My friend and fellow blogger, Karen the Madcap Christian Scientist recently shared a post entitled “suggestions for talking with” reminding people not to make assumptions, presumptions. She has several lists, including When Christians are talking with atheists, When atheists are talking to theists and so on, until she comes to my two favorite:
When non-Christian Scientists are talking to Christian Scientists and When Christian Scientists are talking to non-Christian Scientists. I would like to propose another list: When Christian Scientists are talking to each other.
I would like to stop here and add my sincerest apologies to Karen, I hope you can find the humor in this post.
My list would read a lot like the non-Christian Scientists are talking to Christian Scientists list — actually it is not so much a list, as a series of comments about Karen’s list, which is a great start, but I feel it could use a bit of expounding upon, as I feel many Christian Scientist over look some of these basics and need to be reminded of a few things. Karen’s list is below — in italics, and I’ve taken the liberty to make a few changes to remind Christian Scientists how to talk to each other and things to keep in mind when interacting with each other and the world at large.
When Christian Scientists are talking to each other (and the occasional outsider)
- Don’t assume all Christian Scientists think, feel, and believe exactly the same about everything.
This applies to Christian Scientists as well: MJSmith of The Ark of Truth Mother’s Hood and Spindrift Research both identify as Christian Scientists. Healing Science Today is trying to update Science and Health, and Donna Goddard regularly shares Christian Science-inspired pieces. Do their views line up perfectly with The Mother Church, Christian Science Orthodoxy, and what’s written on the Christian Science wikipedia page? Nope, but that’s okay, and I find I appreciate their views all the more because of it.
I think it also helps that I’m no longer a Christian Scientist so I don’t take it personally when someone goes way off of the Christian Science doctrine I was raised with.
- Don’t assume that because you were raised in Christian Science you are an expert on Christian Science.
That one used to read “you were raised in another Christian denomination” — I don’t think it is possible to be an expert on Christian Science unless you were Mary Baker Eddy.
- Do not assume that because you are the child of Christian Scientists you are an expert on Christian Science. (I am the daughter of a geologist, but I would not consider myself an expert on geology.)
I’d like to point out, as the child of Christian Scientists I was raised in Christian Science and regularly attended Sunday School, did my best to avoid awkward Wednesday Evening Testimony meetings, and regularly nearly dozed off in church. I’ve read Science and Health from cover to cover (once was enough), so yeah, I think I’m fairly versed in the religion. However, as I pointed out before, everyone seems to take away something different about what Ms. Eddy has to say, including Ms. Eddy herself.
- Don’t assume because you read everything Ms. Eddy ever wrote that makes you an expert.
This used to be “don’t go to the wikipedia page to tell me what to believe” (paraphrased). Ms. Eddy regularly wrote one thing and did another. Actions speak louder than words, and if the Beloved Leader regularly visited doctors in her old age (and received morphine treatments), let those without sin cast the first stone.
- The “Christian Scientists are neither Christian, nor scientists” thing has gotten pretty old and is neither original nor helpful in maintaining thoughtful discourse. Let it go.
Yeah, but I like it anyway. It was a favorite of mine even before I left Christian Science. Really, Christian Scientists, reclaim the phrase, or just smite them with M.A.M.
- Do not assume all Christian Scientists hold the same political or social beliefs. Christian Scientists are a pretty diverse group of people – there are Christian Scientists who are Democrats, Christian Scientists who are Republicans, Christian Scientists who are liberal-progressives and Christian Scientists who are conservatives. Unlike some other religious institutions there is nobody in the Christian Science church who tells Christian Scientists how to vote. That is left up to individual conscience.
Some don’t even hold the same Christian Science beliefs. Who knew anti-bacterial hand soap could be such a divisive issue?
- Along the same lines, recognize that private Christian Science schools and institutions – and the people who are part of them – are not necessarily representative of the views and experience of every individual who is practicing Christian Science.
And not all Christian Scientists aspire to attend Principia College, a Christian Science summer camp or work for The Mother Church. You may consider it a “great honor” or “huge privileged” but not all of your fellow Christian Scientists view it that way. Also, the god has feet of clay.
- Do not assume that because you know one Christian Scientist you know them all.
Assume, to make an ass of u and me!
- Do not assume that Christian Scientists who go to doctors are not “real” Christian Scientists. For some Christian Scientists, Christian Science is neither a religion nor an alternative health care system, it is a way of life – a way of looking at the world that has brought them healing and a lot of good.
I love the “real” Christian Scientist argument, it goes back to Ms. Eddy’s day when she used it to usefully cull her flock of those who failed to heal or disagreed with her. Someone died in a bad-for-PR manner? THEY WERE NOT PRACTICING CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PROPERLY! Or she’d haul out the ever-useful “Malicious Animal Magnetism” made them do it. The “real” Christian Science argument has survived better.
I’ve decided to take on the When Christian Scientists are talking to non-Christian Scientists list as well, because really, why not?
- Avoid, if you can, using phrases like “working on a problem” or “the belief of” – most people are not going to understand what the heck you are talking about.
And those who do know what you’re going on about might want to punch you. You are not suffering from the belief that the grass is green, THE GRASS IS GREEN.
- Avoid, if you can, using absolutes. None of us have ascended, yet. Christian Scientists are still dealing with the same challenges as every other human being. Recognizing the common human experience we share with the rest of mankind is not a bad thing.
Really, you should work on that ascension thing, and while you’re at it, over coming your need for food, sex, and material things.
- It’s alright to show natural human feeling – to cry, laugh, grieve. These are the feelings that connect us to the rest of humankind. Embrace them. Don’t be afraid to bring human emotion into your conversations with others. Christian Scientists are not automatons.
Are you sure Christian Scientists are not automatons? I’ve seen some of them stay away though Sunday Services, I’m pretty sure you have to be an automaton (or a humanoid robot) to manage that trick without falling asleep.
- Do not talk down to others (this includes your fellow Christian Scientists). Being a Christian Scientist doesn’t make you any better, wiser, or more spiritually-minded than anyone else.
Neither does reading Science and Health cover to cover a dozen times, or constantly studying the Bible, reading the weekly lesson, and owning every copy of everything Ms. Eddy ever wrote.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself now and then, and don’t be afraid to let others laugh at you, too. Recognize that to people unfamiliar with Christian Science some of the teachings found in Christian Science might seem completely ludicrous. And that’s okay.
Sometimes they feel that way to people who are familiar with Christian Science and who have been practicing it for years. Those parts are usually boxed away in their mental closet and ignored.
I recommend reading the excerpt from Paul’s Letter to the Principians. God is Love! Chill out people.