what I’ve been reading: education


A must-read piece from the HuffPost Science Blog

Somewhat related:


Image from the internet somewhere, I think I found it on facebook somewhere.


placating the masses & getting govmt. money

It is my turn to be inspired by a fellow blogger: Emerging Gently has a piece entitled Christian Science AND Medical Care? which inspired me to actually read the NYTimes piece instead of just skimming over it and sighing heavily at TMC’s attempt at relevance.

Back in 2010 the NYTimes ran a piece entitled: Christian Science Church Seeks Truce With Doctors, which is nice and all, but once you actually read the article any well-versed former-CS will note the usual side-stepping of issues, fuzzy-feel-good public placation, and total bogus-ness of what TMC is saying.

It is a nicely written article, clearly someone at TMC PR did their work. It starts with a grim picture of CS today, and then offers a glimmer of (false) hope:

… faced with dwindling membership and blows to their church’s reputation caused by its intransigence concerning medical treatment, even for children with grave illnesses, Christian Science leaders have recently found a new tolerance for medical care. For more than a year, leaders say, they have been encouraging members to see a physician if they feel it is necessary. (emphasis mine)

“Christian Science leaders recently found a new tolerance for medical care?” Sure, maybe on official press releases. The culture of Radical Reliance is still strong at places like Principia College:

The Principia College catalog (page 9: Spiritual Reliance) sates: Students who rely on medicine beyond one term will be asked to temporarily withdraw until such usage is discontinued. A withdrawal is not a suspension and does not negatively affect the student’s record. 

I never tested the policy during my time at Prin, but it is my understanding that they’re fairly inflexible about these policies.*

Radical reliance is also mandatory to stay at a CS Nursing facility. Tellingly, Arden Wood in CA, prominently links to Advanced Health Care Directives which “allows a person to specify another adult, in the case of incapacity, to communicate or make health care decisions for him or her.” They also talk mention their group activities which include resident hymn sings and Bible lesson readings.

The CS-based summer camps (there are several) also ask that “free from the use of tobacco, alcohol, and medication?“Another clearly states that “No — staff dispense medication. Please tell us of advance CS Practitioner work being done.” Having never attended any of these camps I’m not sure what their exact policies are, but I have heard unpleasant stories of incompetent staff, and lack of basic first aid skills by counselors and CSNs alike.**

I find the next few paragraphs to be a bit more honest, they’re not saying go to doctors, they’re saying the government should give them money – and not just the federal government, they want it from state governments too:

Perhaps more significantly, they have begun a public campaign to redefine their methods as a form of care that the broader public should consider as a supplement rather than a substitute for conventional treatment, like biofeedback, chiropractic or homeopathic care.

In recent years, the church has been lobbying to convince lawmakers that its approach is an alternative way of tending to the sick, and that its costs should be covered by insurance companies and included in health care legislation.

“In recent years, the church has been lobbying”that’s NOT RECENT. The Mother Church has basically been lobbying since Christian Science began, and now it has moved on to get Medicare to cover things like CS Nursing care (official PDF on: CS & Medicare). There is an interesting article on the CHILD website (also from 2010) entitled Church fails to get prayer-fee mandates in health care bills.***

I also find it ironic that CS wants to be lumped with “alternative” medicine. Ms. Eddy is quite clear in the Church Manual that she is very against such practices by Church Members. She’s also very clear in S&H that Jesus didn’t take drugs, and people should not try to mix the material and spiritual.

What I found most telling that the CSPs interviewed

… would not discuss the care of children or let a reporter witness a treatment session. And neither practitioner was willing to discuss the new flexibility …

That’s hardly surprising, if they mess up the NYTimes interview their jobs are on the line! I love how they explained that:

In Christian Science, they said, sickness and suffering are misunderstandings — or as Mrs. Eddy wrote, “a mistaken belief” in the “power of ill health.”

One of the practitioners, John Q. Adams of Manhattan, said a patient who came to him with a lump under his arm was experiencing “a manifestation of fear, not a lump.”

The other practitioner, Rebecca Odegaard of Boston, said that if a patient had a bleeding gash in his arm, “I would try to calm this person, and help him overcome the fear.” Such a patient is suffering anxiety over the illusion that something has injured his “true self,” when the gash has only happened to his “material self,” Ms. Odegaard said.

I’m shocked the people even told their CSPs what the ailment even was, by acknowledging the false belief they’re giving it power! Most of the time if I talked with a CSP I had a vague “situation” or “issue” (or I let my parents make the call).

As for the hypothetical arm with a bleeding gash, over coming fear is important, but it is equally important to get wound properly cleaned up! You can realize your “True Self” all you want, but if you don’t take care of your “material self” your friends and family will eventually google for “christian science deaths” (the #3 search term for this blog).

