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True Control

By Ronald L. Musselman, CS

In the September 1890 issue(1) of The Christian Science Journal there appeared without byline a poem entitled, “Potter and Clay.” A forward said it was being offered as an entry for what was hoped as the first Christian Science hymnal. It began:

Eternal Mind the Potter is,

And thought, the eternal clay.

Later was the line, “And Man shall stand as God's own child, The Image of His Love.”

This was included shortly thereafter in the first Christian Science Hymnal. It turns out that the author was Mary Alice Dayton, who had been in Mrs. Eddy’s last primary class at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in 1889(2), the year previous to the first publication of Potter and Clay. With a few changes, it has become one of our familiar hymns.

It’s also a clear treatment of heredity. In it, Miss Dayton presciently discusses pattern, model and heir. By her own account in a 1904 Journal article(3) she was an avid student of evolution, (Charles Darwin's book "On the Origin of Species" was published in 1859), so Miss Dayton was fully aware of the early science of heredity.

We now know much more about the science of evolution and heredity, most notably about deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA. It’s a double helix that fits curled into each cell of the body but, if stretched out would be two yards long. DNA is known not only as the blueprint for organisms but as the factory for the myriad of proteins and other molecules making up the body. It’s an amazing and beautiful concept. It is tempting to view DNA as a very powerful, determining agent. This, however, is a huge mistake. As impressive as DNA is, it does not determine, does not control, it reflects control, much like our hands do not determine what they do, they reflect our mind which controls them. DNA is not the pattern, it reflects the pattern of Life, Truth and Love.

So this is where Potter and Clay comes in. Miss Dayton, who was a Christian Science Practitioner and Teacher, wrote, “Life, Truth, and Love the pattern make, Christ is the perfect heir.” Thus our heredity is perfect and patterned after Life, Truth and Love.

One of the characteristics that we know about proteins and their correct functioning is that their shape is complex and that certain portions are shaped so another molecule can fit perfectly into a cavity to effect a needed function. Here, Potter and Clay was again prescient, where it declares, “Love's work and Love must fit.” That is, the idea and function must be harmonious, must fit correctly.

Sometimes, there appears to be a glitch in the replication of DNA as cells grow which seems to lead to illness or birth defects. This is answered in Potter and Clay with, “God could not make imperfect man...” and also, “Life, Truth and Love the pattern make,” That is, no matter what appears, the pattern is, in fact, perfect.

Even during the writing of this poem, there was an improvement that ends up as a clearer statement of truth: “And man shall stand as God's own child,” was changed to “And man does stand as God's own child, The image of His love.” Man is now, not shall be, made in the pattern of perfection.

In a January 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel, there’s a testimony(4) about a kitten who was born with malformed front feet who could only move by pushing with its hind feet. The author was about to take class instruction and during class she refused to feel sorry for the kitten but instead for those two weeks kept mentally elevated, focusing on the perfection of God’s pattern. Upon returning home, that kitten ran to greet her and climbed a tree to show a perfect healing.

I’m very grateful for the many inspired Christian Scientists who have helped us to use this Science, this Comforter, to demonstrate what Christ Jesus was sent to show and Mrs. Eddy was led to restate for us.

1. The Christian Science Journal September, 1890.

2. Clifford P. Smith, The Christian Science Journal, Feb. 1, 1940.

3. “Christian Science in the Order of Spiritual Evolution,” M.A. Dayton, The Christian Science Journal, Nov. 1, 1904.

4. Kathryn A. T. Knox, Christian Science Sentinel, Jan. 11, 2016.

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