Tag Archives: prayer

Christian Scientists gather in Boston at denomination’s annual meeting; ponder the relevance of church

Boston CS church edifice with attributionPhoto: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, MA
© 2016 The Christian Science Board of Directors

By: Richard Evans, Manager, Christian Science Committees on Publication, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, MA

Boston, MA — When Christian Scientists convened in Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, June 6, for the annual meeting of their denomination, they faced a question that many mainline Christian churches also confront: can church be relevant today?

Their perspective on this question—as on just about everything else—runs counter to the popular narrative. “There’s a universal hunger for the heartfelt experience of God’s saving power,” said Margaret Rogers, chairwoman of the five-member lay board of directors of the Church of Christ, Scientist, which has its worldwide headquarters in Boston. “The demand,” she said, is for a church “that is vibrant with unselfed love and actively engaged in authentic Christian healing for humanity.”

For most Christian Scientists, this doesn’t seem to mean better outreach or new ministries and programs. It means drilling down on the thing they feel they bring to the world: spiritual healing, based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, that is expected to be both humane in spirit and effective in results. “We pray,” explained another director, Allison W. Phinney, “because prayer aligns us with how things really work. It lets us see and feel more of the immense good and the divine Love that’s actually here for us and for humanity.

Founded 137 years ago by religious leader Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science Church is a Christian denomination based on the Bible. While relatively small in numbers, the denomination has branch churches in more than 60 countries and has had an outsized impact on Christian thought by its insistence that God’s goodness brings not only salvation from sin, but healing of illness and suffering.

The group’s diversity is seen among some of the new officers announced at the meeting. The new church president is Annu Matthai of Bangalore, India. The new First Reader—who conducts Sunday worship and Wednesday testimony meetings at The Mother Church in Boston—is Louis E. Benjamin of Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The new Second Reader is Diane Uttley Marrapodi of Forest Hill, Maryland, USA. Many church members travelled to Boston for Monday’s proceedings, while more followed the meetings live online.

The theme of this year’s meeting—“Church: ‘healing and saving the world’”—comes from Mary Baker Eddy’s view that Christ Jesus’ original Christianity has deep relevance for the world and its future, and that church must be a practical force for good in daily lives, bringing hope and spiritual progress for humanity. One small symbol of this is the planned renewal of the Christian Science plaza in Boston’s Back Bay. The outdoor spaces surrounding The Mother Church will be updated to better benefit the community as an environmentally sustainable oasis in the midst of the city. A longer-term commitment of the denomination has been publication of The Christian Science Monitor, an international news outlet providing daily and weekly news, online and in print—news that is intended to bring light, rather than heat, to the important issues of the day.

Members at the meeting reported on activities in their regions, as well as provided examples of healing from around the world. Christian Scientists from around the world, including New Hampshire, attended this year’s meeting.

For further resources see: http://christianscience.com/press-room

Can prayer heal addictions?

Courtesy of Biblos Foundation

An abbreviated version of this post was published in the Concord Monitor (click to read). It also was published on Concord’s Patch.com

According to news reports, pop singer Prince had been dependent on opioid painkilling medication, and that he was treated for a drug overdose a few days before he passed on in April. He had made an appearance at a party the next day, telling his fans to “wait a few days before you waste any prayers.” His tragic death shows the need to take our faith and prayers seriously, to continue praying, and never to stop.
 
While the human reasons for drug dependency are many, and the pull of addictive substances may feel insurmountable, divine help is beneficial and is always at hand. Prayer can be helpful in healing the most difficult situations, even severe drug addictions. Not to appreciate the value of prayer in the most challenging situations would be a mistake, especially when there is documented proof of its effectiveness.

Even medical schools are teaching the benefits of spirituality and many hospitals have spiritual care chaplains. These support wellness and healing. The popular 12 Step Program is helping many carefully think through the root causes of addiction, address them, and through a higher power find healing from within.

I’ve found that effective prayer includes inspired thinking and reasoning, inspired study and listening – from a spiritual basis. More than asking the Divine for blessing, it’s acknowledging that God is good and pure, and that it is natural for us, too, to be good and pure, whole and complete. Prayer helps us to align our thinking toward this fact.

Addiction is something we can all defeat with God’s help. Although it may seem that the body and brain are craving a drug, the temptation and decision to take it is mostly a mental thing. Prayer can heal the seeming necessity for a drug, be it pain or pleasure, and prayer can help overcome any withdrawal symptoms. God provides the spiritual strength to resist and defeat what is addictive.

The apostle Paul promised: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13)

A friend was quickly healed of a lifelong smoking habit through prayer as taught in Christian Science.  While this habit was not as severe as an opioid dependency or addiction, the healing was significant for my friend. He came to understand that God is Love and that man is made in Love’s image and likeness, as the Bible says.
 
