Things that make Christian Scientists look weirder than we already are (so let’s stop doing them, m’kay?)…

If we would open their prison doors for the sick, we  must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted. If we would heal by the Spirit, we must not hide the talent of spiritual healing under the napkin of its form, nor bury the  morale of Christian Science in the grave-clothes of its letter. The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love. – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

My dear Christian Science friends,

I humbly suggest that there are things we should consider NOT doing – because… well… we  ALREADY look weird enough.

1) Instead of saying “I’m feeling ill” we sometimes tell people “I am working on the problem of a belief of sickness…” By the time we finish telling people we’re not feeling well, their toddlers are graduating high school. This is weird.

2) We wonder why we haven’t seen Ed in church for a year, and then finally someone tells us he is “no longer with us.” In other words – he died a year ago, but let’s not talk about it.  This is weird.

3) We can no longer read up-close, but refuse to get glasses because that would be “giving into error.” This is ego and vanity, and it’s also very weird.

4) If we visit an optometrist, dentist, or other medical doctor we feel terrible pangs of guilt and remorse and feel unworthy of Christian Science, and a disappointment to God.  Okay. Listen.  God doesn’t give a hoot about that stuff, one way or the other. When we try to attribute human emotions and feelings and judgment to God we are anthropomorphizing God – trying to make God man-like. God is unchanging Love, Truth, and Life, and nothing we do or say or think or believe is going to change the nature of God, or Her love for us. So please, friends,  stop doing that guilt thing! It is really weird.

5) When we catch someone using improper Christian Science-ese in conversation (refer back to #1), we sometimes seem to feel it is our duty to lob an earnest, lengthy, preachy lecture upon them “correcting” their thought and setting them back on the right path. We sometimes do this to non-Christian Scientists, too. Heck, I’ve seen Christian Scientists doing this to people they’ve never even met before. This is a little off-putting. It’s also totally weird.

6) When someone tells us they’re hurt, to state “there is no sensation in matter” and then  ignore the person who’s come to us for human comfort does not seem to me very Christianly or Scientific . Please take whatever human steps you can take to help or comfort someone who’s come to you in need.  Dismissing someone who’s hurt or sick with the words “there is no sensation in matter” is kind of lazy, not very loving, and really, really weird. Although we can, and should, see the truth – the perfection of God and Her creation – when confronted with a picture of injury or sickness – that is our job as Christian Scientists – Mary Baker Eddy tells us in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love.”

7) Long meetings about whether it’s okay for a reader to thank a soloist after her solo; whether we should be allowed to read from any bible but the King James Bible in church; whether we should call ourselves “Christian Scientists” or “students of Christian Science”;  whether we should refer to Mary Baker Eddy as “Mrs. Eddy” or “Eddy”; whether we should exclude people from membership in our branch churches because of their sexual orientation, or because they use medication, or because they haven’t ascended, yet; whether we should allow any kind of accompaniment but an organ; what readers should wear on the platform; and etcetera, are all, in my opinion, a colossal waste of time and a distraction from the real mission of Christian Science, which, I believe is the transformation of our world through the power of God, Love.  To expend a huge amount of time on human fussiness and opinion and narrow-minded nonsense, instead of on the healing work that Jesus demanded of his followers, is a terrible shame. It is also beyond weird.

8) We sometimes walk around with a kind of smugness about ourselves as Christian Scientists – like our religion owns the power of Love and Truth. We sometimes seem to be especially smug if generations in our family have been practicing Christian Science. Or if we’ve gone to private Christian Science schools. Or our parents or grand-parents held official positions in the Christian Science church – like CS is something we somehow inherited from our parents and grandparents.  Umm…. no, the power found in Christian Science is not genetic – it’s not like the midi-chlorians that “run strong” in the family of Luke and Leia of the Star Wars movies.  Christian Science is available, equally, to all of God’s children – no one has more access to the power of Love than anyone else. And to think that we do is just completely weird.

9) And if you’ve read this post, and none of the things I’ve mentioned that make us look weird seem weird to you… well… that is just…yeah, weird.

In his book, Rolling Away the Stone, Stephen Gottschalk writes: “…after the death of their founder, Christian Science became to a significant degree routinized… Eddy appears to have anticipated with great apprehension that the Christian Science church… would settle down into a kind of bland predictability when she was no longer on the scene. To her, being a Christian Scientist in any meaningful sense involved not only a strong commitment but, in a sense, a spirit of adventure.” And Gottschalk quotes William F. Hillman as writing: “The awakened Christian  sees Christian Science as a means for coming into the full truth of being – the full awareness of God… It turns man away from system, dogmas, formal creeds, to God… Christian Science describes Mrs. Eddy’s experience of God. It is not a theory about God or speculation about Him… it is this experience we are after and not some understanding of a system. ”  Gottschalk writes: “The readiness to plunge ahead, to leave behind what had been outgrown, to move in a new direction before it could be fully determined where it would lead – these traits were elements of Eddy’s sensibility… If there is a pattern to her life, it is the recurrence of new beginnings, and new departures.”

