Christian Science: Fact Versus Fable
Louise Knight Wheatley Cook, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Someone once asked, "Why is
Students of Christian Science feel that so many blessings have come to them by reason of its teachings that they cannot be satisfied unless they help others to find those blessings also. I am very grateful to those in your city who have made it possible for us to have this hour together, when we can close the door upon the outside world, with all its clamor and confusion, and open it wide to the pure realities of Spirit.
One little hour, so brief and yet so unspeakably precious! For there never was a time in the world's history when distressed humanity was in more need of comforting than now, and how I long to do this with such measure of success that anyone who has come bearing what seemed a very heavy burden shall find that burden lifted, and shall depart with a lighter heart, a stronger courage, and a greater trust in the ultimate triumph of right and justice. For we are going to talk about God, and to see more clearly why the tumult of these latter days must inevitably cease before His law of uninterrupted and eternal harmony.
The Two Textbooks
In the Bible, that Book of books upon which our whole religion rests, it is written, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." That is why this lecture is being addressed, not to proselyte nor to plead nor to use persuasion and flowery eloquence, not to cast the least reflection upon any other religion or system of thinking which any of you still hold dear, but quietly and simply and - I hope - convincingly to lay before you the fundamental teachings of an exact and demonstrable Science which uncounted numbers have already proved to be true.
I want to appeal not to your emotion but to your reason. In the book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, it is stated (p. 327), "Reason is the most active human faculty." I have it right here, lying beside the same dear Bible which all Christendom has known and loved for centuries.
To believe in something is all very well, but when one merely believes in something, without really knowing why, he is building on a foundation which at any moment may be shaken. To understand is better, for when one begins to understand he has already parted company with blind belief.
One sometimes hears it said, "Well, I believed that to be true, but now I see that I was mistaken." But when anyone deliberately, and with honest intent to know the truth about anything, ends by reasoning himself out of any mistaken belief, however strongly entrenched in consciousness, that belief never recurs. It cannot, because it has been destroyed through a process of logical argument from which there is no appeal. It is gone, and it is gone for all time. We may be glad, we may be sorry, but there is nothing to be done about it.
Facts and Fables
To illustrate: I suppose it is safe to say that there was a time when everyone in this room believed in Santa Claus; that he was a real person, who brought us presents, was as firmly fixed in our childish minds as our own existence. This went on for quite a few years, but after a while these little blind "believers" began to grow up.
They went to school and learned among other things that the world was a pretty big place. They found, much to their surprise, that there were other cities besides the one little city in which they lived, that there were other states besides their state, and even other countries besides their country, and wide oceans between. They learned how long a mile is. They began to get some rough idea of what are called time and space, and then they began to reason.
As their mental processes grew, they began to wonder how anyone could start out from the North Pole in a sleigh, cover all the continents and oceans in the world, visit all the cities in the world, go down all the chimneys in the world, and be back the same night. In my own case I remember thinking that it just didn't make sense, for we had a sleigh and I knew how fast it could go. It was that part about the chimney, however, which finally woke me up. I recall peering thoughtfully up the chimney in our living-room fireplace -the "parlor" as it was called in those days - and then turning to the picture of Santa Claus in my book. And you all know that whether he is in a book, or ringing a bell on the street, he always looks exactly the same way.
"Mother," I said, "how does he do it?" But it seems that she didn't know, either, so then and there I lost my Santa Claus. And I have never had the slightest apprehension that he will ever return, simply because a fact has been established in place of a fable. Dear friends, may I add that when a belief in any physical sickness or any other difficulty has been destroyed as utterly as our one-time belief in Santa Claus, it will never recur.
There is something to think about in all this, and to think about very seriously, because there are many other beliefs accepted by humanity much more far-reaching and disastrous in their effects than are the innocent imaginations of our childhood.
