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fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science
Author: Lucia Greenhouse
Publisher: Published August 9th 2011 by Crown (first published January 1st 2011)
ISBN: 9780307720924
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Lucia Ewing had what looked like an all-American childhood. She lived with her mother, father, sister, and brother in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, where they enjoyed private schools, sleep-away camps, a country club membership, and skiing vacations. Surrounded by a tight-knit extended family, and doted upon by her parents, Lucia had no doubt she was loved and cared f Lucia Ewing had what looked like an all-American childhood. She lived with her mother, father, sister, and brother in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, where they enjoyed private schools, sleep-away camps, a country club membership, and skiing vacations. Surrounded by a tight-knit extended family, and doted upon by her parents, Lucia had no doubt she was loved and cared for. But when it came to accidents and illnesses, Lucia’s parents didn't take their kids to the doctor's office--they prayed, and called a Christian Science practitioner.    fathermothergod is Lucia Greenhouse's story about growing up in Christian Science, in a house where you could not be sick, because you were perfect; where no medicine, even aspirin, was allowed. As a teenager, her visit to an ophthalmologist created a family crisis. She was a sophomore in college before she had her first annual physical. And in December 1985, when Lucia and her siblings, by then young adults, discovered that their mother was sick, they came face-to-face with the reality that they had few--if any--options to save her. Powerless as they watched their mother’s agonizing suffering, Lucia and her siblings struggled with their own grief, anger, and confusion, facing scrutiny from the doctors to whom their parents finally allowed them to turn, and stinging rebuke from relatives who didn’t share their parents’ religious values.    In this haunting, beautifully written book, Lucia pulls back the curtain on the Christian Science faith and chronicles its complicated legacy for her family.  At once an essentially American coming-of-age story and a glimpse into the practices of a religion few really understand, fathermothergod is an unflinching exploration of personal loss and the boundaries of family and faith.    

