Is Christian Science a cult?

CULT –

  1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
  2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers…
    (Dictionary.com)

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Friends

Have you found it easy or difficult to remain friends with (Christian Science) people since you left the church?

friends

Image credit: Emerging Gently.

This is a question posed to me by a reader, who suggested that I should address the topic of what happens to relationships with Christian Scientists when one leaves Christian Science. I’ll widen my focus to include some observations on familial relationships as well as friendships. Rather than just write only about my own experience, I figured the best way to offer up a good look at this topic would be to ask a group of former Christian Scientists. So, I posed this question to one of the on-line groups I’m in. Continue reading

Princestia

I feel like having a riff on the insular culture of Christian Science. My inspiration comes from a discussion thread in a group I’m in about goings-on in the wider Principia community. Principia, for those not in the know, is a school and college for Christian Scientists, located in St. Louis, Missouri (school), and Elsah, Illinois (college). One person in the thread referred to Principia as ‘Princest-Land’. I laughed at that term, as it is such an apt description of the somewhat insular-to-the-point-of-incestuous Principia community, so I riffed off that and came up with my new name for Principia: Princestia. Continue reading

The names may change, but the story is still the same…

LinkedIn, for those who may not be familiar, is a social media platform for professional networking. I’ve been on LinkedIn for around 10 or so years. My first connections on LinkedIn come from the time when I was working at The Mother Church. Consequently, many connections I have are related in some way to Christian Science. While I’ve worked to weed out some of the more deeply-marinated-in-Christian Science folks from my profile, and to actively seek connections that are more professionally relevant to me now, I still get a lot of suggested connections who are Christian Science practitioners or other such Christian Science-related professions. This now provides a weird sort of entertainment for me. Continue reading

You just don’t ‘understand’ it well enough…

By far, the most common defence that Christian Scientists offer for the failures of their ‘system of healing’ to live up to its lofty promises is some variation on the statement, “you just don’t have a [good enough/correct/complete] understanding of Christian Science.” This defence has popped up in the comments sections on this blog a few times, and I’ve seen it in reader reviews on Amazon.com of books that are critical of Christian Science, in particular the book God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church by Caroline Fraser. One reviewer comments, “Unfortunately Ms. Fraser does not have a thorough understanding of Christian Science and neither have most of the people who have reviewed the book, here or elsewhere.” (emphasis is mine) I happen to know that Fraser grew up in Christian Science, so I think she had a decent understanding of it, insofar as anyone can. I’ve also seen this defence numerous times in other public forums when people have criticized Christian Science and Christian Scientists have responded. I have also been told on more than a few occasions that I just didn’t/don’t understand it. Continue reading

On dissenting opinions, Ellen, and Christian Science

This post is starting out as a bit of a random thought-spill that takes in several different thoughts, incidents, and things published that may not seem related at first glance, but they all have a common thread that weaves, or more like zig-zags randomly through them. So bear with me, dear reader. I do have a point (I think). Continue reading

Will they ever let us leave?

A fellow group member in an ex-Christian Scientist Facebook group I’m in commented–well, more like ranted–about how a Christian Scientist referred to them not as a “non-Christian Scientist”, but rather as a “non-practising Christian Scientist”. The ensuing discussion was largely a collective acknowledging head-nod of “yeah, we get it, been there, done that,” but this all brings up a seemingly small, but for many of us who’ve left Christian Science, huge irritant: that feeling that on some level, we will never completely leave Christian Science, or it will never completely leave us. Trust me, I think I speak for most of us: we all wish it would leave us. Continue reading

It was always there…it was just suppressed…

“The compassion was always there. It was suppressed. Now it’s being released, and allowed to act naturally.”
(from a Facebook group for former Christian Scientists–quote shared with permission from the author)

So many of us who have left Christian Science are amazed by the simple acts of human compassion that we encounter day-to-day. We see it in so many places: co-workers, new religious/spiritual communities we join, friends, family, or among other former Christian Scientists. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as an acknowledgement of the grief or anger a person is feeling, and the offer to help in whatever way a person can; other times, it’s a knowing nod, or an “I totally ‘get’ how you feel.”; or it’s something as simple as acknowledging when someone isn’t feeling well, and offering comfort. Compassion comes in many different ways. I am among those who still marvels in this, even though it’s six years since I began to leave Christian Science myself. Continue reading

Moral Ambiguities of Christian Scientists

what is truth

Image credit: evidence unseen (www.evidenceunseen.com).

My thoughts for this post have been rattling around in my brain for quite a while, and a discussion thread on Facebook with a couple of ex-Christian Scientist friends re-ignited my interest in this idea not too long ago.

I think Christian Science can, and sometimes does, make at least some people fundamentally dishonest. Now, before you run screaming, “my mom is the nicest, most honest person around, she’d never tell a lie!” hear me out. I’m talking about deeper honesty here, deeper than whether or not someone is telling you a lie or not. I’m talking about actions, and what one perceives to be right and true or not. Christian Science theology can have a way of blurring the lines between right and wrong for some people. Continue reading

Update to an earlier post

Just over a year ago I wrote this post, regarding Linda Osmundson, a prominent resident of the St. Petersburg, Florida area, who was the founder of a local organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. She was also a Christian Scientist, and was forced to resign her position with the organization she founded due to a very obvious health concern in the form of a growth on her face. Sadly, I have recently learned that she has succumbed to whatever her illness was (she apparently did have a diagnosis, but never shared it publicly). Continue reading