Thursday, September 30, 2010

A case of mistaken identity

I once handed a coin to a shopkeeper, who didn’t even look at it before handing it back to me with the explanation that it was counterfeit. When I asked him how he knew, he told me that it was too lightweight. A genuine coin would be heavier than that one. To me that emphasized the fact that, to be able to correct any case of mistaken identity, the first requirement is to be fully aware of true identity.

It’s not impossible that you might be suffering from a case of mistaken identity, even now as you are reading this. Are you thinking of yourself as ill, old, tired, unloved, unwanted, injured? Are financial troubles or a family difficulty weighing you down? If so, gaining a clearer understanding of your spiritual identity will make a huge difference.

The very first chapter of the Bible describes our identity as God’s creation: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion....” It continues, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:26, 31).

Right now, you are very good – spiritual, made in God’s likeness. You include qualities such as strength, intelligence, goodness, patience, honesty, joy, and love. Even if you don’t feel their presence, they are there because God’s image has to be like Him. You are no fake; you are the real thing.

In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy offered this: “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (p. 477). The more clearly we see that divine Spirit gives us our identity, the more we can prove our freedom from any inclination to believe that anything unlike God has a right to a place in us or in any part of our lives.

Mary Baker Eddy answered what she described as the “oft-repeated inquiry, What am I?” this way: “I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 165).

The revelation of Christian Science shows us how to make this practical today. Since God expresses Himself in us, when we use those words “I am,” whatever follows needs to be good. For instance, it’s helped me be ready to challenge any thought that says, “I am afraid” or “I am sick” or “I am bad.”

I’ve had occasions where I’ve gained new confidence, been freed from fear, or even been healed physically as a result of seeing myself as expressing God’s infinite, ever-present good. Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that the one Mind, divine Love, reflecting Himself in me, gives me my identity. Therefore, if facing an illness, I’ve found myself saying aloud, “That has nothing to do with me. I’m not like that. I’m like God. That’s just a case of mistaken identity.”

With that instant and vigorous denial, no appearance of imperfection and no mental picture of inharmony remains.

No wonder the Christian Science textbook states, “Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil” (Science and Health, p. 571). It seems quite logical, then, to conclude that whatever negative issue we’re facing can be dismissed when we are confident of God’s loving care for us.

It’s so reassuring to be able to declare, “That’s merely a case of mistaken identity. I’m not like that. I’m God’s pure reflection.” The dictionary corroborates that conclusion by its definition of the word “pure,” which reads, “containing nothing that does not properly belong.” Surely that gives the complete denial to anything that threatens to fool us into believing that we could be unlike God in any way.

As God’s likeness, we can understand that nothing bad ever originates in us. God is the original, and He is only good. We are His reflection; that is our identity. And as we grow in the understanding of our God-given identity, we’ll find a true sense of life and healing.

Credits: Beryl O. Nathans, Christian Science Monitor

Justin Timberlake raps the house with Jimmy Fallon

"The Flintstones" turn 50

They are perhaps more recognizable among children as the funny-looking characters that adorn their daily multivitamin, but today "The "Flintstones" are 50! At first we thought, “How can a family that lived circa 1,000,000 B.C. be just 50?” But then we remembered it was a fictional cartoon.

Hanna-Barbera’s "Flintstones" TV series premiered on ABC on September 30, 1960, and was among the first of a new brand of television series – the hybrid that worked on both child and adult levels. "The Flintstones" centered on a working-class couple “from the town of Bedrock," Fred and Wilma, who lived next door to their best friends, Barney and Betty Rubble.

Fred and Barney worked together at the quarry for their boss, Mr. Slate, and when their wives weren’t dragging them to the opera, they enjoyed bowling and meetings at the Water Buffalo Club. Bedrock also saw its share of garden-variety wacky neighbors of varying eccentricities and had a revolving door of celebrity visitors. It was practically the Aspen of its day. Of course, the stars had names like Cary Granite and Stony Curtis.

Fred and Wilma were the first couple ever to be seen on television sharing a bed, according to the U.K.'s Telegraph, which has compiled a list of the 15 things you may not know about the cartoon. The show was even co-sponsored by Winston cigarettes at one point, with Fred and Barney appearing in commercials advertising for the company, the Telegraph points out.

