With everything that’s been happening with Principia recently I decided to take a look at the 2012-2013 Principa College catalog. I’ve flipped through it before, mostly looking for their policies on homosexual activity, but I decided to take another glance through and see if I could clarify their policy on the all-encompassing use of the term “medicine.”
There are very few mentions of “medicine” in the catalog.This is likely because you’re supposed to be relying on solely, exclusively, and unwaveringly on CS for healing. On page 18 they say cite the “use of material substances” (emphasis mine) as a source for discipline. “Material substances” is very vague. While they list “alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and medicine” they could just as arbitrarily add Fruit Loops, oxygen, or polyester*.
I understand the Principia community is here to help me as my expression of dominion expands. I am expected to strive for this dominion, and the members of this community will hold me accountable to my best, spiritual selfhood. This being the case, I understand there are some behaviors that could be grounds for discipline. Behaviors not in line with demonstrating spiritual dominion are: acts of hatred or bullying, sensual activity (including pre-marital or extra-marital sex, whether heterosexual or homosexual), dishonesty, and the use of material substances such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and medicine. Discipline could lead to a situation in which I am asked to leave campus. (emphasis mine)
They are also fairly vague about what “discipline” is. The form of “discipline” most talked about, and most noticeable is being told to leave for a semester (or two… or forever). One day someone is on campus, the next they’ve simply vanished. No one is told why they are gone, or where they have gone. It is all very hush-hush.
If you take “medicine” (which is a fairly all-encompassing term) you could be disciplined, but if you take “doctor-prescribed medicine” it is okay (what about “antibacterial” products?
), but you have to work things out quickly otherwise you’ll have to leave.
“Members of the faculty, staff, and student body are expected to rely on Christian Science for healing” (Education at The Principia: Policy number 4**). In certain circumstances, temporary use of doctor-prescribed medicine is compassionately regarded (see Science and Health, page 444:7-10). Under such circumstances, the college will try to find a way to help a student complete as much of the current term’s academic work as possible, although remaining at Cox Cottage may not be an option. Students may contact their resident counselors to discuss options. Students who rely on medicine beyond one term will be asked to temporarily withdraw until such usage is discontinued. A withdrawal is not a suspension and does not negatively affect the student’s record.
I only see a few flaws with this logic:
After withdrawing for any length of time it is much harder to re-acclimatize to Principia’s culture. I knew several people who “withdrew” and then struggled to return, with a few leaving entirely.
I’m also having a hard time remembering the last time I knew a die-hard CS willingly
go to a medical doctor for anything other than getting a bone set, and most of the lapsed-CS (myself included) put off going to a doctor until they’re near death’s door
(and even then it is a huge struggle). Dentists, optometrists, orthodontists, and in the case of a pregnancy, maybe an obgyn, sure, but a medical doctor
? The sort that might prescribe medicine
? Not so much.
The S&H passage which Principia views as allowing for “temporary use of doctor-prescribed medicine” is interesting:
If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, – their brethren upon whom they may call, – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means. (emphasis mine)
I faced a serious health crisis while at Prin and I was in no condition to wait for my fellow CS to help me realize my “true spiritual self.” I needed to take action and sitting in Cox Cottage (the CS-Nursing “facility” on campus) was not an acceptable solution – I would have been far more comfortable hallucinating feverishly in my own bed. Thankfully it was near the end of the semester so I was able to get home and have the problem taken care of with something other than a CD of hymns and a stack of CS-authorized lit
I suppose in a way I was guided to the “right use of temporary means” but they were not
easily available on the Principia Campus, nor did I feel comfortable approaching my RC
in my hour of need.
I am also wondering who/what determines
if the means are “right.” Who decides these things? OSL
? An RC? The Principia Trustees? Education at Principia? A board of more-CS-than-thou students and staff?
“Right” means aside, the all-encompassing definition of what qualifies as “medication” is unsettling. It feels like an arbitrary loop-hole through which they can arbitrarily shove people they dislike. This is particularly clear in the admissions information which requests/demands a “six-month period of abstinence” from any sort of drugs (medication), sex, or other frowned-upon activities:
Please note that all applicants to Principia College must be active students of Christian Science. It is required that applicants will be free from any use of alcohol, tobacco, illegal substances, or medication in any form and/or from engagement in any premarital, homosexual, or extra-marital sexual activities for a period of six months prior to enrollment in the college. For those who have recently engaged in any of these activities, the six-month period of abstinence must begin at least six months prior to the actual enrollment date (emphasis mine)
What business is it of theirs if someone needs prescription eye drops with their contact lenses, or if someone takes birth control? Does it matter if someone had an ibuprofen a few short weeks before they showed up on campus? What if -horror of horrors- someone was vaccinated*** –
selective applying of state law not withstanding.
Principia’s stance against “material substances” does a disservice to everyone. Not everyone is “spiritually advanced” enough (*cough*bullshit*cough*) to rely solely on CS for healing, nor should they be expected to. Prayer is great, but sometimes (often) action is needed.
I remember on my visiting weekend my roommate was a young woman from Africa. She was a staunch Christian Scientist, she intended to study nursing and go back and help her village. By “study nursing” I mean “medical” nursing, not CS-Nursing. While Principia held the lofty ideal that we should all pray our problems away, the young woman from Africa saw that medicine was making a real difference in her community and wanted to help.
The visiting weekend Ambassadors didn’t quite know what to do with her as her sole reason for desiring to attend college in the US was to further her goal of attaining a nursing degree. She was very disappointed that Principia didn’t offer any medical classes, or classes that would’ve been remotely practical towards her goal. We didn’t keep in touch, she didn’t attend Prin, but I often wonder what became of her. I hope she was able to make the difference she wanted to, after all, she was using right motives, even if the means were “temporary.”
**Policy 4: All members of the faculty and staff shall be active Christian Scientists. As a rule, members of the student body shall be accepted only from homes in which at least one of the parents or the guardian can give evidence of being a sincere Christian Scientist and of being ready to depend upon Christian Science for help in time of need. However, if an applicant is an earnest student of Christian Science and is sufficiently mature, conditions may warrant an exception to this general rule. Members of the faculty, staff, and student body will be expected to rely on Christian Science for healing.