Actually, I do rely on God for good health
Spiritual healing works; I’ve seen it
By Cathy Ann Horn / For the Monitor
January 29, 2012
“God is my health insurance” got my attention. You see, I have no health insurance because God is my health assurance after being healed of cancer three times in my life through spiritual prayer. So you can understand why the headline on Dr. James Fieseher’s Jan. 21 column on the Monitor Opinion page caught my eye.
Fieseher, a Portsmouth physician, wrote that “we can’t afford to replace ‘Obamacare’ with no care at all,” suggesting that we would otherwise be left saying, “God is my health insurance.” He expressed compassion for the millions of Americans who are struggling or unable to afford health insurance, let alone the cost of medication, hospital stays and doctors’ fees, but his column didn’t convey what I had hoped. I thought it might really be about the virtue of relying on God for our health and well-being.
My decision to rely solely on God began with my experience at age 15 when I was diagnosed with terminal cancer by Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic and given just two years to live. My father, an orthopedic surgeon, and my mother, a registered nurse, received word that a hysterectomy would have to be performed to save my life. In the operating room my father, who was in attendance, at the last moment blurted out, “Leave her plumbing in and just remove the tumor!”
The prognosis was that that would not be enough, so my mother, who was also an associate to an order of Episcopalian nuns, had nuns from convents across the country praying for me for two years until I was declared to be in full remission. Thanks to my father’s last-minute decision during the surgery, I was able to have two children later in life. This experience inspired me to pursue a course of study in spiritual healing and alternative healing techniques.
The second episode of a mass in my uterus was healed instantaneously in 1983 through spiritual healing in New York City witnessed by several people in a private home.
Eventually I opened my own healing center here in New Hampshire and obtained national certification as a licensed massage therapist in order to practice “hands-on healing.” Although healing was experienced by others who came for help, I knew something was missing in my understanding of the healing process, so I prayed to God to lead me to whatever teaching was necessary.
I was led to Christian Science. I did not know anything about it but began to study it earnestly.
The third diagnosis came just a few years ago: leukemia. This time, without a doubt, I knew exactly how to handle it and did not for a moment consider anything but healing through Christian Science treatment.
Gratitude for every healing I’ve experienced and a desire to help others inspired my decision to dedicate my life’s work in Christian Science as a practitioner and Christian Science nurse.
The Good Samaritan in Fieseher’s column said, “God is my health insurance” and explained, “I pray that I won’t get sick.”
That is not what I have come to understand is the most effective healing technique after 41 years of study and success in healing. It is not a human plea with the Creator to “please don’t let me get sick” or “please heal me.” It is the understanding and conviction according to biblical teachings expounded upon by Mary Baker Eddy in her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that healing takes place as we acknowledge the true essence of our being as spiritual – not material – and held in perfect health always. It is the belief that we could ever be otherwise that eventually is manifested in the body in various conditions or diseases.
Most people these days have trouble hearing and taking in this spiritual truth. We have been educated to believe in a matter-based philosophy with matter-based medicine and physical intervention techniques as the only “reasonable” course of action. I, for one, grew up on it until my life journey brought challenges and experiences that began to convince me otherwise.
Even cellular biologists, such as Dr. Bruce Lipton, and quantum physicists in their latest and best research confirm that our bodies can be changed through retraining our thinking. However, it is not just positive thinking that has the most profound and lasting healing effect – it is the more than 2,000-year-old teaching that we already have perfect health. It is just our beliefs and misperceptions that need to change in order to see a change manifested in our experience.
Ask the countless individuals who have experienced healing through spiritual prayer alone if they would give up the freedom and simplicity of spiritual healing and choose to spend a large portion of their income on health insurance and resort to hospital visits, surgeries and physicians fees in order to heal. The answer is simple. Of course not.
Friends, acquaintances, sometimes even the attending physician, have often recommended to patients under medical care who were told “there’s nothing more we can do for you” that they turn to Christian Science as a “last resort.”
There are verified cases of complete healing of such patients and every Wednesday night in Christian Science churches across the world people share their healing stories.
