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30 of 52  Trip Around The Sun – The Church of Christ Scientist


Sunday, November 24, 2002

Have traveled about 337,000,000 miles.


Thoughts during the week:


Someone sent me this:


"Replace the first rows with plush bucket theatre seats. The front of the church fills first."



The Ben Franklin Documentary has been on the Public channel this week. He was immensely interesting among our founding fathers.


When he invented the lightning rod, it began almost immediately to save buildings around the world from fire. Religious groups considered it an affront to God’s intended show of power. Ben argued, “We protect our roofs from hail with shields. What is the difference? Lightning is a natural event – not an act of God.”


He didn’t apply for patent for his lightning rod – but gave this as a gift to the world. Even today, we wouldn’t think of building a tall building that did not include this protection.


His lightning rod was regarded among the thinking public as a great triumph of science over superstition.


All of these same processes of thought continue even today. The superstitious reject speciation by natural selection (evolution) without so much as a smattering of knowledge about it. The data has been available and growing for almost a hundred years, yet folks stand firmly with the opinion that it is an affront to God’s stated method of creation – the “Let it be and it is” method. Anyone who wants to know any details about how we came to be, is on flimsy ground – and, I suppose, likely to get struck by lightning, God’s swift sword.


Natural processes are not our enemies – they are not our friends either – they just are.


“They Are that they Are,” to paraphrase scripture.



The visit:


The Church of Christ Scientist (Christian Science) 440 S. Broadway, Escondido


This was far from what I expected. I don’t know how we get our mental pictures, but mine was a far cry from reality for Christian Science.


From “Explanatory Note for Church Services”:


“The Bible and the Christian Science textbook are our only preachers.”


In the entire meeting, not one human comment was made. Two women were the speakers, but they read every word verbatim. No opinions or feeling are given at all. No testimonial – nothing whatever other than the exact reading from the Bible or from Mary Baker Eddy (Akin to our Joseph Smith – their founding prophet.)


Opening song: Page in hymnal is announced – then one of the women reads the words of one or more verses – then the song leader, a man, appears from behind curtain and leads the singing, which is formal – with absolutely no dynamics – sing the words, period.


The chapel was elegant and simple. (Much like our Celestial Room – except the very plush seating was in rows and attached to the floor, as in our rooms coming before the Celestial Room. The upholstery, carpeting, simple but beautiful chandeliers – everything was made for comfort, and though expensive, still non- ostentatious.


There were no pictures or icons – just two quotes on the wall at the left and right of the little stage, which had a large lectern designed for two.


The quote on the left: Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free – Christ Jesus


The quote on the right: Divine Love Always Has Met and Always Will Meet Every Human Need – Mary Baker Eddy


The Lord’s Prayer is used in every service – exactly as follows: Congregation speaks the italicized.


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.


(There is no “Amen.”)



Another hymn. Announce the number – read the verses – appears from behind the curtain the songleader – sing the hymn.


Then the song leader sang another hymn as a solo. (Actually just a bit of life in this one – though still very formal - and the man had a very nice voice.)


Then the two ladies – one firmly middle-age or mildly senior (about my age) – and the other very senior – took their places behind the wide lectern. One would read – and then the other – back and forth. Every single word was read verbatim. (My guess is that this is done by different people each week, as absolutely no preparation would be required.) (I have learned since that they are elected by the congregation every so often.) It begins: “This week’s Bible lesson – from (whatever book of the Bible) – and then read.”


The reading ends: “This constitutes a sermon undivorced from truth, uncontaminated and unfettered by human hypothesis, and divinely authorized.”


This is a statement that, to me, says there are only two beings allowed to think. God – and Mary Baker Eddy. And this is what they call good science, because it is unfettered by human thought.


What’s missing here is that science is human thought – that’s all it is, period, the best forms of human thought – always working toward correction and betterment of truth. That’s what science is about. (Not necessarily concerned with betterment of morality – that’s what good religion is about.)


That they use the word science in their title is probably what led me to believe that this was going to be a thinking church. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is further by far from science than we are as Mormons. We reject evolution without study – they reject all science without study. They should change their title to “The Church Against All Science.” They believe that all things physical are both evil and untrue. Everything true and good is spirit. My my, and I spent 31 ½ years as a Physicist, when I should have been a Spiritist. I’m not sure how we’re going to build ships or airplanes or hospitals that way, but oh well. Our lies surely are impressive! They, of course, do not believe in hospitals – but I suppose they do use airplanes. I have been attracted to and appreciate spiritual values in people – but I also have many physical things that to me have great beauty. Even something as simple as a flower. All the complexity and wonder of DNA are there in a flower also – and the complex is also beautiful. I think it’s the complex – beyond us – that causes us to call things spirit – then we don’t have the need to understand and explain.



Then the last song – number announced – a verse or two read - song leader appears from behind the curtain – we sing – meeting over. (No prayers – other than the augmented Lord’s Prayer.)



I’ll repeat – this was a surprise for me.


Afterward, a woman was asking me how I liked the meeting. I wanted to say, “What meeting,” but I didn’t. It was a beautiful day. She said so, and I asked if the physics of this day was more beautiful than that of a cold blizzard-filled day. She said they were the same. I asked if this would be true even if the cold day led to freezing to death of a loved one. Her answer? “There is no such thing as death. That’s just a physical thing that we imagine.” I wondered what one of their funerals are like – or do they just let someone who believes in the physical take care of that?


My expectations were high, and this may have exaggerated my disappointment. Man – isn’t there any religion that looks at and carefully considers real data – and that continues to consider new data to use for betterment of doctrine?


There seems to be a kind of respect for old data – the older, the more trusted. This is ludicrous to me. Don’t people know we’re lots smarter than they were thousands of years ago? This is the trap fallen into by astrologists. Any freshman scientist could do blind testing and prove it all false. I surely am glad that they don’t allow this drivel in court – imagine the testimony, “It’s likely he is the one who pulled the trigger – his sign – and the specific date of the crime – make it very likely.”



30 of 52  Trip Around The Sun – The Church of Christ Scientist


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