Thursday, July 29, 2010

Faith-Cure: All Hat And No Cattle

It was reliably reported a number of years ago that a certain oh-so cutting edge--and fatuous--commissar of the Mother Church stated that Christian Science healing is just one of many, presumably equally valid, healing systems. This fetid pronouncement bubbled up like swamp gas from the miasma of those dark years from which the Church has yet to emerge, years when the Board was giddily infatuated with the mind/body goings-on at the Harvard Medical School and had enraptured visions, apparently, of being BMOC in that tangled scrum. It doesn't take a vivid imagination to envisage the dank metaphysical backwaters that lie along that muzzy metaphysical bayou. One scary creature lurking in those black lagoons is personality with a "big, big P", as G&S might put it.

I recently encountered a fine article by Helen Wood Bauman in the March 1941 Journal, "Faith As A Factor In Healing", in which she cautions Scientists to be alert to the very important distinction between Christian Science healing and faith healing. Ms. Bauman gives a good summary of the dangers and limitations of faith healing, as does Mary Baker Eddy in "Retrospection and Introspection", "Faith-Cure" (pp. 54-55). The difference is, in the words of Mark Twain [I thought, but am unable to verify], as great as the difference between the lightning bug and lightning.

Any seasoned and sincere Scientist should know the difference and unceremoniously reject any flavor of faith healing. It is the tyro in Christian Science who is most in danger and who might mistake the slather of comforting words and "tea and sympathy" for the genuine article. Indulged in, faith healing will of necessity have a stultifying effect on the metaphysical progress of any student or patient, as well as that of the wayward mental physician. It is perhaps possible that I have conjured up once again a grin without a cat, though Mrs.. Eddy and Ms. Bauman obviously saw more than an insignificant grin. The hasty and unwise elevation of some Ethelreds the Unready may have put at risk naive or unwary students of Christian Science. Toadyism, a faithless willingness to give C.S. treatment for those who continue to receive medical care, and unquestioning adherence to the Big-endianism of the day should not be the litmus tests for one's fitness for the practice or, a fortiori, for teaching.

21 comments:

Mark said...

Another winner, Christian. You are a very fine writer!

CS (Ohio) said...

Must read this one again, to get all out of it. A solid entry, well worth pondering. Thank you for doing this, blogger.

Near Boston said...

You have said things here that have long needed saying, Christian. Right on! many will be happy to read this blog post I assure you.

Phoenix, AZ said...

Boy does this one have teeth in it. Wish our Leader could read it as I feel certain she would be proud of her follower for standing up for what is pure CS.

London (UK) said...

Bravo, Christian. A really fine essay which shows where your allegiance is--to the teachings Mary Baker Eddy gave to the world.

Rolf- Thank you! said...

Terrific blog post,Christian. A subject that needed to be dealt with in the very clear and frank manner in which you have done so.
I intend to recommend this to some of my fellow church members.

Milwaukee - C. F. said...

Well said, Christian. The title sums it up, those who mistakenly depend on something besides the healing method our Master employed, and Science makes plain. Are we grateful for Christian Science, or what!

Leicester (UK) said...

Marvelous essay! No one I know out here expresses metaphysical ideas as freshly and educative as you, Christian. Always a pleasure to read you.

Thanks much! said...

Thank God there are many of us in the Field, like you blogger, who have not compromised in what we believe and are striving to demonstrate--namely what our Leader told us is the way to practice CS. Have to look up "G&S", and "Big-endianism." Although you can tell us what these mean when you check your comments.

CS Practitioner (Midwest) said...

Precisely. "Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized." Mary Baker Eddy

Concerned said...

As a kind of public service announcement, I notice occasional comments in Japanese that some appear to believe are valid, heartfelt (if not understood) responses to Christian's posts. Actually if you copy the text into an Internet translation tool, you will the see comments are generally just mild aphorisms that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. The apparent real reason for the comment is that the link in blue takes one to a site that is, to say the least, completely inappropriate for the elevated spiritual subject matter of this blog.

On a different note,for those who may be interested, after some here suggested that I start a separate blog to cover historical questions in Christian Science, I have done just that, at: http://christiansciencehistory.typepad.com/blog.

That will allow a continuation of some of the discussions that were begun previously here on The Broken Net.

Dorothy (PA) said...

I think that it is only difficult for one to rely on God for healing when that individual is too materially minded, immersed in the false human picture. For the childlike thought which Jesus loved as our Leader tells us, it isn't that difficult.

Anonymous said...

Your plain-speaking here should encourage ones who may be wavering in their radical reliance on CS to rouse themselves and apply divine truths as our Leader intended!

AZ regular viewer said...

Looks like Christian has a helper here. Interesting about the Oriental language showing up. And as one who sometime back was hoping Concerned might get his or her own blog, glad to know of this step. I shall check it out.

NYC said...

Good for you, Concerned. Should prove helpful to many and for myself, I am quite interested in especially historical info about Mrs. Eddy.
And to you Christian: what a writer you are!

Southern CA said...

This one is vintage Broken Net for sure. A wonderful blog post, Christian.

A long-time supporter said...

I'd like to think "they" learned their lesson about accomodating CS to medical views. All they got from that exercise I imagine was disrespect, as well they should have.
Keep doing what you are doing, holding the banner high!

LowlyWise said...

This couldn't be more timely for me, since as First Reader I started this week a series of three lessons on "faith," the last of which will deal specifically with faith-healing. I particularly appreciate the reminder of Helen Wood Baumann. She was a formidable writer and the best CS editor of my lifetime, and I shall look up the article you cited.

On looking this over, a thought occurred to me about that hyphenated term. It could mean healing OF faith as well as healing BY faith.

To "Thanks M♠uch": G&S is Gilbert and Sullivan. The Big-Endians were one of the two political parties in Lilliput (Swift's "Gulliver's Travels) which as I recall took opposing sides as to which was the better end of an egg, the Big End or the Little End.

I can't resist saying that any reasonably well read person should recognize such allusions immediately, but that they don't says maybe we should reinstate the humanities in this country. IMHO, Christian Scientists would do well to be active promoters of liberal education with its wide and deep reading. But alas, so far as I can tell, at the one CS college on the planet half the students major in computer science and the other half in PE.

Concerned, I clicked the link in your post and it took me to the Dashboard page for your blog. When I clicked "Home" it took me to my own blog! You might want to do some troubleshooting with Google, though you can contact the Federal Government or the Deity Himself more easily.

Anonymous said...

愛情是盲目的,但婚姻恢復了它的視力。............................................................

Concerned said...

Hi LowlyWise,

Thanks for letting me know. That is odd. Perhaps the period got included when you tried it. Here is another try:

http://christiansciencehistory.typepad.com/blog/

If that does not work for some reason, Google the title of the blog, "Affection craves legend and relics" which comes from Mrs. Eddy's letter to Rufus Baker in 1899.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when "the one C.S. college on the planet" had the best history department in the world, and that was when Dr.James H. Belote was on the faculty. He was a military historian with a huge following among the kids, precisely because he was so un-"bleeding heart." He was Valiant-for-Truth, a shining light among the lefties and assorted flower children. He was too good to last, and died young, and I never could accept the C.S.B.S. explanations that followed in his wake. Miserable comforters all!