Google has marked the day with a "Flintstones"-themed Google doodle tribute. How will you celebrate? When the sundial indicates it’s time to slide down the dinosaur’s tail, we’re going to head home and get ready to watch CNN’s Anderstone Cooper 0° (you know, because the world was flat and there was no 360° to speak of).

Yabba Dabba Do!

Credits: Katie McLaughlin, CNN

UK fans already in line for tickets

There are a lot of sports franchises in a lot of places in the world, so this statement doesn't come lightly: Few fan bases anywhere support their teams as well as Kentucky's. Minus the political overtones and occasional deluge of riotous violence, Kentucky basketball fans are insane in the way South American soccer fans are insane, which makes them entirely admirable. And, yes, sometimes a little bit annoying. (For example, the Kentucky fan who has sent in the same mailbag question -- "Why do you hate Kentucky and love everyone else?" -- 20 times, reworded slightly each time. You know who you are, dude.)

Anyway, the latest example, as if we needed it, is this report from the Lexington Herald-Leader. Big Blue Madness tickets are being distributed Saturday morning on Kentucky's campus. Anticipating demand, school officials asked Kentucky fans not to camp for tickets until Wednesday morning. Kentucky fans complied. Which means there are hundreds of people sitting in tents in Lexington, Ky., in their second day of a four-day wait for tickets to a practice. See? Insane.

But, hey, at least the weather should be nice. Less insane that way, perhaps.

According to the Herald-Leader, Kentucky fans aren't just waiting in line; they're actively protesting on behalf of Enes Kanter's eligibility. "Free Enes" T-shirts and signs have overtaken the landscape. Supportive? Sure. Useless? Definitely. But you can't ask the folks waiting for practice tickets in tents to be all that rational about signage. Nor, um, would you want to.

Credits: Eamonn Brennan, ESPN

Most Americans believe in God but don't know religious tenets

Americans are clear on God but foggy on facts about faiths.
The new U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that although 86% of us believe in God or a higher power, we don't know our own traditions or those of neighbors across the street or across the globe.

Among 3,412 adults surveyed, only 2% correctly answered at least 29 of 32 questions on the Bible, major religious figures, beliefs and practices. The average score was 16 correct (50%).

Key findings:

•Doctrines don't grab us. Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.

•Basic Bible eludes us. Just 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn't one of the Ten Commandments; 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

•World religions are a struggle. Fewer than half (47%) knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; 27% knew most people in Indonesia are Muslims.

"People say, 'I have a personal connection with God and that's really all I need to know.' Who am I to argue?" says Pew's Alan Cooperman, a co-author of the report.

But religion, as a force in history and a motivator in present times, "has consequences in the world," he adds, so an intellectual baseline, whatever your faith or lack of faith, can "shape your role as a citizen in the public square."

The top scoring groups were atheists/agnostics, Jews and Mormons. These tiny groups, adding up to less than 7% of Americans, scored particularly well on world religion and U.S. constitutional questions. It's unclear why, although highly educated people overall did best on the quiz, researchers say.

It may be that the conscious choice to take a minority faith or philosophic stand requires an intellectual engagement with religion to a greater degree than experienced by Protestants and Catholics, who dominate U.S. culture. Eight in 10 atheists and agnostics grew up in a religious tradition, chiefly a branch of Christianity, says Greg Smith, a Pew senior researcher.

The single question most people answered correctly: 89% knew that according to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, public school teachers cannot lead their classes in prayer.

But only 36% of respondents knew teachers are allowed to teach classes comparing world religions, and just 23% knew that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.

"If the public thinks there are greater restriction than there really are, how much impact does this have in the real world when they are looking at religion's place in public life?" Smith asks.

Most respondents have some understanding of the First Amendment: 68% knew that the Constitution says "the government shall neither establish a religion nor interfere with the practice of religion." But, says Smith, "they don't get the specifics."

Questions about half of respondents nailed: 51% knew Joseph Smith was a Mormon; 54% could name the Quran as Islam's holy text. (The survey was conducted May 19-June 6, before a Florida pastor's threat to burn the Quran made headlines.)