So, Dr. Fieseher, you are right when you say we can’t afford no care at all. We can’t put our heads in the sand and use human will alone to affirm that we are well. We can’t ignore what plagues us morally and spiritually because it will eventually manifest in various ailments in our bodies, like cancer. But we can absolutely, unequivocally rely on God as our health assurance.
Let us as a community of concerned, compassionate health-care workers share our knowledge and experience and help those in need who are ready to try an alternative – one that has a lasting impact not just physically but, more important, morally and spiritually.
(Cathy Ann Horn of Gilford is a practitioner and private duty Christian Science nurse working in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.)
Martin Luther King Jr. had more than a dream. It was a spiritual vision of true tolerance and freedom without prejudice or discrimination that’s still unfolding. Dr. King preached nonviolent truths that inspire and work to promote peace with fairness and justice. These are time tested Christian truths that heal. King demonstrated the sacrifice of unconditional love that ultimately heals all impositions.
This includes the healing of religious and health impositions. The recent US Supreme Court ruling in favor of a religious organization’s discretion to hire and fire shows that religious freedom is still respected. We’ve seen such respect in our work in the New Hampshire legislature. The result has been many religious accommodations for the responsible practice of religion.
There has been progress with society’s acceptance of alternative care, including spiritual care, yet more work is needed. Some hospitals are providing alternative care because patients are asking for it. But only a fraction of alternative care is covered by insurance companies. Most is paid out of pocket. If the Supreme Court is going to uphold the PPACA mandate of insurance coverage, then the essential benefits should include alternative and spiritual care, including Christian Science nursing and treatment.
We can all be inspired by Dr. King’s vision of freedom and love for our neighbor. The universal and impartial love of God can be seen and lived in legislatures, churches, and homes. Over the years my wife and I have striven to practice cultural diversity with multifaith work in New Hampshire. About 25 years ago we lived in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. While there we did an interracial infant adoption. The infant’s mother changed her mind and decided to keep her baby. We eventually had a child of our own.
A few years ago, while our daughter was still in high school, my wife and I went through the New Hampshire Foster Care licensing program. We have fostered a number of children in need of a stable home. This work involves working with the parents too, even if they are in prison. One child was recently returned to his family. This was New Hampshire’s only successful reunification the social worker had seen in the past decade. The reconciliation came about through the realization that God’s patience and love needs to be understood and demonstrated.
The Christian Science Monitor recently published Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech along with a dozen of his timeless sayings: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0118/Ten-Martin-Luther-King-Jr.-quotes
• Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
• I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. –Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 10, 1964
• Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.
• Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
• I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
• When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
• Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. –letter from Birmingham jail, April 16, 1963
• The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers. –”Strength to Love”
• I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
• The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. –”Strength to Love”
“I have a dream” speech
Address at March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But 100 years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Thanksgiving is primarily a North American holiday, yet the historical practice of thanksgiving, of giving thanks to God, goes back at least to the Biblical era. Over 2,000 years ago, King David wrote, “I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord: that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” (Psalms 26:6,7) King David knew firsthand the blessings of glorifying God with a grateful heart for His great goodness. He prayed and wrote many psalms of gratitude to God.
Abraham, one of the first prophets to acknowledge one God, was surely thankful after realizing he didn’t need to sacrifice his and Sara’s son, Isaac, or lose his and Hagar’s son, Ishmael, in the desert. Both sons lived to form the Jewish and Arab nations. Later, the song of Moses expressed gratitude for the Hebrews’ deliverance from Egyptian captivity. And God blessed them with His Ten Commandments.
Christians celebrate Jesus’ healings which were accompanied by thanksgiving to God for His love for His children. For example, Jesus expressed deep thanks to God before raising Lazarus from death and multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes following him. Jesus taught that such gratitude heals.
Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic faith, taught his Muslim followers to faithfully and humbly bow in prayer to praise one God, Allah, five times a day. A more recent prophet, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith, worshipped and praised one God for His goodness while imprisoned in Iran. His sincere gratitude to God brought him an inspired understanding of the nature of one God and unity.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, established the expression of gratitude as a basic rule of Christian Science healing. Following the example of Christ, giving thanks to God for His infinite love is considered to be a primary prayer in Christian Science treatment for the healing of sin and sickness. Mrs. Eddy writes, “What is gratitude but a powerful camera obscura, a thing focusing light where love, memory, and all within the human heart is present to manifest light.” (Miscellany, p. 164)
Religious folks understand that a grateful heart is a healthy heart. Some secular folks understand it too. Studies show that spirituality, which they note includes a spirit of gratitude, contributes to a happy, healthy life. The opposite of gratitude would be a selfish, materialistic attitude. Whenever I am tempted to feel deprived or disappointed, I strive to overcome such unworthy thoughts with spiritual, grateful thoughts that acknowledge my completeness as God’s son.
Modern day Thanksgiving celebrations are for sharing with each other and for giving gratitude to God. They are for acknowledging His abundant good made tangible in His provision of food, shelter from the elements, progress in humanity’s health, peace among most nations, as well as progress with brotherhood and fellowship.
Thanksgiving worship is as relevant today as it was throughout ancient and modern history. Recognizing God’s abundant goodness and love helps humanity feel more satisfied. It aids in quelling the demands of materialism; the fears that would instigate discord and disease; gives inspiration and avenues to fresh ideas that would help solve issues such as debt and employment challenges.
The Bible promises, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: . . . . Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” (II Corinthians 9:8,11)
Committees on Publication Manager, Russ Gerber, recently reported that Pew Research found that 80% of us are online and that the most researched subject is health. Russ said that there is an abundance of information online about drug solutions to health problems, whereas there is not enough information about the mental and spiritual nature of health. This blog attempts to share some information about the health benefits of spirituality.
Spirituality is as old as God and the Bible. Today’s society broadly defines spirituality as what gives a person’s life meaning, yet it may not be a religious thing. Not all folks who are attracted by spiritual things want to define themselves as religious. Regardless, both acknowledge that spirituality has a positive effect on health.
The healing effects of spirituality in our modern era were loudly proclaimed by Mary Baker Eddy when she published her spiritual healing textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875. Here Mrs. Eddy defines spirituality as the spiritual, Christly nature of man, something that we can all demonstrate. The opposite of spirituality is materiality, which is what we all want not to demonstrate if we are yearning for spirituality.
More folks are thinking about spirituality and praying about their health, according to reports from the National Health Interview Survey. Three out of every four healthcare workers themselves use some form of complementary or alternative medicine to help stay healthy. Results from the survey of thirty thousand adults in 2002 and twenty-two thousand adults in 2007 revealed that about half of adults said they had prayed about their health during the previous year. Also, according the National Institutes of Health, 40% of us are spending $34 billion/year on complementary or alternative medicine. In this study, prayer is the largest component of ten alternative methods. Here is a link to the data.
Research shows that about 75% of medical schools offer spiritual care courses or include spirituality in their curricula. And most physicians and nurses acknowledge that spirituality matters. Yet some are finding it difficult to integrate spiritual care into their medical care. Most hospitals have spiritual care departments to do this. Many nurses and physicians strive to practice spirituality by giving the most compassionate care possible and maintain active relationships with their patients.
In a recent article titled “Hospitals offering alternative medicine tripled, based on patient demand”, published by Fierce Healthcare Daily News for Healthcare Executives, author Karen M. Cheung writes that forty-two percent of hospitals reported that they provide complementary and alternative medical services, and that patients are demanding it. Fifty-eight percent of hospitals also said that caring for the “whole person” was part of their mission.
Even the American Cancer Society states that spirituality and prayer help to heal cancer. You can read their report here. Recently a Dartmouth College professor stated in his class that religion improves wellness. “Believing in a religion enhances psychiatric well-being, fosters mental health and stimulates recovery,” psychiatry professor Rob Whitley recently stated in a lecture that was titled, “Religion and Psychiatry: Friends or Foes?” You can read the article here.
Over the years I have followed Dr. Larry Dossey for his understanding of consciousness being “non-local,” which he defines as “mind unconfined to the brain and body, mind spread infinitely throughout space and time.” You can view his website here. The head of the Florida Committee office, Bob Clark wrote a nice piece about Dr. Dossey. Bob’s article can be read here. A few excerpts:
Dr. Larry Dossey, who served as a battalion surgeon in Vietnam and later as Chief of Staff at the Medical City Dallas Hospital, describes three distinct “eras” of medicine in his book, Reinventing Medicine: Beyond Mind-Body to a New Era of Healing (HarperOne, 2000):
Era 1 medicine began in the mid-1800’s when patients were treated like mindless machines. Health and illness were seen as totally physical; surgical procedures and drugs predominated.
