Guarded Channels of Truth

In the early history of the Christian Science movement, rooms were provided in Boston where one might go and receive Christian Science treatment. In January, 1887, such rooms were opened by a group of Christian Scientists. In 1889, an announcement regarding similar rooms was made by the then Pastor, Mrs. Eddy, in Boston, where Christian Science literature might be read or purchased, and in that same year a number of churches in various parts of the country had followed Boston's example. It is noteworthy that the pioneers engaged in this early work supported it by each paying a certain sum per hour for the privilege of serving.

The official announcement of a "Christian Science Dispensary" appeared in The Christian Science Journal of July, 1889, in which it was stated: "Christian Science Literature is on the tables, free, to all who desire to read, and is also on sale, or for free distribution." These rooms were located in Temple Street, near Bowdoin Square, Boston, Massachusetts. It was not, however, until 1900 that Mrs. Eddy placed in the Church Manual the requirement that each branch church shall have a Reading Room, thus giving into the keeping of the branch churches this channel through which the revelation of Christian Science should flow to the world.

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The first provision for the establishment of the Reading Room appeared in the fourteenth edition of the Manual, in 1900, in which a section was added to Article XXVIII relating to branch churches. It read in part as follows: "Section 10. The Churches of the Christian Science denomination shall have one reading room for each church."

In 1900 Article XXXIX, entitled "Reading Rooms," became part of the Manual. Section 1 of this article was the same as the section just referred to. Section 2 set forth the qualifications necessary for a librarian in charge of the Reading Room of The Mother Church. In 1909, in the eightieth edition of the Manual, the Article on "Reading Rooms" was Article XXI; and in this edition and subsequent editions Section 2 read as follows: "The individuals who take charge of the Reading Rooms of The Mother Church shall be elected by the Christian Science Board of Directors, subject to the approval of Mary Baker Eddy. He or she shall have no bad habits, shall have had experience in the Field, shall be well educated, and a devout Christian Scientist." Section 3 was added, prescribing the literature to be sold in the Reading Room. It is as follows: "Section 3. The literature sold or exhibited in the reading rooms of Christian Science Churches shall consist only of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and other writings by this author; also the literature published or sold by The Christian Science Publishing Society."

Our Leader's wisdom is shown in providing the Christian Science Reading Room as one of the important activities of each branch church. Under the Manual each church is charged with the responsibility and high privilege of having a guarded and protected channel for the dissemination of genuine Christian Science literature. Viewed in this light, it is clear that our Reading Rooms need to be kept free from any clogging sense of limitation in maintaining them.

The question is sometimes asked whether the Reading Room should be self-supporting. The quantity rates provided on our Leader's writings would seem to make it evident that the maintenance of the Reading Room is to be the work of the branch church, an activity to be maintained just as all other activities of branch churches are maintained; for the quantity rates established by Mrs. Eddy on Science and Health and her other writings have never been sufficient to insure full financial support to the Reading Room. From this it may be deduced that it was our Leader's desire that the financial support of the Reading Room should be derived from each church maintenance fund.

In this connection it is of interest to note that the quantity rate remains the same per copy on standard editions of Mrs. Eddy's works as originally set by her in the sale of the first edition of Science and Health. Then each student who sold twelve copies of that edition was presented with a copy of the book.

Under Mrs. Eddy's plan of church organization, the Reading Room in the hands of the branch church becomes an effective agency for guarding the purity of her revelation, and for protecting the seeker for Truth from spurious literature circulated in the name of Christian Science. Thus is the Reading Room made an additional safeguard to her writings, already protected by copyright laws, as well as by the "Cross and Crown" emblem registered in the patent office in Washington, and in one hundred and eighteen other countries as well, as a perpetual mark of identification of our Leader's writings and of authorized Christian Science literature. How gladly should each branch church welcome the commission from the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science to maintain its Reading Room as a link in a world-encircling agency for sending out the unadulterated truth and for keeping its flame fully aglow!

To the wayfaring man or woman, what an oasis in a world of wearied sense is the Christian Science Reading Room! Into its circle of light come the weary, the perplexed, the disconsolate, the sick, the sorrowing, the sinful, the stranger, all alike seeking for rest and help, for courage to go on, for healing, and for peace. Here one may contemplate the meaning of Christ Jesus' words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Here none is turned away empty; none may seek without finding. Turning aside from the activities of human existence, one may enter a Christian Science Reading Room with the assurance that, in the words of the hymn.

"Here health and peace are found, Life, Truth, and Love;

Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
Earth has no sorrow that Love cannot cure."

"Stately Science"
November 30, 1929

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