Stumpers: Just 8% knew Maimonides was an influential Jewish rabbi. Only 11% knew that the fiery preacher and theologian who participated in the First Great Awakening, an 18th-century Protestant revival, was Jonathan Edwards, not 19th-century evangelist Charles Finney or today's Billy Graham.

Smith says education was the single best predictor of how people scored.

Respondents who went to graduate school answered twice as many questions correctly as people who didn't complete high school.

Overall, men scored better than women, whites score better than blacks and Hispanics, and Southerners did worse than the rest of the nation, Smith said.

The authors say they didn't give the public a grade on its religious knowledge like a school test, such as an A or F.

Why? Because, they say, "We have no objective way of determining how much the public should know about religion."

Credits: Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Google Street View Goes Live in Antarctica

Antarctica isn't exactly known for its streets, but that didn't stop Google from unveiling its Street View feature on the coldest continent on Thursday. After running into opposition in Germany and the Czech Republic over the controversial imaging service, Antarctica was a welcome change, Google employees tell the Guardian: There were no legal proceedings to deal with or privacy concerns from penguins. "This allows people to understand the contrast between New York's Times Square and being on the edge of a glacier looking at penguins," geospatial technologist Ed Parsons told the paper, describing how much the technology has changed since Street View was launched three years ago. Over the next 24 hours, Street View images will go live from Antarctica, Ireland, and Brazil, giving Google an on-the-ground presence on all seven continents.

Credits: Slate Magazine

Charity Directs Callers to Phone Sex Line

A limited-edition cereal featuring Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco was pulled from shelves this week after it was revealed that a charity phone number listed on the box was directing callers to a phone sex line. The mistake was discovered after an Ohio family called the number on speakerphone with their 9-year-old daughter in the room. PLB Sports, the company that markets OchocincO cereal, apologized for the mistake, explaining that the correct 888 prefix for the Feed the Children charity had mistakenly been replaced with an 800 number. Chad Ochocinco also issued an apology on Thursday, only a day after he encouraged his Twitter followers to buy the cereal and "Start your day with a lil suga!!!"

Levi Johnston for Mayor of Wasilla?

I am just going to let the video speak for itself.

Friday, September 24, 2010

If Facebook exsisted years ago!


Homemade gift series #1: Vanilla extract

What a clever gift idea. Not to mention, a wonderful excuse, er, I mean reason to keep some "good quality" Vodka on hand. I am going to attempt to post this entire series.

