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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

fathermothergod: My Journey out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse

fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science

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.

I think to get my review across effectively, I really need to split it into three separate parts - a review of the writing, a review of the story and, finally, a review of the subject matter.

I thought this was a very well written book.  The author had  a humorous, self deprecating manner in what is a very serious subject matter.  She has not tried to make herself look better or "sugar coat" any of her experiences, which I truly appreciated as a reader.  It must have been a hard book for her to write as she will be judged rather harshly I am sure and, in fact, I found/find myself judging her choices and questioning her inaction at times and I believe myself to be a very tolerant, non-judgmental person.  One criticism of the style was the lack of defined chapters, just starting each new section with the date.  Perhaps the author meant this as it read more like a personal journal (albeit with large date gaps) but I would have preferred a more defined chapter structure.  Despite this, the story still flowed rather well and I found myself just wanting to read a little bit more, which I may not have done if I had to commit to a whole chapter (I am strange in that I hate stopping reading in the middle of a chapter). 

The second part of the review is regarding the actual story.  If this had been a fiction book, I would not have believed some parts of it but as the saying goes "truth is stranger than fiction" at times.  I did struggle to truly believe the thought process of many of the people in the book but I put this down to my own lack of religion and belief in a higher being.  I do admire people that have such a strong belief in their God (or whatever name they choose for their higher being) that they submit to the power of prayer.  That being said, I was incredulous about the beliefs of the religion Christian Science and how people, in this day and age, can shun modern medicine.  As the author said, the religion was founded in a time before modern medical and surgery advances so, perhaps, had a lot of relevance back then but nowadays....... just completely beyond my comprehension to know that there are people out there following this practice but that is their legal right!

So, this leads onto my final part of my review.  I must start by saying that, while not being religious myself,
I truly respect all other religions as long as they don't try to preach to me or convert me and as long as they are not harming others because of their own beliefs.  In the beliefs of Christian Science that were put across in this book, I am completely flabbergasted that they still exist today.  I would love to hear the story from the viewpoint of a practicing Christian Scientist and give them the opportunity to justify the actions in this story.

I got a lot from this book.  It really got my thoughts rolling and led me to do some research about the religion of Christian Science on the internet.  Here is the official website http://christianscience.com/ for anyone interested in reading further about it themselves.  It is a quite interesting website to read, even if you don't believe in what they say (and I don't).  I am also tempted to go a visit one of their Reading rooms just to see what they are all about, if I do go, I will certainly report back on here.

While on the internet looking at the religion of Christian Science, I also ended up looking up the practice of Scientology (absolutely nothing to do with Christian Science but hey, I was on a religious roll).  I was pleasantly surprised by what their website had to say (http://www.scientology.org/).  I had, previously, only heard what the media had to say about this religion when talking about the "Celebrities" that practice it and it was a completely wrong idea.  Take a moment to watch and listen to the videos on the website, they are very interesting and have definitely sparked an interest in reading further for me.  And who knew but the founding church is right here in Washington, DC.  I feel a field trip coming on!

So back to the book.  It certainly gave me a lot of food for thought and has led me onto a path of further investigation into religious practices.  It has also left me with a number of thoughts and questions I would love to put to the author.  My main concern and question is about the children of Christian Scientists. What if a child dies of a treatable illness or disease is there no culpability on the parents?  It is all very well respecting the parents religion and rights but until a child is old enough to make up their own mind should the parents beliefs be forced on the child to their detriment!?  Their must have been numerous cases on this subject and I will certainly be looking them up for some further research. 

A worthwhile read and a definite eye opener.  If any of my reviewing friends would like my copy to read and review themselves, then please email or text me and I will send it on.  4 out of 5 from me.

1 comment:

  1. Great review Hazel - sounds like an interesting and thought-provoking read.