More Questions Answered

Then there are those constant inquiries having to do with the human aspect of Christian Science as a movement.

Question: Why does Mary Baker Eddy devote so much writing to her human lineage when her Science teaches us to turn away from the claim of heredity? (Ret 1, etc).

Answer: It would appear that her discussion of family and background must represent a concession to public opinion. In her day especially, much was made of personal antecedents and the welfare of the Cause may well have required that its Founder fortify her position according to popular standards.

Question: Is it a fact that Mrs. Eddy commissioned one of her students to trace her ancestry to the dawn of history?

Answer: Yes. She copyrighted the title for a proposed work as "The Genealogy of Mary Baker Eddy," and in her letter of March 13, 1895, to Dr. Julia Field-King, she said she thought perhaps people would be sooner convinced of her legitimate mission if her own descent could be followed back to Biblical origins. She directed that the genealogical survey, if proven unimpeachable, should be submitted to a leading newspaper, such as the New York Sun, the Chicago Inter-Ocean or the Boston Herald, from which the Christian Science Journal could then copy it.

Mrs. Field-King undertook a long and costly journey into the family strains on both sides, going all the way back to Queen Victoria, whose published genealogy indicates she was a descendant of King Heremon of Ireland. Chroniclers generally agree that there was a King Heremon on the Irish throne about 580 B.C., and it is claimed that Tea Tephi, the royal daughter of Zedekiah, the twenty-seventh descendant from Judah, sailed to Ireland under the care of Jeremiah, where she married Heremon. From there back, the unbroken line is traceable in the Bible to Adam.

Following the leadings of Professor C.A.L. Totten, Mrs. Field-King attempted to show that Mrs. Eddy's descent was on the spiritual side all the way down, declaring that Eve stood for the spiritual aspect of Adam and that, although her fair-haired off-spring Abel was slain by the ignoble Cain, his place was taken by the spiritual-minded Seth. This, of course, is the well known Anglo-Israelite theory, which would have the Mayflower Americans blood-descendants of the Israelites. Assuming that the "lost ten tribes of Israel" were not absorbed in their neighboring tribes, the Scotsman John Wilson created a great stir in 1882 by contending that scriptural passages as well as hints in history showed they must have migrated to the far isles of the sea that are British. Poetically, England then became the Stem of Jesse and young America the Branch That Grew Over the Wall!

This theory has led its advocates to claim that Christian Science could be discovered nowhere but in America, because of America's heritage of spiritual superiority (sic!). But if, as they also claim, Truth appears as the world is ready for it, surely Christian Science would have come to us whether the Pilgrims had landed on Plymouth Rock or Plymouth Rock had landed on the Pilgrims!

Our Leader's genealogist rationalized her project in this paragraph:

"History, tradition, mathematics, astronomy, chronology, synchronology, genealogy, philology, architecture, teleology, all are found to serve one end, namely, to 'force conviction in God's eternal word.' These seemingly diverse lines of search and research all dovetail so perfectly that they must be recognized as paths by which a 'patient God' has been leading rebellious mortals to forsake their own wisdom, and acknowledge Him as the One eternal, everpresent Principle, as the immutable, omnipresent substance of 'all that is'."

After much correspondence pro and con, Mrs. Eddy advised against further "chronological research," concluding that "it is not really in the line of Truth that the thought is forming itself in your investigation, but in the line of material origin, and this has an end." Lastly, she ordered that the manuscript be typed up and allowed to remain "historic."

Question: Doesn't the Anglo-Israelite theory breed anti-Semitism?

Answer: Undoubtedly. It is undeniably another phase of the master-race theory, and it is significant that those organizations advocating Anglo- Israelitism have, during the Great World War, sided in their published propaganda with the fascist aggressors who use Jew-baiting as a tool of disunity to gain control of the masses. If any racial minorities are showing wrong traits, such traits are not inherent with the race but spring from the instinct for survival. Minorities are not persecuted because they are aggressive or sly; they are aggressive or sly because they are persecuted, and they are clannish in self-defense. Mrs. Eddy wrote Mrs. Field-King: "No inherent qualities of race exist."

Question What about the Negro threat?

Answer: You put the cart before the horse. What you refer to is the doubt of white supremacy. The negroes cannot be charged with authorship of their difficulties by a white people who tore them from their own lands and enslaved them. They are still held in bondage by the racial bigotry of a majority which assigns to them a lower place in the order of humankind. Almost universally, physiologists and psychologists concur in showing that the pigmentation of the skin does not evidence physical or mental inferiority. The consensus among authorities is that an individual of any race or color, given the same education, like environment and equal opportunity, can achieve physical, intellectual and emotional equality with his brothers of lighter hue.

