Agreeing with Thine Adversary

The experience of the writer in becoming acquainted with the teachings of Christian Science was perhaps a trifle different from that of the average student. She had gone to an eastern metropolis to take up the study of medicine, but before the first year was completed her eyes gave out and she was obliged to abandon the plan completely. By what seemed a strange coincidence, many friendships formed in the East were with those who were sincere students of Christian Science. Up to this time she had known nothing of this religion, but she heard Christian Science discussed so frequently that in self-defense, as it were, she determined to read the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy, with the hope of being able to advance an intelligent argument against it when the subject was presented. Naturally enough, to one coming from a medical college this sort of healing seemed utterly out of the question, but before the textbook was read halfway through, the truth of the teaching was so obvious that refutation became impossible. Acceptance was inevitable, and disappointment was transformed into joy and gratitude.

On page 430 of Science and Health there starts a most interesting and unique allegory. Here Mrs. Eddy has mortal man on trial before Judge Medicine. The story goes on to say that Materia Medica was with the prisoner when Death arrived with a message from the Board of Health. Materia Medica at once decides that the prisoner shall die, because he has transgressed a physical law. How often this is the case in human experience. One who is ill calls in a physician who is supposed to cope with death, but when the so-called history of the case is looked into, the physician agrees with his adversary quickly, because he is so filled with the letter of the false law.

This recalls something learned during the months spent at the medical college, which carries this thought a little farther. Nearly every physician will administer to his patient what is known to the profession as placebo. Webster defines placebo as "a prescription given merely to satisfy a patient," It is taken from the Latin and means, "I shall please," which quite agrees with Voltaire's verdict of medication. "The art of medicine," says the French philosopher, "consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease." The average patient feels that he must be taking some kind of remedy; even though he may be suffering from the effects of a bad disposition, he feels that he must have pills to take internally, or a plaster to apply externally, or both. On page 119 of "Miscellaneous Writings" this fact is tersely stated: "The nature of the individual, more stubborn than the circumstance, will always be found arguing for itself,—its habits, tastes, and indulgences." And beginning on page 394 of Science and Health the author says this: "The sick unconsciously argue for suffering, instead of against it."

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Burning the Tares
April 5, 1919

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