The Christian Science Monitor Weekly

Vol 106 / Issue 30

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T here's a four-letter word I keep run- ning into, and this week I've fnally decided to look into it. No, I'm not going to get into anything rude here. And for what it's worth, unlike most of the words we mean when we say "four-letter word," this one is of Latin origin, not Anglo-Saxon. The word is code. Its frst defnition as a noun in the Oxford English Dic- tionary, labeled "Roman Law," reads, "One of the various systematic collec- tions of statutes made by later emperors," such as Justinian's code. Its frst cited use is in the enticingly titled work "Handlyng Synne," by poet and histo- rian Robert Manning, in 1303. Code came from the Latin codex, in turn a variant on caudex. The original meaning of that word was "the trunk of a tree." From there codex was extended to mean wooden tablet, book, or specifcally, a code of laws. The idea behind a "code" is to compile, or bundle, a lot of disparate bits of legislation into a single volume, or series of volumes, where they are more or less freely acces- sible, in libraries or, today, online. I've been running into the "U.S. Code" frequently in a book I've been working on. A law will be known as, say, the Adminis- trative Procedure Act (1946), and have a further tag as Public Law 79-404 – indicat- ing that it was the 404th piece of legislation to pop out of the sausage mill of the 79th Congress (1945-47). But it will be "codifed," as the expression goes, as, in this instance, U.S. Code Vol. 5, Sec. 500–596 (2012). From 1804, we have the Code Napoléon – another compilation of laws from another emperor. But during the 19th century, code expanded from a strictly legal meaning to "a system or collection of rules or regulations on any subject." Oxford cites a reference from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "In the legislative as in the religious Code." The sense of "code of honour" arose about this time. The 19th century also saw the rise of code to mean "a system of words arbitrarily used for other words or for phrases, to se- cure brevity and secrecy." In the days of paying by the word for one's messages, people learned to use code to save on the cost of their telegrams. That must be what the Pall Mall Gazette was getting at when it reported, in 1884, "Telegraph companies had to face ... the ex- tension of the use of code words." It sounds like the annoyance today's television ad- vertisers face when viewers TiVo past their commercials, or catch all the good parts on YouTube, doesn't it? As a verb, code goes back to the early 19th century – but Oxford's examples sound very contemporary. Here's one from 1815: "Robbery ... Is sternly coded as a deadly crime." The computing sense of code goes back to the 1940s. Genetic code, which builds metaphorically on the idea of "instructions for a machine," with man as the machine, made its appearance in 1961, according to Merriam-Webster. Today, that dictionary gives a couple of defnitions for code as a verb that would appear to be mutually contradictory: "to put (a message) into the form of a code so that it can be kept secret" and also "to mark (something) with a code so that it can be identifed." This is the paradox of code: It refers both to ways of making things secret and to ways of making things known. If you haven't been in war, it's difficult to un- derstand the complex feelings veterans have. The battlefield can leave a soldier grappling with mental conflicts and haunting memories that need to be sorted out. As this week's cover story reports, those who have been there know the experiences, have been sorting them out, and can be helpful to others. How do we care for our returning veterans? The first step is making the effort to understand them – and that involves patient listening to their stories with a depth of love that gives them the opportunity to explore the feelings and at - titudes they've brought back. When I was an Air Force chaplain, one of the most useful skills I developed was learning to lis - ten with an open heart. Equally important was the demand to main - tain the highest vision of these veterans as the precious children of God. This spiritual fact about them is essential to healing – no mat - ter what they've been through, or what they've done. A clear understanding of the uncondi - tional love of God for these individuals needs to inform my view of them. I found it determined my ability to help them. God is the Mind and Love that governs the universe, and is wholly good. Realizing that God's love for each individual is supreme, un - diminished, and unchanged has the effect of renewing, regenerating, and healing. How pow - erful is God's love? It's sufficient to heal any men- tal challenges a veteran can experience in war. How do we gain the conviction that God's help is right at hand and will meet the need? My discipline is to turn to the teaching and life of Christ Jesus and God's promises in Scripture. The chapter "Prayer" in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, proclaims and explains the central promise of the Bible this way: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. 1). I've seen the power of God's love heal veterans of alcoholism, violent behavior, drug addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and life-threatening wounds and diseases. This promise from Proverbs often comforts those seeking guidance: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own in - sight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:5, 6, New Revised Standard Version). It's interesting that this Scripture comforts, because it's a very de - manding passage. The first three phrases are demands upon the reader – then comes the promise. Helping a veteran begins with taking seri - ously those three demands in our estimate of the individuals before us. As we do, through patience and love, we can help them begin to trust divine Love, rely on how divine Mind sees them as beloved, good, and even intact. As we acknowledge God's power and presence, paths to wholeness begin to open, and blessings from Love begin to heal whatever needs healing. – Brian Talcott After veterans return home A ChristiAn sCienCe perspeCtive The paradox of 'code' verbal energy by Ruth Walker the ChristiAn sCienCe Monitor Weekly | June 16, 2014 47

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