10 Things You Probably Never Knew About MBE

By an Anonymous contributor, submitted via email.


Having just read The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science by Willa Cather and Georgine Milmine, I’ve learned so many peculiar facts and quirks about MBE I am grateful to this site’s administrators for this platform to share. The book is fascinating for anyone who ever wondered about MBE’s personal side, the context in which the ‘church’ began, and the evolution of her beliefs into a doctrine.  This brief post is only a few highlights about the woman.

1) Mary Baker Eddy’s sister had a large cradle built for her, when she was an adult in her twenties. Neighborhood boys were paid to rock Mrs. Eddy in the cradle.  She also had a swing installed. After her second marriage the cradle was moved to her new home, many townspeople recall the great migration of the cradle in a wagon.

2) MBE was a clairvoyant in her earlier days, taking on the role of a “medium” who heard spirits. She scrawled messages from the dead that spoke to her, ghosts appeared next to her bedside at night. Seances were hosted at MBE’s father’s house, and there are many first hand records of MBE’s central involvement to these events.

3) MBE did not demonstrate interest to care for her own son.   

MBE demonstrated no interest in her son as a baby or child, and limited interest when he became an adult with his own family.  MBE’s father said “Mary acts like an old Ewe that won’t own it’s lamb. She won’t have the boy near her.” Baby George was passed off between Grandma Glover, MBE’s sister, and neighbors and hired help. Eventually, George went off with a hired help when they moved westward; to his credit he did remain in contact with his mother.

4) It is reported that MBE dyed her hair and wore glasses.  Apparently the dye job was quite low quality and didn’t suit her other features and colouring. When she moved out of Boston to retire, she let her roots grow out and became naturally grey. The images that we see of her are the only licensed images she allowed out.

When MBE did live lectures in Boston to the general public she grew annoyed when people in the audience would ask her why she hadn’t healed herself of poor eye sight.  She stopped live lectures to the public.

5) Santa Claus was abolished by MBE by proclamation in 1904. Christian Scientists must not permit their children to believe in Santa. I would assume many ex-Christian Scientists are grateful their parents ignored this one.

6) Miss Mary Baker was married three times. 

  1. Her first husband, George Washington Glover, was a family neighbor who she married at 22 years old in December 1843. The couple traveled to Charleston, SC, where Glover was a stonemason, but he died in June the following year, while pregnant Mary gave birth in September. 
  2. Her second husband Dr. Daniel Patterson was a dentist and surgeon. MBE’s own father advised the Doctor not to go ahead with marrying her. He lived out his days in Maine alone, no record of divorce is mentioned.
  3. Her third husband Asa Gilbert Eddy was a student of Christian Science in Lynn, Massachusetts, they married in 1877 and he died in 1882.  

7) MBE was obsessed about malicious mesmerism. 

I missed this in Sunday School entirely, but MBE ardently believed the mental ill will of other people was harming her – notably Dr. Kennedy, a young man who practiced an early version of Christian Science with MBE in Lynn, MA.   When she had her first professional ‘break up’ of many from Richard Kennedy, she wrote riveting prose about this ‘mental assassin’ who tore apart her success with his ‘darker crimes’. As the years wore on, it wasn’t just Kennedy on the list – MBE believed she “bore in her own person the ills from which she released others” and  “she believed she herself suffered from the torturing belief she had taken away from others.”

8) Touching to heal.

Early versions of Christian Science prayer incorporated touching the patient’s head, to use a bowl of water, and to rub the patient’s head. “You lay your hands where the belief is to rub it forever out” wrote MBE in Scientific Treatise on Mortality.

9) MBE taught classes, but she never acted as a practitioner. From the very beginning she collected tuition money and taught, but never acted as a healing agent herself – only focusing on explaining the ‘Science’.  In later years as the church grew larger, this helped her stay out of additional legal trouble.

10) MBE tried to start a fire in a house where she was a live-in guest. The affidavit from the family’s son, Horace Wentowrth, describes the scene when the family returned from a local holiday and broke into MBE’s guest room (she had locked the door and left). “We found every breadth of matting slashed up through the middle, apparently with some sharp instrument. We also found the feather bed all cut out pieces.  We opened the door of a closet. On the floor was a pile of newspapers almost entirely consumed. On top of these papers was a shovelful of dead coals.” Other family members affidavit confirm the same events. This, along with many other events, were not mentioned in her authorized autobiography, which entirely skips over her mid 20’s to mid 40’s.

And a final extra fact!

The infamous ‘fall on the ice’ narrative doesn’t correlate with the doctor’s affidavit. Injuries and recovery from the infamous fall on the ice were reflected in an affidavit by the doctor who served MBE, Dr. Alvin M. Cushing. He kept a journal of all his patients incidents including MBE.  She complained of headache, was given morphine, which the Doctor reports she was very happy to take and even “gave me much credit for my ability.” MBE says she was destined for death according to medical sources. Well, Dr. Cushing wrote “I did not at any time declare, or believe, that there was no hope for Mrs. Paterson’s recovery, or that she was in a critical condition, and did not at any time say, or believe, that she had but three or any other limited number of days to live.” 

I dreamed in a red haze all night.

The following has been submitted by “Anonymous Guy in Ohio.”


In general, I was a very healthy child growing up in our Christian Science household, so many of the intricacies about CS’s distaste for modern medicine avoided my awareness.  Never had a broken bone.  No allergies.  Outside of a few severe seasonal colds, I never missed school. 

My parents skirted around CS expectations in a curious manner…I got the mandatory vaccinations for school, I went to the dentist regularly–including getting fillings when needed (?) but everything else was off the table.

I very much liked Christian Science growing up.  I remember being disappointed as a kid to find out that it was a lay ministry, meaning that leading services wasn’t a full time job.  If they would have had priests or ministers, I probably would have considered that as a career path.  

I don’t know why, but in my youth I was highly susceptible to testicle torsion.  This is essentially when your testicle twists backwards and circulation is cut off.  Very common sports injury.  Some, like me, just seem to have a predisposition for it–like some people having “bad knees”, I guess. 

 It starts off innocently enough.  A feeling like your leg is falling asleep, except it’s high up in your groin…usually I would go for a short walk, nature would take its course, it would untwist itself, and I wouldn’t think anything of it. 

Then one day shortly before my fourteenth birthday, it happened again–and this time it didn’t turn back.  This is the WORST.  Nausea sets in as the most sensitive part of the male body starts dying.  Worst pain you’ll ever feel.  If I think about it hard enough, even 25 years later, I get nauseous all over again.  

After vomiting for an hour, my mom said that I needed to “get back to God” and start praying.  (I was a mouthy 13 year old–aren’t we all?!)

Several hours later it was now 1am and I was writhing in pain as I vomited off the bedside.  The pain was too great to walk, so running to the toilet was out of the question. 

My mom decided to read “Science and Health” to me….I didn’t hear a word she said.  I told her my balls hurt.  She told me that it was part of puberty and “I didn’t know what boys my age were supposed to look like” when I told her I could feel the swelling in my scrotum.

Finally I punched the wall.  I was out of ways to process the pain.  My mom closed the book and walked out of the room, telling me to get some sleep. 

 I thought about going to the hospital myself, but at 13 years old, I would have to walk there.  In my small town, that was definitely possible, but in my condition, not practical.   

I dreamed in a red haze all night. 

For the next week, I felt part of myself die inside.  They both swelled up to the size of a tennis ball as they fought for circulation.   I was bullied in school for “walking funny”.   I’m pretty sure the Guidance office & a few teachers pulled me aside to investigate, but I was programmed not to discuss family business with them.  If only I had. 

Eventually, one testicle shriveled up and died.

That’s when I fell out of love with Christian Science.  There’s no coming back from that.

A few years later, I got an infection “down there”–this is a common thing if you’ve had this kind of trauma in the nether regions.  It was a different pain, but similar enough that I was certain the whole thing was happening again.

I already only had one testicle–was I now a Eunuch at age 16? 

I demanded to go the doctor.  My mom said, “We can’t, you need to pray, this is what you get for falling away from the Church.”

I told her I was going with or without her because I had a driving permit now, and I didn’t care if I got arrested for not having an adult in the car. If she took the keys, I would walk, because it wasn’t as bad as the last time.   Realizing that I had her, and that a minor showing up at the hospital without their parent’s consent would probably get Children’s Services involved, she relented and agreed to go with me.

My mom refused to sit in the appointment, because the Church would be disappointed.  She said she was only doing this to humor me.

