Why I’m doing this (reposted from The Ex-Christian Scientist)

Back in April I wrote my personal mission statement for The Ex-Christian Scientist. My work there, and having a life beyond my Ex-CS activities, are part of the reason I’m on hiatus for the summer. I thought I would share it with you here, and encourage you to visit The Ex-Christian Scientist if you have not already done so. I hope you’re having a relaxing summer. 


I started my journey away from Christian Science a little over six years ago. I had been struggling to make it work, and a series of pivotal, life-changing events finally forced me to acknowledge that Christian Science was not right for me.

Leaving Christian Science was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, and I don’t want anyone to feel they have to do it alone. I have been fortunate to have the support of my husband, and a group of close fellow-former-Christian Science friends, as I’ve made my journey way.

I’m launching the sort of support website for former Christian Scientists that I wanted when I started on my journey away from Christian Science. I don’t want to focus on the gut-wrenching horror stories many of us have in our pasts, I want to focus on helping people get the appropriate care and support they need.

I am not going to tell you which spiritual path you should take, I’m going to encourage you to find your own. I don’t want to save your soul, I want you to take care of your body so you can have a long and healthy life. I don’t want you to feel alone, or crazy, as you leave Christian Science, I want you to realize there are others out there who have left as well, and it is okay to question, doubt, and leave. I want to help direct you to resources you may find useful on your journey, support communities, articles on healthcare, books.

Peace be with you,

Kat

Founder & Editor in Chief
The Ex-Christian Scientist

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chasing the fantasies that filled our minds

Regular Sunday posting resumes today. Happy 2015!


In September/October of 2014 I went through an internal rebellion. I realized that I want to consciously, intentionally move away from blogging (almost) exclusively about Christian Science. Part of me feels like I need to move on because I’m not in Christian Science anymore, and part of me wants to make information about the dangers of Christian Science more easily accessible. I feel like this is a fine line.

I’m also going to have more guest posts so others can share their experiences and thoughts, and I plan to collaborate with fellow x-CS blogger, Emerging Gently to cover some of the larger topics.

Christian Science aside, there is other stuff I want to talk about too, and I have a massive stack of books on my desk that I’m hoping to read through this year. I have so many ideas I’m working on in my head about life, death, the universe, where I’m going, and I want to branch out. Time management is going to be important. 

I recently came across Mark Green‘s essay at AtheopaganismHow I Became a Godless Heathen” and I highly recommend reading it. I’m not ready to open embrace the “Godless Heathen” title, so I’ll claim I’m a secular Humanist (with possibilianism leanings — but consider yourself warned, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). Although, as my husband points out “I don’t like humans,” I do like that

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

And it is an -ism (I have a soft spot for -isms).


“Top 10 signs of good spirituality”

I’m not sure what I’m looking for as I adventure away from Christian Science, but this looks like a good list of things to take into consideration.

Humanistic Paganism

This essay was first published at The Humanist Contemplative.

Over the course of my comparative studies, there are some general traits I’ve noticed which seem to be shared between those wisdom streams and I thought it could be helpful to point them out. Here are some traits that are a sign of a good and healthy spiritual path…

10) Aim of True Happiness

Good spirituality will have as its aim the happiness of the practitioner. Of course, deep understanding of what this entails is essential. By ‘True Happiness’ we mean something more than mere pleasure associated with one’s conditions. Rather, the kind of happiness a good spirituality will pursue will be a deeper sense of contentment that transcends circumstance. It will be a source of inner strength in the face of adversity and humble appreciation in the face of fortune. Such a happiness is also not selfish in the…

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Steiner’s Verses: Mother Earth, Father Sun

The sing-song voice of Kid1 floated into the kitchen:

Give thanks to the Mother Earth.
Give thanks to the Father Sun.

These lines were repeated a few times, and then there was a crash of blocks as they moved on to something else. I asked Kid1 about the song later and was told “we sing at school” before they ran off to do other things.

The first two lines floated around in my head for several days until I got around to asking at Kid1’s school. The blessing is one of Rudolph Steiner‘s and is recited before snack and meal time.

The complete verse is

Give thanks to the Mother Earth.
Give thanks to the Father Sun.
Give thanks to the plants in the garden,
Where the Mother and Father are One.

Given Steiner’s views on Christ, angels with flaming swords, and seasonal rituals, I can’t say I’m too surprised by the simple verse citing Mother Earth and Father sun, and I find it to be one of the milder things that Steiner introduces. Some of Steiner’s ideas on Anthroposophy (1) are hard for me to wrap my mind around, and some of the criticisms leveled against Steiner and the Waldorf movement (2) are rather unsettling.

Although I am still learning about Steiner’s more unique ideas (3), I think the simple snack time verse is sweet, and sends an appropriate message. I prefer it to the Omni-everything Mother-Father God (OMFG) that Ms. Eddy endorses.

Unlike the OMFG, Mother Earth and Father Sun are solid concepts that are easily understood. Mother Earth is all around us, Father Sun is in the sky shining down on us. You can walk around and enjoy the earth/nature, you can feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you.

Mother Earth and Father Sun are not a perfect analogy, but the concepts have been around for centuries. Mother Earth (and Mother Nature), is a common metaphorical expression for the Earth and its biosphere as a giver and sustainer of life. Mother Earth is also recognized as a deity in various cultures  – Gaia, Terra and Pachamama to list a few (4). Similarly Father Sun and predominately male Solar Deities can also be found in numerous cultures and traditions – ex: Helios, Apollo, Sol, and Tonatiuh (5).

Being thankful for the plants in the garden where the Mother and the Father are One is also conceptually solid. Without the earth to plant seeds in, and without the sun (yay for photosynthesis) there would be nothing in the garden to eat – although if you want to be strictly technical without the Earth we wouldn’t be here to begin with and there would just be space and other stuff orbiting the Sun.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.52.33 PMTo me, Steiner’s underlying message is that the earth, sun and garden are things that should be cherished. Although it is hard imagine how one would love and care for the sun (other than appropriate seasonal festivities celebrating its return), appreciating the Earth and garden are easier. This appreciation of the material world, and acknowledgement of spiritual elements within it (6), are the opposite of Ms. Eddy’s stance that the material world is unreal.

For Ms. Eddy the earth is a preparatory school in need of improvement (7). Her “science” is one of the Science of Being, and her focus is on abstract concepts that require a fair bit of what fellow former-CS blogger Emerging Gently often refers to as “mental gymnastics.” In the land of OMFG, at the end of the day, we are Spiritual, not material, so while Christian Scientists pray to know the unreality of a bitterly cold Boston winter, the waldorf-minded individuals layer on their woolies.

Steiner, even with his quirks, did start one of the first sustainable agriculture movements. From wikipedia (6)

Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties; and the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar.

Christian Science is very egocentric, it is all about the persons personal relationship with OMFG, often at the cost of all else. To my knowledge, Ms. Eddy never ventures far from the topic of her Science of Being and the OMFG relationship. The closest she gets to discussing agriculture is to make sheep/shepherd metaphors, and Principia’s motto “As the sowing, the reaping” drives home the point:

It’s a simple equation. What we receive is in direct proportion to what we give. Principians are encouraged and expected to give their all in every activity—academic, athletic, artistic, social, and spiritual. (8)

Academics, athletics, art, making the social rounds, and prayer aren’t going to feed anyone. Unless someone is actually out there sowing and reaping people are going to starve. Being a “fisher of men” (9) is all well and good, but unless someone is practicing sustainable fishing habits there won’t be much to eat in the long run. This is trivial in Ms. Eddy’s immaterial world, as she is the woman in the Apocalypse and soon we will all be as angels in Heaven (10), any suffering we have now (bonds of marriage included), must be tolerated until then.

These problems, which are unreal to Ms. Eddy, are issues that Steiner addresses, and while some of his mystical methods are questionable (11), no difference in beneficial outcomes has been scientifically established between certified biodynamic agricultural techniques and similar organic and integrated farming practices (6).

At the end of the day, I find Steiner’s simple verse, about Mother Earth and Father Sun to be far more pleasant than Ms. Eddy’s grandiose reinterpretation of the Lord’s Prayer (12).

Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,

Hallowed be Thy name.
Adorable One.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Enable us to know, — as in heaven, so on earth, —
God is omnipotent, supreme.

Give us this day our daily bread;
Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love;

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth
us from sin, disease, and death.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love,
over all, and All.

From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 16–17

There is no need for grandiose kingdoms, or power and glory forever. Go take a walk. Enjoy your garden.


Image credit: screen shot from A Child’s Book of Blessings via GoogleBooks

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy
  2. https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/table-of-contents – I need to research this more, it brings up interesting questions
  3. Let’s face it, Steiner was influenced by 18th and 19th century German philosophers and writers, including but not limited to Nietzsche, GoetheSchopenhauerJean Paul, and Hegel*
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Earth
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_deity
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture
  7. S&H p. 486 “Earth’s preparatory school must be improved to the utmost.”
  8. http://www.principiacollege.edu/about-principia-college/christian-science
  9. http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Matthew%204%3A19
  10. S&H p. 56 discusses the matter some, it is also mentioned a few other places
  11. including burying ground quartz stuffed into the horn of a cow, which are said to harvest “cosmic forces in the soil” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture
  12. http://christianscience.com/bible-lessons/related-information/for-church-services/the-lord-s-prayer

*as was Ms. Eddy, but that is a post for another day

Further reading:

Praise be unto He

Regular commenter Bill S. left me a link proclaiming “Scientists say they’ve proved God exists, and then it gets complicated” (1). I followed that link to the logical conclusion, through four more links (see below,  2) until I came across the abstract of the paper (3):

  • Goedel’s ontological proof has been analysed for the first-time with an unprecedent degree of detail and formality with the help of higher-order theorem provers. The following has been done (and in this order): A detailed natural deduction proof. A formalization of the axioms, definitions and theorems in the TPTP THF syntax. Automatic verification of the consistency of the axioms and definitions with Nitpick. Automatic demonstration of the theorems with the provers LEO-II and Satallax. A step-by-step formalization using the Coq proof assistant. A formalization using the Isabelle proof assistant, where the theorems (and some additional lemmata) have been automated with Sledgehammer and Metis.

