1. What do you feel the word creation implies?
Creation implies what is infinite. What cannot be perceived by a finite sense of things.
Mary Baker Eddy writes in this chapter: "We cannot fathom the nature and quality of God's creation by diving into the shallows of mortal belief." (S&H 262:9-10)
We cannot know good and evil, and eat the fruit thereof, and expect our eyes to "be opened" to what is "the absolute centre and circumference of (our) being." (S&H p. 262)
2. In your own words describe your impressions of the chapter "Creation" in Science & Health.
On the first page of this chapter Mary Baker Eddy writes: "Eye hath not seen Spirit, nor hath ear heard His voice." Paul also writes in I Corinthians: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (I. Cor. 2:9) The exact source of "as it is written," or Paul's quote, is not known, but this is an idea that is expressed frequently in the Old Testament, especially in Isaiah but also in Psalms, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Ecclesiastes. It is also an idea that is articulated a number of times by Jesus in the New Testament, for example, when he asks his disciples: "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?" (Mark 8:18). And the First Epistle of John opens with this verse: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." (I John 1:1)
What I notice in the chapter "Creation," especially in its initial pages, is an explicit tension between what we perceive as a finite sense of creation and the infinite creation of Spirit. We are asked throughout this chapter to let go of what we see and hear. What we accept as an all-pervasive, intrusive, material, limited sense of creation. We are asked to take this journey step by step.
Stephen Gottschalk in Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy's Challenge to Materialism writes: "...many of her followers practiced an essentially harmonial form of Christian Science in order to maintain a comfortable, placid human existence....Eddy's ideal of the Christian life, however, could not be more sharply at variance with the purpose of furthering these harmonial human aims. She placed a far higher value on spiritual striving than on spiritual composure, telling one class that if 'we are struggling all the time, fasting...and praying, and are unsatisfied, it is a very hopeful condition'" (p. 364).
I bring this up because from what I understand of Mary Baker Eddy's life, she was awake many nights, as was Jesus, struggling with a sense of restlessness and discomfort, striving to gain a spiritual perspective. She was without the shelter of a stable marriage or a house she could call her own for most of her life.
I bring this up also because of the verb "groan" (στεναζω), which is used twice in the scriptural citation from Romans at the top of the "Creation" chapter. συστεναζω means to groan or sigh together. Then there is also συνωδινω which means to have birth pains, be in travail (together).
A fundamental question:
How do I let go of what my eyes claim they see, what my ears hear? The only way I know is to acknowledge, and work to further understand, what I have seen in glimpses and heard in fragments thus far. What I have been given to perceive in the midst of an ongoing, unfolding struggle to let go of what claims to be our material sense of God's creation.
3. How can the increased understanding of true creation make a difference in your life? Better yet, share with us how the truth of creation has been, or is being, demonstrated in your life.
I think we have to start with what we love, what we desire. Science & Health begins with a chapter called "Prayer" in which she states: "Desire is prayer." And Christian Science forces us, whether we're aware of this at all times or not, to purify that love, that desire. We are leavened.
I love to write. To create works of drama. And what Mary Baker Eddy has to say about this in the "Creation" chapter has been especially instructive for me since becoming a Christian Scientist. She writes: "There can be but one creator, who has created all. Whatever seems to be a new creation, is but the discovery of some distant idea of Truth; else it is a new multiplication or self-division of mortal thought....The multiplication of a human and mortal sense of persons and things is not creation." (S&H 263:20-28)
What I see in the arts, and throughout all human discipline and endeavor, are either a "discovery of some distant idea of Truth" or else "a new multiplication or self-division of mortal thought," or an admixture of some kind. I see evidence of this throughout the specific details in the films I see, the books of history I read, the fiction, theatre.
This helps me to discern what are the ideas that bless and those that may curse. What ideas embrace life, honesty and authenticity and what notions gravitate toward an embrace of the dishonest, inauthentic and an acceptance of death.
This helps me examine my own motives, my own love and desire. It has taught me, and continues to teach, that each creative piece I work on has already been written. It is already conceived. It is my job, my task, to follow the trail, the details, the imagery, the characterization. To be alert to where I am being led each day as I work on a piece.
Mary Baker Eddy also writes in this chapter: "Mortals must gravitate Godward, their affections and aims grow spiritual, – they must near the broader interpretations of being, and gain some proper sense of the infinite, – in order that sin and mortality may be put off.
"This scientific sense of being, forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man's absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers on man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace." (S&H 265:5-15)
If I had to say what astonishes me most now as a Christian Scientist, what causes me also the most struggle and discomfort sometimes, it is this growing sense of the infinitude. An expanding sense of what it is to be a writer, to be a companion, a thinker, a colleague – all these things are so much vaster than I ever once imagined them to be. And there is no way I could have ever come to this growing realization without the life of Mary Baker Eddy and her discovery of Christian Science.