Christian Science & Terminal Cancer

The following post was submitted via email.


My Father’s Story

I am sure that there are CS practitioners out there that genuinely want to help people and are convinced they can through Christian Science. I have met several. This story isn’t about honest people like them who want to bring forth healing for their patients. There are unfortunately people who view being a Christian Science practitioner as their meal ticket and lead patients on even after they can’t heal the problem swiftly or at all. 

It is their responsibility to tell the patient to look at medical means if CS isn’t working for them. A responsible person or anyone with a beating heart would do that. My father died of Cancer in June 2020. Prior to his death he had been working with a practitioner for 2 years and not getting any better. The practitioner knew full well that they were getting nowhere but had my dad exchange 80 emails over that time period and charge him $900.00 a month. It was money we didn’t have. When my father expressed that the practitioner had him set up a PayPal account so my mom wouldn’t know funds were coming from their joint account in installments for CS treatment which she was adamantly against. When he could no longer pay through PayPal and didn’t have money to pay off the total debt the practitioner dropped him like a pancake and didn’t return emails.

When confronted over this after my father passed the practitioner put the blame on my father saying “A practitioner isn’t trained to make a diagnosis or even ask questions about symptoms. The patient alone makes the choice to ask for prayer. And the practitioner offers prayer only. That is the sum of the interaction. The patient alone initiates it and concludes it.” That may be all well and good from his perspective but it also up to the practitioner to bring forth healing or tell the patient to seek other means when it’s not working. They shouldn’t have an 80 email interaction with someone and charge them that much money. A practitioner also has the ability to conclude working for someone on their own. This practitioner didn’t do that. What they did even by CS standards is highly unethical.

My father was a Christian Scientist for over 60 years and that was his only physician. He never saw a doctor and didn’t trust a word that came out of their mouth nor cared what they were a specialist in. He was diagnosed with Cancer back in 2018 and died two years later after suffering along with us in agony. He knew he was in trouble but held on to these beliefs and would not be swayed. We feuded with him all that time and were yelled at and in screaming matches told that we were holding up his healing and practicing against him. 

He saw a doctor one night in 2018 in pain at the ER. The emergency room physician diagnosed his Cancer but he wouldn’t go back nor look at any of the imaging, blood work results, nor accept diagnosis or follow up with his family doctor. My mother had to go behind his back to learn the truth and view his reports after he was given computer passwords and access to all his results that he wouldn’t use. The only way we got him into treatment in the end was through an ultimatum that all of us would leave and he would have nobody. It was a bluff but he took it seriously enough which was our intent.  He eventually had surgery for a tumor that he ignored and allowed to grow to 20lbs in a very sensitive area of his body. He went through another year of treatment at a Cancer hospital but it was terminal and too late for him in the end.

My father was an extremely fit individual until he was 84 and diagnosed with Cancer. Watching him decline over a period of 2 years was the most traumatic and heartbreaking thing I have ever endured. He suffered way more than we did to be straight. In the end he was in so much pain that he couldn’t even be touched by us much less turned over and aided by nurses. His was a slow and unnecessary death.

It didn’t help that he believed for over 60 years that CS practitioners who had only 6 weeks of advanced Christian Science Class Instruction could heal all problems including terminal illnesses. While it was his choice to believe these lies and buy into this crap he was taken advantage of and betrayed by someone who was supposed to heal him. That scoundrel earned a ton of money from him over that course of time. I cannot believe the audacity he had in instructing my father to use PayPal covertly. That was wrong and betrayal of trust and the patient. I hate to think what this practitioner may still be doing with people he is currently treating as well as teaching Class Instruction to.

While his death certificate may say Cancer was the cause that’s not completely accurate. Christian Science and his belief in it killed him. Cancer was a secondary cause but obviously you can’t list Christian Science on a death certificate though I would be all for it if it were possible. I’m sure if you could list CS as a cause that there would be millions of people listed who lived for and died from these dangerous beliefs. It’s a pity we don’t have a record of all of them. If we did perhaps it would scare enough people to leave or better yet never be involved with this cult.