30 review for fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kathrina

    I have been waiting for some sustained quiet in order to write this review; Now I have it, and I'm feeling crushed by it. In no uncertain terms, I want to first declare that this is a very good book, a 4-star read for the average memoir enthusiast. It is a moving and sincere memoir of reconciling one's own beliefs with the ones you were raised with, and if that kind of book interests you, this should be at the top of your pile. At the same time, it is a book about Christian Science, and if CS pl I have been waiting for some sustained quiet in order to write this review; Now I have it, and I'm feeling crushed by it. In no uncertain terms, I want to first declare that this is a very good book, a 4-star read for the average memoir enthusiast. It is a moving and sincere memoir of reconciling one's own beliefs with the ones you were raised with, and if that kind of book interests you, this should be at the top of your pile. At the same time, it is a book about Christian Science, and if CS played any kind of role in your life (I realize my audience just grew considerably smaller), hot buttons will be pressed and you will be faced with ideas and concepts you may have thought you'd already dealt with, either solved or forgotten, and bravely walked beyond. But a life dipped in CS infiltrates all the forgotten corners of your brain, only to surface at moments of crisis --death, physical trauma,... or when reading a CS memoir. Please consider that many of my own buttons were toyed with here, and my 5-star review probably reflects my appreciation for Greenhouse's ability to verbalize my own conflicted emotions as a doubter in a community that disallows doubt. I'm also considering that there are several audiences who may choose to read this review, and I've never been so hyper-aware of my goodreads audience as I am right now. There are of course, my usual list of goodreads friends, both real-life and virtual, with whom I feel absolutely comfortable blabbing on about my reactions to books and how they intersect my own experience. There are also Christian Scientists out there, some of whom may be seeking responses to this particular title, either because this book spoke to them illicitly and honestly about their own experience, or because they are seeking souls who have "left the path," for either re-conversion or examples of "erroneous thinking" to be used as illustrations in their own testimonials. And the third audience I am forced to consider are the Christian Scientists who know me, the handful I still have spider web strands of connection to via facebook or alumni propaganda. I attended 4 years of Principia Upper School and one at the college, and these people keep track of you, don't doubt it. I'm not ashamed that I no longer practice CS; In fact, I think it was one of the wisest decisions of my life, but there remains a trace of -- betrayal? failure? guilt? So CS memoirs don't get written very often. Admittedly, it's a bit of a publishing risk, as CS does not have the allure of multiple wives like the Latter Day Saints or the romance of horse-drawn buggies and flour sack dresses like the Amish. Basically, the rest of the world either confuses them with Scientologists (crazy in a whole different way) or understands that CS refuses medication, i.e. they let their children die of treatable causes, and that is good for a headline or two in the papers and maybe a memoir once a decade. The memoirs that do get published are mostly "how I got out of this religion." In fact I can't think of one mainstream title that extols the virtues of CS, unless of course you include Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the holy grail of CS, and it's many, many, many publications, journals, pamphlets, lessons, and other authorized literature provided, published and sold through the Mother Church. CS'ers would argue that the S&H and the KJV Bible are the only proof and validation you need, but back it up with more authorized literature by Mary Baker Eddy and her protege, Mary Kimball Morgan, and read the weekly Sentinel for published testimonial reinforcement, and attend Wednesday meetings for testimonial reinforcement from your friends and neighbors, and read every day the selected passages from the Bible and it's relevant corresponding passages in the S&H, using a CS Concordance for added clarity of some of those $6 words MBE is so fond of using, and listen to recorded lectures and hymns and folk singers hipping it up for your relaxation between reading sessions EVERY DAY, and it is clear that maintaining your beliefs take constant, unrelenting absorption in the tenants of CS, you won't have time to get sick, or get drunk, or take a smoke break. OK, I didn't plan this review ahead of time, and it seems I'm doing what I feared, ranting about the religion and not discussing the book. But it's true, being in CS requires so many literacy skills -- I had, I'm sure, one of the best English teachers in the country in high school, Mr. Clark Biem Esche, who made me a reader and a thinker, and it's no stretch that his commitment to CS gave him the skills to teach analytical reading. It's a conundrum I haven't yet figured out -- you have to be relatively educated to practice this religion, it is sooo meta, but that education frequently unearths the (what I see as) flaws of the belief system. As in -- In 7th grade I was performing a science experiment for school (I attended an Episcopal middle school, but went to a CS Sunday School at that time). My experiment was to gather germs, living organisms, from household hotspots and grow them in petri dishes. When I shared this with my Sunday School teacher, he refused to discuss my project, literally turned his back to me, and instead we talked about my classmate's project, which microwave popcorn pops the best. I was confused. Bacteria is life, microscopic but clearly there. Aren't germs God's creatures, too? Are we, as educated people, supposed to pretend they do not exist, because sometimes they make us sick (or, in CS, APPEAR to make us sick)? No one would answer me. Doubt number 1 is born. Doubts number 5 and 6 came when I suffered a burst ear drum and untreated chicken pox while my housemoms at boarding school looked on and mumbled bible quotes. And by untreated I mean, not even skin lotion. I was given a milkshake once a day, and told it was my vanity that brought about the pox. Doubts number 28 and 46 came when my CS grandmother died of untreated pancreatic cancer in her own bedroom and my grandfather nearly lost his life, or at least his gangrenous feet, to diabetes before my dad intervened with medical treatment. Of course that's another conundrum, as my grandfather no longer practices CS, and is right now suffering in a nursing care facility, his life artificially extended through breathing treatments, insulin, a pace maker, antibiotics, and treatments for bedsores. Doubt number 143 came when I wrote a private letter to my dearly-loved English teacher, Mr. Biem Esche, this man who I'd been corresponding with for several years after graduation, and had built quite a level of trust and mentorship with, and I mentioned that I had been considering whether or not I might be a lesbian or bisexual. After a scathing letter in which I was told I was a sinner and a leper, I never heard from him again. Even when I saw him at my 10th reunion (10 years!!) he refused to acknowledge me as I stood not five feet away. I guess the hardest part about being a Christian Scientist is that believers refuse to acknowledge what they perceive as "error", instead of acknowledging, assessing, and solving "error". Even if lesbianism was something to be ashamed of, to be classified as "error", a Christian Scientist deals with it by ignoring it, turning their back, walking away. If I can't see it, it doesn't exist. That's what children believe, not educated adults. Greenhouse experienced this too (yes, I am going to talk about the book) again and again. When her father was confronted with an issue he had no answer for or an issue he couldn't "heal", he ignored it or defensively argued to be left alone, leaving the true victim alone and suffering. The Christian Scientist is so worried about being tainted by "negative thought" that the very negative thought he's trying to heal is made stronger by neglect. Oh, it's fruitless to argue the religion in this context; I'll try to stop. But what I do mean to argue is that this book does a magnificent job of bringing up the questions that Christian Scientists don't like to be asked. All the questions that boiled up inside of me in high school, but I never found the ability or opportunity to ask and actually expect an answer, they are asked here. All the unanswered questions that eventually led to my overcompensation in the years of freedom after Prin -- drinking, smoking, sexual and illicit drug experimentation, and an inordinate fear of doctor's offices that I still can't shake, basically because that one old man turned his back to me when I asked such a simple little question.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gere Lewis

    I always believed that every person was entitled to their own beliefs. This book challenged this belief and ultimately forced me to alter it. I now believe that each person is entitled to their own beliefs provided that those beliefs do not harm anyone else. Had I lived this author's life, I don't know if I could have survived it. I have nothing but respect for how difficult and painful it must have been to write this memoir. I have deep admiration for the author's strength and courage. I read t I always believed that every person was entitled to their own beliefs. This book challenged this belief and ultimately forced me to alter it. I now believe that each person is entitled to their own beliefs provided that those beliefs do not harm anyone else. Had I lived this author's life, I don't know if I could have survived it. I have nothing but respect for how difficult and painful it must have been to write this memoir. I have deep admiration for the author's strength and courage. I read this powerful, thought provoking book in a single day simply because I could not put it down. Parts of the book made me so angry that I had to take a break and process my thoughts. Other parts made me cry for the pain this family experienced. Still others made me laugh out loud. It is a rare book that can do all of those things and for good or ill, that kind of book is ALWAYS worth reading. ***I received a free copy of this book through goodreads firstreads***

