The Mother Church neatly side-steps the issue of “radical reliance” on prayer with the official stance of “there is no church protocol.” They’ve even gone so far as to claim they’ve “made a truce” with doctors.
I hold out some hope that this is true. There are CS Practioners who will work with people who are not strictly relying on CS for healing, there are not many, but they do exist. (1) There are CS churches that have been retro-fitted/modified (or built right the first time) to be wheelchair accessible. There are CS who (sometimes) visit doctors and are responsible with their children’s heath care, and then there are those who radically rely on CS for healing.
If people choose to forgo medical treatment in favor of prayer or alternative healing methods that is their choice, but when the policy is institutionalized and a requirement for admittance it makes me angry. For many CS, taking the step of even considering going to a doctor is a huge one, and the added pressure of being ostracized from the community is often too much so they continue to pray and wait for healing.
There are Christian Science Nursing Care Facilities that make Principia’s policy about the “right use of temporary means” seem downright progressive. These groups are not directly affiliated with the Mother Church (2), they just require you are a member to be hired (3), are a Journal-listed CSP/Nurse, have had Class Instruction, have been/are currently an active church member, rely on CS for healing, etc.
Take for example the CS Nursing facility in Florida:
D– is a religious, non-medical nursing facility offering care to those who actively rely on prayer (4) for metaphysical healing and are working with a Christian Science Journal-listed practitioner.
Those who come to D– for help are the remnant of our Leader’s seed. They are not nominal worshippers. They have set out to preclude the Adam dream by refusing to take the medical route. They have surrendered all, trusting divine Truth to break the dream. They are God’s merchandise, and will not be tinkered with by any other method. They refuse to be called just a lot of sick folk, but they are a peculiar people. These are among those who have had more than one proof of God’s care, and are waiting for the next one here and now. They arrive at D–, where men as angels serve diligently to help meet their needs. The expressed love of the faithful stewards makes them feel that actually God is loving them.
This radical-reliance policy has hit a nerve among some CS-converts. It is addressed at length in Ms. Baxters Open the Doors of the Temple and is the cornerstone for her argument that CS must openly evolve –after all, medicine has. Among my former-CS friends widely used radical-reliance was one of the big reasons people left CS. The policy is particularly hard for CS converts, as they often convert from more mainstream protestant denominations, where people are open about problems and willing to help regardless of the need.
The following are excerpts from e-mails questioning the policies about why a friend was not allowed to be admitted to a CS nursing facility. The friend had an undisclosed medical procedure and was attempting to gain respite care at a CS nursing facility. I was involved in a lengthy e-mail exchange about the issue, although not in any overly helpful way — I recommended the friend seek out a medical facility (or at least one open to medical treatment), prayer is great and all, but often some practical intervention is needed.
All sarcasm aside the long-time convert was seriously trying to understand how the CS Nursing Facility could be so cold. The friend obviously needed a place to recover from whatever the ordeal was. I would like to think I was slightly more sympathetic in my original responses, but in the end it came down to this is how CS is practiced in the here-and-now. It is NOT perfect. They have some growing to do. Until then, the friend should look into an alternative respite care situation.
- To refuse someone because he’s made a “mistake” … The person “had a medical procedure” and was afraid to let us know. What does that say? Mrs. Eddy had numerous visits / MDs until she could work out her problem in Science.
Of course the person didn’t want to tell anyone, you don’t let on you’re suffering from a false belief until you’ve had an AMAZING HEALING to share with everyone. They don’t want to be a burden to the community, or impede anyone else’s spiritual growth. It was a huge step that the friend even dared to seek out a doctor!
- I called the local CS Nurse for a CS visit (we were TOLD at the Visiting Nurse meeting they realize the demographics of our CS population is changing and some individuals would like a friendly “visit,” or someone to read the lesson, or help making a meal, shopping, whatever) I called wanting some practical advice and support maybe even SOMEONE to help break the mesmerism, I was told “Sorry I can’t come. You are relying on medicine for healing.” (5)
Maybe the CSN wasn’t aware of the visit-everyone because it is the “Christian thing to do” policy. I’ve noticed that, in general, CS are incredibly uncomfortable around people who are ill, differently-able, disabled, or who actively/openly rely on doctors/medication. They don’t acknowledge the problems because that would be empowering Mortal Mind (and they might catch it too)!
- I don’t think M- is relying on medicine either. How about giving him THE BENEFIT OF DOUBT? How about giving M- A SECOND CHANCE AND A CHOICE? Give CS a chance, get L- out of this mesmerism that surrounds him…. M- has been playing the piano in the Sunday School, a Sunday School teacher, an active participant and all committees, and has been as dedicated as anyone else.
What does that have to do with anything? M- opted for a MEDICAL PROCEDURE that means M- opted for MEDICINE over RADICAL-RELIANCE. Either you are a Spiritual Idea of God, or you’re a doomed mortal. Sure turning to medicine probably saved M-‘s life in the here-and-now, but it also effectively ostracized them from the CS-community – Ms. Eddy does remind us that we are are all working out our own salvation, and we wouldn’t want to associate with others who are not as spiritually advanced as we are!
- We ARE MADE IN HIS LIKENESS, SPIRITUAL, PERFECT and not material. We PRAY IN THE ABSOLUTE and sometimes we have to act in the relative until we can work it out in Science.
There is really no point in arguing what Ms. Eddy has to say about man’s true identity. The CSP/CSN is undoubtedly more spiritual than you, they’re Journal Listed. There is NOTHING that can’t be worked out in Science.
- I know from personal experience that we get more practical help and moral support from other denominations. WHY IS THAT? and from a few CS individuals who have had major personal challenges than from the local CS nurse or most fellow church members! I would love to see more brotherly love.
Some of those churches are actually Christian, they believe in helping the poor and those in need, not just studying the books on a fast-track to spiritual “enlightenment.”
- “Can’t stay at [the CS facility] because he has chosen medical treatment.” What kind of message does this answer send to our Sunday School students? to the community? One mistake and you’re out? (6)
“One mistake and you’re out?” Yes actually. They don’t want to play with anyone less spiritual, please go home now.
- Christian Science Community: Are Christian Scientists prepared for an aging population?
- “Every practitioner chooses which cases he or she takes depending on the specific circumstances of that case.”
- CS Nurses are mentioned in the Church Manual, CS Nursing FACILITIES are not. Also, the choice to participate with CS Nurses/CS Facilities/CS Practitioners is a personal one. I’ve also been given the impression policy about medication/radical reliance varies depending on the CSN/CSP’s personal views (see footnote 1).
- Principia has CS-based hiring requirements as well
- for the non-CS reader, “actively rely” = EXCLUSIVELY RELY
- Because giving Christian Science treatment to someone who is “voluntarily” using medical means at the same time isn’t generally a good idea, because the patient’s thought is obviously conflicted. In other words, what are they relying on, Spirit or matter?
- Second generation CS and Principians understand this policy all too well. They are raised in it, they’ve come to expect it.