The Family of Man
Harold Rogers, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
As a music critic I often attended
rehearsals at Symphony Hall in
At one point – when the entire orchestra was playing fortissimo – Monteux suddenly stopped the musicians. He turned to the tuba player and said: "Your C is flat." The tuba player sounded his C, and, sure enough it was flat.
How could Monteux detect so slight a fault when the entire orchestra was playing full blast?
The answer is simple. Monteux understood the musical rules, or laws, that enable expert musicians to play together with precision. So he detected the false note because he had a clear understanding of how the true one should sound. And when this false note was corrected, harmony was established.
A symphony orchestra itself is a good example of another kind of harmony – a harmony of people rather than notes. Most distinguished orchestras are made up of at least a hundred players. They come together with different racial and religious backgrounds, different training, and different cultural sensitivity. Yet these differences in no way interfere with the players making great music because they are united by an indivisible bond, a kind of love.
Over the centuries the world has yearned for a greater sense of harmony – harmony among relatives, friends, neighbors, church workers, business associates, fellow citizens, the world's nations and its peoples, the whole vast human family. And today the yearning is perhaps even more acute. The requirements for harmony in the orchestral family – obedience to law and the expression of love – suggest a solution to problems of the human family.
I want to speak with you today about an even greater law of harmony and love. I want to discuss with you something of a provable, fresh view of relationship. But first let's take a look at the ordinary view of human relationships.
The Imperfect World of the Physical Senses
The approach men most commonly use to observe human behavior is through the physical senses – the eyes, the ears, and so on. Then on the basis of their report men try to discover the best rules for living together.
And what do we observe about human behavior? What do our physical senses tell us? Well, they testify to the good and the beautiful, but also, sadly enough, to much that is ugly – to war, accident, disease, death, and even the possibility of mankind's total extinction.
According to the physical senses, human relationships have developed under the influence of many divisive factors. For example, human beings have been separated into many races and nations. And each group, in turn, has developed its own language, its own customs, its own way of thinking.
These groups are further divided into families, each with its own family tree – a genealogical structure built up through marriage and offspring. As we all know, the basic unit consists of a father, a mother, and their children. And, as with other aspects of human life, we find that some of these family units work together harmoniously and some of them don't. That is, we find happy and united homes, but we also find homes full of quarreling, or homes fragmented by separation, divorce, and death.
And we find the same thing among the family of nations.
Yet people haven't always been willing to settle for injustice and suffering as part of their final destiny. Even in face of the world's poverty men dream of a place where everyone lives in affluence. In face of the world's sickness and disease they dream of a place where everyone enjoys health. In face of the world's lust and greed we dream of a place where man is forever generous and pure. And even in face of the world's wars and hates we dream of a place where we can live together in lasting peace and love.
Some statesmen and economists have imagined this ideal place as a physical locality under a good human government with good political and economic systems, based on good human thinking. Others have looked to scientific developments and technology for the road to their ideal. And they have drawn logical conclusions that led them to physical causes, all in the final analysis based on evidence provided by the physical senses.
You know, solutions to problems are no better than their premises, or starting points. And one of the important things for us to consider today is that our premises can be wrong. We may be looking for solutions to all these problems I've been talking about in the wrong place – dealing, incorrectly, with the wrong symptoms. Starting with the evidence of the physical senses, with the material view of the human scene, men can't find harmony, justice, comfort – or even health. Sure, men have made considerable technological progress and devised greatly improved political and economic systems, but they haven't found the key to that law and love which make for sound relationships among individuals and groups.
No wonder, then, there are those who have taken an entirely different approach to solving this problem. They have felt the answer lies elsewhere, not in a material solution at all. Instead, they have looked for a solution based on acceptance of the spiritual rather than the material. Mary Baker Eddy summarizes the Christian Science view in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science puts it like this: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes" (p. 340). We must look, therefore, not to our physical senses for help in solving our problems of human relationship, but to God.
The Truth That Unites Men
On many occasions the great Biblical characters – and especially Christ Jesus and his disciples – did just that. They doubted the testimony of the physical senses. They arrived at their conclusions through reasoning from a spiritual, not from a material standpoint, and through intuitive spiritual insights into the nature of a God who is good. Because Jesus started from God, infinite good, not from human evidence with its mixture of good and bad, his ideal wasn't in a far-off place and time. His ideal was present. It was actual. He told his students: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. ). Perfect cause, perfect effect. What could be more logical?
