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Most CS who have been out for a few years have read at least one heart-wrenching former-CS memoir, one eye-opening unauthorized biography, and one book that talks about how CS is a cult (if you haven’t, here’s a book list).
We agree, looking at MBE’s origin story in contextis important, and we feel it is equally important to call attention to how MBE (and her teacher PPQ) have helped shape and influence American culture this day. To that end, the ExCS team has compiled a non-exhaustive list of books that discuss how strands of PPQ and MBE’s works have worked their way through New Thought, New Age, Positive Thinking, Prosperity Gospel, Manifesting your Reality, pop psychology and American culture at large.
Each Mind a Kingdom, by Beryl Satter firmly places Ms. Eddy in the historical context of the New Thought movement, as an undeniable student of Quimby, and inspiration for several prominent New Thought leaders (aka renegade students), one of whom, Emma Curtis Hopkins, went on to inspire a much larger group of prominent individuals in the New Thought movement.
Horowitz discusses, at length, the Quimby-Eddy-Dresser triangle over who wrote what and when. Quimby published “almost nothing during his life.” Quimby’s writings were held by the Dresser family after his death, and his “edited notebooks did not begin to see publication until 1921.”
Bright-sided discusses the impact of the positive thinking movement on several areas of our lives. The author, Barbara Ehrenreich, is neither optimist nor pessimist but is a realist. She explains the origins of positive thinking as a reaction to Calvinism, while still maintaining the Calvinist belief of “self-examination.” Beginning in the late 19th century, some philosophies and religions began to move towards the idea that regular, intentional positive thought (or prayer) breeds positive experiences.
Today this idea has been enlarged it to the point it touches practically every aspect of our lives. “Wonderful,” you may say. But as Ehrenreich explains with wry humor and clarity, positive thinking also places responsibility for everything that happens in the hands of those who believe. It’s important to understand the manipulation that exists in these positive thinking methods, and that seems to be the author’s primary goal.
Lingering vestiges of Quimby and Eddyism continue to thrive in modern times. While they may have taken on new terminology, the tangled relationships of social and religious reforms alternative religions and medicine, and psychology persist. Pull at the threads, do a quick search, and you may find the answer is actually repackaged 18th century nonsense, that has been repackaged again several times. Take what works for you (or not), and proceed with care.
Do you know a book or resource that could help make this list more complete? Leave a comment, or if comments are closed, drop us an email!
By Jodi, an Ex-Christian Scientist group contributor.
“The Manual of The Mother Church” written by Mary Baker Eddy, has a guideline about not celebrating Easter. As far as I remember, it has no such thing about Christmas.
I think each Christian Science family does their own thing about Christmas. Some folks celebrate with meals, family and gifts. Some do a gift exchange, some parents (like my dad) teach their kids that “Santa isn’t real.” My family also did lots of Christmas Cookies, because one of my grandfathers was German, and Christmas cookies are a German tradition.
Every year, my grandmother showed up with at least 5 large tins of Christmas cookies, fudge, sweet squares and candies that she made. Everyone had their favorite cookies. I loved the “Cathedral Window” cookies. They were made with colored marshmallows, chocolate and coconut on the top. Cut in squares to look like pretty glass windows. (Later in this blog, I share my Christmas Cookie recipes link.)
I was still an active Christian Scientist when I became a mom. We chose to continue the tradition of having a Christmas tree, ornaments, presents on Christmas morning with our kids. I made cinnamon rolls and put them on a Hallmark Christmas tray. Dinner would be a special meal with family coming over or us going to their house, complete with present opening.
Every year, we went to our local Washington, DC area Principia Chapter for the Christmas Sing. (This was usually the weekend preceding Christmas.) People made Christmas cookies and brought savory appetizers for everyone to enjoy. A lot of years, this sing took place at the local Christian Science “nursing” home – called Lynn House of Potomac Valley. The residents there were welcome to come in and sign with us too. I’m not sure that any did. Though the Christmas music was probably piped into their rooms for them to listen to.
Many years, I did the children’s activity, or played violin for a song during the Sing. Or I was master of ceremonies for it, too. It was always a fun time. I enjoyed the Principia Christmas Sing. The best year was one of the last that I went – my entire family all played a musical instrument and led the group in the song, “Let there be Peace on Earth.” 2 of my family members played piano, I played violin, my dad played harmonica, my step-mom played guitar and I think one of my brothers played ukulele and another may have played recorder. We’d never done any family music performances like that before, and it was fun.