Proponents of racial superiority profess alarm over fraternizing with "the lower orders," but this is patently a propaganda trick to confuse the issue. No responsible person has ever proposed forcing people of different classes or degrees of development upon each other indiscriminately. Even those of the same race do not commingle successfully where they have little in common. Equality must be demonstrated, not forced. All men are created equal – but they are not equal in appearance or human standing. Then how can they attain this equality in appearance and human standing? By their thinking. Through Science of Mind all men can attain equality as to station, race and color. Even before justice is done universally, individuals can, regardless of their state or status, achieve respect and even reverence. Meanwhile, who is to cast the first stone?

Question: Is Mrs. Eddy the Woman of the Apocalypse?

Answer: In "Science and Health" she says that the woman of the Apocalypse symbolizes generic man (S&H 561:22-23). Well, who doesn't? Ecclesiasticism would have us canonize and even deify people, despite Mrs. Eddy's warning that religions are always lost through sinking their Principle in personalities (My 117:22-24). In her book "Repaid Pages," she says that St. John's figure of the woman with the moon under her feet represents not a person but a quality of thought, shared by both men and women, and that any effort to denominate some particular person "the woman of the Apocalypse" is as nonsensical as trying to find someone who personifies the Statue of Liberty when the statue merely symbolizes an abstract quality, freedom ("Repaid Pages," by Mary Baker Eddy).

Question: Was Mrs. Eddy predicting the Monitor in 1883 when she spoke of a newspaper for Scientists? (Mis 4:12-13).

Answer: No. The notice inaugurated the Journal, which began as a few large sheets and included anecdotes and articles of general interest, as well as metaphysical dissertations. The Monitor did not come along until after Mrs. Eddy had suffered wholesale abuse at the hands of the national press in 1907. Her aversion to unfair and perverted journalism was expressed in a letter to her Editor-in Chief Archibald McLellan, dated August 8, 1902, in which she upbraided him for "the sarcastic allusion to King Edward in 'Fashions in physics,' copied from the Chicago Daily Tribune." The security of the Cause, she wrote, "is not to be risked by newspaper slang, however cute, quoted or original," and added that we must "uniformly maintain a dignified, kindly position toward governments not pagan and churches half civilized."

In the spring of 1908, John L. Wright, First Reader of the Church of Chelsea, who had been with the Boston Globe for years as a reporter and substitute night editor, wrote to Mrs. Eddy regarding the desirability of a daily newspaper owned and controlled by Christian Scientists ("Mary Baker Eddy," by Bates-Dittemore, p. 421). Five months later, she directed her organization to launch such a publication, and the ensuing policy was that outlined in Mr. Wright's letter.

Question: Doesn't that detract from Mrs. Eddy's achievement?

Answer: Our Leader's brilliance is untarnished by recognizing that the ability to cooperate, coordinate and promote is the hall mark of leadership. Giving due credit to the fine men and women who contributed to her great work could not but increase her stature.

Question: I have heard that Lyman Powell was authorized to write the official biography of Mary Baker Eddy after writing against her.

Answer: In 1929 one Edwin Franden Dakin published a loudly trumpeted attack which caused such a furor that the Boston Board ran editorials to offset his charges in part, and the Episcopalian Powell was then given access to the Archives of The Mother Church in preparing a rebuttal (Journal, Vol. 46, p. 669, and Sentinel, Vol 31, p. 430). Yes, Dr. Powell had penned a derogatory book in 1907, called "Christian Science, the Faith and Its Founder," in which he popularized the hateful phrase, "neither Christian nor scientific." But it was for this very reason, it seems, that the Board felt the public would accept as unbiased his answer to the Dakin indictment.

Question: Every now and then one hears that novels featuring our religion should be frowned upon, but why?

Answer: When Editor McLellan asked whether we should recommend "The Right Princess," by Clara Louise Burnham, Mrs. Eddy wrote him affirmatively on September 18, 1902, suggesting that if encouraged Mrs. Burnham "may write another novel a degree higher and with a clearer sense of Christian Science." A week earlier, she had written Mrs. Burnham that "even Jesus taught through parable." Her own use of the narrative in "Miscellaneous Writings" constitutes her approval of the story form of presentation (Mis 323). "The Visitor," by Hugh A. Studdert Kennedy, is an exquisite example of Science in allegory.

Question Why should there be so much controversy over the meaning of Bible stories?

Answer: Because people attempt meticulous interpretations in their ignorance of the handicaps involved. One of the most important things to learn about our Bible of today is that it is too many steps removed from its original form for that. Only the broadest constructions can be relied upon. The Bible is a collection of books assembled in recent times from ancient manuscripts, with the purpose of bringing out spiritual values. Whether the Bible is accurate as history is of little concern to the metaphysician, so long as it is to us a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night (My 318:31-4). The literal-minded must find the book not a little confusing and of scant practical worth.

