Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

Celebrating Women’s History Month this month of March, I recall amazing women of today, yesterday, and long ago.

Women from the Bible include Mary, the mother of Jesus, Ruth, the Moabite, Queen Esther, Priscilla, and Elizabeth. For a more complete list, click here.

We read in, 21st Century Science and Health, “The women who stood near Jesus’ cross were able to answer Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”[1] They knew what had inspired their devotion, motivated their faith, and opened the eyes of their understanding. They identified with the Principle that healed the sick, cast out evil, and caused the disciples to say to their Teacher: “Even the demons submit to us in your name.”[2]


[1] John 18:38

[2] Luke 10:17

 

Unlike my contemporaries, who have drifted away from religion and either started attending another church or stopped going to church altogether, I haven’t drifted from my religion. But, I no longer attend church regularly.

Back in the day, I was at church every Sunday and Wednesday. I held every position possible in the church and liked the work rather well. I even volunteered for 15 years to serve in the Christian Science Reading Room.

I became increasingly uncomfortable, not with the theology of Christian Science, but with the rituals and expectations of the church organization.

The shift was gradual. It certainly was not a matter of, “I don’t want this anymore, I’m outta here.” It was more, “I want this religion and not the rituals and expectations.”

More than half of American adults have changed religion in their lives, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found. “You’re seeing the free market at work,” said Gregory Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum. “If people are dissatisfied, they will leave. And if they see something they like better, they will join it.”

I haven’t found anything better than the religion I follow. Fortunately, the Pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist, is the Bible and the book Science and Health with Key to the Scripture, by Mary Baker Eddy, and can be with me all the time. I read from modern versions.

I periodically attend churches of all faiths now. The religious landscape is diverse out here, and I’m learning that these Americans changing religions are breaking the barriers of unsatisfying rituals and expectations.

“If you knew the gift of God…” are words imputed to Christ Jesus in the Gospel John. This gift of God is also imputed to us.

God’s gifts are not restricted to that which can be observed and studied, the material reality. God’s gifts are not reducible to only that which can be discovered in the tangible world.

God’s gifts are spiritual truths that inspire, heal, and restore.

A young mother recently said she had a really bad day last week. She was upset and impatient with her children, even putting them to bed without saying prayers. In the dark night, she quieted herself and felt God restore her relationship to Him.

The next morning, she apologized to her children for being upset the day before. Her children looked at her and said, “Oh, we forgive you mommy.”

Despite the ongoing decline in Churches of Christ, Scientist, the rise in people who claim to study Christian Science, but not adhere to a religious organization, should be seen positively, especially by religious people.

To accept this as good news, however, requires listening to what these spiritual seekers are saying, rather than scoff or ignore them as anomalies.

Before dismissing either side, we can first determine why the religious institution turns these Christian Science seekers off.

  • They’ve become wary of the guidance of authorities who restrict intellectual progress to church rituals.
  • They are weary of having their spiritual natures suffocated or denied.
  • They know better than to believe there is only one way to express spirituality, faith, and the search for enlightenment.
  • They are hurt, so much so they are willing to leave what was once a unique infrastructure of American history.

The decline in the church is a wake-up call to leaders willing to listen to this growing number of people. The wariness and weariness of those who have left the church have legitimacy. They can no longer be overlooked.

The religious organization based on Christian Science may have become inflexible, barren, or insular, but giving up on a collection of fallible human beings isn’t the answer either. There is no infallible human being.

Over the millenniums, people have discovered new ways of expressing their faith that speak to their contemporaries. It takes great effort to cultivate the life of faith and sometimes we work in a bed of thorny roses.

But, we can find ways to advance and live our faith in the presence of others, which is in fact what Christian Science is about.

The history of Christian Science shows it is a spiritual rule that has existed since time began. It is the law of God translating itself to humanity, revealing a spiritual cosmos of harmony.

It is time to stop dismissing one another. The idea behind a vital congregation is still very alive and can be found among the individual students of Christian Science or within a religion willing to keep up with progress.