Finding Balance in Perfection

Words are very important in Christian Science, one of the most commonly used words is perfect, for example, man is made in God’s perfect image and likeness. In Christian Science, perfect is used as an adjective — man is ideal, flawless ,without fault, exemplary. Man’s state of perfection is presented as FACT, to accept anything less is to allow aggressive mental suggestion (which is unreal) to undermine man’s perfection and leave him vulnerable to the Christian Science Trio of Doom — Sin, Disease and Death.
Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 3.48.41 PM

I struggle with perfection. Society tells us we must have the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfectly well behaved children, the perfect holiday, the perfect birthday party, the perfect material stuff. Christian Science tells us we must have our thoughts constantly, perfectly aligned with God, otherwise, all our material perfection — the perfect house, our perfect health, our perfect job (or perfect source of income) none of which is real anyway — will come crashing down. The condition of our unreal material existence is dependent on our Spiritual Perfection.

In Christian Science perfect is always used as an adjective, it is the state of man, perfect is never a verb, it is not something to be aspired to, we are perfect. We do not need to be improved, or refined, we ARE PERFECT.

Except when we fall short, when we fail to realize our birthright as Children of God. When we imbibe alcohol, indulge in tobacco, or consume caffeine. We are perfect except when we are distracted by the lusts of the flesh, or seduced by the false unreality of matter. We are perfect until we drop our guard and fall prey to Malicious Animal Magnetism, or Aggressive Mental Suggestion — those are error, which is false and unreal, but something to be very much on guard for.

Perfect as an adjective is unrealistic, nothing is truly flawless. The Bible, the supposed foundation of Christian Science, and the key figures of Ms. Eddy’s inspiration, Jesus, Paul and Luther all had flaws. Ms. Eddy herself failed to consistently live up to her lofty aspirations: her material body did not ascend, it was buried.

Perfect as a verb is a bit more manageable, it is possible to refine something to improve it, but you also have to know when to step back and acknowledge that sometimes it is good enough. Finding that balance of refinement and acceptance that it is good enough is tricky, and something I struggle with daily.

Related Reading:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg3PberzvXo#t=225 – Not Perfect by Tim Minchins

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Wanna be a Sheep

The other day the Awkward Moments Children’s Bible Facebook page shared a collection of horrifying “Christian Music” videos gathered from YouTube. I followed some of the links to their logical conclusions, and came across I Just Want To (Be A Sheep)

The sheep theme reminded me of the guest post by the (obviously a pseudonym) Vicomte de Chagny, — if you haven’t read his awesome post “Why Religion Makes me Uncomfortable” I highly recommend it. The dear Vicomte tells us that:

One of the most famous texts of the Bible starts out “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Similarly, one of the most oft-sung hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal begins “Shepherd, show me how to go.” Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote that hymn, also defined “sheep” partially as “innocence…those who follow their leader.” With a shepherding God to direct them, sheep (that is, all of us) by definition do not need to think for themselves. But earlier in the same book containing that definition, on the first page in fact, Eddy writes without hesitation or apology, “The time for thinkers has come.” Can these two seemingly contradictory statements coexist? Is it really time for the unthinking sheep to start thinking? Christian Science seems to think so. I’m not so sure.

The Vicomte then goes on to explain how Christian Science does not really want you to think about it too deeply, if you do, the whole thing unravels into a mess (I’m paraphrasing — you really should go read the piece).

As the Vicomte points out, the very first page of Science and Health, in the second paragraph starts with the heavily quoted “The time for thinkers has come.” The phrase is so popular that the cool-hip young-adult outreach website for the church is called “time4thinkers” (you can google it, I refuse to give it link traffic). I have taken a screen-shot of the passages in question, from the Preface of Science and Health:

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.25.41 AM

It is interesting to note that before Ms. Eddy starts of on the importance of thinking, she starts in with dependence, “to those leaning on the sustaining infinite” and then with the sheep metaphors. There is a “wakeful shepherd.” You are not really supposed to think for yourself, you should be leaning on the sustaining infinite, the God-Shepherd.

As for the hymn the Vicomte is referring to, it is entitled “Feed thy Sheep” and is a poem written by Ms. Eddy. It is set to music in several different ways, although most congregations are only good at singing one of the versions.

“Feed thy Sheep”

Shepherd, show me how to go
         O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow, —
         How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
         Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
         All the rugged way.

Thou wilt bind the stubborn will,
         Wound the callous breast,
Make self-righteousness be still,
         Break earth’s stupid rest.
Strangers on a barren shore,
         Lab’ring long and lone,
We would enter by the door,
         And Thou know’st Thine own;

So, when day grows dark and cold,
         Tear or triumph harms,
Lead Thy lambkins to the fold,
         Take them in Thine arms;
Feed the hungry, heal the heart,
         Till the morning’s beam;
White as wool, ere they depart,
         Shepherd, wash them clean.

(Poems by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 14)

There is no space for independent thought in Ms. Eddy’s shepherd-sheep relationship, the sheep (ostensibly her followers) should listen for Thy voice — the voice of Omniscient Mother-Father God, so that their footsteps don’t stray. The sheep are also in for quite a walk as Ms. Eddy tells us the way is rugged, but we should follow and rejoice, because OMFG knows what is best. This is not the time for questioning the Divine Shepherd.

Ms. Eddy’s lyrics are not as crude as pop-culture creepy-puppet Christian children’s music videos, instead of repeating over and over “I wanna be a sheep,” Ms. Eddy appeals to the pseudo-intellectual inner struggle, to borrow an analogy from my high school English lit, the inner Jekyll and Hyde: Thou wilt bind the stubborn will, a  line or two down from that she continues, make self-righteousness be still — keep Mr. Hyde in his place.

Ms. Eddy’s shepherd also offers food, healing and purification — they are white as wool er they depart, I don’t think Ms. Eddy ever dealt with much wool, in a natural unprocessed state it is beige (or brown depending on the color of the sheep) with little bits of twig. I digress.

I find the people-as-sheep with OMFG-Shepherd analogy to be disconcerting. The wikipedia article on sheep tells us that sheep are not known for straying far, they prefer to stay in a group this flocking behavior makes them easier for experienced shepherds to control, if anything, they get upset when they are separated from their flock. Sheep need a leader and often the “leader” is whichever sheep makes the first move. Wikipedia also tries to reassure us that sheep are not stupid — they are as smart as cows and pigs, and can recognize faces and be trained.

People can recognize faces, be trained, and when properly conditioned (through religion and other methods) they too will follow group flocking behavior. If you’re busy following the leader, this does not bode well for thinking.

Christian Science teaches us to Think, but not too critically. Question, but not too much. As long as the answers you come to are ones that are sanctioned by our Beloved Leader Ms. Eddy and her Authorized Christian Science Literature, or The Mother Church, you’re welcome to come to those conclusions, but if you stray too far from the Authorized Message, you quickly get abandoned by OMFG’s Flock.

If you do have the time to think, your thought may turn to  why follow the Shepherd along the rugged way, why not take your own path? Obviously it is because The Shepherd (OMFG) knows best. If you educate the sheep (OMFG’s followers) they won’t have use for the Shepherd and the flock falls apart — at this point the problem is more for the Shepherd than the sheep because OMFG is without a flock, and what is the point of being OMFG (or Ms. Eddy) if you have no followers/people to control?

Can a God-figure exist if no one believes in it? Are we God’s creation, or is God ours, and why would we create such a jerk?


A Parable

I came across this in a collection of essays entitled The Truth about Jesus : Is He a Myth? compiled by M. M. Mangasarian, I found it again, online at www.bibliotecapleyades.net.

