Faces on Faith: What’s your identity?
That’s easy, you say. I’m a 65 year old woman, or a 78 year old man. You go on to describe your height, weight, and other characteristics. While this may all be true of you, the Christian Science concept of “identity” is radically different. So it’s worth considering.
In the archives of the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, there is recorded an experience of a girl named Doris who lived in Manchester, England in 1910. Her entire family had such severe illnesses that she later referred to her home as a “hospital ship,” but Doris was the most pathetic case. Operated on multiple times, one side of her face was paralyzed, pulled down at a strange angle, with one eye permanently closed.
A friend who knew of Christian Science offered the family a copy of the textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, for just two weeks. Reluctantly, the mother who was bedridden, began to read. When her husband returned home she was in the kitchen cooking. When he asked her what happened, in her Yorkshire language she said, “I’ve been reading the book and I feel made over again.” The family continued to read and study and everyone was radically recovered except Doris.
When she told her mother how sad she felt, her mother quickly said, “But Doll, you’re the ‘beauty of holiness.'” Doris spent the day pondering what that meant. That evening she rushed to tell her mother, “I can feel my face.” Her mother then said, “Doll, have you looked at your face?” It had moved around to a normal angle. Doris Dufour Henty grew up to become a Christian Science Practitioner who founded one of the largest churches in London and had a long and remarkable career healing others.
So where did Mary Baker Eddy get her idea of “identity,” which had such power to bring change and wholeness? As an avid Bible student, she read in Hebrews 1:3, from the King James Version: “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” While St. Paul was referring to Jesus in that description, Eddy expands on this concept with these words: “The one Ego, the one Mind or Spirit called God, is infinite individuality, which supplies all form and comeliness and which reflects reality and divinity in individual spiritual man”. (p.281:14)
So, are you and I the “beauty of holiness,” ” the brightness of His (God’s) glory” and the “express image of His person?” Indeed we are, when we rise to the spiritual consciousness of our divine identity. Then we become, in fact, the “image and likeness of God.”
-June Sieber, Sanibel Christian Science Church, September 20l4.