In its 150-year history, “Christian Science” managed to shoot to fame and get lost in outer space.
The line between what religion and legend have to say are worth looking at.
Religion: Born in 1821, the woman who was to become Mary Baker Eddy, the leader of Christian Science, had the faith that God could heal spiritually. In 1866, this New England woman had a liberating epiphany that faith can be coupled with divine knowledge as the foundation of mindful healing. Her discovery was dubbed Christian Science, the law of a healing God.
Legend: There was nothing quick, certainly not instant or final, about establishing Christian Science in the 19th century. The New England woman spent twenty years prior to 1866, trying to trace physical effects to a mental cause.
Only until Mary started helping herself, by thinking and experimenting like a scientist, did she transform her faith into understanding. Otherwise, she was a dependent, a woman with little umph. She had lousy health and a lousy marriage.
Religion: Stirred by her new thinking, Mary’s health improved. She taught the principles of Christian Science to one student, then more students. Some of the students became public practitioners, who applied spiritual truths until the human mind and body of their clients yielded to the divine Mind, God ad was healed.
Legend: Not everyone was healed by the application of Christian Science. Not all relationships were made-in-heaven. Eddy herself continued to have relationship and health troubles to deal with.
As for her marriage, although Eddy touted a loving God that can heal marriages, her second marriage ended in a divorce. She later remarried, Asa Gilbert Eddy, the source of her famous name.
Religion: In 1875, Mary wrote and published the Christian Science textbook titled, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” Eddy’s book is from God.
Legend: The book published in 1875 was titled, “The Science of Man.” Mary Baker Eddy revised her book hundreds of times continuously until she died in 1910. The book was originally written for the public as a tool to learn spiritual, scientific Mind-healing. She may have been inspired when writing, however she continued to correct and clarify the book her entire life.
Science and Health didn’t evolve into a textbook for a church until 1895. The ideas in the book may be sacred, but the words are not, because human language is inadequate to voice the sacred spiritual.
Religion: Christian Science became popular and Mary Baker Eddy began preaching. She then took on the responsibility of leadership and organized a Christian Science church in 1879, calling it, The Church of Christ, Scientist. The religious organization became very prosperous, with branches around the world, at the turn of the 20th century.
Legend: Christian Science was defined by Eddy as the law of God, of good, interpreting and manifesting universal harmony. Christian Science is not synonymous with a religious organization. Just as Science and Health is not synonymous with Christian Science.
Religion: The Church of Christ, Scientist, is dying in the world today. Empty branch edifices are being closed and sold. Mary Baker Eddy’s, Science and Health isn’t being read, let alone studied by very many people.
Legend: Christian Science, as taught by Mary Baker Eddy is a spiritual idea that has existed forever. Many other people have discovered this law of God without reading her book because spiritual truth comes from within. It’s a divine force found with God and is still being interpreted and understood today in multifarious expressions. The ideas in Science and Health are not restricted to words written 150-years ago and that is one beauty of religion and legend working together.
Religion and legend are not at loggerheads. We can look at both to determine a line of spiritual progress. We can appreciate the facts and experience God.
With American politics stirring the emotions and loyalties, I can’t help but think about a study that shows people are twice as likely to look for information that confirms their beliefs rather than consider contradicting evidence. This tendency has been dubbed, confirmation bias.
We stay pretty close to our opinions, especially when they are familiar and comfortable.
But are those opinions constructive or destructive?
Answers to that question spotlight whether or not a person is loyal or biased.
Loyalty to a party, a church, a partner, or God comes without condemnation of others.
This is not to say that mistakes or pitfalls made by others shouldn’t be recognized, they should. But, condemnation is moot. The true course is to exhibit corrective thoughts and actions.
If we doubt our loyalty, yet refuse to cross over and basically sit on the fence, this shows the old loyalty was really a bias.
Our preferences to be comfortable, can also be unfairness.
Processing our loyalty to truth and love, rather than party lines or organizations, helps us determine what and who we can be loyal to in this world.
In the Bible, the book of Ruth talks about Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi. I think the loyalty was, not to a person as much as to deeper elements of grace and hope. Ruth saw in Naomi a spiritual hope that led her away from her old ways and traditions toward new views and new means of helping herself and others.
Picture in your mind, a confronted dog positioned to pounce. Growling. Back fur standing straight up. And you see me, years ago when it came to the subject of larger pets inside the house. When raising children, I barked my house rule, “Pets belong outdoors.”
Then, the indescribable occurred. I experienced a total inner make-over. It came about when I let goodness happen on a bigger scale in my experience.
It began when a nine-year old foster boy came to live with us. He didn’t know how to be grateful, mainly because he didn’t have much to be grateful for. He also needed a friend he could trust because he didn’t trust human beings. Out of my mouth, came the shocking words, “Let’s go get a foster cat for you.”
“Can the cat sleep in my room with me?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
The child obliged and we found a cat to bring home. It was curious to watch. The child and cat became comfortable friends. The cat knew when to rub the leg of the boy and calm him. The boy knew when to clean the cat box and feed the cat.
I realized the boy and cat were experiencing a loving attachment. They weren’t talking about the gratitude and trust, but were experiencing the spirituality.
The cat was grateful for a home. The boy was grateful for the cat’s gratitude. They learned to trust the goodness.
Life went on and another family came along to adopt the child. Our household then took on a new dynamic without indoor pets, yet happiness prevailed.
In 2105, Mitchell Parker asked, “Who Rules the House—Dogs or Cats?” Parker answered the question by incorporating data from a Houzz Pets Survey, evaluating 10,000 pet owners in 11 countries around the world. He wrote, “[A]n overwhelming majority—from 71 percent in France to 90 percent in the U.S.—say the top benefit of owning a pet is that it makes them happy. And in the U.S., more than 70 percent of 3,100 pet owners surveyed say their pets help them reduce stress.”
There are many reasons why people have pets. And pets aren’t for everyone. Believe me, back in the day when I didn’t want large pets in the house, it would have been a mistake for me to get a pet.
Soulful experiences are transforming and far reaching. They begin with our desire to enlarge the spiritual goodness in our present experience. The goodness, however, isn’t assigned to a pet, a person, or a new job. It’s a genuine force we can trust because it loves us.
August 9, Tuesday, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
WIOX radio in Roxbury, New York 91.3 FM will stream over the internet the hour long interview with Cheryl Petersen.
Listen to Bonnie Lykes-Bigler interview Cheryl about her books: 21st Century Science and Health and from science & religion to God.
They will discuss healing, Cheryl’s background, and methods of writing and revising.
Click and scroll down to listen to WIOX: