Sunday, 11 March 2012

Christian Science

I have to start by saying Christian Science is not and has nothing to do with Scientology! And this is something that the group put across quite strongly. Christian Science however is love. It is based on the bible and "God's goodness."

The group was founded in 1879 by a woman called Mary Baker Eddy who discovered what she thought to be the "Science of the Christianity" that was taught by Jesus. Following this discovery she devoted her life to teaching, preaching and healing. She also wrote books about her teachings so that others could join the lifestyle she lived. Today there are members in 130 countries and democratically run churches in 75 countries. From these numbers it is seemingly popular religion, even though I will admit, before now I had never heard of it!

Christian Science is often confused with Scientology as I mentioned before but this is not the only type of religious practice that people confuse it with, religions such as new age movements and Eastern religions are also common confusions. This is due to its spiritual nature. However Christian Science is not based solely on positive thinking or positive energy as many of the above are. Christian Science states that "It is never God's will for anyone to suffer, be sick or die. Instead it shows how God is entirely good" here it obvious that the presence of God is important in this religion.

A particular area of the religion that I wanted to focus on was the relationship that the religion has with medicine and illness. The group place particular focus on prayer as a form of healing as it is a direct connection with God, who is the only person that can make you healthy again. The website has it's own section entitled "Relationship with Western Medicine," here the indication that prayer, overall should be the main option regarding healthcare for Christian Scientists. Although, the website does state that members are allowed to choose the healthcare plan that they feel is right from them, there is a strong indication that mainstream healthcare is not preferred. I found this quite interesting especially in connection to the United States where healthcare is expensive and without insurance is impossible to pay out for, for those on an average and even above average income. As we saw in Nickel and Dimed health insurance for those working at Wal-Mart was a vital part of their income and in some of the other jobs Ehrenreich did the employees could not afford to get sick at all. Christian Science seems to be a way out of this mainstream, capitalist system, especially for those on a low income. The group allows these people to feel as if something is being done about their problems without the worry of money.

Much like many other religions, Christian Science holds a Church service on a Sunday which includes prayer, hymns and sermons. They also have a Wednesday service but this is not seen as important to attend as the Sunday service. The group has a youth club, Sunday school and public talks and lectures that members can also attend. From this I feel that there is a strong sense of community like that of most religions and that everyone is welcome.

Christian Science is an interesting religion with its main focus on positive thinking, love and progression. I feel that this parallels with American ideas and identity. Often Americans think about the future, they pride themselves on being a nation that looks forward and not back which is what Christian Science seemingly do. They look for new ways to heal the sick without having to use mainstream healthcare. Positive thinking is another link between this religious group and American identity itself. Much like progression, positive thinking is something that defines America, for example Obama's 2008 campaign speech revolved around "Yes we can." This is something exclusive to the United States and likewise can be seen within the Christian Church through the idea that with God's love you can be healthy. Lastly I would like to note one more parallel between American identity and Christian Science. On the dollar bill the words "In God we trust" are printed, Christian Science is all about trusting in God and the belief that through prayer God will heal you.

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