There is nothing loving about addiction, so divine Love does not and could not lead its children into the temptation to smoke or into bondage to any form of matter. Love provides satisfaction and completeness, health and wholeness. The realization of these spiritual facts freed my friend from smoking.

When we realize that these truths are true for ourselves, we can demonstrate dominion in our experience right now. We can heal addictions through prayer.

Tony Lobl, a colleague from England, was recently interviewed in an article titled, “Release from addiction.” Tony says, “What you’re proving through your healing journey is that addiction has no power over you. You’re proving that there is one power, one true influence, one God. And this belief that your addiction has a power over you is proved to be totally false because there is no duality; God has all the power, and we actually are governed by that power, and that’s what we’re proving in our healing practice.” Tony’s entire interview can be read by clicking here.

© 2016 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire.
linkedin.com/georgereedcsb

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

Placebo surgery?

Placebos have graduated into surgical procedures.

A placebo is a pill or substance without an active medical ingredient. The patient believes that he is receiving a drug. Physicians have found that the patient, unaware of the deception, may respond as if an actual drug was administered.

Five years ago psychologist Dr. Irving Kirsch, Associate Director of Harvard Medical School’s Placebo Studies program, reported that antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo in treating depression. On CBS 60 Minutes two years ago, Dr. Kirsch reported that some placebo knee surgeries are as successful as actual knee surgeries. A “placebo surgery” is surgery that is faked by the surgeon. The patient believes that he had an actual surgery.

In this 60 Minutes report Kirsch said “placebos are great for treating a number of disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, repetitive strain injuries, ulcers, Parkinson’s disease. Even traumatic knee pain. In this clinical trial some patients with osteoarthritis underwent knee surgery. While others had their knees merely opened and then sewn right back up. And here’s what happened. In terms of walking and climbing, the people who got the placebo actually did better than the people who got the real surgery. And that lasted for a year. At two years after surgery, there was no difference at all between the real surgery and the sham surgery.”

Recently, the reputable The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the results of another medical trial that also shows similar results between actual surgery and placebo or fake surgery. The report is titled “Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy versus Sham Surgery for a Degenerative Meniscal Tear.”

Although researchers and physicians have varying views on why the placebo effect works, most agree that it has something to do with the patient’s belief in the medicine or procedure. As more patient and health care providers come to see that thought and faith affect the body, it could serve as a springboard to a deeper study of the mental and spiritual nature of health.

At the same time, research into the impact spirituality, prayer, and religious practices have on health is on the rise.

The public these days 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 oriental medicine. Some of the alternative approaches have underpinnings that are tied to theological and/or religious belief systems and practices. Hospitals and clinics are adding “integrative medicine centers” at a rapid rate because the demand for such approaches is high. And 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.

Health seeker, health researcher, and New Hampshire native Mary Baker Eddy experimented with homeopathy and placebos. Homeopathy stops short of administering placebos outright; it attenuates or dilutes substances supposed to have medicinal value. Mrs. Eddy explains her experiment: “We have attenuated a grain of aconite until it was no longer aconite, then dropped into a tumblerful of water a single drop of this harmless solution, and administering one teaspoonful of this water at intervals of half an hour have cured the incipient stage of fever.” She continues, “The highest attenuation we ever attained was to leave the drug out of the question, using only the sugar of milk; and with this original dose we cured an inveterate case of dropsy. After these experiments you cannot be surprised that we resigned the imaginary medicine altogether, and honestly employed Mind [God] as the only curative Principle.” (Christian Healing, p. 13; this case of dropsy or edema is further described in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 156.)

This experience and others like it helped Mrs. Eddy to reach her conclusion that cures are not produced by drugs or chemistry. The effects of drugs, she taught, are produced by the faith placed in them by doctors, nurses, patients, families, and the public. And she discovered, as Jesus had demonstrated some 2,000 years earlier, that prayer is a powerful healing medicine.

I have found in my own experience that it is possible for a knee injury to be healed without resorting either to medical intervention or to placebos. I had severely injured a knee by running up and down a New Hampshire mountain with my daughter. I couldn’t walk for a few days, but through prayer the knee injury was healed, and when it returned a few years ago in a milder fashion, it was healed again through prayer so that I am able to walk, hike, and bike freely. My complete account of this experience can be read in the 2012 Christian Science Journal.

© 2014 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire

Find a health care voice: The individual mandate, individualized

The following piece was written by recent Amherst College graduate Elodie Reed, reporting for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript in Peterborough, NH. The original can be read online at the Ledger-Transcript website and on the Concord Monitor website.

