Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Letter Home

D. Michael Day

On page 16 in the Science and Health Mrs. Eddy gives us the spiritual sense of the Lord’s prayer. She takes each individual idea and interprets it from a metaphysical basis to give us a clearer sense of Jesus’ words. Recently many of our branch churches and even The Mother Church has included citations from some of the newer translations of the Bible which are helpful in putting these important passages into a clearer context for us to understand in modern language. I thought it be interesting to do the same thing with the Lord’s prayer and wondered how a college student, perhaps away from home for the first time, might be writing to stay in touch with their parents. Perhaps their letter sent home to their parents might go something like this:

Our Father which art in heaven,  
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,
Hi Mom and Dad, Thanks for staying in touch. I’m glad to hear everything is going so well at home

Hallowed be Thy name.  
Adorable One.
Being away for the first time, I realize how grateful I am to have such wonderful parents as you.

Thy kingdom come.  
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.
It’s so easy to close my eyes and know that my home and family are always with me in my heart and my consciousness no matter where I go or how far away I travel. It’s like you’re always with me.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  
Enable us to know, — as in heaven, so on earth, — God is   omnipotent, supreme.
I just wanted to say how grateful I am for my upbringing and the values you instilled in me. It’s almost like you are with the each day guiding me when I am gone the same way you did when I was there.

Give us this day our daily bread;  
Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;
And thank you again for my allowance. The check really came in handy and I know it was sent with love so I could purchase those extra goodies whenever I seem to run low. I never lack for anything.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  
And Love is reflected in love;
I know I can never repay you for all the wonderful things you have given me and for setting me on the right path so I am paying the debt forward to everyone I meet, just as you would want me to.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;  
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth   us from sin, disease, and death.
The kids up here are doing a lot of questionable things which seem to be popular, but I can clearly see past the influence of such destructive behavior. The spiritual foundation you gave me shelters and protects me and my friends from anything trying to disrupt our good relationship.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over   all, and All.  
I realize now that the upbringing you gave me at home is more important to my life and career than anything I will learn in college. The basis for happiness is not formal education, but the power of infinite wisdom, a clean mind and heart, living a life of which I can be proud without regret, never lying, cheating or being deceitful, and learning to see loving qualities in everyone, not just my friends, but all with whom I come in contact. College doesn’t make you smart, good choices do. I love you and feel your presence with me every day. 

Thank you forever. Well I guess that’s All for now. Your loving son, J.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Placebo + Nocebo ≠ Healing

by Tom Taffel

If you are familiar with the placebo effect, (from the Latin: “I will please”), you may find it even more useful to know about the pernicious nocebo effect, meaning: “I will harm.”  It would make one worse rather than better – based on mere expectation alone.  We can see these phases of mortal mind as powerless and implausible when viewed through the lens of Truth.
Over one hundred years ago, the placebo and nocebo reactions were unveiled by Mary Baker Eddy.  She termed them “aggressive mental suggestion,” a subterfuge that would pose impediments to spiritual healing.

In her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy gives a clear example of the nocebo effect:  “A man was made to believe that he occupied a bed where a cholera patient had died.  Immediately the symptoms of this disease appeared and the man died.  The fact was, that he had not caught the cholera by material contact, because no cholera patient had been in that bed.” (Science and Health  154:10).   Fast forward to 1961, when the term “Nocebo Reaction” was introduced to the medical profession by physician Walter P. Kennedy. (“The Nocebo Reaction,” Medical World, Vol. 95, September 1961, p. 203-205). 

The placebo is deception based on hopeful expectation, (commonly in the form of an un-medicated sugar pill), whereas the nocebo - the placebo’s opposite - is a negative suggestion, which directly or indirectly, audibly or inaudibly, consciously or unconsciously, implants into consciousness a negative, fearful expectation based on erroneous beliefs arousing fear.

