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.