Surfing the net last week, I stumbled across a conversation thread that mocked teachers of Christian Science, suggesting that many use three names (in the case of female teachers) to sound like lawyers and to compensate for their supposed lack of education. Considering I am a three-namer and probably have had the least amount of formal education out of all my colleagues, I figure I am a good candidate for offering another perspective on these misrepresentations.
I could have five names if I used each one that has been assigned to me or that I picked up through marriages. I chose the ones I use for a specific reason, one that I imagine applies to other teachers as well: I have a long list of published content under two last names. This content is only retrievable to those who actually know the names and who plug each of them in the search engine.
As I listened to the discussion, I was taken by the humility of the writers around me. They were a well-laureled bunch, yet the common thread wasn't in their collective years of higher education. It was in their experiences of listening quietly to God and learning to trust the inspiration that came.
Powerful. Moving. Liberating.
That night I had a watershed experience when I realized that my education had come through life experiences and unique professional opportunities that God had given me. Unconventional? Yes. But not to be underestimated.
My instruction in Scripture came from professors who not only passed on their knowledge, but who also taught me to listen and seek out the living Word in the words. During five years on a public lecture board, I was trained for public speaking by some of the best known professionals in the business. Working with Legislators for three years, I learned to listen to, consider and respect the various perspectives on a subject in order to bring out the best available solutions in making laws. I was taught to write by the many editors that had patiently worked with my manuscripts over the years. I had learned to listen to God and to trust His direction when I prayed.
Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer of Christian Science, was frequently accused by those who thought they were more erudite, of being an uneducated bumpkin. Not every country girl in the 1820s had access to the school house of Little House on the Prairie or the university of Anne of Green Gables.
However, in Eddy's case, her education included extensive private tutoring from her brother - a Dartmouth graduate in law who served in the New Hampshire legislature and later was nominated for a Congressional seat. He ensured that his bright little sister obtained thorough instruction in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Among her favorite studies were natural philosophy, logic, and moral science.
Eddy valued higher education and encouraged it for others. She established organizations for university students, designed to support their education and spiritual progress.
She once wrote, "The entire purpose of true education is to make one not only know the truth but live it - to make one enjoy doing right, make one not work in the sunshine and run away in the storm, but work midst clouds of wrong, injustice, envy, hate; and wait on God, the strong deliverer, who will reward righteousness and punish iniquity." (First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, 252)
As the Psalmist says, "Lead me in Thy truth and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day. (25:5)
Happy Graduation to the Class of 2012! May your education serve you, and others, well; and may your understanding continue to develop in the wisdom and way of God.