Saturday, November 19, 2011

World Religions Series: The Christian Science Faith

Hello Everyone!  We got our next submission... yeah!  

The next person to respond to my questions about their religion was my older brother, Chet.  When I thought about having Christian Science as one of the religions in my search to understand World Faiths, Chet was naturally the first person who came to mind for me to ask for answers to these questions.

Chet is an incredible artist, lecturer, and spiritual practitioner.  He travels the world doing what he is most passionate about: discussing God and spiritually.  

I've always felt that Chet and I are the most similar in our interests of all of my siblings (there are 5 of us including me) - we both love creating art.  Chet's artistic eye, his desire to travel, and his vision for what is possible (everything!) is something I have tried to pattern myself after for as long as I can remember.  In fact, when I was little Chet was living in Africa, and I remember I would frequently go sit in front of this huge world map in our house and stare at Kenya where he was living at the time, and think, "I'm going to travel and make art just like my big brother Chet one day."  I really couldn't wait to start on my world adventures just like my big brother.

Chet and I have the same father, but different mothers, which is why Chet was raised in Christian Science and I was raised in the Methodist church.  However, because all three of my older siblings were raised by their mother in Christian Science, it has always been an influential part of my life.  I've always found it to be very loving and peaceful, and its always had a valuable place in my life.

The Manchester siblings... Morgan, John, Me - Anabel, Chet, and Katie
Check out Chet's lecture series here and here and here.

Chet Manchester
Thank you Chetter for taking the time to help me along in my journey and for your very honest and heartfelt answers to my questions... 

Without further ado... Chet Manchester and The Christian Science Faith:

What religion do you practice, and how did you come to practice it?
I grew up in a Christian Science Sunday School but didn't take a serious interest in its teachings until I was in my teens.  One of my dad's good friends was a doctor and one of my mom's close friends was a Christian Science practitioner.  So, when health issues came up, I got to "test" these difference approaches to healing in both ways.  After taking antibiotics for a serious case of strep throat, I decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for help when the same issuesr ecurred.  This time, instead of taking a few weeks to heal, I was completely well overnight.  I'll never forget the profound sense of God's love that I experienced through Christian Science treatment.  It wasn't just that I was better physically - I felt deeply comforted, healed of fear and anxiety, secure in the care of a good and loving Creator.  Love is the essence of Christian Science and it's why I still practice it. 

Tell me about your religion.  Describe what the tenants of your religion are in your words.
Christian Science is essentially the science, the daily study and practice, of what Jesus lived and taught.  Rather than seeing him as a miracle worker or a myth, we see him as a man who was deeply scientific.  He healed naturally because he understood the spiritual nature of life better than anyone ever has.  He began from the premise of everyone's innate wholeness and perfection.  He saw God as infinite Love and pure Spirit.  He taught that good overcomes evil and love disarms hatred - he even called evil a "lie" - a mistake or misconception.  Jesus healed people's fears and their mistaken sense of being "sinners" by recognizing everyone as the perfect, flawless expression of a perfect, flawless God. 

What does your religion mean to you?
It helps me put spiritual ideas into practice every day.  Christian Science is both a religious teaching and a system of healing.  It’s about seeing the wholeness and interrelatedness of our thought, body, experience – it’s all ONE.  So, it doesn’t even feel so much like a “religion” but as a way of BEING that is spiritually natural and naturally spiritual. 

What are five things you love about your religion?
1.  I love that it encourages a thoughtful, reasoned approach to understanding God, myself and others.
2.  I love how practical it is: both as a religious teaching and a system of healing.
3.  I love how universal it is and how it helps me see everyone as a brother or sister.
4.  I love how revolutionary it is: it challenges centuries-old assumptions about sin, death, evil, matter.
5.  I love that it puts no pressure on me to be anything but what I am. 

What are five things you don’t particularly agree with about your religion?
The disagreements I feel have more to do with the religious culture that sometimes surrounds Christian Science - or any church:
1.  That Christian Scientists sometimes think and act as if they "own" the truth
2.  That our culture can be too judgmental of one another
3.  That we are too focused on the "letter" and lack the spirit of love that is the heart of all true religion
4.  That we are stuck on traditions in how we hold church services and are afraid of trying new ideas
5.  That we are not humble and honest enough about our shortcomings

What are the most common misconceptions about your religion and how do you address them?
  • People often confuse Christian Science with Scientology because of the name but there is no relationship between the two.  Christian Science is a Christian religion founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century.  Scientology was founded by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s.
  • People confuse Christian Science with faith healing or think that we are "against doctors."  There's no teaching in our religion that forbids us to use medical care.  The spiritual method of healing we practice is so consistent that we generally don't need medical help.  In fact, a lot of people turn to Christian Science for healing when they aren't finding permanent answers in conventional medicine.
  • Conservative Christian theology sometimes views us as "non-Christian" because our religious teachings are not mainstream.  Most Christian theology was crafted by an elite council of religious leaders hundreds of years after Jesus lived.  We study the same Bible, the same Gospels, as other Christians; we feel the same profound love for Jesus and for what he taught.  We just look at some of his teachings very differently.

How does your religion affect your family life?  Your work life?
It helped me through a tough divorce and through some failed business ventures in my twenties.  Christian Science lifted me out of depression and led to my meeting the woman I've been married to for 21 years.  It provides daily inspiration, stability and joy to our marriage and parenting.  Christian Science helps us solve little and big problems through prayer.  My work life now involves practicing spiritual healing as a Christian Science practitioner, so it's an hourly, daily focus on growing spiritually and sharing what I'm learning with others. 

If you could leave people with one idea that most closely describes the way you see and understand your religion, what would that be?
Christian Science is about seeing beneath the material surface of life to the reality of what an all-loving God has created. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I'm so glad you're doing this project!  I just think we're living in a very exciting time spiritually.  That the more deeply we look into our own and others' faiths, the more commonality we will discover.  A century ago, there was such confidence in science and medicine that many people believed that all our problems would be solved in the 20th century - there would be no more disease, poverty, disfunction in society and no need for the "myth" of God.  Well, clearly, there's much more for us to learn!  I believe it's time for the artificial wall between religion and science to come down - for the world to discover that there is a true science underlying all religion and a religious dimension to all true science.  We're just barely scratching the surface in our understanding of the spiritual dimension of life.  If we can all speak from our hearts and from our experiences instead of from our theologies and our dogmas, the earth is going to be a much happier, healthier place!
Chet, Me - Anabel, David, Chet's daughter Moriah, and wife Anne at our wedding. 

If you haven't already, be sure to check out the rest of the World Religions Series... 

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