Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cheryl Petersen

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wish to thank Deborah Lipp for her very interesting interview of two weeks ago!
I loved reading your answers and learning more about your faith. Thank you so much for sharing with us Deborah!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Cheryl Petersen. Cheryl is Christian Science and I know you'll enjoy her interview as well!

Here Is Cheryl Petersen's Introduction:

Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer living in upstate New York with her husband of almost 30 years. They have 2 grown children and fostered children for 15 years while living on their farm in Washington State. Cheryl's books are 21st Century Science and Health, and Marriage: Sink or Swim.

1) What religion do you practice?
 Christian Science, a religion established by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century, based on a religion of love that has existed forever.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
 I was raised attending a Christian Science Sunday School however I’ve attended many other religious services and studied many other religions for comparison and out of general interest.

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Definitely, there are degrees of observance and perspectives within my religion. I would meet some practicing Christian Scientists who are obsessed with the goal of not going to a doctor, while more of us focused on understanding better the spiritual principles behind the religion. As typical to all religions where the conservatives rule the organization, exclusion results therefore many students of Christian Science do not attend church.

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
Maybe a mix between moderate and liberal. Every day, and with great seriousness, my thought observes God, and I use the lens of Christian Science to view a God of divine Spirit, Mind. But, as for the tools used to study Christian Science, I liberally believe the language needs to be practical today. Therefore I revised and updated Mary Baker Eddy’s textbook on Christian Science, and titled it 21st Century Science and Health.

5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
Through my study of Christian Science, I figure, the ceremony of death has about as much influence as the wedding ceremony. They are both human inventions. Our bodies may die but our consciousness is still ours and it develops according to our pursuits and beliefs. I’ve felt hell on earth, so my mind has adapted to an idea attributed to Christ Jesus, that heaven on earth is a real possibility. And, sure enough, heaven as a state of mind has been felt.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
 I’ve learned to view people not as mortal bodies, but as thoughts. The materialist temporary human thoughts come and go. But our spiritual thoughts stay and bring heaven to us.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
 The religion of divine Science is one I can practice no matter where I am in the world. I don’t hang around like-minded churchy people. I am a wife, mother, I volunteer in the public, I was a foster-mother for 15 years, I travel, I am invited to give sermons at a Unitarian Universalist Church, I am a newspaper correspondent who reports on various religions, all activities I can do while still being grounded on Christian Science defined as a Principle interpreting wellbeing and love to me at all times.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Typical Christian holy days, Easter, Christmas and even Thanksgiving is valued.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
 I know people of other faiths are my friends because they keep me honest. They are the ones who tell me when I start getting narrow-minded and selfish about God. They make me think. They make me preach practical ideas and then practice them.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes, I’d attend celebrations of other faiths if I have a better reason than “to just try it.” I had a roommate who practiced Buddhism, and I supported her when she celebrated holy days. We discussed our beliefs but with a respect toward one another rather than the thought that one celebration was greater than another. Also, when I was a foster mother, I took a teenager to the church of his dysfunctional family’s faith. He had attached his terrible family experience to the faith and therefore turned away from it. I told him there is no perfect religion and we can see past the imperfection to the real reason for celebration, and feel God. He got the courage to participate in a holy activity and came away healed of many hurts.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
 I would trip constantly in a burka and laws like Shariah Law don’t make any more sense to me than the unwritten “laws” I hear in my church such as I should marry a Christian Scientist to stay pure or read the King James Version of the Bible to be healed. These demands are human and only prove silly however I have empathy. I know I can’t tell a woman to throw off the burka and be free because she truly could be very afraid without her burka just like I’ve seen Christian Scientists truly afraid to be without their Mary Baker Eddy literature and Christian Science clique.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, imanetc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Yes, women are equal to men in Christian Science. But as a woman, I also know society, and our church, still needs to develop this idea.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
There is no segregation of women and men in Christian Science.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
My study of divine Science affects my daily life greatly. The opinions within the church do not affect my decisions nearly as much. There is a fine line between religious convictions and everyday human life experiences and I find that open-minded decisions are valid. A cut-and-dry creed has never been executed, even if someone would like to believe so.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
 I married outside my religion and discovered my husband naturally practices the harmony of God, what I call Christian Science, better than the “devoted” members of the church. One day, I even remember listening to him talk poignantly about God and life and love, and I thought with a smile, “Holy smokes, he is going to understand heaven before me!”

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
No way. God speaks to everyone in a way they understand and God loves everyone with heavenly love.

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
Most of us are trying our best to speak correctly. Ironically, HOW the spoken or written word is interpreted, is also an issue. I know people who read the Bible or even Eddy’s writings on Christian Science and interpret them fitfully different from myself.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Sure, I call them my “hate fans” but they are sadly very afraid people who dedicatedly believe they have to uphold spirit in matter or a human authority in the religion.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
 God gives me a peace of mind. Religion helps me see and feel God.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I have no desire to keep coming back to this human experience, although it is intriguing and beautiful most of the time. I’ve had too many experiences where spiritual consciousness was realized and the mortal faded so much so that I understand a mortal identity is not necessary or mandatory.

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