So the very first step we must take for lasting, harmonious relationships is to stop relying on the physical senses and start learning about God – about His law, His love.
If there was anyone who perfectly practiced the observance of law and the expression of love in his own life and career, it was Christ Jesus. He said of his life purpose: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth" (John ).
What does this mean? The Christ, as understood in Christian Science, isn't a person. It's God's message of divine Truth to men. Jesus was the messenger. The Christ is the message. And Jesus expressed the Christ so completely that he could show the human family how to replace every kind of discord with harmony. He especially showed us how we could live together in peace.
Now what are some of the things
Jesus taught us about living under the divine law of Love? He referred to this
divine living in various ways – as his Father's house or kingdom, or as the
kingdom of heaven. He taught that this kingdom is a perfect state of being
within consciousness here and now. "The
Jesus also knew that it wasn't enough just to tell the people about the kingdom. He knew they'd want proof. And what remarkable proof he gave! For instance, he corrected the sinful state of the adulterous woman by seeing instead the truth of her pure nature as a child of God. His spiritual sense enabled him to do this. He healed the ten lepers and many other sick persons because he acknowledged not what the physical senses presented but only the changeless perfection of man's substance as found in God's kingdom.
Now what about relationship as found under divine law? Jesus placed relationship on a divine basis when he said: "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven" (Matt. 23:9). And another time he asked: "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? . . . For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matt. ,50).
Here Jesus plainly pointed out that obedience to God's will reveals the nature of true harmonious relationships. Obedience reveals the truth of man's being, the truth of the brotherhood of men under the fatherhood and government of God. Obedience to God shows us the brotherhood of us all, right now.
God Is Divine Principle and Divine Love
In our discussion we've already referred to the two rules followed by Jesus for harmony in the human family – obedience to divine law and the expression of divine Love. Why are these so important?
We get a clearer understanding of the importance of divine law in any relationship when we recognize God as the source of all true law. That's one reason God is known as Principle in Christian Science. Therefore, laws deriving from divine Principle, or God, are effective. They're lasting, forever in force. They can't be changed. In proportion as God's spiritual laws are understood and obeyed in daily living, we achieve a sense of order in our human relationships.
Just as God, divine Principle, is the source of all true law, so God, divine Love, must be the source of all true loving. And since God is both Principle and Love, His laws must be loving laws. The intention of divine law is to bless. And as we're obedient to divine Principle, we're blessed by divine Love. By obedience to divine law and by expressing divine Love we become conscious of God Himself acting in our daily lives and relationships.
How did Jesus define God's will or law? In what he called the two greatest commandments – commandments based on spiritual, not physical perception. They both embody law and love: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mark ,31).
Through love for God and love for man we learn of true relationship: man correctly related to God, and man correctly related to man. This twofold love has never gone out of date, and never will. It represents the changeless Christ, or Truth, in a changing world.
Both divine Love and divine law are basic factors in God's universe. Remember, they're built into the universe by the very nature of God, the creator and governor of the universe, including man. Despite what the physical senses tell us for a time, these spiritual factors can't be denied. If we ignore them, we experience discord. When we obey God's law and express His love, we experience harmony, and God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Then the perfection of our divine relationship shines through all our human relationships.
Divine Law and Love Are Operative Today
As we've seen, Jesus brought to humanity this true understanding of God and man and the universe. And, as we've seen, he proved his teaching by his works. But during the 2000 years that have passed since then, many have doubted his proofs. Or if they've accepted them, some people haven't felt it possible – or even theologically permissible – for us to do these works too. Yet solving our problems by spiritual means alone, as Jesus did, is still possible and practical.
Like many teen-agers today, when I was a teen-ager I made an anguished search to find myself, to discover my identity, to learn where I belonged in the scheme of things. I tried to find answers in the physical sciences – mainly through medicine, hygiene, and psychology. But my problems only grew worse.