Era 2, which began in the mid-1900’s, ushered in the now widely accepted view that the human mind has at least some bearing on one’s health. Medicine was seen as including spirituality and prayer.
Era 3 is the future of medicine, a time when consciousness will be seen as central to health and healing.
Clearly the trend is that more and more people are using the simplicity of spirituality, prayer, complementary and alternative medicine to heal themselves. We are moving beyond depending solely on a complex, expensive drug-based healing system. This could lead more people to consider the teachings of Christian Science – that not drugs but God, divine Mind and divine Love, is the actual healer – as a valid approach to restoring and maintaining their health and well being. This would be good for society and should even bring the added benefit of helping to reduce health care costs.
The following is a thoughtful Huffington Post blog by Christian Science Committees on Publication Manager, Russ Gerber, also a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science from Boston.
Health and Health Care in an Angie’s List World
Posted: 10/4/11 06:54 PM ET by Russ Gerber
A lot of sectors are struggling in today’s economy. Personal experience isn’t one of them. Personal experience is soaring in value thanks to our technical ability to access and share information. Personal health and health care experiences are no exception.
A study from the Pew Research Center found that 80 percent of Internet users look online for health information — accessing and exchanging information on everything from symptoms and treatments to experiences with doctors and hospitals. . . To read more click here
This blog entry was written by Milford, NH Assistant Committee on Publication, Don Alusic. It was first posted on Don’s blog titled, “Peace RoundTable Spiritual” which can be found here: http://www.peaceroundtablespiritual.org
War and discord are serious impositions. Peace is something Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, worked for. Don Alusic’s work helps illuminate Mrs. Eddy’s consecrated healing work for the world.
Finding peace in the world – the first steps
First Posted on February 7, 2011 by Don Alusic
I yearn for peace in the world today and to know how to make a difference. Yet there are times when we must take a firm stand for what is right. You may feel the same. I had a series of experiences which led me to understand that there are things that I can do.
As a young man in school, I learned that the country (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) where my grandfather was born was being overrun by a powerful and oppressive outside regime. My first thought was to leave school, travel to that country, and become part of the resistance movement. At that time I decided to continue with my schooling in part due to the thought that it wouldn’t make a difference.
About 20 years later I visited this country with an aunt. It was still under the rule of the oppressive regime. By that time I had begun to understand that there are spiritual laws governing the universe and I was attempting to learn more about these laws and how they operate. I was struck by one statement by Mary Baker Eddy in her publication The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany where she writes, “The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me,’ — obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife.” (My. 279:11-13) I was looking for peace in this situation and stilling all strife fit this goal perfectly.
During my visit I felt a stirring of thought in people in both a large city and in a smaller, more rural town where we visited. Although I didn’t see a result immediately, I continued to study and to seek a better understanding of the statement above and the spiritual laws governing it. I was aware that many, many people were praying and working to see this country librated from the oppressive regime as well. Several months after my visit we received word that the regime had virtually disappeared over a weekend without a single bullet being fired. This event became known as the Velvet Revolution and people all over the world joined in the celebration. I was convinced that my and other people’s efforts played a part in this marvelous outcome.
I began to look for other examples of the operation of these divine spiritual laws that “still all strife.” This led me to develop a video documentary about the Peace Treaty of Portsmouth (New Hampshire) from a spiritual/religious perspective. This treaty was one where I could find material about how people held services/meetings and prayed or meditated to establish an atmosphere conducive to a successful outcome, and how the resulting treaty ended a war between Russia and Japan in 1905. Since my work began during the time of the 100th anniversary celebration in 2005, I had access to research, could attend many events that took place, and had significant support from many people working to celebrate and remember the signing of the treaty.
