Bittersweet Memories

Even though I have left Christian Science, in many ways, it hasn’t completely left me, and I don’t think it ever will. As I’ve discussed in a previous post, certain habits die hard. As I heard a fellow Christian Science Classmate of mine once say years ago when we were talking of a fellow student who at the time had recently left the faith, “she may have left Christian Science, but it will never leave her.” Then, that was a comforting statement to me; now, it underscores my annoyance–especially as it relates to some of my old Christian Science habits that die hard, if ever.

However, today I’m thinking back to some of my most cherished childhood memories. I swear my Mom could have cured cancer with hot lemonade and her voice, singing hymns. She had a beautiful voice, and while saying “I love you” was something she rarely did–it just wasn’t her way–you knew that she did love you. That love was ever present in her voice and in her actions.

I went through a period when I was in 1st and 2nd grade when I was sick a lot. I believe it was whooping cough a few times, and bronchitis at another. It never quite rose to the level of alarm that would cause my parents to take me to a doctor, but they later related that it came close, that they were concerned. Apparently, I lost a considerable amount of weight. I did, however, recover, and the only lasting effect I can definitively point to is the fact that my voice gets easily raspy (suckish when you’re at a rock concert and screaming at the top of your lungs, or at a hockey game and the ref makes a bad call). My parents and other Christian Scientists of course credited my recovery as a Christian Science “healing”. So did I. I now know better. I believe it was a few parts good luck (things could very easily have gone the other way), and many parts the body’s rather underrated ability to heal itself–after all, humankind did survive many millenia without modern medicine–life just sucked when you got sick, and you usually died…unpleasantly. I guess I could say that Christian Science and other faith-healing groups are holdover microcosms of what the world was like before the advent of evidence-based scientific medical practice. Where else does one contract measles? Yes, I had the measles when I was 14. It kept me home from school and in darkened rooms for around 2 weeks. I got my immunity the hard way.

So, that’s what makes this memory bittersweet. I always remember Mom’s voice, singing to me, and how good it made me feel. She truly loved me, and wanted nothing but the best for me. I will never doubt that. I know they never would have sacrificed either of us kids on the altar of their faith, but I do wonder now how many bullets I dodged. I know that many, if not most Christian Science parents are probably not “radical reliers“, but how does one determine if something is serious enough to warrant medical intervention? This is something I think of often. I think even non-Christian Science parents probably ask themselves the same question, except that the non-Christian Science parent likely has greater knowledge of diseases and their symptoms. After all, most of us don’t want to be hypochondriacs running to the doctor at every sneeze or every little ache. The key is discerning if that little ache is indicative of something more serious.

2 thoughts on “Bittersweet Memories

  1. I also heard tales of great “healings” that occurred to my siblings and I growing up in a CS home. The one that is a real show stopper was about myself as a two year old. I was home alone with my mother, while all my older sisters were all at school. She was reading her lesson on the couch and I was climbing around on a chair in the same room. I suddenly fell over the back of the chair and hit my head on the wall behind the chair, with a very loud thud, followed by a deafening silence. As my mother told it, “I thought she was dead.” So lets stop here and get the image of a toddler who has fallen over the back of a chair and is not crying, but knocked out cold…possibly dead. Now lets move on to what happened next, and remember my mother was a devout CSist. She got up, took her books with her, and walked away without looking at what might be laying behind the chair, to quickly start her “work”. She did not look to see what had happened because she did not want to “take it in”. She lay down on her bed and began furiously reading her lesson. Later, she is not sure how much later as she never left her bedroom, I came toddling into the room looking for her. It was a HEALING. A healing to be shared with all on many a Wednesday night services to come.

    What mother in her in right fucking mind would not run to her baby who had fallen over a chair with a jarring thud, followed by silence instead of a loud cry. I was knocked out cold, at two years of age, and my own mother did not come over to pick me up and hold me…she would not even look at my little body in a heap on the floor.

    Christian Science does not only encourage child neglect, it requires it.

    • Wow…you could have been dead, or paralyzed! Yes, CS is deadly for children. For a perfect example of what a Christian Science upbringing can reward a child with, look no farther than the story of Liz Heywood. She keeps a blog called “One Leg Liz”. Google her, you’ll find it. Long and short, she suffered from a bone infection that left her knee fused. As an adult, she ultimately elected to have it amputated to relieve pain and discomfort. The infection could have been routinely treated with antibiotics and been just a footnote in her childhood memories. Instead, she lost a leg, and endured a lot of mental trauma that she’s been in therapy for for years.

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