Christian Science has been an unparalleled blessing in my career...

Christian Science has been an unparalleled blessing in my career as a university professor. With it I have been able to dismiss many of the beliefs attached to classroom teaching and higher education —beliefs of fear, nervousness, intimidation, illness, boredom, irrelevance, and lack of inspiration. As a result, I have generally found my classes a real joy; so, when assigned to teach one section of the sophomore writing course several years ago, I anticipated a pleasant semester. Although the course as a whole had little formal organization, the sections I had previously taught had, I felt, been successful.

During the particular semester, however, I faced as uninterested a group of students as I could imagine. Each evening, as I prepared my discussion for the next day, I tried to select interesting topics; each morning, as I read the weekly Bible Lesson in the Christian Science Quarterly, I identified the God-given qualities that my students and I expressed. And still the class sat silently, responding only when pushed and then only with polite superficialities. Their writing, above all, was disordered and uninspired.

One evening, as I went to my desk to plan the next day's work, I saw at last that a deeper application of Christian Science was needed. I was close to despair; to allow the class simply to muddle along would be unendurable for me and unfair to the students. Turning to Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy, I found myself reading, as I had many times before, the following statement (p. 195): "Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal." This time, as the four terms in the second sentence came into focus, I saw that these were precisely the requirements for good writing. The writer, I saw, must first observe the conditions around him and must then develop a subject by "invention"—the very word used in literature centuries ago to describe the process whereby one locates a topic fit for discourse. Once the topic is defined, I saw, the writer must study to know what to say, and must finally exercise original thought in linking his words together.

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September 26, 1977

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