Tuesday, July 8, 2014

fathermothergod: My Journey out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse

image from LibraryThing
I really didn't know much about Christian Science when I started reading this book.   What I did know was a vague understanding of no birthdays, no doctors and a some sort of cult that Tom Cruise was a part of.  I was partially right - but not about the Tom Cruise part.

This is a deeply personal story of a daughter coming to grips with choices her parents made and the consequences that the children must pay.  This is a story of a family - a close knit family that is pulled apart by religious differences.  This is a story of pain and more pain and in the end mostly pain.

Lucia is the middle child of three.  When she was little her parents joined the Mother Church - the Church of Christian Science.  Their belief is that physical pain is not real, so illness is not real.  It can be prayed away - they called it working on a problem.  I find it very interesting that science is in the name - yet the deepest tenet of the faith is a complete denunciation of medical science. That was not really explained.

Lucia's father, Heff, believed that Christian Science cured his stuttering.  And that was only the beginning.  As children, Lucia and her siblings they went to church and went to their large family gatherings. All in this uppercrust extended family were allowed to follow their own path - but no one really addressed it.  The problems in Lucia's family came as the children were growing up. When Lucia realized that her headaches were caused by poor eyesight she had a horrible fight with her father just to go to the eye doctor.  And when she and her brother had chicken pox she remembered her mom taking her to grandma's for funny tasting applesauce while dad was at work.  Those memories piled up and Lucia became very confused!

Even these spats were nothing compared to the all-out, family destroying brawl that was to come.

There are parts of this story that are difficult to read with out hitting someone over the head.  I just couldn't understand the blind focus on anything but medicine.  It just seems so obvious!!

But, I could understand the dedication they felt to their faith. Heff and Joanne, Lucia's parents, completely and totally believed and couldn't understand their children's lack of faith.  It was crystal clear to each side how ridiculous the other was.  That understanding was difficult for me  - especially when it was the children trying to convince the parents.

Lucia is a great storyteller - her tale winds sometimes - but stays true to the focal point - Christian Science killed her parents.  That isn't quite the same as the subtitle on the cover - but I think it's more the true title.

Interesting read.
I would recommend this if you are interested in faith traditions and family dynamics.

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