This is #6 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 “Mind”. Look for other posts in the category “Lesson Sermon Subjects“.
Mind is an interesting subject in connection to Christian Science. “Mind” is sometimes used by Christian Scientists when they mean to say “brain”, but of course, since the brain is part of the body, and all that material stuff is supposed to be unreal, they don’t like that word “brain”, even if that’s what they really mean. The level of discomfort with the idea of “brain” amongst Christian Scientists is oddly high. Just one of many in the expansive gallery of weird Christian Scientist hang-ups.
So, what is Mind? First of all, for the uninitiated to Christian Science, I capitalize “Mind” in keeping with what I call “Christian Science grammar“. When “Mind” is capitalized, that means it is in reference to being one of Mary Baker Eddy’s seven synonyms for God, of which Mind is one. So anyway, what is Mind in the Christian Science universe?
MIND. The only I or Us; the only Spirit, Soul, divine Principle, substance, Life, Truth, Love; the one God; not that which is in man, but the divine Principle, or God, of whom man is the full and perfect expression; Deity, which outlines but is not outlined.
OK…so is that clear to you? No, I didn’t think so. That definition has never been all that clear to me, and is even less so now that I’m out of the mental fun-house of Christian Science. I’ve now re-read that definition three more times in the last few minutes since I typed it out, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.
What I can tell you is what Mind was to me as a Christian Scientist. Often, it was a word I used instead of saying “brain”, since in the Christian Science universe, “brain” is kind of a bad word, sort of like saying penis or vagina in polite company. It is often used in reference to what I’d best describe as sentient intelligence, without reducing it (in the mind of the Christian Scientist) to the level of matter or mortal mind–both of which are entirely illusory and unreal according to Christian Science theology.
For me, thinking about the topic of Mind brings to the fore one of the biggest, and as I think back now with my non-Christian Scientist perspective, oddest taboos in Christian Science: the nature of intelligence and consciousness. Like it or not, we think with our brain, and it controls our bodily functions to a large degree. The scientific jury may still be out as to what exactly consciousness is, but whatever it is, it seems to be largely resident in the brain. In Christian Science, the brain, body–all of that is a falsity; an illusion. Yet, we cannot deny that it is very real. You damage the brain, you lose functionality. You injure the body, same thing. It’s an inescapable reality, yet Christian Science asks you to suspend this reality. It’s not easy to do; I never was able to do it, and I doubt even the most erudite Christian Scientist I ever knew could fully do it. I don’t think even Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who got Christian Science started could do it. After all, it is well documented that she regularly used morphine in her later years to alleviate pain.