Friday, February 10, 2017, 16:45 | No Comments »

(Published in the Houston Chronicle, February 10, 2017)

Christian Scientists love the Bible. We feel the same love and adoration for Jesus as other Christians do. A recent commentary in the Chronicle (Prosperity gospel may be United States’ new civil religion) left a number of misimpressions about both our values and our understanding of Jesus’ teaching.  

Christian Science is not a form of the Prosperity Gospel. It does not teach that “God dispenses material wealth and health based on what we ‘decree’”.  Christian Scientists don’t turn to God for money or to somehow get God to do what we want. True prayer as we understand it begins with the humble desire to learn more of God’s presence and goodness – to seek His will, not one’s own.

In this spirit, yes, we find that human needs are met in the way Jesus met them. But he taught, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt 6:33 New Living Translation). To lose sight of his emphasis on seeking God “above all else” is to lose the spirit of unselfish love that empowers real prayer.

Healing in this sense is a spiritual phenomenon. God is the healer. The denomination’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, taught that healing through prayer takes place when the human consciousness is inspired by what the apostle Paul called the “mind … which was also in Christ” (Philippians 2:5). In her own earlier search for physical health, Eddy experimented with several differing healing modalities, including for a time the suggestion therapy practiced by the figure mentioned in the article, Phineas Quimby. But this experience didn’t shape her teaching; it actually led her to the conclusion that the human mind is not the healer.

Christian Scientists’ practice of Christian healing has often been misunderstood, but it’s based on the conviction that deep inner yielding to God can bring outward change, regeneration, and healing in people’s lives today as in the early Christian era.

– Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 12:31 | No Comments »

We thought Texans would be interested in a Christian Scientist's view of vaccination.

(Published at health4thinkers.com)

The recent public controversy over vaccination has produced strong opinions – and surprising divisions – in contemporary Australia on the competing concerns of public health and toleration of diversity. In a recent “Open for Discussion” interview (“Vaccination – A researcher’s insight”, October 20), Associate Professor Julie Leask spoke of the need to reach out for the cooperation of the “people in the middle” on this issue, and that’s where I find myself – perhaps surprisingly to many – as a Christian Scientist. The long experience of Christian Scientists as a religious minority might in some ways point to the possibilities of a “middle path” of mutual respect and understanding.

For many years, Christian Scientists have been known for their practice of prayer and spiritual healing.

For many years, too, our relationships with public health departments have generally been mutually respectful and cooperative.

As one state agency in the United States, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, described it in an article on “Christian Science and Community Medicine” back in 1974, this relationship has involved a measure of give-and-take on both sides:

“The Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded and has its headquarters in Boston. Although Massachusetts has not always led in accommodating the beliefs of minorities, it has respected philosophic and jurisdictional limits through regulation by state and local health departments. In part, this mutual tolerance owes much to the original teaching of [Mary Baker] Eddy, [the church’s founder]. In modern practice, the Church has also drawn a careful distinction between what the individual may be forced to do against his own beliefs and what society may reasonably expect him to do for the general good…” (Massachusetts Department of Public Health, The New England Journal of Medicine, 2/14/1974, 401-2).

In Australia as in the U.S., public health officials in the past have been broadly supportive of religious exemptions from the requirements of vaccination when such exemptions were not considered a danger to the wider community. Christian Scientists in turn have appreciated this consideration and conscientiously reported suspected communicable disease. We strive to cooperate fully with quarantines and other measures considered necessary by public health officials in these cases as well as in times of general outbreaks. This has been a matter of basic Golden Rule ethics in our healing practice going back, as the Massachusetts official noted, to the church’s founder.

As I negotiated the challenges of parenting in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I chose to have our children vaccinated in respect for my husband’s differing beliefs and my own concern for the possibility, when my children became adults, they might question why I had not immunized them medically. Although aware of the legislative accommodation then in place permitting exemption from the immunization requirement, I did not seek that exemption. Because love for God and every individual is at the core of Christian Science practice, church members are free to make their own choices on all life-decisions, in obedience to the law, including whether or not to vaccinate their children. These aren’t decisions imposed by their church. We hope this kind of two-way relationship may still be possible in today’s environment.

Naturally, I’ve followed with great interest the current discussion about vaccination. While others objected to the changes in legislation, the Christian Science church has recognised that laws such as this may need to be re-thought and re-balanced in response to changing circumstances and conditions.

Over many years, because of the small number of Christian Scientists in the population, the exemption from vaccination was not considered, in medical terms, to represent a danger to the rest of the population. In more recent years, this has changed as the use of the exemption widened and public concerns over the number of unvaccinated individuals grew. For this reason Christian Scientists did not oppose the withdrawing of the exemption in Australia in 2015. The practice of Christian Science has been part of my way of life for decades and a practice that I’ve tried to approach responsibly and conscientiously. My own healing of infertility has been a landmark for me and is detailed on the Lismore Northern Star news site.

