The following musings on Mother’s Day have been submitted by an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. This is part 1 of 2, part 2 will be shared on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
Mary Baker Eddy loved it when her followers showed her reverence and called her “Mother.” There is a special room in The Mother Church reserved just for her, called “Mother’s Room.”
Ever since she died, no one is allowed to go in to it. If “matter isn’t real,” then how come they revere this space? It’s just matter. Why close it off? Let people go see it and walk through. It’s just a material room.
A Prayer for the Little Children
By Mary Baker Eddy
Guard me when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.
Eddy wrote that “Prayer for the Little Children” (found in Prose Works), that calls God: “Father-Mother.” I also have observed while sitting in endless church meetings, that Christian Scientists revere “Mother” more than they revere Christ Jesus. I think every woman in the Christian Science church wants to emulate Eddy as much as they can. It’s weird. That woman had serious personality issues. (In a religion that tells us to remove all sense of personality!) Christian Scientists frequently equate themselves to Christ Jesus, and it’s almost as if they equate Eddy to a reverence even above Jesus!
It has been my experience that as I get to know more and more Ex Christian Scientists, I consistently see that these very kind people have had major issues with their moms. I am developing a theory that all the moms in Christian Science who completely revere Eddy, try to emulate her. This is not a good thing.
As it’s Mother’s Day, I have been thinking about my own experiences with the mom figures in my life. Maybe this blog post will help uncover some of the issues Christian Scientists and former Christian Scientists have had with their moms, and why they walk away from the relationship, or why it’s so strained. Maybe this 2-part blog will resonate with people, maybe it won’t. (Part 2 will run on Wednesday.)
If there is one thing I see consistently in Christian Science moms, it’s a complete lack of empathy.
My parents both took Christian Science Nurse training, where they learned to fold sheets and put on band-aids without touching the white cotton part of the band-aid. They also learned how to take off band-aids. Apparently, this is vital information to become parents. They also learned how to change bed sheets and bleach a bathtub. (Please understand – there was no medical knowledge given to them. No administering of basic aspirin or cough syrup, no syringes, so splints, nothing. Nothing medical. No shots. No blood pressure readings, not even taking someone’s temperature, as far as I know, they don’t even feel a forehead.)
My great-grandmother A was a Journal-listed Christian Science Practitioner for decades and decades who absolutely revered Eddy. Like Eddy, my great-grandmother got married 3 times.
My Grandmother L was undoubtedly raised in Christian Science. I think it was great-grandmother A’s first husband who was L’s dad. But I am not sure. I don’t know much about L., because she died of an accidental suicide when my mom was a small child.
Great-grandmother A raised my mom and her siblings, with her third (extremely abusive) husband. These poor children were very young when their mother died. They were abused in every sense of the word. They were locked in dark closets for hours and hours, sexually abused, physically beaten, they were consistently denied proper food. One broke an arm a few times that was left to “heal” through prayer, despite even Eddy saying basically that having a bone set is perfectly reasonable to do. Their angry, controlling grandparents threw temper tantrums and destroyed the kids’ clothes and belongings, all while shouting Christian Science “truth” at these poor kids. Does this sound like a loving, wonderful religion you want to be a part of, and raise healthy kids in? I am positive that there was so much more that I am not even aware of.
My mom got pregnant with me even though she and my dad were on birth control. She knew she couldn’t take care of a child, so she left when I was a toddler. She subsequently married at least 3 more times that I know of. She followed Eddy’s example quite well in that regard, just as her grandmother had.
As an adult, we tried to reconcile, but it just seemed that the bulk of our conversations were criticisms directed at every aspect of my life. She constantly accused me of “being too sensitive,” and I just couldn’t take it. To maintain my peace, I had to walk away from her. I can’t handle constant criticism. It was just too painful for me to endure, so whereas she walked away from me when I was a toddler, I walked away when I was an adult.
My dad’s mom, Grandma E, took care of me at regular intervals. She was also incredibly critical and physically abusive to me; she paddled me with a board when she didn’t like me having my own opinion (Eddy doesn’t value opinions either, believe it or not).
In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless. – Science and Health, p. 341: 11
After I grew up & became a mom, a family member asked Grandma E: “do you regret doing hitting her with a board?” She replied simply: “no. I would do it again.”
Who does that to a child and then never regrets it? Hitting a child is abuse. Plain and simple.
My take away from my own personal experience is that women in the Christian Science church grow up hearing about (and bowing down to) Eddy and how “perfect” she was. We constantly hear that she was ultra meticulous. (Think: perfectionistic OCD, and highly critical.)
In Eddy’s household, sheets had to be folded exactly 4 inches over the top of the blanket. (Yes, I was taught this too, since of course Eddy knew the best way to make a bed.) Furniture had pins around the feet to make sure the furniture stayed in its proper place. I easily imagine Eddy barking orders.
She told the members of the church that if she called them to come serve in her household, they better recognize that as an enormous honor, and they better drop everything (including family) and come serve until she was done with them (after months or even years). (An excellent book to read about how cold Eddy was, is called “God’s Perfect Child,” by Caroline Fraser.)
Poor Calvin Frye tried to escape Eddy’s household by trying to fall asleep and never wake up, at least three times, but she woke him up from at least one Near Death Experience. She yelled at him each time until he woke up. He was probably completely exhausted from her sociopathic, passive aggressive shenanigans.
I believe women who have no empathy are attracted to the religion, or, if they grew up in it, it keeps them staying in it. They want to ignore anything painful, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Zosh’s recent blog post alludes to this denial of anything sad – “the first stage of grief.”
Eddy certainly didn’t have any empathy. She was all “holier than thou” all of the time. She forced people by guilt trip to come serve at her beck and call for as long as she liked, then she dismissed them just as swiftly if they irritated her or didn’t follow her ridiculous rules.
Eddy is a woman who once set fire to a closet of a home when she was kicked out and no longer allowed to live there. She was not mentally stable. She should have been in a mental institution, and she started a religion instead. Author Steven Pressfield discusses this phenomenon in his book, “The War of Art.”
My dad remarried to step-mom S. She, like almost every other Christian Science mom I have heard about, sent me to my room for being sick, and told me to read Science and Health and/or write a long gratitude list of things I was grateful for. If I was home sick, I was not allowed to do anything fun until I was healed. No tv, no “fun” food, no non-CS (like: fiction) books… nothing fun until I demonstrated my healing. Definitely no cough syrup or medicines of any kind. If my dad wasn’t feeling well and wanted to huddle under a number of blankets, she made fun of him for that, too. Heaven forbid someone who isn’t feeling well should want to be under a bunch of blankets. You know, that’s a material remedy too, of course.
Every time I did a household chore, S would “inspect” it. She always found something wrong and made me redo it. Every single time. She informed me that this was because she loved me, and other parents don’t love their children as much as she loved me. To rephrase for clarity: she told me she was overly critical and cruel to me because she loved me. I believed her. My mom had been the same way, as had Grandma E, so step-mom S saying this meant it must be true. My friends constantly told me she was so mean to me, and their parents weren’t like that at all. I had no concept for what a kind mom might look like or feel like. I have a few long time friends remind me of mean things S said that I had forgotten. (One friend recently reminded me how S would compare me to my best friend, and tell me how perfect this other friend was. How she wished I would be more like this other friend, because she was just born perfect. She pointed out my flaws by comparison and told me I needed to heal those and be more like my friend.)
While talking with my therapist recently, I learned that S abused my dad when his health started failing. My dad was never able to tell me that she abused him. But I have told my therapist about the things she did to him, and my therapist has point blank told me: “that’s elder abuse.” She told me: “if that situation had been reported, protective services would have removed him from the home.” I stared at my therapist. I had no emotion come to me when I heard these words. I must be numb to emotional pain. My therapist asked me, “how do you feel about that, hearing that your dad was abused?” I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “if that had been my dad, I would feel sad.” I realized she was right! I was sad! I started crying and then sobbed. My dad was physically and verbally and emotionally abused by this woman.
My dad never complained. He never had anyone to talk to. She didn’t get along with his siblings and she created a huge rift in the family, and this effectively kept him from confiding in his siblings and even his parents.
She constantly told us what we could not share outside the home. So many things were secret. Being sick was a secret. Vacations were a secret. Bad grades or mental health issues were a secret. This is unhealthy, and is a form of control.
After my dad died, S said “he died because he didn’t read enough Christian Science literature.” This is called “victim blaming.” I was horrified at her cold demeanor when she said this. This woman never shed a tear for her own parents’ death, and never shed a tear for her husband’s death. This woman thought “it’s a healing that I don’t feel grief!”
Um, no, this makes you a robot akin to a Stepford Wife. A person like this has a complete lack of empathy for someone else’s suffering. She was completely surprised when I was still deeply sad about my dad’s death only a week after he died.
Did you know that most Christian Science deaths don’t have an autopsy done? Because they don’t believe death is real. So, people don’t know why their young parent suddenly died. It is heart-breakingly sad! There is no autopsy, and the person is generally cremated, and then disposed of. That’s it. They are never spoken of again. As if they didn’t exist in the first place.
Chrystal talked about having even a honey-lemon food mixture taken away when she had a sore throat as a child. In another blog post, Elizabeth talked about a Christian Science woman in a mom-role who took away a helpful wet washcloth when the blog writer had The Measles. The Measles. No material remedies, not even a wet wash cloth. If this isn’t a lack of empathy, I don’t know what is.
Good thing the human body has an amazing capacity to heal most of its issues, even without any intervention of any kind. It is because of this that so many of us who grew up in Christian Science survived childhood.