This is the second of my ‘healing narratives’ guest posts from Tony Lobl, the London-based spokesperson for Christian Science in British, Irish/EU media & legislatures.
On Wednesday evenings, Christian Science churches around the world host meetings which include spontaneously shared “experiences, testimonies, and remarks on Christian Science” for anyone curious to hear these accounts.
Such experiences and testimonies of the practicality of the power of God’s love can range from the modest to the marvellous.
This blog’s weekly Wednesday focus is on what I have been calling “healing prayer narratives”, and this week, with the continued popularity of the multi-BAFTA winning “The King’s Speech” – about a speech therapy administered by “commoner” Lionel Logue to King George VI – the question of what can be done about conditions like stammering continues to command popular attention.
Since the time that the real-life Lionel Logue evolved his Speech Therapy business from his work as an actor and elocution teacher, until today – when speech therapeutics are generally considered to be a medical practice – the focus has often been on how best to manage such conditions, rather than on how to cure them.
An example of this is an article which recently appeared in the London Evening Standard in which the Headmaster of a prestigious London school tells how “I struggled with a stammer just like George VI”. In an interview with Education Correspondent Anna Davis, Martin Stephen details how he was diagnosed with “an incurable speech defect” and has turned around the educational and professional limitations which that would have imposed on him. He was helped by what is called “the Burgess system of speech”. He only used the techniques of the system for about a year, but that gave him confidence that if he needed the “clever tricks” it offered then he would have them to hand to use them. Instead though, he says he’s found that using the confidence – without the tricks – has been enough for the past twenty years.
Dr. Stephen makes it clear what a release it is to have such relative freedom. Yet he also shares the truism, as many people see it, that “You never defeat or remove a stammer: you just force it into a corner.”
Every victory over a limitation is a wonder to be valued, however achieved – and gaining and successfully leaning on a sense of confidence is a marvellous victory. Yet there is also reason to celebrate the fact that speech defects can be completely conquered, because they often have been through the healing practice of Christian Science. Many accounts of such complete freedom, written by those healed, have been published in the Christian Science magazines – the Christian Science Sentinel and The Christian Science Journal – in the past 100 years.
I recently reviewed half a dozen of the more recent accounts that have been published of these God-centred cures of serious speech impediments. These were accounts by adults looking back at their freedom since being healed of stammering when in their teens or as twenty-somethings.
The common thread in all these testimonies will be familiar to many who practise or require speech therapy – the identification of negative mental traits such as fear or a lack of confidence, often associated with a heartless or harsh impatience with these qualities expressed to them during their formative years by a parent or teacher. The healing impetus that is added through using Christian Science instead of conventional speech therapy – which is illustrated in each of these healing accounts – is the conviction that these negative traits themselves can be permanently removed, thus liberating the body to act harmoniously.
One example of this is the transcript of a radio interview with Frank Smith, from Boston, who “had a very severe case of stammering”. He was enrolled with a speech therapist by his parents, but after a couple of years he had made no progress, so he gave it up. The condition “very much restricted” his participation in class discussions, and “completely wiped out any social life”. The condition had not eased at all by the time he got to College.
At that point, a fellow student – who later became Frank’s wife – introduced him to Christian Science, which gave him a new sense of his identity as spiritual and without limitations. As he describes it, “As I began to get a clearer concept of who I was – the child of God – I began to see that this pointed out the path to overcoming stammering.”
As he continued to study Christian Science he was able to take a job that involved constant face-to-face dialogue with the public, yet still he faced the recurring – if diminished – fear. A Bible quote that became very precious to him was from Isaiah, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
The more he used this and other metaphysical ideas to confront his own fear the freer he became, until he felt free enough to accept appointment as a regular reader conducting services at a church. Then having completed that role twice a week for several years he was able to look back and finally see that “the stammering was really behind me.”
Frank concludes by saying “To this day I can speak freely. I love to answer the phone. I don’t have any problems speaking in public. If you’d told me during those years – even back in my 20s – that I was going to be speaking on radio, I’d have said “No way! You’ve got to be kidding. I could never do that.” And now I am doing it. It feels wonderful to have this freedom.”
There is also the remarkable story of a man who had literally had a lifetime of stuttering until he found Christian Science in his late 70s. He, too, gained a whole new sense of his identity and describes his journey into virtual freedom. At one point he says “ I began to see that hatred, resentment, and selfishness were at the root of my stuttering. The teachings of Christian Science are showing me how to overcome negative traits like these and put them out of my thoughts and therefore out of my life.”
Although no system of therapeutics has a 100% success rate, including the practice of Christian Science, many – like those in these “testimonies” of healing – can vouch for the fact that when a clear understanding of God completely removes the fears, spiritual ignorance or wilfulness that underpin a physical discord, it is gone for good.
To read more Christian Science healing narratives, click here.
Or to hear a global internet version of those local “testimony” meetings featuring spontaneously shared “experiences, testimonies, and remarks on Christian Science” listen live at 7pm (UK time) – or for 24 hours afterwards – to The Wednesday Online Testimony Meeting Broadcast of The Mother Church in Boston, Massachusetts.
Read other blogs on this site focussed on the movie, “The King’s Speech”:
The King’s Speech – Lionel Logue and the Christian Science Question
The King’s Speech – Logue was a Christian Scientist