Pursuing God Through Science

Pursuing God Through Science

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by Don Ingwerson

The spiritual insights recorded in the Bible and many other books such as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures have long been the basis for healing disease and addressing other health concerns. What is unusual today about the use of prayer in healing is the rigorous research by scientists exploring the connection between prayer, spirituality, and physical healing.

According to David Larson, MD, President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, in the past ten years research focused on the effectiveness of prayer has nearly doubled. Dr. Mitchell Krucoff, who has been studying prayer and spirituality since 1996, commented, “…we’re seeing systematic investigations – clinical research – as well as position statements from professional societies supporting this research, …funding from Congress, …all of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.”

Because there have been many studies on prayer, meta-analyses of prayer efficacy have also been conducted. One such review by David R. Hodge even investigated if the research supported the idea that God answered prayer for healing.

This quest for answers is not new, but it’s taking on a new look. It’s no secret that the public is using prayer for health purposes and that prayer has been reported as the most used integrative medical practice. One question now isn’t so much whether prayer is being used, but rather how the use of prayer can be implemented in a conventional health setting. What support can the patient expect from his physician if the patient desires the integrative medicine of prayer?

From his research, Harold G. Koenig, MD found that religious beliefs influenced medical decision-making and that taking a spiritual history is becoming a standard procedure during patient care – which may enhance the doctor-patient relationship. This understanding by the physician of the patient’s spiritual history will be a key component in giving the desired support to the patient. Koenig was interested in finding what benefits these religious beliefs gave in treating the patient and found that prayer was linked to a feeling of greater wellbeing, with accompanying lower rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. He also found that the actual physiological condition improved with the use of prayer.

Not only is prayer now being understood as helpful in the healing process, but the research into how prayer works is also expanding.

Dr. Eben Alexander, neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven, is leading the field in a new direction when he states, “Consciousness is the thing that exists. It is the support, the basis on which all of the universe is based. Consciousness is our oneness with the Divine. It is pure God-given love and power. It’s time for brain science, mind science, physics, cosmology, to move from kindergarten up into first grade and realize we will never truly understand consciousness with that simplistic materialist mindset.”

Prayer has been an effective method of healing for me, so I enthusiastically look forward to further scientific results on the healing power of prayer and to our expanded understanding of our relation to the Divine. Each step in our understanding of this relationship will undoubtedly lead to new and higher views of self, which will lead to an increased sense of health. Something everyone can look forward to!

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Frequently Asked Questions About California’s Health Insurance Marketplace

Frequently Asked Questions About California's Health Insurance Marketplace

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by Don Ingwerson

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has led to the creation of state health insurance marketplaces. California’s marketplace is called Covered California and is designed to be an easy way for someone shopping for health insurance to compare benefits and costs. Covered California has a webpage with frequently asked questions about this marketplace, including when insurance is available, what type of insurance is available, what the insurance will cover, assistance programs to help defray the cost of insurance, to name just a few. Click on this link to find answers to your questions about Covered California: Frequently Asked Questions

What You Gain By Living With Less

What You Gain By Living With Less

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Kim Shippey is a regular guest blogger for Ingrid Peschke’s blog Changing Tides of Health. As an international journalist who has relocated with his family many times during his career, he offers helpful insights when he writes about reducing clutter. Although the treatment center for hoarding he mentions is not in Southern California, we all can recognize the benefits of letting go.

A noticeable effort is being made these days to improve mental health among people of all ages, cultures, and communities. For example, depression and its effect on health, on people’s well-being, and even on their physical condition, has been the focus of much research. Less well known is the attention being given to many other psychological disorders–including something called “compulsive hoarding syndrome.”

There’s even a center for its treatment in Sacramento, California, which was established by a clinical psychologist and social worker, Robin Zasio. She and her team help people who have difficulty in letting go, “helping them to begin making decisions that support both their emotional and physical wellness.”

And there is an increasing flow of books available to help people gain sound perspectives. One of the most helpful books on hoarding to have come my way in recent weeks was written not by a psychologist but by a mother of four grown children, who for more than 30 years has worked in family ministry in her church, Susan V. Vogt.

This slim book (her sixth), titled Blessed by Less: Clearing Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly (Loyola Press, 2013), describes what a year of giving stuff away taught Vogt about life, relationships, and what’s really important. As the blurb puts it: Cluttered closets. Crowded minds. How do we begin to lighten our loads?

The book’s 122 pages are packed with practical tips and spiritual wisdom, including ways to consume and hang on to less, become more generous, let go of burdens and intangibles, waste less, save energy, worry less, laugh more, and, as you win, eliminate the “smug factor.”–

Taking a more spiritual perspective, Vogt says, can lead to abundant blessings we might otherwise miss. The search for God and a spiritual core is universal. She writes that the “deeply-rooted instinct to live more lightly upon this earth transcends any one religion and abides in conscientious people of good will.

”Vogt speaks of the role played by prayer in the culling process, and doesn’t hesitate to share passages of Scripture that have helped her worry less and have enriched her own increasingly uncluttered spiritual journey.

By happy coincidence, one of the passages she quotes (from First Corinthians, chapter 13) was key in restoring perspective, peace, and well-being to my own life when I was required not just to downsize my home, but relocate  to another country thousands of miles away. I had to learn in a hurry to be less preoccupied with things and center my attention more on thinking — wise, God-inspired thinking.

I had to sort and ultimately abandon decades of hoarded material — from rusty bikes to sagging armchairs, to thousands of books I believed I could never live without! — belonging not only to me and my wife, but also to five children. Our peace of mind and even our physical health took some severe knocks until we realized fully that no matter where we lived, and how many our material possessions, what would “abide” (among many other spiritual qualities) were “faith, hope, and love.” And they would always be plentifully available.

Eventually we learned — with gratitude — the lessons that Vogt was to provide 25 years later in her book, which is a good read for anyone.

 

Can I See God’s Qualities in Everyone?

Can I See God's Qualities in Everyone?

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A guest post written by Ann Botts from Redlands, California

A dear friend recently asked me to read Cutting For Stone by Abraham Yoghese. She said that it would not be a book that I would select, but for her, would I read it? As it was about the life and experiences of a doctor, she was right. I would never have chosen that book.

But, I reasoned, she is a retired nurse and a former Catholic nun who has given her life to nursing and caring for others. She had spent her life watching people in pain and suffering. In her retirement years, she still offers loving help, counseling, and encouragement in our community. She gives hope to all and that is what I love most about her. A lot of her time is spent helping people communicate with their doctors. So, of course, I knew why the book would interest her.

Here’s an example of her compassion. We had stopped in to buy yarn at a knitting shop and found the owner in tears. When we asked if we could help, the woman told us that her doctor had just called and told her that she had a very serious cancer, to drop everything, and come to his office with her family. “I am dying!” the woman exclaimed. Immediately, my friend put her arms around her, and said that she must dry up her tears because there is always hope. I was silently praying and found myself saying with authority, “You must know, right now, that you are God’s precious child and He will lead you to the right decisions. He can and will be caring for you!” Her eyes locked on mine and I knew she had heard me. When we left, she tightly hugged us both and thanked us for helping her through those fear-filled moments.

In the car, my friend and I decided that we were quite a pair – a medically trained nurse and a Christian Scientist – trying to help as best we could.

So back to the book, that I had given up on so many times. This dear friend continued to say to me – keep going, keep reading. So to humor my friend I did – skimming some of the pages, I confess. With any book or movie that I read or watch, I try to practice Christian Science to see where thought needs to be changed and up-lifted. But I found this hard to do with this particular book. I tried to see it as a story of passion, forgiveness, and progress. Here was a story of a famous doctor incredibly dedicated to his work, and many sought him out, as he was brilliant in his surgery. At the end of the story, it is revealed that this genius of a doctor becomes extremely ill before he goes in to perform his surgeries. All of a sudden, I saw that this man was humbled by this affliction. He had to overcome feeling ill each and every time he performed the duty before him. Talk about overcoming fear! It was at this point in the story that I realized that my friend was asking me a question. A question for all Christian Scientists to answer – if that doctor had called me and asked me to give him a Christian Science treatment so he could perform his duty, would I?

I concluded that I would. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in the chapter on Prayer, “Love is impartial and universal its adaptation and bestowals.” Love itself is powerful and impartial and this doctor is ever reflecting all of God’s goodness, wellness, love, and caring. All qualities to be cherished wherever we find them!

