This essay relates to my work, 21st Century Science and Health; a revision and update of Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Eddy lived in the 19th century and died in the year 1910. In the late 19th century, Eddy became a prominent spiritual healer and leader based on what she termed divine Science. She realized and proved that Truth was the crux of metaphysical healing. Eddy wrote extensively on the subject of scientific Mind-healing and her main work is Science and Health.
Fast-forward one hundred years to the life of Cheryl Petersen.
In the late 20th century, as a student and practitioner of divine Science, I found the teachings in Eddy’s Science and Health to be extraordinarily effective in understanding how to heal mind/body/spirit through prayer. I’ve experienced proof of metaphysical healing and for this proof I basically give credit to the ideals of Truth, God, as outlined in Eddy’s Science and Health.
Before the turn of this century, my practice of metaphysical healing increasingly included the public. I would find myself in conversations with people interested in the scientific healing aspect of Truth, Christ. However in the beginning, these conversations brought about a rude awakening for me. I was too often speaking in 19th century vernacular when I shared Eddy’s ideas. So, I made the decision to admit that Eddy’s statements were deserving of expression in 21st century idiom and language and I developed the means to do so. It wasn’t long before logic took me further. If speaking about Eddy’s ideas in today’s language, I must also accept Science and Health in today’s language in print form.
However, something about a printable revision ran contrary to what I’d been humanly imprinted with. Either consciously, or unconsciously, my brain was impressed with the notion that a readable revision was not an option. For feedback, I mentioned the idea of Eddy’s Science and Health in modern day language to my Teacher of Christian Science. My Teacher agreed revisions were valuable. The subject was dropped. I then bounced the idea off other students of Christian Science, but the idea came right back like a hot potato.
I remember going through mental gyrations that eventually calmed to strength. I reasoned with the motivation to be truthful and fall into line with progress. In other words, I took the steps to remove myself from incorrect reasoning and from my own personal impressions. At one point, a seeker of truth asked me, Cheryl what would you do if I came to your office in a horse buggy and was wearing 19th century clothing? We know you are inspired by divine Science and live it to your best ability, but by all means, Science and Health must be revised if you want to be taken serious. Point taken.
Then a physical problem presented itself. I was fighting for my life. Timid conservatism was insisting it was better to go along with common assumptions. I felt privileged being familiar with Eddy’s words; they helped me immensely, so why change? Why repent? Because healing truths are not confined to physical states. And, more importantly, good ideas are to be shared, not buried. My human mind gave way to self-evident spiritual truths. Healing ideas are timeless, universal, and all-inclusively expressed. My thoughts had changed and my body responded by healing naturally and quickly.
I quietly and sincerely began revising and updating Science and Health just after the turn of the 21st century. Wow, a printable revision of Science and Health is a daunting task. The revision of Eddy’s Science and Health needed to be done extremely well, carefully, thoughtfully and lovingly, without personal ego or preferences.
In this pursuit, I spent countless hours developing the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish this formidable task. I studied Bible history, researched other great thinkers who Eddy quoted and referenced, and became familiar with the times in which she lived. I examined the meaning of 19th century terminology and idiom, and learned how scientific and religious thought has progressed in the twentieth century. I was also active in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, and consistently tended to my spiritual advancement.
The spiritual growth I attained while revising one chapter helped me to revise another chapter. Also, unique coincidences brought me together with people who were powerfully thankful for Eddy’s metaphysical ideas and offered me outstanding counsel on how to update it so her text is correct to the reader today.
One of the many examples of how Eddy’s meaning has been changed, because the words have NOT been revised, is the 21 times that she uses the word “apprehension” in Science and Health. Today, “apprehension” usually means anxiety or doubt. In her time, it meant comprehension.
Much terminology, such as animal magnetism, phrenology, humors, brainology, and consumption, is outdated. In the revision, these terms have been replaced with proper text that aids more fluent reading. Also, the book is now gender-inclusive. I also requested, and was granted permission to quote from modern Bibles and 20th century leaders. These quotes have been footnoted, as is appropriate for literature today.
After a few years of getting the revision on paper, I did approach The Christian Science Publishing Society for assistance in publishing 21st Century Science and Health. I was still a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, and figured our church would appreciate the opportunity to again have some form of legal access to Eddy’s writings. During the 20th century, we members were so busy with rituals and human ideologies that we had neglected to follow Eddy and keep her work in line with the times. Consequently, the church lost any connection to a copyright of Science and Health long ago. It was similar to an organization inheriting a piece of property and failing to take care of it or pay the taxes and so the inheritance got taken away.
However, instead of responding to me, the Publishing Society told the Christian Science Board of Directors what I was doing. The Directors then began a dialog with me (which I have documented). This dialog went on for a few weeks and was not only agonizing, but also very enlightening. I truly believed they wanted to know my thoughts, until I point blank asked them what their intention was concerning a revision. The Board altogether rejected Christian Science an expression in today's language. Period. They finally admitted that the dialog was only used to decide as to whether or not they were going to remove my practitioner's advertisment from the Christian Science Journal.
