I am a former student of Principia. I was raised in Christian Science my whole life, and my mom is one of the most respected CS nurses in New England. My father attended Principia College, but later left Christian Science. At the time I was graduating high school, he had lost his job, and told me Prin was the only affordable option because of the scholarships I received. After moving around and attending 4 different highs schools, part of me was relieved that I would be with people I knew–so I was obedient.
Early on in my freshman year, I went through an experience that would now be labeled as date-rape. I swept it under the rug until several people urged me to come forward. I waited until school ended that year, because I didn’t want negative visibility for me or the gentlemen involved.
That summer I attempted to process what had occurred, but after struggling from depression off and on throughout my life, I quickly fell into a dark place. The guy I had accused said many hurtful things to me, but when he called me a cunt, it completely broke my heart.
I started seeing a therapist and taking prescription anti-depressants. I was not planning on returning to Prin, but at the time it was my only option. The dean of students treated me like a heroine addict, and took my medication away from me. For a while, the resident counselor (with absolutely no medical background) was doling the pills out to me at night. Eventually the school told me I needed to stop taking them or leave.
Soon I fell into the adverse effects of withdrawal, far worse than anything I have ever experienced. The mental anguish was as painful as being stabbed. The dean of students told me I needed to go on medical leave, but it was a contentious time in my family and I felt I had nowhere to go. Eventually I tried to overdose on the sleeping pills I hid from the school. My roommate found me unconscious and called the school nurse. Luckily, after hours, I woke up. No one had called an ambulance, and no medical attention was given. It frightens me to think of how easily I things could’ve gone the other way—and I wonder why I wasn’t worth a 911 call.
I left at the end of the semester after the dean of students met with me and my father and told us that I could come back the next semester, without needing to reapply, and that my scholarship would still be in place.
I did as she said, but I was never admitted back into Prin, and was told I wasn’t allowed on campus. No reason was provided.
I remember the dean of students (at Principia) asking me to be more realistic when I said I might want to apply to a school like Boston College or Northeastern. I currently attend Northeastern University and work full-time in marketing. I am up for a second promotion, despite not having my bachelors yet.
Recently I met up with that same roommate, in NYC, when we were both visiting family, and we got into the topic of the school now allowing students to take medication. I became upset and said “well, where’s my apology”?! She told me it was my fault for attending the school, and that I just blame everyone else for my problems. It is this kind of ignorance and judgement of those who take medication, that make it really hard for me to be around Christian Scientists. What happened at Prin was deeply painful, but I suspect me not being CS made me unworthy of compassion.
I returned to work that Monday, feeling totally defeated, only to find I had been promoted to a full time employee “for far exceeding the expectations for an intern, and for an incredible work ethic.” Interesting that they left out my characteristic lack of accountability.
I don’t drink or do drugs, but I take medication every day for allergies, Birth control, etc. I don’t identify with any theology, but I am passionately vegan and advocate compassion for all living beings. In the eyes of Christian Science and Principia, I am morally inferior. In the eyes of everyone else, I am someone deserving of respect.
You know, it’s funny that I eventually got a heartfelt apology from the guy who assaulted me, but I never got a word of remorse from the school that almost killed me.
The following piece was submitted anonymously via email. It is part of our on-going series about people who have left Christian Science for a new spiritual path. Find other related posts under the tag ‘other spiritual paths’.
Like so many Christian Scientists, I was born into the religion. Both my mother and my grandmother were adherents. In fact, my grandmother had a woman named Mrs. Eddy (not the famous one) tell her about it when her family lived in a small factory town in the Midwest. But, my father was not a Christian Scientist. I am told by my uncle that before my father met my mother, he was considering becoming a preacher; but, preachers don’t marry non-Christians. So, I guess he discarded that idea somewhere along the line.
My brother Frank and I were expected to attend Sunday School at the local Christian Science church while we were in grade school age. After that, we were allowed to select which parent we wanted to accompany to church on Sundays. My brother choose my dad and the Methodist church and I choose my mom and the Christian Science church.
