As a former reporter, I’ve interviewed my share of activists—especially those who’ve devoted their lives to sustainability and the environment. Other activists, like my friends Jim and Patti Lee Ross, have volunteered several years of their retirement to helping the addicted, homeless and mentally ill. Still others, like my wife and her colleagues from the University of Victoria, have sponsored a family of refugees from Somalia and helped them integrate into Canadian society.
I have great respect for anybody who volunteers time and energy to a good cause. What sometimes weighs on me—as it does on every activist I’ve met—is the sheer number and magnitude of the problems our world faces. Even as one person is helped, or one issue resolved, it often feels like ten more take their place.
For that reason, maybe it’s time to discuss an activism that can complement all these other good works: spiritual activism.
On the surface, some might see this as “spiritual bypassing”—a naïve “thoughts and prayers” sentiment that’s devoid of real substance. Yet the activism I’m talking about is the kind we read about in the Bible. The kind practiced by Christ Jesus when he healed the sick, fed the hungry, calmed dangerous weather, and solved many other problems. It’s an activism that brought the Roman Empire to its knees, and is remembered two thousand years later for the countless lives it touched and healed.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and discoverer of Christian Science, was an activist, too. She did things most women in her era wouldn’t have dreamed about: she wrote books, organized a new religious movement, owned property, and founded an international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor.. She was also an exceptional healer.
The activism Eddy practiced relied on the same spiritual laws Jesus taught and demonstrated. These laws reveal God to be omnipotent Love, or Spirit, and each one of us to be Her perfect spiritual offspring. More to the point, these laws reveal the illusory nature of the material world and its problems. As Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Through many generations human beliefs will be attaining diviner conceptions, and the immortal and perfect model of God’s creation will finally be seen as the only true conception of being.”
Thus, a spiritual activist strives to lean on God’s laws—perceiving the spiritual reality (or solution) right where a material problem seems to be.
I read a testimony recently by Tom Feldman, a Christian Scientist from New Mexico, who helped a neighbour pray about drought conditions on his ranch. The neighbour was distraught because all his ponds were dry and he was slowly going bankrupt trucking in hay and pumping well water for his cattle herd.
Feldman recalled a story of Mrs. Eddy praying about drought conditions. The farmer who delivered her milk complained to her cook one day that his well had run dry, causing Mrs. Eddy to remark: “If he only knew, Love fills that well!” The next morning, the astonished farmer reported his well was full again, despite no overnight rain.
Feldman realized the drought conditions were not of God’s making, and by turning to a “diviner conception,” he reasoned that Love could fill his neighbour’s ponds, too. Three weeks later he met the man, who reported his ponds were now full. His friend was also puzzled: he had seen no rain in the forecast.
Hearing stories like Feldman’s has convinced me that activism has a vital spiritual dimension. The problems our world faces may feel intractable at times, but it’s comforting to know that where an omnipotent and all-loving God is concerned, a solution is always at hand.
Matt Jackson has been fascinated by how science and religion relate to each other for as long as he can remember. He is a member of the Christian Science church in Victoria, BC, and has been a professional writer and editor for 27 years.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE: https://www.timescolonist.com/blogs/spiritually-speaking
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, April 2nd 2022