Have you ever found yourself in an extreme situation and made a promise to God? For example: "If you will help me out of this one, I swear I will..." A woman once described a time in her mid-thirties when she was confined to bed with a long and severe illness. Several physicians attempted in vain to cure her. She tried every remedy she knew of, without success. In her extremity, she promised God that if He would restore her, she would devote her remaining years helping sick and suffering humanity. She did recover and her vow was never forgotten.
Immediately after this healing, the woman took up earnest study of the New Testament. She saw that Christ Jesus expected his healings of sickness and sin should be copied by his followers and that his same methods should be employed. Ultimately, she concluded that the means he employed was of Spirit, that is, of God, and that the only true method of healing must be the spiritual method.
The woman later explained that this was in her thought when in 1866 she took a bad fall, resulting in what her doctor would diagnose as a possible spinal dislocation and concussion. Three days later, still in a bad way, she was confined to bed with pain and unable to walk. She asked for her Bible and read one of Jesus’ healing accounts. She prayed for herself and immediately left her bed, healed, shocking the doctor and friends in attendance.
This healing marked a moment of discovery - that Spirit, or God, is not simply an aid to healing, but that God is the only true healer on any case. Her discovery didn’t yet have an explanation. But, the miracles recorded in the Bible, which had before seemed supernatural to her, she now saw as natural and repeatable.
She glimpsed in Christ Jesus’ teachings and healing, as well as in the miracles of patriarchs and prophets, disciples and apostles, the operation of a divine law of God relative to health and healing. Thus began a deeper research in the Bible for the method of the Christian science that explains the divine laws of healing and how to practice them.
Although she later would recall this period of discovery as “sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope,” it was accompanied by a definite focus and urgency.
"I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 109)
Nine years later, Mary Baker Glover (later, after remarriage, to be known as Mary Baker G. Eddy) published her first edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures - her explanation of the divine Principle of healing and the method of Christian Science prayer. Science and Health is the textbook of Christian healing in its modern form. Rooted in Scripture, Science and Health was written, revised, and its method was fully tested over 44 years of Mrs. Eddy’s personal research and practice. Science and Health explains how Jesus healed and how we can, too.
"After a lengthy examination of my discovery and its demonstration in healing the sick, this fact became evident to me, — that Mind governs the body, not partially but wholly. I submitted my metaphysical system of treating disease to the broadest practical tests. Since then this system has gradually gained ground, and has proved itself, whenever scientifically employed, to be the most effective curative agent in medical practice."(ibid,111)
_That took some nerve to write. And one might say it takes some nerve to say today. But she wrote from experience.
Here is a partial list of conditions healed by Mary Baker G. Eddy in her early practice of Christian Science: Abscessed eye, dumbness, boils, nervous breakdown, cancerous growths, emaciation, lameness, mental disability, heart disease, insanity, enteritis, bowel obstruction, consumption, tuberculosis, infected wounds, paralysis, membranous croup, cataracts, crossed eyes, diphtheria, hernia, asthma, childbirth complications, blindness and deafness.
Christian Science lays down the law, the divine and permanent law relative to healing the sick and maintaining good health. Christian Science is an explanation and a practice rooted in experience. It is a Science built on proof of its underlying divine Principle.
The evidence of Christian Science is older than time, even if the full explanation of it has a relatively short human history. To understand its modern day roots, we can look to the life and ideas of the one who discovered it in 1866 - a woman who made a promise to God that if He would restore her, she would devote her remaining years helping sick and suffering humanity - American religious and health reformer, Mary Baker Eddy.
"When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now. God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble. Vow it, then do it." (Ecclesiastes 5: 4 The Message)
For more information on this remarkable woman, you may wish to visit the online resources of The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. Located in Boston, USA, this library opened in 2002 as a place for people to explore the life, ideas, and achievements of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). The Library and museum provides educational experiences, programs, and exhibits featuring the Mapparium®, the Hall of Ideas®, and the Quest Gallery. The Library also offers user-friendly access to its vast collections through Research and Reference Services. As its primary resource, the Library’s collections include one of the largest collections by and about an American woman. (The above-mentioned story is recounted in archival document A11051 located in the library.)
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I am a Christian Scientist and healing prayer is my area of practice. Christian Science is the explanation of the healing work of Bible prophets, apostles, and of Christ Jesus himself. To trace its modern day roots, we can look to the one who discovered the Science of Christ healing in 1866 – American religious reformer, Mary Baker Eddy.
Born in 1821, Mary Baker grew up during the time when religious, moral and scientific circles were wrestling with questions about life before birth, the human experience and the afterlife. Her father, a staunch Calvinist, believed that all mankind was predestined before birth to experience one of two possible life tracks - to live eternally in heaven or to forever burn in hell.
This all or nothing life and death belief met with resistance in the young Mary, who from an early age rejected some of her father’s strong religious views. She couldn’t reconcile a capricious human life with the God of Love that her own study of Scripture brought out. An independent thinker, a questioner of truth, Mary grew into a courageous and serious young woman. She dared to challenge the many theories and beliefs of human life and God that cropped up around her.
Despite the agitation that her father's theological opinions stirred, Mary's orthodox Christian parents gave her a strong foundation in Bible study and taught her to pray. Healing prayer was quietly encouraged by her mother, who had gentler views of God. Mary came to expect that her prayers should be able to help and heal. In fact, archival evidence points to remarkable healings produced even by her childhood prayers - healings of sick animals and injuries of the other children on the farm.
Mary’s spiritual journey continued into adulthood. Despite an extraordinary amount of personal loss, stress, and insecurity in young adulthood, she leaned on God continually and stayed close to her Bible. And occasionally people were healed by her prayers. There are reports of blindness and other illnesses cured through her prayers a full decade before she discovered the divine Principle of healing in Christian Science.
The desire for more consistent health for herself and others led Mary to explore allopathic medicine, hydropathy, homeopathy and a variety of popular mind cures – and when I say explore, I mean she took up serious study, often becoming a practitioner of some of these methods for a time. But one by one, disappointed in their results, she abandoned each system, trusting her Bible to continue to guide her to answers to her questions about life and health and healing.
Then came a pivotal experience following a bad fall. Unable to walk and in debilitating pain, she was cured through her own prayers of what her doctor later indicated was a possible spinal dislocation and concussion. She discovered that not only is God an aid to healing, but that God, who she understood to be the divine Mind or intelligence of all, is the only true healer on any case - that God is all and that matter has nothing to do with life, health or healing. A radical new premise, yes. But, having been healed by its revelation, she couldn’t argue with the results of her discovery.
Mary Baker Eddy, Mrs. Eddy as she would soon be known, described this great discovery in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection:
Of her quick physical healing, she explained, “I had learned that Mind reconstructed the body, and that nothing else could. How it was done, the spiritual Science of Mind must reveal. It was a mystery to me then, but I have since understood it.” (ibid. 28)
As a child Mary Baker was a healer even before she could explain how to heal. As an adult, she was healed of the effects of the accident before she completely understood how such healing was done. But the divine Spirit that is God was always supreme in her affections. Honesty, unselfishness and purity were a natural part of her character. These elements that render one susceptible to divine healing were always hers, so healings naturally occurred even before the full explanation of how to do it was discovered. Consistency in good results, however, required an understanding of the Science of divine healing. And when that understanding developed following her discovery, Mary Baker Eddy became world renowned as a remarkable Christian healer, teacher and founder of a new religious movement, Christian Science.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is the exposition – the full explanation of Christian Science. It is the seminal textbook of Christian healing, rooted in Scripture and developed over 44 years of Mrs. Eddy’s personal research and practice. Science and Health explains what life is about, who and what God is, and how one can heal like Christ Jesus.
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At Time4thinkers.com, one of the Radical Acts of Jesus receiving focus this summer is the demand to "Challenge Pharisees". Justin Belote is one of the Radical Actors giving attention to this demand. I loved his take on it. He wrote:
"A Pharisee, in Jesus’ words, is a hypocrite. All about the law and not the spirit. The talk and not the walk. The rules left behind by moments of true inspiration -- not the inspiration itself.
"We all know these people. A boss, a teacher, or even a friend. Someone who just seems to miss the point — someone who sacrifices true meaning in order to live by the book.
"But for me, this summer isn’t about challenging an unfair boss or setting a friend straight. It’s about challenging the Pharisee within. Do I always act out of true inspiration — out of that true oneness with the infinite? As an artist, am I always creating from the truest source, or from a surface-level, uninspired place?
"Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science church, said “Honesty is spiritual power.” She also talked about becoming a “transparency for Truth” -- a transparency for God. She even thought it was possible “to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal.” Rather than just rising to the occasion once in a while.
"People expect that our relationship with God should flicker off and on. That we should have dry moments -- even whole dry seasons. But Jesus didn’t. As far as we know, he lived in the sacred present. Every moment, a moment of Truth.
"This summer I want to live in that sacred present, and make decisions as well as create art from there. So go ahead and challenge Pharisees this summer. Out there. In here..."
Wonderful and right on target, I think.
Justin referred to one of my favorite statements of Mary Baker Eddy. The full quote is, "To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science." (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, Eddy, 159)
When it comes to quotes, my faves are often the ones I have struggled the most to get my head around. And that is certainly the case here. Initially Eddy's statement made me mad. I often struggled with roller-coaster inspiration and I couldn't figure out how I would ever be able to keep human consciousness in line with spirituality for a sustained period of time, let alone constantly.
Then I was inspired to turn the statement around, like in a math equation. I reasoned that Christian Science involves individualizing infinite power - that is, understanding God as the infinite and only power and that I reflect that power as God's image and likeness. The result of this individualizing - or seeing my relation to God and not leaving my sense of God or of my spiritual self to remain abstract - I would find my human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal.
It works, guys. It isn't even that hard.
Here's how I do it. I make sure I individualize the power of pretty much every clear thought I have about God. With every "fact" I read or "truth" I know about God, I try to see how it applies to me as reflection. It's simple. The way "to live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science." Individualizing the power, not leaving myself out of the inspiration equation, is the key.
The comments that follow Justin's "Radical Acts" post are wonderful. I hope you will take a moment to check them out and add your own to the discussion!
No one could have been more proud than I was when my daughter received her university diploma in 2008. Although she might say that very little of what she studied has carried over into her professional life, I witnessed her many life lessons through the college years. She came out with well-honed communication skills, a confident sense of self and humility. On that last point, I think she gained a healthy respect for hard work and a humble hope that the life in front of her could be a grand adventure if she set worthy goals and applied herself to achieve them.
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.
I attended a Christian Science nursing school right after high school. I have no university diploma. It was some years before my lack of college experience began to trouble me. But when it finally did, insecurity hit me like a Mack truck. I felt less intelligent than my many colleagues, most, if not nearly all, who are college graduates. Several have Masters degrees and higher.
I was once invited by the publishing house I often write for to attend a forum for writers. We were to bring a piece prepared for editing. I couldn't write it. Although I had already had twenty or so articles published, I was intimidated by feelings of being stupid and uneducated. I went to the forum empty-handed and tried to make myself invisible in the back row.
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.
I wrote my piece that night. During the private conference with my editor at the end of the forum, we just chatted. He said he had no suggestions on improving my piece. It was perfect as it was. It was published shortly after.
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.
I know of a woman whose great hope was to learn to teach piano to children so she could support herself and live an independent life. It never happened. Things were tough – health problems, family issues, etc. had her pretty much backed into a corner. Then, at 45, she began to write a book on a subject that was suddenly burning in her to share. Her book was her baby. She saw it as God-given. She poured her all into her writing and it was a sort of rebirth. From that point on, she successfully helped others to find their own potential and to thrive against all odds. She wrote in that first book, “I hope, dear reader, I am leading you into the understanding of your divine rights, your heaven-bestowed harmony..." ...
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no