Watch the mental company you keep

September 19, 2007 | 22 comments

A rule we learn in Christian Science for preserving health and well being is to keep thinking free of external negative influence. If we are not alert, the influences we feel around us in the atmosphere of thought, we might take on as our own and live them out.

A simple example of this is, if you walk into a room of very happy joyous people, you’re likely to feel uplift from their inspired attitude. And conversely, if you walk into a room of angry hateful people, you might feel burden from their heavy dark thinking. This does not mean we have to be affected by other’s negativity, but it does mean we have to scientifically protect ourselves from its baneful influence to keep our own well being intact.

A friend called me last week and reported a lesson she learned last month on better defending her mental precincts from the influence of mental darkness.

She had been a Harry Potter fan from the beginning, and was listening to an audio recording of the most recent Potter book. The ritual seemed innocent enough.

However, during the month, she found herself struggling severely with depression and a terrible mood. She was cranky, hard to get along with by family members, down on life, saw no light ahead of her, uninspired and feeling like a failure. Life looked very dark.

Feeling pushed to the edge, she prayed for relief, and in a moment of light made a connection between all the darkness she had been absorbing from the Harry Potter book and the heavy darkness she was feeling.

Aha!! She cried. I think there’s a lesson here!

I have not read the latest Potter book, but understand it is filled with evil impressions. I read the first three volumes out loud to my children when the Potter series started because my children were determined to have them read one way or the other, and I decided, who better than me to have the experience with them! At least I could talk to them about what they were hearing during the story. And we learned many lessons about defending self from evil through reading those books together. But I rapidly lost interest because the content was getting darker and darker. The preponderance of evil sapped my enthusiasm for gaining the other lessons to be learned. I quit reading them.

Anyway, my friend went on to say that she saw the need to get her thinking filled with light once again and not so saturated with the threat of Voldemort, who is the hideous impersonation of dark evil in the Potter book.

She turned off the audio player, and turned to God, infinite Light for inspiration. She acknowledged God, good, as the only power and influence over thinking and life. She denounced the belief that evil had power over her, or over anyone. As she got grounded once again in spiritual truth, the darkness lifted and joy washed over her perspective. Her normal happy self returned, and the depression vanished.

The above story is a simple lesson, but a powerful one. We all must stay alert, pay attention to what is happening in thought, and not accept without question whatever comes in our direction. As we stand guard at the front entrance of our home, keeping out unwanted strangers or criminals, we must stand watch at the front entrance of our mental home, barring entrance to any undesirable suggestions, claims or evil assertions.

God has given us a good life to live, but that life will never be found in evil thoughts. It’s found in good thoughts, and those good thoughts come from God. But we need to shut down the evil sense and not give it our ear in order to hear those angel messages coming from above that lift our view to a higher happier level.

To a consciousness of infinite Love, omnipresent Good, Voldemort is no threat!

22 thoughts on “Watch the mental company you keep”

  1. Yes. Like sleep number beds, cartoon images of blocked arteries on TV, gremlins harbored inbetween our toes. What lengths the love of money goes to, to sell it’s product — not only the material item, like the bed, drug, etc. — but that we even are material! Thank goodness the Christ is more powerful that these illusionary images.

  2. It’s interesting that you should mention the dark elements in reading/books, among other things. The CS Monitor just published an Opinion piece on 9/14 entitled “Enough with depressing reading lists.” The author, Mary Collins, is a parent concerned with what the public school system is requiring our middle and high school students to read. Many of the books have very dark themes and are exposing our young people to a great deal of misery. One person responded to that piece in the Letter to the Editor section of The Monitor, published on 9/17, that he felt it was “mentally torture” to MAKE these kids read some of these books. I agree. As an adult, I select to read, for pleasure, many youth-targeted novels and am shocked many times at the subjects that are being presented. Several times I chose not to even finish the story because I was finding myself having to pray myself through it. That’s not at all entertaining!

  3. Great discussion. And I agree with the previous blogger that the reading list for many schools, including private institutions, is focused on negative topics as well as death-oriented themes – “Catcher in the Rye” – “Death Be Not Proud.” BUT, at the same time we need to teach children how to identify and overcome evil and that’s where our parenting skills and Sunday Schools come in. I particularly liked Evan’s reading the Harry Potter books to his children, so they could discuss how to overcome the evils presented, which are obviously prevalent in thought among young people reading these books. Preparing our children, like David with his sling shot, is essential when they head out into the world each day, no matter what age they are. Then, when they are on their own, they have a reliable basis from which to reason and make good decisions. Hopefully too, there’s less need to “rebel” against hard rules or somebody else’s impositions on us, since they’ve already developed an inner sense of right and wrong in their own homes. Teaching self-reliant trustworthiness is a key. That way, when kids leave home, they are not used to being told what to do, but how to think and decide for themselves. “Shepherd show me how . . . I believe that if we insist on telling kids everything they need to do all the time, instead of rewarding them for their own ability to reason (based on a healthy view of their individualities) that we make them susceptible to other “you need to do this” influences so often found in the drug, alcohol, advertising culture. Studies reflect that kids learn more from TV than school about how to think. Maybe not our kids, if we’re diligent, but certainly the masses, who on a practical basis, make up the places we live, work, play. Jesus was in the marketplace, for sure, but he taught us how to cope there. Heal!

  4. Your point above on teaching children “you need to do this because I said so,” opens them to being influenced “you need to do this,” by peers pushing in the wrong direction was a major Aha moment for me. I hadn’t considered that before, but so true. Many thanks for bringing that out!!

  5. My daughters really loved the Harry Potter books and so did I!
    Like the Tolkien trilogy, so many books loved by children and adults alike have to do with the battle between good and evil. The beautiful lessons are that good always triumphs, even though there are great challenges and struggles along the way. What comes out in these books are the qualities of the good characters: loyalty, bravery, goodness, wisdom, perseverance and so on. These qualities always win in the end. It has always given me and my children great hope that no matter what the material picture may look like, good will triumph and we must never give up or give in to evil or error.

  6. Yes, Harry Potter has always had a special place in my heart for his bravery, courage, and willingness to stand up to evil. I think one of the points you make is, we can’t be impressed by the evil, even when the struggles are severe. We must stay acutely aware of the omnipotence of Good and its inevitable triumph over all evil.

  7. I have read books that were very heavy and sometimes uncomfortable, but they made me think and they made me grow and see other perspectives and expand my thought. These learning experiences may not feel like pleasure reading, but I value what i learned from them. Sometimes the books bring to light things that need to be handled, to be dealt with in thought. Again, I welcome these challenges. Books can be a great way to prepare children to what challenges they may face in their lives, and what characteristics are admirable and desirable, and what is not. The popularity of the Harry Potter series among children give me great hope in our youth!

  8. Can you imagine if elementary and middle schools kept their students from reading books about the holocaust or about the depression or other conflicts and disparities that have occurred because they don’t want to expose them to anything dark and miserable? Kids would be lulled into a false sense of security, living in ignorance. Yes, in Christian Science we know evil to be unreal, but it must be proven so and closing our eyes to its seeming reality is not going to prepare us to handle it. Books open us up to the world and we must not be ignorant, lest we become too judgmental or unable to empathize.

  9. We read aloud a lot to our kids and a couple of years ago my daughter wanted me to start reading the Harry Potter series. I didn’t even attempt reading them because from what I gathered they seem to put witchcraft in a positive light, as if there can be good witchcraft and bad witchcraft. The quote from S&H comes to mind, “but to mental malpractice, prolific of evil, there is no good aspect, either silvern or golden.” (page 457)

    Mrs. Eddy ends her chapter “Animal Magnetism Unmasked” with a quote from Gal 5:19 which lists a whole slew of sinful behaviors,(witchcraft emphasized among them)and the verse says in part “that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”.

    I loved reading the CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia books to my kids. These books had witches in them, but the witches were always clearly evil, and not something the children were aspiring to become.

    It makes me very uncomfortable seeing witchcraft glorified in any way. The Harry Potter books seem to me to do this and I have no desire to have anything to do with them.

  10. Throughout history people have been uncomfortable or fearful of certain groups of people, and wanted nothing to do with them, but it does not make them evil or worthy of banishment.I sincerely wonder if Mary Baker Eddy would have condemned the Harry Potter books or the character. Anyway, it’s not witchcraft that is glorified. It’s the good that is.

  11. It’s called using your imagination……….
    Billions of kids/adults have experienced it without losing their spiritual compass.

