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.
I had severe untreated burns on the top of my foot when I was nine. My cousin spilled a pan of boiling hot jelly right on my foot. I got no help at all with it—no antibacterial cream, bandaging, nothing. I was told to just ignore it and ‘know that you cannot be burned.’
I was sent to school with socks on. The blisters broke and drained all over, and the teacher tried to dress it and put something on it. I, of course, refused to allow anything to be put on it. Because it was never treated in any way, it got horribly infected and was all full of pus and rot, and was extremely painful to the point that I couldn’t put any weight on it.
The incident I remember most clearly from that time is my mother going shopping and bringing me along, and I was hopping on one foot behind her and she was oblivious to my pain. The only attention my mother gave me with that or any illness was to tell me to ‘straighten out my thinking,’ or at best she would call the practitioner.
I am extremely lucky I didn’t get blood poisoning because I was only nine and I didn’t even know to try and keep it clean. When I had my own children, I just could not figure out how a mother could treat her child that way.
By Elizabeth, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
“What would you do if you broke your leg?” The question every Christian Scientist kid has had to answer numerous times. My Sunday School teachers and my family gave me the script for it: “Well, I’ve never had that happen, but if we ever had a problem we couldn’t address with prayer, then we would go to the hospital.” The Christian Science brand of denial is enormously powerful; I was still giving this speech when I was eighteen years old and had never had a menstrual period or completed puberty, and had never been taken to a doctor for a diagnosis.
I was told that, “whatever is going on, we know” that I was “born perfect.” Every year at my birthday, there would be some Christian Scientist relative mumbling about “oh, well, dear, you know your mother didn’t get it ’til she was fourteen,” and then the next year, “the neighbor’s granddaughter didn’t get it ’til she was fifteen,” and then, “well, my friend knew someone who didn’t get it ’til she was sixteen.” I was sent to Principia Upper School when I was fifteen, which was a neat way to end the debate, as medical intervention was not allowed there. Then there were just the school breaks to negotiate; I never knew when a shame bomb would be dropped. At a holiday, chatting in groups in the living room after a family dinner, a relative would question me about my period and give some Christianly Scientific advice.
The theology I was held to account to was grindingly inconsistent, although having been raised in it I was rarely able to detect this fact, only able to feel the emotional upset and frustration caused by it. One grandmother made frequent oblique departures from Christian Science doctrine to hypothesize about how perhaps I’d never gotten my period because I was overweight. Once in a while my dad would ask if I wanted him to “do some work” for me, which always led me to uncontrollably wonder how long it had been since the last time he’d offered, and at what point that previous round of “work” had just dropped from his consciousness, the state of denial resumed. My internal state was that of private torment and prayer.
I was very occasionally told that, “It’s your choice if you want to go to a doctor,” regarding my ‘problem’—mostly after I was eighteen and I was expected to take care of myself—but it didn’t feel as though that was an option, really. It took me years away from the Christian Science church before I found going to a doctor comprehensible, and still, then, it was terrifying. I finally went to a doctor on my own when I was 25 and found out that I was born without ovaries. An “infantile uterus” seen on the ultrasound, the fallopian tubes just trailing off, two different lengths.
This is not a Christian Science tragedy. No one lost their child or their limb or the last thirty years of their life. But it’s ridiculous, is what it is. This is what’s ridiculous about Christian Science: for thirteen years, from about age twelve to twenty-five, I waited and prayed for my period to start. I waited and prayed for puberty to finish. I wondered if I was going to be able to have children. And I was sometimes made to feel that I was not doing enough, was not deserving enough, was not diligent enough in my studies or something, for my body to ovulate, when in fact there were no ovaries in my body.
If my parents had taken me to a gynecologist around the age of thirteen, or maybe fifteen, which is about the latest I think a non-Christian Scientist family would have waited under the circumstances, we would have been given the diagnosis: ovarian agenesis with accompanying primary amenorrhea; infertility. We would have been told that I had not been “born perfect.” I would have appreciated having that information very much. Because ages 12-25 were no goddamn picnic for me, I have to tell you.
Everything about my sexuality was frozen in early adolescence. Puberty seemed to have begun around age ten, and then ground to a strange halt. The more time passed, the more the dynamic became that of my adult woman’s body not belonging to me, for it stubbornly refused to develop. Instead it belonged to God, or Christian Science, perhaps. My developed body and adult sexuality would be released into my possession only if I was pure enough. It could be obtained by studying those two leather-bound books marked with blue chalk each week. I genuinely do not think my parents realized how messed up it is to put a teenager in this position.
As a decade passed, and I grew up without growing up hormonally, or entirely physically, this sense of my sexuality being on hold and not belonging to me became conflated with my perceptions of dating and relationships and the fact of my lesbianism. I find it very hard to put into words what it was like to be a gay Christian Scientist. There weren’t any words, for as long as I was a Christian Scientist. No one told me that I had to be this way instead of that way, or defined morality as exclusive to heterosexuality. I understand that must sound like a positive, but it might have possibly been more helpful than the complete silence, because I would at least have had a definition; something to react against is at least something.
Until I was able to break through the denial system of Christian Science and go in search of my diagnosis, I felt that nothing of the world of adult sexuality was meant for me—not dating, not intimacy, not being straight, not being gay, and of course not being a woman with boobs and a period. I remained almost completely divorced from my own sexuality and very out of touch with my own body until I began my relationship with my wife-to-be, within a few months of that first doctor’s appointment. We have been together for sixteen years now, and our union has led both of us steadily away from dysfunction in our relationships and in our lives, and me away from Christian Science.
The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Scientist collective about menstruation.
My mother did not tell me about menstruation. She seemed incredibly embarrassed by the whole thing, which could have just been generational. The thing was, they did teach the girls about menstruation in public school. They taught them all about the body, but they taught it in health class AND I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEND.
One day, I was playing with a girlfriend from school when she started talking about periods. I couldn’t believe that what she was telling me was true; it was too shocking to be believable and I said she was lying. I suddenly found myself being dragged by the arm into my parents’ bathroom, where she opened the cupboard under the sink and pulled out a big blue box of Kotex pads. In those days, there was nothing on the box to illustrate the connection between the thick white pad and its use, but I had to agree that it might be possible. Soon other girls’ stories at school caught my ear, and after somehow finding and reading a health pamphlet, I had to admit it was true.
There was no way I could ask my mother about it. Some girls told horror stories, things like waking up at a sleepover drenched in blood. By this point, I was terrified and started to pray to know the Truth that I was God’s perfect child and no harm could come to me. I decided that a period was Error and I could beat it through prayerful work, so I prayed desperately night and day for me to escape this fate. Big thanks to Mum and Mary Baker Eddy for causing me years of teenage fear and distress on this one.
I suffered through hundreds of hours of menstrual cramps throughout my life. I can’t count the days of school and work that I missed due to extreme pain. When I was teaching at a school where all the staff were Christian Scientists, I went to the Assistant Headmistress to tell her I needed to go home since I was in pain. She told me that the best way to get rid of cramps was to have a baby. Lordy, Lordy, Lordy! I was stunned when I made the eventual discovery that taking medication gave me immediate relief.
When the subject of her children no longer following Christian Science comes up, my mother tells the story of my wonderful healing of cramps after calling the practitioner. Of course, the ‘healing’ came hours later, and only lasted for a few weeks before returning….
By Jeremy, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
None of us who grew up in loving homes with parents who cared deeply about us ever wants to admit that perhaps our parents didn’t do everything right, and perhaps, just perhaps, they neglected their duty to properly care for us in some very terrible ways, even if they had no malicious intent, and genuinely thought they were doing the best for us. Such is the case with me as I recall some of my early brushes with childhood illness.
I remember two instances when I was in first, and then second grades, where I suffered at length from a painful, hacking cough, and I was home sick from school for around a week or two each time. Since my parents were Christian Scientists, I was not taken to the doctor, so I was never diagnosed, although I now suspect it was either bronchitis, pneumonia, or most likely pertussis. No relief other than prayer, hot lemonade, and the singing of Christian Science hymns was offered. Fortunately, I recovered. In later years, my dad confided to me that he and Mom had been concerned enough about my condition to seriously consider taking me to a doctor. In retrospect, I wish they had. I may not have suffered as I did, as simple antibiotics may have cleared things up quickly.
