Tag Archives: Christian Science

Christian Scientists gather in Boston at denomination’s annual meeting; ponder the relevance of church

By:  Richard Evans, Manager, Christian Science Committees on Publication

Boston, MA — When Christian Scientists convened in Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, June 6, for the annual meeting of their denomination, they faced a question that many mainline Christian churches also confront: can church be relevant today?

CS church edifice with attribution

Their perspective on this question—as on just about everything else—runs counter to the popular narrative. “There’s a universal hunger for the heartfelt experience of God’s saving power,” said Margaret Rogers, chairwoman of the five-member lay board of directors of the Church of Christ, Scientist, which has its worldwide headquarters in Boston. “The demand,” she said, is for a church “that is vibrant with unselfed love and actively engaged in authentic Christian healing for humanity.”

For most Christian Scientists, this doesn’t seem to mean better outreach or new ministries and programs. It means drilling down on the thing they feel they bring to the world: spiritual healing, based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, that is expected to be both humane in spirit and effective in results. “We pray,” explained another director, Allison W. Phinney, “because prayer aligns us with how things really work. It lets us see and feel more of the immense good and the divine Love that’s actually here for us and for humanity.”

Founded 137 years ago by religious leader Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science Church is a Christian denomination based on the Bible. While relatively small in numbers, the denomination has branch churches in more than 60 countries and has had an outsized impact on Christian thought by its insistence that God’s goodness brings not only salvation from sin, but healing of illness and suffering.

The group’s diversity is seen among some of the new officers announced at the meeting. The new church president is Annu Matthai of Bangalore, India. The new First Reader—who conducts Sunday worship and Wednesday testimony meetings at The Mother Church in Boston—is Louis E. Benjamin of Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The new Second Reader is Diane Uttley Marrapodi of Forest Hill, Maryland, USA. Many church members travelled to Boston for Monday’s proceedings, while more followed the meetings live online.

The theme of this year’s meeting—“Church: ‘healing and saving the world’”—comes from Mary Baker Eddy’s view that Christ Jesus’ original Christianity has deep relevance for the world and its future, and that church must be a practical force for good in daily lives, bringing hope and spiritual progress for humanity. One small symbol of this is the planned renewal of the Christian Science plaza in Boston’s Back Bay. The outdoor spaces surrounding The Mother Church will be updated to better benefit the community as an environmentally sustainable oasis in the midst of the city. A longer-term commitment of the denomination has been publication of The Christian Science Monitor, an international news outlet providing daily and weekly news, online and in print—news that is intended to bring light, rather than heat, to the important issues of the day.

Members at the meeting reported on activities in their regions, as well as provided examples of healing from around the world.

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Guest Post: Whole-body Healing… Good Step

Rich Evans

Here’s a GUEST POST by Rich Evans, a colleague of mine in Arizona, about integrative medicine and a growing shift towards spiritual well being. Rich grew up in Michigan – in St. Joe – and spent summers working in Leelanau. He is currently the spokesperson for Christian Science in the state of Arizona – a state in which integrative medicine has early roots. Here’s his thoughtful piece.

“Whole-body Healing” … Good Step

The Arizona Republic recently ran an article (Friday, January 5, 2013) in its “your health” section entitled, “Whole-body Healing” written by Ken Alltucker.  The article focused on patient centered, integrative medicine.  Good news…the founder of the term “integrative medicine” is in our backyard.  While the field is growing, the term and concept have been developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who heads the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM).  As the article indicates, integrative medicine, while viewed in various ways, can be defined as “the practice of combining conventional medicine with complementary and alternative medical techniques that are supported by medical literature or evidence”.  This is a breakthrough article for this column.

The article further described that the CIM has opened an office in Phoenix, the Arizona Integrative Health Center, which approaches health with the patient at the focus of the practice, rather than the disease.  Then, there are several examples given of work being performed at the Mayo Clinic and by an individual psychiatrist in their respective practices using integrative medicine techniques successfully.  I find all of this encouraging, as it begins to recognize healing as involving a more complete understanding of the whole person as patient.  The examples given demonstrate that solutions emerged when either habits of thinking or acting were corrected, demonstrating the importance of thought on the body and its connection to healing.

One has to appreciate the courage, candor, and clarity shared by Drs. Bergstrom (Mayo), Hernandez (independent psychiatrist), and Rula (medical director of the CIM), as they push the frontiers of their professions into a more holistic frame.  In the article, among the varied healing strategies of patient centered, integrative medicine, there was a brief mention of spiritual well-being as part of the “whole”.  Given that among the stated purposes of the CIM are evidence-based and lower cost methods, spiritual well-being may be key to achieving those goals.

The spiritual basis of healing is perhaps the longest running method in the spectrum of integrative healing, actively utilized well before that term existed.  Not only can we find numerous accounts in Biblical history, especially after the establishment of Christianity, but there is ample evidence today of its efficacy.  My own experience includes healing of pain, viruses, malaria, and many other disorders all through spiritual prayer…prayer that is not wishful thinking or a function of the human brain, but a recognition of divine, loving consciousness, divine Mind, if you will, reflected in our individual thought and lives.  More than a remedy, the advantage of spiritual well-being, is that it includes a fulfilling sense of identity and health for all, without economic barriers.

I like the direction of The Arizona Republic article and hope that the “whole-body” concept continues to expand the role of spiritual well-being.  Perhaps we will learn that it is at the center of our health.  It certainly is for me.

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Link to Evan’s blog.

Link to Ken Alltucker’s article “Whole-body Healing” as it appeared in USA Today.

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Praying for health

Is the public finding better health by turning more to prayer?

According to the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Survey, 56% of those surveyed in Michigan pray at least once a day and that goes up to 76% who pray at least once a week.

Here is a thoughtful post entitled, “The Positive Health Effects of Prayer” by Russ Gerber, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, posted at Huffpost Religion, The Huffington Post.

Russ Gerber - Photo courtesy of christianscience.com

The Positive Health Effects of Prayer

Posted: 8/2/11 11:02 AM ET

“Did you catch the brief but remarkable story about researchers who have concluded (once again) that more and more Americans are praying about their health? As striking as that is, it’s not the big surprise in the latest study.”

To read his entire post click here.

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Happiness is healthy

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t worry, be happy”. It’s a catchy tune sung by Bob Marley. Being healthy makes us happy. But did you know that being happy can help keep us healthy?

“Happy people live longer, probably because happiness protects physical health.”

This was the conclusion of a research paper by Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven
in The Journal of Happiness Studies in 2008 that looked at 30 follow-up studies on happiness and its effect on health and longevity.

Continue reading Happiness is healthy

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Caregiver placebo effect

Placebos by Akacio S. ( /photographyk )

The placebo effect is usually considered to be the curative effective resulting from patients equipping a sugar pill with their belief in its ability to help. But it turns out that the placebo effect can result from the thought of the caregiver as well.

“Belief in or expectation of a good outcome can have formidable restorative power, whether the positive expectations are on the part of the patient, the doctor or caregiver, or both…” says Herbert Benson, M.D. writing (with Marg Stark) about what he calls “remembered wellness” in his book “Timeless Healing – The Power and Biology of Belief”.

Continue reading Caregiver placebo effect

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Spiritual evidence-based healing

Andew Weil, M.D. courtesy of greenlagirl

Andrew Weil, M.D., in “Why Our Health Matters” (page 43) writes, “Many doctors have told me about cases of spontaneous healing that they have witnessed in patients, some correlated with mental or emotional changes“.

So, how can we account for experiences like that? Or how can we explain healing accomplished in Christian Science through spiritual means alone?

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Medicine’s reverse marriage?

It’s like a reverse marriage – sort of.

An Op-Ed piece entitled, “Medicine’s Great Divide – The View from the Alternative Side” published this month in the Virtual Mentor, the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics, describes the relationship between conventional medicine and alternative medicine like a bad marriage in reverse, starting with divorce, going through mediation, and working towards “a shy courtship”.

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Diagnostic thresholds, thinking and health

A recent (May 6) Op-Ed article in the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Diagnosis as disease” brings out some very interesting points about medical diagnosis and thinking of people as diseased. It tells us that “low diagnostic thresholds lead people who feel well to be labeled as unwell.”  “Not surprisingly, some subsequently feel less well.”  “In short, low diagnostic thresholds introduce more ‘dis’-ease into the population.”

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Melting snow

The beach in Traverse City, Michigan in early April

I like to consider possibilities.

What if ?…

What if you, yes – you, experienced a healing through Christian Science? I have, and I’ll tell you, feeling the power of God make you better, you’d never be quite the same.

And what if you experienced healing this way again? Wouldn’t you start to think that there’s a system involved here, a method, a science?

Continue reading Melting snow

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