Note by Ann Botts: I have had the opportunity throughout my life to share Christian Science with those in the medical field – to share my healings. I have given Science and Health to prayerfully-minded doctors and they have expressed their appreciation. It has been a way of “giving a cup of cold water and never fearing the consequence.” I have many friends in the medical field and I love them for all their efforts to help mankind. No one knows more of the limitations of human efforts than doctors and nurses. And the medical field has been giving more and more credit to the healing effect of prayer, for which I am grateful. When I discuss spiritual healing and/or Christian Science, I have never had a doctor or nurse turn away and not listen.

Article first published October 9, 2012

Words Have a Powerful Influence on Health

Words Have a Powerful Influence on Health

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by Don Ingwerson

A patient’s fear is an important consideration in treating disease, and the word cancer brings with it significant fear when used in patient diagnosis. That’s what scientists are realizing and why there is now a push to leave out the mention of cancer in diagnosis of certain precancerous conditions. In this way, scientists are hoping to “reign in over-diagnosis” in areas of cancer diagnosis, because less fearful patients are less likely to seek treatments that prove to be unneeded.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, and Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth, both support this effort to end over-diagnosis. Welch explained, “The basic strategy behind early diagnosis is to encourage the well to get examined — to determine if they are not, in fact, sick. But is looking hard for things to be wrong a good way to promote health? The truth is, the fastest way to get [most any disease] is to be screened for it.”

Changing or eliminating fear words puts into practice the understanding of how fear affects the mind and the body. Fear is mental but often expresses itself in unhealthy bodily conditions. According to Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine, when a person is fearful, the body is unable to repair itself.  Rankin and Dr. Larry Norton, a cancer researcher who offers “a potent drug of [invigorating] and pugnacious hope,” both feel a way to stem and dissolve fear is to encourage a patient’s spiritual identity. Norton also suggests that to take care of someone’s body and not their soul is not to take care of them fully.

Along this same line of thought, a 19th-century theologian and health researcher, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “…sickness is belief, a latent fear, made manifest on the body in different forms of fear or disease.” Patients can use a number of different tools to keep fear and its accompanying sickness from taking hold. Many find that prayer, and understanding their connection to the Divine, lead to a sense of peace and security that makes clear their spiritual identity. Patients can also actively exchange unhealthy thoughts, such as anger, resentment, and fear, for healthier thoughts, such as gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness. These spiritual thoughts provide additional mental and physical benefits and never come with unhealthy side effects.

Changing the language used to diagnose various conditions, as well as encouraging a patient’s thinking while treating the body, are positive ways of controlling fear. This nuanced name change is just one step toward the gradual understanding that mind is in control of the body. The results directly affect health.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

ACA Penalty Does Not Kick in Until March 31, 2014

ACA Penalty Does Not Kick in Until March 31, 2014

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This new information from the Federal Office was just posted January 14, 2014 and I thought it would be helpful to pass it along to my readers here in Southern California. As noted previously, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this year (2014) virtually all Americans will need to either have a medical health insurance plan that meets federal requirements, or pay a tax penalty. (Those who are enrolled in Medicare Part A or another government health plan will be treated as complying with the law; those enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan should check with their employer to confirm whether the plan is ACA-compliant.)

Individuals who do not obtain the required health insurance may be subject to a penalty. Note that if an individual enrolls in a qualifying plan by March 31, s/he will not have to pay the penalty.

How does this timing relate to the ongoing efforts of the U.S. Federal Office to find a resolution for Christian Scientists under the law? 

The March 31 deadline provides Congress with an extended window to finalize a legislative solution in Congress that would enable those with sincerely held religious beliefs against purchasing the required medical insurance to apply for a 2014 exemption. We’re hoping Congress will act on this solution by March 31.

There is strong bipartisan support for the solution among Members of Congress. (207 Representatives; 27 Senators.) Tremendous thanks is due in large part to the ongoing efforts of Christian Scientists throughout the country!  However, we continue to need your help NOW!

  • Let us know if you will be in Washington, DC soon and would like to meet with your representative to engage with him/her on this issue.
  • Find out whether your representative will be at a local event in your area, and let us know—it could be an excellent opportunity for church members to ask or thank the representative for his/her support!

