A blog I’ve recently discovered (well the blogger actually found me and I have begun to explore her blog), has piqued a latent interest of mine in regards to Christian Science. In the work that I do now, I frequently deal with people who suffer from various mental illnesses, and I’ve had some training in what is known as “mental health first aid”. This by no means make me an expert in any way on the subject of mental illness, but it does give me a frame of reference as I look back now on my past faith path.
I am pretty much convinced now that Mary Baker Eddy was at the very least delusional–I’ll skip the details for now and speak in generalities: she was particularly obsessed by the possible mental malpractice of a former student of her’s (or a few), she made claims about her early childhood and adulthood which are dubious at best (but are strong parts of the Christian Science “mythology”), and she was persistently convinced that various people (especially Catholics) were actively working against her. Sounds a whole lot like conspiracy theory to me. Strong belief in conspiracy theory is one telltale sign of possible mental illness. She out and out lied about the circumstances of her son being taken from her, and her’s (and hence the “official” Christian Science Church’s) version of the infamous 1866 “fall on the ice in Lynn” does not exactly match up with available public and other records of the incident and its aftermath–re-writing of her own history to suit her evolving purposes. So, she was probably definitely delusional in some way, and perhaps a pathological liar. As I look back now on the things I have accepted in the past as “fact”, I realize now that the actual fact is that Christian Science was founded by someone who suffered from some form, or perhaps multiple forms of mental illness.
As I was doing a lot of thinking over the weekend about my life as a Christian Scientist, I began to wonder about how this whole religion was possibly built around the ravings of someone who seriously needed some professional help, and how I and so many others have been and continue to be sucked in for over a century. A few years ago, this conclusion would have scared the crap out of me and shaken to the core my whole sense of reality. Now, it all sort of makes sense and on a certain level, I feel sort of nonchalant about it personally. What blows my mind is how I bought into it for so long (or at least tried to), and how thoroughly so many people I’ve been close to did, and continue to.
This is also somewhat why, unlike many who’ve left Christian Science, I do not hold much animosity towards Mary Baker Eddy. Mental illness is a health issue, just like cancer is. I can no more feel anger towards a mentally ill person than I could towards someone with cancer. However, BIG difference here, the cancer sufferer is not likely to harm others due to their condition, the mentally ill person unchecked, especially as one thinks on the damage Christian Science has done, especially to children, can inflict much damage. I just wish people could see it for what I believe it actually is, and quit harming themselves and others with their radical reliance on this “house of cards”.
These are just my brief musings on the topic. My new friend does a much better job and goes into much greater depth of research on the whole subject than I ever will. I recommend checking her blog out. It’s called “Understanding Mortal Mind“.