It is my firm belief that my father though 86-years-old would still be alive if it were not for holding on to Christian Science beliefs and being misled by someone who was supposed to heal him or tell him that he should seek other means when he could not. There was no swaying my father from any of this which is a common issue that has been mentioned a lot in other people’s stories. While sharing his story won’t bring him back or bring me any peace I sincerely hope people will read it and recognize this issue with others in their lives and try to sway them away from Christian Science and not take no for an answer if that person is dying and relying only on CS and a practitioner to cure terminal illness. They can’t. They won’t. 


Note from the author:

Please feel free to use my name. I don’t want to be anonymous. I’m hoping even by not naming names when it comes to practitioners that people will know what is going on with some not all practitioners and some unethical things they have been doing in the name of healing others through CS. I don’t fear repercussion. I want every person I know to know what my dad and our family went through because of his beliefs and placing trust in unethical practitioner to heal him of terminal cancer.  – Geoff Roberts

Ask A Nurse: Headaches

Ask a NurseThe ExCS site has teamed with a registered nurse and paramedic with a background in healthcare education and public health. Married to a former-CS, the Nurse would like to share their experience with the healthcare system, and answer any questions former-CS may have!  The Nurse will NOT get involved in diagnosing or giving medical advice, but if there are questions folks have related to going to a doctor, explaining medical terminology, how to advocate for yourself in healthcare, and so on, they might have a perspective that can help. 


Why pray it away, just pop a pill

A question posed recently to me was, “when is it ok to take something for a headache and when should you just tough it out?”  Back in my younger days I might’ve been stricken with a little “Irish flu” after a night of debauchery and believed I should suffer as the price of having fun.  Lately, social distancing and avid masking has helped me avoid the Irish flu but when I do get a headache, regardless of the cause, I treat it.  Fact is, headaches can be debilitating so my short answer is, never tough out a headache.  Now I could end my post here, but since I think you’ll appreciate a little more information, I’ll elaborate.

In the process of deciding just how aggressively to treat a headache, one of the things to evaluate is the cause.  Dehydration, certain foods, lack of sleep and overexertion are all potential modifiable causes of headaches. I typically see if I can address the underlying cause (for example if I suspect dehydration, I’ll try to hydrate), then take some acetaminophen (eg. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (eg. Motrin/Advil), or both.  Point being, I almost always take some over-the-counter pain relief for a headache. Taking a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen is safe as they act on pain receptors differently (refer back to this post on medications for more info).  Just remember to eat something when taking ibuprofen as it can be rough on an empty stomach.   

Migraines are another cause of headaches and these can be so incapacitating they require powerful medications that should only be administered in the hospital.  People who suffer migraines may also be sensitive to bright light or sounds, and/or they may feel nauseous or vomit.  Migraines can last for days and people who suffer them typically have been diagnosed previously.  These folks usually know what brings them on and how best to treat them.  If you suffer a headache so debilitating, I’d recommend getting evaluated by a neurologist.    

Two headache causes that should be checked out immediately, ideally in an emergency department, include head trauma and strokes:

If you were struck in the head or suffered some trauma involving the head, get it checked out.  The story of actor/comedian Bob Saget is fresh in the news and highlights the importance of head trauma being evaluated by a professional.  We’ll likely never know what exactly happened to him, but from what I’ve read, it sounds so catastrophic he might have lost consciousness and not have even recognized the head trauma he suffered.  Something similar happened to my uncle once, fortunately his injuries were identified quickly and the ER was able to treat him.  People who suffer severe head trauma tend to have a significant “mechanism of injury” (MOI), meaning whatever caused the injury involved dramatic force.  Getting hit in the head with a baseball bat for instance, or in the case of my uncle, falling off a bicycle.  One big sign of head trauma is called “retrograde amnesia.”  Whereby the victim of the head trauma cannot recall events that occurred in the minutes or hours preceding the traumatic incident.  

Another concerning cause of headaches are strokes (aka cerebral vascular accidents or CVA’s).  Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability and therefore need to be taken very seriously.  Not all people who have strokes complain of headaches though.  Typically they have other symptoms such as a loss of consciousness (permanent or temporary), visual disturbances/blurry vision, weakness on one side of their body or slurred speech.  

