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Christian Science lectures: Breaking collective hypnotism

From the August 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

A friend of mine who practiced hypnotism once told me that in order for people to become hypnotized, they must first be “induced.” He explained that a hypnotic induction may take place voluntarily or involuntarily, slowly or in a startling instant, but whatever the method, the point is for the hypnotist to so fully grab the attention of his subject that he may then have influence over that person’s thinking. 

This was an eye-opener for me, because I realized it’s possible to feel hypnotized even when there isn’t a specific person, like a hypnotist, involved. I began to question what kinds of moments throughout the day would similarly try to grab my attention and induce me into a hypnotic view of things. What startling or even slowly lulling impressions would make me see myself or others in a distorted light, or would make me see my church, the Christian Science movement, or my larger community in a way that’s just not rooted in reality?

What’s 100 percent natural for all of us is to see and feel God’s all-goodness, the reality of a single creation governed entirely by God’s, divine Love’s, power and populated entirely by individuals who reflect the divine nature—because that’s what’s real. That includes our churches and the entire Christian Science movement, because they spring from the same source and are rooted in the same reality. No other power or influence truly exists to pull God’s offspring or any Love-ordained activity out from under the total governance of infinite Love. Everything that’s God-made is unchangeably holy and an effective agent of good, which is why hypnotism isn’t something to fear. 

So how can we more readily recognize “induction” thoughts for what they are, so that we may remain lucid in our perception of God-derived reality? And, more specifically, how are Christian Science lectures designed to make evident more of what’s real and good, both for the church members that sponsor them, as well as for the members of the community in which the lectures are held?

One thing that Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her published letter to the Board of Lectureship is that Christian Science lecturers are responsible for “reaching deep down into the universal and rising above theorems into the transcendental, the infinite—yea, to the reality of God, man, nature, the universe” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 248). Notice she says the lecture should rise above “theorems.” A theorem is generally considered to be an inescapable conclusion from some universally accepted rule, or self-evident truth. Well, it’s not possible to rise above something that’s actually based on truth or a rule, right? But we can rise above ungodlike human theorems which are based on a distorted perception of truth. These generally accepted views of life and reality are like hypnotic inductions. That is, looking like inescapable facts about how life works, they lull us into thinking and acting from a false basis, with the suggestion that there’s no other option.

Everything that’s God-made is unchangeably holy and an effective agent of good.

How a Christian Science lecture reaches deep down into the universal and real and rises above false theorems is as much, if not more, about the thought process behind the lecture as it is about what’s actually said in the lecture. It’s a collective prayerful effort between those sponsoring the lecture as well as the lecturer.

When we look around at the people in our communities, what do we think we see? There’s plenty of good going on, for sure! But mixed in we may also see materialism, misimpressions about God and spirituality, general busyness and distraction, people suffering with little hope of wellness, justice, or happiness. But none of these views are actual facts; they do not correspond with “the reality of God, man, nature, the universe.” Yes, they can seem so self-evident and inescapable, but these hypnotically induced views are what a Christian Science lecture seeks to challenge. 

In the light of Love’s governance, no one in our local communities or elsewhere is trapped in materiality, is materially minded, or is too busy to spend time with divine Truth and Love. Such pictures are, in essence, collective hypnotism. Everyone in existence is freeborn—originating in, and never departing from, the substance of our all-good God. Therefore, spirituality, hope, and wholeness are natural to us. Our inherent ways of thinking are shaped exclusively by Truth and Love. And we gravitate toward whatever expresses Truth and Love, because that’s where we feel at home and most fulfilled.

Those prayerful individuals involved in providing a Christian Science lecture for the community are doing their part to break collective hypnotism and help others see and experience more of what’s good and true. These mental breakthroughs that take place in the thought of those offering a lecture are as needed and valuable as the lecture itself.

There are hypnotic impressions that would seem to define the very process of sponsoring a lecture, too. Some are disheartening thoughts like: “Hardly anyone is receptive to Christian Science,” or “We don’t have the resources to host a lecture.” Whereas other thoughts are more alluring, like: “If we get a big-name speaker, or the right format or venue, that will attract an audience!” or “Never mind our local neighbors, there’s potential for unlimited viewers if we just focus on putting the lecture on the web!” But any thought that makes it seem as if the success of a lecture hinges on something that only human means can generate, can immediately be identified as an attempt at hypnotic induction. These impressions can seem very legitimate, but they’re another one of the very “theorems” that the lecture is meant to rise above. Genuinely useful and healing lectures (including innovative ideas about hosting them) evolve only from a true view of God, ourselves, our communities, and the nature of reality. 

As we’re “reaching deep down into … the reality of God, man, nature, the universe” in regard to sponsoring a Christian Science lecture, it becomes clearer, for example, that divine Truth, not personality, is power. Truth speaks for itself and is attractive because it’s what humanity, including our neighbors, is seeking above all else. And divine Love, not money or marketing techniques, is the engine that moves and facilitates all that’s good. Jesus pointed out that Love’s power shines through us like a “city built on a hill” when we refuse to let our light be hid under a “basket” (Matthew 5:14–16, New Revised Standard Version). This is an inescapable rule we can build on that brings the results we seek. Refusing to act based on false views keeps our light from being “hid under a basket.” And letting our light shine involves ongoing new discoveries of Love-filled worldviews, not just techniques we employ when it comes time to host an event. Love’s power shines through us when we’re bearing witness to what God is doing. 

Truth speaks for itself and is attractive because it’s what humanity is seeking above all else.

What’s really going on in our movement and in the world? Mary Baker Eddy wrote a wonderful paragraph about this in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that begins, “Truth’s immortal idea is sweeping down the centuries, gathering beneath its wings the sick and sinning” (p. 55). That’s a fact of the universe. It’s the only trend of reality, no matter how many counternarratives seem to suggest otherwise.

Rising up to discover more of what’s real and infinite is relieving and inspiring. It’s divine Love itself that raises us above false theorems; we don’t do it on our own. Love shows us truer views of the presence and Science of God’s all-goodness, which unmask and overturn hypnotic impressions. Love shows us that useful, healing lectures on Christian Science stem from doing what we naturally love most: being guided by Love to new, more spiritual views. This prayerful activity is simply never a burden. If it ever feels otherwise, we can turn back to the uplifting light of Love, which reveals more of what God is and is doing, so we can feel a new context in which to move forward. 

It’s an ongoing joy for the members of the Board of Lectureship to join with you in this activity.

Tom McElroy
Manager, Christian Science Board of Lectureship

In accordance with Article XXXI, Section 1, of the Church Manual, the Christian Science Board of Directors has elected the following members to serve as lecturers from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

Anakor, Godwin A., CSB
Enugu, Nigeria

Arneth, Heike, CSB 
Munich, Germany

Beattie, Mary, CSB
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Bikai, James Pascal, CSB
Yaoundé, Cameroon

Bothwell, Mary, CSB 
Pasadena, California

Fischer, Alexandre, CS 
Paris, France

Frederick, Nate, CS
Boothbay, Maine

Frizotti, Evelin, CSB
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Glokpor, Rodger, CSB 
Lomé, Togo

Hegarty, Janet, CSB 
St. Louis, Missouri

Hockley, Phillip, CS 
St. Louis, Missouri

Hohle, Dave, CSB 
Chicago, Illinois

Klein, Juliane, CSB
Berlin, Germany

Lessa, Leide, CSB 
Quincy, Massachusetts

Mashos, Kari, CSB
Cape Neddick, Maine, and Athens, Greece

Mata, José de Dios, CSB
Badajoz, Spain, and Elsah, Illinois

Mavungu, Mabiala, CSB
Willebroek, Belgium

McCurties, Mark, CS
Ann Arbor, Michigan

McElroy, Tom, CSB
Boston, Massachusetts

Melville, Anne, CSB
Kaikohe, New Zealand

Nanouche, Michelle, CSB
Paris, France

Packer, Beth, CS
Berry, New South Wales, Australia

Passaglia, Mónica, CSB
Caseros, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Alamo, California

Prinz, Ulrike, CSB
Hamburg, Germany 

Rose, Mary Alice, CSB
Brookeville, Maryland

Signs, Fujiko, CSB
State College, Pennsylvania, and Tokyo, Japan

Smara, Fabián, CSB 
El Bolsón, Río Negro, Argentina

Smeke, Enrique, CSB 
Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Miami, Florida

Taylor, Lindsey, CSB
Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England

Tetreau, Giulia Nesi, CSB
Fairfield, Connecticut

Wahlberg, Melanie, CS 
Lake Forest, California

Woodard, Patricia C., CS 
Dallas, Texas 

Young, Lyle, CSB 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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