the uneasy détente with the elephant: life “after” Christian Science

The other day at drop off I was chatting with some other mothers about how we spend our childfree mornings while our little ones are at school. The usual errands, cleaning, the occasional manicure or massage, sometimes a project, or various appointments. When we get back we compare notes on what we managed to accomplish, some “made it to Costco and back!” others managed to make it to yoga, or to meet with a friend for coffee. I wrote this blog post, and worked on another in-the-works ex-Christian Science project.

I don’t really talk about what I do outside the ex-Christian Science Facebook group, and my circle of friends who are former Christian Scientists themselves. It is unlikely that my work on kind-ism will ever grace my resume, or that the other project will either.

I am ashamed that I spent so much time living Christian Science, that I believed it. In some ways I am embarrassed that I am now devoting time to it, even if it is in new, different ways, offering support and resources for those who are leaving — or who have left. There are days I have considered quitting this blog all together.

I don’t want to become the Anti-Ms. Eddy, with a voluminous tome attributed to me. I started this blog to help sort out my thoughts, helping people was secondary. I’m writing about what I know, what I’ve learned, what I’ve discovered, and what I feel. Writing helps me to clarify my thoughts, and after so many years of being told how to believe I have a lot of thoughts to clarify, but at the same time I’m hoping this blog will move on, and I’m hoping the other project will help me do that.

There are days when I feel like my ex-Christian Science projects have taken over my life, this blog, and I have to remind myself that my other project are only a tiny part of what I do, and while I feel passionately about it, I’m not being paid, so I should ration my time and energy wisely. I’m a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, granddaughter, friend, participant in society at large, and yes, all those roles take a fair bit of work. I don’t just write a blog, I cook, I clean, I garden, I sew, I bake, I encourage, I nurture, I have a black thumb of death. I build things, create things, destroy things.

Christian Science sits like the elephant in the living room, we shovel out the shit, we tiptoe around it paying lip service to the idea of respecting the other’s beliefs, but really, we want the elephant out of our living room.

Every time I schedule an appointment for the children the elephant second guesses my decisions. Every time I give them their daily multi-vitamin the elephant taunts me. I don’t know how to get the elephant to leave. I am making the best decisions I can about my care, and that of my children, and yet, there sits the elephant. Even if I was to “out” myself as an ex-Christian Science activist I don’t think I’d ever be free of the years of Christian Science programming and propaganda.

I left Christian Science for so many reasons, the largest one being my children. I’ve heard of too many women, often mothers of young children, die from undisclosed problems. I’ve seen too many failed healings to feel comfortable raising my children in Christian Science. My children are also the reason I tend to keep my activities (like this blog) quiet. I still have family and loved ones who are deep, deep into Christian Science, and I know on some level they would feel very hurt by my actions. They are aware that we don’t actively practice, that we turn to “western medicine” to solve our health problems, and that we’ve chosen not to attend church. They are disappointed.

I’m disappointed too. I’m disappointed I don’t have the courage to tell more people about this blog and my other activities. I’m disappointed that I’m scared to stand up to them and tell them how I really feel about Christian Science. Instead I am stuck in an uneasy détente with an elephant that I would much rather defenestrate than have dinner with.

Hopefully that will change.

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18 thoughts on “the uneasy détente with the elephant: life “after” Christian Science

  1. Bill Sweet says:

    IMHO, the most difficult problems for Christian Scientists to resolve are the following. If Christian Science is a new reinstatement of divine healing, does that automatically mean one has to go crazy nuts by relying on it all the time? No, but that has happened and sunk the potential good of it.

    Along side that problem has developed an unconscious resistance to explore the scientific side to Christian Science. If Christian Scientists explained more about how they mean the word “Scientist” and followed that line of thought, Christian Science would have faired better in society and been a plus for pushing beliefs into deeper insights. Probably because of a version of the religious belief of “vicarious atonement,” people have oddly concluded that Mary Baker Eddy did “all” the spiritual science and experimentation. No more is needed. That is total doomsday.

    What we have today is the public seeing Christian Scientists as not practicing practical health procedures and calling themselves Scientists but not responding to the advances in science, at least how some science procedures potentially relate to innovations that should occur within the laboratories of some Christian Scientists.

  2. jenn says:

    Yes, can so relate to this sense of embarrassment. Its another way that cs isolates I think. And why your blog has been so helpful. Nice to know it’s not just me dealing with the elephant and all its crazy making. I appreciate all of the work you have done for the ex cs community. Been very helpful to me.

    • kat says:

      Thank you Jenn! I remember when I first started this and word slowly started getting out among my circle of friends it was slightly terrifying, and then I started hearing from people who were saying “you’ve managed to find words to express what I’ve been feeling too!” It is so nice to know I’m not alone in this!!

  3. EG says:

    I can so relate to your reluctance to ‘come out’ to CS friends and family. But, you do what you need to do. Take care of yourself and your kids first and foremost. This blog and others have helped many, and will continue to do so simply by existing. Someday, we’ll all find a way to kick the elephant out of the room.

  4. Wendy Rigby says:

    Thank you so very much for your work in “ex Christian Science”. I consider you and your work a special blessing and a sign there is truth in Jungian synchronicity.
    Mrs. Eddy lived in strict Victorian times. Societal norms have changed many times since she wrote “Science and Health”. A basic premise is flawed: science can NEVER be proven. If we’ve studied science at all, we know this to be true. Science can only respond to the questions we ask of it. While there are some logical truths, like 2 and 2 = 4, these can also be altered. 2 and 2 can also = 10 if you change the mathematical base. Science and thoughts evolve through time. They don’t remain static and stuck in Victorianism as CS has. Life is about fluidity and change. There are some lovely spiritual ideas in Science and Health. Mrs. Eddy was an amazing eoman in many ways. I like to take best of the spiritual thoughts she wrote about and update them with my current knowledge. Scientific idea often is modified over time as we learn more.

    we wouldn’t stick our hand in a fire or jump off a cliff. Why would we rely on one woman’s intellectual writing? There is no “proof”.

    Enjoy your family and friends, projects and summer hiatus! We will continue to grow and change, acknowledging our true “error”, which is believing in one woman’s thought exclusively.

  5. Bill Sweet says:

    Wendy,

    I feel an urge to reply to you. Yes! So much has changed since Mrs. Eddy’s day. One thing is about the word “proof.” In her day the word “proof” was used to cover the waterfront. Today, there is a huge distinction between proof and provisional evidence. Also, the scientific method has evolved and should continue to evolve. Also, the word “conclusive” is a red flag to a scientist.

    FYI, a practitioner has rewritten “Science and Health” (and has updated it five times) to attempt to have the words keep pace (good luck) with the fast changes going on in society. The book is interesting in its more hip references.

    You can imagine the emotional reactions from the standard Christian Scientist to the book. I tell them usually, “Well, you wanted the copyright to “Science and Health” to be free of central control. So, you got what you wanted.”

    The book is called “21st. Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” See http://bookstore.trafford.com/Products/SKU-000931361/21st-Century-Science–Health-with-Key-to-the-Scriptures.aspx

  6. kitswillow says:

    I wrote a long and thoughtful comment (which took me 20 minutes because it’s so hard to find the right words). I then proceeded to push the wrong button, and I lost it. Here’s the short version:

    I like your blog. I like what you are doing, and I think it’s really great that you are willing to share all your thoughts in writing. I appreciate your approach, and I’m glad that it’s helping other people. I’m still in CS, but reading your work here has helped me kick myself into a far better form of research mode than I have attained in many years. So, thanks.

  7. Karen Molenaar Terrell says:

    Kat, you are a wonderful writer and thinker. I’ve always appreciated your honesty, your humor, and your ability to reflect on your own inner workings – to look at yourself and see what you can do to make progress in your life. I have huge respect for you. You and I have different perspectives on Christian Science – I have experienced a lot of good from this way of life – while you have experienced a lot of emotional trauma. I’m glad you’re willing to share your own experiences. I’m glad you started this blog. You ARE so much more than an “ex-Christian Scientist” – and I’m glad to see you voicing that in this post. Enjoy your summer, my friend!

    • kat says:

      I can’t believe I never replied to this! So much has happened since I wrote this post, it’s been quite the few months! I’ll have to email you sometime and catch up, it would be great if you lived closer, we could go out for coffee, as it is, I think you’re a few hours north of me (a few too many to make meeting for coffee reasonable).

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