We share the desire of most Christians for the common good and value those professions and institutions that seek to better the human condition – including the medical profession – even though we choose to take a different route in our own approach to healing. In most cases, it’s a conscientious choice and part of a broader way of life that’s deeply meaningful to us even in this age of high tech.

Our actual experiences of healing obviously factor in. They are by no means all trivial or self-diagnosed. Many experiences have been life-changing. Some have been life-saving. They challenge medical assumptions and, even more profoundly, conventional material assumptions about the nature and processes of life. They point to the same tremendous spiritual reality and love that broke into people’s lives with original Christianity when it was new.

I’ve heard many testify of such healings over the years and I have visited the Christian Science church on Broadway across from the University. The accounts from Australia published recently in the denomination’s periodicals include, to mention a few, a healing of a paratrooper’s knee injury, a young woman’s healing of a severe head wound after an accident, a healing of life-long allergies, and the healing of multiple fractures.

I hope these comments will convey more fully what the practice of spiritual healing has meant in many Christian Scientists’ lives, and why it means so much to us. These healings suggest that there truly may be no incurable conditions. Though there are obviously cases that are not cured. Christian Scientists don’t attribute these either to God’s will or to personal guilt. Consistent effectiveness in spiritual healing requires a high level of dedication and above all love, just as the best of medical practice does. You can’t judge this healing practice by a particular case any more than you could judge or indict vaccination because of contrary individual results. In the long term, our community’s protection from dangers may depend as much or more on a culture of toleration, respect and love — in a Christian Scientists’ view, some spiritual understanding of God’s power and presence — as it does on any technological advances.

Kay Stroud
Christian Science Committee on Publication
Northern-Eastern Australia

 


Saturday, January 7, 2017, 18:32 | No Comments »

(Published in the Houston Chronicle, March 1, 2016)

In 1907, a New York newspaperman was sent, with other reporters, to dig up sensational stories about a woman in Concord, New Hampshire. That year, a popular magazine had described her as, “The most famous, interesting and powerful woman in America, if not in the world, today.”

It was said that these newsmen were a belligerent bunch of old-timers looking for a scandal. After staying in Concord for some time, they were surprised at the loving treatment they received from the woman’s workers and friends. They wanted to hold the woman up to scorn and ridicule.

The New York newsman was known as a hard-nosed reporter. For many years he suffered from a cancerous growth on his throat that left him unable to speak at times and in extreme pain. But if he was looking to dig up the dirt on Mary Baker Eddy, he would have been surprised to find that the only scoop he took back to New York was knowledge of the healing power behind this women’s spiritual discovery. He went away cured of his cancer because of her Christian love.

This woman was no punching bag, but a powerhouse of spiritual strength, at a time when society considered men superior to women. She was the founder and leader of a worldwide religious movement at a time when women held only subordinate positions in Church and State. She was founder and president of a teaching college at a time when women were denied equal access to education and kept out of most professions. Here was a woman who was front-page news at a time when women’s history was being suppressed.

This was a woman who had struggled with poor health and financial and emotional hardship throughout her youth and early adulthood. Yet, she overcame these challenges through an inspired search of the Bible (especially a deep dive into Jesus’ healing work) and went on to become a “famous, interesting and powerful woman.”

Well over a century has passed since its publication, yet, today, her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is still read throughout the world. The ideas in its pages continue to heal.

The Christian Science Monitor, the Pulitzer prize-winning newspaper she founded at the age of 87, is also still in print (and on the Internet) a century later. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, which Eddy founded and designed to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing,” has also been alive and active for over a hundred years. So has the Board of Education at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, serving in auxiliary to the Massachusetts Metaphysical College she founded.

What a legacy. Yet, before there was a book, a newspaper, a church, or a college, Eddy had discovered a divine Science. It is this Science of Christ, Christian Science, which is inspiring and healing people. Her writings explain this Science of spiritual healing. Her church promotes, protects, and publishes it. Her college prepares teachers of it. And her newspaper is designed to “spread undivided the Science which operates unspent” – providing unbiased news reporting that invites readers to care enough about world conditions to bring their healing prayer to bear on them.

Eddy’s life, love, and work influenced the world of her time. Today, they are still touching and transforming lives.

If you would like to further explore her life accomplishments, you can do so at The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.

And even if you look into her ideas hoping to dig up some dirt on her, don’t be surprised if you, too, come away healed.

- Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas


Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 09:36 | No Comments »

(Published in the Jacksonville Progress, July 28, 2016)

The author of the July 21 article “BMA Seminary to offer course in comparative religions this fall” writes “The course will compare tenets of Christianity with those of major world religions and domestic cults ...”

One of the denominations the author mentions that the course will look at is Christian Science. Christian Science (The Church of Christ, Scientist) is a Christian religion. Mary Baker Eddy thought of herself as a Christian (half her life as a member of the Congregational Church in New Hampshire). She didn’t become something less than a Christian when she founded Christian Science. Her love of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus led her to found a church devoted to those teachings.