The doctor was done in about 10 minutes.  “Here’s an antibiotic for the infection in your right testicle.  No, your left testicle is never going to grow back.  We’ll schedule a follow up test, but at this point it’s more dangerous to remove your testicle than to leave it.”

I told him that he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already suspect about my condition, but I would need him to tell my mom because she thought I was only here because I was having a growth spurt and lacked a working knowledge of puberty.

He agreed, brought her into the exam room.  He minced no words.  I will never forget the look on her face as he told her that I was intimately scarred for life, and there was no remedy.

“It’s okay to cry,” she told me as we got back in the car, with tears in her eyes. 

“I ran out of tears a long time ago,” I said.  ” All that’s left is anger now.” 

I was Deprived of Medical Care

Note: The Ex Christian Scientist does not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling. The views and opinions expressed by our individual contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the The Ex-Christian Scientist.


I’m happy to share! Maybe my experience, strength and hope will help someone else. I’m not exactly sure how my mother got involved with CS, I think she met a woman at her job when I was about 4 and started talking with her, and somehow she became convinced that it was true. I do recall her saying she was looking for a church that I could go to as a child but that made no sense, because there were plenty of others she could have chosen. So really it was something that I was forced to participate in from age 4 until I turned 18 and got out of there. I can’t say that I really believed it but it was just like any other unhealthy situation we grow up with, until we can do better. I was deprived of medical care, glasses, and anything else that was needed because going to the doctor or taking medicine was Animal Magnetism and Materia Medica. She had glasses though and said that’s because she hadn’t made her demonstration and wanted me to make mine. I got glasses when I was in Middle School because the school called her since I had to sit right at the blackboard to see. I had bad acne that went untreated and female problems that went ignored.

But I digress…When I was 12 I used to go to the Baptist church for youth services and knew something was different. My mother didn’t like for me to go and discouraged me so I stopped. But I always remembered how different it was. In High School I was in the choir and was around a lot of kids who also went to the Baptist church and I wanted to be like them. I started reading the Bible by itself on my own. So as soon as I got out of High School, went through I revolutionary period where I hung out with people from different religions and threw away every book and piece of literature I had from CS. I was angry and hated her and them. I think that parents who deprive their kids of medical treatment should be charged with neglect and abuse.

Finally at 23, I accepted Christ the Bible way, was baptized, and moved on with my life. I go to the doctor when I need to although I try to live healthy without the FDA. I believe that The Bible is true and there is no key to understanding outside of the Holy Spirit. Doctors are gifted men and women who help us when we are sick. I believe God heals, but it’s through His Word and not some method that a delusional woman made up. My mother resents me to this day for leaving CS but I don’t care. There’s a lot more I could say but it’s all in the past now. We live in the USA and can practice any religion we want, or none.

Peace and Blessings to all!

Anonymous

 

#MeToo

Please know: the following may contain triggers for many people reading.

The following post is by an Anonymous contributor.


This whole #MeToo hashtag on social media (the Movement was started by Tarana Burke) has hit home for me and for so many of my friends – male, female, trans…

Like just about every other woman I know, I have also worked in hostile work environments, been catcalled, assaulted, raped.

Please know: the following may contain triggers for many people reading.

That time I was assaulted at Principia College

I have heard so many stories of female students being assaulted, raped, treated inappropriately by staff members / faculty / professors. This is my story, with specific details left out, because even though I am anonymous, I still am not ready to share specific details with anyone.

When I was a student at Principia College, I had an attempted date rape. I had previously slept with him, but didn’t want to this time. #NoMeansNo Just because I wanted sugar in my tea last time doesn’t mean I want sugar in my tea this time.

He came to my room and was quite insistent. I had been asleep in my bed. At Principia, it was against the rules to lock your doors, therefore doors didn’t even have locks! So, I couldn’t lock him out of my room, even though I was trying to sleep and didn’t want visitors.

He got in to my bed, and I was pinned against the wall. I told him “no” so many times. He kept coming at me, with a smile on his face. I pushed him away. This person is much larger than I am, and I was genuinely getting afraid. I kept pushing him, telling him, “no” and he kept thinking I didn’t mean it, and that he could convince me if he kept coming at me and smiling that smile I will never be able to forget.