Adults are welcome to do their own thing with their health, regardless of their religion, but I’m going to side with the American Academy of Pediatrics when it comes to dealing with children and their ailments.

“Given the complete lack of scientific evidence of the efficacy of prayer in treating any illness or disorder in children,” academy officials wrote Senate leaders in October, “mandating coverage for these services runs counter to the principles of evidence-based medicine.” (emphasis mine)

If my personal experiences, and experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics aren’t enough, I can point you to the Heywood Testimony to the Obama Administration, February 26, 2010 (and more on her blog, One-Leg Liz).

The problem with using the “evidence-based” argument is that Good CS claim that CS-prayer is “evidence-based” and they’ve “had the healings to prove it.” They feel they should never give up (or turn to medicine, even though “modern medicine” has stickers and quite often results).

The TMC may be touting CS the Doctor-Tolerant version, but the reality in the churches, in the camps, college, and nursing facilities is quite different. TMC and the CS movement is not doctor-tolerant, they’re simply trying to re-brand themselves to get money. They really should be ashamed of themselves.

*“Drugs” are forbidden, it does not matter what they are or why they are being taken. If anyone has any first-hand experience with it and would like to share their story, please contact me!

** Again, if anyone would like to share a CS-camp or CS-nursing facility story, please let me know!

***Full disclosure, I can’t say I’ve followed any of this at all closely beyond the few posts I’ve made for this blog, and everything I learned for those was from extensive google searches. I have not had any experience dealing with Medicare/Medicade or any sort of other insurance in relation to Christian Science. Thankfully we have health insurance and any CSP use was a minor out-of-pocket expense.

my Prin hoodie

The other morning it was rather chilly and I was going to spend a part of they day on projects around the house. Without much thought I pulled out my Prin College hoodie, cozy, warm and already stained from projects, to wear.

I took Kid1 to school and the first friend we saw was the child with two mommies.

I felt suddenly very self-conscious. Here I was chatting with an incredible woman who cared deeply about her partner and her child while wearing a hoodie from an institution which openly, actively discriminates against homosexuals. I felt horribly ashamed.

How was I going to explain to her that yes, I had attended a conservative Christian liberal arts college in Elsah, IL, but I had reformed my ways. I was no longer particularly conservative, or remotely Christian (except at all the holidays which include chocolate or presents). I had signed a petition and blogged about Prin’s anit-gay stances. I was not the same naive, idealistic eighteen year old who stepped off Alton Limo into the warped world of Prin.

Thankfully the other mother wasn’t aware of Principia’s views on homosexuals, nor did she inquire about the obscure college printed on the front of my sweatshirt. We greeted each other with cheerful “good mornings” and we chatted about the weather as we walked to the classroom.

I felt dirty and ashamed to be associated with a college that holds such hateful views on homosexuality.

I disagree with Principia’s policies and I felt that by wearing the hoodie in public I was in some way supporting their stance. I know I’m not, I know it is just a hoodie, but it felt like I had “I hate gay people” scrawled across my back in bright orange over the silhouette of the panther’s head. I felt like everyone knew about Principia’s anti-homosexual stance and that I was being judged for having attended a school with such bigoted views.

I love my Prin hoodie, it is cozy and warm, but for now, it will be regulated to the back of an under-the-bed storage bin (or to be worn on days I don’t leave the house or associate with anyone outside my immediate family). I don’t want to be associated with an institution that has hateful, harmful views about anyone.

Principia’s 2009 “Free Speech” Policy

Unless you are living on campus and have access to the campus-only website much of the information about Principia’s policies is not easily available. Their website is full of feel-good “we’re all Christian Scientists isn’t it all great” propaganda, which carefully hiding/downplaying things like their “Free Speech Policy” and “sexual relations policies” (really, what business is it of theirs!?)

I disagree with this stance, I feel ALL prospective students, and their parents, should be able to access this information, as well as alumni, and other prospective donors, so that people can make truly informed decisions about where they plan to attend college and what sort of institutions they are supporting.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t really bother to read 90% of the policies, blue book, etc. during the application process until I “had to” for moral reasoning, or more recently when I got curious. Sure I skimmed the “no drinking, no drugs, no sex” – no big deal, at the time I wasn’t doing any of that anyway, and I wasn’t “homosexual” so I didn’t give too much (any?) thought to the policy. The college (and several other organizations) were offering me seemingly generous loans, grants and other money simply because I could write nice things and at least fake my way through being a somewhat decent Christian Scientist – to be fair, at the time I was trying hard to be a good CS, so living by the “community standards” wasn’t difficult, getting out of bed on my own to go to Sunday School was harder, but peer-pressure from roommates can be a powerful motivator.

