My Almost-Interview with NPR

…When I experience healing in Christian Science my whole nature is transformed – not only do I come out of the experience better physically, but I come out of the experience a better person – less fearful, stronger, kinder, more responsive to the needs of others…

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

A staffer at NPR recently asked me if I’d be interested in doing a segment on Christian Science for NPR’s Interfaith Voices. It sounded like a great opportunity and I agreed to do a pre-interview. I had a nice chat with the senior producer of Interfaith Voices. I talked about what prayer means for me as a Christian Scientist (not pleading to some anthropomorphic god to fix everything for me – but drawing my thoughts close to Love), and she shared what she’d heard about research that shows human thoughts and feelings play a huge part in healing. But then she asked me, “Why would a Christian Scientist choose Christian Science over medical treatment for her children?” and I realized that that’s what the whole segment was going to be about – Christian Science versus medical science. I told her that I’d sometimes taken my sons to doctors when I felt…

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On “Faith Healing”

We went to the local university to watch Gleason the other night. It was a pretty intense movie. Uplifting in parts. Depressing in others. There were three scenes, in particular, that were really uncomfortable for me to watch – two of them because it felt like I was intruding on very private, very personal, moments in another person’s life; and one because it involved a scene of faith healing that made me want to get out of my chair and scream, “Stop it!” to the church people who were making a spectacle of a man with ALS – using him in a way that seemed cruel to me.

People often mistake Christian Science for faith healing. It is not.

Christian Science healing doesn’t involve spectacle or miracle. It’s not showmanship. It’s not a public display. It’s private – sometimes the only person involved is the person who experiences the healing. There’s no begging or pleading with some anthropomorphic god who might choose to heal you, or might choose to not. Although sometimes it’s dramatic, other times it’s just a gentle unfolding – a quiet change of thought – a recognition of Love’s perfect creation. In Christian Science, healing isn’t some supernatural event, but a natural manifestation of Love, Truth, God. In the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science wrote: “Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural.”

Sometimes I’ve known I was healed before the healing was made apparent, physically. This happened once when I was dealing with a puffed-up hand – there came a moment when the fear completely lifted from me and I knew I was fine – even though my hand still appeared ballooned to twice its size. The next day the hand was back to its normal appearance. (Later, blood tests that had been done on the first day of the puffed-up hand came back from the doctor’s office that indicated rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor’s office wanted me to see an RA specialist – but I told them my hand was completely fine now. The nurse said she guessed I didn’t need to do anything more then – but to let them know if things changed. That was six years ago, and there hasn’t been a return of the condition.)

Other times the physical manifestation of healing has been immediately obvious – the time my little brother was diagnosed by a doctor with mastoiditus, for instance – one moment he was screaming in pain, the next moment he was snoring in peaceful slumber, completely healed. He never had to return to the doctor for treatment, and there was none of the surgery the doctor had predicted he’d need.

There’s no pleading or begging or “in Jesus’ name”-ing in Christian Science healing. Christian Scientists aren’t asking God to do something She isn’t already doing. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in the Christian Science textbook: “The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed, – an error which impedes spiritual growth… God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection?” A little later she wrote: “Asking God to be God is a vain repetition. God is ‘the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;’ and He who is immutably right will do right without being reminded of His province… Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution.”

Christian Science healing doesn’t come from a blind, emotional faith in Jesus or a man-god. For me, healing comes hand-in-hand with a growing understanding of the power of universal divine Love, and of myself as a perfect reflection of Love. And you don’t have to belong to any particular religion to have access to this healing power of Love, either – it’s available to everyone, regardless of religion or non-religion. Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.'”

Anyway. After watching Gleason the other night, I just felt the need to share my thoughts about all of this today. I have huge respect and admiration for the manner in which Steve Gleason and his wife have faced the challenges they’ve faced in the last five years, and for the decisions they’ve made during this time. Their decisions have come from their love for each other and their families. And Love, in Christian Science, is God.