In the case of either head trauma or strokes, time is of the essence.  The person should be taken to the hospital, if possible, by ambulance.  This is especially true if you’re taking something like aspirin or other medication, sometimes referred to as “blood thinners” (coumadin, warfarin, etc.) that interrupts the clotting process.  These medications have been implicated in worse outcomes in patients who suffered head trauma.  Due to reduced ability of the blood to clot though, the bleeding in the brain was more significant than it might otherwise be, causing death or disability.

While many headaches are benign (meaning they’re not life threatening) and can be treated at home, some reasons to seek out medical advice include: 

  1. You don’t have a clear reason for the headache and/or it doesn’t improve or worsens over time
  2. Known or suspected head trauma
  3. Signs of head injury or stroke (dizziness, unsteady gait, slurred speech, weakness, amnesia, seizures, etc.)

Other factors to consider in your decision to seek out medical care for a headache could include preexisting conditions, such as hemophilia, or the persons age.  For most people, headaches are an occasional nuisance, listen to your body though.  If a headache feels worse or you’re suffering some of the symptoms listed above, get checked by your local doctor or ER.


References:

Collins, C. E., Witkowski, E. R., Flahive, J. M., Anderson, F. A., Jr, & Santry, H. P. (2014). Effect of preinjury warfarin use on outcomes after head trauma in Medicare beneficiaries. American journal of surgery208(4), 544–549.e1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjsurg.2014.05.019

Head Injury. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2022, from Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/head-injury

Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Associationexternal iconCirculation. 2020;141(9):e139–e596.

Feeling Emotions

By Jodi, a Blog Contributor

I am positive it’s been said elsewhere on this blog, multiple times, that Christian Science teaches that “there are bad emotions.” I am positive, also, that Christian Science is not the only belief system to teach this. I read an article recently that talked about Mary Baker Eddy being the forerunner of the “Positive Thinking Movement” that still abounds around the country. Christian Science, however, takes this “Positive Thinking” to the absolute most dangerous extreme. Get in a fatal crash? Keep your thoughts positive, and you’ll not only come back from the dead, all by yourself with no help from an ambulance, but you’ll be instantly healed the way Jesus was when he came out of the tomb! Your entire “Being” be glowing!
 
I was hanging a lamp today with a friend, and the heavy chord from the ceiling fixture pulled the entire porcelain fixture on to the floor. It was still encased in the bubble wrap in which it arrived, but it shattered. I stared at it, in disbelief, and my friend so nicely said, “I’m sorry.” (Meaning he knew I was looking forward to this new lamp in my kitchen for so many reasons, and now it was broken.) At his comment of sincere sympathy and kindness, I felt tears well up in my eyes.
 
And those tears in my eyes are what inspired this blog post.
 
I grew up as the daughter of a Christian Scientist perfectionist, and she was also the daughter of a Christian Scientist …. and so it goes back to Mary Baker Eddy’s day, I think. Thankfully, I left. I wish I had left in my 20s the way most of my peers did, but, it just matters that I finally left.
 
I remember one time when I was in college, and my younger brother was probably in grade school. He did something in the kitchen and a glass bowl slipped from his hands and shattered to the floor. My first thought was, “oh no, he is going to be a wreck about this for hours, because he will feel so terrible about having broken this bowl! Then we won’t get anything done!” It turned out, he was so calm about it. Our mom and I praised him to the hilt about being calm in this situation. We cleaned up the broken pieces and went about our day as if nothing had happened.
 
I mean, part of that is good; he wasn’t in any trouble. He just had a little accident and the bowl shattered. He hadn’t done it intentionally. He wasn’t a bad person, and we didn’t want him to feel guilty and incredibly sad as if he was going to be in severe trouble over an accident.
 
That reminds me of the quote from Mary Baker Eddy’s book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” The quote says: “Accidents are unknown to God.” (Page 424.)
 
I am sure that at the time I was able to do some mental gymnastics that this bowl breaking wasn’t an accident, because “There are no accidents in God’s Kingdom!” Of course, we also probably KNEW that this bowl wasn’t actually real. (I wish that was sarcasm, I’m not sure what to make of that now, but that’s part of the process of being in Christian Science – nothing that has a material presence is real. If you can feel, see, taste, touch or smell it, that proves it’s not real!) So that probably helped with our denial about the whole experience, because something that wasn’t even real couldn’t actually break.
 
