The Good Side of
by Christian D. Larson
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IN taking up this subject, a subject that is attracting world-wide attention at the present time, I wish to say that I have the greatest regard and the highest admiration for the Christian Science movement as a movement, and for the principles upon which the movement is based; and the principal cause of my regard and admiration is this, that I admire everybody and everything that has a great purpose in view, and that works for it with all the power that life can give.
This is something that we all feel and, therefore, whenever we meet an individual with a lofty ideal, someone who knows what he wants, and works for it and lives for it under all sorts of circumstances, we cannot help admiring that individual. We may not always agree with him in every respect; and under certain circumstances it may be unwise to try to agree with him; still, we are bound to admire him to the very highest degree, even though he may not take as broad a view of some things as we would like.
It is the same with institutions and movements. If they have a great object, a great purpose, and a lofty goal, and not only live for their convictions, but actually make good in practical life, we are bound to admire them; especially where we realize that they are inspired with the highest form of sincerity.
In all departments of life it is the weaklings that we sometimes lose patience with, although we ought to be patient with everybody, knowing that it is difficult to find anyone who is not doing his best under the circumstances; still, where we find individuals or institutions that have no purpose in view and that are vacillating and uncertain in connection with everything that has real value in life, we cannot bestow upon them any great degree of admiration; in fact, we are liable to think of them as obstacles to the welfare of the world. This they may be in a sense; nevertheless, they need our sympathy instead of our criticism; but when we meet people who live for something -- or institutions that work for something definite -- something of extraordinary importance to human welfare, and actually make good in their purpose, we invariably give them our admiration; and in this age this spirit of admiration for the successful, for the true, for the sincere and the genuine is growing rapidly; and there is a psychological reason for this fact -- something that we shall find it important to respect and admire if we have greater success or higher attainment in view.
In this connection we should remember that we never find successful people among those who are constantly criticising or antagonizing, or who live in the spirit of destruction. The reason is, those people are not living or working in that vital current of life that is moving toward greater things. They are at war with themselves because at war with others; and no mind that is living in continual warfare can ever develop or produce anything of great worth in the world. We cannot afford, therefore, to live in the critical spirit under any circumstances; but when we enter the opposite spirit, that is, when we begin to admire and respect both individuals and institutions that are moving forward, that are successful, that are working for great things -- it is then that we get into the great constructive current of life and begin to move with that current into the larger, the higher, the finer and the richer in all the domains of existence.
The best advice that we could give to any young man or woman would be this: "Look at those who have succeeded greatly and achieved largely; then find their secret and apply it in your own life, or improve upon it if you can; but pay no attention to the weakness of those who have failed or lost, because it is the ways of success and not the ways of failure that should be imitated or selected as ideals."
If all young men would take this advice they would place their minds in a strong, constructive current; and this current would gradually gain force and power so that in the course of time their mental capacity would be increased to a very large degree. In consequence, they would not only enter the pathway that invariably leads to success, but they would constantly increase all those elements of mind and talent that make for still greater success.
The spirit of the age is entering more and more into the understanding of this idea; that is, that the human mind, to be true to itself, must follow constructive lines invariably; and therefore we are learning to apply this idea more and more, not only to individuals, but to institutions and world movements, including religious movements, and all systems of thought in this same manner. We are beginning to overlook as far as possible their weak points and are beginning to give more and more credit to the good and the helpful elements that they all do surely contain. We know that all individuals and all institutions have weak points, but our purpose must be to search for their strong points, and then apply those strong points to ourselves, and improve upon them as far as we possibly can. This is the spirit of the present age; and it is in this spirit that we will consider the Christian Science movement with a view of finding the reason why that movement has been so very successful along certain lines of action, and why it has accomplished so much regardless of obstacles and persecutions.
There is a strong tendency among a large number of people to criticise new religious institutions, because they say we have too many religions already. Their idea is that we should not formulate any new religious system, but rather aim to unite all religious systems into one; but here we should remember that the ideal of religious union, that is, combining all the churches into one institution, is a dream that will not be realized at present, nor would we want it to be realized for many a long day.
There are in the world something like two hundred different types of mentality in the present age, and each type needs a different form of worship and belief; that is, each type needs a method of its own for approaching the Absolute, or reaching up toward the higher and finer life; and therefore we need all these different systems so that these many types of mind may have modes of aspiration and worship that will suit their present state of devel- opment. In another century there may not be so many types of mind, because the farther the human race develops the closer we all come together in understanding and consciousness; but so long as all these many types do exist we need corresponding systems of belief, of worship, of study, of living.
We must not find fault, therefore, with the fact that there are so many religions in the world. They are all necessary just now. If we were to find fault at all it would be this, that most of those religions do not, to use an ordinary term, "make good" in their own field. In brief, they are not living up to their highest light, or trying to make the best use of the gifts and possibilities in their possession.
When we learn to take a broad and reasonable view of all things, we come to the conclusion that no system of thought or no organization should disappear so long as it has a mission, or so long as there is a field wherein it can find useful work; but we do demand that every church, every system of thought, every philosophy, every science, every form of worship make good in the field where it may find its mission at the present time. We cannot commend any institution that is only half alive, or that is wasting the larger part of its opportunity. Such institutions have no right to exist; but an institution that is true to its purpose, true to its mission, and that is turning on the full current, so to speak, of all its power, to the end that it may render the greatest service possible to those with whom it may be concerned -- such an institution is absolutely necessary for the time being and cannot fail to win the highest respect of all men and women who have the greatest welfare of the human race at heart.
The fact is, however, that there are very few systems of thought, or religious institutions of the present day, that are really making good in their own field. Many of them are doing fairly well, but there are only a few that are really making full and effective application of the principles upon which they stand.
One of these exceptional few is the Christian Science Church. As an institution this church is certainly making full and effective application of its own principles; and therefore we cannot hesitate to express our greatest admiration and our highest regard once more. It is indeed more than can be said of most of the other religious institutions in the world today; and the fact that the Christian Science Church is making full and effective application of its principles is one reason why it is so successful; but there are many other reasons, and we wish to consider all these reasons carefully so that we may apply them in our own individual life, in our business, in our education, or in any field of religious study that we may undertake now or in the future.
However, before we proceed to examine the inner secret, so to speak, of the Christian Science movement, we should remember that this movement is not for everybody; but the same is true of trigonometry, of agriculture, of chemistry, of domestic science. They are not for everybody. They are for those who need them. The same is true of a great many things, and, in fact, of nearly all things. Every particular system or factor may fill a special place and supply the need of a certain type of mind; and so long as that particular movement, institution or factor does supply the need of a certain type of mind, we should be glad that it is here, and not under any circumstances find fault.
The Christian Science movement occupies a most important mission. It is doing a marvelous work for a certain type of mind; but it is suited only to that certain type, and therefore must not be looked upon as the last word in religion, in science or in truth. It has, like all other institutions, arisen for the purpose of supplying a certain need for the time being; but no institution in itself is permanent. All institutions are destined to give place to other institutions that will arise to supply the new needs of advancing humanity; but for the present age, and possibly for many centuries, the Christian Science movement will continue as a wonderful power for good in the lives of those thousands and thousands who may need that service that Christian Science alone can render.