The largely successful desire to materialize The Church of Christ, Scientist, the Church Manual, and the administration of Mother Church affairs are in no small measure responsible for the Church's steady decline since 1910. This decay spread to branch churches as well, where there has also been, not surprisingly perhaps, spiritual desiccation and withering. Pride in edifices, personal status, and office, coupled with some old-fashoned cupidity and lust for power have, it would seem, set a comfortable and self-serving standard for the ambitious. The BOD's shameful playing of footsie with the Harvard Medical School a few years ago is only one example of this sorry behavior. Horoscopes, eriscopes, and Meow Mix are another, though somewhat shabbier, QED. One must be alert to the self-willed actions of moral prestidigitators who cynically employ out-and-out, but artfully gussied up, mendacities and tergiversations--on those occasions when one gets anything. Loyal Scientists might differ on the degree to which the above is true, or even deny it, but only a naif living in Pollyannaland could say it ain't so any more than "Shoeless Joe" Jackson could.
The catalyst for this mini-jeremiad was the Special Edition (February 2010) of Andrew Hartsook's "The Banner". Those who are familiar with "The Banner" are probably already aware of this issue, but others may view him as an unrepentant troublemaker. Except, maybe, for a few niggling jots and tittles his many newsletters have never to my knowledge been substantively refuted. He has been excommunicated by the Mother Church because he is a damned pest, not for irresponsible or inflammatory statements or actions. His facts are seldom reliably disputed, except for the facts of failing to praise the emperor's new clothes each time he outfits himself with a new wardrobe or, better, simply refusing to shut up. Others have tried to make legal headway on the issue discussed in the newsletter, but have been quashed in their temerity. There is good reason to believe, however, that this serious matter isn't just the vindictivenes of a few malcontents, sore losers, and crazies with too much time on their hands. It is a chilling tale that at least deserves a fair and thoughtful hearing, as well as our prayers.
Mrs.Eddy obviously knew that even as she breathed the sometimes poisoned New England air, materiality, materialism, had spread its tendrils into the ranks of the faithful. Some succumbed, some didn't. Each loyal and sincere Christian Scientist has a duty to "not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind." (Manual, p. 42) Period. This doesn't mean starting petty Hatfields versus the McCoys feuds over every holler of disagreement, but neither does it mean that a minority of even one must resign himself to agreeing with, conforming to, or supporting what he feels is wrong. A false, convenient peace only seals in the dry rot. Hauteur and Olympian disregard of the letter or spirit of any demand of the Church Manual are not likely to promote a vibrant and healing Church or reverse its sliding further into irrelevancy and obscurity. Sans refulgent and permeating Christliness in The Church of Christ, Scientist, even Satan wouldn't pick over the husks that would remain.
Note: A reader questioned the meaning of "Jealous Broodings" (the second entry before this one). Jealous as in "vigilant in guarding something". Broodings was indicative of the somber tone. It was, in part, a personal lament.