Then I began to read books on comparative religion. At last I looked into the book I quoted from a little while ago, Science and Health. And I found a logical explanation of God as cause, and of my true self as His effect; of God as Mind, and of myself as His idea; of God as Father, and of myself as His son. I learned that whatever God is or whatever God knows is the determining factor of my own true identity or character, since man is God's expression.
For me Science and Health took the blind faith out of theology. It even showed that it's possible for us to heal as Jesus did, through spiritual means alone, any kind of problem – healing the body, healing poverty, healing ruptured family relationships.
Its author, Mary Baker Eddy, early in life believed that spiritual healing was possible, if she could only understand the method Jesus employed. Her search for this method led to her discovery of Christian Science, the Science of Christ.
"During twenty years prior to my discovery," she writes, "I had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause; and in the latter part of 1866 I gained the scientific certainty that all causation was Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon."
She goes on to say: "My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 24).
As she studied the Gospels, Mrs. Eddy came to exact conclusions about the method by which Jesus healed. She was guided by his statement: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). She also took note of what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, that God is Spirit "and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John ).
She perceived that, since God is
Spirit, then the
Continuing along these lines, Mrs. Eddy saw that man as the creation or idea of divine intelligence must forever live under the government of this intelligence. He must be as spiritual as God, his Father, and as intelligent. And this led Mrs. Eddy to the conclusion that the divine universe is the only real universe, for how could there be an opposite to infinite, indestructible Spirit? How could such an opposite as matter have any real substance or existence?
Mrs. Eddy wrote this discovery down in Science and Health. There I learned, as many others arc learning, that God's spiritual man – the true you and the true me – is the only man, since only the real man can have any true existence. I learned this, too, that where an imperfect human relationship appears to be, right there is man correctly related to God. And right there is man also correctly related to man. Right there all are bound together by divine law and divine Love. Why? Because the only relationship there truly is, is the relationship that divine Principle has established in divine Love.
Solving a Family Problem
We've been gaining some understanding of what constitutes the basis of true relationship. Now how does this understanding affect our individual experience? And how does it affect our role as world citizens?
As individuals, we all know how important it is to maintain family harmony. Well, let's see how obedience to divine law and the expression of divine Love – the two essentials for sound human relationships – let's see how these help us improve our domestic experience.
When I was a small boy, I was often in the home of a woman whose son later told me this story about her. His home had been a happy one until one day his mother was stunned to learn of her husband's infidelity. In deep despair she struggled with self-pity, jealousy, and hatred. And she did all she humanly knew to bring her husband to terms and help him see his mistake. Yet she only drove him farther from her.
Some years earlier, when suffering from tuberculosis, this woman had come across Science and Health and had been healed by what she learned from it about God. Now she reached out in prayer with these same truths. She began to see that God was the Father, the head of her household, that this divine Parent is altogether loving, that He is indeed Love itself. And she recalled these words from the Bible: "Perfect love casteth out fear" (I John ). Surely the same divine Love that had so thoroughly wiped out the fearful effects of tuberculosis could solve this new problem.
As she continued in prayer and study, she saw that God was responsible for keeping His family in perfect order under divine law. She saw that all in her family were God's children, related in loving harmony to one another.
She now realized the mistake she had made in trying to bring her husband to terms by human will. So she placed the entire problem in the Father's hands, putting aside human outlining. She kept her thought steadfastly to the spiritual facts of her true household, ruled by the law and love of God, denying what the physical senses told her. A great burden fell from her shoulders, and her joy returned. Need I tell you what happened next? Her husband returned, a changed man. And from that day on they enjoyed many happy, faithful years together.
That woman accepted the law and love of God for herself and her whole household, no matter what the physical senses claimed they were doing or not doing. And in this way she resolved a family problem through the application of Christian Science.
Is an understanding of our relationship to God and to our fellowman important for maintaining our health? Of course. Divine law and divine Love, understood and accepted into thought, destroy the fear, the false education, and the moral weaknesses that produce disease.
We can find many simple proofs from daily experience that our reactions affect the human body. Grief causes the tear ducts to run. Anger makes the heart beat faster and body temperature rise. Embarrassment causes the face to flush. Yet over the years men have believed – and many of them still believe – that the body operates more or less independently of thought. That disease can be contracted through contagion, that heart trouble follows the weakening of tissue, that liver trouble results from improper diet.