A web site that describes the documentary and how it came into being can be found at: www.peaceofportsmouthspiritual.com. Making of this documentary was really the outcome of prayer, the result of extensive leg work and the generous support of many people along the way. There were many happenings that pushed the project forward in ways that I could never have planned myself.
Although there is much more still to learn this about these divine spiritual laws, their operation and impact, this is where I started. The greater understanding of these laws in practical ways is the purpose of my web site. I will be sharing my experiences as I go and invite you to join me at this roundtable and to share yours. Warm thanks. Don
Dr. God was written by Elodie Reed, a student at Amherst College. It was published in the Amherst College magazine, The Indicator. Here’s a Google doc link where you may view it as it was published: http://tinyurl.com/ElodieReedDrGod
Dr. God – An insider’s guide to Christian Science
An average person’s reply to the words “Christian Science” is often, “What, you mean Scientology?” Though the names are similar, the two belief systems couldn’t be more different. (For one, Christian Science doesn’t have any associations with Tom Cruise.) In and of itself, Christian Science is a unique way of thinking about the world, and as with any religion, there are misconceptions of what it is really about.
To start, let us look into some of the history surrounding Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy founded the religion in 1866 after a bad fall in Lynn, Massachusetts, which left her in critical condition. Having prayed regularly since childhood, Mrs. Eddy turned to the Bible. After reading an account of Jesus’ healing powers, she suddenly felt well again. In the months that followed, Eddy continued to read and study the Bible, eventually writing what today is regarded as the Christian Science textbook: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which was first published in 1875.
Revised many times, this book acts as a guide for Christian Scientists, alongside the Bible. Science and Health emphasizes the spiritual interpretation of the Bible (looking past the literal and seeing the divinely inspired ideas) and details Eddy’s experiences with Christian Science. Though it was originally meant for all Christian churches to adopt, this did not turn out to be the case, so Eddy founded The First Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts.
As it did then, the Christian Science church service today consists of a few hymns, a solo, a brief silent and recited prayer, and readings out of the Bible and Science and Health, both of which act as the “pastors” of the church. There is no sense of hierarchy in Christian Science (no priests or ministers, for example), as one finds in most other religions. It is a “lay church,” where the members make up the church and use a democratic system to elect members to board positions. These elections include the appointment of two readers that run the church services each week. These positions change every few years. Because of this system, everyone is equal in the Christian Science Church. At the same time as the church service, there is also Sunday school for young people under twenty years of age, and there they are taught “Truth,” or the divinely inspired ideas from the Bible and Science and Health.
The purpose of going to church to hear the readings out of the Bible and Science and Health is similar to what most other types of church services are for: to give us good ideas, to help us to be better people, and to help us try to answer life’s big questions. In church, in Sunday school or in an individual’s personal study of Christian Science, the most basic ideas being presented by Science and Health and the Bible are about God and Christ.
The definition of God in Christian Science is, as Eddy says in her book, “The great I AM; the all-knowing, a1l-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.” (Science and Health, p. 587) In other words, God is a universal force that is everything, and is also all-good. From this, it follows logically that everything must be good. Anything that appears contrary to good, like sin, disease or death, must not be real, and is what Christian Scientists call “error.” This error, or evil, only exists so long as humans’ understanding or knowledge of God and his all-goodness is absent. Christian Scientists explain this with a metaphor of darkness and light: in a dark room, one can’t see what’s there, and the darkness looks and feels real, that is until the light is switched on, and one sees what is actually in the room. Understanding God and his all power is like waking up from a nightmare into the real.
Needless to say, Christian Scientists don’t believe in going to heaven or hell. We believe instead that the kingdom of heaven (or the eternal good) is already here and has always been (and always will be) the reality for everyone. This is because Christian Scientists emphasize, as it says in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). In other words, human beings are God’s ideas or his concepts, and we reflect all of God’s qualities of perfection, and so experience only those good attributes. Because God is spiritual, we are spiritual; because God is good, we are good; because God is the one and only force, we are one and harmonious; and so on. As we live our lives, we are working to see ourselves as we truly are – perfect, good, harmonious – and that is what the aim of Christian Science study is.