Mrs. Eddy says, "Lulled by stupefying illusions, the world is asleep in the cradle of infancy, dreaming away the hours" (Science and Health, p. 95). Such illusions of the human mind Christian Science calls "beliefs" or "fables," and they sometimes carry very ugly names. They will call themselves pain or poverty, sin, sorrow, sensuality, hate, treachery, debility, decadence, dissolution, and ultimate destruction. Yet, unpleasant as they are, and unwelcome as they are, they argue to us that we cannot escape them.
They say that they are ever with us, inevitable, unavoidable, ineradicable; that we recognize them, and fear them, but that no matter what we do or how we struggle, they will at last overtake and overpower every one of us. A dismal picture! But as David of old walked up boldly to Goliath, so does Christian Science defy and challenge all such gigantic hallucinations.
Until, however our spiritual understanding advances to the point where we can separate fact from fable by a pure process of reasoning, as did the little child, we may accept whatever lying argument happens to present itself, and thereby suffer the consequences.
I am sure you all remember the famous sleep-walking scene in Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth." There were some, it seems, who doubted that Lady Macbeth was really asleep when she took these nightly excursions, but thought her only feigning to be so. Consequently, on one occasion the play states that two members of the household hide themselves to wait for her. At the usual hour she comes walking along, a lighted candle in her hand, whereupon one of the watchers whispers, "See, her eyes are open." "Ay," replies the other, "but their sense is shut."
So it is with us, sometimes, walking through a world of shadows with our eyes open. Absorbed in their own mistaken views, born of false education, pride, prejudice, and precedent, mortals are like those referred to in a familiar hymn, who "close their eyes and call it night."
Christian Science opens the eyes of mortals to those same eternal, changeless facts of being which our beloved Master, Christ Jesus, understood and demonstrated by his mighty works. Christian Science bases its conclusions on the great fundamental fact that since God made all "in the beginning," as the Bible declares, and since God is Spirit, all that was made, including man, must have been and is, spiritual. The universe which mortals think they behold is a false concept of the human mind, possessing neither Principle nor permanence.
These, briefly stated, constitute the premise upon which all ensuing conclusions in Christian Science rest, resulting in the healing, or "correcting," of any argument which may arise to establish the opposite or false sense of God and man and a universe opposed to Spirit.
Christian Science heals not only physical disease, but anything else which is wrong and ungodlike in human experience. Its stately operations are based upon the unbroken relationship between God and man, the real man, never a discordant mortal helpless before any untoward condition that may present itself, but man who is spiritual and perfect forever, the son of God.
Our textbook defines God as Principle, upon which rests the entire universe, including its accompanying phenomena; as divine Mind knowing good only, the instant destruction of the fable of minds many and of minds evil; Soul, the expression of substance, beauty, heavenly reality; Spirit; challenging every earth-weight of material sense by its own allness; and Truth, putting an end to any illusions of disturbance and confusion by the brightness of its coming, Truth which knows no compromise.
To Truth, black is black and white is white. There is no convenient gray. And God is Life, a saving ever-presence through the deepest waters and the darkest moments of our lives; and God is Love, tenderly upholding, guarding, and guiding those who trust in Him. It is well to have a God like that. Let no one be afraid to ask himself, "Have I a God like that?" Let no one be afraid to open Science and Health and read it, lest he lose his God. He will lose nothing about his God that was ever true, and will find much added which is beautiful, understandable, and satisfying.
The Great Discovery
Seventy years ago a woman, Mary Baker Eddy, had courage to face the world alone and battle for the recognition of these facts. She knew that in so doing she was arousing all the hatred, antagonism, and bitter opposition of which the carnal mind is capable, but she knew, too, that she was not alone, for God was with her. She had come to bring His message to humanity, and then, as now, the message protects the messenger. She had come to set mortals free from the slavery of their own beliefs. She had come to bless and to save and to liberate.
Could anyone faint and falter who was doing that? She knew that in her book she had marshaled an array of facts so logically incontrovertible that the world's ultimate acceptance of them must be inevitable. So she could afford to wait, with that sublime patience which has ever characterized those who stand as pioneers in the steady march of progress. For a fact is a stubborn thing. It cannot be wished away, nor argued away, nor frightened away. That happens only to fables.
