In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy refers to church as, “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle. The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.” (p. 583)
As I read this with my new perspective as a non-Christian Scientist, I have to perform some mental gymnastics to figure out exactly what she says here. Her word structure is, in my technical way of saying it, nuts (other ex-Christian Scientists have aptly called it ‘word salad’), and this post isn’t meant to be an analysis of her definition anyway. I will say that I don’t think her Church is found elevating too much other than its own position (well trying to anyway). It rests upon the financial underpinnings of closing branch churches and the bequests of dying Christian Scientists, not any sort of divine Principle, at least none that I care to follow along with. It is essentially a dying corpse that’s feeding upon itself to stay alive.
My inspiration today was the random thought just now (it’s 11:00 am) that if I was still “in the faith”, I would be warming a seat on one of the many empty pews in the local Christian Science Society here where I live. With the exception of two other people I know of who attend, I would, by a margin of over 30 years, be the youngest person in the church auditorium, and I am in my mid forties. I would also be one of probably around eight people there, and that includes the ushers and readers. It’s a dying church–literally. When my parents died, it lost two members that, as far as I know, have not been replaced.
I’m grateful to be living in an area of unparalleled natural beauty, and opportunities for outdoor activities abound–lakes to kayak on, forests and desert areas to mountain bike and hike in, and old ghost towns to explore. For me, it is paradise. Many a Sunday, I try to get outside and enjoy it. This is my ‘church’. Most of the time, I’m a congregation of one. Other times, I’m with friends. Either way, it’s a spiritual experience that the Christian Science church never ever gave me, despite years of trying to find it there.
I am so glad my eyes have finally been opened. Nice bonus, this church doesn’t take collection. It doesn’t need money. All it needs is to be enjoyed and respected. I’m happy to do both.