of theology and
church history at
Seminary, is the
author of several
books. His newest
book, The Many
Faces of Prayer (Unity
Books, 2013), can be
purchased using the
order form on page
41. Send questions
Dear Dr. Tom: Is it just me, or does it seem like
the world is getting … older? TV commercials
these days seem to feature a lot of products
targeting senior citizens: chairs to help the elderly
travel between upstairs and downstairs, assorted
remedies for maladies of the older brain and body,
life insurance for people over 50—the list seems
endless. Whatever happened to commercials
showing young people full of energy?
—Senior and Suspicious, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Dear Senior: You can still find the young folks in
cell phone commercials or ads for less expensive
cars, for example. Advertisement dollars follow the
money. Although I can’t speak for the whole world,
for most of my life the baby boomer generation
has set the pace for American culture. When I
was a kid, everybody seemed to be attending high
school, listening to rock ’n’ roll, and dreaming of
driving the old man’s car on Saturday night. When
Vietnam happened, we became hippies or soldiers.
In fact, I served in Vietnam with a few soldiers
who were hippies!
I suspect you can trace the social evolution of
the country through the commercial buys for
baby boomers. We are reaching retirement now,
so it’s natural that ad agencies want us to check
with our doctors to see if medication XYZ is
right for us.
This is obviously a gross oversimplification,
an intellectual misdemeanor I’ve committed
with alarming frequency throughout the years.
But here’s a complementary generalization: No
matter your age, life can be sweet or sour, spicy
or flavorless, depending on how you season your
thoughts. As the psalmist said: “O taste and see
that the Lord is good; happy are those who take
refuge in him” (Psalm 34: 8).
We don’t know how long we have until our lease
on life expires, but life has been good, if not always
pleasant. So I am relaxing into the flow. Without
paying attention to commercials, I savor every
taste, trusting God, One Presence/One Power, with
every step. I’m expecting good things ahead, in
both this life and eternity, because with God the
best is always yet to be. (See the next letter.)
Dear Dr. Tom: I hear you moved to Arizona.
—Also Retired, Pensacola, Florida
Dear Also: Who’s retired? Well, technically, sure.
Pensions and Social Security, senior citizen rates
at the movies, and early bird specials. But I’ve
got a nifty home office (with a door that closes)
just two steps from my living room and 24-hour
access to a well-stocked refrigerator. I’m writing
for Unity Magazine and other publications, and
I’ve just completed a new science fiction novel, to
be released in September 2017. For the first time
since the 1960s, Carol-Jean is delighted to live in
the same town with her two sisters, all “retired”
and doing things they love, constantly in motion.
We have season tickets to the Tucson Symphony
Orchestra, and I get to sleep late the next morning.
I used to dread retirement as the end of
meaningful activity. Not so. I’m having a great
time, working hard at the things I love. Isn’t that
the Unity way of life, to build your world by
consciousness and make every phase of life an
occasion to rejoice?
Dear Dr. Tom: What does the opening line from
Psalm 121 mean? “I will lift up mine eyes unto the
hills, from whence cometh my help” (KJV). I heard
a metaphysical teacher’s explanation, but I still
don’t get the point. Did the psalmist think God was
in the sky or in the hills, or was it something about
my inner guide?
—Bible Novice, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Dear B.N.: Your instructor might have
paraphrased Charles Fillmore and Cora Fillmore’s
1941 book, Teach Us to Pray: “Man should lift his
eyes ‘unto the hills, from whence cometh’ his help.
He should dwell much on the truths taught by
Jesus and make them a part of his very nature.”
While this is a good, creative interpretation, it’s
not particularly faithful to the biblical text. First,
it’s clear the psalmist wasn’t singing about Jesus,
who wouldn’t be born for a thousand years. People
tend to conflate Old and New Testament references
when they usually represent centuries of change.
The more direct textual problem is that biblical
Hebrew was written without punctuation marks.
New Testament Greek was even less conducive to
easy reading. The oldest Greek manuscripts lack
not only punctuation, but also spaces between
words. (Search for Codex Sinaiticus or Codex
Vaticanus to see for yourself. The Greek text
goes by like a one-car freight train.)