Christian Scientists believe that Jesus Christ shows us that we have a capacity to follow him, to obey him, to find the authority to heal, to cure, even.

St. John writes: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Cults are defined by veneration of person. Christian Scientists worship God and look to Jesus Christ as their way shower. They follow Christ, not person.

While writing this letter, I am reminded of the humble words a friend once shared with a group of Christian leaders: “I know that there are some of you who may not think I belong at the table, but I’m sure glad all of you are at the table. I’ve learned deeply from your presence.”

- Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas


Thursday, December 8, 2016, 22:13 | No Comments »

(Published in the Herald Democrat, June 4, 2016)

The article "Local Catholic churches react to idea of women deacons" posted on May 26 at HeraldDemocrat.com concluded with a list of churches that “also allow women to become ordained as ministers.” Included in the list, which was originally drawn from the Huffington Post, was the “Christian Science” Church, or the Church of Christ, Scientist, founded by Mary Baker Eddy. The denomination doesn’t have ordained ministers today, but it was one of the earliest Christian groups in this country to recognize the equality of women and men in its organizational structure.

In 1879, the Christian Science Church was formed. Two months later, Mary Baker Eddy accepted the call by the Church’s first twenty-six members to be the pastor of the Church and was ordained in 1881.

Several years later, Eddy reorganized the denomination so that Christian Science congregations were no longer led by individual pastors in the traditional sense. From then on two books, the Bible and Eddy’s work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, served as the basis for our worship services and were considered our ordained “pastor”. It’s an unusual arrangement, but both books continue to offer pastoral-like guidance and inspiration to Christian Scientists and other readers today.

Christian Science remains strictly a church of laymen and laywomen. Two elected members, usually a man and a woman, who are referred to as Readers, conduct Sunday Church services. One of these Readers conducts Wednesday testimony services. The Readers read a Bible lesson-sermon that is comprised of selected passages from the Bible and Science and Health.

Readers are elected by the membership because of their spiritual, moral, and intellectual qualifications. And although not officially ordained as clergywomen, thousands of women are unselfishly serving the denomination by conducting weekly Sunday and Wednesday services. As the history illustrates, this equality isn’t a gesture of “political correctness,” but reflects deep spiritual convictions anchored in biblical faith.

- Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas


Thursday, December 8, 2016, 22:05 | No Comments »

The PBS program “In Their Own Words” which documented Jim Henson’s life aired throughout the US September 1-15. Henson is most known for his funny and playful Muppets.

Throughout the program, friends and family describe Henson as a creative genius and a good man who treated everyone with respect. The interviewees state, “He had a higher calling in mind, which is to be good,” and “He rarely got sick.”

An interviewee, as well, mentions that Henson’s mother was a Christian Scientist but that he didn’t practice the religion. And, unfortunately, the interviewee then implies that Christian Science must have influenced his passing because he avoided doctors.

Is it fair to pick and choose what influence Christian Science may have had on Henson’s life, when he is not here to speak for himself?

What if Christian Science was the reason he was so creative, had vision, and was such a good man? What if “he rarely got sick” because of the early Christian Science influence? And why would he need to avoid doctors if “he rarely got sick”?

The Christian Scientists I know don’t avoid what makes them healthy and successful. They utilize Christian Science prayerful treatment as a first choice for their health care needs because of its effectiveness in their lives.   

I enjoyed the PBS program. I learned of Henson’s special imagination and ingenuity. Too bad speculation clouded a small portion of it.

- Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas

 


Thursday, December 8, 2016, 22:00 | No Comments »

(Published in the Houston Chronicle & Waxahachie Daily Lite, July 19, 2016)

No one makes a better Dory than Ellen DeGeneres, the voice of the poignantly lovable/hilarious title character in Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Finding Dory. In a recent interview, Ellen spoke of her childhood and mentioned her parents’ religion, Christian Science. 

I’ve never met the family and obviously can’t speak to their situation. I can say that pretending to be happy when one isn’t, or merely telling oneself that “everything is fine all the time,” isn’t what Christian Science teaches.

Jesus told his followers to “abide” in the love he was showing them, so that “my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” No more than other Christians do Christian Scientists equate this abiding joy with mindless happy talk, or psychological repression, or refusal to deal with negative feelings and aspects of human life.

Perhaps most parents would tell us that they wish they could be better at recognizing when their children are mentally struggling. I suppose we could all ask ourselves as we attempt to have our emotions validated, are we hugging tight to what we are not? Honesty is expressed freely by those who are getting to know themselves. Christian Scientists see this as, most profoundly, getting to know themselves as God, divine Love, truly knows all of us — not as damaged, inadequate mortals, but as the spiritual image and likeness of God, complete and wholly beloved.

Ellen DeGeneres explained of her TV show, “It is a happy show, on purpose. . . .” And it certainly is. How important to know that happiness doesn’t have to be forced, outlasts the struggles that would diminish it, and ultimately has its source in an infinite Love that encompasses everyone.

- Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas


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