What got me today, while we were still dealing with this lamp this morning, is that sadness is actually a normal emotion to feel for accidentally breaking something. We aren’t robots. we are human beings having a human experience. And: emotions are a key part of the human experience. They are as real as music, tree branches, cut grass, cat purrs, perfume, and the sound of the ocean waves.
 
When my brother broke that bowl, our mom and I both immediately remembered that a year before an almost identical situation had occurred, and he had been uncontrollably sad, and crying. He was probably in maybe 2nd grade or something that first time, and maybe he was in 3rd or 4th grade for the second time. He had been nearly inconsolable for a long time. Maybe an hour. Maybe longer. Instead of letting him feel his emotions, I am positive we probably tried to talk him out of having them. We had to teach him that he wasn’t sad, but that he was safe and ok and didn’t need to be sad. The [whatever that broke the first time] wasn’t real and was easily replaced. Because things that are real can’t be hurt or damaged.
 
Wow. The mental gymnastics is mind-boggling to me now. I was seriously brainwashed to believe that all of this gobble-de-gook was true.
 
I remember being taught by my Christian Science Teacher that it was bad to feel emotions other than joy, happiness and gratitude.
 
Getting out of the Christian Science belief system, I learned that emotions are all real. I had a steep learning curve, learning what emotions feel like and how to label them. I learned that it’s important to name each emotion. A basic meditation practice has a person name whatever comes in to their thinking. If they feel anger, they say, “that’s anger,” or acknowledge it in some way and let it go on. I had to identify these emotions I had never been given words for. (See the website link, below, that talks about mindfulness practice.)
 
In therapy, I learned of horrible abuse to someone I love dearly – I learned that something that had happened in the past was actually abuse. This person I loved so much had been abused. And I sat there, with a blank expression on my face. I had no idea what emotion to feel. My therapist said to me, “if that had happened to someone I care so deeply about, I would feel sad.” And I realized it: Yes! I felt sad! I let myself feel sad for as long as I needed to. I think I still feel it now, and it’s been a few years.
 
During those years, I also realized I felt anger about that situation. I have felt more emotions than just sad, too, come to think of it. My emotions have included feeling: frustrated, angry, sad, hateful, depressed, frustration mixed with fury, outrage and even hatred at the abuser. I can’t even go back and fix the situation. It’s all over. The one who was abused has since died and I can’t go hug him and make it all better. This “not being able to go back and fix the situation” brings back the onslaught of emotions.
 
My emotions about something so horrible are perfectly normal. They are reasonable responses to feel in response to a heart-breaking, terrible situation. It is completely ABNORMAL to feel joy and gratitude about an abusive situation!
 
You know what? As I spent decades of my life in Christian Science, I had emotional outbursts at different times. Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the emotionless “Spock” on Star Trek, struggled to stay constantly in a state of “non-emotion” for his character. He felt strong emotions after months of being this emotionless character. There are videos of him, feeling these strong emotions, in-between takes.
 
A human body needs to feel emotions. Otherwise, they build up to an intense level and come bursting out when it’s inconvenient and out of proportion. That’s why we need to feel the emotions as they happen. Name them. Express them when they are small so they don’t become out of control, strong, and downright frightening.
 
When I was taking photos of the shattered lamp part to send to the company to start the process of getting a replacement, I did shed 2 tears. I brushed them away, and kept working. I know that whatever happens, whether we buy this piece again or if they take pity on us and send us this part as a free replacement, it will work out. I will get the lamp installed and I will love this lamp in my kitchen until I move out of the house. Two tears over a broken lamp isn’t a big deal. It’s a healthy response to a frustrating situation. I feel grateful, actually, to have had this small response to a small broken lamp piece, instead of burying it down inside me to outburst at some later time.
 
My friend called me today to say her dad died. I cried more for that than I did for the broken light bulb. In fact, I felt generally sad for the rest of today, and also planned to take her dinner, a thoughtful potted plant, a bottle of wine, and a bunch of hugs for her whole family. We delivered the meal and sat with her and her family while they talked and hugged us as much as they needed to. I wasn’t an unfeeling robot about it. And I didn’t melt in to an emotional puddle for 24 hours. I’d say I handled the broken lamp piece and my friend’s parent’s death in about the right proportion for each of those circumstances.
 
In the words of a cigarette company from my youth – “We’ve come a long way, Baby.”
 

Additional Reading
 
I found this website which explains “Mindfulness” beautifully, about 3/4ths of the way down. https://medium.com/@SoulGPS/3-steps-to-stop-missing-your-narcissistic-ex-break-the-trauma-bond-and-start-a-new-life-726c5d2dc97a
 
A book I read when I was about to embark on leaving Christian Science, though I didn’t know yet that life circumstances would propel me in this new direction. It took me a long time to get through this book. It helped me learn to feel and name my emotions, and begin on the journey towards balance instead of severe intensity with my emotions. “Discover Your Soul Signature,” by Panache Desai.
 
 
This is one article about Christian Science started the Positive Thinking Movement, but it’s not the one I read. There are probably dozens of these sorts of articles that trace Positivitiy back to Mary Baker Eddy & Christian Science, http://www.chronicresilience.com/2014/02/18/where-did-the-power-of-positive-thinking-come-from/

Why do Christian Scientists go to the dentist (but not doctors)?

One of the most common questions the Ex-Christian Scientist site gets is “Why do Christian Scientists go to dentists but not doctors?” Yeah, that is a good question. While we were raised in Christian Science, practiced Christian Science, and have since left Christian Science, the “logic” eludes us too, but we’re giving it a try. 


TL;DR

  1. Extreme Christian Scientists often choose not to go to the dentist
  2. Mary Baker Eddy’s reasoning allowed for loopholes to avoid lawsuits and CS taking the blame for failure, you may need to so some mental gymnastics, but as a Christian Scientists, you’re used to that, and you can make it work
  3. Dentistry was a well-established comparatively evidence-based practice in the 1800s.
  4. Mary’s second husband (she had three husbands), Daniel Patterson, was a dentist. They were married in 1853.

1) One is fairly self-explanatory, Extreme Christian Scientists often choose not to go to the dentist, pointing to S&H 167:12We cannot serve two masters nor perceive divine Science with the material senses.”

2) The right use of temporary means” loophole, and other excuses that have been used.  

Depending on how you read Science and Health, you can find loopholes that “allow” for medical treatment. You may need to do some mental gymnastics, but as a Christian Scientists, you’re used to that, and you can make it work. 

If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, – their brethren upon whom they may call, – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means S&H p. 444:7-10

Other reasons CS have used: 

  • For routine visits: It is “just” a cleaning, you wash your body, you brush your teeth, going to the dentist for a cleaning is fine.  — Never mind Mary Baker Eddy repeatedly rails on about hygiene being ineffective: “Drugs and hygiene cannot successfully usurp the place and power of the diving source of health and perfection.” S&H p.167 12-14
  • Having teeth removed, repaired and replaced is acceptable, as teeth are bones, and “Until the advancing age admits the efficacy an supremacy of Mind, it is better for Christian Scientists to leave surgery and the adjustment of broken bones and dislocations to the fingers of a surgeon, while the mental healer confines himself chiefly to mental reconstruction an to the prevention of inflammation. S&H p. 401 27-32 This excuse is often also used to deny numbing during procedures, or follow-up pain relief and antibiotics, as “you can pray about that part.” Pro tip: if you can’t “pray enough” to fix the tooth, don’t try and pray about the pain
  • Using braces on teeth is fine as they are “aids” to “assist” us until we reach a higher level of understanding & are better able to heal ourselves. S&H 56 3-6 “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,” Jesus’ concessions (in certain cases) to material methods were for the advancement of spiritual good.” (Yes, we know this is from the chapter on Marriage, but it applies to so many things). 
  • Ms. Eddy is known to have used dentists in her time, if it was OK for her, it is OK for current-day Christian Scientists. 
  • As of 2010, The Mother Church has openly encouraged the notion that Christian Science has made a “Truce” with doctors (NYTimes, March 23, 2010) and medical care (including dentistry) is acceptable. 

3) Dentistry was a well-established comparatively evidence-based practice in the 1800s.

Per the American Dental Education Association website: 

“By the 1700s, dentistry had become a more defined profession.  In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon credited as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published his influential book, The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth, which for the first time defined a comprehensive system for caring for and treating teeth.  Additionally, Fauchard first introduced the idea of dental fillings and the use of dental prosthesis, and he identified that acids from sugar led to tooth decay.” (https://www.adea.org/GoDental/Health_Professions_Advisors/History_of_Dentistry.aspx

For more about Pierre Fauchard, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Fauchard, https://www.fauchard.org/publications/47-who-is-pierre-fauchard

By Mary Baker Eddy’s day, dental practices had been around for well over 100 years, and were far more evidence-based than the questionable notions of humors being used by doctors of the day (see additional resources). 

4) MBE’s second husband, Daniel Patterson, was a dentist, so dentists must be OK?

They were married in 1853. It does not sound like a particularly happy marriage, as they spent much of their time separated. It ended with a divorce in 1873.

Final Thoughts

It is worth noting that while MBE is quite set against mesmerism, hypnotism, homeopathy, drugs, hygiene, minor curatives, material medicine, chemists, botanists, druggists, doctors, nurses, vegetarianism, hydrotherapy, narcotics, cataplasms, whiskey, apothecaries, man-midwifes, and material hygiene to name a few. Interestingly, dentists don’t get an obvious mention, leaving them open as a possible acceptable option for Christian Scientists to partake in.


Additional Resources 

Christian Science in Historical Context – Further Reading 

History of Dentistry – Further Reading 

19th Century Medicine – further reading 

Christian Science Links – Science & Health in full text as a searchable PDF https://christiansciencemedia.org/files/2010/03/Science-and-Health-with-Key-to-the-Scriptures.pdf

Adam & Eve

By Jodi, a blog contributor

I was taught that the biggest difference between Christian Science and Christianity was that we viewed the Creation and Adam & Eve story differently from them. 

I remember explaining to so many different people over the years, what this means, and I figured I should share this in this blog, too. 

There is so much to share about this part of the Bible, and it encompasses only 2 chapters. 

The Holy Bible starts with the chapter, Genesis. And Genesis Chapter 1, starts with “The Creation Story.” It talks about how God created the universe. In the original, it uses the name “Elohim” for “God.” It talks about how Elohim divided the waters from the firmament (or ground). It talks about creating 2 lights in the sky – one for the day (the sun) and one for the night (the moon). It’s a beautiful chapter, full of creation of the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, every living creature that moves upon the face of the Earth. 

It talks about how “God created man in his own image, male and female created He them.” 
It’s interesting to think about when this chapter was written. It was actually written after the Adam & Eve story. The Israelites were in the desert, escaping slavery in Egypt. They wandered around for a good 40 years (it may not have been exactly 40, but it was a very long time). And the Rabbis with them had to get creative in their story telling. 

To the Children of Israel, “In the image of God” meant “royalty.” Only Kings and Queens were “made in the image of God.” But the Rabbis wanted the Children of Israel to also see how holy and special they were, so they said, in this story, that they were made in the image of God, too. How special they must have felt, to hear the words that they were holy children of God too, as marvelous as royalty!

If you go to Genesis 2, verse 11, this is the first place where the word “But” appears in the Bible. Before this, it was established that men and women were created and in charge of all the things on the brand new planet. 

Suddenly, in Genesis 2, verse 11 it says: “But there went up a mist from the ground and watered the face of the earth.” 

After this, the God referred to as “Elohim” goes away, and it turns into “Jehovah.” Jehovah is translated as “Lord God,” instead of as “God.” And it’s a whole new story of creation — the Adam and Eve story. 

This story predates the story of Creation in Genesis, Chapter 1. This story is the one most commonly referred to, I think, as the first man and woman on the planet. The Lord God created a man (Mary Baker Eddy defines “Adam” in her Glossary chapter in Science and Health as “A man”). 