One year, my dad (who had just been placed on hospice) slipped into a coma on Christmas Eve and died on New Years Eve. The next year, I left Christian Science. I was heart-broken over losing my dad. Christmas time was coming, and I was so deep in grief, I just couldn’t imagine finding Christmas spirit at all. I didn’t want my boys to miss out, though, so I worked hard to find something that would work for me and also for them.
After leaving Christian Science, I came to terms with the fact that Christian Science isn’t actually Christian. While I had been taught that Christian Science “is the highest form of Christianity,” I had to make peace with the fact that I had never actually been Christian. Eddy, the creator of Christian Science, had taken words like “Christ,” “Holy Ghost,” and other Christian terms and changed their meaning to suit her own interest. I didn’t understand Christianity at that point, but I did know I wasn’t one. I was in an In-Between with my faith, trying to figure out what my next belief system would be. My Sundays had a huge void in them – I was so used to going to church every Sunday morning. I felt like I was flailing about, with no focus, no guidepost.
I decided to figure out what I actually believed in. After a week or a month of paying attention, I realized I believed in Mother Nature. I loved trees and flowers and rocks and bodies of water and mountains. I decided to honor what I believed in. It was the only truth about my beliefs that I could come up with.
I tried to see if there was a name for my beliefs. The closest I found was “Pagan,” which, in early days of the word, meant simply, “not Christian.” There are scads of ways people can express being Pagan these days. For me, though, it’s a love of Mother Nature.
Extending my love of nature, I decided to celebrate the solstice. I learned there is a holiday called “Yule.” Yule is a holiday that dates way back in time. It’s a time that’s after the last harvest (that time is around Halloween. Think: pumpkins and apple cider and corn and warm fresh baked bread). And it’s before Spring, when plantings and sunshine happen. Yule is when the sun is up in the sky the least amount of time. It’s when the nights are longest. The cold weather is here. In ancient times (and even in current times), people knew that the elderly among us may not survive the winter. It’s dark, cold, and can feel very lonely. So people gather together for Yule to share a last big meal with each other, share their warmth, their fire, the company of all the people together, laughing and enjoying, sharing memories and camaraderie. It’s a lovely holiday, steeped in tradition.
Now the first year I did Yule, I only had about 2 weeks before it happened to cobble together any kind of ritual. It worked out very nicely, though.
On December 21, Yule, my boys and spouse (at the time I was still married) all went to watch the sunset. I have had a long time passion of collecting pine cones. It reminds me of being a little girl with my grandmother, collecting pine cones by the side of the road. She put these in flower arrangements and even made little table top conical trees with red ribbons from them. So, my family and I each took some tracing paper and wrote our wishes on the paper and rolled them up into the pine cones.
Then, we went inside to our fire place and put the pine cones stuffed with wishes into the fire. We watched as they burned and carried our wishes up into the air. It felt calming and serene.
Then, we had some warm apple cider and each of us opened a gift. I got my boys each a nature-themed gift. I gave my one son some clay. He loves to sculpt and make things. And I gave my other son a locally artisan made glass kaleidoscope. (I love that glass is made from sand, a natural element.)
This small tradition has become only a slightly larger tradition for us in these years hence. We still go out and watch the sunset. One year, it rained, and we watched from our living room window instead of being outside watching it. We got to see a Rainbow that I dubbed a #YuleBow. That was pretty cool. I love rainbows!
Over the years, we have evaluated to find out what is right for our family, and we keep deciding this Yule ritual we do is perfect for us. I also make everyone’s favorite Christmas cookies – I still make the cathedral window cookies because they are so pretty, and I make the green corn flake Holly Berry Drops with red cinnamon candies, and I make a cookie we call “Bird’s Nests.” It’s chow mein noodles with melted chocolate and butterscotch and chopped nuts. That’s my boys’ favorite cookie. And I also love to make gingerbread this time of year too. It’s warm and comforting and full of flavor. You can see my Christmas Cookie Recipes on a blog I used to write – here – http://jodis-recipes.blogspot.com/search/label/christmas%20cookies
Our ritual still includes writing our wishes, things we want more of, things we want to let go of, on tracing paper and rolling it up to put in pine cones. We still have a Yule fire we put the pine cones into. And I still give my boys nature themed gifts. I also give each of them a sketchbook every year for Yule. My older son loves the sketchbooks. My younger son told me last year that he doesn’t like them. I had no idea! So this year I am going to have to figure something else out for him. Maybe I will give him clay again. He really does love to make little figurines and other things out of clay.
One year, my sons gave me a moonstone necklace. It’s such a beautiful necklace. I wore it every day for years, until it broke.
There have been years we have added in smoke cleansing to the ritual. (Some people might call this “smudging,” but I am not a Native American and I have not been invited by the Native American people to be able to practice smudging.) I use whatever herbs I find in Mother Nature around me to do smoke cleansing. It’s a way to wash off the previous year and welcome in the new year. This is how we view Yule – it’s our version of a new year, since it’s based on the Solstice.
One year, I got together with another friend who celebrates Yule, and we made dried orange slices on a string to decorate the windows. They were beautiful!
These last few years, we haven’t really celebrated Christmas in addition to Yule, because we don’t really feel like we need it. I love the idea of doing what’s right for OUR family, not what we think everyone else does. I love that we talk with each other and figure out what is right for us, from year to year, and are open to changing. I don’t have to make 15 kinds of cookies and decorate the house with things I have to store all year. I don’t have to spend oodles of money I don’t really have, to buy a ton of expensive gifts for my kids that they won’t really play with, that will junk up the house and turn into clutter.
I do personally love lights on a house, so I have a set of rainbow lights I put up sometime in the Fall and leave up until about Valentine’s Day. They are not Christmas lights to me, but they probably are to my neighborhood. I just like the pretty rainbow lights lighting up my house.
I love the time after the sunset – it embodies the perfect family bonding time for me. We get time with each other out in the cold, watching the sunset, and going inside where it’s warm and we have a fire and something warm to drink, and gifts to open – to me this is the perfect kind of low key, low stress holiday.
We usually watch the classic movie, “White Christmas” together while the Yule fire burns, sipping our hot, spiced apple cider.
I also want to add one other detail: we had a fake Christmas Tree for years that we would decorate and then put away / store for a year, and bring it out every year. One year, we fostered some kittens and their exuberant antics broke our tree. I have done various things to create a Yule tree since then. One time we were at Walt Disney World, so I used hotel towels and draped them from the dresser in such a way as to create an evergreen triangle shape. Another year, I hung ribbons up to make the triangle shape. Several years I have used green construction paper to tape a triangle shape on the wall. My boys have said this is their favorite Christmas tree. We also like that it’s recyclable! We can tape the lighter weight ornaments to the tree and put the heavier ornaments down on the floor in front of the tree.
A friend of mine has a wooden Christmas tree that she and her family made. I hope to be handy and organized enough to make one of those for my family some year. I love the idea of not doing a traditional Christmas tree, but rather doing something that fits into your own space and fills your own needs. Two years ago, I bought a small, live, table top tree. Last year, we had a foot tall ceramic tree. This year, I bought a small potted rosemary plant, because I am now living in a very small home and have less space than ever. I love to make rosemary bread, and look forward to using fresh rosemary in it this winter. You can see my rosemary bread recipe here – http://jodis-recipes.blogspot.com/2019/12/rosemary-bread-machine-recipe.html
More than anything, I hope this blog post has given some ideas for any reader(s) having thoughts about what to do with this upcoming season. Also, there are so many other Winter holidays to choose from. You can also create your own, basing it on things that have meaning to you inside your own heart.
Whatever holiday(s) you choose to celebrate this winter season, I wish you a lovely and love-filled one. I send you the Season’s Greetings and Warm Wishes.
Admin note: this is the last post of 2021. We at the ExCS Team wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.
The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving, as well as a few passages from The Bible and Science and Health. The service is then opened to the congregation for them to share ‘testimonies of healing and sharing of experiences in Christian Science.’
The following are testimonies from Ex-Christian Scientists, as they give thanks for having left Christian Science. Thank you all for your contributions!
We at The Ex-Christian Scientist offer no readings, or lengthy proclamations, merely our sincerest thanks for everyone who has contributed to our efforts. We do not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling.
I am so thankful I left CS in high school. I never really believed, but I couldn’t quite get over the feeling that I was wrong for not being able to hack it in CS. I finally gave up and refused to go to church when I was 17. My father especially was fanatical and probably would have let me die as a child in Mary Baker Eddy’s name if it had ever come to that. I am so grateful that I braved his profound disappointment and left the cult behind. It was scary but the best thing I have ever done. – Becca R
I’m glad I got out. I’m glad I’m reclaiming my life and my self. I’m glad I’m imperfect and don’t need to “heal” that. I’m glad for my body, including the parts I don’t always like. I’m glad I’m human. I’m glad I’m physical. I’m glad for time and space. I’m glad for matter, gravity, energy, atomic force. I’m glad the time for thinkers is over. I’m glad for sensation and feelings. I’m glad the Christian Science church is dying. Not glad in a sadistic way, but glad that others will not be gaslighted the way so many of us were. I’m glad for the ability to stand up to, and to reject, systems of thought control, both religious and political, that are abusive and dictatorial. – Mike Lambert
I am very grateful to be out of CS. I am grateful for the medical care I have received. Without it I would not be alive today. I am also grateful for the Dear Leaders of the Anti-CS Movement, especially the Ex-Christian Scientist,,Katie B of the Ex Christian Scientists for Christ, and Rita and Doug Swan of C.H.I.L.D. Childrens Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, all of which have helped me in my journey out of CS. – CRS
I am grateful this year for proper scientifically-based medical care. It has successfully treated a bladder infection, ear infection, and a severe dislocation of a thumb joint in an accident (and accidents ARE real). No, it doesn’t cure everything, but unlike Christian Science, it doesn’t claim an ability to heal anything it is not proven to heal. I am grateful for doctors, surgeons, nurses, antibiotics, and hospitals. I am also grateful to live in a country that provides universal access to healthcare. – Jeremy
I’ve long suffered from sinus infections. Every cold turned into a sinus infection that would drag on for weeks and weeks. It was miserable and made me dread colds and as I had young kids who started to get colds with frequency, everything seemed worse and worse. As I transitioned out of Christian Science, I began going to a dr and getting treatment for the sinus infections. Antibiotics worked and I was hooked. After weeks of suffering, my nose would clear and I would finally feel better just a day after starting antibiotics.
However, I wasn’t comfortable with how many antibiotics I needed! Why did this happen to me but not my friends around me? My OB recommended that I go see an ENT. I did and I decided to mention that I had been a Christian Scientist and so had not really had medical treatment for this issue though it had been going on my whole life. He asked if I’d had my childhood vaccinations and of course I had not. He mused that it was possible I might need the one that prevents pneumococcal disease. Apparently it’s recommended as a child and again at 65+, but in rare cases, midlife adults need it if they get excessive sinus infections. We did some tests to see if my body had developed resistance to these diseases on its own and indeed it had not. I took the vaccine and retested to find that post vaccine, my body’s resistance to each of these strains had gone up by many 100%.
I have not had another sinus infection since getting that vaccine in the summer of 2019. With covid, I haven’t had as many colds but the number hasn’t been zero, and still, no sinus infections. I can feel it coming when I’m sick but then literally feel my body fight it off. I don’t know if that’s all in my mind, but I’ll take it. I love medicine and the ways that it has helped me live a happier, healthier, more free life. I will be forever grateful to that OB for pushing me to see an ENT and that ENT for thinking critically about my situation. Even though I’ve told them, they don’t really understand how much they improved my life. – Anon.
I want to share my gratitude today for the Ex Christian Science Facebook group, the Ex Christian Science website and all the testimonies shared over the years.
I am also thankful for the discoverers and founders of the Ex Christian Science website and Facebook group.
I am so thankful to have left Christian Science and learned I have a body and that my reflection of my human body is in the mirror.
I no longer live a life of denial. I live in real reality and face my problems head on, instead of ignoring and praying they will go away some day.
Also, I am grateful to have moved out of the house and have my own place with my kids. And our dog. No more spouse. This has been a healing that took a long time, and I am so grateful for it.
Thank you, Ex Christian Scientists, for helping me see what was right in front of me all these years and supporting me while I figured out how to be a human and move on to my own, new life.
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a Macy’s Day Parade and Dog Show for us kind of day! – Just Jodi
I am super thankful that this year I received the financial support to see a new audiologist and get new hearing aids. The audiologist is awesome: knowledgeable and supportive, and she explains the particulars of hearing loss in a clear and helpful way.
