ill will toward the drunk driver who T-boned him. He felt and showed much gratitude toward the emergency room personnel, asking on departure to go back to thank one of the nurses for the special care he had received when he was first brought in. He turned the physical challenges into a lesson of patience. In short, he had refused to depend upon the stereotypical victim conduct of anger, pity, or self-absorption. The result was a quicker recovery, both emotionally and physically, and freedom from continuing chemical dependence.

Good outcomes from maintaining an independent and open thought on the path to health have been evident for centuries. One finds Biblical precedent in the woman who, having spent her wealth on seeking medical help for her chronic bleeding without relief, reached out to the spiritual representative of health at that time, Christ Jesus, and was healed through reclaiming her own spiritual independence from the matter-based norm that had not helped her.

Like this woman and the young man mentioned above, we can be grateful for the caring received from skilled and well-motivated professionals without slipping into dependence. We can search out the spiritual qualities like graciousness, gratitude, humility and forgiveness, which bring confidence in the inevitability of good health and strengthen one’s conscious independence toward life-affirming decisions.

*Published December 10, 2014 in  the Arizona Silver Belt newspaper in Globe, Arizona.

iOS 8.0* Iconic Health

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Major change. For those who use iPhones* and iPads*, Apple just launched a thorough update of their operating system for its customers. Without requesting it, a new icon appears when this software is downloaded. It is the “Health” icon. I didn’t ask for it. It just appeared.

The “Health” icon provides the user with a dashboard of health data about themselves. It also allows one to source other medical applications and to list critical personal medical information for emergencies.

When this appeared on my iPhone desktop, I looked for ways that I could incorporate my health data and its sources — files of spiritual inspiration and evidences of God’s love for man — under that desktop icon along with exercise regimen. For me the important sources are passages of inspired Scripture and learnings of a spiritual nature, many of which are from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by an early researcher in health, Mary Baker Eddy.  The iPhone program appears to assume that “health” and “medicine” coupled with exercise, are synonymous. But is that a sufficiently inclusive view of one’s health?

To many people, health, or wholeness, is far more than medical data and the tracking of cardio routines reported to the user. Those could be helpful but do not constitute a complete system for health. Others have found an effective operating system detailed in the book mentioned above, Science and Health: “Divine metaphysics is now reduced to a system, to a form comprehensible by and adapted to the thought of the age in which we live. This system enables the learner to demonstrate the divine Principle, upon which Jesus’ healing was based, and the sacred rules for its present application to the cure of disease.”

A system is a set of related parts that form a whole. So, wouldn’t we want our “Health” icon to cover all of the related parts that constitute our wholeness. Prevention of ill health is certainly part of that, which could include proper exercise. But prevention that includes a prayerful and meditative attitude maintains a peaceful and calm consciousness and can result in healing.

Healing, therefore, should also be part of the upgrade for the operating system of life. Over time, one could learn that a universal and divine sense of love, God as Love, according to the book of I John in the Bible, heals. It reaches what medicine can’t in relationships, life direction, motives for our actions, and, yes, physical restoration.

While doing a normal exercise on the floor of my room, I felt a great pain in my hip and couldn’t move from the position on my back. The Old Testament healing of Jacob and his dislocated hip came to my thought and I knew at once that there would be a solution. Instead of fear, expectation of freedom from this pain and immobility calmed my thought. In a few days, I was moving normally by adhering to this idea and others like it.

The new icon on my iPhone is a wonderful reminder to broaden my sense of health to include more than medical data, maintaining a more holy view of health and wholeness. That’s a real operating system upgrade.

*Names are intellectual property of Apple, Inc.

Food For Thought

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Savory or sweet might be our menu preferences but Dr. Andrew Weil suggests that “Bitter is Better” in his recent Huffington Post article (April 28, 2014) regarding the food we eat. Of course, it makes good sense to rebalance our eating with some less sweet tasting vegetables along with our more habitual fare.  Variety in diet has always made sense.

It was Aristotle who promoted the Golden Mean…balance (moderation) in all things. Naturopaths have built a health profession on the premise that most disease is caused by the unbalancing of one’s normal physical composition. They seek to restore it naturally to balance, often through the food one eats. Focus on eating behaviors and negative outcomes for poor eating behaviors have never had more public, even governmental, attention. Most Americans are aware of the dedication of the First Lady, Michelle Obama, to healthy nutrition of the young in our country. Many media publications have complete sections devoted to diet and health.

But for all the focus on healthy nutrition, a wise precept from the past is often forgotten: “What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.” We are pretty careful not to ingest things that will upset our stomach, but are we equally as careful not to take in and voice ideas that are upsetting, even damaging?

It seems like most grocery shoppers are careful to examine the labels on food before purchasing or using. I’ve known friends who have considered every ingredient in organic garlic pepper, noting that it had a trace of organic sugar and therefore, they couldn’t eat the wild-caught salmon on the grill seasoned with it. We sensibly take stock of what we put into our mouth. But perhaps an even more important question is, how discriminate are we with the ideas or images we take into our thought that result in things we say and do?

