This is #2 in a series of posts looking at the 26 Christian Science Weekly Bible Lesson subjects, chosen by Mary Baker Eddy, and rotated twice per year. These lessons are the sermon at each Christian Science church worldwide, and are read by Christian Scientists daily. Today’s subject is “Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?”. Look for other posts in the category Lesson Sermon Subjects.
In the alternate reality universe of Christian Science, sin, disease, and death are as real as the mirage of a big lake in the middle of the desert. This Lesson Sermon topic gets to the meat of what Christian Science is all about, and also its biggest fallacy. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy, is the seminal textbook of Christian Science; and as I’ve come to see it, it is 600 pages of saying basically the same thing: sin, disease, and death (and matter) are not real; and what Eddy calls “error” (a catch-all Christian Science term for the bad things listed in this Lesson subject) is nothing. Yes, it takes a long time and a lot of mental gymnastics to deny the reality of each and every thing you experience in your life. Denying that reality does not mean it isn’t real. It just means that in your religiously twisted view it isn’t real. Accept that fallacious belief and denial at your own peril.
“When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea.”
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 495)
So for instance, if you get a cold or flu, with its concomitant symptoms of sore throat, runny nose, fever, headache and all that wonderful stuff, as a Christian Scientist you do not go to your medicine cabinet for relief. Instead, you turn to the Bible and Science and Health. You read and study various phrases, stories, metaphors, or what have you that you work around in your mind to convince yourself that this nasty flu virus is not real (try telling that to the virus, by the way); all the while, coughing, sneezing, and moaning in misery. I have done this miserable stupid routine countless times in my lifetime. Perhaps you call a Christian Science practitioner for reinforcement, and they will pray for you and “prescribe” a few pertinent phrases to ponder–all for a fee of course. Eventually, coincidentally enough in usually 3 – 5 days, the symptoms abate; and as a good little Christian Scientist, you proclaim a healing! Hallelujah! Come the following Wednesday, you eagerly go off to the evening testimony meeting, and proclaim your boundless gratitude for Mary Baker Eddy and her wonderful “discovery” of Christian Science in healing you of the belief of a cold or flu! No credit at all goes to the one thing that actually DID do something about that nasty little virus: your immune system. I’ll give credit to Christian Science for one thing: I probably have a much more robust immune system than most people do, from my years of suffering through various viruses and other nasty things without the aid of any medications or vaccines.
Unfortunately and tragically, the same approach is used by all too many Christian Scientists when it comes to much more serious diseases and injuries. I’ve seen it in my own family, and have read too many accounts of people who have needlessly suffered irreversible physical damage due to untreated diseases and injuries that can be fully and routinely treated or cured with medical intervention. Many Christian Scientists suffer and die needlessly because they cling all to steadfastly to the fallacious teachings of Christian Science.
As I’ve said many times before, Christian Science requires of its followers a massive suspension of the perception of reality, and any normal sense of logic. It is virtually impossible to explain it in a way that any normal sane person could understand–the previous paragraph here is, in a small way (sort of a “Cliff’s Notes condensed” explanation), my attempt to explain one aspect of how Christian Science is practiced. Believe me, I’ve tried. Interestingly, now that I’m no longer a Christian Scientist, I am more willing to give it a try than when I was a Christian Scientist. I have found in conversation with, and reading things that other former Christian Scientists have written, that I am not alone in this pattern of behaviour. For me at least, it comes down to one thing: since I am no longer a Christian Scientist, I don’t have to defend this indefensible philosophy, so I am more willing to talk openly about it. It’s much easier to talk about it when you also think it’s just as bat-shit crazy as the person you’re explaining it to does.
So, are sin, disease, and death real? Yes they are. They are all a natural, not so pleasant part of this thing we call life. We’re human; we’re imperfect; this world is imperfect. While I don’t revel in that imperfection, I feel a huge sense of freedom in simply acknowledging it rather than fighting against its undeniable reality. If it weren’t for these unpleasantries, I don’t believe we’d learn and grow very much; and I for one have come, due to the experience of unpleasant things, to appreciate more and more the good things that do come in my life. The unpleasant things teach us valuable lessons. It’s all part of the natural balance of the universe. I am of the firm belief that the universe naturally seeks balance–this is a bedrock teaching in the First Nations spirituality I now follow. Bad is offset by good, darkness by light, and vice versa. Bad things happen in this world, unfortunately. War, pestilence, injustice–it happens. If I were, as a Christian Scientist, to tell a guy who just got released from a prison, in which he was brutally tortured, and tell him that in “God’s reality” that never happened, he’d probably sock me in the face. It happened!
We strive for perfection in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve found that in Christian Science culture, there is sometimes a pathological intolerance for any sort of imperfection or straying from the “party line”. If a healing doesn’t come, it must be due to some imperfection in the sufferer’s thought, or that of those around them. This intolerance of even the slightest imperfection was prevalent during my work experience at The Mother Church, and it made my time working there often an experience of walking on eggshells every day at work. I also saw and experienced it in branch church work, and in my volunteer work with Christian Science-affiliated organizations. People made massive mountains out of tiny molehills, and verbally eviscerated those who didn’t measure up to their unrealistic standard of “perfection”. People starve, suffer, and die in many parts of the world, yet Christian Scientists argue and berate one another over such stupid “first world” conundrums such as whether or not kids’ artwork should be displayed all over the walls of the church, or what colour the new carpet in the church should be. Perfectionism in Christian Science culture is a pathological obsession. I am still working to break that chain in my own life (even in this blog, I obsess over the smallest grammatical details, and will go back and correct old posts when I see errors–old habits die hard).
I may not be perfect, but at least I am me.
I may not be loved, but guess what? I’m free!
I may not be beautiful, but I know I’m unique.
I may cry when I’m hurt, but don’t call me weak.1
(excerpted from the poem “I May Not Be Perfect” ~ author unknown–dedicated to Mrs. Middleton)
1 “I May Not Be Perfect (POEM)”. Wattpad. WP Technology Inc. n.d. Web. 9 November 2013. <http://www.wattpad.com/10885390-i-may-not-be-perfect-poem>
CS does demand “perfection”. I find that part of me suffers still from the idea if you do not believe that a terrible downfall is your own fault. When things in life do not seem to be going right, I find a small, very deeply buried, part of me thinking that it must be caused by something I am doing wrong – always. I am trying to break away from the themes I grew up with since infancy, and realize sometimes life just isn’t perfect – AND it is no ones fault. It is just life.