Do you have pet words, the mere mention of which is likely to put a smile on your face? Words sometimes trigger the nicest of images. Words of violence and spite, on the other hand, have an opposite effect.
Then again, perfectly good words have sometimes fallen into misuse or misinterpretation, the effect of the age or of one's social environment. Often these are mistakes worthy of correction. There was a time when certain words made me cringe, conjuring up darkly unpleasant ruminations and arguments about apparently irreconcilable religious beliefs. Terms such as salvation, rebirth, redemption, reformation, and regeneration seemed to me to be steeped in murky associations with accusation, self-righteousness, unfounded promises, and unreasoned fears.
My views were in for a big, big turnabout. A book came to my hand, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I'd never before heard of it, nor did I recognize the name of its author, Mary Baker Eddy. I opened it and at the front found this quotation from Shakespeare: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Next I got caught up in the book's Preface, which in one place says, "The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity" (p. vii).
The substance of what I was reading came across as irresistible, even when I stumbled over some of those "unfavorite" words. Not only did the statements in Science and Health begin to ring more and more true as I continued to read; they also stuck with me. They would later occur to me verbatim, just when I needed their truth. This in itself was remarkable to me, since I had previously suffered from the inability to memorize things, and in this case I hadn't even been trying to memorize.
Most surprising of all, theological concepts I had previously misunderstood, openly disputed, and even despised began capturing my attention, with a clarity that was making them unarguably natural and logical. What is behind the statements made in Science and Health is, I found, a law saying that God is eternal, completely good, and that He makes Himself known to us as practical and infallible, available to deliver us from all that troubles humanity.
I've since been learning how knowing God calms and beautifies moments and years, reminds and enables us to love our neighbors (even when that may not seem to be what we really want to do), and heals physically and morally. Understanding God's nature brings proof in our lives of His perfect law and perpetual order. This law and order is what Science and Health explains. Christian Science is what the book's author called this law and order, revealed to her through her study of the Bible, especially the life of Christ Jesus.
By now I've read Science and Health through from cover to cover, not just once, but again and again. Sometimes I have been drawn to focus at length on a particular chapter or paragraph. For ongoing study of Christian Science, there is also a weekly Bible Lesson; it draws its text solely from references in the Bible and Science and Health.
These books, then, are not books of magic words. Aware of the human predilection to boost people and things to a pedestal, Mrs. Eddy wrote, "Of this also rest assured, that books and teaching are but a ladder let down from the heaven of Truth and Love, upon which angelic thoughts ascend and descend, bearing on their pinions of light the Christ-spirit" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 85).
The replacement of my strongly held theories and stubborn beliefs with the truth found in Christian Science has constituted my ongoing salvation and redemption, my reformation and regeneration. Actually, the vitality of those words has never changed at all. You could say it's only my own thought of them that has changed, and is being most wonderfully and effectively reborn.
The word of God is quick,
and powerful, and sharper
than any twoedged sword.