When I took Class instruction in Christian Science several years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find among my classmates on the first day a friend I knew from a Christian Science summer camp and from Principia College. We had lost contact in the intervening years, so it was nice to reconnect and to know that we’d be attending Association together each year as well.
Some years after Class*, I remember one year when she wasn’t at Association*, and later became aware that she had left Christian Science. I talked about it with my Teacher*, and he expressed some regret and doubt about his personal judgment in admitting her into Class in the first place. While that’s understandable, in his position I would have probably had the same thoughts, it was a conversation I had with a fellow classmate that has really stuck with me. He said to me, “she may have left Christian Science, but it didn’t leave her.” At the time, as one who was still deep into Christian Science, this gave me comfort. Now, that thought disturbs and angers me.
As I think on it now, what angers me is that Christian Science will never completely leave me, my friend, or any of us who’ve had the misfortune of being in contact with it, and I dearly wish it would. While we’ve been connected via Facebook for a number of years (that initial re-connection is how I confirmed that she had in fact left Christian Science), we never really communicated much until she joined a group of former Christian Scientists on Facebook of which I am also a member. I now know her departure story and post-Christian Science path, and she mine, as one of our group conventions is to share our departure stories if we so choose. While our post-Christian Science paths are divergent (she is Christian), we share the commonality of our Christian Science experience, and a mutual respect for each other’s paths.
I wonder about some of the conversations among my classmates and Teacher at my Association meeting as I write this post on the weekend of my annual Association meeting–a weekend that now passes for me as any other regular weekend does, except for my usual momentary memory of what I used to do that weekend. As far as I know, my friend and I are the only members of our particular class year who have departed Christian Science. At the last Association meeting I attended, all of my classmates were there except my friend. As far as I knew, of all of my Teacher’s students, my friend was the only one (except for one other who took a one year break) to depart until I did. My Teacher had high regard for my apparent grasp of and dedication to Christian Science. My Dad was also a favourite student of his, and I think he cast me in somewhat the same light. I say this based directly on conversations I had over the years with my Teacher, and pronouncements he made to me regarding my papers I wrote each year for Association. I’ll be honest, many times when I wrote those papers, especially in the last few years I attended Association, I felt like I was at least 50% or more writing pure bullshit. I wanted to believe what I was writing, but deep down I didn’t. Much of the time, I was writing what I knew my Teacher and fellow students wanted to hear on the topic. I’m very good at that. I realize now that my doubts were what was true, not what I was writing. I have long since shredded the hard copies of those and all other Class/Association-related materials, and deleted the pertinent files from my computers. Ironically, I and a fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger have noted that we both find ourselves now studying Christian Science and related materials more as ex-Christian Scientist writers than we ever did as Christian Scientists.
I wonder if they, like so many other Christian Scientists when they think on those of us who’ve departed, feel that we’re under the pernicious influence of “mortal mind” and pray that the veil will be miraculously lifted from our eyes. Or, if my classmate has also said of me that while I have left Christian Science, it has not and will not leave me. Ugh! That thought just sickens me to no end. Unfortunately, my classmate is probably right; Christian Science will stick with me like a bad rash. While that pronouncement gave me comfort at one time, it doesn’t now.
* Please see ‘Christian Science Grammar’ in my Glossary of Terms page for an explanation of my capitalization of some words.