This may be shocking to some, I’ve continued to NOT drink, NOT smoke, NOT be “homosexual,” and to limit most of the sex I’ve had/have been having to “within the confines of marriage” even after I left Prin, and possibly even more shockingly, even after I left CS. I have started taking drugs: occasionally I partake of an ibuprofen. I really don’t see what the big deal is. But I digress…

After much searching I have found the 2009 policy – in full below. Please note, the policies cited come from Mary Kimball Morgan’s Education at The Principia and they are also cited on the Purpose & Policies page at community.principia.edu. I have also linked to them on the CS Resources page of this blog as well.

Please note the “behind the firewall” tag simply means I had to do more than five minutes of searching around the internet (on more than one occasion) to find it as it was not easily locatable. Word is there is an older 2003 version of the “Free Speech Policy” – and I’d love to find it so the two can be compared. If you happen to have a copy, or a link to where I can find a copy, please e-mail me!

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Equality at Prin

There has been a noticeable increase in searches for “gay rights at Principia,” “Principia homosexual policies,” and “equality at Prin” which appear to be landing people at this blog.


I know there is not a lot that turns up when you search for this stuff, there is the very active Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/ISupportEqualityAtPrin, a multi-page PDF of the Principia College Catalog with the reminder about abstaining from homosexual activity, and the post I made a little while back about Prin’s homosexual policies. There is also the Emergence International group which offers support for gay/lesbian/bisexual Christian Scientists.

So I decided to do some searching around and turned up a catched article from the Principia Pilot in 1999 posted by the http://www.cslesbigay.org (in full below the cut… please note Prin has made some administrative changes, they have a new College President and a new Dean of Students but it seems to sum up their views nicely), and another petition “End Gay Discrimination at Principia.” I also came across an amusing, often irreverent mostly inactive blog, which lampoons some of Prin’s policies: the Lunar Fox Press.

Interestingly the “Chronicle of a gay rights activist which I had previously linked to in the Principia Pilot archives now reads as “404-not found.” It served as a reminder that up until 2009 (?) it was forbidden to even TALK about the “homosexual policies” because that was “homosexual activity” and therefore not allowed on campus.

What can you do to make a difference in Prin’s policies and/or learn more about them?

There is a fair bit of information that is only accessible on the campus local network. The college’s main website is devoid of information about their policies, and any articles the Pilot (college paper) puts out are nearly impossible to view. If I happen to come across any further articles I will share them.

I hope to gather more information to share so that people beyond the facebook and members-only groups know about this and can take part in taking action.

*Please note I do not have any animosity towards Principia, just their policies, interpretations and applications of Christian Science, and the Office of Student Life’s need to know about my sex life and Moral Reasoning.

Continue reading

Principia’s Homosexual Policies

All students who attend Principia College are required to abide by the following conditions:


Presented without further comment is the link to the Change.org petition to support Equality at Principia which states:

The Principia Administration and Board of Trustees
The Principia has pledged to serve the cause of Christian Science. Progressing beyond sexuality to spirituality is an important aspect that deserves respect. The homosexuality policy, however, is an obstacle to this progress because it asks students and faculty to identify themselves by sexual orientation. Then the policy restricts individuals, explicitly homosexuals, from openly identifying themselves in this manner, at the same time requiring them to overcome this false impression. Therefore, this policy severely impedes the progress it demands. I respectfully request its removal so that all Principians may effectively realize their spiritual identity.

[Your name]

and here is a survey about Principia’s Homosexual Policies and an explanation of them

REASONS FOR THE HOMOSEXUALITY POLICY AT PRINCIPIA COLLEGE APRIL, 2010 Principia and Principians hold no animosity or feel no condemnation towards people who identify themselves as homosexuals, but the College’s standard comes from a desire to build a foundation for our community based on the principles listed below:

1. The Bible is explicit in its injunctions against homosexual acts and in the importance of morality in marriage. The Bible gives specific rules for marriage, forbidding departure from heterosexual marriage. The gospels include Christ Jesus’ instructions on marriage, in which a man and a woman become “one flesh.”Paul condemned homosexuality as abnormal practice.

2. Bible Scholar, Bernhard Anderson says in an article entitled, “The Biblical Circle,” heterosexuality is a biological norm for the perpetuation of the human species. The creation mandate in Genesis 1 is for male and female being fruitful and multiplying for procreative purposes.

3. Principia’s policy stems partly from the difficulties that would arise from trying to accommodate an alternative lifestyle in a small, close-knit residential community.

4. Homosexuality is healable. Healing is a revealing of what’s true. Discovery of one’s spiritual selfhood brings freedom from a limited sense of identity. Homosexuality does not truly characterize one’s identity.

5. Science and Health, p. 56 “Marriage is the legal and moral provision for generation among human kind.” On that basis, the purpose of sex is to procreate within the safety net of marriage. Homosexual relationships are incapable of procreation outside or within the institution of marriage.

