everything is always good



Every one of them says “how are you?” And you always have to say “good,” even if you’re not good.


If you say things aren’t good, they’ll wonder — aloud — why you’re placing “limits” on yourself or the situation. All things are possible through God and enough prayer.

This does not stop when you grow up.

This does not stop when you leave Christian Science.

This does not stop when they know you’ve left Christian Science — this is just proof you need Christian Science more than ever before! Because logical fallacies

So you lie and say it is “good” even when it’s not, and it becomes a habit. Everything is good.

Everything is always good*.




*Except when it isn’t, and it all blows up in your face. Then it is your fault for not trusting God enough and not reading the Lesson, and failing to pray and have the proper understanding.


fathermothergod: doing your part for the Cause

This is another one of the books that has been sitting on my desk for longer than it should have. This post contains some affiliate links. Thank you for your support of kindism.org

I’ve put down Dennet’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (see previous post) — an excellent read, but rather heavy — in favor of Lucia Greenhouse’s fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science — the blogger over at Emerging Gently assured me it was a “quick read” and I needed a break from deep philosophical musings.

fathermothergod is indeed a quick read, I finished it in a little over a day, and it hit all the emotional buttons. My husband found me in tears and told me I didn’t need to finish the book, I did anyway, I had to even though I knew how it was going to end. The story told in fathermothergod simultaneously validates my own experience, and gives me a preview of (and new perspective on) what I may face in the future with family members who remain steadfastly in Christian Science.

My father, much like Greenhouse’s, was a convert to Christian Science; my mother converted “out of convenience.” The father-know’s-best attitude that prevailed throughout echoed my childhood as well. Greenhouse’s father took a more extreme path with his practice of Christian Science than mine did, choosing to become a Christian Science Practitioner and then Teacher. Greenhouse’s father reminds his children on p. 59 that

you are in a sense doing your part for the Cause. There is a real need for Christian Science worldwide, and this is one way you can play a part. An important part.

The Cause of Christian Science can be quite compelling. For those who have the opportunity to participate it is seen as a “real gift” as Greenhouse’s father, my mother, and countless other Christian Scientists have said.

As a child, Christian Science was hard to explain as a religion in which I participated, but I can only being to imagine how hard it was to explain being a Christian Scientist Practitioner’s daughter. Greenhouse recounts her father’s reaction to her decision to get glasses, and how this is seen as a failing on her part, really, shouldn’t she give Christian Science a chance?

fathermothergod touches on some of the elephants in the Christian Scientists living room: secrecy surrounding illness, the idea that Christian Science must be protected (from what, I’m still not sure), the tremendously large abstract concepts that young children are expected to understand and demonstrate. Mortal mind, error, protective work. Having been raised in Christian Science, I found myself nodding knowingly when Greenhouse’s parents espouse these beliefs, I find this story quite relatable, and I feel the deepest sympathy for her non-Christian Science family members.

Reading about Greenhouse’s mother’s health challenges difficult, as was the family drama that played out around it. The line between respecting decisions — even when you disagree with them — and stepping in to intervene is a very fine. Regardless what you choose to do, you will be criticized by someone for your actions.

My parents sought medical care when my father’s health began to fail. It was selective and inconsistent, but I credit the medical intervention that was given with the extra ten years we had with Dad. As my mother put it once, she’d seen too many people “radically rely themselves into an early grave” and she wasn’t going to let that happen. It was difficult, his health problems started while I was still immersed in Christian Science (and attending Principia), and by the time he died, I was well on my way out.

I highly recommend fathermothergod, it demonstrates many of the concepts of Christian Science in their real-world application and not just abstract theories. fathermothergod also does an excellent example of portraying the emotional strain placed on children of Christian Scientists, as well as the relationship complexities when non-science family is involved.

Launching www.ExChristianScience.com

I’d like to share with you an exciting new resource for those who are doubting, questioning, leaving or have left Christian Science.

unnamed-2A group of former members of the Christian Science Church have launched a new website designed as a resource for people who have left or are considering leaving the Christian Science faith. Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology) was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century and is perhaps best known as a sect that rejects medical treatment, advocating prayer exclusively for healing.

The website, called The Ex-Christian Scientist (www.exchristianscience.com), is maintained by an informal group of about fifty former Christian Scientists “who strive to assist those questioning their commitment to Christian Science as well as those who have already left it.” Individual members of the group left Christian Science for varying reasons. Some are still religious, some are not. All, however, are united in their desire to help those who are questioning Christian Science to decide if there is a more appropriate path for themselves, and to provide an inclusive and understanding community for those who leave the faith.

Continue reading

what I’ve been reading: things that make me angry

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CS prays for healing at http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/linda-osmundson-casa-director-and-christian-scientist-prays-for-healing/2206547

Why does God Kill So Many Children in Idaho? at https://www.vocativ.com/culture/religion/faith-healing-deaths/?page=all

Birthing Book Linked to Death of Baby at  http://www.theragblog.com/metro-lamar-w-hankins-birthing-book-linked-to-death-of-pursley-baby-in-east-texas-cult/

Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection at http://www.csicop.org/si/show/faith_healing_religious_freedom_vs._child_protection

Christian Science Culture and Positive Peer Pressure at Principia College

Back in February, Jonny Sacramanga gave an interview about Leaving Fundamentalism. A section of the interview really jumped out at me, so I bookmarked it with every intention writing a post. In the interview, Sacramanga talks about positive peer pressure in relation to Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). On his blog, ACE is described as

a cult-like fundamentalist education system where children work individually, in silence, at isolated desks. The science curriculum emphasises Young Earth Creationism and mocks evolution. The politics curriculum teaches the views of the Christian Right.

You’re probably wondering what ACE has to do with positive peer pressure, Christian Science, and anything else I’ve written about. I can’t speak to ACE specifically, but I can speak to cult-like systems in relation to Christian Science, and more specifically the culture at Principia College and the surrounding community.

Although I was not raised with ACE or Charismatic Christian culture, I could relate to Sacramanga when he talked about his initial experiences with ACE, I found they echoed my initial experiences with Principia.

(JS) And I thought this was heaven. I felt so lucky to be surrounded only by good Christians, away from the evil and the temptations of the world. I wouldn’t have used the word ‘lucky’ at the time, because I was taught ‘luck’ came from the root word ‘Lucifer’, as in Satan.
There was quiet music playing in the background, and I was where God wanted me to be. Everyone was so polite and so friendly. I find it sinister now, because I think it was unreal, but it seemed wonderful to me then. And I felt so lucky to be learning the truth about Creation…
…because everyone else in the world was being taught these ridiculous lies about evolution, and I was one of a fortunate few who was hearing the truth about how God made the world.

I had gone to a large, public schools. My high school had over 4,000 students, with maybe four Christian Scientists in attendance (including myself and my sibling). Alcohol and drugs were a problem, and for a time there was a pushy boyfriend who wanted sex. At first, Principia was amazing, a beautiful campus (my husband mistook my high school for a prison complex), small class sizes, and everyone was a Christian Scientist. There were no odd looks that I didn’t drink, no one offered me a smoke, no one pressured me for sex (I also didn’t date any Prin guys).

(LL) It seems that many people really appreciate the absence of peer pressure and other positive aspects so that they don’t immediately realize all the crappy things being taught.

(JS) Well, there was peer pressure. I just thought of it as positive peer pressure. It was pressure to be the right kind of Christian, not to be worldly.

My father had lectured me at length about the dangers of peer pressure. My friends were pretty mild, at home the “pressure” had come from friends dragging “inexperienced” me through a sex toy shop (mostly to slut-shame, giggle and blush), offering cough/cold medicine for a hacking cold, and worrying about my eternal salvation. There was none of that at Prin. While we did get the occasional giggle from the penis-shaped pasta at Spencer’s Gifts, the strongest thing anyone offered me was a caffeinated Dr. Pepper (the horror!!), and as Christian Scientists, we didn’t need to worry about our “eternal salvation.”

(LL) How did this “godly” peer pressure play out?

(JS) Well, for me it was a big thing to be the first to the door at break times so I could hold the door for everyone on the way out…
… to show what a good servant I was.
In the last year I was there, we had morning prayer meetings for the older students, and because the church was very Charismatic (even though ACE isn’t at all), it was a big thing to show how spiritual I was by praying in tongues ecstatically and delivering prophecies.

At Principia I faced a different kind of peer pressure: the pressure to go to Sunday School, later church, on Sundays (my BFF insisted I join her Sunday School class because her teacher was “so inspiring”). The pressure to go to Tuesday morning Christian Science Org. testimony meetings. The pressure to go to Sunday night hymn sing. The pressure to read the weekly Bible Lesson. The pressure to attend Christian Science talks on campus — “professor X is such an inspiring speaker!” The pressure to participate in House Bonding Activities (often attending Sunday hymn sing or Church as a group).

Mistake House and The Chapel at Principia College, photo by Kat @ Kindism

Maybeck’s Mistake House and The Chapel at Principia College, photo by Kat @ Kindism

The biggest pressure, was to demonstrate Christian Science. This pressure didn’t come from my immediate circle of friends, as individuals we were all in different places with “our understanding” of Science, it was campus-wide. We had to demonstrate supply — usually financial so that we could continue to be enrolled (or keep a scholarship), we had to demonstrate academic success (in many cases this was tied to financial supply/scholarships), we had to demonstrate healing, and we had to demonstrate support by actively participating in Christian Science activities on campus.

Some might argue “had to” might be a bit strong, but when a faculty member can remark they “haven’t seen you in Sunday School recently” and professors can require you to go to Christian Science talks, “had to” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Your peers are standing up in Tuesdays to give testimonies of healing, your classmates work Christian Science into philosophy, religion, history, and sociology classes (possibly others as well, but these seemed to have significant crossover). The roommate that is the House Metaphysical Head, marking the Books for the House Quiet Study Rooms, and pick readings for house meetings. The roommate that is “working on” something and gets up at 6 am to read the Bible Lesson every day, because Quiet Time is for prayerfully supporting the campus, not reading the lesson (or taking a shower, or doing homework, or sleeping, or making out with your boyfriend).

Christian Science forces people to create a facade of everything is Perfect. There are no chinks in the armor of God. To admit shortcomings is to give power to mortal mind. God is working his purpose out! Fear not little flock! The “everything is Perfect” attitude penetrates the community at the deepest levels.

Then there is the darker side to it all, the side you can’t talk about because it would be admitting something less than perfection.

The roommate that calls her CS Practitioner a dozen times a day and is so paralyzed at the thought of making a decision she has to call her CSP for advice – you start to wonder if the relationship is healthy, even from a Christian Science perspective. The roommate with debilitating menstrual cramps that are so bad she can’t get out of bed two days a month — you have a class with her and are quizzed by the teacher as to her absence. The friend on a full academic scholarship who spends nights in the Science Center because she falls asleep studying (or making out with her boyfriend). The young woman who is asked to leave because the college is not equipped to handle her severe eating disorder. The couple who spent a quarter on an “Office Of Student Life Abroad” because they were “caught” having sex and were “requested” to leave. The young woman who one day stopped going to class, and suddenly, completely disappeared from campus — I’m sure someone knows what happened, but none of our mutual professors had any idea. The students who end up on “academic probation” because they dedicate themselves to their department — usually music or drama, at the peril of their other classes.

Then there are the countless students who suffer from depression, a nasty or abusive relationship, simply being overwhelmed by all the demands placed on them (or that they’ve volunteered for). The solution was usually “Have you tried reading the Lesson, or talking with your Practitioner?”

The way Christian Science culture plays out at Principia, it is impossible to seek help, medical or otherwise. You can’t talk to anyone about these problems, that would be admitting failure, opening yourself to malicious animal magnetism, aggressive mental suggestion, or a number of other unreal monsters lurking in the dorm closets, besides no one else on campus could possibly be having these problems, they’re Perfect Christian Scientists. You should be demonstrating over the problems, having remarkable healings and sharing them openly with the campus on Tuesday morning testimony meetings.

Principia offers “Confidential Counseling” through the Resident Counselors (RC) but given the gossipy atmosphere that pervades the institution, I know very few people who availed themselves of this service. I’m also unclear what exact qualifications the RCs need, beyond a “solid foundation” in Christian Science, and Christian Science isn’t all that helpful when trying to manage a house full of college students and their needs.