My mother and I were very close for pretty much my whole life. One way that I could really please her was to be active in the church. I was definitely the youngest member when I joined our branch church at age 12. It thrilled my mother that I was on the publication committee, the nursery committee, and the usher committee. What a role model for other kids in my church! I saw how all of this activity brought us closer. So, I moved ahead and got more immersed in the culture. I took Christian Science Class Instruction at 20 years-old; I worked at the Mother Church the summer I turned 21; and finally, I went to Principia College for my final year of college.
Another reason Christian Science was attractive to me was the sense of community that I had while in groups of Christian Scientists, which I didn’t experience anywhere else; and especially at Principia, I was among people who understood my beliefs and thought they were valid. Having Christian Science in common certainly seemed to enable me to make friendships quickly.
But, despite all of these good feelings, I did leave Science. It happened soon after my mother remarried following the death of my father when I was 19. I felt betrayed since I was no longer her special confidante. Around that same time, I saw a girl from my Sunday School die. She died choking to death on her parents’ living room floor. The diagnosis was tonsillitis. That really made me think a lot about healing, Mary Baker Eddy, and all the rest.
I never heard any amazing testimonies of healing on Wednesday nights at church. Even when I took Class Instruction, I could not seem to make Christian Science ‘work’. Throughout the two weeks, I was very sick with a bad cold, laryngitis, and high temperatures. I was not able to heal what most people would say was a very mild illness. Why didn’t it work if I had done all the right things, thought all the right things, and tried to change my thinking all the time when ‘error’ tried to fill my thoughts?
Finally, I ended up taking off to California to find another way of life. There, I occasionally tried orthodox churches and then did without church for quite a while. I always steered clear of the Christian Science ones. A gay friend in my new college started to witness to me about Christ. Talk about ironic, but he was sincere. He kept on about it, and he told me to try a Bible-believing church just once.
On a lonely Sunday morning, I sat outside Hollywood Presbyterian Church and watched the people who entered the church. The next Sunday, I did the same. The third Sunday, I went in and listened to the sermon. Within three more weeks, I was hooked. Reading the book of John in the Bible explained so much to me. I didn’t need Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures to interpret things of God anymore. I had found the truth!
To summarize, I don’t know if I ever ‘believed’ in Christian Science. I think God was preparing me all along to be dissatisfied, uncomfortable, and skeptical until I finally read the Bible and saw what He really said. God wanted to present the truth to me about who He really was and how I could join His real kingdom forever.
This is the first 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.
My parents met at a Christian Science nursing home, during nurses training. My mom dropped out a few days before graduation, but my dad graduated and went on to become a Christian Science nurse. Christian Science nurses basically clean up after people. They know how to bleach a bathtub. They know how to feed people and love to give ice cream to patients who are in their long term care. They know how to shower people, how to change sheets, how to fold sheets and put them in the closet with no seams showing, how to make beds even if a person is still in the bed. They know how to put on band-aids. Christian Science nurses do very basic, practical care. They can also wash a wound and bandage it; sometimes with clever solutions to hiding things no one wants to have to see.
When I was an infant, I came down with a cold that wouldn’t go away. By that point, my biological mom had left Christian Science (more than a decade later, my dad told me, “she never really understood Christian Science, that’s why she left”), and she begged my dad to take me to a doctor. So they took me to a doctor. This person operated out of what was basically a two-story townhouse. He had one medical nurse, and he said, “she has pneumonia; I can’t do anything for her, and she will be lucky if she survives for a week.” He basically said I was going to die. The doctor put me on a bed in a room there and left me there alone. My dad called a Christian Science practitioner. An hour later, the medical nurse came to feed me, and I was completely healed, somehow. I was told my whole life that “if it wasn’t for Christian Science, you would be dead.” After all, a doctor had medically diagnosed me with pneumonia and given me a death sentence, and I was still alive. I am just now realizing what a fighting spirit I have. I remember choking on a pit when I was a little baby who could sit up but not crawl yet. I remember it. I swallowed the pit and blacked out. I remember praying in the only way a baby can: “I don’t want to die and make these people [my parents] sad.” And then I woke up, and the pit had gone down my throat. I am willing to bet that I heard the doctor give me 1 week to live and my fighting spirit said, “No! I will NOT die!” And I fought. I am only guessing that this must be what happened. Or perhaps it was a wrong diagnosis. Who knows. I have no one I can ask about this.
