Five Questions: A’s Answers

When people leave Christian Science there are five questions that pop up again and again. We can only answer these questions for ourselves. By sharing these answers, we hope to shed a little light into the murky depths of Christian Science. Find all the answers to the Five Questions on the FiveQuestions tag.

The following answers are from A, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.

How did you get into Christian Science?

I was born into it.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

I am a ‘parent pleaser’. Adherence to Christian Science made my parents happy, and it took until I was about 25 to openly admit that I wasn’t practicing it, and that I didn’t want to pretend I was anymore.

What made you decide to leave?

As I became an adult the culture of the church bothered me more and more, beyond just the dogma. It was narrow minded, ‘tunnel visioned’, and often just uninspiring. The culture really seemed to discourage human feelings and normal stages of development. There were wonderful things about it that I consider part of my spiritual and personal development–the ability to listen to instinct (still small voice); the power of Love, Truth, and goodness; for example. There are many more aspects that are just wishful, hopelessly ignorant, outdated, and fear-based. As I grew older, the idea that all these people, many of them privileged and well educated, were following the ‘teachings’ of this clearly unstable 19th century woman became more shocking to me.

Why would anyone join?
Virtually everyone I’ve ever known in the church was born into it. I don’t think there is much meaningful conversion happening beyond the occasional person who marries into it, and it sounds like they are doing outreach in Africa that seems to be effective. It certainly isn’t for the fellowship, as in my experience Christian Scientists are generally pretty snobby and aloof, and the church communities not particularly welcoming beyond the surface. I think the demographics intersect with upper middle class white culture, especially in New England, which is ‘play by the rules’ and somewhat conformist. Add to that the fact that some people get drawn into networks of camp, school, Prin, etc. and either don’t realize how insulated they are or feel afraid of being isolated from what they know.
Did you really believe? 

I’m really not sure. I probably did for some time, as an elementary age kid, as much as I was capable of it. I really wanted to, and my Mom really wanted me to, and I respected her very much growing up so I believed what she told me. I also had one beloved practitioner who is still one of my favorite people. But the overwhelming feeling is one of wanting to be seen as good by those whose approval I wanted, more than anything else. There was always the message “if you would just read the lesson every day, you wouldn’t have such and such a problem.”

I still think of Christian Science phrases and concepts often as they become relevant in something I’m experiencing. There are pieces of it–like certain wonderful hymns–that are very comforting and beautiful still. There are many other pieces that are just laughably insane and I can’t believe I went along with it into adulthood. I feel strongly that you can take what is useful to you and move past the rest, and be better off for it. The fear of acknowledging physical evidence, and inability to take charge of what is happening in your body, and be informed is just crazy. I feel so sorry for people who are trapped in that, and remember the helplessness of it–the feeling of, “I am having this problem because there is something wrong with my thought–what is it?!? How do I know to stop doing it?! There must be something!” No…sometimes a cold is just a cold. Take a nap and some sudafed and let it pass. Looking back on the time I wasted worrying about that, makes me grateful that I was able to move on and that my family supported me, or at least didn’t fight me, in doing so.

If you would like to contribute your experiences to The Ex-Christian Scientist, you can email us at [email protected]