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“The C.S. Bubble” is a term I often hear used by students and teachers when describing the Principia community. Dictionary.com defines “bubble” as “a protective, often isolating envelope or cover,” which, let’s be honest, doesn’t sound too bad. Actually, it sounds great! But wait a minute, is this really true? Are we stuck in the comfort and familiarity of the C.S. Bubble!? What are the implications of this? Will we be able to survive in the “real world” beyond the bubble? Why am I shaking in my boots just thinking about going “out there?”
Seriously though, as members of a world much larger than our close-knit community, it is something really important for us to think about. And I can’t think of anyone better to discuss bubble-trouble with than Barry Huff. Barry has spent a lot of time in the dome through his years at Principia and Christian Science camp. “I went to Principia from preschool through college, attended CedarS Camps for decades – combining my time as a camper and counselor – and this is my fourth year as a faculty member at Principia College,” said Barry. That, my friends, is dedication. So, Barry’s been a part of our little community since the good old days of preschool, and he is now a professor here—surely there is no way he could ever survive among the (insert scary music) “outsiders.”
That would be false. In his transition from student life to teaching, he earned master’s degrees at two theological seminaries, completed doctoral coursework at Union Presbyterian Seminary, studied at Oxford University, and traveled in Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Barry also engaged in many discussions with culturally, religiously, and ethnically diverse peers very far outside the Prin world. “I think that my experience in Christian Science communities like Principia and CedarS Camps prepared me for my experience being the only Christian Scientist at several graduate programs,” he reflects. “My experience has also significantly increased my appreciation for what a special opportunity we have to come together and support each other as Christian Scientists at Principia, church, and the Christian Science camps.”
I received a similarly positive response about “the bubble” from Kimberly Sheasley, a current Principia College freshman, C.S. camp counselor, and Upper School graduate. “When living and going to school in an environment surrounded by Christian Scientists, it is easier to work on personal challenges metaphysically, which helps prepare you for the bigger, worldly matters that you’ll tackle after graduation.”
While I personally find the college to be somewhat sheltered and isolated (a.k.a. surrounded by corn), I do agree with both Kim and Barry’s comments on the nurturing environment and great metaphysical-preparation that comes along with living here being in. And, for me at least, going to camp is just like getting a really big, warm hug from God that jumpstarts my spiritual growth and gets me in prime condition to metaphysically conquer the “real world.”
Speaking of the “outside,” I asked senior Brooke Benbenek her thoughts on the bubble in order to get a perspective from someone who had graduated from the Upper School and attended another college before making the switch to Prin. Brooke said: “Because I attended another school before Prin College, I find I am more likely to go out of my way to make plans that don’t involve Principia or the camps on my off time from both places. I personally haven’t felt uncomfortable when outside of the ‘CS bubble’ but I do know people who do. It will just take some time and experience after college to adjust to practicing Christian Science in a non-Christian Science atmosphere.”
I say this idea of maintaining a balance between the C.S. community and other “uncharted territories” hits the nail right on the head. Use balance to battle the bubble. Don’t be scared of what’s out there—beyond the bubble are so many friends waiting to be made, cultures ready to be understood, and people outside our community who would be blessed through meeting and talking with you!