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    After reading a fair number of losing-my-religion memoirs, I picked up this book with lukewarm expectations. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that, subject matter aside, Greenhouse's book kept me turning pages well into the night. Her narrative begins a tad slowly, skipping through her childhood and adolescence with well-written scenes of her own indoctrination. (Some readers will probably complain that she included too many doctrinal explanations, while others will wish for more. I' After reading a fair number of losing-my-religion memoirs, I picked up this book with lukewarm expectations. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that, subject matter aside, Greenhouse's book kept me turning pages well into the night. Her narrative begins a tad slowly, skipping through her childhood and adolescence with well-written scenes of her own indoctrination. (Some readers will probably complain that she included too many doctrinal explanations, while others will wish for more. I'm in the latter camp. But I digress.) These scenes gave me a cursory introduction to the basic belief system of Christian Science, as well as an explanation for the logic (however skewed) that Greenhouse and her family will cling to when her mother falls ill. (Which is where the tension jumps and the reader can wave goodbye to an early bedtime.) What impressed me most is Greenhouse's ability to portray her family members as dynamic, empathetic characters who hold wildly opposite beliefs. She tells a heartbreaking tale where are no clear-cut villains, only good intentions, misunderstandings, and a belief system that is infuriating. Best of all, she never tells readers what to think; she lets us see and feel it from her perspective. Highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This was a book I could not put down. Like Kathryn whose review is before mine, I was raised in Christian Science. We actually went to Sunday school together, but my mother was very like Greenhouse's father. Although not a teacher, she had attended the classes and went each year to her Association. I too wanted to hear about the religion and I did learn a few things, but more I wanted to hear how my experience matched that of the writer. Did we see things the same way? Did she have the same fear This was a book I could not put down. Like Kathryn whose review is before mine, I was raised in Christian Science. We actually went to Sunday school together, but my mother was very like Greenhouse's father. Although not a teacher, she had attended the classes and went each year to her Association. I too wanted to hear about the religion and I did learn a few things, but more I wanted to hear how my experience matched that of the writer. Did we see things the same way? Did she have the same fears? My mother too died because she tried to treat herself with prayer and a practitioner. But unfortunately her lack of medical knowledge led her to a decision that changed everything and was an extreme one, even for a Christian Scientist. "Surgery is best left to the surgeons," according to Mary Baker Eddy. My mother needed structural surgery but she chose not to have it and when she did finally decide to, it was too late. The part I find most interesting is how the stress and tension mount in Greenhouse as she tries to follow her parents' wishes to not tell anyone while still coming to terms with the feelings she, now as a non Scientist, has with the depths of her mother's illness. As the illness progresses, she becomes more and more frantic and the people who should help her are the people perpetuating the problem. From first hand experience, I know how difficult it is to be in position of an adult child who has no say and who, understanding Christian Science better that people not raised around it, agree to let her wishes take precedent over your own. And if and when she changes her mind you support that too. This book is extremely well written, with rising tension that matches that of a good novel while showing the kind of honesty and truth needed for a good memoir. It is a very "good read."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Um...

    Lemme get this straight: The author went to a Christian Science Sunday School when she was a kid, then, in junior high or something, decided it was a load of crap, then refused to have anything more to do with it. I'm sorry, but how does this differ from the experience of eleventy zillion other teenagers out there who've rebelled against the religion of their upbringing? The title, of course, hints at some rugged deprogramming regimen, maybe harrowing escape from the smothering clutches of some Lemme get this straight: The author went to a Christian Science Sunday School when she was a kid, then, in junior high or something, decided it was a load of crap, then refused to have anything more to do with it. I'm sorry, but how does this differ from the experience of eleventy zillion other teenagers out there who've rebelled against the religion of their upbringing? The title, of course, hints at some rugged deprogramming regimen, maybe harrowing escape from the smothering clutches of some creepy cult. But you won't find anything like that between the covers of this book. Nope. Turns out, the author decided to stop going to Sunday School when she was 15. That was her "journey out of Christian Science"? LOL! And someone gave her a book contract to write about THAT?! ROTFLMAO! Whatever this girl's "journey," it wasn't a journey out of Christian Science. Evidently, it wasn't a journey out of whining, either.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I was raised a Christian Scientist and am not a practicing Christian Scientist as an adult. I was drawn to this book on many levels one of which was to compare notes between the author and myself. It all came back to me. I learned alot about the religion that I did not know. I felt the author was honest, and upfront as to what went on during her childhood and early 20s as well as the years following her mother's death. My mother also died from cancer, seeking medical assistance at the end. I hav I was raised a Christian Scientist and am not a practicing Christian Scientist as an adult. I was drawn to this book on many levels one of which was to compare notes between the author and myself. It all came back to me. I learned alot about the religion that I did not know. I felt the author was honest, and upfront as to what went on during her childhood and early 20s as well as the years following her mother's death. My mother also died from cancer, seeking medical assistance at the end. I have no anymosity towards her or the religion. My father was not a Christian Scientist. My mother did the only thing she knew how to do and when it wasn't successful for her she turned to the medical community and it was too late. This book was very well written and I commend the author for her courage to write it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I really enjoyed this book's perspective. Unlike Jon Krakauer's book "Under the Banner of Heaven", this book was written with the insight of somebody raised under a Christian Science roof. Part 1: the basic principles of CS and their culture Part 2: mom gets sick and the family tries to cope with her illness via CS, which amounts to only prayer and no acknowledging her illness Part 3: fifteen years later, the author's life after CS and her dilemma about whether to publish her story or not I liked re I really enjoyed this book's perspective. Unlike Jon Krakauer's book "Under the Banner of Heaven", this book was written with the insight of somebody raised under a Christian Science roof. Part 1: the basic principles of CS and their culture Part 2: mom gets sick and the family tries to cope with her illness via CS, which amounts to only prayer and no acknowledging her illness Part 3: fifteen years later, the author's life after CS and her dilemma about whether to publish her story or not I liked reading about this religion and though I don't necessarily understand it completely, at least I've now been exposed to its inner workings. I recommend

