Everything is Fine & Other Lies Principians Tell Each Other

I recently typed up a seven page post about how Principia failed to meet and recognize the needs to students, then I had a conversation with a close friend who asked, rather pointedly, how Principia was supposed to know anything was wrong and I’m sharing this instead.

In Christian Science we are to correct our thought, if we perceive something is amiss, we are to correct our thought. If CS are perceived to be behaving in any way that is less than Perfect, it is a Failing on our part and we must work to correct it.

This applies to mental issues as well as physical ones. I’d like to think some of the issues Prin failed at would be obvious in a different school, the physical ones, the reasons people went to Cox Cottage. The reasons people snuck off campus for medical care (yes, that happened).

Mental and emotional issues are a bit harder, most of the people were “working on the situation with Science” which gave them a free pass to ignore it, or stress-read the works of MBE late into the night.

Let’s be honest, most CS are pretty good at putting on a good show. Unless something was truly horribly wrong, they showed up for classes, meals, etc. and even if they didn’t, we were all so busy with our own lives we wouldn’t have noticed unless they were our roommate, and even then, with some extreme exceptions, there were no “red flags” — and even the ones we did see we didn’t know how to act on.

If the problem was really truly bad, they’d be disappeared in the night. Disappearances during the academic term are jarring, the ones that happen between breaks are more subtle. Some people just don’t come back after Spring Break, are they on an Abroad, were they asked to leave, is it Academic Probation, did they run out of funds, did they transfer out, is it some combination of all of these?

Eventually the missing fade into the background while you try and cope with the grueling quarter system (apparently this has since been changed) and stresses of trying to maintain a good GPA so you don’t loose your sources of funding. Really, there isn’t much time for speculation.

You (quite falsely) assume everyone is a good CS and everyone is getting their stuff done, and no one is having any problems. You’re too busy working at masking your own to notice anyone else’s anyway.

Given all that, I’m almost willing to give Principia a pass, but Prin heavily emphasizes community, and morals. Principia is the sort of community where people comment if you’re not in Sunday School or you miss a House Meeting. If people can notice you’re not attending Hymn Sing, they should be able to notice if you are struggling. Or should they?

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Finding Balance in Perfection

Words are very important in Christian Science, one of the most commonly used words is perfect, for example, man is made in God’s perfect image and likeness. In Christian Science, perfect is used as an adjective — man is ideal, flawless ,without fault, exemplary. Man’s state of perfection is presented as FACT, to accept anything less is to allow aggressive mental suggestion (which is unreal) to undermine man’s perfection and leave him vulnerable to the Christian Science Trio of Doom — Sin, Disease and Death.
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I struggle with perfection. Society tells us we must have the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfectly well behaved children, the perfect holiday, the perfect birthday party, the perfect material stuff. Christian Science tells us we must have our thoughts constantly, perfectly aligned with God, otherwise, all our material perfection — the perfect house, our perfect health, our perfect job (or perfect source of income) none of which is real anyway — will come crashing down. The condition of our unreal material existence is dependent on our Spiritual Perfection.

In Christian Science perfect is always used as an adjective, it is the state of man, perfect is never a verb, it is not something to be aspired to, we are perfect. We do not need to be improved, or refined, we ARE PERFECT.

Except when we fall short, when we fail to realize our birthright as Children of God. When we imbibe alcohol, indulge in tobacco, or consume caffeine. We are perfect except when we are distracted by the lusts of the flesh, or seduced by the false unreality of matter. We are perfect until we drop our guard and fall prey to Malicious Animal Magnetism, or Aggressive Mental Suggestion — those are error, which is false and unreal, but something to be very much on guard for.

Perfect as an adjective is unrealistic, nothing is truly flawless. The Bible, the supposed foundation of Christian Science, and the key figures of Ms. Eddy’s inspiration, Jesus, Paul and Luther all had flaws. Ms. Eddy herself failed to consistently live up to her lofty aspirations: her material body did not ascend, it was buried.

Perfect as a verb is a bit more manageable, it is possible to refine something to improve it, but you also have to know when to step back and acknowledge that sometimes it is good enough. Finding that balance of refinement and acceptance that it is good enough is tricky, and something I struggle with daily.

Related Reading:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg3PberzvXo#t=225 – Not Perfect by Tim Minchins