These discussions will be exploring questions like:
- What are ways that your Christian Science community has supported you?
- What are some things you would like to see in your CS communities?
- What role do organizations that serve Christian Scientists play in supporting young adult community and connections?
- Why do young adults disengage with CS communities?
Would you have any interest in joining a discussion on these topics? [Redacted] is trying to connect with a broad audience – whether you attend church or not, there is a discussion for you!
The last question, Why do young adults disengage with CS communities? hit a nerve. A better question is how are young adults staying in CS in 2017?
If they want to know why people are leaving Christian Science they should do a quick read of this blog (or any of the other blogs), support sites, published memoirs, or skim a few pages of CHILD’s website. This is not a difficult question.
It is a little late for hand-wringing over what went wrong. The stories are horrifyingly similar: my aging parent/friend/relative is in CS and dying a horrible slow death. As a child I was denied appropriate medical care. I have life long emotional, psychological, physical scars from my CS upbringing. Take your pick, sometimes it is all of the above.
For those who care, this post contains Rogue One spoilers, and many feels
A few days after the passing of General Leia Organa, my husband and I went and saw Rogue One. When it was all over, I found that was hit with a lot of unexpected feels. It wasn’t just the CGI Carrie Fisher accepting the disk (too soon), or the way Jyn and Cassian held each other as they were annihilated (all the feels), what hit me the hardest was when my husband suggested we go back and watch all the other Star Wars movies.
The Star Wars movies bring up feels. Unresolved feels. Guilty feels. What-if feels. Rogue feels. I’ve been blessed with geeky friends, so I’ve seen IV, V, and VI several times each. I’ve seen I, II, and VII once. I’ve never actually seen more than a few moments of III (the official site for easier reference), and I left the room pretty quickly. Thanks feels.
In The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher writes about her fans:
The Star Wars films touched them in some incredibly profound or significant way. They remember everything about the day they first saw Star Wars one, two, and three (which were officially, of course, IV, V, and VI): where they were, who they were with, what obstacles they had to overcome…. How, that day, things for them ceased to be in any way the same from then to forever after.
Star Wars didn’t really impact me until later, I was still unassimilated stardust when Star Wars: A New Hope premiered. It wasn’t until the late 1990s, early 2000s that Star Wars really came full force into my life. The new Star Wars movies were coming out, and my friend William*, being the lovable geek that he was, collected every last Star Wars Pepsi and Mt. Dew can (unopened), as well as large cardboard cutouts of Obi-Wan and Yoda, leftover from the grocery store displays where he worked. He grew his hair out like young Obi-Wan, and generally immersed himself in all things Star Wars both the original three movies, and the new ones that were coming out.
The enthusiasm was hard not to pick up on. Together with my other geeky friends, we had a Star Wars marathon, they saw to it I was fully immersed. William and I had a somewhat geeky Sunday School teacher who wanted to keep the kids engaged, we were able to talk about themes of the force in relation to Christian Science, and tie it all together.
William identified with Ewan McGregor’s character of young Obi-Wan from The Phantom Menace (and styled his hair to match), while I related him more to Anakin’s character in Attack of the Clones. He saw himself as the Noble Jedi, I saw him as the angsty troubled teen (even more so after the seizures). I think we may have both been right.
The sudden, unexpected death of a close friend just entering their early twenties is difficult to handle, add the extra layer of Christian Science, and nearly fifteen years later, I’ve still got emotional work to do. Since William’s passing, watching Star Wars movies feels like ripping a scab off wound that refuses to fully heal, hauling up emotions to process. Not every time, there is no consistency in this. Sometimes a wave of rogue feels hits, and sometimes I just enjoy the soap-opera nature of what may have also been called Daddy Issues In Space (parts 1-8).
Taking deep breaths. Crying. Guilt. Ice cream, the Christian Science cure-all.
I survived my Christian Science childhood. I’m happily married, yet I miss him terribly. Do I miss him, or some idealized version of him? This thought haunts me. Would I still like him now? Would we even be friends? I’m in a very different place than I was when he was still alive. I moved across the country. I have shifted my political views. I am married. I have children. William would’ve been an uncle by now, with several nieces and nephews, some of whom like Star Wars, though not quite as much as he did. His siblings have left Christian Science, their children get medical care, I’m certain his death played a large role in those decisions.
Feels aside, I’m going to keep watching, and enjoying (and having all the feels about), Star Wars movies, and maybe one day, I’ll watch Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. — YODA, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
* names have been changed to protect the innocent
ExChristianScience.com is starting 2017 with a series of posts about people who have left Christian Science for a new spiritual path. If you have found a new path, and would like to share your journey, please email them at email@example.com
Steadfast I stand in the world
With certainty I tread the path of life
Love I cherish in the core of my being
Hope I carry into every deed
Confidence I imprint upon my thinking
These five lead me to my goal
These five lead me to my existence
Image via wikimedia – Edwin Blashfield – Spring Scattering Stars
My eldest child’s teacher sends weekly emails to the class to keep us up-to-date on what is going on in the classroom. The most recent email included a section headed “What to do if your child hears that others don’t believe in Santa” as the class is learning the story of St. Nicolas (a very real man) and there has been talk of Santa.
What to do if your child hears that others don’t believe in Santa?If your child has older siblings he or she might hear them say that they don’t believe in Santa anymore. Then your child comes to you and asks you if Santa is real. What can you do?First of all, have a talk with your older child. Remind them of when they were young and how Santa was real for them. Ask them to be the “keeper of the magic” and not discount the imagination of the younger child….
Secondly, this is a teaching moment for tolerance. When your young one tells you that his or her friend said that there is no Santa you can share how people believe in different things and celebrate holidays in different ways. Share that “in our family we…. believe in Santa but in other families they may not and that is okay…. This phrase…”in our family we…” will become your mantra in the years to come. So many things come up where families do things in different ways. We can’t change others. We must show tolerance of other people’s believes and journeys but still hold on to what we want for our own family.
This morning in the car I brought up Santa – how some children believe in him, and how in our family we know Santa is a story. The children were in full agreement – we’ve never really pushed the Santa myth, one of the grandmothers tried briefly, but it never really stuck. Silly grandma, Santa is a story.
In the car this afternoon the little one piped up:
Kid2: Everyone in my class believes in Santa, except me. I know Santa’s not real.
Me: Did you tell your friends Santa is not real?
Kid2: No. They all believe in Santa.
Kid2 then got quiet, and didn’t say much more.
I decided to use some of the teacher’s suggested language. Me: It is okay for them to believe in Santa, people believe a lot of different things, and … at this point Kid2 interrupted me, and in a super-sweet kindergarten voice, informed me:
Kid2: Soon they’ll know Santa’s not real.
I’m not sure what to say to that. I think we may have to have a conversation with the teacher.
We recently gathered together to celebrate the start of Advent at my children’s school. The adults sat in the gathering darkness as the children entered the room, careful to avoid stepping on the pine branches and stumps arranged in a spiral on the floor.
The teacher spoke a few words about our inner light of kindness, and compassion, then she went and lit the candle in the center of the spiral. The one candle did little to light the room, but from it, all the others would be lit.
One by one, each child walked the spiral, holding an apple with a beeswax candle in it. They walked to the center, lit their candle, and walked back, placing it on one of the stumps placed throughout the spiral.
Slowly the light from the candles grew, and when all the children had finished, there were around thirty candles lighting up the darkness. The teacher reminded us that together our lights shine more brightly than they would on their own, banishing the darkness.
My inner light is feeling pretty burnt-out right now, but I will continue to attempt to be kind and compassionate, in the hopes that it rekindles.
- image via http://www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org