Mrs. Eddy, in her search for the healing method used by Jesus, learned that all disease has a mental and emotional source. She learned that the body is made sick either by fear, by ignorance of man's true nature, or by actions contrary to man's true nature – that is, by immoral actions and attitudes. Science and Health points out: "A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick. Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease" (p. 419). The fact is that the human body doesn't act independently of the human mind. It's no more than an objectified state of human thought, and its conditions follow closely the conditions of that thought.
Let me illustrate. A young friend
of mine became interested in Christian Science when he was healed of a tropical
disease through studying Science and Health. Later he joined The First
Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Still later, when my friend joined a branch of this Church, he found that branch Churches of Christ, Scientist, are not unlike other churches in that members occasionally experience a difference of opinion. In this case there was an injustice – at least, so it seemed to him. His reaction was bitter. In rage and resentment he withdrew his membership from both his branch church and The Mother Church. He completely turned his back on Christian Science.
Cancer Healed by Spiritual Law
Not long after, he noticed that the lower portion of his face was taking on an abnormal appearance. And as the days went by, he began to lose his voice. Since he was no longer seeking help in Christian Science, he consulted a physician. The doctor diagnosed malignant cancer.
Overwhelmed by this news, my friend went to another city and hid himself in a hotel room. He needed answers, and his thought turned to Mrs. Eddy's work Unity of Good, which explains man's unbreakable relationship to his creator. He looked up a particular passage: "When I have most clearly seen and most sensibly felt that the infinite recognizes no disease, this has not separated me from God, but has so bound me to Him as to enable me instantaneously to heal a cancer which had eaten its way to the jugular vein" (p. 7). He was inspired to search the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings as he had never done before.
The church experience came to his thought, and he saw that he had limited his view of the situation to the material evidence. That he had allowed himself to dwell on human personalities, animated by conflicting personal opinions.
So he began to correct his thinking, that is, he began to see spiritually. And systematic correction of thought is a form of prayer – scientific prayer – as we understand it in Christian Science. While praying, he worked with the true concept of relationship, the spiritual concept. He saw that the one and true family wasn't made up of mortals, animated by private minds and holding personal opinions. The one and true family are the sons and daughters of God, all having but one Mind, the Mind that is God, their loving Father.
He began to see that the Father, divine Love, relates all His sons and daughters to Himself in a loving embrace and therefore relates each lovingly to another. His heart became flooded with light and gratitude and a profound sense of forgiveness. So he wasn't surprised when his voice returned and his face resumed its normal appearance. He saw that hatred had been governing his thought, manifesting itself in his body as cancer. Divine Love canceled the hatred in his thinking. And since the hatred was no longer found in his thought, there was nothing left there to manifest itself as disease in his body.
He reapplied for membership in The Mother Church and found a warm welcome awaiting him. He again became active in a branch church. He was also happy to learn that the difficulty in the church where he was previously a member had been healed. The completeness of his healing became even more impressive when he was reconciled with his parents. He had been estranged from them for many years. What my friend learned about true relationship in this experience not only healed him physically; it also gave him a better sense of family.
Improving Our World
We've been learning something of how an understanding of the divine relationship helps to solve purely personal problems. Now how does understanding our relationship to God help us improve our world?
Well, the thinking and attitudes that establish harmony among individuals and in our physical bodies are the same ones that bring harmony into broader situations concerned with race or politics.
Christ Jesus once said: "The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me" (John ). Now let's take a look at this statement with a view to solving racial or political misunderstandings. As the Father bore witness of Jesus, so the Father bears witness of us. Where? In consciousness. In the consciousness of your brother. And in your consciousness. There's no other place where He can bear witness of you. And He bears witness of your brother in your consciousness. In other words, the Father – the one and only Mind or cause – is causing you to see what is true about your brother and is causing your brother to see what is true about you. We arrive at this logical conclusion since the divine Mind, or God, is just as much the Mind of your brother as He is of you.
