In the late 20th century, as a student and practitioner of divine Science, I found the teachings in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health to be extraordinarily effective in understanding how to heal mind/body/spirit through prayer. I’ve experienced proof of metaphysical healing and for this proof I basically give credit to the ideals of Truth, God, as outlined in Eddy’s Science and Health.
Before the turn of this century, my practice of metaphysical healing increasingly included the public. I would find myself in conversations with people interested in the scientific healing aspect of Truth, Christ. However in the beginning, these conversations brought about a rude awakening for me. I was too often speaking in 19th century vernacular when I shared Eddy’s ideas. So, I made the decision to admit that Eddy’s statements were deserving of expression in 21st century idiom and language and I developed the means to do so. It wasn’t long before logic took me further. If speaking about Eddy’s ideas in today’s language, I must also accept Science and Health in today’s language in print form. To insist otherwise is ethnocentric, impractical, and false-hearted.
However, something about a printable re-vision of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings ran contrary to what I’d been humanly imprinted with. Either consciously, or unconsciously, my brain was impressed with the notion that a readable revision of Science and Health was not an option. For feedback, I mentioned the idea of Eddy’s Science and Health in modern day language to my Teacher of Christian Science. He gave me a shocked look, fumbling with words agreeable to the value of revisions, but the subject was dropped and I wasn’t prepared to say anymore. I then bounced the idea off other students of Christian Science, but the idea came right back like a hot potato.
I remember going through mental gyrations that eventually calmed to strength. I reasoned with the motivation to be truthful and fall into line with progress.
Then a physical problem presented itself. After being in a horrific accident, I was fighting for my life. Timid conservatism was insisting it was better to go along with common assumptions and not question the authorities. Anyway, I felt privileged to be familiar with Eddy’s words; they helped me immensely, so why change? Why repent? The answer blared back: because healing truths are not confined to physical states or things. And, more importantly, good ideas are to be shared, not buried in the letter. My human mind gave way to self-evident spiritual truths. Healing ideas are timeless, universal, and all-inclusively expressed. My thought had changed and my body responded by healing naturally and quickly to the amazement of the surgeon and nurses.
I quietly and sincerely began revisiting and updating Science and Health just after the turn of the 21st century. Wow, a printable re-vision of Science and Health is a daunting task. The revision of Eddy’s Science and Health needed to be done extremely well, carefully, thoughtfully and lovingly, without personal ego or preferences.
In this pursuit, I spent countless hours developing the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish this formidable task. I studied Bible history, researched other great thinkers who Eddy quoted and referenced, and became familiar with the times in which she lived. I examined the meaning of 19th century terminology and idiom, and learned how scientific and religious thought has progressed in the twentieth century. I was also active in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, and consistently tended to my spiritual advancement.
The spiritual growth I attained while revising one chapter helped me to revise another chapter. Also, unique coincidences brought me together with people who were powerfully thankful for Eddy’s metaphysical ideas and offered me outstanding counsel on how to update the book so the text is correct to the reader today.
One of the many examples of how Eddy’s meaning has been changed, because the words have NOT been revised, is the 21 times that she uses the word “apprehension” in Science and Health. Today, “apprehension” usually means anxiety or doubt. In her time, it meant comprehension.
Numerous terms, such as animal magnetism, phrenology, humors, brainology, and consumption, is outdated and consequently confusing to the reader. In the revision, these terms have been replaced with proper text that aids more fluent practical reading. Also, the book is now gender-inclusive. Although Eddy’s use of the term “man,” meaning person, was acceptable in the 19th century, it is not acceptable today. I also requested, and was granted permission to quote from modern Bibles and 20th century leaders. These quotes have been footnoted, as is appropriate for literature today.
After a few years of getting the revision on paper, I did approach The Christian Science Publishing Society for assistance in publishing 21st Century Science and Health. I was still a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, and figured our church would appreciate the opportunity to again have some form of legal access to Eddy’s writings. During the 20th century, we members were so busy with rituals and human ideologies that we had neglected to follow Eddy and keep her writings in line with the times. Consequently, the church lost any connection to a copyright to Science and Health long ago. It was similar to a person inheriting a piece of property and failing to take care of it or pay the taxes and so the inheritance got taken away.