“…I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good… It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence… It wasn’t cleverness or courage or any kind of competence or savvy that saved us, it was nothing more than love, our love for each other, for our families, for the lives we wanted so desperately to live.”
– Nando Parrado, Miracle in the Andes

healing

Conversation about Christian Science on a Discussion Board

What prayer feels like, for me, is… it’s like waking up to a beautiful sunrise in the morning or listening to an inspiring piece of music, or looking at the stars on a clear night – it’s a feeling of uplift – of thoughts soaring, of fear dissipating, of a consciousness full of joy and good will. Often times my prayers come with humor – laughing always seems to help get rid of fear for me – and for me, fear is always a part of whatever problem I’m facing. And Love is always a part of the healing. I’ve sometimes known I was healed before I saw the healing manifested humanly – I could feel the change in my thoughts. 
– Karen Molenaar Terrell 

Every now and then something really amazing happens – people with different perspectives on life will get beyond biases, prejudices, and stereotypes and have a real conversation with each other! I love when that happens…

Here are excerpts from a recent conversation about Christian Science on an Amazon Discussion Forum:

Mustaaaaard says:
Yeah. Christian Science. The people who let their children die because they don’t believe in Tylenol. Eff off.

Karen says:
I was raised by a CS mom (now 87) and a non-religious dad (will be 97 in a month), and I could not have asked for better parents. My parents maybe didn’t share the same religious beliefs, but they shared the same values and taught their children to take care of the environment, to appreciate the beauty of nature, to look for the good in people, to play fair, to not be quick to judge others, to not buy into every piece of hearsay, rumor, and gossip that comes our way, but to do our own research, and question our own beliefs and biases, and recognize the biases of others, too. I’m really grateful they are still in my life.

The Weasel asks:

Karen, can the core beliefs of CS be boiled down to a few bullet points? Can you try to list them as far as you understand them to be please?

Karen says:
Hi Weasel,
It’s probably important to note that I am not an official spokesperson for the CS church or anything – and I do not speak for any other CSists – just for myself. CSists come in all shapes and sizes and colors and political parties and most professions (I even knew a CSist who was a dentist 🙂 ). There’s no one in our church leadership telling us how to vote or who to vote for or where to stand on social-political issues – that is left up to individual conscience. Some CSists are religious. Some are not. I am not. In my mind I make a distinction between the religion of Christian Science, and Christian Science as a way of living, and a way of looking at the world. 

It might actually be easier to start with what CSists don’t believe:
– CSists don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god
– CSists don’t believe the world was literally created in a week
– CSists don’t believe in literal places of hell and heaven
– CSists don’t believe in pleading, cajoling, and begging a capricious supernatural god who might choose to heal, or might choose to not heal his children
– CSists don’t believe in Original Sin, or that God’s children are sinners.

What CSists believe:
– Mary Baker Eddy, the discover of CS, offers these synonyms for God: Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love.
– CSists believe that Jesus’ mission here was to show us how to heal. In the CS textbook, Eddy writes: “Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him  endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life’s work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals,- to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility.”

What *I* have experienced: – I have found that when I’m able to draw my thoughts close to Love – to fill my thoughts up with joy, hope, and love (and eliminate fear, hate, and anger) – I experience healing in my life. I don’t have to plead with Love to heal me – it’s the nature of Love to heal. I don’t consider these healings “miracles” – I consider them natural. I apologize. I realize this was kind of long. I couldn’t figure out how to explain an entire way of life in a pithy post. Hope this helps you understand how at least ONE Christian Scientist looks at the world. And thanks for asking! 🙂
Karen  

Lifelong Atheist says:
There is no evidence whatsoever that prayer works at all (and no, “I prayed and God healed my little girl” is not evidence). There is plenty of evidence that medical care works, preventable errors notwithstanding. I can personally testify to that. Christian Science parents who deliberately withhold medical care from their children in favor of prayer are potential murderers. If their child then dies, they’re actual murderers. That’s the bottom line for me.