On the positive side, thoughts that lead to unselfish acts toward others leave healthy imprints. But a diet of clever but biting humor, without any balance of mental uplift, can lead to dark and empty images. Dwelling on or sharing such images robs us of the opportunity to engage in enriching dialogue that might help resolve societal problems.

Unsolved problems often create anxiety, which isn’t a healthy state of thought. In keeping with Aristotle, we might better seek to balance our concern for food perfection, an elusive goal, with a diet for enriched ideas and beneficial conversation.  Our world needs our best thinking, conversing, and acting, more than anything.

There are many sources for finding help to balance our intake of good thinking and acting? I find balance in this statement from an inspiring and effective spiritual thinker: “Selfishness and sensualism are educated in [human consciousness] by the thoughts ever recurring to one’s self, by conversation about the body, and by the expectation of perpetual pleasure or pain from it; and this education is at the expense of spiritual growth”… a heavy expense.

If we focus a bit more attention on what we are consuming in consciousness and a bit less on physical diet, we might find the rebalancing we are looking for that includes a diviner, less food-centered, experience. Then what “comes out of the mouth” will be health-generating to ourselves and to others. That’s balanced food — for thought.

*Matt. 15:11 (New English Translation)

Science and Health With Key To The Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 260

Societal and Personal Health

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Typical of David Brooks, journalist, author, and social, political, and philosophical commentator, he has written a beautiful piece in his recent NYT column, “The Prodigal Sons” (New York Times, February 18, 2014). Referencing Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son*, Mr. Brooks conveys the idea that the social health of society is improved when we are neither morally wanton in our ways (the younger son in the parable) nor morally self-righteous (the elder son).  It is a great and quick read if you are not familiar with the parable.  The ideal is the father of the two sons, who is constant in his forgiveness and inclusion of both, and of all around him.

Mr. Brooks’s conclusion to the article (See, http://nyti.ms/1fujvFB) is that “if you live in a society that is coming apart on class lines, the best remedies are oblique.  They are projects that bring the elder and younger brothers together for some third goal: national service projects, infrastructure-building, strengthening a company or congregation.  The father offers each boy a precious gift.  The younger son gets to dedicate himself to work and discipline.  The older son gets to surpass the cold calculus of utility and ambition, and experience the warming embrace of solidarity and companionship.”

This insight is not just about squandering inheritances and sibling rivalry, but is really about maintaining a healthy outlook through patience and understanding, rather than through self-righteousness.

It’s very practical. I once wanted to remove a tree root. Using my axe and long earned, but somewhat stale, camp skills, I began whacking away.  It wasn’t happening.  Instead of appreciating the problem I applied more force.  Right.  The axe head sprang back and hit me in the forehead.  Not a healthy outcome.  I had built up a self-righteous grudge against the root.  I learned.  Intensifying will was not a solution.  Gaining a calm perspective was.  When I did, the wound healed without a scar.

Sometimes we become quite certain in our views of right and wrong, …judgmental and critical, even condemning.  We want to just whack away at the root of what we see as “the problem”, the other’s point of view. That runs the risk of hurting everyone. The younger son wanted to rebel against his upbringing.  The elder wanted to criticize the younger for his wantonness.  Wantonness and self-righteousness, like bad roots, are best removed not by harsh judgment and contempt, but by a patient, understanding and forgiving awareness.

Certainly the correlation between forgiveness and health is well established today.**

The healthy approach is the one the father took. Steadily viewing both of his sons through the lens of a loving father, he embraced them both, albeit in different ways. This love of a father, in its largest context, is divine Love that reaches us all and teaches us the act of forgiveness and the embrace of mankind.  Perhaps, this is the fuller lesson of the parable and a key to our societal health, as well as our personal health.

*Luke 15:11-32

**Mayo Clinic Staff article, November 23, 2011

Published as “Your Health and Society’s Health are Intertwined” by Lake Havasu City News Herald, Friday, March 21, 2014

Who’s Responsible For My Health?

 

 

Health care solutions multiply as we learn to take responsibility for our own health.

 

This is true even in the face of exigencies such as those reported in the September 11th edition of the Arizona Daily Star entitled, “Aging US faces cancer-care crisis, report finds”, by Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press.  A panel under the auspices of the Institute of Medicine reported that a crisis looms as a result of the expected increase in cancer related cases.  The demographics regarding aging in the US, the complexity of treatments, and the shortage of specialized medical professionals raise a serious concern.  The forecast is that cancer cases could increase from 1.6 million per year to 2.3 million per year in 2030.

 

The article mentions, “too often, decisions about cancer treatments aren’t based on good evidence, and patients may not understand their choices and what to expect”.  For example, “two-thirds or more of patients with poor prognoses incorrectly believe the treatments they receive could cure them”.  It goes on to advise, “Topping the list of recommendations is finding ways to help patients make more informed decisions, with easy-to-understand information on the pros, cons and costs of different treatments”.

