Growing up as a Christian Scientist meant living in fear: fear of mental malpractice, fear the government would take away our religious exemptions, fear we wouldn’t be able to adequately demonstrate healing and need (or be “forced by the state“) to get treatment from the medical industrial complex.
Having left Christian Science, many of us continue to live in fear: fear our family will find out and we will be ostracized. Fear that if we speak out about our views on the religion our family and friends (many of whom work for the Mother Church, or are teachers, practitioners, or work at Principia/in some other CS-related capacity) will be judged or have their jobs jeopardized. We worry that once our views are known they would be ostracized from their own social circles within their local churches.
We also struggle with the (often very real fear) that our family and friends won’t seek out what we feel to be adequate medical treatment in dire situations, and will continue to devoutly turn to prayer and then pass on “too soon.”
Sunday School taught us that fear was an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” The material world, and everything in it is unreal. We are all spiritual ideas, born of truth and love. The feedback we receive from our material senses is false. So I pose the following question:
- Is gravity real, or is it just false evidence? The devil tempted Jesus with this notion, and suggested that if he jump from the highest cliff angels would guide his feet.
With that in mind, I would like to pose a highly heretical question:
- Is continuing to follow the teachings of Ms. Eddy similar to following the devil’s suggestion to jump off a cliff?
Jesus turned down the devil’s offer to jump off a cliff, and many Christian Scientists turn down the option of preventive medical care (physicals, pap smears, vaccinations, etc.). They may get glasses, or visit an orthodontist – someone once tried to justify glasses because the “state required they have corrective lenses to drive” (render unto Caesar?), but anything dealing with “internal medicine” is something that should be prayed about (besides, we’re not material, we’re spiritual).
Jesus reprimanded the devil telling him “thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” yet countless Christian Scientists make decisions that could be seen as “tempting” God every day. Many drive without seat belts, as Ms. Eddy reminds us “accidents are unknown to God” (never mind it has been proven time and time again seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury), many refuse to be vaccinated because contagion and disease are unreal (the CDC disagrees). Sure they may never get into a car accident or catch measles (or polio), but regular checkups are important for optimal health, and establishing a relationship with a primary care physician before an emergency arises makes everything that much easier. They read Science and Health every day and pray for their Spiritual Self, why not acknowledge that until they ascend (something even Ms. Eddy didn’t manage) they need to maintain their physical self too? Oh wait, it’s never that easy.
I blog anonymously out of fear (and I want to maintain some level of privacy). Fear of repercussions from the church I am still a member of (out of sheer laziness), and from the college that is my alma mater. I’m not sure what they would do, and that is perhaps the worst. There are far louder former–Christian Scientists, so I doubt I’m worth paying much attention to. Honestly, what I fear most is the reactions from my family and friends who are still devout.
I’m a heretic living in fear. I take comfort in knowing there are others with similar thoughts, it makes me feel less alone. Thank you.