Mrs. Eddy's steadfastness of purpose was all the more remarkable because, humanly speaking, she was gentle and unassuming, brought up in a sheltered home, and possessing much of the quiet and reserve of the typical gentlewoman. She had been for years confined to her room, a so-called hopeless invalid. It seems almost incredible that with a background such as this she could be changed by her own healing, through her own efforts, into a well, strong woman, challenging to mortal combat the false thinking of the ages.
But she could do this because she had laid hold of a right idea, and she knew it. And, dear friends, may I say one thing in passing? If anyone ever comes to you with a right idea, a really right idea, don't waste your time trying to fight it. It simply cannot be done. You are beaten before you begin.
The right idea will not even know that you are there. If people would only realize this, it would save a lot of misplaced energy and a terrific wear and tear on disposition. For back of every right idea is the whole power of omnipotence, and to fight against that would be like the old story of trying to sweep back the ocean with a broom. Every right idea is God-derived and God-directed. Consequently it is sufficient unto itself for all it may need to carry it to its logical conclusion, self-supplying, self-supporting, self-preserving, and self-perpetuating, under divine guidance. Don't waste your time.
Mrs. Eddy surely did not waste any of hers! The erstwhile invalid began to lead a busy, active life, one so strenuous in its constantly increasing demands that the average woman could not have endured it. As this right idea kept unfolding in her consciousness she began to heal the sick, to teach others to heal, to preach, form churches, start a Publishing House, print magazines to which she contributed, and finally to launch a daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. She continued in this busy life for many years, although at the time when Christian Science first came to her she had already passed what the world calls "the prime of life." But that gave her only an opportunity to prove that life and strength are not in matter but in Mind, and hence they are changeless, enduring, and equal to any demand which can ever be made upon them.
Since there may be some present who are attending a Christian Science lecture for the first time - and I hope there are many - it may be well at this point to say something about what is called a Christian Science treatment. If anyone is under the impression that it is complicated, abstruse, hard to understand, I want to assure you that it is not. Positively it is not. It is only mortal mind's opposition to the truth which ever makes it seem difficult. It is in itself simple as well as profound, just as were the teachings of Christ Jesus, often presented to the people of his day in beautiful, easily understood parables.
A Christian Science treatment is the correction of any mistaken belief that may be trying to torment mortals, by the putting in the place of this belief the truth about it. It is another name for prayer, a prayer of grateful acknowledgment of the untouched perfection of God and of man in God's image and likeness. It says that this man, the real man, the only man there is, is never the victim of circumstances over which he has no control, never hedged about by human restrictions, never held under any belief of failure or frustration.
A Christian Science treatment is the utilization of the law of God, separating fact from fable. It brings the unhappy captive to his own beliefs before the tribunal of Spirit, demanding a righteous judgment and immediate release. It establishes the fact in human consciousness that man, being the son of God, is sinless, joyous, fearless, free, never a distressed mortal with an unsolved problem. It is the Christ, which brings liberation from any wrong and cruel situation, the same healing Christ, or Truth, which Jesus manifested as he went his loving way among the people of his time, another one who stood alone with God, carrying a message to a doubting world.
Jesus and Christ
At this point it may be well to state that Christian Science makes a very clear distinction between Jesus and Christ. "Jesus was born of Mary. Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (Science and Health, p. 332).
"Mother," once asked a child, "if Jesus were here now that little girl would not have to be a cripple, would she?" "No, darling." "Then why did he go away, Mother? Why didn't he stay?" The mother did not know then as she did later, that no one need continue to suffer even though to use the child's words, Jesus did not "stay." The Christ has never left. The Christ is the Truth, which still heals and blesses, and will continue to do so until time melts into eternity.
More and more is the once-doubting world beginning to realize the efficacy of prayer even in what are called the most hopeless and chronic cases. More and more are the members of the medical profession, those grand, unselfish men and women, beginning to look for the mental cause of inveterate disease.