And how does the one Mind bear witness of you in the consciousness of your brother? Well, the Father can only bear witness of you according to the identity that He has given you – that is, He is causing your brother to see you as you truly are: 100 percent spiritual, created in God's image and likeness, upright, honest, just, true, good, generous, loving. The Father can't possibly bear witness of you as a mortal belonging to a temporary human classification known as a particular race, or social level, or political system, or as someone who is misunderstood or hated by his fellowman.
And the Father is also causing you to see your brother in the same clear spiritual light – not as a mortal filled with criticism and ill-will, but as the loving son of a loving Father, moved by compassion and forgiveness. Indeed, the Father is forever bearing witness to both you and your brother of your harmonious relationship in His one divine family, forever governed by His law and forever expressing His love. And the Father's divine family includes no human racial classifications, no differing political systems, and therefore no animosities based on racial or political misunderstandings. Let me illustrate.
Healing of Political Hatred
In 1955 I was invited by Finland
to attend the Sibelius Festival. The Finns had invited ten music critics from
as many different countries. I was therefore the only critic representing the
After the first concert a supper was held in our honor; but somehow the invitation to the Soviet representative had gone astray, and he wasn't on hand. He was Yuri Shaporin, a noted Soviet composer of opera and songs.
About halfway through the supper Shaporin burst angrily into the room. He had learned of the supper and had come to protest that he had been ignored. Our host tried to smooth over his own embarrassment by introducing Shaporin to the rest of us. Shaporin was hardly cordial, and he ignored me completely. Since he had already eaten, he sat with us only long enough to register his resentment. Then he rose to leave.
Sitting beside me was a member of the Finnish State Department. He quickly put his hand on my arm and whispered: "You don't have to get up." But I did, and joined the others in saying good night to Shaporin.
When I returned to my hotel room, I gave this situation my prayerful thought. I spent some time affirming the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. I saw that the Father was bearing witness of me, that He wasn't causing my brother to see me as an American governed by a system that might be considered by some as undesirable. And I also saw that the Father wasn't causing me to see my brother as a Russian belonging to a godless, totalitarian system that resented Americans. I affirmed the spiritual fact that the Father was causing each of us to acknowledge our place in His one harmonious family. I mentally insisted that this was a law to the situation. As I thought along these lines I felt a great sense of love for Shaporin.
I didn't have to wait long to express this in a tangible way. The following night we found ourselves sitting next to each other at the concert. He had neglected to buy a program, so I offered him mine. He cordially accepted it.
The following day at a press conference he sought me out with an interpreter and asked me if I knew of a place where we could get together with a piano. He wanted me to hear his opera "The Decembrists." I told him I did, and asked him if I might invite some of the other critics to be there, too. He happily agreed to this, and we set a date.
At our gathering Shaporin played and sang many arias from his opera. It was eloquent music, composed in the Tchaikovskian manner. After his performance he came to me and asked – in English: "You like?"
"Yes," I answered, "I like." I was obviously surprised because these were the first English words he had spoken to me.
speak English," he explained. Then he took the large score of his
opera, inscribed it, and presented it to me. Quite a switch, wasn't it? – to have first been the one he ignored and later to have been
the one that he honored. During Shaporin's remaining
years, we kept in friendly touch through The Christian Science Monitor's
This incident has always been an inspiration to me. It showed me so clearly that our influence for good in the world is based directly on our response to the universal law of Love.
A friend of mine had a large cherry tree in her backyard. One day she saw two birds under the tree, fighting over a cherry they had found on the ground. Overhead, of course, was a whole tree full of ripe cherries. The birds were waging their little war because they were unwilling to raise their eyes to see what was theirs to enjoy.
So, too, with us. Many of us keep our vision limited to the ground, to the human scene, where we see lack, inequality, pride, aggression, and oppression.
What if we could set our sights higher? What if we could see something of our true relationship in the divine? What if we saw man correctly related to God, and therefore correctly related to man? Why, then, we'd also see something of the abundance and love that will help us establish harmony, not only for ourselves, but for races and nations.
We can't truly love God, can we, until we love our brother man? And in the degree that we're obedient to God the Father – and love our brothers and sisters as they really are – through the love of law, and the law of Love – in that degree we'll help unite the human family in the harmonies of God's great symphony – "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy"! (Job 38:7.)