Join us for the best summer yet!

PYCLs: Stop the necromancy of living in the past! Quit being hypnotized by appealing ads.
[End personal sense and inharmony with this QTIP acronym: Quit Taking It Personally!]
ossible Younger Class Lesson ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”
for the week of May 24–30, 2021

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO • 314-406-0041

Pycl #1: Stop the necromancy of living in any place that’s not the NOW.

This is a fun title to discuss with the little ones (and bigger ones). I find it very helpful to think of necromancy as it might apply to our modern-day experience. Most of us are not concerned or thinking about literally communicating with or using the dead in some way. However, many of us might struggle with looking to the past as a time of special joy that maybe is gone, or a time when we felt more useful, loved. Maybe we miss someone that is no longer in our lives. Or we think that there is something in the past that was good that we want to “recover”. All of this is living in a place that is not the present. We cannot truly do this as there is only NOW.

In Luke 9:62 Jesus tells us that no man should look back once he has begun plowing the soil. (You can talk about why this was his chosen analogy). Choose some contemporary analogies for this idea after discussing why we don’t want to look behind us for good. Good is here, and now. God is here and now!

Having covered necromancy, you can discuss mesmerism and hypnotism. Here is one contemporary way to think about mesmerism. Mary Baker Eddy links mesmerism and animal magnetism in Science and Health (pp.100-101) where she mentions the studies of “animal magnetic” fluid that influences us, and the debunking of this idea. Of course, today this idea sounds silly. Yet, we deal with influences that seem to be beyond our control quite often. I have found it useful to address animal magnetism/mesmerism in terms of chemical/hormonal influences. Many of us struggle with these suggestions at different times in our lives and they can seem very influential. So, addressing mesmerism and animal magnetism in these terms is a powerfully healing, and totally to current thing do! How different are the chemicals that are said to be released in our bodies to govern or regulate all sorts of things from happiness, to growth, to sleep, etc. from the original idea of an “animal magnetic fluid”, or influence of “celestial bodies” on our “nerves”?

Teens and pre-teens might well relate to the suggestion of these influences as they see them sometimes dramatized in their own interactions with peers. Could we find ourselves some “armor” in this Bible lesson that might help us defeat these supposed influences? What would such armor be composed of? How do we govern thought and action when it seems out of our “control”?  Mary Baker Eddy is clear that self-control is really only present when we are governed by God…

If you have a class of only girls of the right age and who are comfortable with you, it might be possible to discuss the range of challenges associated with the menstrual cycle. This is not something to avoid (obviously we don’t cause anyone discomfort, so you have to read your class… probably you would want a 100% female group including teacher). This is not a shameful or private problem, it is something that every woman contends with for a large part of their human experience, so Sunday School might well be a perfect place to address the challenges that sometimes come with this cycle.

Hypnotism can be a fun one to think about today. There are actual hypnotists out there. They still use it today to try to solve addictions, and mental health challenges. What does it involve? What do we have to relinquish in order to be hypnotized? How does hypnotism manifest itself in a daily life kind of way? Have you ever been to a shopping mall and suddenly really wanted something they sell there, though you didn’t even think about it before entering the mall? Or have you found yourself maybe feeling badly about how you look when you walk through and see clothes or something that you cannot have, or fit, or it seems “everyone else” has? This might be thought of as a kind of hypnotism that shows up in advertising that is especially appealing to our senses. It is certainly not confined to a mall. It can be an experience where you are with peers that are heading out to do something that you wouldn’t normally be interested in doing, something that is not really your normal character. It might feel like you have to go along with the group. And it manifests in small ways with this “group think”, little things like gossip, or teasing. So again, what kind of armor can we prepare to combat these situations? When do we put that armor on? When do we take it off????

Pycl #2: Arm yourself against sadness, frustration, anger, impatience, disappointment…
In order to set up the armor discussion you will want to read the Responsive Reading together
from Eph.6:10-17, and maybe look at citation B8/2Cor. 10:4,5 to talk about weapons and armor. With the younger ones you can do any level of play with this.

You can use brown paper grocery bags to turn into armor by making a hole in the bottom to put a head through and arm holes in the sides of the bag. Cover the bag with qualities that represent our true armor that protects us from the challenges that we meet each day when we interact with family, peers, strangers—all of whom are our neighbors in the truest sense.

What are some of the challenges that we meet with people? What are qualities needed to heal and make peace? Are there challenges that we need to arm ourselves against that don’t involve other people? Sure! What about sadness, frustration, or even anger or impatience with ourselves, disappointment and so on? There are so many qualities that we can write on these “coats of armor” that can bring safety and healing. Another great passage to review is found in cit. S17/571:18-19. What does it mean to be “clad”, what is a panoply? (Words some children won’t have heard before).

What would a “sword of Truth” “cut through”? How does Truth destroy a lie? You can have some handy examples of this. If something is a lie, it truly disappears when it is identified as such! Truth erases lies, they don’t run away and try to trick someone else! You can, of course, bring in dress up clothes including a belt for “having your loins girt about with truth”, shoes for the “preparation of the gospel of peace;”, a hat of some kind for a “helmet of salvation”, and make a cardboard shield, which, again, can include any number of spiritually powerful qualities that will protect us from error/”the fiery darts of the wicked”.

The children can feel free to decorate the shield with some kind of coat of arms such as what we have on the cover of Science and Health, the cross and crown. They can make their own representation of something that would symbolize their spiritual protection.

Pycl #3: Tell laughable lies. End an acidic sense of injustice, hurt, anger, self-righteousness.
 Evil “…is neither person, place, nor thing…” S4/71:1. It is a powerful healing truth that evil is not a person! It is easy to be fooled by this suggestion when someone is thoughtless, or downright mean, perhaps they are lying about us. It sure can seem like a person is evil, but the best way to heal strife is through the recognition that evil is never a person but comes DISGUISED as a person (or, perhaps a situation/animal, etc.) When we realize that evil is separate, we then can let go of that acidic, burning, sense of injustice, or hurt, anger, or self-righteousness. [A helpful Holly Huff Bruland acronym is QTIP or Quit Taking It Personally!]

We are free to look at the “evil” as an appearance that we need to destroy so that it doesn’t poison our sense of joy, peace, good. When evil is no longer attached to an object such as a person, we don’t feel as personal about it.  One way to explain this to a younger child is to put on a pair of red horns (you can make this out of a girl’s headband and some red paper.) You can dress up as little or much as you want. You may need to discuss the idea of the “devil”—but most children are aware that the devil is not a being, but a name for what tempts us in our own thought to feel or think anything that might not be Godlike.

Once you have gotten this definition out of the way you can put on your devil “horns” and try out telling some outrageous lies about the students—some things that might make them laugh. After having some fun in this way, you can share some ways that we are tempted by thoughts that come to us that don’t seem so outrageous to us. Devilish thoughts parade as our own, they can be sneaky! They tend to be things that undermine our confidence, our sense of who we are. But, if we remember that these thoughts are no more “ours”— no more true than the false claims you made with your set of fake horns on your head! This is one way to impersonalize evil when it comes as our own thought, as well as when it looks like another person.

Pycl #4: Be someone who agrees/affirms/constructs. Share Love’s outlook, expressing hope, joy, spontaneity, flexibility… Defeat the “adversary” by being positive, seeking ways to bless.
In Section 2 we have the definition of “Adversary”, which is another name for the devil. You can fold this into the previous Pycl—or look at it as another aspect of the liar. I love that Mary Baker Eddy writes here of “…one who opposes, denies, disputes, not one who constructs…” When we want to find compromise, or bring people together, we try to build “bridges”, things that we can agree on, with which we can see beyond that which separates us. This is what Love does. We might think together about how we can be someone who does the opposite of this definition, someone who agrees/affirms/constructs, etc.

Come up with your own list that is the opposite of “adversary”! We might think about how we tend to respond to things in general. Do we usually respond with a positive tone or thought, or, are we often grumpy or ask to “do it later”? Do we look at our day with a sense of hope and possibility, or with glumness or dread or indifference? If it is any of the last three, then we are surely letting the “adversary” run the show, so to speak. It is a sign that we have an opportunity to recognize the opportunity to experience dominion and joy and find our natural hope within. The “adversary” might suggest that the first thing out of our mouth might be a darker outlook on things, where Love’s outlook is always going to be one that expresses hope, joy, spontaneity, flexibility, and so on. It is not natural to see things in a dark way. It may be popular, but it is not natural. This doesn’t mean we have to be insincere and plaster a smile on our face when we are struggling. But it is good to know that we are created as ideas of joy, hope, curiosity, and a keenness for life. The knowledge that this is true about man helps us to make progress in our recognition that this “adversary” is not a true part of us and can be destroyed.

To work with younger children on this definition, we can try giving them a task and then interfering with it. Maybe they could draw on a piece of paper and another student (they both understand this beforehand) keeps bumping their hand as they draw, making it impossible. Or one student keeps blocking another’s path as they try to walk through the Sunday School. Now, what would be the opposite of doing these things? Maybe you would bring the person who is drawing, some extra pens and paper? Or you could compliment them on their drawing. Maybe when they are trying to walk out of the Sunday School class you move a chair out of their way so they don’t have to! There are many ways that we can defeat the “adversary” and keep it from ever interfering in our daily lives by being positive and looking for ways to bless.

Pycl #5: Don’t let the adversary tempt you to soften any guidance that God gives you.

Read the whole story of Balak and Balaam from Numbers 22 and 23. There is a part of it where Balaam doesn’t quite follow God’s directions and God sends an angel that scares his donkey. It’s pretty awesome, the donkey won’t move no matter how much Balaam beats him and God causes the donkey speak to Balaam. I think the children would enjoy that story. Also, it can tie into the idea of human will, which is discussed in Section 5! Maybe we could say that Balaam was temporarily tempted by the adversary to try to soften his message to Balak? 

Have a great week in Sunday School!

American Camp Association

(November - May)
410 Sovereign Court #8
Ballwin, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

(Memorial Day Weekend - October)
19772 Sugar Dr.
Lebanon, MO 65536
(417) 532-6699

Support our mission!

CedarS Camps

to top