‘How to respond to a world that’s crying out for help’

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Speaker Tom McElroy

Jamaica Plain resident Tom McElroy thinks helping the world is so important that he’s traveled across the globe to talk about it—and to do it. But don’t expect to find McElroy with a hard hat on and a set of construction plans in hand. McElroy’s tools, and the tools he claims are everyone’s to use, are those of a spiritual practice which he says has helped him, and can help the most underserved areas in our own communities, and in the world at large.

He’ll explain how at a free talk, “Spiritual Discovery: How You Can Better the World,” at 2pm on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Christian Science Reading Room & Bookstore in Hyde Square (351 Centre Street). But McElroy’s own life serves as a kind of sneak preview for the way prayer can have powerful results beyond the walls of our personal lives.

After what he calls a “tough upbringing,” McElroy dug deep into his spiritual practice looking for answers to everything from relationship problems to health issues. And he found what he calls “genuine healing”—fundamental shifts in perspective that transformed his life.

Such results might sound cliche, except that McElroy has seen them repeated in the lives of others he has been able to help through this same approach to spirituality. As a volunteer chaplain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, McElroy talked and prayed with men, women, and youth across a range of correctional facilities.

“Here I was striving to put into practice what had inspired me and seeing that it had effects that went far beyond the perimeters of my own life,” he said in a recent interview. “And I wanted to do more.”

That volunteer work eventually grew into a full-time career as a Christian Science practitioner, a role which McElroy describes as, “someone who helps others make the kind of spiritual discoveries that bring about a tangible difference in their lives—including their health, finances, relationships, anything.”

From there, McElroy began speaking to audiences worldwide about the Christian Science approach to prayer and healing.

“I was getting to do what I loved—meeting lots of different people and learning how this message about spiritual discovery and its unique role in our lives connected with them and their own spiritual framework.”

Best of all, he says, was getting to collectively consider some big questions: “Does spirituality have anything to offer to the tough situations we’re facing worldwide? Can a fresh perspective of spirituality, God, and prayer actually help us help others—offering something beyond just a coping mechanism, or a placebo effect? Is it possible to say with any kind of scientific certainty that your spiritual practice could make a difference for people on the other side of the planet? If so, how, and how does that work?”

McElroy will explore these questions—and answers that have been helpful to him and others—in his talk on Saturday, Nov. 5, three days before Election Day.

“I really think of this talk as the good news for anyone who is civic-minded, or whose heart burns with the desire to make a difference,” he says, “because it gets at just that—how to respond to a world that’s crying out for help.”