Karen says:
Lifelong,
I suppose there may be CSists who view medical science as The Enemy. I am not one of them. My brother-in-law is an anesthesiologist, my sister-in-law is an emergency room nurse, a niece is a medical doctor, a nephew just graduated from med school – and these are all people I love and respect very much – they are not my enemies – they work very hard to do what they can to help their patients. But they are also all people of integrity and honesty – and I don’t doubt that they’d be the first to tell you that medical science is not perfect – theories about cause and cure are constantly in flux; medications that help one person might kill another; what seems like “good medical practice” today might prove to be the source of woe tomorrow. I’m sure we’ve all had friends and family members for whom the medical treatment that was supposed to cure them actually ended up killing them – I know I have. And I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen those commercials on television that tell us about the side effects of drugs that might include liver problems, depression, vulnerability to infections, diarrhea, nausea, death, etc. – I’m always wondering who is running out to get those medications, you know? I think a healthy skepticism in regards to medical science – as well as Christian Science, faith healing, religious beliefs, mass media, and political propoganda – is a good thing. Blind and unquestioning trust in any form of treatment does not seem very healthy to me.

Have you ever read Norman Cousins’s Anatomy of an Illness As Perceived by the Patient? I would highly recommend it.  Here’s my review for it:

In the beginning of the book, Cousins tells us about the illness from which he was told by medical specialists he wouldn’t be able to recover. He briefly describes how he declined to accept this medical verdict for himself, and with the support of his personal physician, set about putting into action a plan of treatment for himself which included plying himself with high doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and humor (Candid Camera episodes, and Marx Brothers movies).Cousins was able to recover from his illness and later wrote a story about his treatment and recovery for the New England Journal of Medicine.

The remainder of the book shares communication from doctors and medical research that supports Cousins’s belief that medical care is both a science and an art – and that positive human emotions play a big part in recovery from an illness. Cousins talks about the importance of a healthy doctor-patient partnership when treating disease, the part creativity and a “robust will to live” plays in longevity, and the power found in placebos. Cousins writes: “It is doubtful whether the placebo – or any drug, for that matter – would get very far without a patient’s robust will to live… The placebo is only a tangible object made essential in an age that feels uncomfortable with intangibles… The placebo, then, is an emissary between the will to live and the body. But the emissary is expendable.”

Cousins talks about the need so many seem to have to see their doctor DOing something, and giving them something tangible to help them. But Cousins suggests there may come a time when these “tangibles” are no longer needed. 

Near the end of the book, Cousins asks the question: “Is there a conflict at times between the treatment of disease and the treatment of human beings?” What a great question! If a doctor treats his patient as just a lump of flesh to be prodded, injected, weighed, measured, and tested then, I think, a really important part of the healing process is missing. The best doctors, to my way of thinking, are the ones who are able to listen to their patients, reassure them, provide confidence in their healing, and value them as partners in the process. In my life I have encountered several practitioners with these fine qualities. After reading Cousins’s book, and the letters he included from doctors around the country, I am encouraged to believe that there is a growing number of medical physicians ready and willing to treat human beings, rather than just disease.  

Art asks:
“It might actually be easier to start with what CSists don’t believe: – CSists don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god – CSists don’t believe in pleading, cajoling, and begging a capricious supernatural god who might choose to heal, or might choose to not heal his children” OK, final question for now Karen: I always thought that Christian Scientists WERE praying and pleading with a capricious supernatural god to heal illnesses rather than take a family member to a doctor. If not, what is the exact nature of the prayer involved?

Karen replies:
Art, you ask: “I always thought that Christian Scientists WERE praying and pleading with a capricious supernatural god to heal illnesses rather than take a family member to a doctor. If not, what is the exact nature of the prayer involved?”

Thank you for asking this question. Christian Scientists have been lumped in with “faith healers” a couple times on this thread. Faith healers would not appreciate this – I’m pretty sure they consider CS a cult and its members “un-Christian” – and CSists don’t consider themselves faith healers. You wouldn’t hear a CSist ever saying “It’s God’s will” that someone died, or “God wanted that child with Him in heaven.” CSists don’t do the talking in tongues thing, or the laying on of hands thing, or the handling serpents thing. CSists may be crazy, but they are a totally different kind of crazy. 🙂

Mary Baker Eddy’s written a whole chapter on “Prayer” in the CS textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Here are some thoughts about prayer from that chapter: 

“God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love… Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it… The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed,- an error which impedes spiritual growth. 

“God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?… Are we really grateful for the good already received? …The habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer… 

“‘God is Love.’ More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go… In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.’ Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.”