It took me several years before I’d developed close enough relationships before I opened up and talked with some of my friends about some of my doubts and fears regarding Christian Science, a failed relationship, Principia, etc. It was still done largely in secret. To my surprise we were struggling with similar situations, and in one case, they were even more frustrated with Principia than I was.

Like those entangled in ACE, Christian Scientists pride themselves in knowing the truth, and those who have demonstrated their way to Principia are a special group. The cult-like mindset that shuts out all non-Christian Science thought and is reinforced by the community. Sure, there may be doubters, but they largely keep their heretical thoughts to themselves. It isn’t until you get out of the entangled mindset you start to realize what seemed like positive peer pressure, was the continued indoctrination of Christian Science.


House of Horrors

The following is a guest post by long-time reader and fellow former-Christian Scientist Dr. Spock. For more, please visit the Guest Posts & Contributors tab at the top of the page.

I frequently visit Victoria, British Columbia, a place that stirs a lot of memories for me, and I recently got back from a week there with family and friends. I partially grew up there, as I often spent my summers as a kid in the area with my cousins, and it was tradition at Christmas to go to my aunt and uncle’s place for a large family Christmas gathering, where I learned fast, as the youngest able-bodied cousin, to eat quickly if I wanted seconds on turkey and stuffing. I always remember the corner store where, when I was around nine or ten years old, my cousin and I spent our allowance one hot summer day on a box each of about a dozen Twinkies, on which we gorged ourselves while sitting on the store’s stoop. Before we were able to pedal all the way back home, we were throwing up in a ditch by the side of the road. The store isn’t there anymore, long ago swallowed up by condos and cookie-cutter yuppieish boutiques and coffee shops as urban development spread into the once semi-rural area where my cousins lived. Sometimes I drive by the house my cousins lived in, and try to find some of the other landmarks from my childhood summers as they occasionally emerge from the mists of my memory. Along with the fun memories of childhood, also come some darker ones. Victoria is also the place where my mother went to die in the worst pain I can imagine, in a Christian Science nursing facility. It is also where my father and I scattered her ashes at the seashore; and where, less than a year later, I scattered his. These memories burn brightly as if it were yesterday when it all happened.

Victoria is a beautiful city, and I always enjoy my visits with family and friends in the area. On the other side of the coin, it’s not always easy to be there. One ritual I always perform when I’m there is to visit the seaside park where my parents’ ashes were scattered. It’s the one place where I can physically go and “visit” them. It’s a spectacularly beautiful spot with a view over Juan de Fuca Strait towards Washington State in the USA. Dad and I chose that spot to scatter Mom’s ashes because of its beauty, and the fact that it combined, as best as possible, two places she loved: Vancouver Island (where Victoria is located), and in view of Washington State. After we scattered Mom’s ashes, Dad declared to me his desire to have his ashes scattered there as well, saying that when the time came, he “wanted to be with her”. Previously, for many years, he’d expressed a desire to have his ashes scattered in the Canadian Rockies.

Not far from where my parents’ ashes were scattered, is the place I consider to be a true House Of Horrors a.k.a. Wayside House. It’s the Christian Science nursing facility where many good Canadian (and maybe a few American and other) Christian Scientists go to suffer and often die–without even the most basic pain mitigation allowed to soften the blow. Wayside House is where my Mom died under Christian Science “care”. I’ve often driven past this place over the years, usually never stopping; trying not to give the place much more than a second thought, but this time, it was different. I drove around the block to circle back in front of the driveway into this despicable place. I pulled over to the side of the road and just sat there and looked on for a few minutes. It looked peaceful and serene at the House Of Horrors. In fact, it looked like nobody was there at all, but I knew otherwise. Beneath that serene exterior, I knew there were people in there in excruciating pain, dying of god only knows what awful diseases they chose not to have treated or even diagnosed.

