October 09, 2011
Fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse
I've been reading a lot about different religions although I focused heavily on the FLDS and decided that this memoir about Christian Science sounded interesting. This wasn't really the "escape" novel I expected, but I guess that could be explained away by the fact that its a choice to enter the religion, unlike the FLDS.
Lucia Greenhouse is one of three children raised in a Christian Science household. For the large part, their lives are normal. Normal clothes, normal events, normal food, and normal house. Where it goes drastically different is the belief that the human body has been made perfect and we only have to realize it in order to be healthy. Sickness is not real and as a result, many Christian Science members don't seek help until the very end when it is too late (there is my bias speaking, but that's how I view it). They also don't really celebrate birthdays and have many prayers that they do for different occasions. As Lucia grows up she realizes that her religion doesn't seem right, and when her mother grows ill this further reinforces that something is wrong in her mind. She visits her family's struggle with the illness and the pain of being able to do nothing.
Despite her reservations on what her parents are doing a lot of times, Lucia presents her family kindly. She has a lot of problems with them, but she doesn't make them out to be complete monsters. Her father is painted the darkest, but she even throws in some redeeming qualities for him once in awhile. Her sister and brother she seems to like, although they didn't get a lot of book time. Her mother you can tell she's definitely attached to, and the pain of being unable to reason with her is very clearly expressed within this book.
To be honest, while some of the aspects of this book was interesting, I actually found it kind of boring. There was a lot of information repeated and the main focus was on her helplessness in face of her mom's illness. She also spent a lot of time bounding around in her earlier life growing up, but for all that was said, I didn't feel like there was a lot of detail. I would have also loved to see more detail on Christian Science as I didn't know that much about it starting out. There's a little detail in there, and I know this is a memoir, but I think people can relate better if they are given a sufficient amount of background. The writing is clear though, and the author is very good at expressing emotion through her words. You could feel her pain regarding her family, and her disappointment, as you read.
This book didn't really make me want to go out and keep reading about Christian Science, but it was an interesting read. As a memoir, it was so-so.