I also recall several bouts with excruciatingly painful earaches between the ages of approximately six until around ten years of age. I was never taken to a doctor, where the pain could have been quickly abated and the infection properly treated with antibiotics. No, I was made to listen to a Christian Science practitioner, who tried to assure me that as ‘God’s perfect child’, the earache was an unreal ‘illusion’, or some such esoteric Christian Science crap.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have survived my childhood with, as far as I can tell, few if any lasting physical effects directly attributable to lack of proper medical care. While the devout Christian Scientist would say I was ‘protected’, I think I was just the beneficiary of dumb luck.
About a year ago, I related these childhood experiences to a friend of mine who is a retired trauma counselor. She is a survivor of childhood abuse, and is also a cancer survivor. When I told her that I had never seen a doctor as a child, even for these conditions, she was shocked. She bluntly told me, “You were neglected.” I had to let that sink in for a while. While I realized my parents had no malicious intent, and my friend emphasized that, the glaring fact was that they neglected to give me the physical care I needed at the time. Most of us who grew up in Christian Science were neglected in exactly the same way. We’re all survivors, and in some cases, damn lucky to still be alive.
By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
I had pulled a muscle playing some kind of chasing game that was popular in my school one year. Because of Christian Science, I could not ask my mother for help or advice, and because I didn’t want to miss out on the game, as for once I was included in something the other kids liked and was enjoying not feeling like a total outsider, I kept playing it every day until I could barely walk normally. Every lunch time, I would race around and for a bit the pain would go, although I was a lot slower. I assumed the reason it came back worse each afternoon was due to my thinking.
One weekend, I was walking in to the village with my mother, literally hobbling behind, when she turned and started berating me for all the usual Christian Science BS. I got a bit annoyed myself, as it really did hurt very badly. I think I kind of thought this chasing game was God’s answer to how lonely I had always been at school, so I was really struggling with the injustice of having this ‘Error-fuelled’ injury that was stopping me from playing it. I really couldn’t understand it.
A few years prior to that, I had complained that when we moved to that area I had never fit in once with the kids and was lonely. “Well you know what to do about that don’t you?” I was told roughly, and that was that. And now this physical injury, which felt related to the earlier hurt. My mother snapped back at me something about how if it was that bad that I had let it get to the point that I couldn’t even walk, then maybe I would have to go and see ‘the Doc.’ The way she said ‘the Doc’ was just infuriatingly dismissive. Like the only alternative to Christian Science was bloodletting or something similar. I hobbled along behind her in mute silence, fuming, partly at her indifference and partly at her useless non-suggestion that I see a doctor.
Relief eventually came when a PE teacher saw me virtually crawling onto a basketball court, asked me why, then patiently explained that you need to rest muscle injuries. I believe he thought I was an overzealous athlete! I followed his advice and was better in a couple of days.
By Paul, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.
My mother died a long, drawn out death from skin cancer that was also very unnecessary because a routine visit to the dermatologist could have prevented the whole thing. It’s so senseless. After she passed I had a rather cloying conversation with her practitioner (she called me), and the practitioner went out of her way to assure me that at no point did my mother suffer any pain whatsoever. Of course I don’t believe her, and I didn’t then; but the only thing that has been of any help at all, and not much, is that my mother was able to make her exit on her own terms and in accordance with her faith. She was a true believer and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, even if it would have spared her life and she would still be here.
Every now and again after my mother’s horrendous demise, my dad would ask if I wanted to go to church with him, just sort of tossing it out there as if that’s really what I’d been waiting for all along to get right with the world. He finally gave up on that and would lob some Christian Science-isms at me from time to time like he would like to see me “make a better demonstration of supply.” It really annoyed me, not that I guess I rated as a pauper, but that he knew good and well that no one in their right mind goes around talking in code like that, so it seemed a means to try to keep manipulating things back around to Christian Science. My general response, usually after suppressing a chortle, would be simply to tell him that I didn’t know anything about that and I hadn’t for a long time now.
The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about Church and Sunday School.
Do you remember at Wednesday evening testimony meetings when people would ramble on, how the first reader would lean into the microphone and say, ‘please bring your testimony to its healing conclusion.’