Did Francis Fluno write “Criticism”?

Francis J. Fluno (1846–1922) was a student of Mary Baker Eddy. He taught and practiced Christian Science in Oakland, California, for many years. 

Occasionally we are asked about a piece attributed to Fluno titled “Criticism.” It is indeed his work. He delivered it in the form of an address to his Christian Science students’ association, on October 2, 1899. 

William A. Newman was present and recorded Fluno’s words in shorthand. Fluno subsequently examined the text and approved it as follows:

The thought this evening more especially probably will be the thought of criticism—criticism.

Galatians V: 13 to 16 inclusive
II Peter I: 4 to 9               ”
S&H 364, 18 to 366, 25 ”

I have only time for a few words this evening, for we want to hear from the rest, from the field somewhat. 

The subject itself is a lecture if you will take it home to yourselves and find what there is in it. Criticism—fault-finding—it will shut you out from Heaven; it will darken all your skies; it will keep you from demonstrating for yourselves and others; it will bar your progress; it will stop you in your onward going; it leads into all trouble; it leads into discord; into unkindness; unfriendliness; impatience; hard-heartedness and finally into all evil; hatred, malice, hatefulness, envy. And just as long as that spirit of criticism remains in your thought and you leave it there, just so long you will not progress; just so long you will not be able to demonstrate; just so long you will not be able to find your way in Truth; because you are looking for faults constantly; you are fault finding on a mortal material plane. You will criticise everybody and everything—you will criticise them in every way—the clothes they wear—the way they walk—the way they talk—the way they read—and the way they sing—in everything they do; the way they pronounce their words and in the way they enunciate. You will criticise them in every possible way, and that is all you will do if that spirit of criticism is abroad in your heart and is growing. I don’t mean to say that it is there, but if it is there and if it is not removed and if it is not detected, it will remain there and it will grow and you will want to know bye-and-bye why you can’t demonstrate, you will want to know why you do not know and understand the Truth as well as you would like to. It is because you are finding fault with people on the exterior; finding fault with what they do and what they say. You are not looking for the Truth; you are not finding the Truth in what is done; but you are studying faults; you are trying to find fault; that is what you are looking for—and it is all you are thinking of by-and-by. It is one of the worst things that can possibly get into a community; and it is one of the worst things that can get into a church; and it is one of the worst things that can get into your thought—one of the worst. It is one of the keys to perdition; because it leads there. It leads into all unkindness; it leads into ingratitude; it leads into anything but love for your neighbor and your friends. 

Anyone can criticise—anyone. Any one can criticise. I never saw a person so big an idiot, if he could talk at all, he could find fault with others, and I never saw any one so drunk, but that he had sense enough to say anything, he could find fault with others. Anyone can do it, and just as soon as you let that enter  into your thought and leave it there, it will grow until very soon you will think you are elected the critic, and that is what your mission is, and that is what you are for, and that is the work you will be doing. It is an awful thing. It never bodes any good and never does any good. It never can because it is all on a mortal plane—every bit of it. You are not helping others and you are not helping yourself, and it doesn’t belong to Christian Science.  It does not belong to Christian Science, especially does it not belong to Christian—Science; for there is nothing Christian about it, and there surely is not anything Scientific about it —not a thing. 

I have seen it all my Life; I have seen it from my earliest childhood, and I presume everyone of you have, and it is a thing that ought to be looked well to to see whether you have it or not. Look well to your heart and see whether it is there—because you are students of Christian Science, you are students of the Science of Being—that is your study—that is all your study—you know no other study—you have no other study but the Science of Being, Christian Science. (If you are studying that you will progress in everything you do; Nothing that you can touch, but what you will do well with; because it leads into wisdom) That is your study—that is all your study—you know no other study—you have no other study but the Science of Being, Christian Science. It leads into love; it leads into kindness; into satisfaction. It leads into a way of pleasantness; it leads you to see kindness for everybody; to study kindness for everybody; to study helpfulness for everyone, and it will lead you to see propositions and open propositions to you that you never saw before—in everything—in every walk of life to become better in everything; better mechanics; to become better teachers in the schools; you will become better Fathers and Mothers, better Sisters and better Brothers, better neighbors. You are better business-men. Everything that you touch will grow out into plainness before you, better students of Being—studying the Science and Facts of Being. Everything is elucidated; everything is made plain,—and everything is made easy. 

There are no hard roads and there is no hard work as fast as you find your way in the great facts of Being; and you will find no hard times; You will find no such thing as hard times or hard work to get along if you are studying the great facts of Being themselves. The great trouble is to let go of mortal sense and study the Truth—study the great facts of Being. Don’t think that you have to hang on with one hand to mortal law and the way of living. You will find that your living is sure, and you will find a better living and an easier life and you ever had before and knew anything about. We lose worry of losing it; we lose worry of losing business; we lose worry of finding our business; you will lose thought of your body; you will lose thought of losing your life; you will lose fear of losing your life; of losing your health; because you are growing into life, into health—freedom; growing into happiness; growing into strength; into manliness; and into womanhood; you are growing to be better scholars of yourselves and of yourself and of the world; of everything that is associated with you;—if you are students of Christian Science, and that is what you are; you are not students of people; you are not students of the way people walk along the street finding fault with the way they walk; finding fault with the cut of their dress or with or with the cut of their cloak; finding fault with their habits; their little short-comings; their little faults and their little failures.1

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  1. Francis J. Fluno, “Criticism,” 2 October 1899, Church Archives, Box 529397, Folder 214586.