I quote from a letter recently received, wherein the writer says: "The medical director of our company was speaking to a group of customers - trying to explain the cause and the seriousness of certain diseases; 'One in particular,' he said (I will not mention the name here, but it is a familiar one to all), 'is due to nervousness and worry. But it starts from here pointing to his head and not where it seems to be located.' " Then he added that this type of disease is never found among a class of persons said to be phlegmatic, mentally slow, not in any degree what is called "high-strung" or "temperamental," because when they sit down to worry they go to sleep.
In the back of Science and Health there are many testimonies from those who have recovered from acute, chronic, and so-called incurable diseases just by reading of the book. Other similar testimonies, properly vouched for and authenticated, are included in every issue of The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel. These may be found in any of the Reading Rooms which the churches of our organization maintain for the benefit of the public. In these rooms may be found also the Bible, the complete writings of Mrs. Eddy, and all other authorized literature of our movement, including a small booklet called the Christian Science Quarterly, by means of which each one may study, at his own convenience the Lesson-Sermons which are read each Sunday in all Churches of Christ, Scientist.
But let no one infer that the most important part of our high and holy religion lies in bringing about relief from physical difficulties. Successful though it is in that realm, it by no means stops there, for there is a mental anguish which has a right to be healed also, for it often seems quite as acute and unendurable as bodily pain.
There are more people among us today starving for love than for bread. To any such weary and heavy-laden, discouraged, disappointed, disillusionized, fighting against loneliness and grief, the Christ still comes, the Comforter, with gentle assurances that salvation from all these things is at hand, that the love which is God is very near and dear, that the Truth which is God ever shines through even the darkest night of materiality, pointing the way.
When Hagar, the Egyptian, and her little son were driven out into the wilderness to die, and their tiny supply of water was exhausted, the Bible says that "she cast the child under one of the shrubs . . . for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept . . . and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not. . . . And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water."
It had been there all the time; and she might have found it long ago, had not those unavailing tears prevented her from seeing the solution of her problem. There is always a way out, always a well of water close at hand. But if we sit down hopelessly, just as she did, it may take us a good while to find it. Self-pity never expedites matters.
It never does anything except to make us feel worse. Yet many another since Hagar, when pushed into a tight corner, has accepted the situation as inescapable. The true Christian Scientist will not do that. He knows it would be a tacit admission that, instead of being the son of God, he is an unhappy mortal with something going wrong. For one certainly cannot be sorry for the son of God. That would be unthinkable. "What aileth thee, Hagar? Someone once wisely said: "Don't feel sorry for yourself. Feel sorry for the ones who have to live with you."
Perhaps someone is distressed because he thinks that he has been a failure. That is impossible. God never made a failure, and He made all that was made, so there cannot be one. Turn away from the past, with its bad dreams. Right where you are God is blessing you now. You are a success, if you are living in accord with Him. The world may not see it yet. You may not see it yet. But try to see yourself as God sees you and knows you; not as the world may think you are.
God's viewpoint and that of mortals strangely differ! It is what you are now that counts. You are now the son of God, not will be some day. You are now, right here and at this very moment, conscious of the divine relationship. Keep this understanding ever with you; and when you leave this room, know that not one of the healing and rehabilitating truths which you are hearing tonight can ever fade from your consciousness, or grow dim until it is finally lost altogether. The truth you are being told is "the seed within itself" of which the Bible speaks, which when planted in a receptive heart will bear fruitage undreamed of now.
It is said that when Tutankhamen's
tomb was opened in
Christian Science and Business
Perhaps some of you are worried over financial affairs. Mortal mind says we have a right to be, these days, but mortal mind never yet said anything that was true. Any belief of lack, whether it be lack of money, lack of position, lack of customers, lack of material, lack of opportunity, lack of appreciation, lack of friends, or of whatever name and nature it may be, is always a belief in incompleteness, something needed, something delayed, some good thing withheld.