For the last few years, one of the most prized possessions in our pantry has been a gigantic bottle of imported Mexican vanilla extract.
It’s not that imitation stuff that you get on sale at the store, with weak vanilla flavor and added sweetener. This stuff is pure unsweetened vanilla extract. It makes pies and cookies and homemade ice cream and sweetbreads and cakes and countless other things we make at home sublime.
A month or so ago, I noticed that our big bottle was finally running low. We decided to stop by an ethnic grocery to look for some replacement, but just as that conversation was happening in our home, our old friend Carrie posted about her experience making homemade vanilla extract.
It turns out that it’s pretty simple. Get some decent vodka (not the cheap stuff that often has impurities), some vanilla beans, slice open the vanilla beans, and toss them in the vodka bottles. Store, shake about once a week, and in a few months, you’ll have amazing homemade vanilla extract.
Even better, if you can find some small bottles, you can easily give this homemade extract away as gifts to your friends who bake things in their own kitchen.
So that’s exactly what we did.
After some hunting, I found a great bargain on 3 1.75 liter bottles of Smirnoff (since you need to use at least a mid-level vodka – you can also use rum, if you’d like). I paid $12 per 1.75 liters of it – about 7.4 cups. Considering that a cup of vanilla extract will last quite a while, we’ll be making a lot of extract.
The challenge, however, was finding the beans. Our local grocery store wanted $5 per bean pod for organic vanilla beans. Considering you’re supposed to use a few bean pods per cup of extract you want to make, that adds up fast, making this seem prohibitively expensive. Carrie found a better deal – she was able to pick them up for $0.79 a pop at her local co-op. Still, not inexpensive enough.
So I went online and checked out every website I could find about making homemade vanilla extract. After sending a few emails, multiple people suggested that I check out Vanilla Products USA, which sells vanilla beans on eBay and has a 100% buyer feedback rating.
I bought a pound of beans from them, shipped to me for $24.99. They threw an extra quarter pound of beans into the package for me.
What does a pound of vanilla bean pods look like?
A pound of these beans totaled about 160 pods, so we actually bought 200 pods for $24.99 – about 12 1/2 cents a pod.
So, our cost per cup of the raw ingredients for the extract is about $0.38 for three pods, plus $1.75 for the vodka, making a cup of this extract cost just a smidge over $2. Since a good extract is used only a teaspoon at a time, the cost per use of this extract is about four cents.
So what did we do?
Sarah and I took turns cutting the beans. We would take a bean, slice it lengthwise (as seen in the picture), and tear it into two halves. Then, we’d plunk both halves into the vodka bottle.
One (obvious, in retrospect) thing we discovered is that the beans add volume to the bottle. The solution is easy – pour off about a cup of the liquid before you begin adding beans, then fill up the bottle after you’re done adding the beans.
We added different amounts of beans to each bottle, just to experiment. Based on the materials I’ve read about vanilla extract, there won’t be an enormous strength difference between the bottles of extract.
Once we have our beans in the bottles, we just seal ‘em, shake ‘em vigorously for a minute or so, and then put them in a cool, dry place. After that, shake the bottle(s) once a week or so and you’ll have usable extract in a month, though most sites encourage at least two months of extraction and as many as six months is sometimes encouraged.
As you can see, the vanilla extraction has begun! The bottle on the left is after only an hour of extraction and you can already see the browning of the liquid.
What’s next? Each week, shake the bottle to keep the extract going. We marked it on the calendar, actually, to remind ourselves. When the extraction is done (we’re shooting for about December 15), pour out the extract and filter out the beans, the pods, and other particulate matter. A few coffee filters should do the trick wonderfully.
From there, you can put the extract back into the bottle or into other containers as per your desire.
For gift giving, we’re going to give the extract in small glass bottles with lids (we’re looking for ones that will hold a cup, or eight ounces). Since we know that we’re going to need these but we have time to search for them, so we can put our bargain-hunting skills to the test. At the end of the series, we’ll show you our final product (with some home-designed labels).
Credits: Trent Hamm, Christian Science Monitor

Iran's Ahmadinejad: US used 9/11 to prolong world domination

How absolutely absurd is this? Ahmadinejad, addressing the UN General Assembly, says Iran will host a terror conference to investigate who was really behind 9/11.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced from the United Nations in New York Thursday that Iran will host an international conference on terrorism in the coming year that among other things will discuss who really carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who delved into the 9/11 tragedy in the context of a speech focused on what he called the “crisis” facing capitalism and the Western-dominated world order, said history will record that a failing world dominator used the attacks as a pretext for occupying two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. Citing a list of conspiracy theories over who destroyed the twin towers, he said that, whoever the culprits, the United States proceeded to use the events to try to prolong a dying world order of domination.

Addressing the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, just miles from the site of the deadliest of the 9/11 attacks, the Iranian leader said the US responded to the attacks by firing up a “propaganda machine” to convince the world that war was the necessary response.

“We were all saddened for the 3,000 lives lost on 9/11,” he said, but he added that “since then hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The walkout

The US delegation and others walked out of Ahmadinejad's speech after he began enumerating his theories as to who could have been behind the 9/11 attacks, the second of which was that "some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime." The US holds Al Qaeda responsible for the attacks.

Ahmadinejad said the international conference he proposed would “study terrorism and the means to confront it.”

The controversial leader, who had to pass by chanting protesters railing against his rule on his way into the UN headquarters, was –despite his 9/11 tangent – less fiery than in past years, though in some ways no more modest. He unilaterally assigned the General Assembly the task of designing within one year a new UN governing structure free of the control of a few powerful countries sitting on the Security Council – a body he called one of the world’s least democratic and just.

Ahmadinejad did not directly respond to the invitation Western powers have extended to Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear program – other than to repeat that Iran is always open to dialogue that is based on mutual respect and equal rights. But he did speak at length on the global nuclear issue, criticizing nuclear arms as a tool of domination for the few who possess them, but extolling nuclear power as a clean and inexpensive energy source for all.

