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[PYCL: Find modern apps for old terms! Look to God, not past, for how to proceed! Practice listening! (1) Change the chemical epidemic of lows & highs! (2) Build strong defenses! (5)]
Possible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”
for June 2, 2019

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO (314) 406-0041

Pycl #1: I think it's most fun if we work through this title first if you are not working with tiny children. If you are, then you can address the importance of all sorts of aspects about being watchful without directly using the title. These words are not used much these days. But they actually describe the challenges that evil presents to us quite well! Necromancy is the desire to look to the past, or to ancestors, or dead, for information about how we should proceed. Most of us don't try to consult the dead. But how often do we look at how others have done things in the past to determine how we should do things today? Even looking at how we ourselves have always done things can be very limiting. This is especially true if we are trying to overcome bad habits or thought patterns because we always seem to head for the same answers for how to solve problems, even when those answers have never worked before!!

Consider trying to sit quietly, (eyes closed) if your kids are older than about 4, for a certain number of minutes. If they are only about five you can limit the quiet to about one minute, for example. Don't watch the children try to do this, but do it well yourself. The goal, if there is one, is to try to quiet our thought and leave it open to hear new ideas from Love, Truth, Life, without telling God what we want to hear. Set a timer so they know that the timer will go and they aren't worried about when you are going to stop them. The idea is that we can all use some practice hearing what God is telling us that is fresh, helpful, creative, inspired. We cannot find that new and fresh idea if we never take time and space to listen. You might ask them why would we want to close our eyes? Is this prayer? Do we have to go into the quiet time with something in mind that we are looking for? What if we don't hear anything? Is that bad? Do any of them practice an instrument or a sport? Doesn't it take practice, every day, or at least regularly, to do anything well? Listening is a practice, and it's pretty challenging actually!

Pycl #2: What is mesmerism? You can look at the definition from Science and Health (S4). It is a specific term for error. But also, you can see what it was originally thought to be in Mary Baker Eddy's day. In recent years I've thought about how current this idea of an "animal magnetic fluid" really is. We don't believe that this is true, in fact it was disproved in her day, but there are other beliefs that really fit right into what it was once thought to do. For example, many people in society struggle with depression.

Depression is thought to be an imbalance of hormones in most cases. Some gland or other is not producing enough of a chemical or too much, or the chemical isn't reaching the right part of our brain and so on. These chemicals, or the lack of them, seem to cause people to struggle to feel happy. How different, really, is this idea from the false idea that there are "animal magnetic fluids" that influence our health? So here again, we have an outdated term that is very modern when looked at spiritually. We can share some thoughts on how we are influenced. Do we want to consent to being influenced by other people? By chemicals, or by genetic proclivity? How can we defend ourselves against this kind of influence? Look together at that story in Ezra. What eventually overcame the opposition of local authorities to the Hebrews work on the temple? You may need to retell this story in modern language for the children to really get what they are talking about. Do they see a similarity to another story of rebuilding and opposition? (Nehemiah) What made the Jews successful eventually? Didn't they refuse to submit to any authority but the king's? Is that a little like only submitting to God's authority of joy, satisfaction, unselfish giving?

Pycl #3: Hypnotism isn't that dissimilar to mesmerism, except it implies another person's thoughts more specifically. (We do think of being mesmerized by a person too though.) What do the students think hypnosis is? Are they only familiar with the kind of hypnotism where someone dangles a watch back and forth in front of someone? How do we get hypnotized all on our own? Can video games (or social media for older ones) sometimes be hypnotic? (I wouldn't spend too much time preaching this, just use it as a way for them to understand how they can get totally lost in a video game and not hear their name being called, etc., forget about chores or responsibilities and so on.) Are there other kinds of hypnosis? What about fear? If everyone is afraid of something, have they ever noticed that the fear spreads and can become the only thing talked about? What might be the antidote? How did the Jews break free of that hypnosis when they finally started rebuilding and continued?

Pycl #4: Citation S9 talks about how "Material theories partially paralyze…." an attraction to infinite good. What does she mean here? What does it mean to paralyze? How can we keep our freedom of thought and movement? Have we ever chosen the short-term reward and given up something longer term and better because of that choice? A silly example might be "you can have this handful of M&Ms now, or, if you wait until tonight, I'll give you a big slice of your favorite cake/bowl of ice cream/other favorite dessert". But usually the choices are not simple food-related ones. You can discuss this in terms of what human will does to us. What is human will? (Citation S22 (451:19) mentions this.)

We can't prosper if we blindly follow our human desires without asking whether they are from God or from some kind of hypnotic, imposed suggestion from society, friends, or our own will. Can the students come up with a good set of questions to test where thought is coming from? (Is it unselfish? Is it loving/kind? etc.)

Pycl #5: There are several passages that encourage us to "bar our door against evil", to build a strong foundation, and so on. Have some fun thinking about what this "door" and "foundation" look like. Can they build a structure out of some materials that you bring such that it is sturdy? Let them have free range with the goal of getting a tall building. What made it fall? What made the ones that stayed upright work out? Compare the foundations. How can we build such foundations in our own thought?

What kinds of "doors" can we close in our thinking to keep our lives safe from destructive thinking? Is this an easy thing or does it require alertness and practice? Did the Jews succeed in building the temple under king Cyrus? No! It took not only Cyrus' reign but also Darius' and the next king's as well!!

Have a happy time building a strong defense on Sunday!!

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