October 16, 2003
Ignorance of God is no longer the stepping-stone to faith.
This was the Group's seventeenth anniversary and we had as guests members of the Reading Room and Lecture Committees of a suburban branch church which has just started holding study and practice meetings like ours. At present they're studying in depth the weekly Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lessons.
We described our evolution through many different formats — everything from reading the Lesson to adhering to quite a formal Wednesday testimony meeting structure to merely chatting. The current informal format, including readings from all who wish to contribute, followed by open, unrestricted discussion aimed at uncovering spiritual Truth fits our present needs. It could change at any time, based on the vote of attending members.
It was noted that both our own group and the one in the suburbs drew on those with expertise in non-Christian Science activities. Most of our early workers had 12-Step backgrounds while one of the founders of the church group has run a marriage/divorce workshop for several years.
Our structure includes establishing a topic at the end of each meeting for study and practice during the following week. One member said of this: "I get so turned on by studying, practicing and watching, that I don't get caught up in who's attending and who's not. I've even sometimes sat here alone for the hour with my readings and notes from the week having a very good time!"
It was now time to get to our topic for this week: homophobia. When we came up with this two weeks ago we felt it was a good area to work on in view of unfolding news affecting the LGBT communities, including the struggle within the Anglican Communion over homosexuality and the proclamation by the President of the United States of a religious observance called "Defense of Marriage week".
One member described a new film shown an hour before our meeting at the LGBT Center. It's about activists in the developing world and is called Out in the World. It includes interviews with people from Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, India, Thailand, and Egypt. The trial of the "Cairo 52"is detailed. Many atrocities are revealed but the good news is that Gay people keep bouncing back and our communities are growing. There's increasing activism in the West to support the struggles of these brave people.
Members felt there were at least a couple of causes for the sin of homophobia. One member, based on his own experience, thought it was fear of one's own homoerotic feelings. Another saw it as fear of the feminine (in a male) — to be found to be soft or vulnerable. This latter situation may be partly based on the need to survive physical attacks. "With the availability of sophisticated means of protection — not to mention divine metaphysics — will physical bluster continue a major need of the race?"
We discussed one of the important points raised by Emergence members meeting last week in Key West. It's the natural balance of male and female energies represented by Gay people. Every human being — and animal — has the genes of both a father and a mother. LGBT folk are a wonderful way of representing this truth — and our rights, along with those of women, are unquestionably part of the unfolding wholeness and completeness of each individual and the world.
Members noted with joy the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi of Iran. She's leading Muslim women to reject patriarchy and push for reformation and modernization of Islam to accommodate the progress of civilization. "Let's hope someone like her turns up in the Christian right movement in the US."
There's been an upsurge in anti-Gay bashings in the US and Canada following the summer of breakthroughs in sexual and marriage rights. "Maybe that's just the way things work on the human belief level — two steps forward, one step back."We can work in Science to control crime. Here's what Mary Baker Eddy has to say: "During this final conflict, wicked minds will endeavor to find means by which to accomplish more evil; but those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection."(Science and Health, pg. 96:31)
Homophobia is a sin — but we can love the sinner while hating the sin. "What is the sin and the sinner from a Christian Science standpoint?"asked one member. "Aha! — thanks for asking that,"replied another. "Both are rooted in the belief of dualism or separation from God. But let's face it — in reality there is no one capable of being dual or separated from God."
As for defense of marriage: "You bet! We should defend or live the marriages in Science, which are of God to man and the male and female of His creating as each one of us,"(see Science and Health, pgs. 574:27-6 and 577:4-11).
Here are some points raised at our meeting based on discussions with Emergence people in Key West.
1) Mary Baker Eddy's own same-sex intimate relationships are hinted at in the new Gillian Gill biography. (See page 627, footnote #32). It's a letter from Mrs. Eddy — then Patterson — to Sarah Bagley. The full correspondence between the two occurred between 1868 and 1875 and is available in the archives of the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity in Boston.
2) Mark Twain said of our Leader: "The most daring and masculine woman that has appeared in the earth in centuries has the same soft, girly-girly places in her that the rest of us have."
3) New books bear tremendously on our topic. They are The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, and The Man Who Loved Jesus, by Theodore Jennings. We'll try to get reviews for our site or the Emergence site in the near future.
One of our members who came out later in life found himself recently lamenting all the years he fought his homosexual feelings. Yet he participated in a loving marriage with a beautiful woman — also one of our members — and has two fine adult children. "All in all, it was correct for me — but there was still a lingering pall."What was it? "It finally came to me I'd been extremely ungrateful for my sexuality all those years."His prayer now is, "total gratitude for my sexuality. This prayer is bringing radical changes to my life."Next time he can be present at the meeting we'll have a topic on this subject.
