a rainbow does not make up for the annihilation of mankind

Ark on Mount Ararat By Simon de Male

The other night Kid2 wanted to read the story of Noah’s Ark. We have an older children’s copy probably first published sometime in the 70s. It was my husbands when he was a child, and as great flood stories are common in many cultures, I figured why not.

I did my best to read in a non-judgmental tone. Paraphrasing here, as book is back on the bookshelf and really, we all know the story, if you need a refresher, you can find it in the Bible, Genesis 5:32-10:1.

Noah and his wife live together with their children, and one day God tells Noah to build an ark. So Noah goes about building an ark, and collects two of each kind of animal for the ark.

So far, so good. Although Kid2 notes “thats a lot of animals.” Yes, yes it is.

Then God gets angry and sends a lot of rain and floods the world and kills everyone — except Noah and his family.

Kid2’s eyes got big. “That God is mean.”

I can’t say I disagree, after all “That God” just finished drowning (almost) all the the inhabitants of the earth simply because “they angered him.”

So Kid2 and I brainstormed better ways of dealing with people who anger you, then we worked our way to the end of the book.

God shows Noah a rainbow and promises not to kill all the humans again.

Kid2 does not think a rainbow makes up for mass drowning, and wanted to be assured it was “just a story.”

Yes, Kid2, it is just a story.


what their itching ears want to hear – new wine-old bottles, Mary Baker Eddy & Luke 5:36-39

Back in May, when I wrote about Ms. Eddy and alcohol, I came across a parable that was largely overlooked by my Sunday School teachers, it comes from Luke 5:36-39 and it talks about wine.

“And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.”

—Luke 5:36-39, King James Version

Ms. Eddy refers to this parable in Chapter VI, Science, Theology, Medicine (114:12) when she states

As Mind is immortal, the phrase mortal mind implies something untrue and therefore unreal; and as the phrase is used in teaching Christian Science, it is meant to designate that which has no real existence. Indeed, if a better word or phrase could be suggested, it would be used; but in expressing the new tongue we must sometimes recur to the old and imperfect, and the new wine of the Spirit has to be poured into the old bottles of the letter.           (emphasis mine)

Ms. Eddy seems upset by the limitations of language, which is understandable:  there are many ways to interpret what she has written, some read her works and come way with the sense that God is LOVE! in big, bold confetti caps, while others come away cowering in terror at the Unreality of Mortal Mind.

The wine/bottles parable is referred to again in Chapter X, Science Of Being (281:27282:1)

Divine Science does not put new wine into old bottles, Soul into matter, nor the infinite into the finite. Our false views of matter perish as we grasp the facts of Spirit. The old belief must be cast out or the new idea will be spilled, and the inspiration, which is to change our standpoint, will be lost. Now, as of old, Truth casts out evils and heals the sick.

It is obvious to the early Journal contributors that Christian Science is the New Wine that Jesus was talking about. The Christian Science Journal, Volume 16  By Mary Baker Eddy April, 1898 (1) has “A Timely Topic” by F.S. Wilbur (p. 29-31) that talks about this parable in relation to Christian Science:

According to F.S. Wilbur, Ms. Eddy was “impelled by a power not her own to “provide new bottles for the new wine” — obviously Christian Science on both counts. A bit of boasting that echos Ms. Eddy’s sentiments, and promise of a lasting permanence and preservation of these ideas.

The take on new wine/old bottles takes an interesting turn in The Christian Science Journal, Volume 37, April 1919 (2) has “Qualification for Healing” by S. Ella Schelhamer (p. 179-181), which echos sentiments that send chills down my spine:

… she saw there had been murmurings and rebellion and a fixed belief in the reality of matter, with its resultant sin and sickness, that must be relinquished before the healing could be realized.  It is obvious that the elimination of belief in the pleasures and pains of sense must precede human receptivity to Truth. On page 15 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” Mrs. Eddy writes, “Without a fitness for holiness, we can not receive holiness.”

Ms. Schelhamer goes on to repeat the wine/bottles parable, then continues.

Though smarting under the tyrannical control of materialism, wether in the guise of sin, sickness, or mental disturbance, the length of the journey from inharmony to harmony is determined by the willingness to divest thought of materialism. Even the righteous desire for healing must be superseded by the stronger desire to know more of God, to learn His will and obey it, and when such becomes the state of consciousness there unfolds to the individual the knowledge of the ever presence of all-power of God.

What Jesus “said” made sense, even outside of the context of a parable, putting new wine into old wine skins will cause them to break. Ms. Eddy’s follower’s 1898 claim that she discovered a new wine, and created a new bottle for it is a rather bold one.

The tile of the 1919 piece, “Qualifications for Healing” is enough to turn my stomach. Only the qualified are worthy of being healed. I’m unsure where Ms. Schelhamer is going when she uses the new wine analogy. The Eddy quote about holiness makes sense in this context, but I am unsure what new bottles the new wine of Christian Science is supposed to be going into. The material body is an unreal vessel, so are we filling a spiritual body? How do you get a “new” spiritual body? Is this “new” spiritual body a reference to Revelation 21:5? (3)

Ms. Schelhamer raises more questions than answers, also how are we to know God’s will? The idea of “Angel messages” is problematic, as 2 Timothy 4:3 reminds us to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (New International Version). (4) How do we know that Christian Science, and Ms. Schelhamer’s opinions on it, are true? Jeremiah devotes all of chapter 7 to false religions (5), and the notion that Christian Science is a “false” religion is often used by more “mainstream” groups.

There are a few more Journal and Sentinel articles that discuss the new wine/old bottles predicament, but as they are tucked safely behind the Mother Church’s pay-wall, so I will instead turn to the sadly now defunct New Wine New Bottles blog, based on the premise that perhaps it is time for a New Christian Science movement. New Wine links to the Next Generation Fellowship movement in St. Louis, and regularly called out the Christian Science movement for lacking in adult Sunday School classes, dull music, and archaic ritual.

New Wine New Bottles makes for an interesting read, and at one point I heartily agreed with the idea of reform movement. Now, while I’m sure it appeals to some, my path has led me in a different direction. I don’t see why Christian Science has to make things so complicated. It is really quite simple: when I want wine, I buy new wine in new bottles, when the bottles are empty, I put them in the recycling bin.

Further Reading & Bible Commentaries

End Notes

  1. http://books.google.com/books?id=ta1LAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=old+wine+new+bottles+christian+science&source=bl&ots=z4wyqNc2lF&sig=IrLFqcC38dGOW_6MWOaqmZJGnaI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jJzOU5nrLsr8oASbtoL4Bw&ved=0CFgQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=old%20wine%20new%20bottles%20christian%20science&f=false
  2. http://books.google.com/books?id=StMWAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&dq=old+wine+new+bottles+christian+science&source=bl&ots=pAS2eElh-N&sig=I9q7zzgc3ZqletsIyicm83bEo7w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jJzOU5nrLsr8oASbtoL4Bw&ved=0CFsQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=old%20wine%20new%20bottles%20christian%20science&f=false
  3. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2021:4-6&version=KJ21  And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said unto me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
  4. http://biblehub.com/2_timothy/4-3.htm
  5. http://biblehub.com/niv/jeremiah/7.htm

Continue reading

Hey, Christians. Feeling Persecuted? Don’t Be Evil!

Some light reading for your weekend.


Christians and LionIn the debris of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Atlanta Banana published a satirical news report: Little Caesar’s Pizza had been granted the religious freedom to feed Christian employees to lions.

Never mind that the trope of Christians getting fed to lions may have been made up by early Christians themselves; the Little Caesar story was almost inevitable. Faced with a barrage of conscience claims, frustrated secularists are wondering whether there’s any limit to the privileges some people will claim in the name of “religious freedom” or any limit to the exemptions and entitlements they will be granted by co-religionists in positions of power.

Turning frustration into humor is a time honored tradition, but serious Bible believers are unlikely to find the Little Caesar’s story funny. The notion of martyrdom as the apogee of faith is as old as the Catholic Church. To quote Christian History for Everyman

View original post 2,190 more words

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

look at all my trials & tribulations, sinking in a gentle pool of wine


It surprises some of my fellow former-Christian Scientists that while I have left the Mother Church, and no longer follow (or believe) in the teachings of Ms. Eddy, I continue to refrain from imbibing alcohol. I don’t drink wine, beer, or cocktails. I don’t enjoy vodka, tequila, or spirits. I’ve had a few sips in the past: mulled wine at a Christmas fair, a polite sip of wine, fruity liquor over ice cream, hard cider. I’ve gotten tipsier than I care to admit to (that was the hard cider), but I’ve never gotten totally and completely wasted. I plan to keep it that way.

People used to question why I abstained from imbibing alcohol,  Christian Science has very little to do with why I don’t drink. I have the usual answer, of “I don’t enjoy it” — which is true, I don’t enjoy how I feel (my stomach gets queasy). If pressed hard enough, they may hear about the relationships I’ve seen damaged by excessive alcohol consumption, or the ex-boyfriend who thought nothing of consuming a box of beer (I think there are 32 in a large box) in a weekend and drunk-dialing late into the night. They may hear about the poem that was read every spring over the intercom of my high school — often before Spring Break, or Prom. (2)

If pushed hard enough, I firmly tell them that I prefer not to drink, and that is my decision. I do, however, enjoy cooking with wine — most of the alcohol burns off and the flavor is much better than the usual substitute of chicken broth (for white) or beef broth (for red). I do fall back on a handy list of substitutions from time to time as I don’t regularly stock Grand Marnier in my cabinets, but a bottle of $5 dry white wine has taken up residence in my fridge – it is cheaper than cooking wine, tastes better, and doesn’t grow things the way the box of organic chicken broth does after being ignored a little too long. (3) I also have some beer (for bread making) and an aged bottle of vodka (I don’t remember why anymore).

I started dabbling with alcohol in cooking before I “left” Christian Science, it started with beer in bread — a few tablespoons. I didn’t understand what the “big deal” was, I could only find one reference to “alcohol” (it was the root word in alcoholic) in Science and Health. (4) In Chapter XII, Christian Science Practice p. 406:28407:1 Ms. Eddy decrees

The depraved appetite for alcoholic drinks, tobacco, tea, coffee, opium, is destroyed only by Mind’s mastery of the body. This normal control is gained through divine strength and understanding. There is no enjoyment in getting drunk, in becoming a fool or an object of loathing; but there is a very sharp remembrance of it, a suffering inconceivably terrible to man’s self-respect. Puffing the obnoxious fumes of tobacco, or chewing a leaf naturally attractive to no creature except a loathsome worm, is at least disgusting.

I have mixed feelings on this one: I don’t think coffee and tea should be lumped with opium. I agree, one should not drink to excess (and if one is going to be driving one should abstain, or find a designated driver). I was not going to drink the beer, I was making bread, no one was going to get drunk or become “a fool, or object of loathing.” I also find smoking revolting, but I’ve not take up the habit since leaving Christian Science. It is interesting that Ms. Eddy refers to “alcoholic drinks” and not wine specifically, as she goes on to define WINE in the Glossary on p. 598:17

WINE. Inspiration; understanding. Error; fornication; temptation; passion.

In addition to the mention in the Glossary, wine is mentioned nine other times, on pages 32:3, 32:20, 33:2733:27, 35:19, 52:2953:1, 65:1, 114:12, 281:27282:1, and 321:19322:1. Chapter II, Atonement And Eucharist contains the most references to wine in the context of sacrament. (5) It is my understanding that Christian Scientists celebrate the “sacraments” of “baptism” and “communion” twice a year – when the Bible Lesson on “Sacrament” comes around. (6) Christian Science “sacrament” excludes the material elements of water, bread, and wine. Baptism (another “sacrament” in more traditional churches) occurs when the person is “submerged in Spirit.”(7) I’m not going to pretend to understand the theology and logic behind Ms. Eddy’s actions, but I do know many of my “Christian” friends were confused that I had never been baptized with water.

Wine is mentioned a second time in Chapter 2, on p. 52:2953:1, as the Pharisees criticize Jesus for being a “friend of publicans and sinners” Ms. Eddy jumps to Jesus’ defense stating “The latter accusation was true, but not in their meaning. Jesus was no ascetic. He did not fast as did the Baptist’s disciples; yet there never lived a man so far removed from appetites and passions as the Nazarene. He rebuked sinners pointedly and unflinchingly, because he was their friend; hence the cup he drank.”