However, instead of responding to me, the Publishing Society told the Christian Science Board of Directors about the revision. The Directors then began a dialog with me (which I have documented). This dialog went on for a few weeks and was not only grossly agonizing, but also very enlightening. For instance, the Board of Directors told me that Eddy requested her words not be changed.
To change Eddy’s words would be to change the wording in Science and Health while keeping her name on the book as the author. The revision of Science and Health is clearly juxtaposed with my name and also unambiguously referred to as a revision of Eddy’s book on the cover and in my Preface. The Church Boards inability to grasp the facts and defend Eddy, not as an idle idol, but as a human being whose genius lay in her ability to make spirituality and God the focus, compelled me to withdraw my church membership so as not to be affiliated with isolated thinking and fears. I continued the revision, quietly, out from under the crushing weight of manufactured views.
Please allow me to digress here.
With all due respect, I assert that I am not antagonistic to First Church of Christ, Scientist. I have happy memories of being around wonderful people when I was a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist. I recognize that many church members are outstanding citizens of the community and contribute admirably to society. But, I also came across a few extremists who promulgated Christian Science as a religion of not going to a doctor. A dogma I did not learn.
All human organizations have their problems and have been known to get superiority complexes. These complexes twist and morph, sometimes looking arrogant or out of touch with reality. But, I am partly to blame if I give someone power they really don’t and can’t possess. It is dishonest and lazy for me to presume a hierarchy can make final decisions or that I can just repeat Eddy’s words and expect progress.
Consequently, when I am upset, it is only with myself, while struggling to break from habituated human mindsets. I do feel Eddy’s counsel when she wrote, “Judge not the future advancement of Christian Science by the steps already taken, lest you yourself be condemned for failing to take the first step.” (Science and Health, Trade Edition, pg. 459)
Needless to say, I pray vigilantly for a regeneration of practicality, honest hard-work, and compassion. I am committed to the inevitable rather than resigning myself to it later.
History has proven over and again that people can break out of the comfortable human mindsets enough to manifest improved ideals that benefit humanity and our world. Usually these transitions include confusion, so I now address the beliefs and fears I’ve come across.
I’ve been asked whether or not 21st Century Science and Health has been authorized by First Church of Christ, Scientist. It never occurred to me to ask the church for permission to fulfill my right and responsibility to revise Eddy’s Science and Health in order to advance divine Science today. Just as I wouldn’t dream of thinking I had to be authorized by First Church of Christ, Scientist in order to understand divine Science and experience its healing power. First Church of Christ, Scientist has no authority over Eddy’s Science and Health. It is in the public domain.
Science and Health is its own complete entity. It manifests itself as self-supportive.
Another mental position and fear that I’ve run into concerning my revision of Science and Health is that a revision of Eddy’s work is somehow immoral, unjustifiable, or impossible. This is easily treated. Words are used to stimulate thoughts, which in turn do stimulate the physical state. It is impossible to confine divine Science to words either spoken or written. Thoughts of God, Truth, are not in the letter, and certainly not restricted to the English language. I read from Eddy’s works, “The chief difficulty in conveying the teachings of divine Science accurately to human thought lies in this; that like all other languages, English is inadequate to the expression of spiritual conceptions and propositions, because one is obliged to use material terms in dealing with spiritual ideas.” (ibid., pg. 349) It is moral, just, and possible to express and manifest Truth ad-infinitum.
Eddy revised Science and Health over three hundred times, proving the document to be all-encompassing and contemporary. She left an incredibly clear pattern to follow for revising. I studied many of her versions. “A human perception of divine Science, however limited, must be correct in order to be Science and subject to demonstration…hence the many readings given the Scriptures, and the requisite revisions of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” (ibid., pg 361)
My book, 21st Century Science and Health is an offspring of Eddy’s Science and Health; one with, but not the same as. I will continue to take care of the revision with diligence. I am appreciative to the community of people around the world who help me mature 21st Century Science and Health as spiritual ideas unfold.