When the “Normal” isn’t actually Normal At All

I’ve been unpacking some of the topics covered by the Get Wise webinar with Bob & Judy Pardon, and (heavily paraphrasing here) somewhere along the way they talked about how destructive systems*, like Christian Science, make the abnormal appear totally normal.

This normal/abnormal issue pops up fairly regularly, I often find it triggering in the context of a medical visit, when I’m already hopped up on adrenaline and anxiety, but in casual texting with a friend it makes me want to educate people more.

I recently was texting with a never-CS friend about a totally unrelated issue, and the following chat unfolded, I have shared it below, with a few redactions for privacy, slight edits for clarify, and several embedded links for the curious.

Friend: You know how they do (or did) scoliosis screenings at school?

me: I was exempted on religious grounds luckily my spine is OK (as far as I know)

Friend: Is even checking the spine not okay with The Teachings? it’s medical It’s a gym teacher touching your back, I mean… It’s less medical than an eye exam?

me: the only things the teachings vaguely allow for are 1) dental work, 2) glasses, 3) obstetrics, 4) beloved leader took morphine so that’s a very grey zone

Friend: I know consistent internal logic isn’t really the strong suit for cults so I’m unclear on the rules

me: those things were ALSO ESTABLISHED EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE IN THE 1800s**… and beloved leader partook in them b/c reasons, she hadn’t ascended yet? “Suffer it to be so now

Friend: But not all obstetrics. so just 1800 midwifery? 

me: beloved leader preferred you not die in unaccompanied childbirth babies are tricky things to manifest she’s weird about husbands

Friend: So you can die if accompanied?

me: yes that way it isn’t the religions fault

Friend: Then it’s the OB/midwife’s fault?

me: YEP or the mother’s fault for not doing it right, I presume they failed their demonstration They will have to work on that in their next plane of existence

Friend: I would be so bad in a cult…

me: OR SOMETHING I wasn’t great at it

When I was deep in CS, I never really gave medical exemptions much thought, beyond my mother’s yearly mad scramble to get the paperwork in on time (that wasn’t abnormal). We didn’t participate, everyone else did. It was normal to us, and very much not normal to everyone else.


*You’re welcome to disagree, however, I have left CS and found it to be destructive.

** For more of the Historical Context of Christian Science, check out this series of posts at the ExCS site, or any number of unauthorized (and authorized) works about MBE’s life and works.

3 thoughts on “When the “Normal” isn’t actually Normal At All

  1. Bill Sweet says:

    Rather than destructive, I have noticed a self-destructive aspect to CS. There are several angles to it which lead to a no win situation. I don’t know what can be done about it, as so many traditions have sunk-in which constitute a Christian Science Culture. One issue is what you mentioned in writing “When I was deep in CS, I never really gave medical exemptions much thought.” I know conservative Christian Science culturalists. Fortunately, most of my exposure has been broader-minded CS folks. We all got our shots. A dive into all Mrs. Eddy says about shots indicates she recommended them with perhaps a little holding of her nose. She made sure her grandchildren got their shots. Shots, by the way, have a distant relationship with homeopathy. And Mrs. Eddy was an advocate of homeopathy. Now, even that brings up another credibility problem. Medical science has experimented with homeopathy and found it not able to prove its claims in the clinical laboratory.

  2. Ashley says:

    This touched me deeply. Especially the part about who to put the blame on in obstetrics, should something go wrong, should the baby not make it. I was raised strictly in CS, and I know, that beneath all the platitudes and quotes from Mary Baker Eddy, — that YES, the blame in that situation would ALL be heaped upon the mother. For clearly she wasn’t doing her mental work properly, otherwise there would have been a good outcome. Here you can see the savage cruelty of CS. For no matter what the issue, if sickness or death prevails, ultimately it can only be the fault of the person experiencing it. If they had just gotten their thinking clear, there would have been healing. This extremely intense form of victim shaming just enrages me so that I can barely see straight. How many Christian Scientists have suffered and died with the agonizing conviction, that they themselves are to blame, struggling and in pain to “see the truth clearly,” then ashamed and sorry that they can’t get their healing because they obviously have faulty thoughts, or none of this would be happening. It makes me see red! Fuck Mary Baker Eddy.

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