As always, please periodically visit this website for updates; and if you hear your family, friends, or fellow branch church members wondering about this topic, encourage them to check out the resources on our website and to subscribe to the Federal Office newsletter!

 

Gratitude Lifts Mind and Body Over Himalayan Pass

Gratitude Lifts Mind and Body Over Himalayan Pass

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A gratitude-based approach to healthcare has its rewards and my colleague Eric Nelson experienced the benefits it brings when he was trekking through the Himalayan Mountains. Even though the mountains in Southern California aren’t nearly as rigorous, Eric’s message is just as pertinent. I’m sharing an excerpt, and there’s a link below to the full article.

As far as I know, my wife and I had already purchased our tickets to Nepal before grasping entirely what we’d committed to: an 18-day trek through the Himalayas including an ascent up Thorung La – at 5416 meters (17,769 feet), one of the world’s highest mountain passes.

Sure, we had experience hiking to the top of some pretty big hills. But even our one-day trot to the top of California’s Mt. Whitney – the tallest peak in the Lower 48 – couldn’t compare to what was in store for us.

The first few days of the trek were just about as carefree as they come as our small group of adventurers (7 clients, 7 porters, and 2 guides) slowly but surely made our way through the balmy jungles, alpine forests, and hillside rice paddies of the Marsyangdi River valley. However, the closer we came to Thorung La, the more aware I was of the potential health risks involved with high altitude trekking.

To read the rest of the Eric’s article originally titled “Giving Thanks Lifts Mind and Body Over Himalayan Pass” click on this link for Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com.

You can also find him at www.norcalcs.org.

Absolute Faith vs Blind Belief

college kids

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A guest post written by Donna Clifton from Whittier, California.

I vividly remember the first time someone made a disparaging remark to me about the power of prayer to heal. Having been raised as a Christian Scientist, I was used to turning to God in prayer whenever a healing was needed. I took it for granted that my prayers—and those of my parents—would always be effective. As a child, long before I understood much about God’s law that governs us all, I simply trusted that because God is all-good, all powerful, and all-loving, healing would always result from my prayers.

So I was taken by surprise that day when someone I scarcely knew made a sarcastic comment to me about praying for healing. I was a freshman in college and had been planning to go somewhere with a group of friends but at the last minute declined because of a severe headache. A friend in the group who knew I was a Christian Scientist informed the others that I wouldn’t be going with them because I need to stay behind to pray for a healing.

Immediately one of the young men in the group that I had just met spoke up and said, “Well, pray hard!” in a very sarcastic voice. Several of the others laughed at his remark. I didn’t reply, not knowing what to say just then. But I did get healed through prayer that day, just as I had many times before.

Why is it so difficult for some to believe that prayer heals? I think it’s because 1) they don’t know what prayer is, 2) they have been taught that healing results from medical treatment, and 3) they don’t understand that “God is a very present help in trouble” as the Bible states (Psalms 46:1). Christian Scientists have learned that they can certainly trust God, not only with physical problems, but also with any problems that need healing – relationships, employment, bad habits, etc. We also know that it isn’t blind belief that heals. Neither is it repetition of words nor any “magic” phrases that bring healing.

In her book, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes prayer as an “absolute faith that all things are possible to God, —a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” (S&H 1:2) She distinguishes between absolute faith that is based on an understanding of God’s power to heal and “mere belief” (or blind belief) which denotes no understanding and is not a reliable means of healing.

As a young child, I could put my faith in God through simple trust in His goodness and omnipotence. But as I grew older, I realized that I needed a deeper understanding of God’s healing power. And as I gain this understanding day by day, I continue to have healings. Once after a long cross-country flight, I again faced a debilitating headache that prevented me from even sitting up or eating anything. I asked my sister to read to me from Science & Health, and while I listened, I acquired a better understanding of how God’s law governs me and everyone, and that my health is not precarious.

Suddenly the headache was gone, and I felt strong and completely well. The healing was so instantaneous that it was as if a light switch had been flicked on and light flooded the room, vanquishing the darkness. I realized that listening for messages of healing and accepting them was a form of prayer, and that was what healed me.

This kind of prayer is based on the spiritual understanding of God’s healing power and of our true spiritual nature. And this understanding leads to healing.