The Lord God walks around on the Earth and creates a man, called Adam, and then “causes a deep sleep to fall upon Adam.” Then the Lord God takes a rib from Adam and uses it to create a woman, and names her “Eve.” 

It’s a completely different story from the one in Chapter 1. This story is complete with a talking snake and tree that bears the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, whereas Genesis Chapter 1, seems to only convey good things. Nothing “evil” in there. Nothing evil shows up at all in the Bible until we meet this serpent who talks about this tree that The Lord God said they could expressly not eat from.

The story goes that the serpent “beguiled” Eve and made her want to eat of the tree. She takes a bite of the fruit and gives some to Adam. Adam eats of the fruit too. 

Both people are suddenly aware that they are naked. They hear The Lord God (Jehovah) walking around and go hide themselves. Jehovah is suspicious of their behavior and then punishes them when He finds out what happened. 

One of the punishments is that Adam must now till the ground (farm) to find food. It will no longer be easy to get to, from the trees in the Garden of Eden. Eve is punished forever to have painful childbearing experiences. She gets the punishment of monthly blood, and pain simply for being a woman. Before this, people were created by God or The Lord God (Elohim or Jehovah). Now, they must come through woman and it will be a painful and awful experience for women for the rest of time.

I want to point out something that gets glossed over to everyone I have talked to who was never a Christian Scientist but who was familiar with these stories: 

There’s that part where The Lord God causes a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. The part where The Lord God takes out Adam’s rib, in order to create woman or Eve. 

Remember that part? In Christian Science, this is a key part of our faith. The fact that Adam was put to sleep. As far as I know, no other religion focuses on this detail. But it’s a key factor in the core beliefs of Christian Science. 

You see, the Bible never mentions that Adam woke up. 

Christian Scientists believe that “we are all in the Adam dream.” That’s right, they believe that Adam is still dreaming, and we are all inside this dream. None of us is real. We are all illusions inside Adam’s dream. 

You know how when you’re dreaming, and you find something you like, perhaps a treasure or a journal or food or who knows what. And you want to keep it forever. But then you wake up, and it’s gone? Because it was never real – it’s gone. I remember as a kid, having a dream that I was in a cafeteria line. I thought for sure if I held onto my plastic ware hard enough with my hands, that I could manifest it when I woke up. I woke up and my fingernails were digging into my hand, but I didn’t have any plastic ware in my hand. It wasn’t real. It was an illusion.
This is what Christian Scientists believe at their core – that everything around them is as real as that plastic ware that I tried to hold onto in my dream.

When they have an illness, it’s common for a Christian Science Practioner to say, “you just need to know the truth.” What’s the truth? That the illness is an illusion. It’s not real. Just know the truth. Wake up to the reality of everything – just wake up. Once you wake up, you will be healed. 

This belief system had the effect on me that I learned to dissociate at a very young age. I even practiced it. Dissociating can also be experienced as depersonalization or derealization. I can’t quite remember the difference between all of them – I do all of them. One of my medical doctors even diagnosed me with this – dissociation. It means that I don’t stay present in my body. 

I have talked with enough Ex Christian Scientists now that I know a lot of us do our best to ignore our pain. It’s what we were taught. We were taught to not pay attention to it, since it’s not real. Ignore it, downplay it, pretend it isn’t there. Basically, get your focus on something else (God in particular) and your pain will go away because you’re not focusing on it. 

I remember in third grade, being bored with what was going on around me, and I remember just trying to grasp the idea that I wasn’t actually in my body, that I was a spiritual soul that was made in the image and likeness of God. What would that look like? I remember trying to deliberately detach myself from my body, as if I was a spirit floating above my body. That was my real self, not this dream that had 5 senses. 

That reminds me to share that we were also taught that the 5 senses (seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling, hearing) are not real either. Anything we could sense with one of the 5 senses also wasn’t real, because it was inside the Adam Dream.

Are you seeing yet how crazy all of this is? Everything you can see, hear, taste, touch, smell isn’t real because it’s just made up by some guy who fell asleep aeons ago? 