My new hearing aids are a vast improvement: they fit better, they are better adapted to my hearing loss pattern, and in the age of mask-wearing, they don’t get caught up in the straps. My hearing loss and tinnitus began when I was still in Christian Science, but I felt helpless because CS seemed not at all up to the task of healing me. I gave up trying to pray about it. I knew several CSists who wore hearing aids, but there was this weird acceptance/nonacceptance of it. People wore them, but they were supposed to heal themselves eventually. So it was okay not okay and just a topic to avoid.
Now I try to be open about my hearing loss. I told friends and family how excited I was to get new hearing aids. The road is still rough: hearing aids will never completely fix my loss, they will never fix my tinnitus, and the difficulty of having an “invisible disability” is real. But good audiologists and good hearing aids exist, and I can talk about them openly without CS baggage! – Casey B
A decade ago I still believed in magical thinking but since that hadn’t really worked I started down a path of actually healing.
I have complex PTSD, severe anxiety, and have experienced sexual abuse. These complex issues were making my life really difficult to navigate. In addition to being raised in Science, several family members are narcissistic as well. My family appeared highly functional but quite the opposite was and is true. I had no family support as I started relying on Veterans Administration mental health and medical care, because there was zero benefit for my family if I changed, or had a healing. And that pain has been incredibly difficult to understand but typically happens when you unpack and process childhood trauma compounded by Christian Science. My family didn’t want me to change and have not supported my healing journey.
I am grateful for the pandemic because it allowed me the space to become acutely aware of how many times I’ve put my mental health aside just to keep family in my life. So these many months have been spent unpacking all the mythologies and fairy tales I was taught as a child and have carried with me every where I go, these stories have been running in the background, my default, and they’ve kept me from knowing who I truly am and kept me from seeing my worth as a human being.
Some thoughts on mental health… Things happen to us that we have no control over, or that somehow a negative thought might’ve attracted. There are no quick cures/fixes, but there is acceptance/understanding and growing into a truly compassionate and empathetic person. The healing work/process doesn’t end, there is no magical space where one has no more work to do, where we know it all and can magically deny a thing and then get what we want. Being human takes compassion. Being human takes action, and I mean getting off one’s ass, putting down the books and go do something to create change, rather than sit and pray and then passively, arrogantly do absolutely nothing.
I am grateful for my amazing body that has allowed me to still be here because as I look back and it’s a miracle I survived my childhood!
Being human is messy and we’re meant to live it fully, feeling incredible pain and incredible joy. And to my family I don’t care if I am, never was or never will be “cool” or a good CSer. Instead I am learning to feel the goofiest full belly joy for the first time in my life and my wish is that everyone here is able to experience tremendous joy while being human. Thank you for listening. – KA
Thank you everyone for your Thanksgiving Testimony contributions, this concludes our post. Should inspiration strike, the comment section will remain open for 30 days.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season. The ExCS Admin Team.
Lauren Hunter grew up in a fourth generation Christian Science home but struggled to understand and implement successful physical healing. Like many who have left Christian Science, she sought out others who had also left to gain clarity. After being out of CS for nearly 20 years, she hoped to help others cross the chasm of leaving this religious cult by sharing her story, as well as the stories of nine others she interviewed. Her book, Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ, was released in 2020.
Hunter’s book examines stories from 10 different people who left Christian Science and started walking a Christian path, following Christ Jesus as their guide.
In the following post, Contributor Jodi interviews Lauren Hunter about her experience writing the book:
Jodi: What compelled you to write a book about various people’s stories of how they left Christian Science?
Lauren: I’ve always loved the power of story and felt that the impact of pulling away from the Christian Science faith would be stronger as told not only through my own story, but also through the stories of others who left.
When I first left Christian Science in 2001, I knew no one who was a “former Christian Scientist.” I became a member of the Fellowship of Former Christian Science (FFCS) group in 2015. Through that group, I met so many new friends with incredible stories. Each person’s tale blew me away and encouraged me. I thought, if I can compile a whole book of stories of people who left, there’s a lot of power–all in one book.
Jodi: What kind of power are you talking about here?
Lauren: It’s easy to shirk off one story of someone who left CS. Followers will often say, “they just couldn’t understand it” of someone who left. They look down on people who leave because there’s this sense of baked in narcissism–that CS is a special knowledge that only they have. I felt there was power in sharing 10 stories of people who all left. There’s no book available with this many exit stories in one place.
Jodi: How did you come up with the list of people to interview? Did you know all of the people before you approached them to write the book? Were people referred to you?