 

Shifting the responsibility to an informed patient is apparently gaining traction.  A book, released in 2011, entitled, The New Health Age, The Future of Health Care in America, by David Houle and Jonathan Fleece, says “…it is time for all American citizens to accept greater responsibility for their own health”.

 

These writings, along with certain aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, indicate a clear trend to engage the individual in health care choices and to make each of us more responsible for our health, both preventative and curative.

 

Underneath all of this is an assumption that individuals know where to obtain the information for making wise decisions about their health.  Both the news article and the book, however, are based on a modern surgery and drug utilization model of health and, by definition, assume that model as the scope of understanding needed to make informed decisions.  But health and how to achieve it begs broader consideration.

 

The history of health is not tantamount to the history of medicine.  The latter in its modern form has only been around for the last two centuries, according to Houle and Fleece.  Whereas, maintaining one’s health has always been a concern of mankind.  Methods of care and healing have evolved and have been embraced in different ways.  They include physical, mental, and spiritual approaches to health.  For example, those who find that they are faced with a prognosis of incurability in one dimension can appeal to another, which may provide the path of health.  Taking greater responsibility for one’s health may also involve shifting one’s view of what health is, and how to achieve it.

 

An acquaintance of mine had been diagnosed with Meniere’s Syndrome, for which the caring physicians could offer no cure.  So, my friend began to study more earnestly how a mental and spiritually prayerful approach could help.  Her search led her to see herself as more than a physical organism and to recognize the possibilities coming from a spiritual concept of health.  She was healed.

 

While to some this may seem highly unusual, changing one’s basis of thinking about life and health from an entirely physical point of view to a more mentally conscious or metaphysical one, is becoming increasingly common.  The work and writings of physicians like Larry Dossey or institutions like the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, are leading more and more patients and physicians to broader considerations.

 

The idea that health is more than what goes on with the body, and that it is important for each of us to take charge of our health, is not necessarily new.  Certainly, Mary Baker Eddy, a seeker of health and a religious leader of the late 1800’s, experienced this in her recovery from a near fatal accident.  The attending physician had lost hope.  She took responsibility and turned to a spiritual source with which she was familiar, Christian healing in the Bible.  Soon she found herself healed of the injuries from the accident, increasingly able to establish her own wellbeing, to help heal others, and to teach them to replicate this healing approach.

 

Accepting responsibility as individuals expands rather than diminishes our health care solutions.  This is a propitious time.

 

 

 

A College Parent’s View

March is National Collegiate Health and Wellness Month.  Who knew?

I just called our senior university student as a market study of one and these were his answers to my questions:

Are you aware that this is Health and Wellness Month for colleges and universities?  No.

Are health issues a common discussion among students that you know?  No, however in the dorms (recalling from when he was in a dorm), there is some discussion regarding health and sexual habits.

So, health is not a “water cooler” topic among students?  No, unless there is some kind of bug (contagious disease) going around.

Do students use the health center?  No, not often that I’m aware of.

If they are not well, do they call home for support or advice?  No, not really.  When a common, contagious disease is going around, the students usually take care of it themselves with rest or common over-the-counter drugs.

As a caring parent, I’m glad that disease does not occupy our student’s thought and time.  It may be an important reason why he has had a healthy four years.  Part of the reason I don’t find myself being anxious about his health while he is away from home is knowing peace of mind is a reassuring support for him.

I was reading an article in the “Your Health” section of The Arizona Republic, March 15, regarding the disease, shingles.  The purpose of the article was to discuss vaccination as a method of prevention.  It reminded me of when our son had shingles a few years ago.  He had wandered into the nurse’s office on campus for a band-aid and she diagnosed it as such.  Our own particular approach to healing is spiritual, seeing the importance of being mindful of one’s innate health as an expression of God’s love, always present and powerful.  Our son’s healing came quickly and completely…no recurrence or lingering, no medical treatment required.

It was interesting to note at the end of the newspaper article, written by Connie Cone Sexton, that she listed some good advice other than vaccination for addressing shingles.  I was pleased to see that the list included, rest, avoidance of stress, simple exercise, and, perhaps most importantly, “Do things that take your mind off pain”.  Right.  There is a fair consensus growing that what we hold in thought, affects how we feel.

That simple advice, along with daily prayer that clarifies and strengthens my thoughts against prevalent fears of disease, appears to be at the base of what I am able to do best for our collegian.  I am able to impart a sense of peace, freedom from fear, and expectation of healthy activity, which our son knows he will find when he calls or even thinks about home.  In turn, his concerns are not inflamed by parental fears.

Overarching this is the awareness our family has developed from study of healings in the Bible and a companion text* we peruse regularly that illustrate there is one infinite, loving Parent, who impartially and universally bestows constant, divine good to all.  United in that thought leaves no separation between parents and their college kids in the face of challenges to their health and wellness.  Here’s to March and beyond.

*Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy.