Monday, October 25, 2010

Turning To A New Page

It came to me vividly in the middle of the night that the previous entry was an embarrassing miscue. I was going to delete it and scurry off in shame, but decided to leave it as a stern and pointed rebuke to misplaced priorities. Had I been listening more closely to God I would not have written so carelessly and hastily on the wind.

Wisdom and duty now dictate that future entries become occasional, i.e., only when there is a compelling need to say something. I realize this change will greatly reduce or even eliminate readers, but increased attention to my duty to God, to my Leader, and to mankind is the thing that is most needful now and is an activity which should bless others as well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Enchanted, But Let's Hope Not Enchante

Every child receives over the years an education of some kind. The few and fortunate are those who grow up steeped in Christian Science. Many get the traditional pedagogy of school and home, some dehumanizing tutelage in various Dickensian Dotheboys Halls (Wackford Squeers, Prop.), while still others are abandoned to the messy hurly-burly of OJT in the ways of all flesh. Only the schoolroom of pure Christianity will lead assuredly to a happy ending.

Plato writes in "The Republic" (Jowett translation): "Everything that deceives may be said to enchant." I wonder if some apathetic souls among us are not betimes a trifle jaded with animal magnetism and even aggressive mental suggestion, seeing them as persistently cranky and irritating, stoically resigned to their presence as members of their mental families, but not opposing vigorously, as they should, these errors and their vile offspring with all the strength of Spirit they possess. Bruno Bettelheim makes some interesting points in the Introduction to his book "The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales": "If we hope to live not just from moment to moment, but in true consciousness of our existence, then our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives. It is well known how many have lost the will to live, and have stopped trying, because such meaning has evaded them." And further: "To find deeper meaning, one must become able to transcend the narrow confines of a self-centered existence and believe that one will make a significant contribution to life--if not right now, then at some future time. This feeling is necessary if a person is to be saatisfied with himself and what he is doing." And: "Since the child at very moment of his life is exposed to the society in which he lives, he will certainly learn to cope with its conditions, provided his inner resources permit him to do so. [new para.] Just because his life is often bewildering to him, the child needs even more to be given the chance to understand himself in this complex world with which he must learn to cope."

Obviously Bettelheim is approaching the human experience from a wholly material standpoint, one which has nothing in common with Christian Science and sees the enchantment of fairy tales as an aid in personal development, but knowing this does not free one from the influence of this generally accepted view of man. Bettelheim's Freudian psychology may be passe these days, but its replacement is just as materialistic and must be rejected if one is to demonstrate Christian Science. False education is an incubus which cannot be flicked off casually from a mental lapel like a speck of dirt.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in "Science and Health" (p. 62): "The entire education of children should be such as to form habits of obedience to the moral and spiritual law, with which the child can meet and master the belief in so-called physical laws, a belief which breeds disease." Many adults would also benefit from a rigorous re-education along those lines. Those who missed the opportunity and blessing of a thorough Christian education are certainly not comdemned to an eternal limbo, but it is going to require some serious scrubbing of mental abodes and the application of liberal doses of strong spiritual disinfectant to put things right. The echantments of mortal mind may seem harmless at times, even, well, enchanting, but they are never so and must be rooted out mercilessly and destroyed like the noxious weeds they are.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

A four-page document titled "Alert", whose source was not identified but which is probably evident to many, was passed along to me. It bears the sad tidings that on September 10 Reading Rooms were notified that the "Complete Concordance to the Writings of Mary Baker Eddy" was no longer available in print and would not be reprinted. "Let them eat cake [Concord]" is their apparent--and it would seem cowardly delivered--message. The "Alert" mailing makes a very strong case for the inexcusableness of this action, as if a case needed to be made at all, though the Board is obviously deaf to concerns from a few hidebound fuddy-duddies.

The Concordance was a superhuman undertaking, a humblingly selfless labor of love by Albert Conant, for which no sincere Christian Scientist can be too grateful. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you think the Church would do everything it took to keep this indispensable work available in print even for those who feel as if they are being stigmatized as quaint Neanderthals for still studying Christian Science in books? Perhaps some helpful reader can explain to me why the BOD can easily find $750,000,000 to sqaunder on the Monitor television boondoggle and another $50,000,000 give or take (as I recall) to blow on the more recent white elephant and ongoing financial sinkhole, yet can't lay their hands on the insignificant few thousands it would take to keep the "Complete Concordance to the Writings of Mary Baker Eddy" in print. I was always under the strong impression that sedulous, prayerful study and pondering of the writings of Mrs. Eddy was of more than passing importance in gaining an increased understanding of Christian Science and that if they never did anything else the Board would want to do all they could to make this possible, but it seems that when the intoxicating vista of a real estate empire beckoned, it was even harder than usual for Mrs. Eddy to get their enraptured attention from her place in the rumble seat.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"King Christ, this world is all aleak"--e.e. cummings

As part of a recent religion in America report on the evening news a reporter stopped a placid looking middle-aged man who had apparently just stepped out of the church where he had attended mass. He was thrown a sissy pitch and asked to name the first four books of the New Testament. Sad to say, instead of knocking that one confidently out of the park he whiffed--whiffed! From his reaction to the question, nonplussed silence, one might have thought he had been asked to state and prove on the spot Fermat's last theorem. Studies may show America to be one of the most "religious" nations on the planet, but "religious" seems to be a Brobdingnagian garment commodious enough to fit any wearer who chooses to mark X in the box which asks him if he is religious.

Unfortunately, many religions, churches, and assorted Elmer Gantrys lick their chops at the prospect of a flock of these obedient, unquestioning, and pliable sheep who seem to welcome with relief being led around by the nose (and don't mind paying for the privilege) by any Pooh-Bah with a rope an a will. For far too many it is a comfort to turn over the burdensome task of serious study, thought, and prayer to someone else, and there never seems to be a shortage of someone elses. It was to better than many among us to whom Christ Jesus spoke when he said, no doubt with a leaden heart: "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."

Once again I hope I am not alone in finding the final section of this week's lesson, "Doctrine of Atonement", distasteful and unsettling. To end the lesson with Jesus nailed to the cross could only appeal to those who would delight in hearing the chant, as the curtain drops, of the gloomily doleful "Stabat Mater dolorosa" as they kneel reverently before a crucifix, trembling in ecstasy like "St. Theresa in her wild lament". If that horrific closing tableau in this week's lesson doesn't give any Christian Scientist worthy of the name at least a twinge of the heebie-jeebies I don't know what would. "St. Paul said: 'For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' (I Cor ii 2) Christian Science says: I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him glorified." (S&H 200: 25-29)

If you think this is really nitpicking at the bottom of the barrel please fire at will, i.e., affix a gently reproving comment. If the sap is beginning to run a bit thin here I can always find something else to do with my time.

Note: In reference to the note posted a day later to the second entry before this one, I have rechecked and find that in the November 15-21 lesson John 5: 7 is not included, but the more objectionable John 5: 4 is.

The 200 in the previous entry is an acknowledgment that it was the 200th entry in this blog.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Lines at 200

a nosegay for those who have patiently waited

Old seems are unrelieved by discord's strain.
The fish are reft which nets fail to contain.
False threadbare tares await the Fisher's touch
That tuneless strings made whole may sing and clutch.
'Tis not enough to ply the prayerful seine.
Dear Christ must point the way and mind maintain
So nothing's lost that He has giv'n a place
And broken thoughts are healed by Love's pure grace.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Dirty Thumb On The Bible Lesson Scales? --W/N

I cannot escape the nagging suspicion that something is at least a touch rotten in the Denmark of Bible lessons. I sense a nefarious tampering with the lessons over many years by hidden hands, sometimes conspicuous, at other times subtle, but still "darkness visible". No loyal Christian Scientist can deny the importance of the Bible lessons. Mrs. Eddy writes on page 31 of the Church Manual of "the Sunday lesson,--a lesson on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends."

Here are three specifics. One is in Section 4 of this past week's lesson, "Unreality", where Jesus spits on the eyes of the blind man (Mark 8: 22-25). Another is the similar instance where Jesus makes clay of the spittle and puts it on a blind man's eyes (John 9: 1-9), a healing which is used in the lesson of November 8-14, "Mortals and Immortals". The third is the healing at the pool of Bethesda (John 9: 1-7), which appears in the very next lesson, November 15-21, "Soul and Body". In my experience at least, these healings reoccur in lessons with what I believe to be suspicious and insidious regularity. In the current Quarterly all three are used in fewer than two months.

Well, so what? one may think. I would suggest that to give these healings unwarranted emphasis could suggest, misleadingly of course, that there is in Christian Science an openness to material aids in healing (i.e., medicine) or that there are other equally valid means of healing, as at the pool of Bethesda and that, ergo, Christian Science is just another gawky kid on the crowded healing block. Other questionable tamperings could also be cited.

Some will simply classify these assertions as the demented ravings of a paranoid kook, but once obvious misues of the Bible lesson have been perpetrated, e.g., Woman's Year shenanigans, how can a now compromised spring ever again be trusted to issue uncontaminated waters? If there is any truth to these assertions it makes it all the more important that one study the Bible lessons from the books in order to read the citations in their contexts and observe or fill in any puzzling omissions. Even if the above is hooey, though I'm confident it is not, it is also important that Scientists be studying on their own, beyond the Bible lessons, the Bible and writings of Mary Baker Eddy. How, by the way, does one study a pamphletized Bible lesson?

It has also been reported or rumored that in the fairly recent past some Bible lesson committee members were not even Christian Scientists. Pure baloney? Write the Board and ask them to assure you unequivocally that over the past 20-25 years--under their watch and their immediate predecessors' watch let's say--that every member of the Bible lesson committee has been a long-standing, well-seasoned, class-taught member of the Mother Church. That shouldn't be difficult to attest to if there are no skeletons in the closet. Don't hold your breath waiting for a reply.

Note: I noticed after this entry was posted that in the Bible Lesson-Sermon for 2 October 1898, "Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?", that the healing at the pool of Bethesda (John 5: 1-9) was, coincidentally, one of two healings in that lesson, the other being the healing of the woman "diseased with an issue of blood" (Matt 9: 20-22) for those who might be curious. What is much more notable, however, about the 1898 use of that healing in John (referred to in the above entry) is that verses 4 and 7 are omitted, thus ignoring the healing powers believed by many to be present in the waters when they were troubled. The healing focuses entirely, therefore, on Christ Jesus' unambiguous spiritual healing of the man "which had an infirmity thirty and eight years." It would therefore seem logical that if spiritual healing were the sole focus of healing in the Bible lessons, and why wouldn't it be?, that verses 4 and 7 would be eliminated in this week's official lesson. As I said at the beginning of this entry, I have some nagging suspicions about the purity of current Bible lessons.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

On Defense (And Dithyrambs)

I was brought up short once again by an article by Mortimer Carr (otherwise unknown to me) in the May 1946 Journal, "Protection and Defense". Perhaps I alone have too often let my mind drop into a rut when attempting to do my duty as required in Article VIII, Sect. 6, "Alertness to Duty", in the Church Manual. Mrs. Eddy there demands, in fact, that each member of the Mother Church "defend himself daily". It was easy for me to interpret this as donning, or at least clattering around vigorously with, an armor of truths daily. Somewhat to my chagrin--well, ok, a lot to my chagrin--Mr. Carr points out that would be protecting, not defending, myself.

He quotes "a dictionary" which states: "the inmates of a fortress are defended by its guns, protected by its walls, and guarded by sentries against surprise." Hosing ourselves down daily with a shower of the letter isn't defending ourselves daily against aggressive mental suggestion. I find the definition of defend in the Students Reference Dictionary (unfortunately no longer available, it seems, from The Bookmark or anywhere else) stronger than those in my desk dictionary. It (SRD) reads, in part, for defend: "To drive from; to thrust back; hence, to deny; to repel a demand, charge, or accusation; to oppose; to resist . . . . To drive back a foe or danger . . . . . To secure against attacks or evil; to fortify against danger or violence . . . . " One certainly doesn't do that with a feather duster of words or a sprinkling of politive thoughts.

Protection is defined, in part, from the SRD: "shelter from evil, preservation from loss, injury, or annoyance . . . How little are men disposed to acknowledge divine protection. That which protects or preserves from injury."

This article of the Church Manual is much too important to handle with butterfingered notions of what the word defend means, and Mrs. Eddy tells us that each by-law in the Church Manual obeyed and lived will contribute to our growth in grace and worthiness to be called genuine Christian Scientists.

Note: I am sorry if I keep giving the false impression that I do not want to write poems and post them here. To the reasons already given for my seeming unwillingness, I would add that when I sit down pen in hand to listen to the inspired whisperings of Euterpe or Polyhymnia I become instead a Quasimodo tormented not by "the bells, the bells", but those legions of cherished verses which come crowding in with their mellifluous elbows flying. It is too easy in such circumstances to end up with a poetic bricolage or pastiche, which I obviously do not desire. Then there is Shakespeare in all his overwhelming glory.

Finally, as to the cryptic, probably Chinese, "comments" I know not what, whence, or to where.