    The kids I see who aren’t “allowed” to read Harry Potter are either afraid of witchcraft or more curious and interested in it than those who know it’s just a colorful part of the story. but unreal.

    Remember the myth of Tantalus?

  12. To those who censor the Harry Potter books from their children: I guess many of the Disney stories are out too (Cinderalla, Pinochio, Sleeping Beauty, etc.) They all have good and evil people making potions, casting spells, using their wands to do magic too.
    And they’d better be sheltering their kids from the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and Halloween too!

  13. If witchcraft is unreal, why is there such a large selection of books about it at the Barnes and Noble in town? It may just be that we’re under more “spells” than we know about. It’s interesting that witchcraft is winding it’s way into the norms of society causing ordinary people, even Christians, to come to its defense. But look up the words witch, witchcraft, black magic, occultism, and sorcery in the dictionary and then decide if you really want to continue to defend witchcraft as harmless, unreal, and of no consequence, as if it’s something that people have a right to. It’s true that witchcraft can be proven powerless, but if ignored it can be disastrous. People do not have a right to malpractice others or to manipulate people. God is Love and witchcraft is not loving. Everyday we’re under the “spells” of sin, disease, and death. It’s our job as Christians to wake up and defend ourselves and others from the lies whispered (or shouted) in our ears. Things certainly aren’t going to improve if we take the stance of defending and trivializing evil and occultism.

    Mrs. Eddy writes on page 570 of S&H, “The march of mind and of honest investigation will bring the hour when the people will chain, with fetters of some sort, the growing occultism of this period. The present apathy as to the tendency of certain active yet unseen mental agencies will finally be shocked into another extreme mortal mood,–into human indignation; for one extreme follows another.”

  14. Well you can always just skip the lesson topic “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”. Go to the beach that day or something!

  15. This topic certainly has generated a lively discussion!

    One point I remember, while reading the above comments, is the importance of not stepping over the line where our understanding of Truth becomes a condemnation of other people’s understanding. I think it’s not so important whether our position trumphs another’s as it is to treat one another with love, kindness, consideration, humility and care. Love works these issues out to the satisfaction of all in due time. In the meantime, we can “agree to disagree,” on some things, and preserve the greater good of continuing an open, compassionate, and thought-provoking dialogue that gives us all fresh views to ponder.

    You all have certainly given me much to think about!

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. This entry under “Witchcraft” – (Thomas Leishman, The Bible Handbook)may be helpful: In the 19th to the 21st verses of the 5th chapter of Galatians, Paul lists what he describes as the “works of the flesh” point out that “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”; and in doing so he condemns what our CommonVersion describes as “Witchcraft.” As a matter of fact, however, the Greek word thus translated is “pharmakeia” and its literal and original meaning is simply “the use or the administering of drugs” “the use of medicine or or any kind of drugs. Pharmakeia is used in this sense by Xenophon, Hippocrates and other noted Greek writers, and that it can also mean “poisoning.”

  17. Thanks, Evan, for your recent comments. I was beginning to take offense to the insinuation that people who love the HP books are not being Christian. The people I know that love these books don’t aspire to become witches and wizards or practice witchcraft. But they do value the lessons of friendship, loyalty, courage, and uprightness the book conveys through its characters. And if anything, I’ve seen countless kids get turned on to reading, which is wonderful!
    “judge (others) not” is great advice.

  18. There’s also a need not to mock and poke fun of Christians who prefer not to read the HP books. There’s nothing wrong with “coming out from the world and being separate” rather than just going along with everything our culture throws at us. People will attempt to sell evil in all sorts of cute and attractive packaging, but we need not be duped into buying it.

  19. Quoting Mary Baker Eddy out of context to support a particular point of view sounds very judgmental. The whole point is that not everyone views Harry Potter books as evil. Let’s just agree to disagree. I totally agree with Evan about not stepping over the line.

  20. The phrase “coming out from the world and being separate” is actually a paraphrase of a verse from The Bible,–“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing;”II Corinthians 6:17. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy quotes this Bible verse once and uses it another time citing it as an “apostolic command”.

    In the above post, this quote is not taken out of context and is actually quite relevant to the discussion. It’s good advice for anyone striving to follow Christ.

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.