 I am reminded of the opening of Lord of the Rings (the movie): much that once was is now lost, for none now live who remember it. No one left alive today met Apollo, or Jesus, or Mary Baker Eddy. What will we remember of Ms. Eddy in 2500 years, or even another 20?


I am today twenty-five hundred years old. I have been dead for nearly as many years. My place of birth was Athens; my grave was not far from those of Xenophon and Plato, within view of the white glory of Athens and the shimmering waters of the Aegean sea.

After sleeping in my grave for many centuries I awoke suddenly – I cannot tell how nor why – and was transported by a force beyond my control to this new day and this new city. I arrived here at daybreak, when the sky was still dull and drowsy. As I approached the city I heard bells ringing, and a little later I found the streets astir with throngs of well dressed people in family groups wending their way hither and thither. Evidently they were not going to work, for they were accompanied by their children in their best clothes, and a pleasant expression was upon their faces.

“This must be a day of festival and worship, devoted to one of their Gods,” I murmured to myself Looking about me I saw a gentleman in a neat black dress, smiling, and his hand extended to me with great cordiality. He must have realized I was a stranger and wished to tender his hospitality to me. I accepted it gratefully. I clasped his hand. He pressed  mine. We gazed for a moment into each other’s eyes.

He understood my bewilderment amid my novel surroundings, and offered to enlighten me. He explained to me the ringing of the bells and meaning of the holiday crowds moving in the streets. Continue reading

My Inner Quiet

A number of years ago, my father gave me a small pendent of an anchor. I wore it on a necklace, similar to the way Christians wear crosses. I never felt comfortable wearing a cross, none of them ever felt “right” and I never had a Christian Science “cross and crown” pendent, although for a time I longed for one because everyone at Principia seemed to wear one as a little symbol of their faith. They had their cross to bear, I had my anchor to keep me grounded.

I stopped wearing my anchor shortly after I had my first child, the little grabby hands would yank on my necklace (and any jewelry I wore) so it was tucked safely into a drawer. Not forgotten about, just put aside until the children were out of the grabby phase.

At first it was difficult not wearing a necklace all the time. The anchor had served as a little reminder not to get swept up in the madness that could so easily permeate every day activities – the drama of the mothers groups, the baby who refused to sleep, the unceasing mountains of laundry, my father’s deteriorating health.

When my father passed away last year, I inherited some of his Masonic books. Dad was a 32nd degree mason, and while not particularly active in the movement, he did enjoy wearing his masonic jewelry – a ring with an impressive diamond (it had been in an engagement ring which “came back” so he decided to keep it for himself), and small pin.

In my “spare time,” I enjoy reading esoteric literature (even if it is often over my head), and Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry falls firmly into that category. I was flipping though it the other day and came across the entry for ANCHOR AND ARK, which made me smile:

ship_and_anchorAs an emblem of hope, the anchor is peculiarly a Christian, and thence a Masonic, symbol. It is first found inscribed on the tombs in the catacombs of Rome, and the idea of using it is probably derived from the language of Saint Paul (Hebrews vi, 19), ”which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast.”

The primitive Christians looked upon life as a stormy voyage, and glad were the voyagers when it was done, and they had arrived safe in port. Of this the anchor was a symbol, and when their brethren carved it over the tomb, it was to them an expression of confidence that he who slept beneath had reached the haven of eternal rest.
“The anchor,” says Mrs. Jameson in her Sacred and Legendary Art (1, page 34), “is the Christian symbol of immovable firmness, hope, and patience; and we find it very frequently in the catacombs, and on the ancient Christian gems.”
“The ark and anchor are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life. They are emblematical of that Divine ark which safely wafts us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary shall find rest.” (1)

My little pendent was exactly what I had envisioned it: the anchor that safely moored me in a peaceful harbor. I will forgive the Christian imagery, and the reference to St. Paul. It was a reminder of my inner strength, what Steiner would call “inner quiet.”