Enter Jesus. To be clear, unlike a lot of other Christian religions, Christian Scientists do not view Jesus and God as the same being. However, we do acknowledge that Jesus was more than just your average Joe. He was the son of the Virgin Mary, conceived through the power of God. For Christian Scientists, Jesus was the most spiritually-minded man to have walked the planet. He had the Christ, or expressed, as Mrs. Eddy says, “God’s spiritual, eternal nature.” Christian Science acknowledges everyone as having the Christ – you, me, the random guy on the street, everyone -since God is reflected in all of his ideas, or in all of mankind. Jesus best exemplified this idea. The proof is in his healing of virtually everyone who came near him (and others who were not even in his presence), which is written down in the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus saw man so clearly as the image of God that when someone with a health or mental issue approached him, he only saw a perfect, spiritual man in front of him, and this healed the person instantaneously.
Jesus demonstrated man’s spirituality in the extreme at his crucifixion. Though his human body was destroyed, he arose three days after to show that material forces (time, death, injury, hate, etc.) had no effect on his spiritual being. To Christian Scientists, his eventual ascension brought the idea of the Christ to fruition: He passed out of material perception, because he recognized his true being as spiritual, perfect, reflected in God. He never ceased to exist (in a spiritual sense), since Life, or God, is eternal, without beginning or end, and man reflects that timelessness. Christian Scientists aren’t waiting for a second coming: The Christ is already here in spiritual form; he has always been and always will be.
This may seem like a lot of explanation, but I must establish the Christian Science views of God and Jesus because they help explain the way we think about the world and, in consequence, how we act. The reason it is so important to Christian Science that Jesus was a man is because he could heal, and therefore we can heal too. And that is the basis for the practice of Christian Science: to rely on God for healing.
Not taking medicine is what everyone always associates with Christian Science. I am always asked, “So you can’t take medicine, right?” Halfway right. There is no rule that prohibits Christian Scientists from taking medicine. However, l and most other Christian Scientists choose not to take medicine because we haven’t found it the most effective method for treating an illness. We instead work to understand God’s love for us and our complete reflection of His perfection. When we come to this understanding and see ourselves spiritually and perfectly, the seeming issue, whether it is a bad cold, a broken arm, an unhealthy relationship, or any number of troubles that humans seem to run into, vanishes. Many cases of successful Christian Science treatment for every sort of issue (including what appear to be very severe problems) are written down in Christian Science literature, the most popular being the weekly Christian Science Sentinel, the monthly Christian Science Journal, and of course Science and Health.
I personally have experienced numerous healings throughout my life, as well as a general overall persistence of health. (I only missed two days of high school all four years, for instance.) One memorable healing experience took place about ten years ago, when I fell skipping on the paved sidewalk and landed very hard on my arm. My wrist appeared to be broken, and for several hours after, I was in a lot of pain, so much that I couldn’t move the arm. But after having my father and mother talk with me about God and his love for me and about my reflecting God’s perfection and wholeness, and thinking about those ideas to myself, my arm stopped hurting right away. There was no soreness in the days after, and it was like nothing had ever happened to my arm. This was only one of many times I have relied on spiritual care, on God, for solving an issue physical or otherwise.
Just as the medical world has doctors, Christian Scientists have practitioners, or men and women trained in Christian Science healing that people can call for help. These practitioners pray for their patients. This “prayer” is not what is typically thought of as prayer. Instead of supplicating or asking God for help, Christian Scientists establish and deepen – through study and thought – their understanding of what they know is the truth about man, God’s idea: that he is perfect. It is when the realization of this Truth occurs that the healing takes place. This sense of healing is also different from the norm: Whereas one typically thinks of healing as “making better,” healing in the Christian Science sense is an uncovering what is already there. Again, like the light and dark metaphor, the perfect, spiritual man is there all along, but one has to flip on the light, or have understanding, to dispel the illusion of darkness, or evil (which can take many forms, not limited to sin, disease, and death) to see the true man, one that reflects God’s perfection.
This whole “praying” and “healing” process probably sounds foreign and strange to most of you, but looking at it differently can make it sound more reasonable. Sometimes I “pray” on my walks through campus, in the sense that, when I see someone I don’t know, l stop myself from making a snap judgment and instead find a God-given quality about that person. For example, “She looks intelligent,” or “He seems like he could be sincere and understanding.” I look at these people as the ideas of God. And it sounds silly, but its amazing how much more pleasant my walk through campus is. Much of Christian Science is just a matter of mindset: thinking good, doing good and expecting good tends to result in seeing good.