  8. 5 out of 5

    J. Denis

    There's much that's deeply pathetic about this book, and one's heart inevitably goes out to dysfunctional families in the face of death. But the self-centered and guilt-ridden efforts of the chain-smoking author to misrepresent Christian Science and its practice are at best dishonest and at worst patent muckraking for the purpose of making money and glorifying her own ego. The choices made by her parents were theirs to make, although they ignored the CS practice of leaving surgery "to the skillf There's much that's deeply pathetic about this book, and one's heart inevitably goes out to dysfunctional families in the face of death. But the self-centered and guilt-ridden efforts of the chain-smoking author to misrepresent Christian Science and its practice are at best dishonest and at worst patent muckraking for the purpose of making money and glorifying her own ego. The choices made by her parents were theirs to make, although they ignored the CS practice of leaving surgery "to the skillful fingers of a surgeon," utilizing pain killers, and seeking medical means if healing is not developing. The author seems to have no knowledge of these options open to Christian Scientists.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rod

    Lucia thank you so much for sharing your families experience with us. Horrifying! This tale of a family trapped by the spiritual ignorance, and theological evil, of a long dead witch doctor (Mary Baker Eddy) showed us the norms of cultic religious abuse. YES, this crap is normal - happens all the time: go chat with some Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Charismatic lunatics...even Catholics. Superstitious applications to what should be normal Biblical understandings - of course atheists can be gui Lucia thank you so much for sharing your families experience with us. Horrifying! This tale of a family trapped by the spiritual ignorance, and theological evil, of a long dead witch doctor (Mary Baker Eddy) showed us the norms of cultic religious abuse. YES, this crap is normal - happens all the time: go chat with some Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Charismatic lunatics...even Catholics. Superstitious applications to what should be normal Biblical understandings - of course atheists can be guilty of the same things (just on the opposite end of the spectrum - put all of their faith in Pharmaceuticals and untested science). The secret to life: Question everything and follow the clues. Thankfully Lucia questioned a FEW things and followed a clue or two. Sadly it stopped there - both of her parents died of what might have been put off for a few years. Eventually Death gets us all though... so? Treasure those good memories. Lucia seemed to do this when she could. This story shows us that everyone is accountable for their own reckless decisions (You still smoking lucia? Hopefully your Pot-smoking days are behind you as well? I'm still occasionally eating McDonald's french fries so... I feel your struggles girl.) But we all grab onto something that we hope gives life value. It seems that every character in FATHER/MOTHER/GOD had something to cling to. It's sad when that thing eventually kills you though. Anyway, on to the reason I read this book: What's wrong with Christian Science? Where to start? There's hundreds of things that quickly present themselves. And this is from a guy who's Fundamentally religious in the funnest way. Like I said "Follow the clues". I'm surprised that Lucia (and all of her family and friends) never hit the Christian Science problem in a way that really hurts: Theologically. Here's how: Why would any cult use the King James Version of the Bible as their source? In this day and age? Are people aware the word UNICORN is used 9 times in the K.J.V. translation of the Bible? This was fine in the 1800's. Even the dictionaries at the time said: "Unicorn – An animal with one horn; the monoceros. this name is often applied to the rhinoceros." Of course, nowadays it means a mythical Harry Potter horse like being with silver for blood and a somewhat useless horn protruding from its forehead (unless you've seen the movie "Cabin In The Woods", horn comes in handy.) So any logical and rational scholar would leave the King James Bible back in the 1800's where it belonged. And hopefully move on to the R.S.V. or A.S.V.. Any church or group that insists the K.J.V. is official - is officially ignorant of the evolution of language. Like I said "Question everything." _________________________________________ Why the HELL would anyone listen to Mary Baker Eddy? Do some basic research: her life story shows how insane/human and emotionally unstable she was. She's not much different than all the charismatics running around now (my son and I often joke about how easy it might be to find a million people to follow any ridiculous religious foolery). The secret is to keep them from seriously reading the ENTIRE Bible. Only give them a few abused and twisted verses at a time. This works perfect for Mormons and J.W.'s as well - and liberal's and Arminian's insist this is essential. I'm not even sure Mary Baker was smart enough to realize this - but it's still working today. No cult would tolerate someone carefully reading the whole Bible on their own. Hmmm...I recall the Catholic church murdering a person or two (hundred) for distributing personal Bibles in a common language. It does strike me as relevant that the 7th day adventists have their own personal Baker Eddy clone in the infamous Ellen G. White. Same crap/different pile...smells the same, surrounded by flies - best NOT to step in it. Ellen G. White (November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) New England Mary Baker Eddy (July 16, 1821 – December 3, 1910) New England And just for fun: Joseph Smith, Jr.: Mormon founder - (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) Western N.Y. Fun stuff eh? Must be something in the water. But back to Mary Baker. One of my favorite sources for cultic info is Ruth A. Tucker's book: Another Gospel. If only Lucia Greenhouse would have read this and saw all the common threads that run through Christian cults. Here's some info that should stop any wannabe Christian Science culter: "Most of the time during the last years of her life, Mary was secluded from the public. Rumors surfaced periodically that she was dead or dying, and during her last years she declined steadily, both mentally and physically. Calvin Frye, who remained close to her to the very end, feared that she had become addicted to the morphine she was taking to relieve her pain." Well, isn't that fascinating. Seems Mary had some skeletons in her closet. It is annoyingly common that every cult member I chat with (Mormon, J.W., 7th Day, Catholic, Islam...) is desperately clueless about the blights of their founders. All of these religious systems mention Jesus - yet mostly ignore or abuse everything he said and taught. So what's the Big Deal? Because the world then goes "Look at those Stupid Christians". But as any first year Bible student would easily know: none of those religions have Jesus as their founder and sustainer. They are dependent on charismatic spiritualists to keep the people in fear and awe. I wonder if Buddhist's and Hindu's have the same twisted and abused Holy Scripture issues that Biblical Christianity has? In many ways YES! But good luck saying their source comes from 4 Gospel accounts - or reading all of their historical sources at all? ____________________________ But in many ways all of Lucia's past problems came from simply bad Biblical theology. Basically people failing to read the Bible verses fully or carefully. For instance: How much sickness was in the Bible? Lots. How much got healed? little. hmmmm...? Even the K.J.V. of the Bible has Jesus saying: Matthew 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Or the better understood E.S.V. translation: But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." This verse seems to say: Get your sick butt to a Doctor. Jesus' orders. So is Christian Science CHRISTIANITY at all? Not according to any historical Biblical Christian understanding of the last 2000 years. Mary proved this by stating "the theory of three persons in one God suggest polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM." And just for clarity: "That God's wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made." (and yet that is what the Bible clearly stats.) _______________________________________ I honestly don't think mankind invents religions. We are too busy with our Power, Sex, and Money issues. It would take a supernatural force to go around encouraging humans to abuse and misunderstand basic Bible essentials - Like Satan and demons perhaps? Who else would care so little about humans get sick and dying just to prove a prideful point? It's sad and common to hear the endless tales of what comes of people who latch onto false Christianity in the name of human rebelliousness and freedom. Lucia have you carefully read the whole Bible for yourself? Question everything and follow the clues. See what happens to a world that ignores God's Word. We often see what happens when they distort it. Now if nobody distorted God's Word: that would be interesting. But that NEVER happens. Clues indeed! God has the best selling book on the planet for a reason.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeanmarie Quarterman

