Mary Baker Eddy could be viewed as the Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer of the 19th century except Eddy wrote a book, Science and Health that sold well before she started a church. Once Eddy did start a church in 1879, she could hardly keep up with its increase in membership. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was dedicated to bringing back spiritual Christ-like healing and the religion took off around the world. Eddy wrote in 1902, “With no special effort to achieve this result, our church communicants constantly increase in number, unity, steadfastness. Two thousand seven hundred and eighty-four members have been added to our church during the year ending June, 1902, making total twenty-four thousand two hundred and seventy-eight members; while our branch churches are multiplying everywhere and blossoming as the rose.”
Now imagine if some average street person in year 1902 also said: Hey you church goers, I’m here to tell you that just over the horizon of the future, only forty years hence, this prosperous religion, marked with spiritual healing and a lively membership will be blighted with ritualism and creed. The number of members will become negligible. What is more, the church will then embark upon over half a century of living in the past, making vigorous effort to repeat and control the words and history surrounding Christian Science.
The average street person voicing this hypothetical tirade would have been ignored and judged a lunatic in 1902. Spiritual healing was happening at a time when medical science was crude and unreliable. Spiritual seekers were receiving purpose and direction at a time when the industrial revolution had brought social upheaval and technological progress had ominously transformed the agrarian lifestyle. Religion grounded those who were surrounded by a skyrocketing capitalism. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was a stronghold to those being affected by gender and echelon injustice.
But Eddy warned against living in the past, a hypnotic state of mind that “entices its victim by unseen, silent arguments.” A mind in the past becomes suspicious, relies on that which they should avoid, or becomes confused. “Other minds are made dormant by it, and the victim is in a state of semi-individuality, with a mental haziness which admits of no intellectual culture or spiritual growth,” writes Eddy. (Miscellany) Living in the past misleads the religious practitioner to assume they are spiritually successful when in fact their mentality regurgitates long out-grown knowledge and produces evidence of a self-sabotaging behavior, all the while claiming to be following Mary Baker Eddy.
Paul told the Corinthians, “When one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Spirituality and its healing power increases as we follow God, Love, not Paul, Eddy, Osteen, or Meyer.
Yes, we can be thankful to these religious leaders however living in the past is not gratitude, but idolization or obsession, leading to a huge let down. When I first considered revising Eddy’s book, Science and Health, the living in the past mentality reacted and troubled me until I carefully analyzed its arguments and found they had no credibility whatsoever. My book, 21st Century Science and Health, epitomizes the seed within itself, an outgrowth of the book explaining Christian Science. The book introduces new thoughts however future ages must hone and shape the ideas in order to make them understood. The revision work dissolves the hypnotic state of living in the past and I not only share in today’s world an increase in unity and spiritual steadfastness but I also more so experience spiritual healing traceable to Christ, God with us.
Religion and science experts claim to know truth. Their truths often conflict therefore honest truth-seekers set out to fight the religion and science expertise attitude, not to denounce, but to retain the enormous possibilities to access a non-conflictive sensible knowing. Yet, victory requires a crusade, and the momentum of that crusade brings new forces into the movement. Common, but mindful people are determined to make their life mean something and will not settle for a truth dooming them to suffer and die. But, there will also be a powerful interest in maintaining control over the truth, therefore new religious leaders and scientists will come into play, tapping into the prospect of the truth-seekers, to accomplish their own rise to leadership and a higher standing in the world.
The crusade to discover truth emulates emancipation without freedom unless the individual truth-seeker can maintain a posture of impartiality—not so much as being fair or objective to both religion and science but as being open-minded to divine Truth. Instead of aligning oneself with a religious or scientific truth, align oneself with the principle of knowing.
This means we can’t just accept everyone else’s truth. We can’t just believe everything we hear or think. There must be a semblance of individual knowing. This knowing is on an intuitive spiritual level and backed up by what we identify as the physical. In other words, this knowing is not grounded on a physical level, later to be backed up by the intuition or the spiritual.
For example, I can read religious and scientific books however what I read isn’t the truth. But, the words can open my mind to a greater picture of life, truth, and love, which in turn allows a knowing.
Sitting—thankfully on a cushioned chair—in the local rural Village Hall, my brain was lurching and lunging as I listened to the Village Trustees and Mayor hammer out the meeting agenda. The public meeting went on for almost 4 hours as dialogue and bantering droned. The only reason I was there was because I was called at the last minute with a request to write up a newspaper story about the meeting because the regular reporter had oral surgery that day. If it’d had been possible, I’d of chosen the oral surgery over the meeting. But it was another example of how we can expect new successes each day.
The room, like our world, was seething and swarming with opinions and emotions. A few hard comments were made but in general everyone kept their cool. I, on the other hand, was floundering to understand what they were talking about, issues they’ve been discussing for months. I had to make the effort not to let the subculture of human opinions and emotions assault the human spirit and rob me of my motivation to report on the real issues.
Decisions are being made every day and we want them to bring about success, otherwise they reflect the “my way or the highway” attitude. And, people will move out of a village or organization that is not being governed for the whole.
Leaders must offer a different definition of success in order to progress a society. We can recall Paul, offering new insight into success by first asking questions and then answering, “Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also since God is one.” (Romans 3:29‑30, ESV)
The old success is to love our fellow friends and religious peers however that success dies and is replaced by the success of loving everyone. The new success, sadly, often first gets tromped on by human egotists and the power hungry. Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, writes, “Anne Hutchinson was a religious woman, mother of thirteen children, and knowledgeable about healing with herbs. She defied the church fathers in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by insisting that she, and other ordinary people, could interpret the Bible for themselves.” Hutchinson was put on trial for heresy, treated despicably and eventually banished from the colony. However, looking back, it is Hutchinson’s stand that we honor today, while deploring the colonies position and decisions.
Success is new each day and we can discover it, even if at first it looks profane, offensive, or sacrilegious. Interestingly, at one point during the Village meeting, confusion blanketed a crucial decision about their drinking water. Finally, a far-out but simple suggestion from the public brought about first silence then a complete reversal in the decision. The confusion evaporated because the Trustees and Mayor could admit that the previous decision was only a repeat of a futile decision made months ago. We can have the courage to admit that yesterday’s success is not todays. God, Life is new each day and brings about new successes.