I realize that I’m discussing all of these very Christian ideas in the magazine of a diverse and liberal college, whose readers are certainly not all religious. My intention is not to convert, but to bring a new perspective into the open. I discuss religion fairly often with my roommate and friends; almost always, these conversations are both intellectually enriching and practically valuable. After all, as a Christian Scientist, I don’t view myself as any better or worse than any other student on this campus, or any other person on this planet. There are a lot of questions I still don’t know the answers to (and I can guarantee the same for other Christian Scientists). We are all trying to figure out how to live our lives in the best way we can, and I have found Christian Science to be a valuable tool.
It’s worth paying attention
The dogs need walking, the garden has been taken over by weeds, the porch has more bare spots than paint – and yet here I sit. I am attending a meeting of New Hampshire Voices for Health, a network of consumer and advocacy organizations set up to help improve health care quality and affordability. Prior to today, I knew little or nothing about the Patient Protection Affordable Healthcare Act (lovingly referred to as “Obamacare”), debt ceilings or “the exchange.” My life revolves around maintaining our farm/home/family and earning enough to sustain my fabric addiction and horse habit. I leave money managing to my husband and politics to those I strategically avoid at social gatherings.
My husband’s work as an appointed advocate for the Christian Science Church in New Hampshire sometimes requires a little support on my end. I dust the office, stuff envelopes for mailing and, as at present, attend meetings to take notes.
The network, New Hampshire Voices, advocates “that no one in New Hampshire should go without adequate, accessible health care coverage.” They do not endorse any specific path to health-care coverage but collaborate on specific practice and policy reforms to meet the needs of as many as possible.
Our church members and others who seek alternative care regularly choose to meet their health care needs outside of the mainstream medical conglomerate and therefore are unable to find insurance companies that will cover remedial services, including spiritual care. The thought of mandated insurance is concerning to the members of our church. And as I discovered, listening to the individuals around the table, all New Hampshire citizens should be taking notice of what is going on. Policies are being voted on at the State House that will affect all New Hampshire residents.
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law last year by President Obama, basically determines that by 2014, all U.S. citizens will be insured. The enormity of the process to do this is mind-boggling. As a first step, the federal government added to the deficit by shelling out money to each state to come up with a system that would give incentives to insurance companies to offer plans at rates affordable to the general public. New Hampshire received $1 million. At first, there was approval to set up an insurance “exchange” – sort of like a department store of insurance companies and plans. The exact requirements for participation in the exchange, the costs associated with setting up the exchange, etc., are all details that the feds wanted everyone to work out by the beginning of 2012.
When people outside of New Hampshire hear our state motto – “Live Free or Die” – they usually think back to the Revolutionary leaders speaking out in defiance of whatever was oppressing them at the time. I can assure everyone that the spirit of New Hampshire is alive and well. Through passage of HB 601, state legislators decided that we should not succumb to ideology that has any fragrance of pressure from beyond our borders. They chose to send the money back. Yup. That’s what they did. They want the feds to reduce the deficit with our generosity.
So, here’s the current state of affairs: The citizens of New Hampshire are looking at the possibility of mandated health care coverage, starting in 2014. Politicians and advocacy groups across the country are attempting to challenge the constitutionality of the ACA. Those-who-are-way-more-informed-than-I feel that there’s a slightly higher than 50-50 chance that a repeal will not happen. New Hampshire lawmakers (who pride themselves on their independence and granite resolve) have to come up with a plan, without the federal money, that meets the standards set up by the federal commission by 2012. If there is no plan, or exchange, the federal government will then set up a system for New Hampshire. So much for our independence from outside influences!
Political symbolism abounds at the expense of practical progression. As part of declining the grant, the Executive Council said it did not want a particular vendor from out-of-state to assist with the process. According to Lisa Kaplan Howe, executive director of New Hampshire Voices, if the feds become involved, it is assured they will be using that same vendor.