Lauren: I worked with Katherine Beim-Esche of the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists to help me locate people who had various stories to fit the theme of each chapter. I had an idea of what themes to include, but these changed as I did my interviews. I did preliminary research, short email interviews, then long Zoom recorded interviews for each person’s chapter. It was tricky to pull out distinct themes for each story, but it all came together as I had hoped, which was great.
Jodi: How did you come up with the questions you asked them, in order for them to tell you their story?
Lauren: I really love interviewing people. Initially, I made a list of questions asking about the person’s upbringing, history in the Christian Science church, etc., and sent this in advance. When we sat down for the interview, I made sure to ask many of the same questions, but each person had such a unique story that some questions emerged as we were doing the interview. It was a wonderful process and I feel very honored that these individuals would entrust their stories to me.
Jodi: Are there thread(s) that you see each story sharing?
Lauren: Great question. I spoke about all these different threads in the recent FFCS presentation I did entitled: “My story, your story, and God’s story.” (YouTube Link Here) Some common threads are:
Struggling with the dual reality of having to deny the physical world while living in it.
Guilt and shame over “trying” medicine when healings didn’t happen
Shame over imperfections in health as well as imperfections in beauty
Dissociation from physical needs including noticing pain, anxiety, or fear
Trouble recognizing boundaries, limits, and identifying needs
Jodi: Tell me about the ‘dear one” sections of the book, where you write a comforting letter to the readers of the book. Did that come naturally for you? Was it easy to hear their stories and come up with a comforting letter?
Lauren: In the “dear one” letters at the end of each chapter, I tried to invoke the kind of gentle and loving mother many of us wished we had growing up in CS. I am a mom, and I can’t imagine watching my kids suffer as many did in their childhoods. It’s really heartbreaking. I had more trouble processing several of the stories because they dealt with issues that hit close to home for me. I really loved writing these ‘dear one’ sections and hope that my concern and care for the reader came through.
Jodi: How long did it take for you to compile the stories? To write this book?
Lauren: It took me about two and a half years from idea to publishing. This was my first full-length nonfiction book and I was squeezing it in around running a full-time business (and raising my family). I learned so much during the process and treated it like a learning experience. My second book, due out this winter, is a step-by-step guide to help people write their own stories.
Jodi: Did any particular story stand out to you as either typical of all the stories, or different in some major way from all of the other stories? Which one? What made it different or the same?
Lauren: John Andrews’ story about struggling to let go of Mary Baker Eddy as Leader with a capital “L” was something that many people struggled with. In Christian Science, we were taught to put Eddy on a platform above God and Jesus Christ. This is something a lot of people struggled with.
This is where mind control comes in. The only way followers will do what an organization says is if they buy into the (often narcissistic) leader who proclaims they are a prophet — most of us “drank the Kool-aid,” and believed that Eddy’s words were holier than the Bible.
Dixie Baker’s story of surviving the measles epidemic at Principia College was so difficult for me to stomach. It was a completely different topic and included physical, emotional, and medical neglect–her account rocked me and was very unique that someone from within was brave enough to detail what happened while under CS nurse care.
Jodi: Is there something you would like to share with people who read our blog, who are looking for a path to leave Christian Science and are scared to do it?
Lauren: Interestingly, you use the word “scared” in your question. When I was growing up in Christian Science, I felt scared all the time because I never knew what was wrong. So much of the Christian Science belief system deals with allaying fear. Well, we wouldn’t have all been so afraid if we’d gone to the doctor to find out what was wrong! I now feel huge freedom not practicing CS. If I have a medical issue, I email my doctor, get a test done, and figure out a plan. I no longer have massive amounts of fear to deal with surrounding my body. I have to ask questions, look things up, and learn as I go–and I’ve been out of CS for 20 years! I’m just grateful that I left before having my four kids. I can’t fathom dealing with all the childhood illnesses without medical care.
So I guess my advice is to ditch the fear, allow yourself a care team that includes a good trauma-informed therapist, a former Christian Scientist who has adjusted well, and a good doctor who will listen to you and take you seriously.
Jodi: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Lauren: I’m working on a new book called Write Your Journey that will help people write their stories about their family, faith, or career. The idea came to me when people read my book and wanted to share their stories with me. Info on this book will be available at https://laurenhunter.net.
Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ by Lauren Hunter (Veritable Books, 2020) is available on Amazon.
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.