The Polarity of Christian Science

This post is a contribution by Chrystal C.


Every Sunday School hour ended with a repetition of “The Scientific Statement of Being” by The Sunday School Superintendent. (Somehow, giving all these things a capital letter made them extra important to the impressionable child that was me as a little girl.)

Question: What is the scientific statement of being?

Answer: There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.

– “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, page 468.

Christian Science says “if it’s not good, it’s not from God, therefore it’s not real.” So – everything – I mean that – EVERYTHING – has to be examined and decided upon whether it’s good and thus from God, or bad and thus from nothing. “It started from nothing and it will go back to the nothing from which it came.” That’s probably a quote from somewhere, probably Eddy, who knows. I just know I heard it a LOT.

In my case, I had an additional polarity thrown at me: my parents divorced because my mom had a long-time boyfriend. You see, my mom was a stripper at a strip club. She was the only white person there at the whole club. Her nickname was “Snowflake.” One time, a guy named “Josh” called her at the house, and my dad answered the phone. “May I please speak to Snowflake?” the caller said. My dad said, “Snowflake! You must have the wrong number, no one here by that name!” My mom quickly came in the room and said, “that’s for me.” That was the moment my dad knew with absolute certainty she was cheating on him. 

My dad would have never divorced her despite so many things that nowadays we would refer to as “red flags” except for Christian Science, which said “you get married for life, and no divorce unless there has been infidelity.” Well, my mom had a long term boyfriend inside the marriage to my dad. 

During the era of time when my parents divorced, women couldn’t get credit cards. Yes, that’s a very recent thing in our world that they can now get credit cards. We can most likely thank Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for this change. Women not being able to get a credit card. They got paid less, they couldn’t buy things on credit, they couldn’t build credit without a man’s name and signature on the form…. how were they supposed to get any decent paying job and get an apartment or live?

I was also in an unusual situation in that my parents made a mutual agreement that my dad would leave, but he would get me. My mom didn’t want me, she was most decidedly not ready to be a mom. I was not planned for. My parents were poor by anyone’s standards, but she wasn’t ready to take care of a child on her own. 

My mom started to write bad checks and wound up in jail. My dad bailed her out the first time. I think that’s the one day I remember them being together after they had divorced. I don’t remember any other day of them being in the same room until I was in high school, come to think of it. That was the day we all split an order of fast-food-fried-chicken, while we sat in my dad’s little car. 

Well, I then started making connections in my own little child brain. “There is no life in matter. All life is in God.” “Either I grow up as a Christian Scientist like my dad, or i become a stripper at a night club who drinks alcohol, and I wind up in jail. My choice.” 

I am still sorting out all of these bizarre polar experiences. I am a mom with teenage boys, and I still have this whole “everything is polar!” going on in my head. I either go to a certain doctor and love that person, or I quit the whole practice because “that other person at the practice wasn’t good! How can they keep that horrible person at their wonderful practice!” 

When I first left Christian Science, I was so afraid I might now be some kind of extreme heathen. “I have been shown the absolute truth of the entire universe, and now I have completely rejected it! I will burn in hell forever, and apparently I am choosing this path now because it makes more sense than the one that was absolute good!” I saw this as a very black vs. white / light vs. dark experience, and it frightened me to my core. 

I took a timid step forward and said to myself, “let’s try this a little bit and if there is a God who is All Good, such a god would forgive me for trying to figure things out the best I can, using what I have in my thinking and my own experience. It’s just one step, and we will see where it goes.”

I am just starting, now, to figure out that the world is not this polar opposite place. There is so much more to life than “left vs. right,” “hot vs. cold,” “black vs. white,” “light vs. dark,” “up vs. down.” …

I am so grateful to have left Christian Science, because it’s the only way I would find out that the world is not this polar place where you can ONLY be “good” or “bad!” There are many shades of emotions, temperatures, light degrees (just ask a photographer), colors, directions (North, South, East, West, North East, South-South-West…)

I love the way this “non-polarity is an actual thing” conversation is shown in Star Trek’s “Deep Space Nine” when Lt. Commander Worf comes on board. Initially, Worf has trouble undering the Space Station, because it’s not “all good” the way the Starship Enterprise that he came from was “all good.” Worf sees things in a very polar way when he first arrives at the Space Station. Commander Benjamin Sisko and Lt Cdr Worf are having a conversation about a troublemaker on the station – a Ferengi named Quark. 

Captain Sisko: Starfleet officers often have trouble learning the unofficial rules of [this] station. There’s no manual to study. You have to learn things as you go. A little different than… life on a starship.

Lt. Commander Worf: When I served aboard the Enterprise, I always knew who were my allies, and who were my enemies.

Captain Sisko: Let’s just say, DS9 has more shades of gray. And Quark definitely is a shade of… gray. He has his own set of rules, and he follows them diligently. Once you understand them, you understand Quark. I’d say that’s true for… everyone here.

[he offers Worf a glass of raktajino]

Captain Sisko: You’ll fit in, Commander. Just give it time.

I have my own path I walk now. I feel light, free, happy. I also cuss when I have big emotions about something that is important to me. Sometimes I even go so far as to stamp my feet! Imagine that! It helps get the emotions flowing in my body instead of staying stuck, and eating up my very inner light fire. (Take those last few sentences in the best possible way. Some people draw heavily with crayon to get their emotions out, some people chop wood, some people might drive really fast on the highway. I say cuss-words in the privacy of my own home when no one’s around. There are definitely worse things I could do. For now, this is where I am, and I am good with it.)

I guess this is my own shade of gray, for one of the places in my life that is full of shades of gray, shades of light. If you used to be a Christian Scientist, do you feel you were taught the world was an all-or-nothing kind of place? Looking back, do you see “shades of gray” now that were perhaps perceived as “hypocritical” at the time, or something like that? Thank you for reading. 

Happy New Year

By Jodi B., an Ex Christian Science contributor.

There are things we all do when we are getting a new start: a new project, a new life, a new job, a new haircut. Maybe we think about what isn’t working, and what is working, so we can focus more on what is working and discard what isn’t.

We think about what didn’t work, what might work, how we might go about making a change, whether the change is realistic or not, when we might like to start. New Years is a perfect time to do this sort of thing.

Many cultures (all?) celebrate a New Year. I personally celebrate my new year with the Winter Solstice – December 21. But a lot of the United States celebrates it on January 1. The Jewish folks have a different New Year and so do the Chinese. I am sure there are other people out there who celebrate the New Year on their birthday or at other times during the year. 

Our New Year’s Celebration has grown to include more family time, a few meaningful rituals and traditions, and some thinking as to what we would like to let go of in the year to come, and what we would like to embrace more of. 

Growing up in the Christian Science household where I grew up, I saw my parents do things like run together, eat vegetables, drink milk. My mom prided herself on “not cooking with salt.” I also didn’t go to health class. I was excused by religious exemption, from going to health class. So I didn’t learn things like: where is my spleen? what is a miniscus? how should we wash our hands properly? what are the symptoms of a cold? What is the difference between a cold and the flu? Why does a woman bleed every month? What is a fallopian tube? Why do we need a liver? How do you put a condom on a banana?

The day of the winter solstice, it rained all day long where we live. There were a few moments when the sun came out. My older son taught me the term “sun shower,” which is when the sun comes out in the middle of the rain. We all opted not to go out in the rain across the yards that are no longer just wet, but now they are spongy, and we stayed inside our home, looking out a particular window to see the sunset. Before that happened, though, a rainbow came out a few times! It was so beautiful! It was a special kind of New Year experience for us, to have a rainbow.

My two goals this year for the New Year

This year, for our New Year, I have made my goals simple, so I can focus on them and try to stick to them. My intention is to be kind to myself in my own head about them if I don’t. My focus this year for New Years is to practice self care. I have learned from Ruth Bader Ginsberg, that it’s important to take care of our physical bodies. I think I am finally getting the message about this, because I didn’t get it in a health class in middle or high school. Thank you, Justice Ginsberg. For me, it will be eating right, moving more, and using that elliptical I just HAD to have on Amazon Prime Day.

The other goal I have set for myself for this near year is to follow the idea of Hestia – she is a little known goddess. I found out about her in the book “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Hestia is “the goddess of the hearth and home.” I have little projects here, there and everywhere. I have finally learned that the idea of “I want to make this and I can totally do that, and it will be beautiful!” is completely different from, “I am going to spend time and make that and it will be completely beautiful!” So I have the makings of various projects all over the house. (The shelves I want to hang, the wreaths I want to make, the violin music I want to play, books I want to read, my dad’s books I want to scan and put online so everyone can read them….) I have decided that it’s time for me to also just focus more on taking care of our home.

I hope everyone has a lovely and peaceful new year. I also wish everyone a productive and peaceful 2019.

A reference:
You may find Pinterest helpful in finding self care tips.

Chrystal’s Story: New Beliefs

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This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.


New Beliefs

I have decided to completely start from scratch with my own spiritual belief system. It’s kind of fun, to see what I believe in. It reminds me of the end of the book series, “The Hunger Games.” The final book, “Mockingjay,” has Peeta asking “real or not real?” and his friends reply and tell him what is real or not real. He starts to realize the memories that are not real have a “sparkly quality to them.” I am asking myself lately: “real or not real?” And I know I love The Sky, and I love Nature. So at the moment, my beliefs are simply, “Mother Earth, Father Sky.” I am enjoying understanding the winter and summer solstices. My kids and I agreed we don’t need to celebrate Christmas anymore, and we will celebrate Yule instead. Look it up. It’s a beautiful holiday with rich and meaningful traditions.

My kids took some time to get out of the Christian Science mindset. My older son still struggled with it for a year after I left. Early in 2016, he told me something to which I replied, “that’s a Christian Science thought,” and he was pretty upset with me that I would dare try to change his thinking. I had to remember to quietly be Quaker, and not try to guide him, but let him come to his own conclusions, and support him in Clearness as he ponders and finds his own sense of truth. He has changed his thinking on that issue, and has found a more reasonable sense of things. In the summer of 2016, he went to Quaker camp for the first time and loved it so much! He now considers himself to be an Ex Christian Scientist and also a Quaker. I am glad he had the space, mentally, to sort through everything and make his own choices about what to believe.

When I wrote this blog, my younger son still believed in God. It brought him a sense of comfort, and I am fine with that. He also wrote a little prayer type song that includes the words: “flying spaghetti monster” and also “god.” We sing it at bedtime. As I edit this blog and get it ready for publishing, I don’t know what his belief is about whether a god exists or not, and I am okay with that. It’s up to him and what brings him comfort. 

I love being a mom to these two boys. If they get sick, I don’t yell at them or tell them “it’s your fault that you’re sick!” and I don’t force them to sit in their room with books and make them read and find their own healing. Sometimes we use a children’s over the counter medicine (or even cough drops, imagine that). I have also found that humidifiers solve a lot of problems in the winter months, and my sons and I go to doctors regularly now.

All three of us are now immunized too. That was a whole other thing I had to navigate to decide if it was dangerous or practical or what. I learned about “herd mentality,” and realized we had always been safe from diseases because the majority of the time, we were surrounded by immunized folks. Real science. Christian Science didn’t protect us. Medical science is real science, using the real scientific method.

By the way, I was caught in not one, but 2 measles outbreaks at Christian Science facilities growing up. This sort of thing wouldn’t happen if everyone was immunized. See Penn and Teller’s YouTube video (warning: salty language) on the topic of why people should immunize their kids. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdZTZQvuCo 

My son broke his arm

One day at school, my younger son tripped on a tree root and broke his arm. I was now a Quaker, and I had recently changed the “in case of emergency care card” for him, and removed all the Christian Scientists, and put on some of my Quaker Friends, and of course my husband. My son went to the hospital in an ambulance, and my husband met them there. (I was at work, and my husband took care of all of it.) I remember crying and crying, because I didn’t want my son to have a broken arm, but then I was so relieved that he had been taken directly to a hospital and was being given excellent care for his broken bones, and hadn’t been picked up by a Christian Scientist who would be “quietly praying with him” until I went to pick him up. My son received excellent care the whole time, and eventually had to have surgery on one of the bones that wasn’t healing at all.

I am so grateful to be out of Christian Science. I have finally found happiness and goodness and peace in my heart. I love my neighbors, and have found true friendships – not only with Quaker women, but with other women too, neighbors and moms at my sons’ schools. It’s wonderful what happens when a person removes judgement from their heart and stops thinking they are better than everyone else!

Leaving Christian Science has been a huge step towards getting rid of my depression and anxiety. Real therapy has helped me so much too! (Even therapy is verboten in Christian Science, the way I was taught. Talking about our problems just makes them more real, right?) I know now that it was Christian Science that brought on my deep depression and high anxiety. I am finally recovering my creative self and I am finally healing, thanks to real science and a good trauma therapist, and with the loving, patient and kind support of my Quaker Friends. I am also completely grateful to have found amazing, kind, compassionate, empathetic people on our Ex Christian Science Facebook group. We all shared so many of the the same experiences growing up, and validate each other, so we can heal – for real – from the problems inflicted on all of us (in varying degrees), by the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, and the way generations have started arbitrarily interpreted those teachings to inflict real harm and calling it “love.”

Nowadays, I go to doctors a lot, to get issues fixed that had no care for the 40+ years of my life. I am getting physical therapy on my shoulder, and the doctor told me recently, “most people don’t heal as quickly as you are, you’re doing exceptionally well!” I was very recently put on an anti depression / anti anxiety medicine and I hear myself laughing easily. I feel like myself again! It’s been a long time since I felt happy. (A friend of mine posted his version of a part of my story here – about my depression. https://emergegently.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/orange-juice-makes-me-happy/ )

I need to get it on my calendar to get my second mammogram soon, as I had my first one only last year after leaving my Mother Church membership. Also, I need to get to a neurologist and get checked for the concussions I had over the years that I never got checked out for, and I’m working through memory issues so many times per day. Untreated concussions have left what may probably be lasting damage on me. I talk with so many other Ex Christian Science folks, and I got off easy with the challenges I struggled with and still struggle with. I am so glad I got out before my kids grew up all the way, too, so they can be saved from so much of the junk I had to go through.

So many people have asked me to share my story. It’s not a quick story, and I am glad to have had this blog series as a platform. It has been incredibly cathartic to write about this experience and share with others so they can know what a dangerous belief system Christian Science is. My journey isn’t over. I expect I will mentally grow more, and post more things in the future.

I am so grateful to have left Christian Science.

Chrystal’s Story: The Year I Left Christian Science

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This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.


A Wedding at Principia During my Reunion Weekend

A few years ago, I went to my brother’s wedding weekend at Principia College’s Chapel (it’s a beautiful campus, with buildings designed by nationally renowned architect, Bernard Maybeck. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICioQ12vTo0 ). We were there for several days. It happened to also be my class reunion that weekend. The way Principia does their reunions, they do two classes at the same time, and then every 5 years above that, two more classes go for their reunion too, all the way to the 1920s or so. Potentially, it could be 100s and 100s of people showing up, of all ages. (Like: 2000, 2001, 1995, 1996, 1985, 1986, 1975, 1976…) I showed up for my reunion, and it was also for the students who were a class ahead of me. I would not have attended the reunion, except that it was my brother’s wedding that weekend too, so I figured, “why not, I’ll go 1 day early and catch some of my reunion.” No one, and I mean that literally, no one else from my class or the class ahead of me showed up for our reunion. Zero. I was the only one. And even I wouldn’t have been there (despite it being my 20th reunion), if my brother hadn’t been getting married in the Chapel that weekend, and I really love my brother. (Can you imagine it’s your 20th college reunion and NO ONE shows up except you?  #Awkward )

On Sunday morning, after the wedding, we all agreed we would attend the Chapel service. It was super hard to sit through. I remember the days when I was a Practitioner and I would love to hear “The inspired word of The Bible” and “correlative passages from Science and Health,” but this day at the Principia Chapel just felt tedious (no matter how much I love that Chapel as a building  and I love looking at the architecture). The organ felt too loud and blasty, the Readings were tremendously long, the solos always grate at my ears. I realized I no longer fit in this sort of church experience at all. I was so glad it was only an hour and I was so glad when it was over!

I have now been in the Quaker Meeting as a member for almost 2 years, and my beliefs continue to mold and change, and I love that I have complete freedom and support from my Quaker Friends to be Me. They love me for who I am, and they support me 100% as my beliefs change. I feel completely accepted and loved and cherished. I finally have friends, and I don’t feel like “I am better than anyone.” I feel at peace and equal with everyone. I have a Friend who was incarcerated for a minor offense. And it is good for me to learn his challenges, so I can be educated.

Quaker Women

I have many Friends who are women, and we go out to lunch. We laugh, we cry, we share everything. I can share absolutely anything, and they empathize with me. They support me. They bring me food if I need help, and I take them food when they need help. We mail each other cards that say, “I love you and I am thinking of you.”

I got a card from one of my new good Friends, a year after my dad died. I opened it, read the compassionate note, and just cried and cried. It was so loving of her to remember my dad’s death and send me a compassionate card a full year after his death. I never received cards from Christian Scientists upon my dad’s death, but the Quaker Friends sent me multiple cards. I had barely walked in the door at the Quaker Meeting, and a few short months later, my dad got really sick and died. The doctor had given him a clean bill of health (other than the Parkinson’s) just a month before. 

 

He had predicted my dad could easily live another 10 years. Then, he was gone within a month. My new Quaker Friends mailed me cards and attended our Memorial service in my dad’s Christian Science church (the one I mentioned that never used to allow memorial services or weddings). That church has had a couple of memorial services now, which I think is wonderful and appropriate. Both members died way too young. (What kind of church doesn’t love its members enough to honor important moments in their members’ lives?)

At my dad’s memorial service, the church was so filled – there were so many people standing at the back, and the foyer doors were opened, and the whole entry way area was completely filled, and people even had to stand on the stairs going down down to the Sunday School. That’s the last time I set foot in a Christian Science church. I don’t know if it will be my last, but it was amusing (or sad?) to see it filled to the absolute brim. I think there was only a handful of Christian Science church members there at that service. All the rest of the people attending were friends, family, neighbors, and my Quaker Friends who had never even met my dad.

Feeling Real Grief

After my dad died, I was grief-stricken. He was the only parent I had who had been with me and cared for me my whole life. Everyone else in my life had come and gone, or come in later. My dad meant the world to me. Christian Science teaches us we can’t grieve, because death isn’t real. 

My emotions were so squashed for so many years, though, that I couldn’t help but grieve. Two friends who had left Christian Science suggested that I go to therapy for grief. This was a radical concept to me. I was afraid, and it is against Christian Science. I can’t explain what I was afraid of, but it was definitely not an idea that I was comfortable with.  

I knew that in Christian Science, I had always been taught that to counteract grief and depression, it’s necessary to sit down and write “gratefuls.” I challenged myself to write 100 things I was grateful for, and I figured it would heal my grief over my dad. I sat down and without stopping for any breaks, I easily wrote 112 things I was grateful for. I decided that was enough things, and I put my pen down. My mood hadn’t changed. I was still as depressed and grief-stricken as ever. I decided it was time to get real counseling. I didn’t want to futz around, so I did a search for a high rated female counselor, covered by my insurance. I went in, told her I was grieving over my dad, and we began weekly counseling sessions. She was a phenomenal person. She sat by me and helped me figure out my next path. It turned out that she helped me realize Christian Science was no longer a path that worked for me. She helped me gain courage to tell my family, to tell The Mother Church, and to leave my Christian Science Teacher.

Becoming an Ex Christian Scientist

Meanwhile, the two friends who had suggested that I go to counseling and I were talking more and more about our experiences growing up in Christian Science. We had many parallels, and it was incredibly validating to realize we had so many of the same traumas and experiences. It was almost eery. One of my friends did a search for “Ex Christian Science” and came across this blog and the Facebook group. We all joined very quickly, and found a whole new set of friends. This set of friends have been the most validating group of people I have ever known.

I have learned wonderful words – a whole vocabulary that was denied me in my Christian Science upbringing. I had learned big words like “equipoise,” “extemporaneous,” “perspicacity,” “necromancy,” “self-immolation,” but didn’t know practical words like “boundary,” and “narcissist,” “anxiety,” “immunizations.”  

I have healed and changed so much in the last two years since my dad died. It’s quite remarkable. I am finally finding happiness for real, and I’m able to express an appropriate amount of anger or sadness instead of constantly being on the verge of stifled tears that won’t stay stifled any more. I am a much more emotionally balanced and healthy human being. I no longer struggle thinking “that’s not a part of me, I better heal it, or someone will judge me, and I will be yelled at.” I feel centered and calm. I am a much better mom, spouse, friend, co-worker. My life is so much better than it was when I was a Journal-listed Practitioner – the goal I had wanted to have my whole life.

Chrystal’s Story: Finding My Way to the Quaker Path (Part 2)

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This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.


A note from Chrystal: I was born a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and finally left the religion when I was in my 40s. In this blog series, I will do my best to share with you my 40+ year journey. I have done my best to make the journey sequential, but it’s also themed to a large extent, and sometimes it has been necessary to take things out of sequence to share a theme. 


Finding My Way to the Quaker Path (Part 2)

At my particular Quaker Meeting, there are two of us who were raised in Christian Science. (The other one is the dad of that boy, J.V., from my 8th grade private school class!) Several people are medical doctors, and a few are atheist or something like it, though they don’t use that word. There are many of us who aren’t sure how to put our beliefs about a god-type-entity into words. I do know I no longer believe in the God that Christian Science taught me about – the one who inflicts pain and suffering when you are “far away from Him/Her,” and won’t heal you until “you change your thought.” I watched this version of God inflict 25 or so years of Parkinson’s on my amazing, kind, smart, creative, funny dad, and I watched my step-mom victim blame him. “If you only prayed more, if you only read Christian Science literature, you would be healed.” (In the end, my dad died a sudden death-by-starvation, due to not wanting a feeding tube. At that point, though, all he could do was curl up in a fetal position on the bed, and I know he wouldn’t have wanted to live longer with a feeding tube too. It breaks my heart that my amazing dad had to die that way. My dad fully expected to be healed, even as he started to enter the coma he never woke up from.)

My dad dying, as far as I can figure, was my final straw towards leaving my Mother Church membership. I had joined The Mother Church in Boston – “The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts” when I turned 12. About 2 months after my dad died, I withdrew my membership. As I type this, I realize this was me rejecting Mary Baker Eddy as “my leader.”

Alertness to Duty: “It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind.” – “The Manual of The Mother Church,” by Mary Baker Eddy, Article VIII, Section 6.

In 2015, I wrote to The Mother Church through their website and never got a confirmation that I am no longer a member. I don’t get mail from them any more at least, including no more requests for the annual money from members. So that’s good! The Quaker Faith was fine with me being a member of the Christian Science Church and still attending the Quaker Meeting. I have learned that probably most Christian churches are fine if you are members at two or more, or are a member at one and attend another. The Christian Science church makes you choose only their version of “church.”

Christian Science, as far as I have witnessed it, teaches people to victim blame and chastise and judge each other. Any time someone wants to go to a doctor, they have to lie about it – lying by omission. They don’t tell their church family, they are so scared of going to a doctor, and they go because they need care, and don’t have anyone to support them. If they come home and need meals or care at all, they have nowhere to turn. If they admitted, “I went to a doctor,” they might likely be kicked out of the church, or at least ostracized. “If you only prayed more, you would have your healing,” they are told over and over again by people who truly think they are being loving when they are really judging and victim-blaming.

I no longer believe in a merciless god like that. I don’t know if I believe in a god or not. I have stripped myself to my core, and have laid everything I have in front of myself, and am examining my inner most beliefs to determine what I believe. At this point, I know I believe in Mother Earth and Father Sky. I see so much beauty in Nature, and so much beauty in the Sky. I love that my Quaker brothers and sisters recycle and compost their food, they push each other to be more kind, to be kind to the earth, to be kind to animals. I love the peaceful protests. I have heard a woman give talks about all the times she was arrested as a peaceful protester – she loved being arrested with her dad growing up. It was something they did. They would peacefully protest war or whatever was wrong, and get arrested and thrown in jail for it. Now she loves protesting with her daughter.

I have a new Quaker Friend who is a District Attorney, who works for all the cases of people who are thrown in jail protesting outrageous things. There were riots due to racism in a city not too far from us, and she gathered everything she needed to head into the rioting city, to prepare the legal documents and cases to help get the people inevitably get out of jail the next day. She gathered granola bars, lanterns and batteries (in case of power outage), snacks, her suit for court, paperwork and specific books. I love that the Quakers fight for the freedoms of people. She talked about how it felt, being a white person driving into a city that had protests and police locking down black people. She saw her privilege right then and there – laid before her. She drove easily through police checkpoints in the middle of the riot to reach her District Attorney’s Office so she could stay up all night, preparing to get the protesters out of jail the next day.

I thought “Quakers are peaceful, and they are conscientious objectors,” and that was initially what drew me to the Quaker Faith. But there is so much more to it. The Quaker Testimonies are nothing at all like Christian Science Testimonies. The Quaker Testimonies mean “Quaker Values.” The acronym for the Quaker Testimonies is “SPICES.” It stands for: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship. (See: http://www.friendsjournal.org/s-p-i-c-e-s-quaker-testimonies/)

(By the way, The Quakers also have a “Journal.” It’s a monthly publication. The first time my dad’s wife saw my copy of the Quaker Journal sitting on my kitchen counter, she said, “That’s cute.” As in: “oh, they must have copied the Christian Science Journal by doing that.” Ahem. Quakers have been in this country for over 350 years. It predates Christian Science by at least 250 years – IN THIS COUNTRY.)

Quakers were an integral part of the Underground Railroad. We sing black gospel hymns like, “Follow the drinking gourd” in our Meeting. I have found out these hymns have hidden messages meant to help the slaves navigate the Underground Railroad. I feel like I am part of something really big. I am on a committee dedicated to helping work out the horrendous Mass Incarceration problem in our country. A Friend I know is working hard to create transitional housing for people who are being released from jail and don’t have an ID and can’t get a driver’s license or a job. Transitioning from jail to freedom is not easy at all. And there is no ½ way house for most of them. Feel free to look up the Friends Committee on National Legislation. They do very cool things. I am just starting to get active with this organization, and it’s very exciting.

I don’t know that I necessarily think that Quakers are peaceful in the same way of what I thought it meant when I first walked in the door; Now I know they do fight – they absolutely fight – on the side of Justice. They are actively out in the community, fighting for people’s rights and freedoms, and they know that it takes time to change laws, but they work toward it (sometimes for decades, among huge resistance) and they don’t give up. Laws cannot be changed overnight, some can take years or decades, but the Quakers fight diligently and make progress on issues of injustice.

I am finally learning how to be an activist. I am finally learning how to help my community. Quakers have also always accepted folks from the LGBTA+ community. So many kinds of churches turn away LGBTQ+ folks. I know a transgender woman, and she is fully accepted as a woman in the Quaker community – she attends our Annual Quaker Women’s Retreat. It is hard for us to rent a facility that meets our needs and also accepts LGBTQ+ folks. We have gay women who are married to each other who attend our retreat, and they are not welcome everywhere. But we work hard to find facilities that will rent to our retreat so these women will be accepted and able to attend. Friends of mine marched in the 2016 Washington, DC LGBTQ+ parade with banners held high from the different area Quaker Meeting Houses. And they manned a Quaker booth the next day at the LGBTQ+ festival.

During my Christian Science branch church membership, I was always discouraged from going out into the community to find out what the people need and help them as a face of the Christian Science church. We wanted to do our annual lecture, to an audience of mostly other Christian Scientists, and the members felt like, “this is us fulfilling our duty.” They thought I was ridiculous to suggest that we actually DO something for the community. What should we do? I didn’t know. I had no guidance and didn’t know the issues. Everything I suggested was shot down again and again. In the Quaker Meeting, I hear about so many different things they are working on and being activists to help people in need. We even have the kids learning to be activists – they make 240 sandwiches and 120 lunches, once a month for the local homeless shelter. The kids love the activity, and it’s teaching them to do GOOD for the community. I love that all of the kids in the Meeting House are learning to serve the Community. It’s wonderful.