My parents divorced when I was a toddler. When I was maybe six years-old, I spent a weekend at my mom’s house. I was coughing, and she gave me cherry cough syrup. It’s the only time in my life I have ever had that. It was such an exciting thing to be able to have cough syrup! All of my friends knew about it and got to use it, but it was forbidden in my Christian Science home with my dad. My dad, being a Christian Science nurse, would give me non medicinal remedies, though. He would give me honey mixed with lemon who I was coughing. I always liked that. It tasted good!
My dad married my step-mom before I turned 10. My step-mom was a much more radical Christian Scientist than my dad was. My step-mom’s mother was a Journal-listed Christian Science practitioner. One time I was coughing, and I went to the fridge to mix up some honey and lemon juice for myself. My step-mom caught me and immediately put an end to that practice. I wasn’t able to do that unless I was ‘sneaking’ it (both of my parents were home all the time, so it was hard to sneak it, and that was frustrating). She put a stop to a lot of the things my dad used to do with me and for me. I knew honey and lemon juice didn’t have medicine in it, and I couldn’t understand her strong standpoint about such a small issue.
Over the years, my dad tended to cuts and things I had. One time, I got a ring stuck on my finger, and my dad calmly cut it off my finger. I was always grateful he could keep a cool head about him and tend to my needs.
One of my dad’s favorite Mary Baker Eddy quotes was, “The time for thinkers has come.” I think it’s on page one in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Another thing he loved to say was, “what are the first four words of the Bible? … In the beginning God.” He was always reminding me to “go back to God.” Basically, “start with God at the beginning of everything.” I loved both of these phrases of his. To me, those words were synonymous with my dad. I also remember asking my dad many times about “that quote with the bones and blood.” My dad would cheerfully tell me the quote any time I asked – I loved that he had it memorized and could call it up any time I asked. I loved this quote so much.
“Question. — What is man?
Answer. — Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements.”
– Science and Health, p. 475: 5
I don’t know if it’s my dad who instilled being a rebel in me (believe me, he was incredibly rebellious; he was a creative type who loved inventions), or if it was Christian Science. But I got the memo loud and clear, “we’re not like other people! Be yourself! Be different! Rebel against the world!” I loved every moment of being the outsider, except when I didn’t, as in: I never had any friends.
My dad loved to do magic tricks, and said, “good magicians do it to entertain; bad magicians do it to deceive people. We don’t think in Christian Science that it’s good to deceive people, so we’re not supposed to do magic. But I don’t do it to deceive people.” And he would show me magic tricks. If you’re into magic at all, he loved to do ‘The French Drop’. He did it all the time. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZ0C2wh5IyE ) He also loved to talk about card tricks and cards in general, but he never did any card tricks. He said “card games are mostly luck, and Christian Scientists don’t believe in luck.” So I was never allowed to play with cards while growing up. My dad would show me magic tricks and make me guess how they were done. Most of the time, I was able to guess several different solutions for how they were done. Sometimes I got the solutions correct. He would always tell me how it was done. He had no intention to deceive me, and he wanted that to be clear.
Growing up in the Christian Science Sunday School, I was the snobby kid who knew all the answers. I remember sitting in Sunday School with all of my classmates over the years, and champing at the bit because no one else would answer questions. “Are sin, disease and death real?” My brain would yell, “NO!”, but my classmates would sit there. I loved being a ‘know it all’. I basically knew that the opposite of the apparent ‘right’ answer was actually the correct answer. So Sunday School, for me, was an ‘opposites game’. You just said the opposite of whatever it was, and it was correct. I thought this was great fun. I never understood why my Christian Science Sunday School classmates didn’t like Sunday School. I loved the weekly topic they all hated the most: ‘Ancient and Modern Necromancy alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism Denounced’. I thought it was fun to look up the words and denounce each one of these big words. That was super fun, too. Who of the kids at school knew what these words meant, besides the obvious one, hypnotism?
My dad loved to tell me the story, “one time, there was a hypnotist on stage, trying to hypnotize people, and failing completely.” I could never remember if my dad was there in the audience, or if someone had told him, like a story that someone knew who knew someone else who knew someone else who was there kind of thing. “Finally, the hypnotist said, ‘will the Christian Scientist please leave the room?’” And the man (was it my dad? Was it someone else?) left, and the hypnotist was finally able to hypnotize the person. I loved that story. Being a rebellious type, it was awesome to think, “wow, we could keep a hypnotist from doing their job, because hypnotism isn’t real! That is SO COOL!”
My step-mom, being more radical in Christian Science than my dad, pushed ‘Gratitude Lists’ on me and later on my siblings. Christian Science children who grew up in the 1970s may remember the cassette tape, Good for Us. There is a story in it about a girl who is healed of being sick by writing a list of things she is grateful for. I thought of this girl every single time I was sent to my room to write up a list of ‘Gratefuls’. Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew that at some point in my life, I would try to come up with a list of 100 ‘Gratefuls’. I finally did this too, after my dad died. But that’s a story for a future post. Every night, I had to come up with three things I was grateful for, in addition to my family and my ‘good day’. It was ritualistic, and after a while, it was too easy to do without much thought.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
This is said like a mantra in the Christian Science faith. It is taken literally. This I believe, is the source of so much of the problems in Christian Science. First off, anyone can look at themselves and see what they perceive as imperfections. Then begins the prayer to remove the problem, then begins the self-loathing when the ‘imperfection’ is still there. Also, church members love to point out who is imperfect and in what way. This is the epitome of judgement, and is the opposite of loving. Can you imagine walking around your whole life, and have only your imperfections pointed out, no matter how small, and told “this is what love looks like,” and encouragement and kind words are too rare? This is the world I grew up in.
“When you’re busy judging, you’re not busy loving.” – I saw this on a church billboard one time. It has stuck with me ever since.
There is a Christian Science book for kids called Filled Up Full. This book talks about a rabbit that can only think rabbit thoughts, a kitten that can only think kitten thoughts, and a child that can only think good thoughts from God. Any thought that enters your head “that is not a good thought from God,” is not your thought. It is a way to learn to deny any negativity that is in your thinking. It feels like a wonderful way to deny our humanity, to deny any negative emotion or feeling that “is not a good thought from God.” It helps you learn to emote only love, gratitude, joy. And, after a while, it becomes exhausting to only ooze good and have no outlet for frustration, anger, grief, or sadness. Perhaps this is why so much of what church members ooze is judgement; lots of judgement. If they aren’t judging other church members, they certainly judge themselves. I remember hearing my Christian Science practitioner-grandmother in the kitchen calling herself horrible names when she messed up something minor in the kitchen. I was shocked. This woman was the most kind and loving woman I’d ever known. But she treated herself so horribly. I couldn’t believe her unkindness to her own amazing self for something so minor. It made me very sad.
I distinctly remember being asked a question in Sunday School, to which I gave some amazing answer. And my Sunday School teacher looked at me and said, “that’s exactly what a practitioner would say!” I remember the look of awe on his face. I sat there, feeling very proud, and knew that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up, and that I would be good at it. My bio-mom’s grandmother was a Christian Science practitioner. My dad’s parents were Christian Scientists. My dad’s mom had converted from being a Methodist to Christian Science. My step-mom’s parents were Christian Scientists, and my step-mom’s mother had been a Christian Science practitioner and so was her dad (as in: my step-mom’s grandfather was a practitioner too). I grew up with two grandmothers who were practitioners, both of whom lived until I was beyond age 20. I grew up thinking, “when I grow up, that’s the ultimate thing to be–a Christian Science practitioner!”
Chrystal is the pseudonym for one of our Ex Christian Scientist bloggers. She was born into Christian Science and had a lifelong dream of one day being a Christian Science practitioner, which she achieved. In ‘the practice’, all she found was ‘Crosses’ and no ‘Crowns’. Chrystal finally found a sense of peace when she turned her back on Christian Science and walked away. Her family is still in the religion, and she uses the pseudonym to protect their anonymity.
By Chrystal, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. Chrystal is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.
I remember being called in to my parents room, I might have been in third or fourth grade. I was told, “it’s time we teach you how to pray.”
My parents had me get a sheet of loose leaf paper and a pencil. They had me fold the paper in half, vertically, and list all of my faults on the left hand side. I remember the first one: “Lazy.” This was a word they had to explain to me. I only knew “lazy” as something my eye was. I didn’t know that people could be called “lazy.” They told me it meant I just lounged around all day and didn’t anything to help around the house. And I needed to change this about my personality. They told me to write “lazy” on the left side column. And then to write “diligent” on the right hand side. This is, apparently, the opposite of “lazy.”
They had me write at the top of the left hand column: “I am not:” And at the top of the right hand column, “I am:”
Then list my faults down the left hand column. I think there were approximately 11 faults I had down the left hand column. And 11 antonymns of things I should work on (heal the bad to become the good) on the right hand side. All I remember is “lazy.” So, as I read this, I would read: “I am not lazy, I am diligent.” “I am not mean, I am nice.” “I am not ugly, I am pretty.” “I am not a liar, I am truthful.” etc. I was supposed to pray with this prayer list every day.
My parents sat on their bed, and I knelt down at the base of the bed, on my knees, using their bed as my desk. Yes, I was literally kneeling in front of them as they told me my faults.
I remember diligently “praying” with this prayer list for days, maybe weeks. Probably a few months or years later, when I pulled out my old list that was quite worn from daily use, I would just pull it out and stare at that first word and pretend to pray with this list, as I let my imagination wander. I am certain this is why I don’t remember more of it. I do remember there were now far more things to deny on the left hand side that had been added in over the years with various pencils, pens, markers…. And, still, “lazy” was right there, at the top of the list for me to deny every single day. I wonder, at what point that becomes “healed” and it can be removed from a prayer list?
By Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
Christian Scientists have a lack of humanity, sympathy, empathy—whatever you want to call it—in the face of death. It’s downright weird. My mother’s explanation to me about my Grandpa’s death when I was just a little girl was, “Oh, he could be down the street, or he could be upstairs.” I could never figure it out, whether he had become invisible to me or what.
I had a grandmother who was of a sort of Mennonite religion. She had lost a little boy when he was six. She would tell me how he died, and how he went to heaven, and how she wasn’t worried because she knew she would join him some day, and she would rejoice when she did. I very much preferred Grandma’s story because I couldn’t figure out why my Grandpa would just be ‘down the street’ and wouldn’t come see me.
Later on my aunt died and I went to her funeral. My mother actually went with me, which was unusual. They had a sermon which included statements about how we should be glad because she would be seeing her husband and other loved ones. My mother left the funeral and said, “that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. She will NEVER see her husband again because she let him die.”
My mother also once told me that it was our fault that my father died because we let him out of our ‘experience.’ My passive father had waited for my mother’s permission to seek treatment for his throat cancer, but by then it was too late. She said that my father had just gone on and he didn’t know he had died and he still had all of us, but we had let him go.
When my mother’s mother died, I was eight years old. I was never told that she died. I was told that a package was to be delivered and I was just to sign for it and put it on the kitchen table. It was my grandmother’s ashes. My mother acted as if nothing had happened.
My mother was a class-taught Christian Scientist by a teacher who was taught by a student of Mary Baker Eddy’s. My mother spent countless hours with that teacher between her Association meetings. She wrote many, many letters to the teacher, received many back. She non-stop studied, talked, researched all Mrs. Eddy’s writings. Certainly during all these visits and during her class or Association meetings, the subject of death—or non-death, I should say—came up. She was taught this malarkey somewhere.
The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about growing up in Christian Science.
It was very difficult to explain my religion’s beliefs to my friends. I was always trying to make it sound like a more ‘normal’ religion, in fact writing “United Church” on a form once because I was embarrassed to write Christian Science. I so wanted to be like everyone else. I didn’t want my friends to know that there was no minister at our church, that there were two people on a podium and one read from a book of garbled language I couldn’t understand and finally, it was mortifying to explain that I had to go to Sunday School instead of the church service until I was twenty!
When I was growing up, we definitely had pictures of Mary Baker Eddy around our house. My parents gave me a framed portrait to keep on my bedside table, in fact. I was pretty much a believer throughout my entire childhood. Then I went through the ‘it works, it’s just not for me’ phase. I think I was in my late twenties when I finally realized how much I had been misled. It’s hard to know better when everyone around you, particularly your loved ones, are fervent believers.
When we would come home from school and announce fearfully that measles or something else was going around, my mother would say firmly, “Contagion is all in the mind!” and send us back to school. I would brag to the other students that my siblings and I never got sick because sickness was all in the mind. Then I got chicken pox. I had no idea what was happening to me and of course my mother wouldn’t have had any medical education to help with that. I remember lying alone and sick in my room staring at every inch of my skin. Where was the chicken that I was sure would be sticking to me?
I did everything I could to hide the fact that I was a Christian Scientist. Even my closest friends didn’t know. It was embarrassing. It made me different in ways I didn’t want to be different. Sunday School was an hour of torturous boredom, and often my parents had to fight with me to get me ready in time to go, and when I was a little kid, I couldn’t stand the little old ladies who always wanted to pinch my cheeks. Ugh! I hated that! That is why to this day, I am always extremely respectful of peoples’ personal space–especially children.
By Marie. ‘Marie’ is a pseudonym. This was originally published on Emerging Gently, and it is shared here with permission.
My mom sent me back to school too soon after having chicken pox. I had come down with it during a Girl Scouts camping weekend in fourth grade. It was right after my parents separated and she was working days for the first time, so the first week of school that I was sick I had been home alone. This was highly atypical for my upbringing and in hindsight I believe she had kept this a secret from my father’s side of the family, who knew I had chicken pox but whom she did not want to ask for help from, and this created her internal stress to get me back to school.
The following Monday morning, I still had open sores all over me, but my cold symptoms had lessened and my mother had been making noise all Sunday, in Christian Science platitudes, that I was ready to go back to school the next day–I had made my demonstration and that sort of thing. I kept pleading with her that NO ONE came back in one week, you were *supposed* to stay out for two weeks when you had the chicken pox; it was not a race, there was a rule. But I was sent on my way, to walk to school alone.
I was filled with dread. I was a pariah at school because of Christian Science. I was not a cool kid to begin with; too fat, too bookish, too sincere. I did not wear my ‘cult status’ (heh, heh) well. The arrangement in the mornings was that the entire student body waited in a crowd outside the doors until the arranged time and then the doors were unlocked and we proceeded into our classrooms. It was a small school district where we all walked to and from school, even at our lunch break.
As I approached the already large crowd of students, the first few took notice of me and a murmur, then a larger thrill of reaction sped through the student body. There were no adults present. They simultaneously turned to face me as a group and backed away from me as a group, into the brick corner of the building behind them, protectively. Dozens of voices cried out, “You’re not supposed to be here! You’re sick; what are you, stupid? She’s a Christian Scientist, she doesn’t know she’s not supposed to come here with chicken pox, she’s gonna get us all sick! Get away from us! Get away from here! Go home, Christian Scientist!”
I stopped, paces away from them, in the middle of the playground, hysterical with tears, pleading with them, “I know! I told my mom!” over and over again. They would not hear me. A teacher came to open the doors and saw the scene. She waved the children inside and hustled over to me to ask, “What on earth are you DOING here? It’s only been a week! You’re still sick!” I sobbed, “I KNOW! She told me to come back!” With veiled disgust and efficiency she whisked me into the nurse’s office who quickly confirmed with the first temperature check of my life that I was still contagious, gave me a note stating I was not to return until the following Monday, and sent me on the walk home.