I first became aware of the insidious nature of what today we call the nocebo effect in 1968.  Each night the evening news reported an ever-growing number of New York City police officers, who, in protest over their inability to go on strike, aroused public attention by calling in sick with a catchy illness, previously unknown in New York City.  Thus began the Hong Kong Influenza Pandemic in the United States. I needed to stay alert to the media’s nocebo suggestion and see it for what it was: a hoax.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy states: “The press unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family.  It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought.  A new name for an ailment affects people like a Parisian name for a novel garment.  Every one hastens to get it.” (Science and Health  196:31-5).   I was alert to the deceptive suggestions of the nocebo message, and held firmly to Mrs. Eddy’s reassuring admonition:  “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.” (Science and Health  261:4). 

If the nocebo is the evil twin, the dark shadow side of the placebo – nothing but a negative suggestion of mortal mind, then its so-called power is no more real, substantial or fearsome than a shadow.  Isn’t it reassuring to realize that the light of Truth eliminates darkness instantly, completely, without debate, struggle, processing or consideration of its history?

We are constantly bombarded with negative suggestions.  Television commercials send nocebo messages designed to implant images of sickness and fear in consciousness.  These deceitful messages can be personal or impersonal, present or future, and are not necessarily dependent on our conscious awareness.

Advertisements broadcast and published over and over condition us to accept into consciousness nocebo messages such as: our hair will turn gray, our eye sight dim, our memory fail, our bones become brittle, and our hearing diminish.  “Stand porter at the door of thought,” Mrs. Eddy advises. “Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.   When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be: air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears.  Exclude from mortal mind the offending errors; then the body cannot suffer from them.” (Science and Health  392:24-32). 

Standing porter at the door of thought alerts us to see how mortal mind’s “Catch 22” plays out in the market place.  As the public demands truthfulness and transparency, full disclosure as to adverse side effects and negative symptoms that medical compounds may cause, produces a type of “hypervigilance” reinforcing the nocebo effect.  By revealing warnings of all the possible side effects, we see a surge of complications and reactions which the warnings have produced.

We have a choice between taking in dark nocebo thoughts or rejecting them and affirming the ever present light of Life, Truth and Love.  To which voice are we listening?  – the barrage of subliminal deceptive messages of public media, or the calm, exalted thoughts of the healing Christ which uplift and sustain us in peace and harmony?

The task of overcoming evil can confidently be left to the power of the Christ, Truth.  When we welcome God’s truth into thought, it purifies and heals.  Truth lifts and transforms all aspects of our lives, gently, peacefully and with assurance.  Here’s a good litmus test to see if we are being swayed by mortal mind or guided by Divine Mind: God’s loving direction always leads in the direction of peace. Our consciousness of God’s presence and government protects us from the most subtle nocebo messages and their intended consequences.

To summarize, the nocebo effect is nothing more than a negative suggestion which argues for acceptance on either a conscious or an unconscious level.  Its antidote is the conscious awareness of God’s presence and power to destroy anything that is not true about His creation.  Through prayer we nurture receptivity to God’s prompting in every situation.  This divine influence is the presence of the healing Christ, always active in consciousness to disarm and nullify the nocebo and the placebo effects, thus promoting and maintaining our mental and physical well-being, success and happiness.

Truth unmasks, annuls and heals the nocebo’s harmful claims as well as the hoped-for, false expectations of the placebo, enabling God’s messages to govern our lives harmoniously in peace, with confidence and joyous expectation of good.

Tom Taffel will be speaking at the 30th annual Emergence International Conference in St. Louis: October 2, 3, 4, 2015.  He will sharing his latest article, (submitted to the C.S.P.S.): “Coming Out For Good” - his personal life-struggle and ultimate conquest.  Tom was completely alone as a gay student of Christian Scientist with only two choices: suicide or God.  Thankfully, God was victorious…and his story of survival and achievement, in an unaccepting world is remarkable…(but  too soon to be published).  Tom has spoken at many Christian Science gatherings throughout the United States, and lectured on the early poems of Mary Baker Eddy.  His articles and lectures have been published in fourteen religious publications, including the Christian Science “Journal” and “Sentinel,” as well as granted a special Deed of Gift and Copyright License Agreement – The First Church of Christ, Scientist.