He did finally leave, but I had been so scared. After I was sure he was gone, I went outside my room. Two women I knew were out in the hallway, so I told them what had happened, and I just started crying. They sat with me and just listened. I think one may have very gently hugged me. They didn’t quite know what to say, but they just sat with me and let me feel the sadness and fear. I knew these two by name, and had chatted over the years with both of them maybe once. But I was so grateful they were there when I needed someone to just be safe for me to be with and help me through this pain.

I never turned him in. I figured since we had “been together” before, I would be blamed and nothing would come of it. (This is over 20 years ago.)

A few months later, he was dating someone else. I have no idea what happened, but the administration came to me and said his most recent girlfriend had mentioned my name in relation to him.

The Dean of Students set up an appointment with me and asked me for my story. I told her. The Dean also mentioned that a few other gals on campus had been named, and they were going to interview them. I didn’t learn their names, or who they were. But there were at least 4 of us, from what I could gather. Each with our own story.

He was kicked out. Principia did the right thing by kicking him out.

More than a decade later, a sibling of mine was about to graduate from the college. I was very happy for them, and our family all went to the graduation weekend.

Guess who was back on campus. About to graduate with my sibling. Go ahead, guess.

It was him. This man.

I spent the whole weekend hiding behind pillars, and ducking. I figured out where he sat in the dining room and then carefully figured out a completely other place for me to go hide during meals in the dining room. The whole weekend should have been a happy occasion. For me: it was One Large Trigger. I had to be on high alert the entire weekend.

I told one of my parents, “look, if I suddenly disengage from our group and go hide behind a pillar or a tree or start running, just know that it’s because I saw the guy who attempted to rape me when I was a student here, and I can’t handle seeing him. By the way, he keeps trying to friend me on Facebook and I feel completely stalked by this guy in the cyber world.”

My parent’s response was completely devoid of empathy and compassion.

It was a typical Christian Science response:

“It’s been 20+ years, don’t you think he has changed by now?”

I was told to forgive the accuser.

There was no, “I’m so sorry that happened to you back then! Oh my gosh!” There was no, “Oh wow, that’s not okay that this whole weekend has to be ruined for you, Principia seriously screwed this up, didn’t they?”

I mean, nothing kind to me as a person. The comment was all about the other person. And how they had probably “changed by now.” And that I should “know the truth about the assaulter and forgive him.”

One of my other siblings walked in to the room, and heard what I was talking about with our parent. I said something specific about this person, and my sibling replied, “oh yeah, I met him today.” I don’t remember any empathetic comment about my experience. I do feel like my sibling was sad that I had to deal with it this weekend during graduation, but I don’t remember empathy about the previous attempted rape situation. Just: “I met him today.”

Our family had gotten 2 assigned seats-tickets to graduation, and had a bunch of “back of the auditorium un-assigned seats-tickets” to the graduation. I wanted to sit in the back, and stay hidden so I could just enjoy graduation and not have to be on high alert.

My family insisted I sit with the nearly front row seats for graduation, and you-know-who walked right by me after walking the stage, and sat down too close for my comfort, along with the other graduates. I acquiesced and sat up front. Again, no empathy from this parent, and my boundaries were not respected to help me feel more secure and peaceful.

If you’re a practicing Christian Scientist, you’re not allowed to have any sort of negative emotions. None: no fear, no anger, no sorrow. Nothing negative. They don’t even have the word, “anxiety” in Christian Science. If there is no word for it, it doesn’t exist.

That’s my FIRST #MeToo in a Christian Science setting.


That time I was assaulted in a Christian Science Reading Room

Note: If that story triggered you at all, I would like to caution you NOT to read this next story.

This next story – since it was someone whose name I don’t even know, and no one knows him from the Christian Science community, as far as I know, I can include details I haven’t even told my husband.


I spent a few days a week working in a Reading Room in a very busy city. Another 70 year old woman (who I will refer to as “Collins”) took care of it most of the week, and I filled in on the other days. It is and open full time with regular business hours and staffed only by one woman at a time. (Is this a good idea to you?)

This was not one of those Reading Rooms where it’s open like 1 or 2 hours per week only. This one paid the staff a salary wage, and kept it open full time with regular hours.

I will tell this story in order of the timeline, but it’s not how I learned it. I didn’t learn this first part until after it was all over.

Collins had a regular homeless visitor who came in. He seemed like a regular person, but he was homeless. The previous Reading Room full time attendant had been a man, and he welcomed the homeless in and encouraged them to come in. He went on to work in Boston at The Mother Church.

This visitor would come in and ask about King Solomon. He had a “little boy” look about him. It was a facade he could put on easily, to make himself seem innocent and harmless.

He was getting more and more bold with Collins. He came in every few weeks. He was a regular. One time, he actually stroked her breast. She chalked it up to, “oh, it was accidental, he didn’t do that on purpose.”

The next week, I was walking up to the Reading Room door to arrive a few minutes before my shift started. This person I had never seen before was standing there, staring at the hours on the door, waiting for it to open. I didn’t know what to do. I was obligated to open it. I have to say I wanted to turn around and go to the coffee shop on the corner and wait it out. But I didn’t want to “get in trouble” by not opening on time.

I went up to the door, with my key, and he asked me if it was open. I said, “it will open in 10 minutes.” He nodded and left.

I opened the door about 10-15 minutes later. He came in about an hour after that.

He puttered around in the study room, then came over to me and said, “do you have anything on King Solomon?” It felt like a genuine request. I went to the study room to get a Bible.

I leaned over to get the Bible off the shelf, and he stroked the back of my butt in a specific way that terrified me (this is not something my husband would even do, believe me). As he stroked it, he said, “soft.” And then I heard the distinct sound of a belt buckle being opened.

I had the Bible in my hand at that point. I whirled around, and held the Bible up, threateningly. I marched to the door, gestured widely with my arm with the Bible in it, and said loudly and boldly, “Get out! You are not welcome here ever again!” I was outside the door, holding it open with the Bible gesturing him to leave.

He walked out very calmly, as if he had done nothing wrong.

I called the people who wrote my paychecks. I told them. I said I was sorry, but I didn’t think I could stay open and sell any Christian Science Monitors that day. (Seriously, I felt bad about that, and actually apologized. We usually sold 2-3 Christian Science Monitors every day.)

I called Collins, and she told me the story of him stroking her breast a week or two before that.

Reader: Please know this: people who are apt to do this sort of thing get more and more bold. That’s what they do! I have verified this with my psychiatrist and therapist. Yes: people get more and more bold.

I called my husband. He told me to lock up the Reading Room and come right home.

I called back the paycheck writers and told them I was going home. I was so shaken up, I could barely speak, I was crying. I was a complete mess.

When I got home, my husband started telling me I needed to report this to the police. The Christian Scientist in me said I needed to forgive this man, and “see that it’s not a part of him.” If I didn’t see it as part of him, then he would be healed of this sin, and it would be “as if it was never a part of him, because he was healed.” And so I felt obligated to fervently pray to see him as pure and innocent. (What about ME!)

I prayed this way: “He is God’s perfect child, he is innocent, this is not a part of him. God made him kind and loving. He is not capable of hurting someone, because God didn’t give that to him. Since God didn’t give it to him, bad stuff can’t exist, it’s not a part of him. He didn’t harm me, because I am God’s perfect child too, I can feel safe and protected. I was safe. I wasn’t harmed. I am ok. I am still God’s perfect child. God loves me. God loves him. He can’t harm anyone. He can’t harm me. I am safe. All is well…” blah blah blah blah blah. For hours, days and months I prayed this way.

My husband tried to convince me to go to the police about this. After 2-3 hours of him telling me this is what I should do, he said, “what if he tries to do this to a female who works in a nearby store?” I didn’t want to have another woman subjected to something so horrible or probably worse; so that’s what convinced me to call the police.

I called the police. They told me to come in the next day and talk with a detective. A Christian Science church member lady I trust kept my kids for the hours we had to go back downtown. My husband accompanied me. First, we went to the police station. Then, they sent a detective out to meet me at the Reading Room.

Thankfully, it was a woman detective. I showed her the Reading Room. I told her what happened. I acted all of it out for her. She was very kind and compassionate and smart. I felt safe talking with her.

Collins also told the detective what had happened to her.

The detective was full of compassion and empathy. She was also very surprised that I hadn’t called the police right away. That bothered her immensely. At some point a few days later, it occurred to me that women are supposed to call the police immediately when this happens – that this is a NORMAL and HEALTHY response – to call the police! I realized how bad of an idea it was that Christian Science had conditioned me to do the exact wrong thing! This wrong thing could endanger another woman. This was a key turning point for me in leaving Christian Science.