I marched home filled with deep fury at my mother, hyperventilating with sobs over what I had been put through. She was surprised to see me stomp through the door and slam the note down in front of her. She asked some sort of question I can’t remember, but my answer was, “No! All the students were afraid of me and yelled at me to get away, and the teachers said I shouldn’t be there and the nurse said not to come back until next Monday. Just like I TOLD you.”
I crawled into my bed and fell into an exhausted sleep, which is where I should have been in the first place, hiccuping with tears as I slowly calmed down. As I drifted off, my last awareness was my mother’s presence at my bedside, stroking my hair. “I’m sorry, honey.”
By Stacey, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
My family was introduced to Christian Science when my mom’s uncle was in the hospital and was not expected to live—I’m not sure from what. Someone said they should try Christian Science. He got better and lived a long life. There were about twelve siblings in the family and there may only be one or two of the descendants that are still Christian Scientists. One of them is my mom.
The statistics show that approximately 1/3 of each generation stays in Christian Science. Looking at my family, and many of my Principia friends and their children, it is more like 1/4 or less that have stayed in the religion. Thank goodness, because it is difficult to deal with Christian Scientist relatives since you aren’t able to reason with them! On a related note, my mom didn’t allow my father’s brother and sister who were not Christian Scientists to come visit him while he was ill. They never got to see him again and say good-bye to him. To me, that is so cruel.
My mother is still waiting for my sister and me and all our children to come back to church. She thinks we will come to our senses eventually. I’d like to tell her we came to our senses when we left Christian Science. When I finally told my mom what I really thought about Christian Science, she was deeply hurt and upset by my rejection of my religious upbringing. She still tries to tell me about all our wonderful ‘healings’.
Our parents might not feel that it’s better for them to know how we feel, but it is definitively better for us. It’s not good for us to have to pretend that Christian Science is ‘the truth’ around them. It is healing to finally say what is really true in this human existence. In the end, being honest and seeking physical and mental help is a much better alternative to ‘CS BS’.
By Sharon, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
I can remember the most awful uncomfortable periods of silence at the Wednesday evening testimony meetings, with the first reader standing up there with THE SMILE and no one saying anything. I was just a kid, and I would think “would someone get up already!”
Once, I picked a scab in church and let the blood run down my leg. You should have seen my mother get me out of there. I let it run down my leg and then I sort of poked her and pointed at it. She was positively apoplectic. She hissed, “Get yourself out in the car right now and don’t talk to anyone!!” I can just see her with her teeth gritted and the Kleenex out wiping my leg off—I must have been somewhere around ten years old.
Now that I look back at it, it is pretty hysterical. If I would have known I could have gotten out of that horrible church service so easy I probably would have picked a scab long before that.
My husband thinks I am nuts. I was trying to explain to him why this is funny. Try that with someone who knows nothing about Christian Science. I said, “Well, see, you are not supposed to acknowledge that you have any blood,” and he just sat there looking at me with this blank look.
My Christian Scientist grandmother raised me, and was the mother role in my life, and she used to say, “It’s ok to be sympathetic , but don’t ever take it down to the level of compassion. Compassion means getting right in there with the Error and believing it.” YES!!! She said this many times.
She was a big animal lover—as am I. I’m not knocking that—but the point I want to make is that she said she had too much emotion about her pets and therefore she couldn’t attempt to use Christian Science on them. So the pets always had any veterinary attention they needed.
She would say, “I’ve tried, and am not able to know the truth for my animals; there is too much emotion in the way.” It’s funny—sort of—that that was never a problem with keeping human children away from the medical world. Emotion didn’t ‘get in the way’ on that one. I feel bad being so critical of her, but these are true rememberings.
When I think how our poor cat suffered, let alone the humans in my life, I tremble. As a child, deep down I knew it was not right for the cat to suffer but was powerless to do anything. I came home from school one day and our cat had disappeared. Its death was not acknowledged.