Two of our members attended last weekend a meeting of friends of Emergence International (EI), an organization of Christian Scientists ministering to the LGBT communities. The meeting was held in Key West where the local branch church of Christ, Scientist invited us to use their edifice.
The aim of the meeting was first to assess where EI stood after the aborted Houston conference of 2002 and the suspension of print periodicals. Then we were to decide whether to carry forward and if so with what mission and activities.
The small group which assembled in Key West did decide to go forward. A new mission statement was drafted and will soon be posted on the EI web site.
While print publications are now beyond the organization's limited resources, there will be electronic publishing on the site with an aim to develop fresh thinking on LGBT topics from a Christian Science perspective. Members and friends of EI are being encouraged to send in articles and testimonies for inclusion in this new effort.
Those in Key West felt The Mother Church is teetering on the edge of letting articles and testimonies appear on LGBT topics in their religious periodicals. If so, the EI publishing initiative could result in manuscripts worthy of inclusion in these periodicals. One member said, "You know, one problem in Boston is probably that they haven't a clue about our lives — so they're simply unable to write anything about us. Let's help them out."
There's an article in the Christian Science Sentinel of October 13, 2003 entitled, "The divine right to be included,"which at long last hints at the existence of LGBT students of Christian Science — at least the author appears to have worked with such people in his practice. The words Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender are not used. The metaphysics are quite good in our estimation but might well be undercut by ridiculous and insulting twists of terminology like "mainly a sexual entity"or "primarily a sensual being"with a "lifestyle"and "the premise that gratification of the physical senses is the highest fulfillment."Of course anyone suffering from such disorders — be it homophobe judging Gay people in this way or indeed anyone, Gay or straight, suffering from sexual compulsiveness — may need such bald confrontation before Science can be brought to bear. But this article does not address the greater needs of the LGBT communities for deep, fresh metaphysical discoveries and practice.
The EI folks were enthusiastic about what we do at the New York group and want to use us as a model. There are two other groups within the EI family either operating (South Florida) or in the planning stage (Chicago). Most participants expressed a desire to see an EI conference in 2004 or 2005 and discussions are underway.
Throughout the weekend in Key West there was much sharing and growth in Science and appreciation of our unique organization. One participant wore a T-shirt announcing her Lesbianism on National Coming Out Day, October 11th. Others came out to people as Gay Christian Scientists. And the town responded with love. One waiter was so attentive, memorizing all our names and lavishing care on every need, that one member declared, "Now that's a real Christian Science lecture!"
For next week we want to approach our study and practice from the standpoint of our weaknesses. Our topic will be Weakness.
And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
Expose and denounce the claims of evil and disease in all their forms, but realize no reality in them.
The powers of this world will fight, and will command their sentinels not to let truth pass the guard until it subscribes to their systems; but Science, heeding not the pointed bayonet, marches on. There is always some tumult, but there is a rallying to truth's standard.
Sin makes deadly thrusts at the Christian Scientist as ritualism and creed are summoned to give place to higher law, but Science will ameliorate mortal malice. The Christianly scientific man reflects the divine law, thus becoming a law unto himself.
Every Christian Scientist, every conscientious teacher of the Science of Mind-healing, knows that human will is not Christian Science, and he must recognize this in order to defend himself from the influence of human will. He feels morally obligated to open the eyes of his students that they may perceive the nature and methods of error of every sort, especially any subtle degree of evil, deceived and deceiving. All mental malpractice arises from ignorance or malice aforethought. It is the injurious action of one mortal mind controlling another from wrong motives, and it is practised either with a mistaken or a wicked purpose.
Show your student that mental malpractice tends to blast moral sense, health, and the human life. Instruct him how to bar the door of his thought against this seeming power,—a task not difficult, when one understands that evil has in reality no power. Incorrect reasoning leads to practical error. The wrong thought should be arrested before it has a chance to manifest itself.
Right is radical.
In mental practice you must not forget that erring human opinions, conflicting selfish motives, and ignorant attempts to do good may render you incapable of knowing or judging accurately the need of your fellow-men. Therefore the rule is, heal the sick when called upon for aid, and save the victims of the mental assassins.
Never fear the mental malpractitioner, the mental assassin, who, in attempting to rule mankind, tramples upon the divine Principle of metaphysics, for God is the only power. To succeed in healing, you must conquer your own fears as well as those of your patients, and rise into higher and holier consciousness.
At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you. The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity.