Dear Christian Science Teacher

As the end of the school year winds down, many people are expressing their thanks to the teachers in their children’s lives. This Ex Christian Scientist felt inspired to share her appreciation for all the unexpected lessons her Christian Science Teacher gave her.


Dear Christian Science Teacher, CSB,

It’s teacher appreciation week. So I thought I might share my gratitude to you in this letter.

When I interviewed you, I remember you name dropping all the “famous” people who had taken Class Instruction with you and who attended Association every year. That clinched it for me, that I should go through with you, even though my mom told me she found you to be cold and uncaring.

Thank you for telling me you would give me a 3” 3-ring binder of notes during Class Instruction. I found that material bit of information to be comforting. It is a binder that is chock full of quotes from All The Holy Books Of Top Secret Knowledge.

So, I was vegetarian when I went through Class Instruction with you. I’d been raised to “take no thought for your body what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink.” You told us that you would hire a chef to cook us a special lunch every day. I remember the first few days of lunch – every day it was bacon or ham. Something pig. Every meal. I kept my mouth shut. For 3 days.

I remember holding up a greasy, nearly raw piece of bacon on day 4. I asked my Classmates “do people in this geographical area eat some kind of pig EVERY DAY?” I held up the greasiest, most gross thing I had ever seen, and showed it to my Classmates. None of them seemed to think it was a geographical area thing. This was the moment they realized I was having a hard time with the constant bacon at every goddamned meal. I said, “do you eat this part of the bacon?” One student said, “I would.”

I just couldn’t. In my entire life, I had never liked eating pig. (Isn’t it in the Bible somewhere that we shouldn’t eat pig? Because it’s unclean matter? Is that not a part we spiritually interpret; though? Really, I’m confused. We seem to bow down to iron clad Bible verses and completely ignore other verses.) I never ate so much pig in my life before or after Class Instruction. It is most definitely the thing that stands out to me the most – how many pigs were killed and put on our plates for our personal consumption. What about that whole thing, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Does that not apply to pigs?

It was Day 14 of 14 days of Class when we were finally served a vegetable heavy meal. I was so excited to finally see GREEN things to eat! I loaded up my plate and joyfully ate all of it! Is that a healing?

Other than the bacon, thank you for the sun tea. I liked the sun tea for lunch that one day.

Let’s see, what else.

Thank you for providing a small, hot, stuffy room, with a fan blowing us from the hallway. Man, that was a hot, stuffy room. Anyone who sat on the couch had a rough time staying awake. It was interesting to see people try to avoid what should have been a comfy seat and opt for the harder chairs. Seriously. You have a huge house. And you picked that room because … it has a desk in it? I mean, that’s a very small room.

I remember that very first thing you did when you walked in to the room. We were all sitting there, and you walked in, looked at your chair, and announced to us in a breathy voice, that you had actually seen Christ Jesus sit there before you. Wow. Then you, what, sat on top of him? I guess I really don’t get this whole matter-isn’t-real thing.

That day of learning to pray with The Lord’s Prayer was riveting. I had apparently never prayed with it before. The day we learned about Animal Magnetism and how it’s not real, but we need to acknowledge then deny it just in case – glad I stayed awake for that lesson!

The most important quote you taught us was undoubtedly: “if you don’t start with god, you won’t end up with god.” See? I remember the important stuff.

Remember that moment after Class Instruction was over, and you gave each of us I think 10-20 minutes alone with you? Thank you for pulling me aside in what was supposedly going to be an extra precious and special time – one on one with my Teacher! It was in this extra holy time I clearly remember you telling me that I needed to “heal this emotionalism.”

Yeah. I tried. I really did. It just got worse because: #ItsNotScience and #HumanityIsActuallyAwesome

Thank you for gaslighting me not only to me, but also to The Mother Church. They called me up 18 months after I applied to be in The Journal, and they said you told them I shouldn’t be Journal listed, even though I had people asking me to give them Treatment before I had ever met you! Oh, and of course when I called you to say, “what was that all about?” You told me it wasn’t what had happened. This still confuses me. They told me you said I wasn’t ready. You said that’s not what you said. Someone’s story isn’t adding up. This is the definition of gaslighting, as far as I can tell.

Thank you for calling me on behalf of The Mother Church that other time, too. I was struggling with something and posted it on Facebook – a new platform for communicating with our friends at the time. I asked people to help me pray about something. Imagine that! Asking for thoughts and prayers on Facebook! Groundbreaking person that I am. My friends were helping me and correcting my thought with gusto! I was so grateful to have my thought corrected so publicly!

Someone must have called The Mother Church and turned me in for sharing my struggle in public! So you called me and told me flat out: “this is a disciplinary phone call.” Hoo boy, good times. I have never again asked for thoughts and prayers on Facebook. I learned my lesson on that one! It must be in The Manual of The Mother Church somewhere never to ask for thoughts and prayers on Facebook. Somehow, I had missed it. Thank you for setting me straight.

Thank you also for chastising me when I called a different practitioner when my son was sick. I ended up taking him to a doctor that time. The poor kid. It turns out that he is special needs and I had no clue. Because you know, he’s actually Perfect. And if he’s not perfect, then it’s my fault, of course.

Thank you for supporting the camp director at that Christian Science camp for yelling at me that time about my special needs son.

You know what happened? Kids were picking on my son. They were bullying him. Wouldn’t stop. My son does everything he can to be kind at all times. And people just come up to him and poke him and tease him mercilessly. Kids are cruel! My son begged this kid to stop. I’ve seen it so many times; kids picking on my son mercilessly until he cracks. The only way these horrible kids will stop is by being physically hit by my son. They clearly won’t listen to his words and won’t let him walk away or run away from their horrible bullying behavior. They follow and chase him and won’t stop! So, he hit that bully kid. And: who got in trouble? The kid who taunted my kid? Nope. He is the grandson of a trustee. He couldn’t ever do anything wrong. No way. It was my kid. The one with special needs and a meek demeanor. The one who keeps his hands to himself and doesn’t like being touched – ever.

That camp director made it abundantly clear that despite the fact that everyone adores my older son, I am truly a lousy parent because my younger son isn’t neurotypical. I obviously hadn’t prayed correctly for 9 months when I was pregnant with him. It feels really great to be forced by a Christian Science Camp Director to Christian Science parenting classes. My husband was especially (not) grateful to be forced to go to these classes. Because, you know, he hates Christian Science and didn’t really know what it was until he married me.

Oh wait – my son IS perfect. He is a perfect human. Perfect with all his imperfections. Just like the rest of us. I love his non-neurotypical brain. Einstein, Leonardo daVinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Lucretia Mott, Amelia Earhart, Steve Jobs, and so many others have not been neurotypical, and they didn’t need a healing! They molded the world to their thinking, rather than trying to deny their unique way of thinking and pretend to be like everybody else.

Speaking of which, thank you for the longest, most expensive Association weekends ever! I love spending all day Friday traveling, arriving for a Bible workshop, served with a cookie and decaf coffee! Then spending money on a hotel. Then getting up early. For all day Association. 7:30am-6pm is kind of long. An hour lunch (most of which is used for waiting in line) is kind of short. And the food was greasy. Every year – greasy food. But I didn’t take a thought for it.

Thank you for those sugary snacks and freezing room to help us stay awake. And those plastic bones. That’s right. That one year – it was Halloween weekend and you gave us plastic “dry bones” wrapped in curly ribbon. I wonder which Student had the wonderful task of making all of those trinkets? Those dry bones represented readings from Ezekiel or something about God breathing life into dry bones. You told us to keep those on our desk. So I did. I never knew what else to do with those.

 

Ezekiel 37:1-8 New International Version (NIV)

The Valley of Dry Bones

37:1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Oh wait, but, in Christian Science, aren’t we taught bones aren’t real?

From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 475:6

 

 

WHAT IS MAN?

Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science.

 

But, this was an important Bible verse with God talking to us about bones rattling and getting tendons… wow. I am so confused. All this contradictory stuff that Christian Science teaches. How on earth can anyone keep all this contradictory “obey this part of the Bible, but not this part, and listen to Mary Baker Eddy when she says bones aren’t real, don’t listen to the Bible when Ezekiel says The Lord made bones to rattle and you can hear it with your ears, because your ears aren’t real. We can’t spiritually interpret that part, so ignore it. And, besides, the five senses aren’t real….” Yikes. It’s a whole lot of gobble-dee-gook if you really look at it.

Oh – and one more thing. Thank you for telling me to be grateful for my husband when I really wanted to divorce him. Yeah. We’re still going strong. He’s most likely an alcoholic but I’m still in denial about that. You made me look for the good in him. I’m still looking. So, definitely thanks for that.

Oh right, you divorced your husband because he had a gambling problem. He had healed it when you first got married? But then, after what, 40 years of marriage it resurfaced again? Wow. Some healing that was. Christian Science sure works really well, doesn’t it? It feels good to stay in denial. For decades. It’s awesome staying in a marriage because – well, that’s what appearances are for, aren’t they?

What I do makes you look good. Or is it bad? I can never figure out which. Either way, I’m probably in the wrong. I know you’ll be happy to correct me!

Thank you for making sure any time I told you that I was having issues with your cold demeanor to me, that I should look at life from your point of view. Because mine didn’t matter. Only your feelings and your emotions matter. I had forgotten that valuable lesson. I guess standing up for myself hurt your feelings. Never mind the fact that you’re a grown ass woman, twice my age. You haven’t learned to heal your own emotionalism? Really? How come?  Don’t you own multiple copies of The Holy Books of Top Secret Knowledge?

Thank you also for completely humiliating me in front of the entire Association by making me stand up as a “prayer warrior” who prayed and a girl who had been kidnapped safely got back home. I did NOT want to stand up and be counted as a prayer warrior on that case. That was completely humiliating. I couldn’t stifle those tears and just snotted in front of everyone. I didn’t have a choice, since “praying for children” had been the topic I had led that previous year. So obviously, it was my leadership that brought that girl home. I cherish the humiliation of being called up in front of the whole Association with my snotty face and everything when I really just wanted to run to the bathroom, clean up, and fly home and hug my kids. That was a personal highlight of my time at Association.

Well, anyway, thank you again for everything you taught me.

I guess the biggest lesson I learned with you is – WORK. Work your ass off for your Christian Science Teacher and make sure to hide all your flaws (like that lipoma on my shoulder we prayed to heal all those years. It put my arm to sleep a lot of the time. Remember that?), and make your Teacher look good.

For heaven’s sake, if you must go to a doctor; remember that it’s your own bad prayers that have made you go there to get that lipoma removed. Eight years of bad prayer sure makes those things bigger than you might think. I am glad I figured out prayers don’t work. The doctors were pretty horrified I’d let it get that bad and hadn’t had it removed when it was much smaller. Any bigger, and I could have lost all feeling in my nerves, and then had to amputate my whole arm!

Thank you that one year when I sent you all my best, most spiritual ideas, and your response to my wide open, vulnerable heart pouring out to you was cold and unfeelingly short. Wow. Your talent to cut someone harshly in as few words as possible is epic. I admire the way you use your icy heart to bluntly hurt people in the name of Jesus.

You know that part where people say the best teachers learn from their students? Well, here’s the part where I impart my own wisdom to you:

I hope someday you wake up and don’t just smell, but also drink the coffee with its caffeine intact.

I hope you will consider embracing the “flaws” in people instead of smothering and denying them. Seriously.

If you embrace people’s so-called “flaws,” you might see that they are just humans, doing their best. No matter how beaten down they may have been, they are kind people doing their best. Some days are good, some days are bad. Like ocean tides – days ebb and flow.

We all learn to embrace each other in the good times and in the bad times. We bring each other food and comfort in the sick times.

Oh yes, and Thank you for your clear bills, letting me know very clearly how much money I owed you each month for praying for me. I loved sending you money I didn’t have, every month, for things I never saw you doing, and never got healings with, and being treated with contempt and spittle.

With sincerest best wishes that you get out of CSBS some day,

Your former student who can’t seem to get off your damn spam list-serve but is living her best life ever, now that’s she DONE with you


Note: According to The Manual of The Mother Church, once a student is taught by a Teacher, that person is their Teacher for LIFE. And they cannot “divorce” them. It’s permanent. I just want to get off the email list and calendar. I have asked them to remove me numerous times, and even submitted their emails as SPAM. And yet, i still get these emails and invitations. It’s probably easier to get off the National Phone Registry list than it is to get off a Christian Science Teacher’s email list.

4 comments

  • Jane

    I loved this!! I’m glad you can laugh about it now. I know someone who is looking for a CS teacher but can’t find one who isn’t creepy. One more way that crazy religion will die out.

  • Thank you for this.

  • Sylvia

    I’m sorry your young son had to go through that. My child was bullied in Sunday School by a practioner’s grandkid, a prominent family at that branch church. The only response from the teacher and superintendent was to try to unsee the behavior, which only allowed the bullying to thrive. I’m so glad to be out, but still grieving over the years lost to C.S.

  • How weird is it that I both totally understand putting up with all the teaching and Association approach and how abusive and ridiculous it is? Powerful story. Thank you.

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