All of this sounds like a Science Fiction plot to me now. Like a short story I read in Jack Finley’s book, “About Time,” about a world that created glass globes. In his science fiction story, people created worlds for a competition. All these little entities inside the globes were tiny people walking around, building things. Ultimately to be destroyed by the creator at the end of a year long competition. (I didn’t describe that very well; suffice it to say it’s a very good story.) 

I am learning, since leaving Christian Science, that my body is actually real. I have had to have heart surgery and need to take a daily medicine to control my heart further so I don’t pass out when I walk too fast or get too excited or nervous about things. 

Growing up in Christian Science, too many of our parents took the Christian Science teachings of “your body is not real, it’s just a dream,” too seriously and denied all medical care. In my experience, I was also denied any practical, material remedy. I wasn’t allowed honey to soothe my sore throat. I didn’t dare ask for crutches when I had a painful toe dislocation in high school. I had been taught that my needs weren’t valid. My needs weren’t important. Not just physical, but emotional too. 

If I was ever sick, I was sent to my room as if I was being punished – to go read my Bible and Science and Health. To pray and read only. No tv, no remedy. I was allowed to nap, thank goodness, when I was sick. I always worried that I would get in trouble for napping when I was sick. Thank goodness I never was. It wouldn’t surprise to me to hear some day that someone else was punished for that – not reading enough of their holy books to get a healing. 

I also wasn’t given words to define my emotions. I was allowed to feel joyful, happy and grateful. But I wasn’t allowed to feel sad or angry or frustrated. It took years of therapy to be able to put words to emotions I had buried my entire life. 

There is one other thing that I want to share about the Adam and Eve story and how it relates to my own experience. I often heard of friends having painful periods and cramping once a month. I had friends who could hardly get out of bed because the cramping was so bad. I felt somehow superior because I didn’t have these issues – that I had overcome the falsity of the Eve story. Eve being punished. Since I knew it was a dream (she is inside Adam’s dream too, if you think about it), then I knew the period issues didn’t have to affect me. It gave me a complete lack of empathy for people who had cramping with their monthly cycles. They didn’t “know the truth.” They were “asleep in Adam’s dream.” Their pain wasn’t real, they just believed it was. Why would I have any kind of empathy for people experiencing a dream? It’s what I had been taught – no empathy for people in pain or distress. 

Getting out of Christian Science and taking the (very scary) step to start going to doctors*, I found that medical nurses and doctors actually CARE about people. They listen when you say, “I’m not feeling well,” and they ask questions. “Is it a sharp pain? A dull pain? Where is it? Does the pain come and go? Is it throbbing? How intense is it?” And they listen to the answers. They administer medicines and bandages and other aids as necessary to help ease my physical body. 

For years, when I went to a hospital or care facility, I would cry. I couldn’t help it. Others I know have had this same response too. We are so unused to having someone be kind to us when we are suffering, that it is overwhelming and we cry in response to the kindness. It’s a shock to our system to be tenderly cared for when we aren’t feeling well. 

I am at the very beginning of learning how others see these 2 stories. As far as I understand it, these 2 stories are viewed as the same story. One gives the people names, and the other does not. I think this is how it is. I am not entirely sure, actually. One talks about where people start – like the family tree header. Maybe there were people before that, but history is started with these two – Adam and Eve. 

I went to a Catholic wedding one time and the Adam and Eve story came up. The priest told the story. I was baffled why a story that punishes women so badly would be at the center of a marriage. It just shows the different perspective a Christian Scientist has.

I want to also share that once I got out of Christian Science and learned what it felt like to receive true empathy, I learned to have empathy myself. I now know how to listen to people when they talk about their distress, or their emotions. I can try to soothe as I am able. I am able to comfort my own children when they aren’t feeling well. 

It’s a complete shift in my brain to have empathy. 

I hope all the folks still in Christian Science will get out sooner rather than later. I want them all to learn how to take care of their body and not die from something painful due to long term medical neglect. 

I am actually grateful to know that while I don’t know about Adam and Eve being a real story or not, I am grateful to know my own body is actually real. I am learning, over time, how to take care of it. 

*I had been taught to be afraid of doctors. That they make mistakes and kill people all the time. I was genuinely afraid of going to a hospital or doctors, thinking it would make me less of a child of God, unworthy of being healed ever again.


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