 

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29 thoughts on “Things that make Christian Scientists look weirder than we already are (so let’s stop doing them, m’kay?)…

  1. I agree wholeheartedly – taken me a awhile to get over the guilt thing in doing most of these to a certain degree over my life span of being a student of CS – receiving your books a few years ago and subscribing to your blogs has also helped ….. also having a non-Scientist sister-in-law point out a few home truths helped to turn me back to God – the only one I need to answer to – He assured me in a very strong message that He would take care of ALL his daughters – my sister-in-law as well as me – changing her was not my responsibility. So yes, new beginnings and one is only living, loving in the NOW.

  2. All the points here, Karen, are spot on. It would be great for us to have the humility to address these in our church magazines. They have been addressed in the distant past, and some of them are touched upon in associations, and of course in private!

  3. I agree with what you say here. It’s too easy to get comfortable when really it’s moment by moment work, no time to be smug! If you know it all then help others in a way that is truly helpful,not judgemental or just surface stuff, if that makes sense.

  4. Thank you for this. I found myself disappointed with this sort of stuff very recently, and I even called it “weird”. These are all areas for improvement, and I wonder how to go forward. I suppose those of us who recognize these behaviors as “weird”, should not become smug either. We can lovingly set a new example, and trust that the Christ is speaking to our fellow Christian Scientists. Truly we all share the love of Christian Science!

  5. Thank you very much for these observations, Karen. I also think it’s weird that so few Christian Scientists seem aware of the weirdness. And I think it’s not good that you had to feel uneasy to say these things. If we can’t be self critical and even laugh at ourselves, then we are really stuck! –In ANY organization or expression. I’m relatively new to church CS, and while I love the understanding, I find the church culture very off-putting, “stiff” I’ve called it, more folks seemingly interested in seeing themselves as part of an exclusive elite club than in truly sharing God’s love and truth. Even the testimonies given are often self-congratulatory repetitive monologues about how great “we” are for having CS. There is often little mention of thanks to GOD that truth is true! I think real love includes the ability to self examine, be critical and discerning, and CHANGE. We can share this with others politely (at times), but we needn’t think that some “tough love” isn’t real love! There’s too much phony “fluff” love going on already, everyone trying too much to prove they are “nice” and “loving” and the “right kind” of CStist, but to WHOM? And WHY??? Thanks again for this! It was a relief to read your comments. I don’t feel so alone and HOPELESS!

    • Wow! You have made my day, Mary! And it’s only 6:31 in the morning! 🙂 No, you are not alone, dear friend newly-met. And it’s been awfully nice to discover that *I* am not alone, either. The response to my post has been really encouraging. I’m feeling really hopeful about the CS movement this morning. 🙂

      • Heck, no, you’re not alone either! Maybe we need to FIGHT in mighty prayer and as-yet-to-be-discovered actions to reclaim CS out of the trenches of this whatever-to-call-it contamination that seems to be trying to snuff it out and make its church into nothing more than a bland niceness club! How? I don’t know right now, but I’m working on it! 🙂 If we always have to worry that maybe someone else will think we’re not being “nice,” then nothing gets ANYWHERE! That kind of muzzling only feels judgmental in reverse, stifling and confusing. To speak UP, is a beginning, and beginnings matter! Thanks again.

  6. Thank you so much for publishing these thoughts. I have felt very much the same way on all of these points, and that tends to make going to church a more uncomfortable experience than I’d like. Add these tendencies to the rather formal decorum of older southerners, and I, from WA state can get feeling a little cool with my fellow CStists here. (Working on this!)

    • I hear you, Laura. What is giving me hope for our movement, though, is that I’m seeing a lot of people who are new to CS – who aren’t hampered by tradition and so forth – who are bringing a fresh thought about what it means to be a Christian Scientist and what this way of life means to the world. I think the Phoenix may be rising. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here.

  7. Karen, Thank you, thank you! In reference to #4, I am reminded of the prodigal son…the father (Father) had no interest in the son’s body, where it had been, what it had done. He was interested only in his state of mind and that he was home.

    OMG…when I’m writing I call her MBE…and not once wondered if that was “wrong.”

    And my own this-is-a-true-partly-wierd-story…When my church moved we purchased a loooong table for the Readers. That was to accommodate my wheelchair. It was a nice thing to do. The chairs for the congregants were no longer pews but some overstuffed wing chairs and some beautiful spindle backs. So what’s weird? When some members wanted to move some of the chairs they were told, “No. This is where the designer put them.” That’s weird!

    We are cautioned against “ritual”…even pointing out part of Jesus’ mission was to break ritualistic practices. So what do we do with church and Sunday School? Make everything a ritual. Weird

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