I learned that the First Church of Christ, Scientist was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in Boston , Massachusetts in 1879. Mrs. Eddy wrote a book entitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which was intended to be read in conjunction with the King James version of the Bible. If you're interested in learning the full and official explanation of why and how the religion came to be, please consult the Church's official website.
Each day Christian Scientists all over the world read the same "lesson", which is made up of verses from the Bible and companion paragraphs from Science & Health, as predetermined by the Mother Church in Boston. There are no ministers in the church, but instead First and Second Readers, who at Sunday service, read aloud to the congregation all of the passages that had been preselected for each day of the previous week, so if you didn't do your daily readings, you hear them all at the following Sunday service. It's a very comfortable service without all of the dogma I'd come to dislike in my own religion.
In a nutshell, Mrs. Eddy believed that God was omniscient and perfect, and if Man was made in God's image, then physical illness could not exist in Man either. Most devout Christian Scientists do not consult doctors when they are ill. Instead, and often very successfully, they use their faith in God to aid in healing any physical ailments they may contract.
As the months passed and I read my lessons and attended Sunday service, I found a great deal that I could accept and hold. I had long discussions with Peter's grandparents and parents about the merits of spiritual healing. I read and was inspired by Church newsletters containing examples of divine healings that had been documented and accepted. After a while, I began to believe there was something to this divine healing that I had learned about through the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
A few months after I had begun attending church services and reading my lessons, I was diagnosed with a minor physical problem that would require surgery to correct. Frankly, I was afraid of the surgery and began to seriously consider treating the problem in the Christian Science way. When I told my mother this, she made it clear that I could do what I thought was right, but that she and my father would not support me if I took the non-surgical route. I was not yet 18 years old, still in high school and fully dependent on my parents, so I had no choice but to acquiesce and have the surgery. I was in tears when I explained to my future husband's grandparents that I would be having the surgery - I was so sure they would be disappointed in me. Instead, they assured me that they would support me no matter what healing method I pursued. They also explained to me with kindness and understanding that I could combine the medical solution with the spiritual one, and they would help in any way they could.
Through Christian Science I learned that I could refuse to acknowledge sickness (even though it's a hard sell and tough to do). When the physical symptoms of illness are making you miserable or you can see a wound, it's pretty hard to convince yourself that you are whole and well. I admire anyone who can actually do it, but I could not. What I did learn, however, was that there is a definite connection between our minds and our physical symptoms. When I started to feel a cold or headache coming on, I could often stave it off by refusing to accept that I was sick. I could sometimes alleviate simple cold symptoms altogether, sometimes not. For serious illness though, I always sought traditional medical attention, but at the same time focused my mental energy on being well, not on being sick.
While it's been many years since I attended a Christian Science Sunday service or even looked at my copy of Science and Health, what I learned about treating illness with positive thinking and divine energy became an integral part of my life philosophy and remains strong inside me to this day.