Find a health care voice: The individual mandate, individualized

By Elodie Reed
Monday, October 7, 2013
(Published in print: Tuesday, October 8, 2013)

“This past summer, I, a somewhat politically ignorant, country-loving, New Hampshire native, found myself in the most unlikely of places: Washington, D.C.. As an intern for the Federal Christian Science Committee on Publication, the legislative group for the Christian Science Church, I became well acquainted with downtown D.C., spreadsheets, our legislators on Capitol Hill, and most importantly, the Affordable Care Act.

“As a Christian Scientist, I actively rely on prayer for preventative and curative care for any issue that arises. In addition, I have access to Christian Science practitioners for prayerful assistance, as well as Christian Science nurses and Christian Science nursing facilities, which provide religious nonmedical care with services such as bandaging, mobility, food preparation and bathing that allow someone to be physically comfortable while undergoing prayerful treatment. While the Christian Science Church leaves all health care decisions up to each individual, most Christian Scientists choose not to use medical care, relying successfully and solely on Christian Science treatment. Having never used medical care, medical health insurance hasn’t seemed relevant for me or other Christian Scientists … until now.

“With the exchanges opening up last week and the ACA individual mandate taking effect come January, myself and other Christian Scientists, like many people in this country, are left wondering what to do about medical health insurance. Almost definitely as a result of oversight in the rushed drafting process for the ACA, there is currently no religious exemption for Christian Scientists. Only the Amish, the Mennonites, and Health Care Sharing Ministries can claim exemption to the individual mandate under a ‘religious conscious objection.’ It doesn’t seem fair, however, for Christian Scientists to pay into a health care system that does not provide the type of care they have used throughout their lives — prayer and Christian Science practitioners and nurses.

“For this reason, it made sense for me to go to D.C., contrary to what would appear sensical from my self-description above. I had this wonderful opportunity to be a voice in a legislative issue directly affecting me, and I also could take the time to learn more of what Congress is all about.

“What I saw there was — don’t fall out of your chair — encouraging.

“By working with the Christian Science Committee on Publication to find a solution to the lack of provision for Christian Scientists in the ACA, I met people at every stage of the game: constituents, lobbyists, many staffers, and even some Congressmen. With most of these individuals, when myself and my colleagues took the time to explain our issue in a face-to-face conversation, something amazing happened: people not only listened from both sides of the aisle, but heard us, and helped us move forward on our legislative efforts.

“While Christian Scientists do not yet have a solution to the lack of a provision under the ACA, we have taken the first and most important step. By considering all the ways to be included in or excluded from the new health care law, Christian Scientists have learned how to be part of the political process, building relationships and becoming a respected presence on Capitol Hill. We have allowed our voices to be heard, and though the things we say may be quite different, they matter. Our health care needs, like everyone else’s, matter.

“When individuals become people and not just numbers, individuals’ needs are much easier to recognize, and address. Sure, there are over 300 million people in our country, each of whom has singular needs, but the more voices behind those collective needs that can be heard, the better. The only way you can address a problem is if you know about it — if you hear about it — first.

“Which is why we shouldn’t all just throw our hands up and say, ‘Well, to hell with it,’ about Congress, about the ACA, about anything. The purpose behind the ACA, after all, is to provide for everyone’s needs. The implementation may not be perfect (let’s be honest, right now it may be only barely functional), but like someone new to parenting, it’ll get better, it’ll become more effective. And eventually, akin to the weathered and dependable parents like my own, our health care system will find a way to provide for as many needs as it can, and for the ones it can’t, we’ll have been given the tools to figure it out.

“Elodie Reed, originally of Bow, now lives in Harrisville. She is a reporter for the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, covering the towns of Dublin, Jaffrey and Rindge.”

Mary Baker Eddy: Finding the Love that makes us well

The following piece was written by Thomas Mitchinson, who is a Christian Science practitioner, teacher and Committee on Publication for Illinois.

Many individuals comment on the power of love to make us well. One of my favorite observations comes from Dr. Larry Dossey, M.D., who wrote in his book, Healing Words, “If scientists suddenly discovered a drug that was as powerful as love in creating health, it would be heralded as a medical breakthrough and marketed overnight – especially if it had as few side effects and was as inexpensive as love.” (p. 109)

Christian healer, Mary Baker Eddy, also found that love was extremely valuable in making individuals well. One of her students once quoted her as saying this in response to a question about healing through prayer, “Just live love – be it – love, love, love. Do not know anything but Love. Be all love. There is nothing else. That will do the work. It will heal everything; . . .Be nothing but love.” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, p. 134)

Eddy also knew that human love, while important, was variable and inconsistent. She looked for something deeper than human love – and found it in The Bible – in the book of First John – where it states, “God is Love.” She found the invariable, deep love for God that restores, redeems, forgives unconditionally, and heals disease. She found this more reliable and powerful than just human love, and used Love (with a capital L – see again her above quotation) as a synonym for God.

