I was helping out on a Christian Science Reading Room stall at the Brisbane Mind, Body, Spirit Festival just yesterday, so Tony Lobl’s blog post (below) struck a chord with me. There were many people that I spoke to who hadn’t been exposed to the Bible at all and loved some of the verses that speak of the closeness of God’s presence. But there were more who were absolutely intrigued by the connection of science with Christianity that is practically explained in Christian Science, and the possibility that our consciousness governs our experience and our health.
I didn’t write the following paragraph….
There is real indication that there is a leavening of thought occurring in the public consciousness, with regard to things of the Spirit. At one time the words God, religion, Church and Jesus were absolutely unacceptable to the sort of seeker which attends [Mind/Body/Spirit] shows [in the UK]. There are so many looking for physical as well as mental relief.
But I could have written that paragraph, which appeared in a recent report of a Christian Science Reading Room activity at May’s Mind/Body/Spirit Show at the Royal Horticultural Halls, in Victoria, London. I have enjoyed helping out occasionally at these shows during the ten years that the United South East England Reading Room and their predecessors have hosted a stand there. And that is exactly what I noticed this year. The reluctance – well, sometimes more than reluctance! – of Mind/Body/Spirit crowds to engage with Christian ideas has seriously reduced.
There were still a portion of attendees for whom Christian spirituality was very distinctly not on either their intended or spontaneous agendas for the afternoon. Yet so many others were happy to stop and talk, and although mostly not consciously looking for a Church or religion, for an understanding of Jesus – or even for God – they were more than open to finding out about these things. Moreover, many were willing to buy Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which thoughtfully and inspiringly brings to light the powerful spirituality and healing potential of the Bible texts.
This changed environment for discussion squares with a couple of other factors I have been noting over the past couple of years…
Firstly, among those Christians generally called “mainstream” there has been more talk of the need to considerately go where the seeker is going – and thus have stands at Mind/Body/Spirit events. This was evidently more than talk, as there were indeed other Christian groups – with a variety of approaches and agendas – in attendance at the Royal Horticultural Hall in 2011, while for many years the Christian Science Reading Rooms that have chosen to exhibit on such occasions have been the lone Christian voice at these events.
Secondly, I recently read in “The Millennials” by Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer how the younger generations coming through – the so-called Millennials – don’t share the baby-boomers’ common suspicion of, and aversion to, organised religion in general and Christianity specifically…
That is not to say that kids and twentysomethings are flocking to sign up to institutional religion. Far from it! They are positively described in the book’s “Their Strange Religious World” chapter as not having an adversarial attitude towards religion but on the flip side they are described as being apathetic about it. And “spirituality” only comes in at No.6 on the survey’s record of the Millennial’s perspective on “What is Really Important in Your Life?” It is below family, friends, education, career, and spouse…but above finances, happiness, raising kids and health.
Here is an attitudinal example from a guy called Brandon:
Look guys, I know religion is important to a lot of people, but I’m not really one of those people who even thinks much about religion. I’m not against religions or religious people; it’s just not who I am. I call myself a Christian because that’s the label my family’s had for generations. But I doubt that I’m even close to being like those people who attend church a lot. Religion is just really low on my list of priorities.
The surveys conducted for this book were carried out in the United States. Here in the UK, too, I have had first-hand experience of the same trend…of “Millennials” being more respectful of an individual’s decision to value a faith, and more openly curious to hear about it without prejudice, than “Boomer” parents.
Thought-streams inevitably keep on flowing, and as time moves on, yesterday’s common knowledge becomes today’s passé preconception…as a day at the Mind/Body/Spirit seemed to suggest.
Check out more on the mind/body connection in my earlier blog, The Genius of Christianity.