    Couldn't put it down. Lucia's story is told with grace, humor, and humility.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hava

    I just finished this book, and I feel...conflicted, I guess, is a good way to put it. I picked it up because of the subtitle - "My journey out of Christian Science." First off, I have never known much about Christian Science - all I knew is that they were a more extreme version of the Christian religion. So I thought this would be a great way to learn more about it. Second, three years ago, I worked extremely hard to leave an "extreme" Christian religion myself (obviously not the Christian Scien I just finished this book, and I feel...conflicted, I guess, is a good way to put it. I picked it up because of the subtitle - "My journey out of Christian Science." First off, I have never known much about Christian Science - all I knew is that they were a more extreme version of the Christian religion. So I thought this would be a great way to learn more about it. Second, three years ago, I worked extremely hard to leave an "extreme" Christian religion myself (obviously not the Christian Science religion, but the same kind of concept). So naturally, I am drawn to religious memoirs where the main character struggles with faith and with making the decision to leave their religion behind. Except, that's not what happened here. For reasons that Lucia never makes clear, she never really believed in the Christian Science religion. Although both of her parents belonged to the religion, she never joined herself, and she stopped reading the lessons at age 16 (something she says later in the book when reflecting back on this time). But that's all she really says. She never explores why she didn't believe - most children naturally believe the religion their parents believe in. So why doesn't Lucia? And because she never joined the religion and never really seemed to believe it, the subtitle is then incongruous - you can't leave something you never joined. Instead, this is a memoir about watching her mother choose Christian Science over modern medicine, and how this choice was extremely difficult for Lucia to live with, especially when it came to the fact that her parents were also asking her to keep the illness a secret from virtually all extended family members. This book would have more accurately been subtitled, "The years I spent watching my mother kill herself because she refused medical treatment" or some such thing. Except, perhaps, that wouldn't have sold as many books...who knows. I guess I was looking for a Christian Science version of my life - first, a true and utter belief in the religion you are brought up in, then slowly an awakening to the fact that your beliefs cannot possibly be true, and eventually a painful tearing away from the old religion and a beautiful new life without that religion. Instead, I got this messy memoir where Lucia never believed to begin with, and therefore had no inner religious struggle to decide whether or not to believe that the Christian Science way of life was correct. It was good - it just wasn't great. And I know a little more than I did before about the Christian Science religion, but not as much as I had hoped to learn.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Young

    As I said in my update, I am drawn to stories about conversion, struggles in faith, loss of faith, coming to faith. This book gripped me from the start, and I read it in a single sitting (OK, I did get up to use the bathroom, but that's all). Lucia Ewing Greenhouse was raised in Christian Science; her parents are converts to the faith. From the beginning of the book, we see her struggles to reconcile the real human problems she sees with her parents' calm assertion that since reality is the perf As I said in my update, I am drawn to stories about conversion, struggles in faith, loss of faith, coming to faith. This book gripped me from the start, and I read it in a single sitting (OK, I did get up to use the bathroom, but that's all). Lucia Ewing Greenhouse was raised in Christian Science; her parents are converts to the faith. From the beginning of the book, we see her struggles to reconcile the real human problems she sees with her parents' calm assertion that since reality is the perfect creation of God, everything that seems like illness is just an illusion. Yet, even for her father (a Christian Science "practitioner," or healer), or her mother (a Christian Science nurse), there are cracks in this perfect picture. Daddy recommends burying the dead kitten she brings him for healing, rather than praying for it. Children with the appearance of chicken pox are nonetheless kept out of school as if it were something real. Even in Christian Science, people "pass on" to a new plane of existence. Lucia begins to fall away from the church in high school, but still respects her parents' beliefs. Then one day, she comes home for a visit, and discovers that her mother seems to be very ill. The family turmoil that results has serious ramifications for everyone. I'll say no more, but do prepare for an emotionally wrenching experience. The author is as fair, I think, as anyone could hope to be concerning a faith they have left behind, especially given the events she recounts here. She has a good sense for the unfolding thought processes of a child, and for the small details that evoke an era. (We are almost exactly the same age, and I think that affected my becoming immersed in the book.) I recommend both this book and the older memoir Blue Windows Blue Windows: A Christian Science Childhood for people interested in a view into this American-made religion.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sally Wessely

    I loved this book. I could not stop thinking about it while I was reading it, nor could I forget parts of it after I finished the book. I have a dear friend who grew up Christian Science and left it during college. When I met her, she was actually still in Christian Science, and I was her roommate as she left it. Over the years, she told me many stories about the experience and the beliefs of Christian Scientists. Everything she told me rang true with what Lucia Greenhouse had to say. First of al I loved this book. I could not stop thinking about it while I was reading it, nor could I forget parts of it after I finished the book. I have a dear friend who grew up Christian Science and left it during college. When I met her, she was actually still in Christian Science, and I was her roommate as she left it. Over the years, she told me many stories about the experience and the beliefs of Christian Scientists. Everything she told me rang true with what Lucia Greenhouse had to say. First of all, I admire Lucia's courage in writing and publishing this book. Leaving a cult is never an easy thing to do. Once one is a part of a cult, whether because they were born into it or converted to it, it is never easy to leave. The cult leaves many scars, and its tentacles intertwine with nearly every facet of life. A cult experience impacts not only the member of the cult, but also other family members who must deal with the cult's insidious spread of influence and control over the life of the cult member and his or her children or grandchildren. It takes great courage to write about the cult experience and its impact on one's life and on the lives of the one the cult member loves most. Virtually every member of Lucia's family, her siblings, her aunts and uncles, her grandparents, her cousins, her friends, we impacted by the decisions made by her parents to not only join Christian Science but to also apply its tenants to their lives. This book is heartbreaking to read. Thankfully, Lucia was able to break free of the cult mind control that caused her to stay in denial during her mother's illness. Thankfully, she took the time to work through the disastrous outcomes that impacted her life because of decisions made by others who were locked in a religion that exerts such control over the minds of its followers. I'm sure her decision to publish the book has been freeing to her. I applaud her, her writing style, and her truthfulness in telling her story as she remembered it and as she interpreted its meaning to her own life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I received a proof copy of fathermothergod through a Goodreads giveaway. While Lucia's story is compelling and the book is very well written I struggled with the subtitle. Mrs. Greenhouse describes in her book a relationship with both her parents and her faith that was contemptuous from seemingly a very young age. I would say that this is more of a story about re-negotiating relationships with her parents than her faith. While her relationship with her parents is steadfast but complicated (and t I received a proof copy of fathermothergod through a Goodreads giveaway. While Lucia's story is compelling and the book is very well written I struggled with the subtitle. Mrs. Greenhouse describes in her book a relationship with both her parents and her faith that was contemptuous from seemingly a very young age. I would say that this is more of a story about re-negotiating relationships with her parents than her faith. While her relationship with her parents is steadfast but complicated (and truthfully whose isn't) her connections to the Christian Science faith traditions are wish-washy. To say that this book educates or informs one of the inner-side of a mostly private but hardly cult-like denomination is a bit of a stretch. I was also annoyed at the the repeated apologies for what is without a doubt her individual perspective - of course it is! Stop apologizing and tell us the story. Overall I really enjoyed the fathermothergod and have already passed the book on to a friend. I encourage future readers to expect less of the faith narrative. I got immense fulfillment from the story of a growing woman who is constantly examining, reconsidering, and reshaping the loving and dynamic relationship with her family and think many others will as well.

  15. 4 out of 5

    K2 -----

    Compellingly written, Lucia Greenhouse takes a complex topic and tells a candid story of her family's history as she sees it. Raised in an affluent Christian Science family she comes into her young adulthood doubting the family's religious tradition and striving to understand how profoundly it impacted her life. Her relationships with her extended family were put to the test when her mother becomes ill and she is left as a "peacemaker" between her parent's beliefs about healing and her mother's Compellingly written, Lucia Greenhouse takes a complex topic and tells a candid story of her family's history as she sees it. Raised in an affluent Christian Science family she comes into her young adulthood doubting the family's religious tradition and striving to understand how profoundly it impacted her life. Her relationships with her extended family were put to the test when her mother becomes ill and she is left as a "peacemaker" between her parent's beliefs about healing and her mother's family who she has been urged to lied to. It is the making of a sour stomach and deeply felt wounds. I'm sure the other siblings could write their viewpoints and they would not agree on all points, but Greenhouses's telling is well done. She says the book was written over a two decade period amid raising four children of her own. It is difficult to write about this books without including spoilers.. Getting away from a religious tradition that influences your entire life is no small feat. Writing a memoir that is this well done may be equally as rare.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    Hmmm. I feel really badly for the author and hope that she finds some peace. I found this book a polemic that lacked context...many people reject the religion of their parents and many parents try to control their children. Its unclear to me whether it is Christian Science or the author's father who should be questioned. I didn't get a real feel for the depth or meaning of the religion from this book, and I was left wanting to find out more. When I looked at www.christianscience.com and at wikip Hmmm. I feel really badly for the author and hope that she finds some peace. I found this book a polemic that lacked context...many people reject the religion of their parents and many parents try to control their children. Its unclear to me whether it is Christian Science or the author's father who should be questioned. I didn't get a real feel for the depth or meaning of the religion from this book, and I was left wanting to find out more. When I looked at www.christianscience.com and at wikipedia, it didn't really sound like the same religion Lucia describes. If Lucia is around 50 now, that means that she was growing up in the early 1960s/70s, which was a strict time for many religions. I think more context and research is needed before I'd jump to Lucia's conclusions. In other words, I'm not going to take her word for it since she didn't provide much more than anecdotal psychological history of her family and their take on religion.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Santos

    Ok so I am a Christian (more specific a 7th Day Adventist) so I understand and have heard this story many times. Infact I believe there are parents still in jail for their child dying at home and not taking them to the hospital when they were sick. During illness our faith is tested. Do we fail the test if we go to ER? Thats up to God to judge. I will not say that prayer doesnt work, because God is not a genie to grant us our every wish, but there are times where the hospital is needed. In my ca Ok so I am a Christian (more specific a 7th Day Adventist) so I understand and have heard this story many times. Infact I believe there are parents still in jail for their child dying at home and not taking them to the hospital when they were sick. During illness our faith is tested. Do we fail the test if we go to ER? Thats up to God to judge. I will not say that prayer doesnt work, because God is not a genie to grant us our every wish, but there are times where the hospital is needed. In my case it brings the family closer together. We do not spend time together much anymore, but when one of us is in the hospital we spend countless hours together. It's a very very VERY expensive lesson, but it works everytime. I am still debating weather or not to read this book based on the reviews, but I will shelf it and consider it soon.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    I've been on a book bender lately. Three books in three weeks about women leaving the religion of their childhoods. This one hits especially close to home, as I grew up (and left) the same religion as the author. She tells her family's story with a range of raw emotions. Watching the death of a parent is never easy. Watching them make choices that endanger their lives - and by extension your own, as their child - is nearly impossible.

  19. 4 out of 5

    eb

    A memoir that reads like a literary thriller. When Greenhouse's mother got sick, I read as fast as I could, queasy with nervousness. The revelations about Christian Scientists are shocking, but Greenhouse isn't vengeful or shrill; she's a thoughtful, measured, subtle thinker writing about religious people who, with the best intentions, commit manslaughter.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Dude, her dad was a dick

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liane

    A Perfect Book Club Selection Lucia Greenhouse is a gifted wordsmith, and her skillful use of the telling detail drives this harrowing narrative of a famiy undone by a religion few of us know. Reflective, honest and brave, her memoir is a moving testament to the power of healing through writing. It is also a page turner; I read it in one sitting. This would make a perfect book club selection. Don't miss it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Professional review to follow

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott Freeman

    This is a decent memoir though it's not really my cup of tea. I was hoping for more reflection on the religion itself and less on family anecdotes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alena

    3.5 stars This memoir came as a bit of a surprise because, based on its subtitle, I thought it would be about the author’s struggle to leave the Christian Science church. But that decision was made very early on when she was a teenager and she never wavered from it. Instead, she is struggling against her parents’ continued practice of the faith, even in light of illness. I didn’t know anything about Christian Science when I started, except the faint idea that they don’t believe in modern medicine. 3.5 stars This memoir came as a bit of a surprise because, based on its subtitle, I thought it would be about the author’s struggle to leave the Christian Science church. But that decision was made very early on when she was a teenager and she never wavered from it. Instead, she is struggling against her parents’ continued practice of the faith, even in light of illness. I didn’t know anything about Christian Science when I started, except the faint idea that they don’t believe in modern medicine. That struggle is the crux of the book. Her stories of how that affected her very healthy childhood are just anecdotal. In fact, for the first third of the book, I was not fully engaged. It’s really her mother’s debilitating illness that forces the big question, “What would you do?” It’s easy to scoff at this belief and say, “I would have never…” but the author’s brutal honesty about her internal struggles and external forces made me rethink how difficult it would be to argue against deeply held faith. I give Lucia Greenhouse great credit for the courage it took to write and publish this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meghan | PlaygroundParkbench

    I didn't know much about this religion before reading this book - it was part of my impetus for reading it.... I would have liked to better understand the foundations of the various beliefs, as obviously some of them might be considered extreme. I could also sympathize with the writer as she endures her mothers illness - torn between her modern views, the judgment of relatives, and the wishes of her mother and father. While I will never understand the choices of her parents, I can certainly empa I didn't know much about this religion before reading this book - it was part of my impetus for reading it.... I would have liked to better understand the foundations of the various beliefs, as obviously some of them might be considered extreme. I could also sympathize with the writer as she endures her mothers illness - torn between her modern views, the judgment of relatives, and the wishes of her mother and father. While I will never understand the choices of her parents, I can certainly empathize with her position. It would also have been interesting to better understand why her parents chose their faith. Overall, it's an interesting story, but left lots of questions in the background unanswered.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    An honest account of an extraordinary upbringing. The extreme nature of her upbringing highlights the ties the bind us to family and the lengths we go for them. I am a sucker for a good memoir, as truth, or one's own truth as she is careful to point out, is often more interesting, and contains more insight, than fiction.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Teddie

    An amazing & heartbreaking story of love, family, & religion. A fast read that grabs you at the start & doesn't let you go. I truly love this book & I look forward to reading more from this author.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Stapleton

    This book was well written. I read it all in one night and could not put it down. The author's honest reflections and heartbreak make this a must read book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I received this book through Goodreads FirstReads Program. Lucia Greenhouse tells her story of being raised in Christian Science and how it impacted her life and the life of her family. One of three children raised in an affluent family, Lucia was not allowed to receive immunizations, antibiotics, or even to take pain relievers such as Tylenol because it went against her religious beliefs. When Lucia reached her teenage years, as is common with so many of us, she began to seriously question her I received this book through Goodreads FirstReads Program. Lucia Greenhouse tells her story of being raised in Christian Science and how it impacted her life and the life of her family. One of three children raised in an affluent family, Lucia was not allowed to receive immunizations, antibiotics, or even to take pain relievers such as Tylenol because it went against her religious beliefs. When Lucia reached her teenage years, as is common with so many of us, she began to seriously question her religion and have doubts. She struggled with her father’s strict adherence to Christian Science and his dictating all of their lives. She decided Christian Science was not for her, despite the fact that her father had become a practitioner and her mother a “nurse” in the religion. The divide between her and her parents grew as she became more and more frustrated with Christian Science. In 1985, Lucia realizes her mother is sick. Because of the tenets of their faith, her mother and father decide not to seek the help of medical professionals but to rely on Christian Science to heal her. They completely refuse the concept of going to a hospital. Her illness worsens. Eventually she is taken to a Christian Science nursing home called Tenacre. Lucia and her sister and brother are increasingly concerned for her welfare. Lucia’s father tells them not to inform other members of the family who are not Christian Science members as they would not be supportive. The siblings fear the worst for their mother, but also fear the wrath of their father. Their mother continues to becoming increasingly ill. What would you do if your faith required you to shun medical treatment when you knew your parent, child, or spouse would likely get better if he/she received it? I found this book to be incredibly frustrating. I wanted to scream at the author, the father, the mother, her siblings and family members – “DO SOMETHING!” “HELP HER!” I was frustrated by the fact that the author seemed to recognize that her mother was likely dying and that she could possibly (probably?) be saved with traditional medicine, yet was too afraid to do anything to about it. I wanted somebody, anybody, to rescue this poor woman before it was too late. The book was well written, but it did tend to be a bit whiny and it could have been shorter. I think a short story would have sufficed, perhaps without quite so much complaining.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Lee

    When I started this book, I knew virtually nothing about Christian Science - only that it intrigued me. I was raised Roman Catholic, so the notion that any religion would shun medicine in lieu of prayer alone was foreign and vaguely barbaric to me. I can't say that I know much more about Christian Science now after reading 'fathermothergod', nor can I say that my opinions regarding the practices of the Christian Science church have changed. The author's personal experiences, quite rightly, color When I started this book, I knew virtually nothing about Christian Science - only that it intrigued me. I was raised Roman Catholic, so the notion that any religion would shun medicine in lieu of prayer alone was foreign and vaguely barbaric to me. I can't say that I know much more about Christian Science now after reading 'fathermothergod', nor can I say that my opinions regarding the practices of the Christian Science church have changed. The author's personal experiences, quite rightly, colored this religion in a very biased and negative light. If you're looking for a testiment to Christian Science, you will not find it here. However, what you will find is a deeply moving story about the horrifying experiences this whole family endured throughout the course of their mother's illness and ultimate death. You will see what can happen when any religion is taken to the extreme. You will feel the guilt and regret of family members who wanted desperately to help, but instead did nothing all under the guise of respecting their mother's wishes. This tale was fairly unbelievable for me, not because I didn't think it was true, but because I couldn't possibly fathom ever being part of a religion that wouldn't recognize such grave illness as the onethat was described. The author tells us that the Christian Science church believes that illness is 'error' and can't possibly exist because God created everyone to be perfect. Frankly it amazes me that anyone can ignore basic logic to the point of believing something so flawed. This was a sad, sad story and I feel for the author and the knowledge of her actions (or lack thereof) that she must live with everyday of her life. But at the same time, I am amazed that anyone could ever sit idly by and watch their mother waste away - all under the guise of respect and God's will. If nothing else, this book was thought-provoking. It was well written and I enjoyed reading it. But don't enter into it thinking you will come away with answers. If anything, you will come away with nothing more than disbelief that any situation such as this could go so far, along with many questions about how anyone could possibly let something like this happen.

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