A line from an old Rolling Stones song is running through my mind as I write this: “I’ll come to your emotional rescue…” this is from the song “Emotional Rescue”. However, it is not those exact words running through my mind as I think of the title for this post; more like, “I’ll come to your emotional detachment…”. Emotional detachment is something Christian Scientists do very well. It comes with the territory when one denies (as Christian Scientists often do) that there even is a problem. If you’re dealing with a problem, don’t go to a Christian Scientist if you want to vent or talk it out. Their penchant for not drinking alcohol aside, Christian Scientists would on that point alone, make lousy bartenders.
I’ve been lurking lately on the forum at the Christian Way website. I’ve even made one guest post in a thread discussing a post on my blog here. I’ll be upfront: as anyone who’s been a regular reader here will know, I am not Christian, or even religious at all for that matter. So, why would I be interested in this forum? Simple, it’s one of the best resources and communities out there for those of us who are refugees from a very obscure religion known as Christian Science. While Christian Way is a Christian site, and many posters and all of the moderators are evangelical Christians, many who post in the forum are not Christian, and come from varying backgrounds, including atheists, agnostics, and those who (like myself) consider themselves some form of “spiritual”. Even some Christian Scientists drop by once in a while. It’s a good place to go, and I feel welcome even though I’m not Christian–everyone is usually respectful, and when someone steps beyond that boundary, the moderators take swift corrective action. The moderators are very respectful of all points of view, whether they be Christian or not, and demand the same of those who post. Whatever our religious, spiritual persuasion, or non-persuasion is now, we all share a common thread in our past: Christian Science.
A lengthy post in this forum inspires my post here, and I recommend you read it first before continuing further with my post. It can be viewed here. Look for a post from “Guest” by scrolling down on the first page to #21847. This long suffering woman is going through a separation/divorce from her Christian Scientist spouse (she is not a Christian Scientist, and as far as I can tell never was). To me, her outsider’s perspective on Christian Science and Christian Scientists was very enlightening. Even though I now look in somewhat from the outside, I will never have the same outsider’s perspective as someone such as her has.
It seems to me that she was married to an extreme Christian Scientist–in my experience, most are not quite as emotionally detached as her husband seems to be. While my own parents didn’t hash out problems at length, they weren’t above discussing things and working things out. However, I have encountered more than a few Christian Scientists who have about as much outward compassion and understanding when it comes to dealing with difficult or emotionally challenging things as a Vulcan. They become so completely detached from the reality that the rest of us live in that you wonder if there’s anyone really there. It’s almost like dealing with a Stepford wife. For instance, I had a co-worker at The Mother Church once who, while a very nice and pleasant person, would completely shut down or push you away if you began to even hint at a negative emotion, or even expressed that you were tired that morning because you’d had a rough night. She’d stare off into space as if her mind had entered an alternate reality. Well, I guess it sort of did. Sometimes you just have that simple human need for someone to listen to you nod a bit in agreement, and let you blow off some steam.
Immersed as I was in Christian Science, I never completely renounced the reality of the world around me. That often caused internal turmoil for me as I tried to reconcile what I felt to be real–the world around me and its various imperfections, with what I was taught to be real (or unreal) in Christian Science–some sort of utopian Pollyanna version of the world where God was always Love, nothing bad ever happened, and pretty rainbows and unicorns danced in fields of flowers. This turmoil, while at times was something I wanted to do away with, is something I realize now was the best thing for me. It kept me grounded. It kept me real. To this day, I still don’t know how some Christian Scientists could so completely deny the reality of the world around them. For that, you need to be able to accomplish feats of mental gymnastics that would earn you a 10.0 score–even from the East German judge.
Our intrepid poster goes on to tell a familiar tale of her husband’s neglect of any physical malady that he may be dealing with (if she even found out about it–you see, many Christian Scientists are so far in denial about any physical maladies that of course they wouldn’t talk about it–it’s nothing after all). That’s all well and good when it’s just you by yourself, but in a marriage, family, or committed relationship, there’s more people’s lives and emotions at stake here. Denying the cancer that is consuming your body and doing nothing about it until it’s too late affects those who love you, and it’s pretty damn uncaring to not consider how your crazy denial of reality might affect them, especially if they don’t have any way of understanding it!
As I read her post, I could palpably feel her pain and frustration. Even though I spent most of my life in Christian Science, I couldn’t imagine, at this point in my life now, being married to one. Seeing it as I can now from both sides, I don’t see how a “mixed” marriage could work–for me, anyways. The non-Christian Scientist spouse, unless they had infinite amounts of patience and tolerance, beyond the capacity of most rational human beings, or were gradually slipping into the crazy rabbit hole of Christian Science themselves, would just be infinitely frustrated and emotionally abandoned by the one person who should always be there for them, “in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, ’till death do them part…”
As illustrated in Guest’s post, Christian Science is brainwashing to a rather high degree. For me, this post was a stark look in at a thought process I once embraced, or at least tried to embrace. Looking at it now as somewhat of an outsider, and reading the perspective of another outsider, it looks ever more freakishly crazy to me. How I ever swallowed this Kool-Aid, I’ll never know. As I said in a previous post, as I learned from an Elder recently, it was a walk I needed to walk, something I needed to experience. It’s a part of the tapestry of my life, and will always to some degree shape my view of the world. I like to think I’m keeping the good parts, and leaving the rest of the crazy stuff. I just need to figure out which is which–I’m working on that. As the saying goes, “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet.”