Inner Quiet

Quiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong.
Now will I be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now will I fill myself
With my own will’s resolve.
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being,
When by my steadfast striving
I become strong
The source of strength,
The strength of inner quiet.

– Rudolf Steiner

For now, my little anchor is safely stowed away. Now, on occasion, I wear a beautifully carved piece of jade instead, it was found among my father’s things. I often wonder what the story behind it is — my mother had never seen it before and has been unable to provide any answers. I’m sure my father would’ve told me it was from his time in the Far East, from his time in Singapore or Dubai. There would be some romantic or adventurous story behind it, although he just as easily could’ve picked it up in a curio shop in Europe, New Orleans, or New York.

[Jade] is regarded as a symbol of the good, the beautiful and the precious. It embodies the Confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage, yet it also symbolises the female-erotic. …. In ancient Egypt, jade was admired as the stone of love, inner peace, harmony and balance. In other regions and cultures too, jade was regarded as a lucky or protective stone.

I think the jade pendent is more fitting for my current stage in life: as a mother I should attempt to be wise, just, compassionate, modest and courageous. The reminder to strive for inner peace, harmony and balance is one that I should heed. Jade is not mentioned by the Freemasons — as far as I can tell, it is not listed in the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences by Albert G. Mackey, 1929. I find this comforting.

Neither the anchor nor the jade are the source of my Inner Quiet, only I am responsible for that: with my own will’s resolve, I will feel the quiet pouring through all my being. They are merely symbols, reminders to strive for something more – inner peace, harmony, compassion.


Image via http://www.themasonictrowel.com

  1. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences by Albert G. Mackey, 1929 p. 75 (or http://www.themasonictrowel.com/ebooks/freemasonry/eb0091.pdf which appears to be an accurate PDF rendering of the aforementioned text
  2. International Colored Gemstone Association

reclaiming Reality from Ms. Eddy’s Matrix

 

Mary Baker Eddy talks a lot about “reality” and Man’s True Spiritual Identity as a Child of God. Reality is even the title of one of the bi-yearly Weekly Bible Lesson topics. (1) Sunday School teachers were always trying to come up with analogies to explain the ever-present idea of the Adam Dream, the unreality of matter, and our True Spiritual Identity, and most of them failed fantastically. Then one day, the  movie The Matrix came out, mind you, it is now over a decade ago (fifteen years ago to be exact), but in the years that followed, The Matrix analogy was the best one they could muster – although, to be fair, after that we may have only had less media-and-teen savvy teachers. In The Matrix, a computer hacker (Neo) learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. (2)

Our Sunday School teachers likened us to Neo, being awakened into our True Spiritual Identity — if only we could recognize it we too could move mountains (I’m fairly sure they meant this figuratively because to the best of my knowledge none of them ever managed such a feat, and mountains aren’t real because none of this existence is real, but I digress). I agree, in many ways, Christian Science is like The Matrix: this is all the Adam Dream and any day now we’ll wake up and rediscover our True Spiritual Selves. Come to think of it, Christian Science is exactly like the Matrix, but not in the way Christian Scientists would like you to think.

In The Matrix, “reality” as projected by  the Machines is used to subjugate the humans (the science and logic involved in this is vague and sketchy at best). When Neo “wakes up” he realizes there is the Real World, outside the Matrix, beyond the control of the Machines. The machines remain an ever-present threat, sort of like Ms. Eddy’s baddies-of-choice Error, Mortal Mind and Malicious Animal Magnetism.

I don’t think Ms. Eddy ever set out to subjugate humanity, but I do feel her misguided teachings have done more harm than the Matrix’s less-than-benevolent overlords. In the Matrix, the humans are totally unaware of the fact they are being subjugated, manipulated and deceived. The Matrix is a dull, but mostly safe, place to be as long as you don’t question authority. In both the Matrix, and in Christian Science, the people are aware of something else, something bigger, something more.

Neo is one of those who is seeking the “something more” and while his story is interesting, I am more interested in the Christian Scientists and their paths. Some Christian Scientists take the need to find “something more” as a sign they should immerse themselves in “the books” and spend hours analyzing Ms. Eddy’s works, others leave Christian Science to “find Jesus” or take another path entirely.

I’m not going to critique those who have “found Jesus” – they seem happy on their path. I’m one of those who has taken another path entirely. In some ways, I feel a bit like Neo (but not badly dressed, pale and badly acted part), I’m waking up to the Real World — not the fantasy world of the Christian Science Matrix.

Christian Scientists are encouraged to “live in the Absolute” but until you have ascended into Heaven and are as the Angels you’d better take care of the material body, regardless of how “unreal” you find it to be. Ignoring physical ailments will not magically make them go away — except when it does, and that’s not the “power of prayer” that’s the resilience of the human body and we are very resilient.

The Matrix  — and Ms. Eddy — may try to convince us there is no spoon, but the spoon, and ice-cream I’m eating with it, are very real. In Christian Science, Ms. Eddy’s “reality” is a “perfect day of understanding, [when] we shall neither eat to live nor live to eat” (3) and this stands in stark contrast with the commonly accepted idea that

Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. (4)

Ms. Eddy’s “reality” calls for dissociation, varying from mild detachment from immediate surroundings (a TV commercial for pharmaceuticals) to more severe detachment from physical (everything from strokes and heart attacks, to something milder like headaches and hangnails) and emotional experience (the death of a loved one). Fellow former-CS-blogger MKHuggins has two excellent pieces on this: Christian Science and Dissociation in which she argues, quite convincingly, that Christian Science is a dissociative disorder, and a follow up piece entitled Christian Science is a Dissociative Disorder Part 2.

I remember young women at Principia who struggled month after month with horrible menstrual cramps, curled up in their beds with a heating pad for comfort (if they were lucky). Why allow a heating pad but not ibuprofen, or hormonal remedies? Why force otherwise healthy, capable young women to miss day after day of classes because they had been rendered nearly non-functional from pain? In Ms. Eddy’s Christian Science Matrix, the women were suffering from a false belief, in The Real World these women likely had ovarian cysts, hormonal imbalances, or other untreated issues. Could these young women seek treatment? No. That would be acknowledging and empowering Mortal Mind, Error, Mortality and Death.

I know from personal experience is only so much one can disassociate from before reality peeks in. Christian Science damages the ability to have empathy for the sick or injured — they should be working on their demonstration, not laying in bed hallucinating from a fever! The ailment is not real, it is attention seeking behavior!

Breaking free of Ms. Eddy’s Christian Science Matrix means learning about emotions — it is OKAY to be upset, to be angry, to be afraid, to be nervous. It is OKAY to acknowledge (and treat) physical ailments.  I don’t have to be constantly filled up full with thoughts from God, and that’s OKAY.

The Christian Science Matrix talks a lot about the nature of reality, how we are all spiritual ideals, lofty thoughts for sure, but I’m not seeking perfection or an otherworldly lack of need for food — I don’t need to ascend into some exalted unreal spiritual state, I’m seeking okay-ness, I’m seeking to be a better mother, wife, friend, person. I don’t need the layers of “reality” that are layered on by the Christian Science Matrix, I can fend for myself in the Real World just fine.

Further Reading

End Notes

  1. http://christianscience.com/bible-lessons/related-information/about-the-bible-lessons/bible-lesson-subjects, http://biblelessons.rolf-witzsche.com/Christian-Science-Bible-Lessons/0097.html
  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/ emphasis mine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY9UhIxitYM
  3. Science & Health p. 388
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociation_%28psychology%29

 

Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 3

Welcome Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 3 (for all posts on this topic see the MBE Inspiration tag). Answers to Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 2 are now up.

As noted in Rounds 1 and 2, Ms. Eddy claims Science and Health with Key to the Scripture was divinely inspired and that her only source was the Bible, I have drawn from a variety of sources to compile the passages below. What work is hers? I’ll let you try and sort that out.

  • Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (the 1875 and 1994 editions)
  • Quimby Manuscript by Horatio Dresser
  • The Leiber Document found in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (1936) by Walter M. Haushalter

** Please note I have temporarily allowed “anonymous” commenting. All first-time comments will be moderated. **


1) The time will come when the true God will be worshipped in spirit and truth, for God is a Spirit and not a man.

2) Matter is not the medium through which Spirit acts, or is manifested. Spirit is never individualized, and there is no medium for it. Spirit is infinite, because it is Intelligence, what then can limit it? Again, to Spirit Intelligence alone is Substance, and there is no matter. If the body was intelligent, it could never return to dust, for mind dies not, and Intelligence never developed from matter.

3) Jesus’ parable of “the sower” shows the care our Master took not to impart to dull ears and gross hearts the spiritual teachings which dulness and grossness could not accept. Reading the thoughts of the people, he said: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”

4) The unity of God and man is made real by Spirit.

5) He travelled all through the land curing all sorts of diseases, preaching the kingdom of Science, and His fame went everywhere. Great multitudes followed Him and He went up into a higher state or Science and opened His mouth to them in truth or parables.

6) The beauty of matter passes away fading at length into decay and ugliness. But beauty itself is a thing of Life exempt from age or decay and to be this is must be a thing of Spirit.

7) Disease is the offspring of error

8) Matter and its claims of sin, sickness, and death are contrary to God, and cannot emanate from Him. There is no material truth. The physical senses can take no cognizance of God and spiritual Truth.

9) there is no truth, substance, life or intelligence in matter; all is infinite Mind. Thus matter has no reality; it is only the manifestation of Spirit.

10) That Spirit propagates matter or matter Spirit, is morally impossible.

Steiner’s Verses: Mother Earth, Father Sun

The sing-song voice of Kid1 floated into the kitchen:

Give thanks to the Mother Earth.
Give thanks to the Father Sun.

These lines were repeated a few times, and then there was a crash of blocks as they moved on to something else. I asked Kid1 about the song later and was told “we sing at school” before they ran off to do other things.

The first two lines floated around in my head for several days until I got around to asking at Kid1’s school. The blessing is one of Rudolph Steiner‘s and is recited before snack and meal time.

The complete verse is

Give thanks to the Mother Earth.
Give thanks to the Father Sun.
Give thanks to the plants in the garden,
Where the Mother and Father are One.

Given Steiner’s views on Christ, angels with flaming swords, and seasonal rituals, I can’t say I’m too surprised by the simple verse citing Mother Earth and Father sun, and I find it to be one of the milder things that Steiner introduces. Some of Steiner’s ideas on Anthroposophy (1) are hard for me to wrap my mind around, and some of the criticisms leveled against Steiner and the Waldorf movement (2) are rather unsettling.

Although I am still learning about Steiner’s more unique ideas (3), I think the simple snack time verse is sweet, and sends an appropriate message. I prefer it to the Omni-everything Mother-Father God (OMFG) that Ms. Eddy endorses.

Unlike the OMFG, Mother Earth and Father Sun are solid concepts that are easily understood. Mother Earth is all around us, Father Sun is in the sky shining down on us. You can walk around and enjoy the earth/nature, you can feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you.

Mother Earth and Father Sun are not a perfect analogy, but the concepts have been around for centuries. Mother Earth (and Mother Nature), is a common metaphorical expression for the Earth and its biosphere as a giver and sustainer of life. Mother Earth is also recognized as a deity in various cultures  – Gaia, Terra and Pachamama to list a few (4). Similarly Father Sun and predominately male Solar Deities can also be found in numerous cultures and traditions – ex: Helios, Apollo, Sol, and Tonatiuh (5).