'Nuclear energy for all'

Declaring another goal for the coming year, he said 2011 should be proclaimed “a year of nuclear disarmament” with the motto: “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none.”

Ahmadinejad’s address followed by a few hours President Obama’s declaration to the same international gathering that Iran is the only signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unable to demonstrate to UN nuclear energy officials that its nuclear program is solely peaceful in nature. As if in response, the Iranian leader acknowledged Iran’s lack of full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, but said Iran is exercising its international rights.

“Yes it’s true, we have never submitted to the IAEA’s illegally imposed pressures,” he said, “and we never will.” As for the fourth round of economic sanctions approved earlier this year, he said they are merely “destroying the remaining credibility of the Security Council.”

Despite such worldly issues, much of Ajmadinejad’s speech focused on theological themes and a world where he said man’s spiritual nature is obscured by materialistic pursuits.

As he has often in the past, he railed against a Western society that destroys “the purity and exquisiteness” of women. And he referred to the recent controversy over a proposed burning of the Quran by a Florida minister, calling such acts evil but then concluding that “the truth cannot be burned.”

He then held aloft both the Quran and the Bible, and declared, “We pay respect to both books.”
Credits: Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Study: No increased autism risk from mercury-based perservative in vaccines

Exposing a fetus or young infant to vaccines with the mercury-based preservative called thimerosal does not increase the risk for autism, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

"This study adds to the evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines do not increase a child's risk of developing autism," lead study author, Dr. Frank DeStefano of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells CNN.

Researchers studied the medical records of 256 children diagnosed with autism and 752 typically developed children born between January 1994 and December 1999. The children were between 6 and 13 years old when the medical data was reviewed – 85 percent of them were boys. The research concluded that there was no evidence that children exposed to the mercury in the vaccines were at risk for getting autism.

According to the CDC, an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have some form of autism and boys are 4 to 5 times more likely to have autism than girls.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine reviewed existing research regarding a possible link between vaccines and autism and concluded "that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism."

Still several advocacy groups and many parents believe vaccines caused their children's autism.

Earlier this year, a federal court set up by Congress to decide claims over vaccine safety, ruled scientific evidence presented did not establish a link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.

Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer for the advocacy group Autism Speaks calls the study in Pediatrics significant because it found higher levels of thimerosal exposure were not linked to a higher risk for autism. "One study can't answer all questions, but this study adds to a large body of evidence indicating that early thimerosal exposure through vaccination does not cause autism." She adds, "we encourage parents to have their children vaccinated and to establish a trusting relationship with their child's pediatrician so they can discuss any concerns they have."

Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has long argued that there is no connection. He writes about how believing in this connection can put children at risk in his book "Autism's False Prophets." Offit says "this is at least the 6th study done on thimerosal - they've all shown the same thing. There's not a relationship between thimerosal and autism." Offit suggests it's time to move on and focus on other possible causes of autism.

"1,000 TIMES NO!"

Los Angeles Parents Put Daughter's Naming Rights on the Market for $750,000

Sure, it's expensive to raise a kid these days, but really? A pair of Los Angeles musicians are hoping to fund the rearing of their daughter the way cities fund stadium construction: naming rights. The couple posted a craigslist ad Saturday offering up their unborn baby's middle name to corporate sponsors. The $750,000 price tag seems a bit steep. This baby girl will initially weigh in at less than 15 pounds, and Izod got an entire sports arena for $1.4 million a year. But as her proud parents point out, the winning corporation "will be presented to thousands of potential customers every month as our baby grows and is signed up for scouts, called on in classrooms, and mentioned in pediatrician offices." Although the parents sound open to just about anything ("we're having a girl but product name needn't be feminine"), they do, like all good parents, have some favorite names picked out: "Our list of hopefuls includes SONY, SAAB, Jet Blue, Converse, Hot Pocket, Gibson, and Ludwig (we're musicians)."

Credits:Slate Magazine

Super Mario Bros. has sold how many copies?

