When I began with Science and Health, I read the chapter on “Prayer” first, and at that time did not suppose it possible for me to remember anything I read, but felt a sweet sense of God’s protection and power, and a HOPE that I should at last find Him to be what I so much needed, – a present help in time of trouble.
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures , pg.637)
‘In a culture that generally celebrates empowerment and self-esteem, A.A. begins with disempowerment. The goal is to get people to gain control over their lives, but it all begins with an act of surrender and an admission of weakness.’
This seeming contradiction — i.e., gaining control by surrendering — has a parallel in Christian Science, which involves letting go of the human ego and relinquishing a false sense of personal control by surrendering to the one Ego, God.
… ‘ I was finding healing in the writings and teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. But it was AA that provided me with an authentic feeling of connection or fellowship with others that I could not find at my branch church. The fellowship from AA was meeting the human need for the connection so many of us yearn for without all the judgement (name withheld) .’
Christian Science Committee on Publication for New York.
Can we keep a “conscious contact with God”?
From the November 17, 1997 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
A FRIEND of mine recently told me about how he uses the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to keep from drinking. We agreed that overcoming alcoholism boils down to prayer, which he describes as “staying in the sunshine of the Spirit.” But how do we stay in that brilliance—alert and crystal-clear about ourselves—amid the confusion of daily life?
People of all creeds and customs meet in small groups around the world to follow the Twelve Steps.1 Originally devised by the founders of AA to conquer drinking problems, the Twelve Steps are now applied by many to recover from all kinds of difficulties—alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, abuse, eating disorders, and so on.
I practiced the Twelve Steps for several years, in Al-Anon (for friends and families of alcoholics) and in Co-Dependents Anonymous (for people with “an inability to maintain functional relationships”).2 For me, these programs became a practical tool for seeking inner balance in the face of the alcoholism and addictions of my friends. My daily goal was to maintain my serenity, and, for the most part, my life greatly improved as I followed the Twelve Steps. But I still agonized over each and every character flaw, and I wondered how I would ever be able to keep a “conscious contact with God,” an important part of the Twelve-Step program.
Then, thanks to a friend, I stumbled upon Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. The Preface begins, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii). I liked that right away. I already prayed The Serenity Prayer,3 determined to take “one day at a time” and focus only on the good that God would show me each day. As I readScience and Health, I discovered a whole new way to achieve this.
For a while I continued to attend Twelve-Step meetings. As always, when the sharing began, people introduced themselves with their first name only and then identified themselves according to their problem—as “an alcoholic” or “an addict,” for example. I’d never given much thought to this practice, since it went along with my view of human beings as sinners, forever doomed to repeat the same mistakes, forever “recovering” but never quite “recovered” from their failings. As I took the study of Science and Health to heart, however, I quickly became uncomfortable with identifying myself as imperfect and mortal.
Look at what I found on page 428: “The great spiritual fact must be brought out that man is,not shall be, perfect and immortal.” The reasoning behind this is simple, yet profound. It begins with the fact that, according to divine Science, God is infinite, all-powerful good. Man, created in God’s image, reflects that good (see Gen. 1:27). And since God is All, there can be no room for a power opposed to God. Therefore, evil must be a lie that we can dismiss as false—not a reality to be tolerated as inevitable. When we know evil is a fallacy, we can stop being deceived by it. I realized that this must be the reason Christ Jesus could confidently say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
Exhilarated, I turned wholeheartedly to God to understand this. Even though it seemed far-fetched, I decided to identify myself only as God’s perfect child, not as a flawed human being. Gradually, I also began to identify everyone else as an upright, pure expression of divine perfection, not as a problem-filled person who needed fixing. To my surprise, my own demeanor and the behavior of everyone around me started to improve! Very soon I was able to glimpse a clearer picture of myself: I understood—not just believed—that I didn’t need to flounder in the mire of merely coping. In truth, I was right then utterly free of past woes and of worries about the future. And I couldn’t lose my way as long as I stayed focused on my spiritual identity as God’s reflection.
As this understanding deepened, several chronic physical afflictions just disappeared. How do such healings happen? Jesus could heal because he saw each person as God’s actual image and likeness—he just wouldn’t accept anything less! And as we follow Jesus’ example, we, too, are able to heal. As Science and Health points out, “Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural” (p. xi).
Nowadays, I delight in the adventure of an ever-expanding awareness of my identity as wholly spiritual and of my uninterrupted “conscious contact with God.” Through my study and understanding of the Science of being, this sense of oneness with God isn’t a platitude I wish were true, but a reality I can prove for myself. And as I do, healings of various problems keep happening. I am grateful that my spiritual journey with the Twelve Steps brought me naturally to Science and Health. Now, every step I take is surefooted, belonging only to God.
1 The Twelve Steps can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1993).↑ 2 Co-Dependents Anonymous (Phoenix, Ariz.: Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc., 1995).↑ 3 Alcoholics Anonymous uses a popular version of a prayer first offered by Reinhold Niebuhr at a worship service in 1943 and later published by him (in a slightly revised form) in 1951. The version used by Alcoholics Anonymous has come to be known as “The Serenity Prayer” and can be found inAlcoholics, Anonymous, cited above.↑