Intriguing, insightful answers to your thorny theological queries
REV. THOMAS SHEPHERD, D.MIN.,
FORMER PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY AND
CHURCH HISTORY AT UNITY INSTITUTE®
AND SEMINARY, IS THE AUTHOR OF MANY
UNITY BOOKS. SEND QUESTIONS TO
Affirmations for Healing
DEAR DR. TOM: I was glad to read on social media
that you came through heart surgery and are recovering
at home. Did any specific Unity principles help during this
—T.M., Minneapolis, Minnesota
DEAR T.M.: Actually, the greatest reminder of Unity
principles came from my Buddhist friend Bhante Wimala,
who wrote a short affirmation that I clung to, day and night:
I am facing this physical challenge calmly, patiently, with self-confidence. I admire people who can face the storms of life
and remain unshaken. Frankly, I’m too much of a wuss to
manifest that level of spiritual mastery … yet.
Complications arose after surgery, and there were
a few dark nights of the soul during my three-month
hospitalization when I despaired of ever getting better.
Then I took out the little card on which I’d scrawled
Bhante’s distillation of the Unity idea of trusting God
in every circumstance, no matter the appearances or
outcome. And the words of Truth reminded me that I am
not in charge of the universe, but the one Presence and
one Power of divine love is.
Bhante, whose Buddhist heritage does not speak of a
personal God but a Divine Cosmos, would not explain
it in those terms, but “let go, let God” became my life
preserver in a sea of doubt and fear. Those Buddhist words
interpreted by a Unity understanding guided me safely
through the troubled waters of fear and uncertainty.
DEAR DR. TOM: Is God “out there” or “in here” within me?
—C.F., Montreal, Canada
DEAR C.F.: Yes. The Presence and Power that causes
the universe to exist also expresses as you and me—a
localization of divine energy. In my book Glimpses of Truth,
I call this the “let it in/let it out” question. Some people say
God comes to us, bringing divine power. Others say God
emerges from deep within. But my continuing question is:
Why not both?
DEAR DR. TOM: My daughter and her boyfriend live
together and have one child, with another on the way. They
have no plans to marry, which befuddles me. I’d like them to
say “I do” and make a lifetime commitment, especially with
children in the picture. Am I being old-fashioned?
—W.P., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DEAR W.P.: Yes, and may your tribe increase. Human
societies have widely divergent systems of marriage and
kinship, and our culture is struggling with the question
about making the kind of commitment to family and the
future that group survival has always required. Maybe
a new, looser form of marriage will emerge from the
fragmented families of today.
The self-centeredness of our times may eventually
recognize an absolute necessity for raising children well,
to protect the next generation as well as to base our lives
on relationships that will endure.
DEAR DR. TOM: When our leaders lie so regularly, what
does “truth” mean anymore?
—T.D., Dallas, Texas
DEAR T.D.: Sounds like your real question is, “What
happened to change our world so that distortions of the
facts are no longer considered abnormal?” A generation
ago, Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
said, “You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not
entitled to your own facts.” Today, the line between fact
and opinion has blurred.
When scientists show piles of research that support
the fact that global climate change is not only real,
but that it’s also caused by human activity, those who
disagree attempt to refute the conclusion by supporting
their opinion with bogus counter-research.
Despite overwhelming evidence of the evolution of life
on this planet, millions of people accept the “alternative
facts” produced by Creationists that the earth is only a
few thousand years old instead of the 4 billion or so years
that’s been established by authentic science.
For me, the most important “fact” to remember is that
Unity principles can be demonstrated in the laboratory
of life. In happy or in difficult times, that seems to be the
best fact of all.