On p.  65:1 in  Chapter 3, Marriage Ms. Eddy hopes that “Christ, Truth, be present at every bridal altar to turn the water into wine and to give to human life an inspiration by which man’s spiritual and eternal existence may be discerned.” I see this as similar to the passage in Chapter X, Science Of Being (p. 321:19322:1) where Ms. Eddy cites Jesus’ turning the water into wine as a demonstration of the power of Mind. By this logic, I suppose if you’re capable of turning water into wine, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass or two. My Sunday School teachers often attempted to justify Jesus’ decision to change the water into wine by saying that “water wasn’t always safe to drink” — when I argued that Jesus’ could’ve headed them if they fell ill, the topic was usually changed, and quickly.

The final references to wine (other than the Glossary) are in  Chapter VI, Science, Theology, Medicine (114:12) and Chapter X, Science Of Being (281:27282:1), both allude to pouring new wine into old bottles. The message in Ch. VI:

in expressing the new tongue we must sometimes recur to the old and imperfect, and the new wine of the Spirit has to be poured into the old bottles of the letter.

stands in contrast to the message in Ch. X,

Divine Science does not put new wine into old bottles, Soul into matter, nor the infinite into the finite. Our false views of matter perish as we grasp the facts of Spirit.

A search for old wine/new bottles turned up a parable about new wine into old wineskins, even with my years of Sunday School attendance I don’t remember this one being mentioned — perhaps because it was about wine, or because I didn’t go around reading the New Testament for fun (8).

Ms. Eddy seems to want to have her wine two ways, as she states in her Glossary definition wine can be “inspiration” and “understanding” but too much of it leads to “error; fornication; temptation; passion” (what’s wrong with passion? Oh right, distracts from God). Allegorical wine is fine — abstract wine as a symbol of Divine Science is acceptable, but the imbibing of the juice of crushed fermented grapes? That is acknowledging, and therefore empowering, the material, which leads to error, and error  (fornication, temptation and passion), distract from God, which leads to death.

I find the Christian Scientists perpetual preoccupation with alcohol far more damaging than the occasional glass of wine itself. They claim that matter has no power over them they go out of their way to give it power — this is most apparent in situations regarding hospitality and culinary endeavors: they balk at a glass of wine offered as a gesture of hospitality, wrinkle their nose at liqueur over ice cream (or send it back and request it without the offending topping), and make a show of declining something cooked in a white wine sauce. If you didn’t know better you’d think all Christian Scientists were recovering alcoholics and the tiniest sip would send them headlong into a dionysian trance.

As I mentioned before, I don’t drink, but I have no problem emptying half a bottle of wine over a turkey breast to braise it for a holiday meal — I would like to add it was the most amazingly moist and flavorful turkey ever, even my Christian Science in-laws said so — and then looked aghast when I told them what I’d done, to their credit, they continued to eat, but did not go back for seconds. If you choose to imbibe alcohol, please do so responsibly, if you choose not to, that is your choice, but don’t hide behind Ms. Eddy’s bogus logic to back up your reasoning.

  1. Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) The Last Supper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJxKtOwgLdw
  2. http://www.witn.com/blogs/newsblog/69081682.html
  3. http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blalcohol6.htm
  4. I know, it “distracts” from one’s “relationship with God” (as does sex, drugs, idolatry — which could be anything from being “materialistic” to worshiping a golden calf)
  5. Ch. 2, Atonement & Eucharist 32:3, 32:20, 33:2733:27, 35:19, 52:2953:1
  6. An example of the weekly Bible Lesson on Sacrament from December 11, 1898 http://christian-science-csd.info/christian_science/biblelessons/christian-science-bible-lessons/0011.html
  7. http://www.lcms.org/ Lutheran Pamphlet on Christian Science
  8. I may touch on the old wine/new bottles parable in the future. The parable can be found here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Wine_into_Old_Wineskins
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries

Passages from Science and Health via http://lineoflight.com/