Hold to your completeness, your happiness, your peace, your freedom as God's dear child, "always having all sufficiency in all things." Because it is natural for man to be active, you are actively at work now in the only business there is, that of seeking first the kingdom and leaving the results to God.
You have work to do which is yours. God gave it to you, and no one can deprive you of it, or make you unhappy because of it. Because you are alive today is proof positive that God has something for you to do today. Man is continually expressing Mind's attributes, and this expression is joyous and spontaneous, not forced and labored. Ability and opportunity go hand in hand.
Stop arguing with and for the false. It gets you nowhere, but just keeps you going round and round like a squirrel in a cage. God's law is the only law at work in the only universe there is. Hold to the eternally true, and every right adjustment needed in your personal affairs will be made manifest, naturally, quietly, and with orderly precision and unfoldment.
The World Situation
Now let us turn to that which above all else is uppermost in my heart today - the world situation. Probably there are few here tonight whose thoughts are not continually turning to some loved one who is far away, those who for a long time have been asking of themselves that tragic question, "Why?" So let us continue our reasoning together in order to see how we may, by our spiritually constructive right thinking, not only help this dear one out, in a purely impersonal way, help all others also wherever they may be, who are giving the best that is in them in defense of a righteous cause.
At this point, however, someone may be thinking, perhaps rather bitterly, "But why did he have to go at all? Is it ever right for a Christian Scientist to fight with material weapons?" That is a hard question, in regard to which many a conscientious Christian Scientist has had his struggles.
On this occasion it is not for me to express my own personal opinion. Rather will I let Mrs. Eddy answer for me, from those precious books wherein may be found, if one earnestly seeks it, the right answer to any question which may ever arise. In this case the situation does seem very complicated and involved.
The Christian Scientist finds himself looking out upon two paths which lie before him, one of which he is compelled to take, and both of which look wrong. Which shall he choose? As he stands there, torn between his reason and his conscience, this statement from a book called "Miscellaneous Writings," by Mrs. Eddy, may enable him to make a wise decision. And this is it: "Wisdom in human action begins with what is nearest right under the circumstances, and thence achieves the absolute" (p. 288).
There are already many instances on record of how young men in their country's service have found in their application of the teachings of Christian Science their complete and never-failing protection. In our public Reading Rooms just referred to is a little pamphlet of pocket size, convenient for mailing, entitled "Proofs of God's Protection," which contains many testimonials of this kind. As each one who desires may easily procure a copy for himself, I will quote from this pamphlet only one such testimony, and in part.
"After my healing I entered the Air Force. . . . I was sent out on a bombing raid to blow up a certain strategic point, and on the way there I began to fill my thought with the promises in the Bible and the textbook, which were in my pocket, and to realize in some measure the presence of God. The job was done and we were on our way back, when five enemy planes descended on us. My gun was put out of action almost at once, and in a short time it was virtually impossible to put a hand on the airplane where there was no bullet hole. Certain vital wires had been cut through, leaving only one strand intact. It was indeed 'man's extremity.' I stood up to protect the pilot, without whose work we could not get home.
The words from a section of the Lesson-Sermon in the Christian Science Quarterly for that week came clearly to my thought (Science and Health, p. 571): 'Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.' At once a most uplifting sense came to me. The presence of God seemed everywhere in spite of the fact that bullets were flying all around us. I thought, 'If my body is riddled with bullets and we crash, my real selfhood cannot be touched.' A great joy and peace filled my being, and I found no malice in my thought towards the enemy. Then, without more ado, the attackers turned and left us, as if they had lost sight of us. "Though in a perilous state, with smoke coming from the machine, we reached home and leaped out, whereupon the plane burst into flames. Neither of us had been hit, and the pilot remarked that strange to say, he had not experienced any fear whatsoever, and that the whole affair was a miracle. He knew nothing of Christian Science, but had been protected also."
Yes, there is work for us all to
do, right here and now, for "Thoughts are things and their angel wings are
swifter than carrier-doves." Continents and seas cannot separate us from
our loved ones, if we are thinking right about them. Let us have done with
fear, doubt and apprehension, self-pity and grief, because they cannot be with
us just now. That is not doing them any good, nor is it doing us any good. Help
your boy. Do not hinder him. Realize his true identity as a son of God, never,
even for one terrifying moment, separated from this God who is his life.
"I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air,
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care."
Such thoughts are active, dynamic, constructive, carrying with them their own power and impulsion. Man's real body is the embodiment of right ideas. The law of God regarding this embodiment of right ideas is spiritual, indestructible beyond the reach of disease, accident, or danger. And this law of God is the complete annihilation of any attempted attack upon it of the so-called carnal mind.
Man, the real man, can never find himself helpless, hopeless, tricked, trapped, handicapped, or afraid. Because his true selfhood is in Mind, and not in matter, mortal mind does not know where to find him. It has simply lost sight of him, because the so-called realm of matter is the only real that mortal mind knows anything about.
The young man in the airplane, of whose experience I just read you, certainly proved this. You remember that he said that a great joy and peace filled his being, and he felt no malice in his thought towards the enemy and, "Then," he said, "without more ado, the attackers turned and left us, as if they had lost sight of us." Man, hid with Christ in God, is not vulnerable to attack. The most deadly arrow, directed with the greatest skill and precision, can never hit a target which is not there.
And one is never compelled to work out any problem alone. Even if he seems to find himself in "a tight corner," as the saying is, with no visible means of escape, divine Mind is equal to any demand upon it, and the one so situated can prove that he does possess the initiative, the resourcefulness, the ability, and the reflected intelligence to find a way out, that wisdom unfailing is always present and instantly available. He can never lack any needed thing. He can never lack anything in the line of his duty, nor the courage to do it, nor the opportunity to put that courage into action, nor the protection for himself and for others which will accompany that action and become instantly coordinated with it.
One who looks to God is always on the alert. His thoughts cannot be touched by any unseen, specifically directed waves of aggressive mental suggestion, projected with deliberate intent to lull him into a false sense of safety.
Mortal mind has no power to confuse an issue, to put him to sleep at a time when he has most need to keep awake. No plot against him can be so cunningly devised, no net can be so craftily spread, no trap can be so cleverly disguised as to catch him unprepared. In any emergency he looks to God to tell him what to do, and why and where and when and how. And he never looks in vain.
Let not your hearts be troubled. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" This is no time for doubt and fear, for idle, foolish questionings which no one can answer. The situation is upon us. Terrifying, baffling, mystifying, incredulous, impossible as it may seem to be, it is here.
Are we going to go down under it in defeat and degradation, or shall we rise above it, and prove to an unbelieving world that our high and holy religion is more than a name? Let each one leave this room tonight with his head high. They tell our boys in training "Chin up. Eyes straight ahead." Let us do that, too. Let us be soldiers, every one of us Christian soldiers, fighting a holy war here at home, that every country on earth, and every nation on earth, and every person on earth, may be safe and happy and free.
Mind's Omnipresence Demonstrated
"O dreamer, leave thy dreams for joyful waking." Wars may rage, continents change hands, dynasties disappear, empires crumble, human personalities arise to make their little, fleeting mark upon the pages of history, for good or for ill, and then to pass into oblivion; but through it all, untouched by any of it, "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Like some high beacon on a rock in the midst of a storm-tossed sea, the light of Truth shines on - and on - and on. Already are the fables of material sense coming, more and more each day, to be recognized for what they are, insubstantial, evanescent, fleeting, like the fabric of a dream. Already and more and more each day, are men gaining through reason and revelation the spiritual consciousness of those facts of changeless and eternal Life which are forever manifested in health, holiness, harmony, liberty, brotherly love, quietness, and peace.
[Delivered Feb. 23, 1943, in the Murat Theatre under the auspices of Second Church of Christ, Scientist, and published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, February 26, 1943.]