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Christian Science Wartime Activities

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  • #17023
    Izzy_S
    Participant

    I would like to give thanks for something mentioned in a Round Table a few months ago. Someone, possibly Sharon, had been reading a book on Christian Science in wartime.

    It reminded me that I had bought a book called Christian Science Wartime Activities a few years earlier. I’ve been on a little crusade of buying up Christian Science books that I’ve found online or being given away by churches.

    I don’t think it’s the book that was mentioned at the roundtable but I immediately felt inspired to get reading it. It’s quite a thick book and to be honest it looks very wordy and a bit boring. But how wrong was this first impression – I literally was judging a book by its cover. Reading this book has been absolutely fascinating, humbling, inspiring and also quite poignant.

    It tells of a time when Christian Science was widely practised, and was being recognised as a powerful force, an important movement that was being taken seriously by governments.
    It was also a movement united in love and in wanting only to help others, whether they were the young men fighting or the families affected both at home and overseas.

    I can’t describe everything here and I would like to write a summary of the book one day, but just to give a snapshot of some of the activities that were taken up during the war, especially from 1917 onwards which I believe is when the United States entered the war.

    It is written by various people and covers a wide range of activity that can only be described as love in action.

    Through the War Relief Committee, there was a huge mobilisation of women across America who knitted and sewed clothing. This was for the soldiers and also for civilians they didn’t know, especially those living in the devastated areas of fighting in France and Belgium.

    Large sums of money were collected by congregations and distributed to all sorts of people and groups in need.

    There were Christian Science Camp Officers who were stationed at camps in the US and overseas, who did everything from being the camp chaplains to visiting hospitals and mess rooms, sharing literature and indeed acting as practitioners and giving treatments. They also took appeals from worried families and helped track down young men, often who had been wounded and were sometimes stuck in makeshift hospitals desperate to hear some Truth, plus doing everything else in between.

    Christian Science rooms were set up in camps and in towns where soldiers were, so that they could access somewhere quiet and homely to sit, pray, read and work, and these were manned either by local Christian Scientists or volunteers who had travelled.

    They travelled on the ships clearing the waters, there was even an amendment made to the Revised Statues of the US authorising the president to commission chaplains who came from four new denominations, including Christian Science.

    Reading this wonderful, heartfelt and just purely loving activity has brought it home to me just how Christian Science was in the early part of the 20th Century. And it’s made me quite sad to see what has happened in the years since, but also incredibly grateful for the small number of people who have kept with Mrs Eddy’s pure Christian Science, obviously including the Plainfield Church in that number.

    There are three things that really stood out to me and which have stayed with me even after I closed the book cover.

    Firstly, several of the writers write of a time before the first world war very poignantly as a time of happiness, innocence, one describes the world as being in ‘active peace’ and the first cry of war as coming from hell itself. It has made me very grateful for all the literature on the Plainfield Church website which has helped me understand how this could have happened, so soon after Mrs Eddy’s passing, and how differently we live now with this seemingly constant stream of bad news and violence. It’s been really important to me to realise that people did not live constantly bombarded by bad news and disaster, and we shouldn’t be.

    Secondly, towards the end of the war we are told there was a pandemic of influenza. Many of the reports reference this. Interestingly, almost all refer to it as ‘epidemic of fear’ (not one person uses the word pandemic). There are reports of how they worked around quarantine rules. Interestingly, several testimonies by soldiers of being vaccinated and then suffering influenza. And many reports of sudden healings from apparent symptoms of the condition.

    It was so inspiring to read how the soldiers (“our boys” as they are referred to), would often travel many miles to attend a church service, which were held wherever and however they could, even outside. And one young officer who for several weeks conducted his own Sunday service, completely on his own.

    Lastly, the book tells us the quality of the sewn clothing made in the kitchens of Christian Science households across America was so good that people often asked if the ladies were professional seamstresses, but they were always told that no, as Christian Scientists we work for God, and so we aim for perfection, so naturally the garments made would be perfect. And it just summed up this absolute activity for God, for good.

    So a huge thank you for the mention in the Round Table, this book would still have been sitting unread on my shelf otherwise!

    As a result of reading it my understanding seems to have increased dramatically, even understanding why we do what we do, and how we do what we do, because those dear people over a century ago set the standard and they showed this is how mankind can and should be living.

    A huge thank you again to Plainfield for everything that you do and for also setting and holding on to this standard. It is truly an honour to be a small part of what you are doing.

    #17024
    jacodebr7545ba
    Participant

    O yes, this book was so inspiring and healing, I read it in 1990 around that date, long time ago. The Society in San José was folding, and the books were free to take. One of the reason I have persisted in Christian Science, in spite of all the efforts of the devil. It makes me so sad to read those powerful stories, to find Christian Science now almost unknown, weak and irrelevant. Well, we soldier on, and God will abide His time. For my friends here reading this, I will fly back to Costa Rica next monday october 9, to live with my family there. No more winter for me!

    #17072
    Lenni
    Participant

    Thank you for the post Izzy! I have not read Christian Science Wartime Activities and am going to try to obtain a copy. However, after reading your post, I did grab my copy of A Century of Christian Science Healing and started reading several of the wartime testimonies therein. It has been SO inspiring and helpful in light of the news coming in from Israel. Much love to you!

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