A Christian Science response to “Finding Grace”

In the winter issue of Around Concord, a local magazine, there was a tribute by Susan Nye, a writer from New London to her cousin Grace, who was a Christian Scientist. We wrote the following response to the editor:

I am writing about the article titled “Finding Grace” by Susan Nye in your winter Around Concord magazine. Ms. Nye wrote a touching piece about her cousin Grace with some fine points. May I offer a bit more perspective as a New Hampshire native and lifelong Christian Scientist myself?

First, some background. I grew up in Manchester and attended the Christian Science Sunday school there. In my high school and college years, my teacher in the Sunday School was the award winning playwright Horton Foote who became a Christian Scientist as an adult. I was graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Durham with a Mechanical Engineering degree. After college I felt called to the ministry and have been an active Christian Science practitioner since.

Christian Science practitioners pray for spiritual and physical healing for those who request it. It’s a quiet, conscientious ministry and religious practice – not a matter of blind faith, but rooted in the reality of God’s love for everyone. It’s not a dogmatic practice that’s dictated by the church; anyone may choose to contact a practitioner in time of need.

As reported in the Concord Monitor, my wife and I run a residential home for Christian Scientists in Concord at the historical Rolfe and Rumford home, formerly a home for foster girls. There we employ Christian Science nurses who are skillfully trained as nonmedical religious caregivers.

Christian Science nursing is a practical, spiritual ministry that actively supports a patient’s decision to rely on Christian Science for healing. It is carried out with wisdom, skill, and compassion, and is grounded in the Bible-based theology of Christian Science, which emphasizes the compassion of Jesus’ teaching to love one another.

Though Ms. Nye assumes, as many do, that prayer has not been found to offer much practical value beyond treating a common cold or flu, treatment in Christian Science has, for over a century and a half, given real hope to the hopeless and effected a cure in the lives of many who have otherwise been deemed incurable.

An older, but balanced and still useful discussion of this experience can be found in Robert Peel’s 1988 book, Health and Medicine in the Christian Science Tradition, part of an interfaith series of studies brought out by the Park Ridge Center of the Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago.

In my adult years, I have been spiritually healed of a heart problem, an acute shoulder injury, a skin disease, severe asthma, severe conditions that appeared to be appendicitis and pneumonia, and a number of minor ailments.

While Christian Scientists recognize how much more we have to learn and grow in the line of spiritual healing, most of us have seen enough tangible proof in our own lives, and have felt enough of the transformative inspiration that accompanies it, to know that such evidence can’t simply be dismissed in a world still in need of aid and healing.

Christian Scientists don’t try to compete with medical science or physicians; we respect their work for humanity as did the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. In fact, Mrs. Eddy wrote the textbook of Christian Science a few years after a physician from Manchester had urged her to write such a book. He wanted to know more about her system of healing, after witnessing Mrs. Eddy restore one of his patients, whom he had diagnosed as dying of pneumonia, to health.

Mrs. Eddy had relatives here in the state who were physicians, and she once gave a large donation to a hospital that was in financial difficulty and in danger of closing. She wrote: “Great respect is due the motives and philanthropy of the higher class of physicians.” Christian Scientists today are grateful for the understanding shown by many in the medical professions and by our friends of other faiths, in spite of our differing views and choices on healing.

I’m grateful to have read about Ms. Nye’s cousin Grace, who clearly lived a meaningful and graceful life. I hope these comments on Christian Science will add light and perspective on this aspect of her experience.

© 2017 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire

Spiritual health care that works

Elodie Reed SunflowersVermont Sunflowers photo by Elodie Reed

Participation in alternative health care has surged in recent years. Many people want care and healing with simplicity and results. They are increasingly wary of expensive care that is complicated or drug and surgery dependent.

A few years ago, the Los Angeles Times published “More Doctors Going the Alternative Route” by Janice Neuman, reporting that 83% of physicians are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for their own health care needs, compared to 63% of the general population.

The public is looking for health solutions in a wider variety of approaches – in some cases integrating alternatives with allopathic medicine and in others moving completely to alternatives such as naturopathy or spiritual care. Hospitals and clinics are adding “integrative medicine centers” at a rapid rate because the demand for such approaches is high.

Some of the non medical approaches have underpinnings that are tied to theological and religious belief practices. There is a well documented yearning among patients and care providers for an individual’s religious or spiritual beliefs to be included in their treatment.

Studies show that prayer and spiritual care are the most popular non medical care methods used by the public – about 50% of us pray about our health. And yes, it has been shown to improve lifestyles and health outcomes. While to some this may seem incredible or anecdotal, to those who rely on spiritual care for their heath care needs, spiritual healing is dependable, accessible, and affordable.

So just what is spiritual care? For some, it’s spiritual counseling by a member of the clergy in a hospital that brings comfort while the medical team makes efforts with the illness to mitigate pain and suffering. For others, it may be a practice of meditation incorporated into an allopathic treatment plan to relieve symptoms. In my faith tradition, it’s sincere prayer to God with the expectation of complete healing.

What is this God of health and healing? This God is divine Love, a love that is so much bigger and stronger than any human love. We can learn how to turn to divine Love and better understand our relationship to this powerful source as a means to maintaining or restoring our health.

I learned how to do this many years ago by studying, in conjunction with the Bible, a textbook on healing through prayer by New Hampshire native, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. Her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, has been instrumental in my approach to my own spiritual care.

Here’s one recent example of how Christian Science has helped me. Years ago I had an asthma condition that restricted my movements considerably. I had difficulty climbing the stairs in our three story Concord Victorian home. Yet I can honestly say that I was not afraid, even when it seemed like I was on my last breath. Why was I so confident? Because I have successfully relied on Christian Science spiritual healing for over a half century. And because I was praying and felt God’s comforting presence.

I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me. This is someone who devotes their full time ministering and specifically praying for those who have health care needs. We prayed to understand and realize God’s perfect health as His gift to me at that moment and always. We studied this statement in Science and Health: “Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind [God].” (Science and Health, p. 120)

I learned more clearly that God, divine Mind, is all acting. I started to feel better, breathe easier, and had the courage to go for a walk. Eventually these walks stretched into miles. Soon I was completely healed.

Is it any wonder, when we consider the effectiveness of spiritual care and healing, that more and more of the public are turning to it to support their health care? The Bible promises, “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 30:17)

© 2014 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire