“The idea that you’re deceived by illusions is itself an illusion.”

By Michael, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. Michael is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.

My parents thought I was perfect.

It wasn’t just me. My parents thought everyone was perfect. They were Christian Scientists, and they believed that all people are God’s perfect children, and that God’s perfect children are literally flawless in every way. They raised me to believe this. They also raised me to believe that people are continually deceived by dreamlike illusions, such as pain, suffering, and death. Eventually, this began to feel like a contradiction to me. One summer, when I was sixteen years old, I raised my hand in Sunday School and asked “If I’m perfect, how can I be deceived by illusions?”

The teacher said, with no trace of irony, “You’re not. The idea that you’re deceived by illusions is itself an illusion.”

For three months after that, I poked at this question as if I were prodding a sore tooth. It was disturbing. Instead of finding answers, I came up with more and more unanswerable questions. Why do Christian Scientists go to car mechanics, but not doctors? Is there really any difference between real pain and illusory pain if they both hurt the same? If Christian Scientists are sitting on a great scientific discovery, why do they just talk about it in church instead of getting it peer-reviewed and published?

After many hours of lying awake in bed, I eventually realized that Christian Science no longer made sense to me. I don’t remember how I told my parents that I wanted to stop going to church. I know that they were disappointed, but they agreed to let me stay home on Sundays and Wednesdays. I think maybe they thought this was just a phase I was going through.

It wasn’t a phase. I’m not a Christian Scientist any more. I haven’t set foot in a Christian Science church in almost fifteen years.

At first, I worried that my relationship with my parents would be damaged, but it turns out that I needn’t have worried. My parents still love me, and I still love them. The only thing that’s changed is that we no longer talk about religion with each other–and honestly, that’s a relief.

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.

In fact, they are radiant with health and full of energy on the inside

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

 

Heaven was a big deal to the actual Christians that we knew when I was growing up, so I always thought it was a bit odd that it was rarely mentioned as part of my Christian Science learning. Christian Scientists themselves seemed to have little to no expectations of life after death at all.

It began to dawn on me that if you follow Christian Science, then you kind of have to accept that you have attained heaven here on earth. When I grew to be a teenager, I began wanting to ask questions. My mother’s chief tormentor, aka her best friend, was a ‘qualified’ (I seem to use a lot of quote marks when talking about Christian Science) practitioner, and I was told that I had been given permission to pass questions on to her with my mother as an intermediary. I believe I was meant to understand that I had been afforded a great privilege.

Q. Are there grass and trees in heaven, because isn’t everything down here that isn’t a person or a pet meant to be an illusion of mortal mind?

 

A. Nothing useful can be lost to God.

 

Q. If someone is bald on earth do they get their hair back in heaven?

 

A. If hair is useful to them as a reflection of God, then their divine personification will have hair.

(Why would hair be ‘useful’? No one needs hair, it just looks nice. Is heaven cold?)

The church I went to as a kid was one of those where the people in their sixties were considered young. The oldest members could barely walk, or see, and were obviously afflicted with any number of age-related ailments. They waited like human pennies in those shove ha’penny machines to be randomly shunted off their precipice and never seen or spoken of—or to—again in the church; presumably when they either died or were too frail or embarrassed to make the journey in.

Q. Why is everyone I know who does Christian Science so old and doddery?

 

A. They only appear like that; in fact they are radiant with health and full of energy on the inside.

Considering what an enormous amount of claptrap Mary Baker Eddy fabricated about basically every other subject, it is curious that she never got around to proscribing anything about the afterlife or lack thereof. I always found it a curious omission. Hadn’t Mary Baker Eddy known everything? I asked another practitioner once, who looked shocked and then muttered something about that being covered in the Bible.