Wednesday, December 29, 2010
thirtieth visit: Dec 29th 2010 Christian Science
First Church of Christ Scientist, Pittsburgh
201 North Dithridge Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213
Tonight there are seven of us in the sanctuary including the pastor, who is also a theater professor at Carnegie Mellon University, I later learn. Walls are a soft white matching the softness of the luxury of having someone read aloud to you. She reads for at least 20 minutes, probably longer. First from the Bible, then from Mary Baker Eddy’s poetic “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” skipping large chunks of pages between passages, choosing so quickly and with such certainty, almost as to assume some sort of other-worldly guidance.
Christian Science boasts a female founder: Eddy, 1867, Boston MA, raised a Congregationalist. Christian Scientists refer to the worship-place as "Mother-Church" and God as “Father-Mother.” After the readings, the service consists of: silent prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, time for open sharing of recent life experiences amongst the congregation and several hymns throughout. The informal sermon addresses the element of light and it’s spiritual significance, water and its role in healing, and the benefits of rising above personal concerns to recognize the greater concerns of humanity, the unification of humanity.
Distinguishing Christian Science: the emphasis in healing through prayer and faith as opposed what we refer to as modern medicine and pharmaceuticals. John explains to me: Mary Baker Eddy was healed of a spinal injury at age 45 while reading the Bible. Following that incident, she claimed an understanding of the power to heal. He continues: It’s a natural process—the use of what we have around us already—not a supernatural process. Followers of Christian Science who have mastered this ability are called practitioners.
The “Science” in Christian Science refers to the belief that there are certain truths that serve in the same way that principles or laws of science do—truths that establish a predictable outcome every time.
As I mentioned, the pastor at FCCS is in theater arts. She explains to me that as an artist, she did not care much for organizations, and for 15-20 years she had been uninterested in religion before becoming active in Christian Science. We talked about this: Considering artists, when spirituality is referred to specifically as “religion” barriers go up. For certain reasons, many artists do not consider the commonalities between an artistic practice and a spiritual one. While we talk, I am reminded of a popular course offered at the school where I obtained my masters of fine art—a course focusing solely on the concept of transcendence and the sublime, in relation to art and otherwise.