I remember a visit to the House Of Horrors early in childhood when my grandmother worked there as a Christian Science nurse. I distinctly remember hearing a woman moaning in pain or some sort of discomfort from a room down the hall as I accompanied my grandmother on her rounds. I don’t remember if I asked Gram about what I heard, but I do remember it. I wonder now what sort of pain that poor woman was in. The only comfort the “nurses” would’ve been able to offer would have been to shift pillows, offer water or juice, or read from the Bible and/or the writings of Mary Baker Eddy or other Christian Science literature. Not even an aspirin is permitted in these houses of horrors, and people often enter these facilities with advanced cancer or other serious diseases eating away at their bodies. Before Christian Scientists will acquiece even to care at a Christian Science nursing facility, they will often have suffered at home on their own with whatever ailment they’re dealing with for quite some time. Any admission of advancement of a disease is an admission of failure in your practice Christian Science, and many Christian Scientists are loathe to admit such.

Thankfully, the House Of Horrors is on its last few remaining financial legs, as far as I know. Each year it manages to remain in operation amazes me. Unlike Christian Science nursing facilities in the United States, this facility receives no government funding for patient care, although it is licensed as a “private hospital” under the laws of the province of British Columbia. Canadian Medicare, unlike Medicare/Medicaid in the United States, wisely does not fund care in non-medical facilities, and I don’t know of any private insurance here that does either. If you go to this place, you’re there on your own dime and for what you get, it’s not cheap. Some financial aid is apparently available. As I settled out my parents’ estate, I begrudgingly wrote a cheque for over $1,000.00 to settle up the last payment for Mom’s so-called “care”. For her hard-earned cash, Mom got a room, a nicely made bed each morning, and nicely prepared food, which the large tumour growing in her abdomen pretty much prohibited her from eating. Her pillows were probably fluffed and shifted as needed, and she had a phone for her use. Other than that, the nurses would have only read from “the books” (the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures), some other writings by Mary Baker Eddy, and maybe some Christian Science periodicals. Apparently, one nurse was a good piano player and sung hymns with her in the common room. They also filled Dad and I up with sunny reports of Mom’s “progress”, including one story of her “dancing” in the hallway (I’ve heard different versions of that anecdote from others, so I wonder if it’s part of some script that Christian Science nurses learn in their training). I later learned from my non-Christian Scientist cousin, who visited Mom frequently at the House of Horros, that the only progress Mom was making in her last weeks there was towards the grave, and that she appeared to be in excruciating pain most of the time. The sunshiny, rose-petaled denial that Christian Scientists retreat to in the face of serious illness is deeply maddening to me now.

The House Of Horrors survives largely on bequests, donations, and in the past by sales of its formerly extensive real estate holdings. It’s located in a high-value neighbourhood of Victoria, and once comprised several acres of open space. I’d estimate the property they sold off was probably worth a few million dollars over the years. I’m not certain how much of their endowment still exists, but several years back I remember overhearing a conversation my uncle-in-law was having (he was on their board of directors at the time), and it sounded like the money was getting thin. Like the Christian Science Church and other Christian Science affiliated organizations, the House Of Horrors is a dying corpse that survives by cannibalizing itself by selling off assets, and benefiting from the bequests of dead Christian Scientists. Fortunately, no Christian Science-related organization got any bequests from my parents’ estate–they left it all to me exclusively, and there’s no way in hell will I give one dime to a Christian Science-affiliated organization. However, if I had pre-deceased my parents, a branch church, The Mother Church, and Principia would have equally split the proceeds from their estate. It’s a good thing I’m a survivor, I guess. I’d hate to think of any of my parents’ estate helping to sustain anything connected with Christian Science, despite their own [misguided] dedication to it, especially as I think on the horrific ways their dedication to Christian Science ended up killing them. Each year, I make a gift to the Salvation Army during their Christmas Drive in quiet honour of my Dad who did the same during his lifetime.

I sat there in my car looking on at the House Of Horrors, and raised my middle finger in a quiet salute to this awful place. Through my open window, I said “fuck you!” It felt good as I drove away. Nobody, except maybe the neighbour in whose driveway I’d stopped, would have heard me, but it still felt good. I said my peace to that place. I told them what I thought of them and what they do there. It was also my “fuck you” to Christian Science. Sometimes, you just need to do things like this.

What I’ve been reading: Faith Healing & Court Scrutiny