6. Science and Health, p. 57, “Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress.” Chastity is defined as the confining of sexual relations to the marriage covenant. It also means purity of thought and action.

Source: prinweb.prin.edu/oslweb/REASONS%20FOR%20THE%20HOMOSEXUALITY%20POLICY3.doc **

What’s included in pre-marital and extra-marital sexual relations, and homosexual activity: Contrary to popular culture, at Principia, oral sex is included in what constitutes pre-marital and extra-marital sexual relations. Homosexual activity includes dating, public displays of affection, and sexual relations. Source: Blue Pages http://prinweb.prin.edu/oslweb/policies,_rules,_&_procedures_for_students.htm **

There are several Facebook groups who are working in support of this (including Principians for Queer Equality, and I Support Equality at Prin), and there is also a larger support group for LGBT Christian Scientists called Emergence International.

**Both cited sources are from prinweb, which is Principia’s internal network, and these links do not appear to be assessable from off-campus. If anyone can find off-campus assessable links that would be greatly appreciated!

moralizing pregnancy, abortion & premature babies

I wrote this post a little while ago, but held off sharing it until now. Since writing it, a woman in Ireland has died because she was denied an abortion. Why? Ireland is “a Catholic country.” A commenter at Feministing summed it up nicely:

Pregnancy is not religious phenomenon. It is not a moral idea. It is a biological event, and one that comes with many, well-known, well-documented risks. You cannot moralize biology. Morality is for human action, not processes that are beyond our individual control, like my ectopic pregnancy, or a dying fetus that, for whatever reason, does not miscarry properly,or for a fetus that will not survive after birth and will only know agony in its short moments or few days of life. Nor is such moralizing appropriate for social and personal circumstances that an individual cannot overcome by their own choices alone, like a woman who has been disadvantaged all her life and cannot have another child without being forced into even deeper poverty, or a woman who struggles with depression and cannot cope with a pregnancy or caring for a new child, or a woman who has to flee an abusive partner whose behavior she cannot change. The only place morality has in these equations is what *we* can do for the woman. Help her or don’t help her. And the morally right answer to that is a no-brainers for any clear-thinking individual…. You don’t play bullshit morality games around the option for the woman to choose to end such pregnancy. That’s not just and that’s not merciful. You make damn sure that option is available to her, so she may be spared the worse of such unfortunate circumstance.         (emphasis mine)

Pretty much.


I strongly feel a woman should have a wide range of options when it comes to family planning issues. No woman should be forced/coerced to carry a pregnancy to term (or death, or spontaneous premature labor, or an induction), and no woman should be forced/coerced to terminate one against her will.

Then there are situations like this one (made extra sensationalist by the Daily Mail): The miracle baby who will never walk, speak or read, born after family refused to terminate pregnancy despite three per cent survival rate

The overwhelming religious “logic” is what struck me the most:

‘God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good,’ he added.
The couple are members of The Village Chapel in Hillsboro Village, a nondenominational church.

This couple is in a no-win situation, had they terminated, they would have been labeled “selfish” by their ultra-religious peers for not wanting to “deal” with the “burden” of a seriously disabled child, instead they have a seriously disabled child who may not last the year, mounting medical bills, and two other children to take care of on top of it. Instead, cynics will label them “selfish” for bringing such a life into the world: a feeding tube, daily seizures, a seriously compromised immune system, an undeveloped brain, and like-minded individuals will praise them for being compassionate and taking the hard road but “doing the right thing.”

The situation breaks my heart.

Having a child in the NICU is incredibly tough even if the child is “healthy, just a little under weight” the strain is often overwhelming. I can not begin to imagine what it would be like to deal with a seriously ill infant in addition to two healthy ones.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t think “God” had anything to do with it. This may be in part because I don’t believe in “God” but also because if I did, I’d like to think that “God” isn’t an asshole who was “testing” my faith, straining my family, causing mounting medical bills, and causing a premature infant to endure multiple complex medical procedures to stay alive for a few more moments.

I feel sorry for the children, for Baby Pearl and her extensive medical needs and her older siblings who will most likely be left to the care of well-meaning family and friends while their parents deal with the ultra-high-needs baby. The parents had a choice, the children did not.

On one hand we have been given the technology to detect early fetal abnormalities, on the other, in some cases, we also have the technology to allow people born with such abnormalities a chance at a more “normal” life. Ethicists have been debating this one for years: quality of life, quantity of life, it is not a debate I wish to wade into.

Stories like these touch on a number of dangerous issues: eugenics, selective breeding, assisted suicide, who gets to decide who is “worthy” of living, of reproducing, of controlling women’s bodies/reproductive capabilities, of becoming a member of society? I don’t know if what they did was the right thing. I’m sure in a few months the DM will have a follow up article about either the continued life, or early death of Baby Pearl.

I’m going to go cry now.