What prayer feels like, for me, is… it’s like waking up to a beautiful sunrise in the morning or listening to an inspiring piece of music, or looking at the stars on a clear night – it’s a feeling of uplift – of thoughts soaring, of fear dissipating, of a consciousness full of joy and good will. Often times my prayers come with humor – laughing always seems to help get rid of fear for me – and for me, fear is always a part of whatever problem I’m facing. And Love is always a part of the healing. I’ve sometimes known I was healed before I saw the healing manifested humanly – I could feel the change in my thoughts. 

Art asks:
Personal question Karen: you don’t believe as your parents do but you still self-identify as a Christian Scientist?

Karen responds:
My dad is non-religious. My mom is… she is simply wonderful. My mom wasn’t raised in CS – she found Christian Science not long before she married my dad – she was attracted to this way of life because she liked the idea of a God who is Love – a Love that heals. She never had any kind of official position in the church or anything – like me, she is not really a very religious person. She is an independent thinker and a free spirit – not into group-think. 

I identify as a Christian Scientist because I really like the ideas and thoughts found in the CS textbook – I believe in God as Love, and I’ve experienced healing through my understanding of Love.

Art responds:
“I identify as a Christian Scientist because I really like the ideas and thoughts found in the CS textbook – I believe in God as Love, and I’ve experienced healing through my understanding of Love.”
Thanks for the insight Karen. Anyways, like many here I’ve always had a negative opinion of Christian Scientists so I appreciate an intelligent perspective from somebody like yourself.

Karen replies:
Art,
You write: “Anyways, like many here I’ve always had a negative opinion of Christian Scientists so I appreciate an intelligent perspective from somebody like yourself.” Thank you.

And thank you for asking questions with a genuine interest in learning what I had to say. That felt really good. 🙂

Buck “Buck” Buckaw says:
Michael Nesmith is a devout CS (as I’ve mentioned to you on a previous occasion) but you wouldn’t know it by listening to his music. It didn’t come to my notice until I read a biography about him.

Karen responds:
Buck “Buck” Buckaw – 
I do remember our talking about Michael Nesmith – and I remember enjoying that conversation very much. 🙂

Another one of my favorite people – an atheist, not a Christian Scientist – had this to say about Michael Nesmith: “So then, a few years ago, I was introduced to someone who became a great friend of mine, Michael Nesmith, who has done a number of different things in his career: In addition to being a film producer, he was originally one of the Monkees. Which is kind of odd when you get to know him, because he’s such a serious, thoughtful, quiet chap, but with quiet reserves of impish glee… I just hope that there will be other projects in the future that he and I will work on together, because I like him enormously and we got on very well together.” – Douglas Adams (Adams died not long after that and I don’t think he was able to work with Nesmith again – but it really meant something to me that Adams saw those qualities in Nesmith, a CSist.)

And no, you will not hear a CSist knocking at your door. 🙂 Frankly, it took me a long time before I felt comfortable “admitting” I was a CSist or talking about my way of life in an open and honest way. I know there is a lot of… not sure what the word is… misinformation? bias? prejudice?… about CS, and I’m not always eager to enter discussions about CS… sometimes – if I sense that nobody is really interested in having their minds relieved of their prejudices – I choose not to enter those discussions at all. But it felt to me like there were people on this thread who were genuine and sincere in their questions about CS. It is good to hear your voice again, my friend.  Karen

Buck “Buck” Buckaw says:
Thank you so much for your kind words, I always enjoy our exchanges immensely and recall them with fondness.
Regardless of what belief system you might adhere to, you are a shining light. Keep on shining brightly.

Karen says:
Oh, Buck “Buck” Buckaw – thank you. You don’t know what your kind words mean to me tonight. Thank you. I am so glad to know you are in the world.

Buck “Buck” Buckaw says:
OK, that’s enough of the mutual admiration society.
We risk turning the whole thing into some sort of giant hug fest and that just won’t do, particularly for the more jaundiced participants of this thrill ride. Now, what were we talking about? Oh yeah…..Christian Scientists hey? What a kooky bunch.

Karen says:
I know, right? Tell me about it. 🙂

Posts taken from this thread: http://www.amazon.com/forum/religion/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg8?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1M9TK6UGAX6EO&cdPage=8&cdThread=Tx3ND88NVC53B3

In Praise of Science and Technology

“Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause… Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal.”

– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

 ***

My dad is 94 – he  was born in 1918. It’s mind-boggling for me to think about all that he’s witnessed and lived through in his life.  He was born near the end of World War I, and two years before women in the United States got the right to vote. He lived through The Great Depression, and served in World War II. He was around for the first radio broadcast, the first flight across the Atlantic, and the first “talking picture.” When he was born people used these things called phonographs to listen to music (I did, too), and typewriters to write stories (me, too!) – and if a writer made a mistake on a typewriter, she couldn’t just “delete” it – she had to type the whole *@#$%* page over again! (Yeah, the exclamation mark indicates some personal experience with this.) Toasters, yo-yos, television (we didn’t get our first TV until I was six or seven), color television (we didn’t get our first color TV until I was a teenager), duct tape, microwave ovens, Velcro, hula hoops, calculators, post-it notes, computers, personal computers, videos, phonographs, liquid paper, DVDs, CDs, i-pods, and our first launch into space and our landing on the moon have all come during Dad’s lifetime.  He is a piece of walking history. 🙂

In Prose Works (Miscellany, p. 345), we find an interesting dialogue about science and technology between Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, and an interviewer. The interviewer asks Eddy how she feels about the “pursuit of modern material inventions,” and Eddy replies: “Oh, we cannot oppose them. They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living. They seek the finer essences. They light the way to the Church of Christ. We use them, we make them our figures of speech. They are preparing the way for us.”

Although I myself have sometimes considered Luddite membership – usually following a skirmish with my laptop’s recalcitrant hardware, or frustration over trying to figure out which icon to push on my new cellphone – this occasional desire to chuck my phone into the nearest river is not something that comes from my study of Christian Science.  It’s just me being me.

Christian Science is not at odds with science and technology.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The mariner will have dominion over the atmosphere and the great deep, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed.” Eddy published her book in 1875 – almost 100 years before man landed on the moon – yet she seemed able to foretell some of the advances in science that we have come to see. Pretty cool, ay? (Piece of trivia here: The wife and the mother of Alan Shephard, the first guy NASA shot into space, were both Christian Scientists.)

My Christian Science mom (born in 1927) is huge into quantum physics. I don’t mean that she’s formally educated in it or anything (she was a music major – my dad was the one educated in the sciences – he was a geologist) – but the concepts in quantum physics absolutely fascinate her. She’s got tons of books and videos on the subject – and gets great joy from contemplating that stuff.

Unlike my mom, there are Christian Scientists who are actual physicists – and probably some of them are fascinated by the idea that the more you study matter the more you realize how little substance there actually is to it. From what I can gather most of the material world around us is actually filled with electrical fields and there’s more “space” between atoms than there is substance. So really, even from a physically scientific standpoint, matter doesn’t exist, or it hardly exists. (Sort of puts a whole new perspective on Mary Baker Eddy’s thought that matter is illusion, doesn’t it?) 🙂

I’ve often heard people separate religion and science, and talk about the two things like they are mutually exclusive. And I would agree that some religious people do seem to see science as the enemy.  Some religious folks have even gone so far as to consciously and deliberately make a war on science – and I find this appalling. (For a really enlightening read on this subject , you might check out wikipedia’s article on The Wedge Document – “The Wedge Document outlines a public relations campaign meant to sway the opinion of the public, popular media, charitable funding agencies, and public policy makers. According to critics, the wedge document, more than any other Discovery Institute project, demonstrates the Institute’s and intelligent design’s political rather than scientific purpose.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy)

But Christian Scientists are not creationists or Intelligent Design adherents. We don’t believe the first chapters of Genesis are to be interpreted literally, and don’t believe the world was actually created in seven days and seven nights. (For more about how Christian Scientists view creation, you might want to read the chapter entitled Genesis in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.)

In the battle between religious ideology and science, Mary Baker Eddy chose science. In Prose Works, she writes: “On the startled ear of humanity rings out the iron tread of merciless invaders, putting man to the rack for his conscience, or forcing from the lips of manhood shameful confessions, – Galileo kneeling at the feet of priestcraft, and giving the lie to science.”

Mary Baker Eddy believed her discovery of Christian Science to be a scientific one, based on a provable Principle that brings healing to the world.  And, even with my own limited understanding of Christian Science, I have been able to prove – to myself – that by resting my thoughts upon this Principle (God, Love, Truth, Life), I can experience healing in a dependable and consistent way.

And I guess this brings us to medical science.

Some of the best, most honorable and intelligent people I know, are medical doctors.  They are motivated by a desire to heal the world, to use their intelligence and talents to bring wholeness and well-being to others. And I’m so glad to be able to call a number of them my “friends.”  Some of them do remarkable work for their fellow man – and it stems from their love of humanity.

But medical science is not like physics. It’s not an exact science, with dependable principles and rules. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it seems to help people, and sometimes it kills them.  Medical scientists cannot make a guarantee that their science will cure its adherents, and that it won’t harm or kill them instead.

In the interview I mentioned earlier, the reporter asks Mrs. Eddy how Christian Scientists should look on health laws of the States regarding infectious and contagious diseases. Eddy answers: “I say ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ …  knowing…  that the fear of catching smallpox is more dangerous than any material infection, I say: Where vaccination is compulsory, let your children be vaccinated, and see that your mind is in such a state that by your prayers vaccination will do the children no harm.” Regarding the use of drugs, Eddy says: “I was dosed with drugs until they had no effect on me. The doctors said I would live if the drugs could be made to act on me. Then homoepathy came like blessed relief to me, but I found that when I prescribed pellets without any medication they acted just the same and healed the sick.”

The drugs we see advertised on television do not seem like something any sane person would want to get tangled up with. Loss of memory, diarrhea, dry mouth, vomiting, thoughts of suicide, depression, liver damage, rashes, death – these possible side effects of drugs do not make me want to run out and get them. I know – call me loopy –  but when my health and life are on the line, I’d rather turn to the method of healing that has consistently worked for me, than some lab-tested drug  that may or may not cure me, and could possibly kill me.  Tested with the scientific method, these drugs may be – but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll work.

Medical research has shown that certain emotions – fear, anger, hate – produce chemicals that can affect your physical health:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090304091229.htm
http://psycnet.apa.org/?fa=main.doiLanding&fuseaction=showUIDAbstract&uid=2000-13324-011

– and I think this research on the mind-body connection correlates well to the teachings of Christian Science which include the belief that our state of mind determines our human experience. On the first website I listed above, the research indicates that your emotions play an even bigger role than having basic needs. If I were a medical doctor I think  this is the kind of research I’d be interested in studying further. I’d be studying to learn why a placebo is often as effective as the actual drug, and looking into the connection between a person’s thoughts and emotions and their physical health.

Is Christian Science an enemy of science? Nay, nada, nope. Is Christian Science a science? Well, I guess all I can say about that is that in my own personal experience it has provided me with reliable, consistent, dependable results time after time.

Cognitive Dissonance and Proof of God

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” – Frantz Fanon

I love this quote by Frantz Fanon. I think at one time or another we’ve probably all experienced some cognitive dissonance in our lives – times when, because of our own world view, background, and experiences we simply can’t accept the evidence set down in front of us.

Now and then I’ve been asked to share evidence and proof of “God.”  Now, for me, “God” is not a supernatural anthropomorphic being who throws thunderbolts from the heavens and sometimes chooses to help us and sometimes chooses to not. For me “God” is supremely natural – simply another name for Love, Truth, and Life – the power of Good.  And I experience healing by bringing myself into harmony with this power – by filling my thoughts up with Love, joy, hope, and courage, and cleansing my thoughts of fear, anger, hatred, and so on. So, when asked to offer evidence and proof of my God, I might say that kindness, honesty, and intelligence are all evidence of God. Or I might share healings I’ve experienced through bringing my thoughts close to God.  I might, for instance, share the following healings as proof of God, Good:

  • I witnessed my little brother healed of doctor-diagnosed mastoiditus when he was 7 – one minute he was screaming in pain, the next he was snoring. Healing confirmed by a medical doctor the next day.
  • A couple years ago my optometrist found a melanoma on my eyelid – he showed me a picture of it and had me set up an appointment with a surgeon right then – two weeks later the eye surgeon could find no trace of the melanoma.
  • After my hand inflated to twice its normal size, I went to a doctor. The doctor told me I probably either had a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor sent me in for blood tests. After the blood tests I went home and called a CS practitioner for prayerful support. By the third morning my hand had completely deflated and I was fine. The blood tests came back. One of the markers indicated rheumatoid arthritis. The nurse was shocked when I told her I was fine. That was several years ago. No return of the condition.
  • I was taken to the OR to have an emergency c-section with my second son. I asked my mom to call a CS practitioner for support. Just before they were going to slice me open, the surgical team got surprised looks on their faces, and starting telling me to push. The baby was  born naturally. One of the OR nurses was crying because it was all so beautiful, and she’d never been able to see a natural delivery before. The midwife told me they don’t know what happened. It was a surprise to all of them.

The response I get from friends after I share these experiences is really fascinating to me. Some friends – those who are open to the evidence I share with them, will celebrate and rejoice with me. But there are others – often friends who were raised as children with a different kind of a “God” than mine and rebelled against that thunderbolt-throwing god (and who can blame them?) – who seem unable to accept what I’m sharing.

I’m told by these friends that I can’t just go around making up my own definition for “God.” I tell them I didn’t come up with this concept of God on my own and that it’s not a new concept – that in the Bible we’re told “God is love” (I John 4) and that as far back as the late 19th century Mary Baker Eddy listed these synonyms for God – “Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love.”

Okay, but these healings are not proofs of a supernatural being, these friends tell me – my body would have healed itself naturally, anyway. I agree with them – as Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Now, as then, these mighty works (healings) are not supernatural, but supremely natural.” Later she writes, “God is natural good… Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth. Sickness should not seem so real as health.”

At this point my friends will often tell me that, although I am, of course, a very nice person, I’m also completely cracked to trust my health to this power of good, rather than depending on the laboratory-tested workings of medical science.

Ahem.  Soooo… do I go there or do I not? If I go there

I might point out that, according to the American Medical Association, medical science is the third-leading cause of death in this country. I might share the countless stories of people who have died from medical treatment, rather than the original malady that brought them to the medical doctors. I might point out that just a few weeks ago Newsweek’s cover story was about the unsafe care Americans receive in our nation’s hospitals. Author Marty Makary writes: “Bad doctors. Prescription errors. Surgical slips. Medical mistakes injure or kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year… When I was a medical student medical science began to seem as dangerous and dishonest as it was miraculous and precise. The defining moment came when I saw a sweet old lady I cared about die after a procedure she didn’t need and didn’t want.” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/16/are-hospitals-less-safe-than-we-think.html)   I might point out all the side effects (nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, depression, thoughts of suicide, weight gain, liver damage, heart attacks, death) listed on those drug commercials we’re all familiar with on television don’t instill in me an urgent desire to race to the nearest pharmacy. And then I might ask them, after all this, if it really seems logical or reasonable to question the sanity of thinking people who choose not to see medical science as the panacea for their health challenges.

But because my world view is so different from theirs, these friends often experience a “cognitive dissonance” – an inability to recognize the healings I’ve experienced through my understanding of the power of God, Good, and the flaws in the system that they’ve come to depend on. The idea of not turning, first, to medical science and, instead, trusting in the power of Love, Truth, and Life, is so foreign and alien that they simply can’t seem to grasp the idea of it, or to acknowledge my healings as proof of God.

I am not averse to visiting optometrists, dentists, and doctors when I feel the need to do so – I have no worries about being ex-communicated from my church or raising the wrath of God or anything – and I’m grateful for my doctors’ training, intelligence, and humor (all my doctors have a sense of humor – it is one of my requirements).  But I have also proven, for myself, the constant, unchanging power of God when I’m able to draw near to Love and Truth – and I have found this power to be a dependable and effective one in my life.

In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as “a very present help in trouble.” – Mary Baker Eddy

Here’s a youtube clip of a healing of scarlet fever – had to share this:

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