By Kat, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group editor/writer. This is part of our on-going series about people who have left Christian Science for a new spiritual path. Find other related posts under the tag, ‘other spiritual paths’.
During my freshman orientation at Principia College we participated in a Writing Seminar. We read droll essays, obscure poems, wrote metacognitive pieces, and shared our “inspired” work. One of the essays we read was on the theme “there are many paths up the mountain.”
There was some discussion, of course people have to explore other paths, but at the end, everyone is trying to reach the summit, and obviously, the summit is the Truth of Christian Science. It takes some people longer to get there than others, and some people never realize that Truth in this lifetime.
I spent a lot of time and energy on my path. Years of Sunday School, hours spent in church, reading the Weekly Bible Lesson, four years at Principia College. When I had questions or doubts, I redoubled my efforts, turning to The Books for Truth, and coming back to the proper path of Christian Science.
Then one day life-threatening pregnancy complications landed me in the hospital well before my due date. I had a binder of Christian Science platitudes to keep me company, God’s Law of Adjustment on my ipod, and a CS Practitioner a phone call away.
The reality of dealing with a mandatory meeting with a social worker, and in-depth conversations about baby care with the neonatal intensive care nurses, firmly pushed us into the world of “suffer it to be so now.” We can still pray about it, but we have to check all the boxes if we want to take the baby home, as Jesus said, render unto Caesar (Mark 12:17).
I struggled balancing pediatricians and prayer. I tried to go to Church, but could hear my baby angrily wailing from the Children’s Room. It felt wrong. Pediatricians won out over prayer. Evidence based medicine won out over radical reliance. If anyone asked my religious preference, I gave a vague reply: “Christian.” I was very much on the path away from Christian Science, and the Pinnacle of Truth.
Being vaguely “Christian” was fine, then one day, some Mormon Missionaries showed up on my doorstep. I was an overwhelmed mom of two young children, desperate for conversation beyond “pick up your toys” and “stop waking the baby.”
The Mormons were excited. The woman is often the one responsible for religious training of the children, the fact I was open to even talking to them, was a huge point in their favor. I was also obviously not in the best place, and they had The Answer, the One Truth Path, Mormonism, and the One True Book, The Book of Mormon.
I tried to let them down gently. No thanks. I already left the One True Path, Christian Science, and I’ve already read the One True Book, Science and Health. They persisted and left a copy of The Book of Mormon for me to read, as well as some selected passages that I might find helpful.
I tried to read The Book of Mormon and got nowhere, so I turned to the Bible. I was Christian after all, and didn’t Ms. Eddy get her inspiration from there? I’d read Science and Health from cover to cover, so I decided to give the Bible a go, starting at Genesis 1:1, In the beginning…
I’d read parts of the Bible before, selections from the weekly Bible Lesson, sections for Bible classes at Principia, but I’d never actually read it from the beginning. I also started googling for more information about the Bible – it wasn’t written in a vacuum, I wanted to know more.
The more I read, the more I realized I didn’t actually identify as a Christian, and I certainly didn’t believe the Bible was the Word of God, any more than I believed that Science and Health was divinely authorized.
I felt gutted, I felt I had been wasting my time on paths that were totally wrong for me, they all claimed to be The One True Path, and I wasn’t going to go down another one that claimed to be the Only One.
The message from Writing Seminar kept haunting me, religion is THE MOUNTAIN and there is NO WRONG PATH, everyone needs spiritual enlightenment and a relationship with a God. There may be “no wrong path” for the religious, but I didn’t identify with religion, nor did I want a relationship with that God. I was done climbing that mountain. I started down the mountain, shedding baggage (or attempting to shed the baggage) as I went.
I was seeking, not just a new path, but a new mountain. Was there an alternative mountain? I’d been born into and raised on the religious mountian, my path had always been Christian Science — it had always been the pinnacle of Truth, the highest embodiment of religion.
I did a lot of searching and found Secular Humanism. There are no mythical deities, there is no absolute Truth, there are just people and we are all in this together, let’s try and get a long.
My new deity-free mountain isn’t perfect, I’ve had twists and turns on this path, but I feel that I have found the right mountain for me. The right mountain for my children to grow up on. A mountain where I can practice self-compassion instead of self-loathing. A mountain where I don’t have to try and “align my thought” with a supposedly omniscient deity.
“We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.” (https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/12)
This is my path up the mountain now.