After my previous post about Twisted Spoons I decided to read over the Tenets of Christian Science again. While I take issue with all of them, the third is particularly troubling and guilt-inducing:
3. We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts. – TENETS of The Mother Church The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Rather conveniently Ms. Eddy chooses not to define “SIN” in the Glossary (or anywhere else so far as I could find in a few quick searches). She does have quite a bit to say about sin, on p. 37 she declares “They who sin must suffer.” On p. 38 she goes on to ask “Who will stop the practice of sin so long as he believes in the pleasures of sin?” Ms. Eddy regularly links sin with “sickness and death” (p. 45, 52, 54, etc), and my favorite on p. 72: “The joy of intercourse becomes the jest of sin, when evil and suffering are communicable.“
Around p. 278 Ms. Eddy links “sin” with “error” (albeit somewhat loosely): “All that we term sin, sickness, and death is a mortal belief. We define matter as error, because it is the opposite of life, substance, and intelligence. Matter, with its mortality, cannot be substantial if Spirit is substantial and eternal.”
On page 591 in the Glossary, Matter is defined as:
Mythology; mortality; another name for mortal mind; illusion; intelligence, substance, and life in non-intelligence and mortality; life resulting in death, and death in life; sensation in the sensationless; mind originating in matter; the opposite of Truth; the opposite of Spirit; the opposite of God; that of which immortal Mind takes no cognizance; that which mortal mind sees, feels, hears, tastes, and smells only in belief.
I also looked up “ERROR,” which redirects the reader to the “chapter on Recapitulation, page 472” where we are informed:
Error is a supposition that pleasure and pain, that intelligence, substance, life, are existent in matter. Error is neither Mind nor one of Mind’s faculties. Error is the contradiction of Truth. Error is a belief without understanding. Error is unreal because untrue. It is that which seemeth to be and is not. If error were true, its truth would be error, and we should have a self-evident absurdity — namely, erroneous truth. Thus we should continue to lose the standard of Truth. (emphasis mine)
What is the cause of all these issues? Why the Adam-dream of course! We are first introduced to this concept in S&H on p. 249: “The I is Spirit. God never slumbers, and His likeness never dreams. Mortals are the Adam dreamers.” The Adam-dream makes another appearance on p. 306-7 “The parent of all human discord was the Adam-dream,the deep sleep, in which originated the delusion that life and intelligence proceeded from and passed into matter.”
Cue the Matrix parallels.
Obviously, the reason we experience sin, disease and death is because of our unreal erroneous beliefs. On p. 516, we are informed that
As the reflection of yourself appears in the mirror, so you, being spiritual, are the reflection of God. The substance, Life, intelligence, Truth, and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected by His creation; and when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere.
Everything we think we see, feel, touch, taste, hear and experience in our day-to-day lives? That’s just the false testimony of corporeal sense, it isn’t real.
That runny nose? That’s not a virus, that’s a sign you need to be praying harder. Stressed, feeling overwhelmed? Clearly you need to sit down with the Books. I’m not going to deny sitting down for a few moments to gather one’s thoughts can be refreshing, but I’ve found sitting and turning to the Books – which will then inform me the problem is not Real, but a flaw of my perception of my Spiritual Self – not to be remotely helpful.
Your material form isn’t real – unless it is fat, then it is a reflection of your mental state, a “poorly maintained” body is a clear sign of a poorly maintained Spiritual Sense, anecdotal evidence makes it so. A friend of our family struggled with her weight through high school, when she disclosed this, I was shocked, I had always known her to be quite slender. She went on to tell me that she came to realize her outward appearance was a reflection of sense of self, and that after she had prayed and done some “mental housecleaning” the pounds began to melt away. When one “takes no thought for what they shall eat” (Matthew 6:25) and opt to pray about problems instead of stress-eating a box of cookies, sure, you’ll shed a few pounds. Or, one could identify what is causing the stress, and the associated problems (eating a box of cookies) and take steps to change that… but don’t worry, none of this is real.
“None of this is real” flippantly discounts a wide range of emotional responses to events. Christian Scientists are not well emotionally equipped to handle death -the person’s physical body was never “real” to begin with, nor do they deal well with natural disasters, and “accidents” (after all, there are no “accidents” in God’s kingdom, which is sort of fatalistic, but that’s a post for another day).
If it is all part of the Adam Dream, does it make a difference if we recycle? Does it matter if we help the poor? Should we evacuate when a hurricane is coming towards our home – or should we stay and pray, holding steadfast to the idea that God is our shield and will protect us? What is the point of trying to better ourselves, or our environment?
My favorite answer to all this: Well not everyone is at that Spiritual Level yet. We must work with the tools we have been given (always spiritual tools mind you, never something practical like routine health-checkups). Clearly we have some lesson to learn in this plane of existence.
So, God is forgiving sin (which is unreal and part of the Adam dream), but we continue to suffer, because we think the sin is real (which it isn’t). In the end, it is our fault for not being spiritual enough, praying hard enough, and working to know the Truth enough.
Enough is enough. I no longer believe.