In hindsight, the agony was me separating myself from my own inordinate respect for the people in the church hierarchy who had a limited scope. I needed to respect and pay full attention to a universal view of Christian Science. I then stopped communicating with the Board, who assummed this meant that I was going to stop my work. However, I soon withdrew my listing from the Jounal along with my church membership until the revision project was complete.
Please allow me to digress here.
With all due respect, I assert that I am not antagonistic to First Church of Christ, Scientist. I have happy memories of being around wonderful people when I was a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist. I recognize that many church members are outstanding citizens of the community and contribute admirably to society.
All human organizations have their problems and have been known to get superiority complexes or have an extremist. These complexes twist and morph, sometimes looking arrogant or isolated. But, I am partly to blame if I give someone other than God power they really don’t and can’t possess. It is dishonest and lazy for me to presume a hierarchy can make final decisions or that I can just repeat Eddy's words and expect progress.
Consequently, when I am upset, it is only with myself, while struggling to break from habituated human mindsets. I do feel Eddy’s counsel when she wrote, “Judge not the future advancement of Christian Science by the steps already taken, lest you yourself be condemned for failing to take the first step.” (Science and Health, Trade Edition, pg. 459)
Needless to say, I pray vigilantly for a regeneration of practicality, honest hard-work, and compassion.
History has proven over and again that people can break out of the habituated human mindsets enough to manifest improved ideals that benefit humanity and our world. Usually these transitions sometimes include confusion, so I now speak to the beliefs and fears I’ve come across.
I’ve been asked whether or not 21st Century Science and Health has been authorized by First Church of Christ, Scientist. The church has no authority over Science and Health. It never occurred to me to ask the church for permission to fulfill my right and responsibility to revise Eddy’s Science and Health in order to advance divine Science today. Just as I wouldn’t dream of thinking I had to be authorized by First Church of Christ, Scientist in order to understand divine Science and experience its healing power.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in today's language is copyrighted, legal, and lawful.
Science and Health is its own complete entity. It manifests itself as self-supportive. The book is not dependent on, or supported by, First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Another mental position and fear that I’ve run into concerning my revision of Science and Health is that a revision of Eddy’s work is somehow immoral, unjustifiable, or impossible. This is easily treated. Words are used to stimulate thoughts, which in turn do stimulate the physical state. It is impossible to confine divine Science to words either spoken or written. Thoughts of God, Truth, are not in the letter, and certainly not restricted to the English language. I read from Eddy’s works, “The chief difficulty in conveying the teachings of divine Science accurately to human thought lies in this; that like all other languages, English is inadequate to the expression of spiritual conceptions and propositions, because one is obliged to use material terms in dealing with spiritual ideas.” (ibid., pg. 349) It is moral, just, and possible to express and manifest Truth ad-infinitum.
Eddy revised Science and Health over three hundred times, proving the document to be all-encompassing. She left an incredibly clear pattern to follow for revising. I studied many of her versions. “A human perception of divine Science, however limited, must be correct in order to be Science and subject to demonstration…hence the many readings given the Scriptures, and the requisite revisions of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” (ibid., pg 361)
A deeper concern is the opinion that revising Science and Health adulterates Truth. Truth can't be adulterated, and that is exactly why we have revisions. Humanity has the ability to reflect intelligence and use proper wording to catch the highest meaning of truth. "Human thought has adulterated the meaning of the word soul through the hypothesis that soul is both an evil and a good intelligence, resident in matter. The proper use of the word soul can always be gained by substituting the word God, where the deific meaning is required." (ibid., pg. 482)
The ideals of a healing truth and of divine Science have existed forever, they do not originate with words, with a person, or a human religion; therefore they can’t ultimately be adulterated by these things. Mind-healing is understandable and practical to people of all languages, cultures, and backgrounds.
Another question that has been posed to me is “Do you intend for a revision of Science and Health to be read as opposed to Eddy’s Science and Health?” Revisions do not oppose, or support. There is no old, no new, truth. A book is a book. Ideas are ideas. Are you reading a book, or ideas? Are you reading the letter, or the spirit? My version of Science and Health doesn’t replace Eddy’s Science and Health. I have not changed Eddy’s words. I took great effort to keep the meaning of divine Science intact. I also made it so Eddy’s version and my version of Science and Health can most generally be read alongside one another.
Some people have voiced their consternation because I omitted the Fruitage chapter from my revision. Eddy did not write the Fruitage chapter and therefore, I didn’t attempt to revise it. Others have accused me of plagiarism. This is an embarrassing accusation for the accuser based on the definition of plagiarism. Although the definitions of some words have changed over the last one hundred years, the definition for plagiarism has not. Plagiarism is to take the words or ideas of someone else and pass them off as your own. The front cover, and back cover of 21st Century Science and Health clearly identify my book as a revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, giving full credit to her work.
My book, 21st Century Science and Health is an offspring of Eddy’s Science and Health; one with, but not the same as. I will continue to take care of the revision with diligence and great care. I am appreciative to the community of people around the world who helped me mature 21st Century Science and Health as spiritual ideas unfolded to us.
Cheryl Petersen's book 21st Century Science and Health can be found online at Healing Science Today