Through discussion in the ex-Christian Scientist Facebook groups, and my heightened awareness of my own reactions to things as a result, I’ve come to realize one huge leftover effect of my years in Christian Science: a sometimes disturbing sense of indifference when there’s suffering, or other negative things happening around me. This indifference doesn’t happen all the time, but the fact that it happens at all bothers me deeply. It’s similar to a sense of nihilism that Christian Science can create that I’ve written about before.
This came into focus for me the other day on my way home from work. As I took my exit off the highway, a small dilapidated-looking pick-up truck ahead of me lost a wheel. I watched as the wheel rolled on through an intersection at the top of the ramp, and down the on-ramp on the other side. The truck came to a safe stop, with no harm to anyone inside. I wasn’t able to see where the wheel ended up, and I continued on my way.
Now, everyone seemed to be okay, although greatly inconvenienced, so there wasn’t any need for me to stop; but, I can honestly say that in that moment, I didn’t feel bad for the driver of this truck, who probably can’t afford the repair bill it’s going to take to get their truck going, let alone the towing bill. I actually didn’t feel anything. As I step back and think about it now, that just seems weird. I feel like I should have felt something–I should at least have felt bad for the person, but I didn’t. I neither feel good nor bad, just indifferent; like I just didn’t give a sh*t. And, that deeply bothers me. Someone’s life just got massively inconvenienced. Judging by the appearance of the truck, I’m sure they will struggle financially to get it fixed if they’re even able to; and the area I live in is not an easy place to live without a vehicle. Likely, he will miss out on work or worse yet, lose his job.
Recently, a close friend of mine who is the guardian of her younger sister, has been dealing with some very serious behavioural issues with her sister–both of them are like sisters to me. The younger sister has run away a few times, and had run-ins with the police. When she first disappeared, my friend was panicked. She was out all night scouring the city looking for her younger sister. When she called me in the middle of the night, I wasn’t initially panicked. I just wanted to go back to sleep, and leave it in the hands of fate (no different than leaving it in ‘God’s” hands as far as I’m concerned). It just didn’t register with me initially. The next morning, it did, and I mobilized everything I could to help find her, and the panic set in for me. But, it was a very slow burn for me. It’s like initially, I just didn’t seem to care. That deeply bothers me too. Ultimately, my friend’s sister did return home safely, although the behavioural issues are still continuing.
What’s Christian Science got to do with it?
Yes, you may be asking yourself that, dear reader, and here’s how I and many other former Christian Scientists see this, and by the way, I’m not the only one who experiences this feeling of indifference to things that happen around us.
“Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God’s unerring direction and thus bring out harmony.”
(Science and Health, p. 424)
Many of my other ex-Christian Scientist compatriots have talked about similar feelings of indifference in the face of trying circumstances of others around them. As with most lasting effects of Christian Science, I think it boils down to denial–that thing that lies at the root of Christian Science theology. For anyone who’s grown up in Christian Science, or who has spent time in it, the above quote is familiar. The phrase, “accidents are unknown to God…” is constantly drilled in to you from an early age. I remember my Mom repeating that over and over again one time when I was a teenager and we got into a bad car accident on an icy highway. Stick your head in the sand and deny that anything ‘bad’ has happened. That’s the Christian Science way!
This also leads to the sense of indifference I’ve been talking about. On a subconscious level, on the highway, I didn’t believe anything wrong had happened to that driver ahead of me. Likewise with my friend’s sister–I just didn’t see right away that something terrible had happened or could happen, or any reason to be concerned. I sort of thought a few good thoughts and went back to sleep. I hate that this is all too often my reaction. I do care deeply, it’s just that on some levels, and I know this sounds weird, I’m still learning how to care. I’ll put this all under the hashtag #weirdcrapCSdoestoyou.