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Why 'dominion over all the earth' includes volcanoes

A Christian Science perspective.

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As the Monitor has been reporting, the economic effects of the exploding volcano in Iceland have been tremendous. Stranded travelers and aircraft, shipment of perishable goods from tulips to seafood, as well as canceled or delayed international events, are just a few of the areas of life that have been affected. People in Iceland itself are dealing with floods, with protecting livestock from injury, and with the impact of living near the volcano.

While there are a few bright spots, such as a decrease in oil prices, the overall picture is one of chaos and destruction of vacations, business plans, shipment of perishable goods, and so on.

It is legitimate to protest in prayer against these conditions, and to refuse to accept the necessity for the disruption to continue. The basis for such a protest is in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, which specifically says that God gave the man and woman of His creating dominion over all the earth.

The nature of this protest rests on the spiritual fact, taught by Jesus, that God is good, and that He loves His children – you, me, and everyone. God, divine Love, doesn’t send destruction for any purpose or at any time. This is not the work of Love, but what the Bible refers to as the carnal mind – whatever resists order, intelligence, peace, harmony. Just as Jesus and the disciples proved, we aren’t helpless before this destructive influence. The power of Love will sustain us and bring about peace and restoration. Or, as the Psalmist put it, “Bless the Lord, O my soul:... Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Ps. 103:1, 4).

These tender mercies are with each individual who is struggling to get home or to do business, even in the midst of all the chaos. Mercies may show up as alternate transportation, as an offer of help from a friend or even a perfect stranger, perhaps as the discovery of new resources to sustain individuals while waiting for transportation to open up.

Those of us who aren’t directly affected can pray specifically, claiming God’s power and willingness to inspire those dealing with the situation with new ways to help the stranded, and also for those who are waiting to be liberated from delays, to have new hope and peace. Those tender mercies are with them every moment.

In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love” (p. 224). No one needs to be captivated or captured by these natural phenomena, if we can collectively understand the spiritual dominion God has already given us. This dominion isn’t human willpower. Rather, it’s the presence of the Christ-power, which Jesus expressed so completely. This power is the evidence of divine Love here on earth, guarding and guiding each of us in different ways.

In Jesus’ day, this power often took form as physical healing, but there was at least one time when Jesus stilled a storm at sea. To me, this ability grew out of his understanding of God’s goodness and also of his conviction that God’s purpose is to preserve, never to destroy. This conviction will strengthen our prayers on behalf of those affected by the Icelandic volcano.

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These prayers can also include an insistence that evil or destruction can never undermine anything good. God doesn’t send loss anymore than He sends suffering and misery. By its very nature Love includes freedom, satisfaction, joy, and usefulness. And each of us, as Love’s creation, has a right to these and related qualities, although each of us may experience them differently, depending on our circumstances. Similarly, all who are affected by the volcanic disruption can be inspired with specific solutions. Science and Health notes, “The footsteps of thought, rising above material standpoints, are slow, and portend a long night to the traveller; but the angels of His presence – the spiritual intuitions that tell us when ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand’ – are our guardians in the gloom” (p. 174).

Whether the gloom directly results from the volcanic explosion, or is residue of the economic challenges felt around the world, each individual has direct access to the “angels of His presence” to guard and to guide. And those angels, replete with God’s tender mercies, are here to restore and redeem. They can bring everyone safely home.


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