I still have issues going to that major metropolitan city. I don’t mind going with my kids and with friends and tourists. But I don’t seek out opportunities to go there. Recently, I tried to meet a friend there. She was over an hour late to meet me, and I started to panic. I headed back home without ever seeing her. She apologized profusely. But it made me realize that despite the fact that it’s now been years, I still cannot be there alone.


Both of these instances happened in Christian Science settings, and neither of these times were not the first time I was assaulted, attacked, raped, anything. I had been raped three times already before my experience at Principia College, and I knew how to get away. There is a “look” rapists get in their eye, and I learned to recognize it, defend myself and keep defending until they go away. Rapists want an easy target. They do NOT want someone who will fight back and be difficult. Thanks to me learning this THE HARD WAY, I haven’t had a rape since.

Rapists want an easy target. They do NOT want someone who will fight back and be difficult.

It took me years to be able to tell my Christian Science family members about these instances. I only told them recently, in fact, about the one at Principia. They still don’t know about the one at the Reading Room.

I recently realized that a few of my siblings were friends with the person who assaulted me at Principia. I called them all on a multi-person phone call, so we could all talk to each other at the same time. I told them briefly that this person had harmed me, and that a group of us women students had told our stories to the Dean of Students and he was kicked out. I asked my siblings to please block this person on social media. My siblings blocked him. They didn’t even question me about it. They were very kind to me and were not devoid of empathy. They just blocked him and then told me they love me and support me. I felt so grateful for their compassion and support. My siblings are wonderful people and I appreciate them so much.

After the assault at the Reading Room, I yelled at myself about not being able to forgive this person. I also yelled at myself about not feeling safe in the metropolitan city. David and Goliath assured me that I was safe, that’s what I had learned from a young age. “The story of David and Goliath teaches us that we can take down a bully or someone of power if we just believe in God enough! Trust that!” I yelled at myself constantly for not feeling safe.

As Doctor Phil might say: “How is that working for you?”

Well, it didn’t. I am so grateful for good, solid therapy, psychiatric care, and specific medicines.

Did you know that talking about our fears actually makes them have less power over us? Christian Science teaches people NOT to talk about their fears, because then they won’t have power! This is yet another way that Christian Science teaches us the exact wrong thing to do. This makes the human condition worse instead of better!

I hope that with all of these #MeToo posts on social media, that our society is waking up and that good men will learn to advocate for women. That they will learn to say, “not cool, man,” when they see coworkers sharing dirty photos of their wives, or catcalling women, or discussing lewd things in locker rooms.

Men allies: Teach other men to be classy. Be an ally to marginalized people – including transgender people, black people, Native American people, Asian people, dwarves, disabled, elderly, everyone!

I hope that school systems will begin to teach empathy in schools. I think learning empathy is a necessary skill to help humanity rise up and become something better. Empathy is the best way for women to not have to share something like #MeToo in future generations.

Thank you for reading my story.


Last note: Collins died about a year after my assault in the Reading Room. She died a very sudden death, at a Christian Science Nursing Facility. Her husband had died at the same facility a few months before Collins did, after suffering for years. As far as I know, despite losing both of her parents while in Christian Science nursing homes, their daughter is still a Christian Scientist who works for “The Cause,” in a public way.

God was expected to provide

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

A lot of us were indoctrinated into Christian Science basically from the point of birth. I often wonder why my mother fell in with it, though. She was in her thirties when she became a Christian Scientist. In the end, the only thing I can think of is that she enjoyed the feeling of exclusivity, the knowing something that few other people know. And, like in most cults, she genuinely believed that it was giving her mastery over something few other people had mastery over. Back in the day, I would have said she was an intelligent woman, but on reflection I really don’t know if I still think that. She certainly thought she was intelligent, as they all do. I’m not sure that’s the same thing.

My mother and her Christian Scientist friends—one of whom was a Christian Science practitioner— hoped that I would become a practitioner as well, and there seemed to be some preliminary discussions as to where the funds would come from for me to leave the UK to go to Boston to ‘train’. These discussions didn’t last very long, as naturally God was expected to provide the funds when needed. I’m glad I wasn’t relying on these people to fund me through real university.

Throughout my adolescence, there was a vast amount of cognitive bias forced on me to justify their perception that I would be a great Christian Science healer, which left me very confused for years and was actually terribly difficult to deal with when I had to face up to the fact that I did not have these latent abilities and never had. Later in my childhood, at about 12 years old, I was treated with frustration for my laziness in not ‘achieving more’ with Christian Science.

Coming to terms with our Christian Scientist parents is difficult. Sometimes my mother was loving, thoughtful and great. At a lot of other times, she was a massive Christian Science d*ckhead and I won’t ever really be able to understand her actions. I could understand it if she had been a stupid woman, but the truth was quite the opposite, as is generally the case for Christian Scientists. Ironically.

No. I want God to do it.

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

There’s a blog I really like called ‘You Are Not So Smart’. It’s also a book and there is a really interesting chapter called ‘Why Your Memories Are Mostly False’. I think the phenomenon it describes accounts for many of the Christian Science ‘healings’. Even when you leave it and no longer believe, you still harbour the memories you created from when you were inside.

This particular memory of a ‘healing’ bothered me for a long while. I was about six or seven years old and playing in the garden with a foldable metal deck chair. The chair snapped shut, with one of the sharp metal struts slicing into my thumb. The pain, and surprise, was horrible. I could not free myself at all and blood started pouring from the wound. As you might imagine I screamed my head off, the kind of scream that I now recognise as a parent means ‘drop everything and run to your kid NOW’ and that would make me practically plough through brick wall if one were in the way, without even thinking.


I vividly remember watching in disbelief as my mother slowly slowly strolled out of the house to the end of the garden where I was, while I screamed all the louder, begging her to come and free me from the chair. I was not able to understand at all why she was strolling like it was a day in the park. Of course with hindsight, I realize she was busy ‘knowing the Truth’. I was eventually freed and taken inside where my grandmother, a non-Christian Scientist, who was fairly meek and tried to avoid clashing with my mother over Christian Science, said I should see a doctor. The thumb was bleeding a fair bit around the first knuckle where the cut was, but in my memory, the pain was mostly gone now I was out of the trap.

Even at that early age, I realised my mother would want to see evidence of a Christian Science healing. That’s what happened to all the kids in the Sentinels I had read about in things like this, so I thought I would try and deliver one for her. I balled my little hand into a fist, banged the table and said, ‘No. I want God to do it.’ The bleeding stopped, the blood was washed off and there was pronounced to be no evidence of the wound at all. My grandmother was amazed (or told that she was) and ceased to try and protest about doctors. My mother put a bandage over the area anyway so as I wouldn’t be tempted to look at it and maybe reverse the healing with doubt.

This went down as Christian Science lore in my small family, the incontrovertible truth of Christian Science’s efficacy. My mother recounted it in church as a testimony, and there was much rejoicing. Over time the severity of the injury was increased; I don’t remember seeing anything other than blood but I am sure it had been ‘cut to the bone’ a few months later and doubtless ‘half hanging off’ by the time I hit adolescence.

Nevertheless, what a marvellous healing; even if Christian Science never worked again it did that time. My mother’s slow walk and my insistence on God as a physician as an innocent child all worked. Right?

Maybe, but if so why do red warning lights go off in my brain, even now, whenever I have to touch anything with a folding mechanism? Why do I still feel angry when I replay that slow walk while my hand was shut in the chair, and why did I notice for the first time last year a small livid scar near the bony part of my knuckle, exactly where I remember getting my hand trapped more than thirty years ago? An area which is pretty small on an adult but which would have bled a lot on a child though not hurt much, and then probably healed quite fast, especially if it were covered up?

As much as we want to believe otherwise, psych studies have shown that human episodic memory is incredibly inaccurate. There is no correlation at all between how vividly you remember something and how accurate that recollection is. If anything, the mind will render episodic memories so that they agree with semantic ones. Most of us grew up thinking we were Christian Science wunderkinds and were referred back to these ‘healings’ often. Especially when wavering. So it makes sense that we have memories that agree with that axiom.

Christian Science doesn’t work. But Christian Scientists are very good at creating the props to make it appear that it does. If you want to believe, the easiest person to fool is yourself.

