Atheist now uses prayer as a “first resort”…

Today’s blog is a guest blog from Polly Castor. Polly “is a Christian Science Practitioner, an Artist, a Photographer, a Poet, a Homeschooling Mother, a wife, a Gourmet Cook, a Traveler, a Nature Lover, a Reader, a Peacemaker, and a former Structural Engineer”. She writes from the USA.

Often people think of Christian Scientists as “those people who don’t go to doctors.” While this is frequently the case, there is no church mandate to that effect, and there is no censure toward anyone using medical means.

I usually explain the difference between our approach and the more conventional one this way: we turn to God in prayer as our first resort, instead of using prayer as a last resort, like it is for so many people. When this prayerful treatment of a problem is handled in the effective manner taught in Christian Science, very often there is an immediate remedy, and the seeking of medical help becomes unnecessary.

Christian Scientists have great respect for the motives of doctors. My own dad was a doctor, and I honor his life’s work as a healer so much that I also pursued a career in healing, as a Christian Science Practitioner. Occasionally, I am asked how this came about and what his reaction to this was.

In college, where I met my first Christian Scientist, I was an atheist until I was surprised by having my first major physical healing, merely by her facilitating me to consider the possibility of God’s reality in a way I hadn’t thought about it before. That result got my attention!

I then visited a group of Christian Scientists on campus, and found among those attending, people I was already friends with. They were planning to host a Christian Science lecture on campus, which sounded interesting, and I wanted to attend, but I had a conflict with the date of the lecture, having already made arrangements to celebrate my dad’s birthday that evening.

I asked God what I should do, never having prayed before, and was dumbfounded when I got an answer. I really hadn’t expected that; I knew it wasn’t my idea, and I didn’t like the idea at all. The answer had come to go out to dinner with my parents as planned, and then bring them to the lecture. Very much a novice at this prayer stuff, I felt like if I wasn’t obedient to this clear leading, I might never get another answer again, so I invited my parents, and they were gracious about attending.

At the lecture, I had reason to be uncomfortable again. My dad was an esteemed authority on arthritis and my mother had issues with her hearing. This lecturer shared three Christian Science healings during her talk: two were about overcoming arthritis and one was about regaining hearing loss. I was sweating bullets! What could my parents be thinking?

I was stunned by my dad’s first comment after the lecture was over. He said, “Well, I have to hand it to you Polly, your attitude toward healing is 80 or 90 percent of the healing process.”

To this amazing statement I promptly quipped, “Then why are you spending your life on the ten percent?” And as I left the room, I got my first copy of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, which explains this radically new way of thinking, as well as it’s practical outcome.

In the now intervening decades, my dad has witnessed many Christian Science healings in our family. Once he even asked for my “good thoughts” and saw an immediate medically authenticated permanent remission – we’d call it a healing – that he couldn’t explain. And all these years I have continued to be supportive of his (or anyone’s) medical choices.

These two approaches, the spiritual and the medical, are radically different, since based on completely different premises. As opposites, they are both most powerful unmixed. At any given time, we always have a choice as to what will be our first or our last resort when facing any challenge. What we believe will be the most effective for us, will be, and that is what we should do.

Thanks, Polly… Here is Polly’s blog in situ!

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Categories: Healing

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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4 Comments on “Atheist now uses prayer as a “first resort”…”

  1. Terry in Upland, CA
    July 5, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    This was a great article. However, this church has censured people in the past for their decision to seek medical help. I think the church should acknowledge this past and move forward with an explanation of how, when someone is under a doctor’s care can continue to utilize Christian Science. Carl Welz was a wonderful worker, teacher and practitioner, but his membership in the Mother Church was revoked after he went through a medical procedure for a serious illness.

    My brother, a serious student of CS, has been working on his career as a healer, and has worked with a number of patients that were in the middle of a stint with medicine when CS was introduced to them. He has explained to me that he always communicates with the doctor as well as his patient when taking on a case such as this, keeping very clear the boundaries between medical practice and metaphysics in the case. This approach should be one of the many areas that should be taught in CS Primary Class Instruction. Very important to Christian Scientists to understand. Many practitioners I have worked with in the past will either not take the case while under ANY care of a medical person, or some that have not cared whether medicine or CS was mixed. Mrs. Eddy is very clear about mixing methods in the healing work.

    Thanks for listening.

    • February 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      Terry, do you know the work of the Christian Science Practioner who has since passed away, Richard Palmer. If you do, please let me know. Thank you, Zari

  2. July 7, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Hi Terry – thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    Your brother’s approach sounds appropriately courteous and balanced.

    I feel that the issue of involvement with those who are themselves involved with medical treatment of any sort must above all revolve around compassion – excluding judgment – and be approached on a case by case basis. Certainly no-one should be – or feel – abandoned if they choose one form of healthcare over another…whether Christian Scientists choosing medical care, or those used to medical care choosing Christian Science.This is such an important area of life in which to retain the element of individual, conscientious choice.

    As to Carl Welz – I am not sure what you have written is entirely accurate, so I am going to ask someone who knows to clue me in on that, and I will get back.

    Cheers!

  3. Dave Beckett
    July 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Carl Welz was my Christian Science “Teacher” 30+ years ago. Carl’s church membership was not revoked. He was undergoing kidney dialysis twice a week. He was asked to cease work as a Christian Science Practioner and Teacher. I called him during that time for prayer regarding an illness, and found that his first words were to encourage a medical remedy. So I understand why the Church took its position.

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