The Sunday School Files: My Adventure With Mr. M Ends

I wrote two previous posts about my days in the Christian Science Sunday School under the tutelage of Mr. M (name changed to protect the asshole)–for context on this post, I recommend you read the two older posts first. Shortly after the events I tell about in this post, Mr. M was removed from his position in the Sunday School–I don’t remember exactly how soon afterwards, but I recall it all happened within a month or so. This post tells that story.

Now, let me first of all say that his ouster was not due to much, if any, expenditure of effort on the part of the Sunday School superintendent or other Sunday School teachers, all of whom were well aware of his conduct, but idly stood my and did sweet diddly squat all about it. In fact, most of them initially resisted his ultimate ouster. It all started one Sunday morning after I had finished my paper route and returned home to get ready for Sunday School. I was 14, and as I got home, Mom and Dad were getting ready for church, and were urging me to get ready. I’m not really sure what triggered me, but I remember standing in their bedroom, and suddenly I literally broke down in tears. I began to cry uncontrollably (not something most 14 year old boys do). In the space of probably half an hour I spilled to them, as fast as I could speak, everything I could remember that had happened in Mr. M’s class over the past couple of years, and that I never wanted to go to his class again. I recall saying a few times that I hated Mr. M, and I most certainly did. My parents listened intently, but as I recall were not surprised at what I was telling them. I think they were somewhat aware of what was happening, but not aware of exactly how bad things really were. They had always been one of the few members of the church who were highly skeptical about Mr. M. My Dad had had his own childhood encounter with Mr. M’s father, a man equally as bizarre, and Dad always knew that the apple rarely fell far from the tree. But, up to that time, I had been quite happy in Mr. M’s class, something rare for me as a child. I had never been really that much into Sunday School–I always thought it was boring.

Mr. M was a very charismatic man and extremely egotistical. I have met and worked with some tremendously egotistical people in my various career adventures, including brushes with well-known actors and celebrities, and I have yet to meet his equal. He had an amazing command of language, and knew how to use it. He was also extremely mesmerizing. I recall one Sunday School class where all I really remember is staring at this pendant he was wearing–it was very intricate, of an ancient Egyptian motif. When I was an adolescent, I was fascinated by ancient Egypt. I don’t know what he said at all in that class, but the words went into my head all the while I was virtually hypnotized by that pendant. I remember one other time, and I don’t remember the lead-up to this comment, but Mr. M said once that I didn’t have to listen to my parents. They were not an authority in my life. I think he said God was the only one I needed to listen to and cooperate with. Of course, as a 13 year-old kid, I ran with that one. During the time I was in Mr. M’s class, conflict between me and my parents escalated.

My parents knew something was up, but were in a quandary as to what to do. You see, up until the time Mr. M attacked my friend John, I too was very mesmerized by him, and I thought he was the greatest Sunday School teacher ever. Now, my parents had often had trouble getting me to want to go to Sunday School (it was on occasion a battle of wits between us on this), so the fact that I was excited about going to Sunday School was a very huge deal to them, so much so, that I think they were willing to overlook the doubts and concerns they had about Mr. M. It was his attack on John that broke the spell for me.

Mr. M had a strong following amongst the members of our branch church. His followers were literally like his minions. They did not think at all for themselves. Mr. M did it all for them. Often, his minions would parrot Mr. M’s odd thoughts and philosophy regarding Christian Science when they gave testimonies on Wednesday evenings. There was a minority of members, which included my parents, who saw him for what he was. But, they were quite outnumbered, and in the case of my parents, also had to deal with a very strong-willed adolescent son in their own home who for a time was also a minion of Mr. M’s.

Immediately, my parents said I never had to go back to Mr. M’s class, and I stayed home that Sunday. Right away, they called for Mr. M’s immediate removal from not only my class, but also the Sunday School. They were resisted at every step, and I was directly accused of lying. Only the Sunday School superintendent supported them, when their outrage gave her the courage to stand up to Mr. M. She later expressed deep regret over not doing something sooner about Mr. M, despite being very well aware of everything he did to John and I. Mr. M’s removal from the Sunday School came finally when my parents threatened to withdraw from the church, and take their financial support with them. Our branch church was, as is typical for most Christian Science branch churches, very small–I think it was perhaps 20 – 25 members. My parents had been members for around 10 years. They never said ‘no’ to a committee appointment, my mother had served as Second Reader, were generous financial supporters, and my brother and I were the most faithful attendees of the pathetically sparse Sunday School.

Within a week, Mr. M was out of the Sunday School, and I was in a new class. I don’t recall seeing John in Sunday School again, so I was largely back on my own. I basically went through the motions for the next two years until I was old enough to drive and I began to attend Sunday School at another Christian Science church in a neighbouring suburb where I could be in a class with several others my age (many of whom I also knew at the Christian Science summer camp I attended), and a teacher who genuinely cared about us, and most importantly understood us. However, even with that, I was drifting away. Many was the time I showed up hung-over from a rowdy house party with my high school friends. Much of the time, I really only went because I knew my parents wanted me to, but after I graduated from high school, my attendance became sporadic, and soon almost ceased as my first “real” job kept me away most Sundays, and I didn’t mind at all. This was my first parting of ways with Christian Science.

Within a year of his removal from the Sunday School, Mr. M and his minions left our branch church, basically reducing the membership by over half. They formed a Christian Science “group”, and sought recognition from The Mother Church as a branch church. My parents and the remaining members of our branch church made sure the good folks in Boston were well aware of Mr. M and his activities, and the group never got the official recognition it sought. This would have been around the year 1982. I was aware of this group’s continuing existence through at least the late 1990s/early 2000s, but I believe it has now disbanded–I have done some searching on the internet and have found no reference to the group. The last I heard, many of the members had died off; many of them dying off rather young. The branch church where this all happened closed down about 10 years ago; its membership never recovered much after the split.

As for Mr. M’s fate, I have heard via the grapevine that he passed away sometime in the early 2000s, but I’m not completely sure. In my background research for this series of posts, I Googled his name and found a telephone listing (with address) for him in the suburb he lived in (and where I grew up). If he was still alive, he would be coming up on at least 90 years of age. I have no intention of calling the number to see if this listing is still valid. His unique philosophy regarding Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings lives on, however, thanks to the internet and the continuing  and prolific efforts of one (perhaps the only one) of his remaining minions. I would provide you a link to this man’s extensive and mind-numbingly bizarre writings (I have skimmed through a few out of morbid curiosity), but to do that that would (1) potentially unmask some identities I wish to keep masked, and (2) give exposure to an evil and craziness that deserves to be ignored and relegated to obscurity.

If there is such a place as Hell (I don’t believe in it as a locality, but for argument’s sake let’s say it is), I hope Mr. M is either roasting away there, or soon will be. What he did to John and I is unforgivable. No, he didn’t physically abuse us, but he definitely mentally and emotionally abused us; he beat us down. I have only related the things I remember through the fog of 30 years of time since this all happened. He tried, and nearly succeeded, to drive a wedge between me and my parents. Ultimately however, that bond strengthened, and I was extremely close to my parents throughout my adulthood until their unfortunate deaths a few years ago.

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