We understand this but others do not, aren’t we clever…

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I looked at a copy of Science & Health recently to try and make some sense of the book that had formed the nest within which my childhood beliefs were hatched. I gave up pretty quickly. I think I scanned the bit about the blacksmith’s arm getting bigger from Divine Mind, not from having to lift a hammer—which makes no sense whatsoever, and obviously defies every example of heuristic causation available. I guess if you can get your head around believing that, then you can convince yourself of anything.

Considering she had it professionally re-written about five times, I can’t imagine what the original must have been like. I suspect its unreadability was, and remains a good part of the appeal, i.e. we understand this but others do not, aren’t we clever. I had expected to look at the different chapters and see them address what the title was, but as far as I can see any chapter, or any page for that matter, can be transposed out of order and not make it any less meaningless. I’m utterly baffled how Mary Baker Eddy managed to convince other people to buy into it. The core text is total garbage.

Something which seems to be fairly absent within the Christian Science canon is much advice as to what to do when a healing doesn’t come. The remedy seems to be to repeat what you already did that didn’t work the first time. Mary Baker Eddy wrote a very long, but very limited, rule book about one idea and then repeated it endlessly in nineteenth century highfalutin’ language. She relied on the Christian bible to bulk all this out, and reinterpreted bible passages as she saw fit as time went on. I’m surprised there wasn’t more objection about this from the established Church at the time. Or maybe there was.

I knew that we had no ability to heal our physical or financial problems using Christian Science

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I grew up with my ailing radically reliant Christian Scientist mother and my grandmother—whose house it was—who didn’t believe a word of Christian Science, but never said anything to keep the peace. When I was about thirteen my grandmother started suffering from dementia, which by the time I was sixteen had progressed to late stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Because of my mother’s beliefs, and her conviction that if she called a doctor, her mother would be taken into care and the house sold from under us to pay for it, most of this time period was handled using ‘Science’. I found this time very hard to deal with. Living with an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer is not a picnic. My grandmother was doubly incontinent and hopelessly confused and distressed most of the time. But, she was physically robust and would rampage around the house in the middle of the night pulling things apart and raving about lost children who she believed to be trapped inside the furniture.

She had no memory of me as a teenager, and would often not recognise me at all, precipitating hysterics when I walked into a room. She was also a terrible fire risk, and we had to start turning the gas off at the main spigot when we left her alone, or went to bed. My mother meanwhile could barely cope physically, let alone mentally. So yes, dealing with this as a teenager was bad enough, but of course to really inject some misery into a situation you need Christian Science.

I knew that we had no ability to heal our physical or financial problems using Christian Science, but sanity seemed like the last bastion, and it had fallen. I would read all this garbage about ‘Divine Mind’ and intelligence, and practitioners would lecture us on it. But the situation got worse and worse. I couldn’t fathom what we were doing wrong that even this simple expression of God’s perfection had failed. With no frame of reference as to what was happening and no diagnosis, I began to see my grandmother not as a poor sick woman who loved me, but as a person who through their own weakness had been possessed by some kind of demon. I wondered how long until it affected me or my mother too.

Needless to say, eventually my grandmother’s condition got so bad the world of medicine was involved, and they did more good in a few days than all the meaningless Christian Science mumbo jumbo had done in years. Nevertheless, it was not long until my grandmother was taken into hospital where she died shortly thereafter, being properly cared for and finally having some peace and dignity. And the government didn’t sequester her house and force us onto the street.

Why God didn’t heal her vision problems?

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

A long time ago, a friend who was trying to convince me that leaving Christian Science was just animal magnetism told me about her ‘healing’ of an eye infection which had been exacerbated by contact lenses. She had terrible symptoms and finally went to an eye doctor who prescribed antibiotic eye drops. She used the drops, but prayed really hard too. Three weeks later she saw a different doctor who said her infection was gone. A Christian Science healing, she said!

I asked why God didn’t heal her vision problems, too? She said she was still working that part out. Years later, after leaving Christian Science, she went to an eye doctor who asked her, “Did you ever have an eye infection? I’m seeing lots of scar tissue in there.” In my experience, all so-called ‘healings’ are of this nature.

The church touts its ‘verified’ testimonies, but the verification process includes EITHER “I saw the healing,” or “I didn’t witness it but I know you are a good Christian Scientist.” That’s not verification. That’s what I call ‘none of us want to see anything other than a success,’ especially when you consider that no one in the church ever tells stories of Christian Science failing to work.

I was really struggling with the injustice of having this Error-fuelled injury

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.