Now that I’m wiser about how prayer heals, if I were to meet up with the same guy whose sarcasm had disconcerted me that day in college, I would reassure him that prayer really does heal, and that I am a living testament to that fact. Spiritual healing is the proof of God’s healing power.

Article originally published January 29, 2013

Feeling Good About Giving

Feeling Good About Giving

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by Don Ingwerson

Now that Christmas is over, I’ve been thinking about how giving and happiness relate. Not so long ago our family decided to adopt a family in need during the holiday season. It took a while to find a community agency that had a list of needy families, but with persistence we got the name of a family and the names and ages of the children. Christmas Eve we took our gifts to our adopted family.

They spoke little English and we spoke little Spanish, so communication was more felt than spoken. After we presented our gifts and visited for a while we prepared to leave, but this family invited us to join them in a community dinner around an outside fire pit. Sharing in that dinner, I felt that we had received more than we had given, and I deeply felt the good for my fellow man. Each Christmas, I find my thought returning to the family we shared Christmas with that evening. Yet, there have been other times when giving didn’t result in the same sense of satisfaction or happiness, and I wondered why.

This past week I reviewed an abstract of a study on the subject of giving and I was a little surprised by what it said. For instance, the evidence “only weakly supported the idea” that helping others leads to higher levels of happiness for the one giving. It went on to say that when you combine happiness and giving, the data show that happier people give more, and giving makes happy people happier. The research showed that after experiencing a positive event of receiving something, those receiving it were happier and more likely to help others, and those who felt good continued to be more helpful to others. (Isen and Levin, 1972)

This study about giving raises some interesting points. For instance, to give just because it seems the right thing to do, or to satisfy someone’s expectations does not increase the giver’s happiness. But when you combine an existing happy attitude with giving, the giver’s happiness is increased. (This seems to work in a circular motion. A happy person is inclined to give more and a happy person tends to have better health. But to give to achieve happiness or healthy does not seem to work.)

Another important aspect of giving is how the giver is rewarded. This study indicated that to reward the giver with extrinsic rewards might affect his altruistic feelings and actually reduce giving long term. We get a glimpse of why intrinsic rewards for giving tend to support long term giving in a study by Professor Emmons, U.C. Davis Psychologist and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology. He has found that “those who are grateful and express gratitude improved their happiness score by 25%.”

Since being grateful improves one’s happiness, these same qualities reportedly have a positive effect on one’s health.

I’ve thought a lot about why someone would feel like giving or helping and at other times would not feel like giving, even though the cause involved is thought to be important. According to David Aderman (1972) only those individuals with a positive mood are more likely to help others, and this upbeat mood increases altruism, feelings of competence, and volunteerism.

For myself, I found that giving to the family in need was of personal importance and not just an activity. Because this activity stirred my innermost feelings, it made me happier and my mood was more positive. My happiness with what I was doing had a positive effect on me and on my sense of health. But each act of giving must stir your innermost feelings if giving is to be meaningful and health giving.

Article first published in Blogcritics and previously published January 12, 2012.

2014 ACA Decision Flow Chart for Christian Scientists

This is the year that the Affordable Care Act takes effect, and I thought this flow chart from the Federal Office might help anyone needing some guidance on insurance. This information is found here: 2014 ACA decision flow chart for Christian Scientists.

Beginning in 2014, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), virtually all Americans will need to have a medical health insurance plan that meets federal requirements, or pay a tax penalty. So, like other Americans, Christian Scientists must think through their options under the ACA and how to comply with the law.

Looking for some guidance as you think through your options regarding the health care reform law in 2014? Check out this flow chart we’ve created for informational purposes (the Church does not provide legal advice).

If you don’t have qualifying or any coverage and would like to purchase a plan, you can visit your state’s online health insurance marketplace to see what your options are and enroll.

You may also want to check out our ACA FAQs and ACA Resources page.

ACA flow chart

Links found in the chart

General information about the ACA: healthcare.gov

Information about the penalty for not having qualifying coverage: http://bit.ly/13Beo2R

Information about Medicare, including your enrollment status: medicare.gov

Information about subsidies and the financial hardship exemption: healthcare.gov/exemptions/

The Church does not provide legal advice. This page is for informational purposes only.

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