Yesterday, December 3rd, 2010, marked the hundredth anniversary of the passing of the founder of the Christian Science church, Mary Baker Eddy.
A directory of online articles on this subject can be found here: ?p=197 . . . all of which briefly mention the fact of her demise, and each author understandably choosing instead to focus on Mrs. Eddy’s accomplishments during her lifetime, and the church’s progress through the 20th century. Why would I expect otherwise? MBE was never one to encourage the commemoration of birthdays, or to mourn those who have ‘passed’.
(In fact, years ago I read somewhere that the euphemism ‘passed’ or ‘passed on’ originated with Christian Science as a way to remind one of the everlasting nature of Life, and to avoid those words which conjure up the idea of mortality and finitude. Personally, my favorite reference to death is Shakespeare’s phrase: to “shuffle off this mortal coil” . . . or, as a certain Dixieland jazz trumpet player put it, when referring to his own demise, as the day he would simply “shuffle off”.)
As I ease into writing and moderating this blog, December 3rd is a more significant date to me than it would be to someone who identifies as a practicing Christian Scientist. It brings up a number of questions, and as I am no expert on the historic details of the events that occurred in the years before MBE’s death, or the years soon after, I don’t claim authority here …. I just have questions.
And the main one is this: with so much emphasis on healing, why is it that no Christian Scientist (or anyone, for that matter) to date has actually overcome physical death?
Clearly, in 1910 there were factions of the CS church who held firm to the belief that MBE would do just that, and it is very difficult to find information online about what became of those factions, or how in fact they eventually managed to come to terms with the fact of her physical demise.
It seems to me that the ‘demonstration’ of healing, whether it be from the flu or an injury, should carry over to the time of the final affliction, which no one to my knowledge has yet shown to be possible. I think I can anticipate the response of many Christian Scientists: that death is not real. But if death or any sort of physical affliction is not real, then why bother with healing at all? Why hold that as the standard?
I realize that this goes right to the root of one of the main tenets that distinguishes Christian Science from other religions . . . and why not begin there? I hope there will be discussion and comments.