Being thankful for the plants in the garden where the Mother and the Father are One is also conceptually solid. Without the earth to plant seeds in, and without the sun (yay for photosynthesis) there would be nothing in the garden to eat – although if you want to be strictly technical without the Earth we wouldn’t be here to begin with and there would just be space and other stuff orbiting the Sun.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.52.33 PMTo me, Steiner’s underlying message is that the earth, sun and garden are things that should be cherished. Although it is hard imagine how one would love and care for the sun (other than appropriate seasonal festivities celebrating its return), appreciating the Earth and garden are easier. This appreciation of the material world, and acknowledgement of spiritual elements within it (6), are the opposite of Ms. Eddy’s stance that the material world is unreal.

For Ms. Eddy the earth is a preparatory school in need of improvement (7). Her “science” is one of the Science of Being, and her focus is on abstract concepts that require a fair bit of what fellow former-CS blogger Emerging Gently often refers to as “mental gymnastics.” In the land of OMFG, at the end of the day, we are Spiritual, not material, so while Christian Scientists pray to know the unreality of a bitterly cold Boston winter, the waldorf-minded individuals layer on their woolies.

Steiner, even with his quirks, did start one of the first sustainable agriculture movements. From wikipedia (6)

Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties; and the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar.

Christian Science is very egocentric, it is all about the persons personal relationship with OMFG, often at the cost of all else. To my knowledge, Ms. Eddy never ventures far from the topic of her Science of Being and the OMFG relationship. The closest she gets to discussing agriculture is to make sheep/shepherd metaphors, and Principia’s motto “As the sowing, the reaping” drives home the point:

It’s a simple equation. What we receive is in direct proportion to what we give. Principians are encouraged and expected to give their all in every activity—academic, athletic, artistic, social, and spiritual. (8)

Academics, athletics, art, making the social rounds, and prayer aren’t going to feed anyone. Unless someone is actually out there sowing and reaping people are going to starve. Being a “fisher of men” (9) is all well and good, but unless someone is practicing sustainable fishing habits there won’t be much to eat in the long run. This is trivial in Ms. Eddy’s immaterial world, as she is the woman in the Apocalypse and soon we will all be as angels in Heaven (10), any suffering we have now (bonds of marriage included), must be tolerated until then.

These problems, which are unreal to Ms. Eddy, are issues that Steiner addresses, and while some of his mystical methods are questionable (11), no difference in beneficial outcomes has been scientifically established between certified biodynamic agricultural techniques and similar organic and integrated farming practices (6).

At the end of the day, I find Steiner’s simple verse, about Mother Earth and Father Sun to be far more pleasant than Ms. Eddy’s grandiose reinterpretation of the Lord’s Prayer (12).

Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,

Hallowed be Thy name.
Adorable One.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Enable us to know, — as in heaven, so on earth, —
God is omnipotent, supreme.

Give us this day our daily bread;
Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love;

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth
us from sin, disease, and death.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love,
over all, and All.

From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 16–17

There is no need for grandiose kingdoms, or power and glory forever. Go take a walk. Enjoy your garden.


Image credit: screen shot from A Child’s Book of Blessings via GoogleBooks

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy
  2. https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/table-of-contents – I need to research this more, it brings up interesting questions
  3. Let’s face it, Steiner was influenced by 18th and 19th century German philosophers and writers, including but not limited to Nietzsche, GoetheSchopenhauerJean Paul, and Hegel*
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Earth
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_deity
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture
  7. S&H p. 486 “Earth’s preparatory school must be improved to the utmost.”
  8. http://www.principiacollege.edu/about-principia-college/christian-science
  9. http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Matthew%204%3A19
  10. S&H p. 56 discusses the matter some, it is also mentioned a few other places
  11. including burying ground quartz stuffed into the horn of a cow, which are said to harvest “cosmic forces in the soil” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture
  12. http://christianscience.com/bible-lessons/related-information/for-church-services/the-lord-s-prayer

*as was Ms. Eddy, but that is a post for another day

Further reading: