A year or so ago, I wrote this post where I offered my commentary on the well-known (to Christian Scientists, or anyone who’s managed to stay awake through a Christian Science Sunday church service) Explanatory Note.1 Well, now give a read to that post’s opposite–it may help you understand the rest of my post here if you do read it. Otherwise, this post here just looks like a weirdly random rant.
The Bible and the Christian Science textbook are our only preachers. We shall now read Scriptural texts, and their correlative passages from our denominational textbook; these comprise our sermon.
The canonical writings, together with the word of our textbook, corroborating and explaining the Bible texts in their spiritual import and application to all ages, past, present, and future, constitute a sermon undivorced from truth, uncontaminated and unfettered by human hypotheses, and divinely authorized.
~Mary Baker Eddy (Explanatory Note to the Christian Science Bible Lesson)
Reading this article, it would be easy for me to yell from the nearest rooftop, “GET A LIFE, LADY!!” Well, I sort of am here; but, that would be a bit like tossing rocks in a glass house (see my reference above to having written my own analysis of said Explanatory Note). However, what really got me, and just made me laugh, was how Lynn Mahoney, the author of this article, seems almost orgasmic in her love and delight about this short little paragraph. I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m just hard to please, but it takes a lot more to thrill me.
“Have you ever noticed how inspiring the opening explanatory note is…? Aren’t you in awe of the detail that is produced in such a solid and beneficial statement?” 2
No, I’m not in awe, never have been (even when I was a Christian Scientist), and certainly not now. Now, the Grand Canyon, the Canadian Rockies–those I’m in awe of; not the Explanatory Note. But, many Christian Scientists, and certainly Mahoney, do get quite excited about Mary Baker Eddy’s words in the same way the rest of us would be excited about a vacation to an exotic place. After all, most Christian Scientists believe that Eddy’s writings were the word of God as dictated to her, or as they call it “Divinely inspired”, and that Eddy is completely infallible. Mahoney definitely seems like the type of person who does stay awake through the Sunday church service (yes, they do exist). I think if she could (figuratively) spread the Explanatory Note all over the floor, she’d probably roll around naked in it.
Sorry, I’m not, and never really was in quite as much awe of the Explanatory Note–or any awe at all for that matter, but that’s just me. It takes a lot more to get me going. My idea of fun usually involves skis and a steep slope in the winter or a similarly steep slope and a mountain bike in the summer. I guess I’m just harder to please. I sort of wonder, if she gets this thrilled about the Explanatory Note, she’d probably fall into a coma if she saw the Grand Canyon. Now, that’s a hole in the ground I can get excited about.
“The next time you hear the explanatory note, I encourage you to listen and hear this amazing introduction. For when you dissect it, it really is quite inspiring!” 3 (emphasis is mine)
This article is also a perfect illustration to me of a tendency I saw throughout my life as a Christian Scientist of how some Christian Scientists get immersed in the most extreme way into the minutia of Mary Baker Eddy’s words. They laboriously mine Eddy’s words for deeper and deeper meaning, parsing them every so delicately for that little nuance of a deeper spiritual insight, and when (or if) they find it, they are as gleeful as a little kid with a new toy on Christmas morning. Some Christian Scientists will read and dissect the same statements from Eddy’s writings over and over again, word by word, over a lifetime, looking each time for some new and life-changing or healing insight and meaning. They will study and ponder each and every word; they’ll seek out the meaning it had in Eddy’s day (with the use of dictionaries that would have been contemporary to Eddy). Even the word placement itself and the punctuation she used get careful attention. It’s a tendency and behaviour I’ve always found to be bizarre. It’s also somewhat characteristic of cult-like behaviour. Oh how many times I remember sitting in tortured silence on a Wednesday evening during a Testimony Meeting as someone droned on endlessly, often in monotone, in a verbal exegesis of some way-too-familiar statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that was in that week’s Lesson, dearly wishing for the sweet release of death. I often wondered how these people couldn’t have something better or more exciting to do with their time, but to each their own.
Maybe I’m doing the same thing now, here in this blog–just in an opposite way, as I mock Christian Scientists and their sometimes orgasmic reverence for the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and their tendency to obsess over each and every word she’s written. I have spent a lot of energy and time in this blog analyzing and deconstructing Christian Science, its theology, and my experience as a Christian Scientist and now former Christian Scientist. Perhaps I need to get a life too. Old habits tend to die hard I guess. However, I will say that writing this blog is not something I get the same excitement from like I do from enjoying the view from the top of a mountain I just hiked, or seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, or that our friend Ms. Mahoney gets from reading the Explanatory Note. No, writing this blog is merely satisfying, like a nice meal. That was about the height of it for me when I got inspired by something Eddy wrote back when I was a Christian Scientist.
My friend and fellow blogger at Kindism has commented to me on more than a few occasions how ironic it is they now study Christian Science-related material (both the pro and con stuff, and Eddy’s writings) more now as an ex-Christian Scientist who writes a critical blog than they ever did when they were a Christian Scientist. I have noted a similar tendency in myself as well. Their spousal unit has pointed out this irony more than a few times. Oh, and I apologize to anyone who got all excited thinking this was going to be a post about sex–that’s a whole other realm of weird when it comes to Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science, and Christian Scientists. If you want to read more about that special bowl of crazy flakes, my friend at Kindism has bravely gone there. Click here if you dare. I have yet to dip my toe in that pool, and am for now quite disinclined to do so.
2 Mahoney, Lynn. “Insights from the Explanatory Note.” Christian Science. The Christian Science Board of Directors. 27 August 2012. Web. 20 January 2014. <http://christianscience.com/member-resources/for-churches/church-alive/blogs-and-audio-chats/blogs/insights-from-the-explanatory-note>