This is the first in an ongoing series taking a look at some of the weird contradictions within the practice/culture of Christian Science. Look for future posts under the category ‘Contradictions‘.
I share my home with a cat. Well, more accurately, she shares her home with me. I’m just the slave who keeps the rent and utilities paid, and makes sure Ms. Princess Feline’s bowl is full each morning, and the litter box is appropriately kept clean. In return, she lets me live here. Growing up, we always had cats, and I’ve always loved them, despite a slight allergy I have to them (Ms. Princess is banned from certain rooms in the house–key one being my bedroom). Ms. Princess is up to date on all of her shots, and visits the veterinarian yearly for a check-up, and more often if anything seems amiss (so far, that’s only been once in her two-years young life, and it was nothing I needed to worry about). Growing up, that was true for all of our cats, although I don’t recall that they were always taken in for check-ups on a regular basis, but they did have all their shots.
Interestingly, none of the humans in the house were up to date on our shots, and none of us visited the doctor regularly (except for my brother). Medical care was like that fire axe behind the glass in the red box on the wall–break glass and use only in an emergency. As I recall, this is often the case in many Christian Science households. Pets are very often up to date on shots, humans are not. Pets are at times more readily taken to the vet than humans are to the doctor.
I read a comment once some time ago, I think in a discussion forum regarding the death of a child in a family of Christian Scientists (something that happens when medical conditions go untreated) or maybe it was a point made in the article I don’t remember, but it was noted in the article that the family dog had recently been to the vet. The comment noted that the family’s dog was up to date on all of its shots and was regularly examined by the veterinarian. Medical care was good enough for pets, but not kids?
Now, I will say that pets in many a Christian Science household do not go to the vet when something arises, and do not have all their shots (rabies, however is often required by law, so you can’t get out of that one). I’m sure consequently, many suffer needlessly and die, and while wild animals don’t go to the vet when they’re sick, they also usually don’t suffer for months or years–mother nature has a way of ending their suffering quicker thanks to predators and/or inability to forage or hunt for food–domestic animals don’t have that benefit.
Several years ago, I remember a dog which belonged to some Christian Scientist friends of mine that developed a large growth on its side when it got older. I’m sure this must have been painful, or at least very uncomfortable. Towards the end of the dog’s life, the growth had become the size of a watermelon. Even as a practicing Christian Scientist myself, I thought they should have taken the dog to the vet when that growth first presented itself, or at least mercifully put the dog out of its misery. As I recall, the dog lived for about two years with this growth.
I wonder sometimes, about these weird little contradictions that appear sometimes in Christian Science culture.