The earliest manuscripts still extant are hand-written copies of copies, separated from the originals by centuries. The oldest of them are parchment scrolls, faded and mutilated. Miscopying through the ages was unavoidable, and it is a forgone conclusion that zealots tampered with those passages which to them were untenable. Because languages do not have exact equivalents in each other, there could be no such thing as a literal translation, and the choice of suitable words must depend upon what the translator assumes the author meant. That is by no means all. The now-dead language of Aramaic, which was probably spoken by Jesus, and the ancient Hebrew tongue are both written without capitalization, punctuation or versification. To make the modern versions readable, our translators were obliged to exercise their own personal taste and judgment in these matters, so that oftentimes their religious prejudices colored the results.

Take the King James rendition of Chapter 9 in the book of John. As given there, it would appear that the blind man lived in miserable darkness through his youth only so that Jesus could happen along many years later and heal him for the edification of his students. Because Science rules out such old theological precepts, we are compelled to repunctuate this, ending the third verse at the colon and beginning the fourth with "But." Then it is evident that when the disciples implied by their question that the man or his parents must have earned such affliction, Jesus rebuked them. "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents!" He follows this up with the grand declaration that inspiration must be seized upon before it can slip away. "But that the works of God should be made manifest in him, I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day!" And he healed him.

Question: The majestic style of the Scriptures is beautiful, but to me it is obscure.

Answer: This is due in part, perhaps, to the archaic English. Connotations have altered. In Jeremiah (24:2). the word "naughty" does not mean mischievous, but worthless. The "earnest of the spirit," in II Corinthians (5:5), is a pledge, not seriousness. Old theology would have "repent" a synonym for abasement, while to us it means to reconsider – "re," again and "pent," think – to achieve uplift. "The calves of our lips" (Hosea 14:2) means verbal offerings, since calves were sacrifices anciently.

Question: If God brings light, as we are taught, why does Amos (4:13) say, "He maketh the morning darkness"?

Answer: Bible scholars consider this an inadvertent transposition of words, for He maketh the darkness dawn.

Question: I am stumped by that frequently quoted verse from Isaiah which ends: "Should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?" (Isaiah 8:19)

Answer: It is generally conceded that the translation is incomplete. The Septuagint has it: "Why should they seek or inquire of the dead concerning the living?"

Question: Do some translations of Bible manuscripts directly contradict each other at certain points?

Answer: Yes. But this is not surprising. You see, Aramaic and Hebrew were written in consonants. Consequently, many words can be read differently according to the vowels which the reader supplies. For example, when Daniel scanned the handwriting on the wall at the awesome feast of Belshazzar, the last word could be read either as "upharsin" (divided) or as "Peres" (the Persians) The young seer evidently gave it both readings in his appraisal of the situation.

Question: Perennially, the story of the devils in the swine is brought up, but nobody seems to know what it's all about (Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-40).

Answer: Making due allowances for the flowery metaphors of eastern speech, it is certain that the Four Gospels are to be taken largely as a historical account. It is written that Jesus cast the demons (evils) out of the demented man into a nearby herd of swine, and that the beasts then ran down the hillside into the sea, where they were drowned. It is safe to conclude that something really significant took place here, something so tremendous and so profound as to be beyond the comprehension of those who witnessed it – or at least beyond their ability to recount it. In their effort to recapture the actual occurrence as they saw it and at the same time to convey something of the meaning of the event, there is reason to assume that they were not entirely literal. Whatever transpired, it must have been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the onlookers that what they might denominate "the swinish element" was no part of man in his true being and could therefore enter no more into him (S&H 272:6-8, 19-27).

Question: Can't I understand the Bible without delving into all the technicalities involved in translation and transmission?

Answer: Yes – if you forego meticulous and go directly to the spiritual values which you can grasp and apply.

Question: What is the difference between primary and normal class teaching?

Answer: The primary is a marshalling of the principles, as covered by the chapter "Recapitulation," and the normal is a similar statement of the subject, with the essentials reaffirmed, as in the "Christian Science platform." In actual practice, the two courses differ very little except in length. The six-day normal class, being half as long as the primary, is of necessity more condensed. In primary and normal classes alike, Bicknell Young and Edward Kimball spoke extemporaneously, giving few citations. Gilbert Carpenter tells me that the patriarchal Irving Tomlinson wrote out his instruction and read it to his normal pupils, "in order that nothing important be neglected." Laura Sargent's presentation was composed almost entirely of unpublished statements by Mrs. Eddy, recorded during their long association. My cherished friend, Gustavus Paine, says that legalistic Clifford Smith's normal class was made up largely of familiar citations from Mrs. Eddy's books. Herbert Eustace prefers the Socratic method of drawing his pupils out through questioning, answering questions with questions.

Question: In "Miscellaneous Writings," something is said about relying upon God instead of notes (Mis 158:1-159:9).