Her Bible study led her to write the book Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, which she wrote to help others understand this Love that heals.

She wrote, “’God is Love.’ More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 6) She knew that it takes devotion, and sometimes hard work, to keep one’s thought filled with this love of God. The world can mightily test one’s faithfulness to Love. It certainly tested Mary Baker Eddy. . . At one time she was faced with a lawsuit that challenged her integrity. A group of newspaper reporters were sent to her community of Concord, New Hampshire, to see if something sensational could be written about her.

Eddy gave the responsibility for talking to the reporters to a member of her staff, Irving C. Tomlinson. In a book he wrote about his years of service to her, he wrote, “The chief man among this group, representing a big New York newspaper, was known as a particularly hard-boiled reporter and a steady drinker. He had been afflicted for some years with a cancerous growth of the throat, which was extremely painful and at times overwhelmed him completely.

“One evening as they were all sitting in his room at the Eagle Hotel, drinking and smoking, bored with their stay, this man was suffering with his throat; he had lost his voice entirely and was unable to speak a word. Mrs. Eddy had asked me to call these men by telephone and inform them that it was impossible for her to see them. But she cautioned me at the same time, ‘Be sure to ask for the leading man and speak directly to him.’”

Tomlinson was told that the head man could not speak to him. Eddy – who characteristically embraced even her enemies in the unchanging and universal love of God – had told Tomlinson to insist on speaking to this man – that if he could not speak, at least he could listen. He did – and he was healed.

Tomlinson continued, “the healing stirred these men. . .[They] had believed Mrs. Eddy to be only a humbug, and the reputed healings of Christian Science to be a great hoax. Their whole position was overthrown by this proof offered before their very eyes. They packed their bags and left.

“Some years later a relative of this man called at my office in Boston, and gave me the following message: ‘My uncle requested me to see you and to tell you that in his last days he turned to Christian Science, and he knew that he owed a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Eddy for his healing in Concord.'” (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 63-65)

Love. It is a vital ingredient in defeating illness.

©2013 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois – used with permission

Christian Science health care insurance update

The Federal Office of the Christian Science Committee on Publication held a Town Hall Forum this summer to discuss the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Law of 2010, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This post is to summarize what was discussed regarding the implications of this law for Christian Scientists, how the Committee is responding, and what you can do to help.

Last week, Milford Assistant Committee on Publication Don Alusic attended a local event sponsored by United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen and asked a staff member for an opportunity to discuss Christian Science health care insurance coverage. This led to a meeting between Senator Shaheen’s staff and the Federal office to ask for support for a Congressional bill that would exempt Christian Scientists from the Federal mandate to buy health insurance (similar to Massachusetts’ religious conscience exemption).

According to the new Federal ACA law, by 2014 all Americans must have or purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty. If you are covered by Medicare (for those 65 or older), Medicaid (for those with low income), Tri-Care (for those in the military), a Veterans’ insurance plan, or an employer plan, you will meet the requirement. The government will subsidize the cost for those less able to afford it. The penalty starts out small the 1st year ($95 or 1% of the family’s income), but increases to $695 or 2.5% by 2016.

At present, there is neither accommodation for nor exemption from these requirements for Christian Scientists. The Federal Office of the Committee on Publication, with the support of the Christian Science Board of Directors, has been working diligently on Capitol Hill however, and that dialog is progressing. They are proceeding patiently and prayerfully. They have garnered support from many legislators either to include Christian Science treatment and care in the benefits offered or to exempt Christian Scientists from the health insurance requirement.

By 2013, States are required to set up Exchanges or insurance marketplaces where individuals may “shop” for insurance coverage. New Hampshire voted to let the Federal Government set up the exchange instead. The New Hampshire Committee has been involved with the group helping to implement the exchange. We have received some support for the inclusion of Christian Science care in the benefits offered. Our goal is to be included in at least one of the insurance plans.

How can you help? Most importantly by giving this your prayerful attention.

Nathan Talbot, the chairman of The Christian Science Board of Directors, addressing Christian Scientists during the Town Hall Forum, asked them to affirm the God-given qualities belonging to each individual involved in the process, whether in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of government; qualities such as wisdom, patience, intelligence; and to recognize and celebrate the presence of the Comforter as providing the ultimate care for mankind, knowing that the human scene will find its appropriate adjustment.

Please see the Christian Science website for more information (FAQ), and to sign up for the periodic Federal newsletter: http://christianscience.com/federal