Say what?

The International Business Times boils it down to this, emphasis in bold mine:

  • Godel was an Austrian mathematician who, in 1978, left behind a theory, which essentially says that a higher being must exist if people believe He does. Though the mathematics are much more complex, God exists as a concept, than he can exist in reality.

1005646_338235369642424_164222894_nWhat about those of us who don’t believe in God? Does everyone else’s conceptual reality over-ride out own? Does simply wanting (or not wanting) there to be a God make it so?

So I believe in the existence of invisible sparkly pink unicorns and the space teapot, does that make them real too? What about the earth being flat, or “Creationism” as a credible science? What about those of us who don’t believe in “God”? Just because something exists as a concept does not make it real.

Assuming some sort of “God” is real, what variation of “God” is correct? Abrahamic God? Islamic God? Greek or Roman Gods? A pantheon of Gods, or just one? Is this “God’ loving? Does this God care? What does this God (or gods) do? Is he all things to all people? Does it matter how he is viewed? What if it is a Goddess?

Then there’s the question the FB meme asks: What if “God” is a metaphor for the universe and we really are created in its image? We are pretty cool, as is our universe.

If anyone can simplify and explain the math as to how we think God into being, please get in touch!

391065_483478515057752_896425098_n

  1. http://now.msn.com/christoph-benzm%C3%BCller-and-bruno-woltzenlogel-paleo-scientists-say-theyve-proved-god-exists
  2. Is God Real? Scientists ‘Prove’ His Existence With Godel’s Theory And MacBooks (http://www.ibtimes.com/god-real-scientists-prove-his-existence-godels-theory-macbooks-1446396); Computer Scientists ‘Prove’ God Exists (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/computer-scientists-prove-god-exists/story?id=20678984); Scientists ‘Prove’ That God Exists… Kind Of (http://www.inquisitr.com/1011640/scientists-prove-that-god-exists-with-macbook/#xOx8qmBKAPY8oG3w.99); God exists, say Apple fanboy scientists (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57609422-71/god-exists-say-apple-fanboy-scientists/)
  3. Formalization, Mechanization and Automation of Gödel’s Proof of God’s Existence Christoph Benzmüller, Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo, http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.4526

Further reading:

triumph of the light of right & reason

A regular reader recently e-mailed me a link for the Center for Inquiry. Everything I know about them, I learned from their about page and website http://www.centerforinquiry.net.

  • The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.
  • To oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past, and the dogmas of the present, the world needs an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. The Center for Inquiry is that institution.

I like their mission, we need more science, reason and inquiry. Humanistic values are a good thing to promote as well. I also like how they clearly enumerate their goals – goals I happen to agree with.

  • Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:
  1. an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy
  2. an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies
  3. an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.

Growing up in and leaving Christian Science, I have been both directly and indirectly influenced by religion, pseudoscience, and the stigma of my non-belief. Christian Science has done it’s best to work into the upper echelons of government, and has been lobbying congress since forever.

I’ve been fairly quiet about my non-belief/path away from Christian Science around certain family members and many of my friends – there are those who understand (may of whom have escaped), and then there are those who are “disappointed” or who have accused me of throwing away the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

It can be lonely being “out” and not everyone understands. There are tons of atheist blogs, dozens of former fundamentalist blogs (including niche fundamentalist blogs like former home schoolers), questioning Christians, decidedly former Christians, Humanistic Pagans, but very very few former Christian Scientists (except for those who have found Jesus and occupy space over at Christian Way).

I’m not sure if I’d find what I’m looking for at a Center for Inquiry, although to be fair, I’m still not sure, what I’m looking for, but I’m enjoying the journey, and I don’t live near enough to a Center for Inquiry easily visit. I suppose I’ll have to settle for adding a podcast or two to my regular listening, The Human Bible looks like it could be interesting.

I was also pointed to a YouTube video on “Women Leaving Religion” Panel from CFI’s Women in Secularism 2 Conference 2013. While there are no former Christian Scientists on the panel, It is fascinating to hear about the other women’s experiences, and their paths away from the religions they’ve been raised in. I liked their perspective on what it meant to be “authentic” in the religious culture and who enforces it, how it is enforced, and what we see (it starts about 30 minutes in). It is really amazing, and I plan to check out the other Center For Inquiry videos.

Totally unrelated to everything else, I think they’ve just become my new favorite holiday-card supplier, although I still really like these (for more holiday ranting, you can read my post: The Perfect Christmas).