This post is a contribution by Chrystal C.
Every Sunday School hour ended with a repetition of “The Scientific Statement of Being” by The Sunday School Superintendent. (Somehow, giving all these things a capital letter made them extra important to the impressionable child that was me as a little girl.)
Question: What is the scientific statement of being?
Answer: There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.
– “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, page 468.
Christian Science says “if it’s not good, it’s not from God, therefore it’s not real.” So – everything – I mean that – EVERYTHING – has to be examined and decided upon whether it’s good and thus from God, or bad and thus from nothing. “It started from nothing and it will go back to the nothing from which it came.” That’s probably a quote from somewhere, probably Eddy, who knows. I just know I heard it a LOT.
In my case, I had an additional polarity thrown at me: my parents divorced because my mom had a long-time boyfriend. You see, my mom was a stripper at a strip club. She was the only white person there at the whole club. Her nickname was “Snowflake.” One time, a guy named “Josh” called her at the house, and my dad answered the phone. “May I please speak to Snowflake?” the caller said. My dad said, “Snowflake! You must have the wrong number, no one here by that name!” My mom quickly came in the room and said, “that’s for me.” That was the moment my dad knew with absolute certainty she was cheating on him.
My dad would have never divorced her despite so many things that nowadays we would refer to as “red flags” except for Christian Science, which said “you get married for life, and no divorce unless there has been infidelity.” Well, my mom had a long term boyfriend inside the marriage to my dad.
During the era of time when my parents divorced, women couldn’t get credit cards. Yes, that’s a very recent thing in our world that they can now get credit cards. We can most likely thank Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for this change. Women not being able to get a credit card. They got paid less, they couldn’t buy things on credit, they couldn’t build credit without a man’s name and signature on the form…. how were they supposed to get any decent paying job and get an apartment or live?
I was also in an unusual situation in that my parents made a mutual agreement that my dad would leave, but he would get me. My mom didn’t want me, she was most decidedly not ready to be a mom. I was not planned for. My parents were poor by anyone’s standards, but she wasn’t ready to take care of a child on her own.
My mom started to write bad checks and wound up in jail. My dad bailed her out the first time. I think that’s the one day I remember them being together after they had divorced. I don’t remember any other day of them being in the same room until I was in high school, come to think of it. That was the day we all split an order of fast-food-fried-chicken, while we sat in my dad’s little car.
Well, I then started making connections in my own little child brain. “There is no life in matter. All life is in God.” “Either I grow up as a Christian Scientist like my dad, or i become a stripper at a night club who drinks alcohol, and I wind up in jail. My choice.”
I am still sorting out all of these bizarre polar experiences. I am a mom with teenage boys, and I still have this whole “everything is polar!” going on in my head. I either go to a certain doctor and love that person, or I quit the whole practice because “that other person at the practice wasn’t good! How can they keep that horrible person at their wonderful practice!”
When I first left Christian Science, I was so afraid I might now be some kind of extreme heathen. “I have been shown the absolute truth of the entire universe, and now I have completely rejected it! I will burn in hell forever, and apparently I am choosing this path now because it makes more sense than the one that was absolute good!” I saw this as a very black vs. white / light vs. dark experience, and it frightened me to my core.
I took a timid step forward and said to myself, “let’s try this a little bit and if there is a God who is All Good, such a god would forgive me for trying to figure things out the best I can, using what I have in my thinking and my own experience. It’s just one step, and we will see where it goes.”
I am just starting, now, to figure out that the world is not this polar opposite place. There is so much more to life than “left vs. right,” “hot vs. cold,” “black vs. white,” “light vs. dark,” “up vs. down.” …
I am so grateful to have left Christian Science, because it’s the only way I would find out that the world is not this polar place where you can ONLY be “good” or “bad!” There are many shades of emotions, temperatures, light degrees (just ask a photographer), colors, directions (North, South, East, West, North East, South-South-West…)
I love the way this “non-polarity is an actual thing” conversation is shown in Star Trek’s “Deep Space Nine” when Lt. Commander Worf comes on board. Initially, Worf has trouble undering the Space Station, because it’s not “all good” the way the Starship Enterprise that he came from was “all good.” Worf sees things in a very polar way when he first arrives at the Space Station. Commander Benjamin Sisko and Lt Cdr Worf are having a conversation about a troublemaker on the station – a Ferengi named Quark.
Captain Sisko: Starfleet officers often have trouble learning the unofficial rules of [this] station. There’s no manual to study. You have to learn things as you go. A little different than… life on a starship.
Lt. Commander Worf: When I served aboard the Enterprise, I always knew who were my allies, and who were my enemies.
Captain Sisko: Let’s just say, DS9 has more shades of gray. And Quark definitely is a shade of… gray. He has his own set of rules, and he follows them diligently. Once you understand them, you understand Quark. I’d say that’s true for… everyone here.
[he offers Worf a glass of raktajino]
Captain Sisko: You’ll fit in, Commander. Just give it time.
I have my own path I walk now. I feel light, free, happy. I also cuss when I have big emotions about something that is important to me. Sometimes I even go so far as to stamp my feet! Imagine that! It helps get the emotions flowing in my body instead of staying stuck, and eating up my very inner light fire. (Take those last few sentences in the best possible way. Some people draw heavily with crayon to get their emotions out, some people chop wood, some people might drive really fast on the highway. I say cuss-words in the privacy of my own home when no one’s around. There are definitely worse things I could do. For now, this is where I am, and I am good with it.)
I guess this is my own shade of gray, for one of the places in my life that is full of shades of gray, shades of light. If you used to be a Christian Scientist, do you feel you were taught the world was an all-or-nothing kind of place? Looking back, do you see “shades of gray” now that were perhaps perceived as “hypocritical” at the time, or something like that? Thank you for reading.