Answer: In the beginning, our churches had preachers instead of readers. What you refer to is a letter addressed to one of these preachers, pointing out the impropriety of reading a sermon to a congregation instead of delivering it in the generally expected way. Good taste should have told this student that some semblance of spontaneity must be maintained, without his teacher having to admonish him. But as for the value of notes! To Mrs. Gyger, our Leader said: "If you can't remember the things you are told, you'd better write them down. Keep a memorandum book in your pocket and write it down."

Like everything else, notes are right and wrong according to how they are used or misused.

A girl pronounced insane was being interviewed by a psychiatrist before commitment and her conversation exhibited nothing abnormal.

"You're as sane as I am!" observed the doctor.

"Yes, Doctor."

"Then why on earth did they ever send you to me?"

"They object to my liking for pancakes."

"What is unusual about that? I'm very fond of pancakes myself."

"Well, then, you must come up and see me some time, Doctor. I have a whole trunkful of them!"

Pancakes – or notes – whether they're good or bad, depends upon what they mean to us.

Question: What was the three-years' litigation in Boston about?

Answer: In 1919 the Board of Directors became locked in a court battle with the Board of Trustees of the Publishing Society over the question of whether two independent trusts set up by Mary Baker Eddy could operate in harmony without one being subservient to the other. The Board had demanded a written pledge of allegiance from the Trustees, which pledge the Trustees felt would be a violation of the Trust which legally bound them. Judge Dodge, who presided throughout the complex proceedings ruled emphatically in favor of the Trustees, but in its review, the full Court while upholding his findings rendered the opinion that the Board could dismiss the Trustees from their posts. This, of course, meant that the Board members could thereafter impose their own views under threat of arbitrary removal of dissenters.

Question: "Where there's smoke there's fire," as the old saying goes, so the Trustees must have been at fault.

Answers: Wouldn't that have to apply all the way around? That old saying is fallacious, though. Wasn't there usually a commotion in the vicinity of Jesus? He was finally crucified. And Mrs. Eddy was one of the most persecuted souls on earth. Many outstanding characters in our Movement have been publicly discredited, only to be exonerated in time. William Rathvon's indictment for fraud in Colorado did not prevent him from climbing above his enemies to a directorship in The Mother Church (Denver Daily News, February 10, 1909). The correspondence of both Edward Kimball and Bicknell Young reveals undeserved abuse – mostly from people within the Church. Every successful worker has reason to know what his Leader means when she writes that "whosoever proclaims Truth loudest becomes the mark for error's shafts." (Mis 277:3-17).

Question: What became of the principals of the Boston drama?

Answer: On the Board side, Messrs. Dickey, Neal, Merritt and Rathvon, along with Annie M. Knott, remained in the saddle by authority of the Court, while John V. Dittemore (who precipitated the action) later revolted against the Board, against the Church, against Mrs. Eddy, only to recant publicly at last and seek return to the fold. Adam Dickey, in fulfillment of a solemn vow exacted by our Leader to write a book of his experiences in her home, was charged by his colleagues with breach of confidence and therefore of treachery. His accusers had the effrontery to suggest in a letter to his students that, granting him duty-bound to write up his experiences at Chestnut Hill, he could have slanted his account, bolstering their claim by quoting Mrs. Eddy out of context. Ironically, Virgil Strickler after championing the Board in its endeavor to subordinate the Trustees, rebelled against what he called later their despotism.

On the other side of the fence, the picture is brighter. The scholarly Frederick Dixon withdrew from the Church to take up his application of Christian Science in spheres not controversial, as editor of a secular magazine called "The Interpreter." Gustavus Paine, he of the flawless metaphysics, now lives in New York City and has achieved national distinction for his authoring of Nevada's chronicle. Hugh A. Studdert Kennedy, at last free to write independently, returned to his beautiful estate in Saratoga, California, to turn out such splendid works as "The Visitor" and "Mrs. Eddy." The personable Lamont Rowlands exchanged his desk in Boston for a forest and a railroad in Mississippi, where he resides today. Herbert Eustace has continued to heed the scriptural injunction to heal the sick and preach the gospel, teaching many large classes. Serenely oblivious of his detractors, he and the charming Mrs. Eustace live graciously in San Jose.

Question: Isn't it unfortunate that the Movement lost such illustrious people?

Answer: These people have not left the Movement. They remain loyal followers of Mary Baker Eddy. A "movement," you know, is a dynamic idea in action wherever it is understood and, as such, it cannot be circumscribed by a mere organization. If this were not so, the outlook would indeed be dark, for Christian Science Church members number only 268,915, according to official count, (From the census published by the United States Government, "Information Please Almanac," p. 796). and even this appears to be dwindling. However, on the other hand, increasing thousands of free thinkers all over the world outside the Church are taking up the doctrine and many public practitioners who are not members of the Church are highly successful. The Movement thrives not upon organization but upon demonstration.