“‘God is My First Aid Kit’: Negotiation of Health and Illness among Christian Scientists”
Steckler, Rebecca A. and John P. Bartkowski. “‘God is My First Aid Kit’: Negotiation of Health and Illness among Christian Scientists.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 57, no. 3 (2018): 585-603
Steckler and Bartkowski seek to contribute to the scholarly understanding of “how religious culture is redefined and often transformed through the lived experience of devout adherents” (586). They use insights from theories of subcultural identity and cultural repertoires to analyze their data and understand how Christian Scientists “engage the challenges posed by the highly medicalized character of American society” (585). In addition to social factors usually ignored in the public debates over the meaning and merits of Christian Science healing, the authors focus on adherents’ understandings and applications of their healing tenets in the context of everyday lives. Some changes have occurred within Christian Science communities that have been prompted by medical advancements. But the authors identify three strategies commonly employed by Christian Scientists to treat health problems: 1) seeking God’s guidance; 2) assessing one’s metaphysical competency; 3) and managing medical indoctrination from non-Christian Science acquaintances. Contrary to much of the criticism leveled against Christian Scientists, Steckler and Bartkowski found that treatment options are more flexible and nuanced than often publicized. They also suggest that other high-tension religious groups (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses), could find mutual benefit from comparing and contrasting the Christian Science methods of engaging with the public.
Print ISSN: 0021-8294
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