During the meeting, there was discussion about how the federal government is working to resolve issues of the “debt ceiling.” In other words, how to keep from spending too much of the money our government doesn’t have. The usual solution is to cut funding from social support systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and others that support children in need, the elderly and the disabled. While this seems to be a separate issue, it definitely impacts the consumer on an individual basis through removal of services and higher costs spread over the population (cost-shifting). It will affect insurance coverage and costs as well.
This meeting, led by insightful and informed professor Tom Bunnell of the UNH Institute for Health, Law and Ethics and Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress, included individuals from the state Department of Insurance, AARP, Every Child Matters, Healthy Kids, and other organizations. It was comforting to see these dedicated, thoughtful individuals gathering to support the poor, the infirm and elderly. They are also determined to give their time and incredible expertise to the average citizen, the business owner and all who reside in our little, quirky state. But they are advocates – voices who help to amplify the quiet call of the “average Joe” – and Jane and Junior. They welcome comments, complaints, questions and insights that are general or specific. Their website is at: nhvoicesforhealth.org.
I left the meeting feeling jumpy and uncertain. How could I have gone so long being totally in the dark about this issue? What to do now? Call my representative? Volunteer for a politician? Ugh.
I will walk my dogs, weed the garden and paint my porch, but I also will continue to share what I have learned with others. An informed populace seeks the best for its members and is not easily manipulated.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. . . (United States Declaration of Independence)
Mankind’s freedom and independence have been sought after and celebrated since the beginning of recorded history – long before the above statement was written. Moses freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and brought them back to the Promised Land. Along the way God gave them Ten Commandments on how to live their freedom responsibly. The Pilgrims pursued rights of conscience and religious freedom in their voyage to the new land.
Freedom is not simply equal rights. It includes being treated without imposition or discrimination. For example, when slaves gained freedom in the United States, only half the battle was won. True equality still needs to be accepted and demonstrated. We all want to be treated respectfully, regardless of gender, color, culture, or religious beliefs. The removal of prejudicial attitudes from human thought has yet to be fully realized. But there is hope. The tenet of the Golden Rule that most cultures recognize advocates such practice.
Jesus spoke of another aspect of freedom – liberation from sin, disease, and death. One of the greatest proclamations of spiritual freedom was Jesus’ declaration: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) Today mankind is still seeking such spiritual freedom of thought, especially in its quest to be free from suffering of sin and sickness.
God revealed to Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, the divine Truth that Jesus taught and demonstrated. She authored a book that one might say defines the Science of freedom: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Along with the Bible, Science and Health continues to leaven thought and free mankind by increasing our understanding of God, divine Love, and His government. As Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Love is the liberator.” (Science and Health, p. 225)
God, Truth and Love, frees mankind from imposing government bodies or the sin and sickness of individual bodies. Truth can do it and Love is doing it. Fear and hatred are being uncovered and destroyed. The Science of Truth and Love will eventually be seen reigning everywhere.
Through prayer I have been able to maintain sound health for over a half century. During one early morning recently I was oppressed with breathing difficulties. As grateful as I am for the loving motives and services of doctors and nurses, I chose not to seek medical help. I gave myself Christian Science treatment – specific prayer to heal such a problem. The result was that in a few hours I felt freer and later that evening rode my bike for about an hour up and down the hills of Bow.
What was the truth that healed me? It was a realization of the supremacy of Spirit, God, that helped me understand and prove in a small degree the nothingness of matter. Mrs. Eddy described it this way in a July 4th, 1886 address to her church: “The day we celebrate reminds us of the heroes and heroines who counted not their own lives dear to them, when they sought the New England shores, not as the flying nor as conquerors, but, steadfast in faith and love, to build upon the rock of Christ, the true idea of God – the supremacy of Spirit and the nothingness of matter.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 176)
Shouldn’t such religious spiritual care be recognized and accepted as a viable choice? It has been practiced for over a century with effective results. The Declaration of Independence provides for this choice and freedom from discrimination. I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made throughout history and look forward to the day when respect for and recognition of spiritual care is fully demonstrated. It will bless mankind with a spiritual freedom even greater than what the Israelites and Pilgrims sought and established in their new lands.