Super Mario Bros., the most classic of all Nintendo games, celebrates its 25th anniversary this week. In the quarter century that followed, the game's hero – a mustachioed, red-capped plumber – has appeared in more than 200 titles.

Mario is clearly a cash cow for Nintendo, a company that has always banked on nostalgia. How many copies are we talking about?

Nintendo says the original Super Mario Bros. has sold more than 40 million copies. Many of those came bundled with the Nintendo Entertainment System, but the number has ticked ever higher, thanks to re-releases and the Wii's virtual console.

But what if you added in all the "core" Mario titles? (Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, etc.) Roll 'em all up, and you've got 240 million copies sold. That's definitely enough coins to earn a 1-up.

Credits: Chris Gaylord, Christian Science Monitor

Monday, September 13, 2010

If a co-worker gets you down

Strife due to difficult relationships at work, either with a boss or co-workers, can turn the workday into drudgery. It may seem easy to categorize others and justify our indifference to them, but instead there’s a healing, solution-oriented route to take.

Some time ago I was working in close quarters with a producer, editing a television show. We were in a small closet that was stuffy, warm, and uncomfortable, and my temper was hot. Running the tape back and forward, adding music and voice over and over again, was tedious. Trying to agree on what should be left in and what should be taken out led to a grinding conflict. I wanted to throw away the whole project and leave, but I knew that wasn’t going to solve anything. I had to calm my thought and see my fellow worker and boss, as well as myself, as inherently good, a child of God.

I knew from my study of Christian Science, in which I was seeking to know more about God, our Creator, that He is Love. He created all things good and flawless. Nothing can oppose this mighty truth. Mental stress, dislike, irritation, antagonism are mortal thinking. They have nothing to do with our true being, the reflection of Love.

Mary Baker Eddy recognized this when she discovered Christian Science and wrote a textbook for self-instruction titled “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” In it she wrote: “A material world implies a mortal mind and man a creator. The scientific divine creation declares immortal Mind and the universe created by God” (p. 507).

In my situation in the studio, I saw that it was not a person who was the problem, but impatience, self-will, and self-justification that were in the way. Deep down I knew these had no power. God’s all-power is independent of material conditions. I remembered this statement of Mrs. Eddy’s: “When error strives to be heard above Truth, let the ‘still small voice’ produce God’s phenomena” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 249).

So I refused to be intimidated by fear, hatred, or inharmony of any kind. I held to the fact that unreasonableness and bad temper do not belong to the sons and daughters of God. Soon the work progressed. We were finished, and we both felt satisfied.

The true sense of work and our relationships with others is found in right thinking. Love lifts us above every limitation. As God, who is divine Principle, is recognized as the only cause, there can be no discord. We can accept and realize the omnipresence of divine Love.

Credits: Nancy Robison, Christian Science Monitor

You Are Custom-Made

We recently purchased a sofa with a somewhat unusual shape that fit the room exactly where we needed it. It seemed custom-made, even though it was secondhand.

Because the sofa certainly had not been specially manufactured for us, I began to think about why I even thought of it in the context of being custom-made, since that notion often elicits a sense of unaffordable luxury. Certainly, the sofa wasn’t luxurious – or expensive. No, what made me think of it this way was that it appeared just when I needed it, complete and perfect.

The sofa to me was more than an attractive furnishing for comfort. My delight in it came from the qualities it represented – its perfect fit in economy, form, color – all qualities that can be seen in spiritual ways. Those qualities are understood in the theology of Christian Science as having their source in God and are evident in so many ways. God is Spirit, the only Creator of the universe, including each of us as the ideas He has conceived. What God creates is like Him – entirely and provably spiritual. And we’re created to include everything we need – all the qualities of His goodness.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, recognized with impeccable spiritual logic that what God has made expresses His nature in every attribute. She described in this way the ideas that God, as the divine Mind, has created: “From the infinite elements of the one Mind emanate all form, color, quality, and quantity, and these are mental, both primarily and secondarily. Their spiritual nature is discerned only through the spiritual senses” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 512).

Each quality and condition of what is good and needed is actually found in Spirit. And that means each individual includes them also. The divine Parent of all identities is constantly providing the atmosphere of pure joy, the environment of infinite possibilities, the substance of spiritual good, for each one. We are created to fit in life, or being, in the most fulfilling, delightfully individual way.

The book of Isaiah in the Bible describes this. As recorded in the King James Version, God declares, “This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise” (Isa. 43:21). “The Message” paraphrases that passage with this encouraging statement: “a people custom-made to praise me.”

Every man, woman, and child is precision-created to express God’s divine purpose – and to joy in it. Viewed another way, purpose, joy, and fulfillment are spiritual qualities that express the divine will. God creates no mass-produced individualities. Even the concept is self-contradictory. Individuality is the unique expression of our loving, even doting, divine Parent, of the divine intelligence that creates and forever nurtures our growth and development.

God creates no misfits, no unneeded identities. There are no lapses where someone has fallen through the cracks, missed his calling, outlasted her usefulness. Infinite Mind loved each one into being, with a creative intelligence that never fails to prepare and secure the perfect place for each one, for now and eternity. Every individuality is forever wanted and needed, and therefore is perfectly planned for. New satisfaction, freshly orchestrated by God, continues to come to us through our unfolding understanding of God’s plan for us.

We were created to fit the niche where we can best express and glorify our Creator and express our uniqueness. You were created by your Creator to fill your niche. It uniquely fits you, in order to lift you, enlarge your capacities, and bless you. That will bless others as well. You can trust this and move forward in your life on its basis. You are custom-made.

Credits: Suzanne Riedel, Christian Science Monitor

Is College a Good Investment?

Among the American middle class, there is a belief that all people have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of matching Bed, Bath and Beyond coordinates for their child's college dorm room. Starting college is, as the Washington Post's Sarah Kaufman puts it, "a rite of passage, part of orderly progression toward success." Or is it? Kaufman asks whether the freshmen currently flocking toward campuses are falling prey to a "herd mentality" that is actually hurting their chances for success. After all, Americans are now more weighed down by student-loan debt than credit-card debt. If someone invested $200,000 instead of spending it on tuition at a top-flight school, in 50 years they'd have $2.8 million to help console them over their lack of a degree. Yes, on average, college grads make more than people with just a high-school education, but Kaufman's experts point out that that's an average. "If you major in accounting or engineering, you're pretty likely to get a return on your investment," one economics professor says. "If you're majoring in anthropology or social work or education. ... I've talked to some of my own students who've graduated and who are working in grocery stores or Wal-Mart. The fellow who cut my tree down had a master's degree and was an honors grad."

Credits: Slate Magazine

John Calipari visits 102-year-old fan

Here's a bummer about getting old: Until you get really, really, really old -- the kind of old that's so old you're not sure if you want to be that old -- people don't care. Being 80 is rarely seen as an accomplishment. But when you reach a certain threshold, people care more than ever. You get your photo on the "Today Show." Your relatives mention you in casual conversation. ("My grandpa is 104, and he still walks a mile every day!") People clap for you at weddings.

And, perhaps most importantly, high-profile college hoops coaches come visit you on your birthday.

At least, one does. Kentucky coach John Calipari, master of the positive public relations stunt (and, by all accounts, a genuinely caring and outgoing guy), visited Dr. Gifford Blyton, a 102-year-old Kentucky season-ticket holder for 62 years and a former professor under eight different presidents at Kentucky, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Calipari is traveling in support of his latest book, "Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and in Life," but he stopped the book tour for the momentary visit with Blyton at Fat Boys restaurant in Georgetown, Ky. (Mmm. Fat Boys. I've never been there, but any restaurant named "Fat Boys" is bound to be delicious. I bet there's lots of gravy.)

In any case, Calipari left the meeting with a ready-made quote straight from the inspirational coachspeak handbook:

“You give money, and you're giving a fraction of what you have,” Calipari said last week. “But when you give your time, you're giving everything.”
Which, like all good inspirational coachspeak handbook quotes, has the benefit of being both hokey and true. Fans eat this stuff up, and it's no wonder why. Calipari is good at a lot of things -- recruiting, meshing teams together, coaching defense -- but creating a genuine sense of outreach and community in his adopted home might be his best, and perhaps most admirable, trait.

Credits: Eamon Brennan, ESPN