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fathermothergod book event at Chautauqua

August 12, 2011

Very interesting day in Chautauqua!
First, a big article in the Chautauqua Daily about fathermothergod. In the article, the New York State Committee on Publication for the Christian Science Church weighed in (Chautauqua likes to be very fair!) which gave me enough of a heads up that I was able to prepare in the event Christian Scientists turned out for the reading.
And they did.
Of the roughly fifty people in attendance, I’m guessing about five or six were Christian Scientists. After I spoke and did my reading, I started a Q and A. A few questions into it, a woman stood up and introduced herself as a lifelong Christian Scientist, a Practitioner and a Teacher. Funniest aspect of the whole thing was that I decided I would read the excerpt about Sherman’s and my visit to our mother’s practitioner, describing her as silver-haired, elegantly dressed. A dead ringer for the woman in the audience!!!
She and another Christian Scientist spoke, and tried to attack my credibility, but having spent years in a C.S. boarding school, and having a Practitioner and Teacher for a father kind of squelched that. A man got up, probably in his mid fifties, and said he and his children had all been beautifully protected by Christian Science, etc etc. Another member of the audience asked him, “but what would you do if your child were critically ill?” He didn’t give much of an answer. He then quoted the last part of the interview in the paper, where I called Christian Science anachronistic and said that behind the facade of the C.S. Monitor is a darker, more frightening truth. He tried to make me look like I was full of anger and bitterness. I explained my use of the term anachronistic….about how CS. was founded late 19th century before the advent of modern medicine: no xrays, no penicillin, etc, when saying a prayer might, in fact have been a better option sometimes than going to a doctor….
Several people came up to me afterwards and commended me on how I handled the hostile attendees, said the anachronism answer was especially meaningful.
Oh, one other thing. One of Christian Scientists who spoke said there was nothing in the church doctrine that says you can’t go to doctors. I was armed with some great quote –thanks to some quick reference work done by Rita Swan early this morning! — from Science and Health to refute his claim. Here’s the one I used:
“A physical diagnosis of disease–since mortal mind must be the cause of disease– tends to induce disease.” This is what Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health, the Christian Science textbook on page 370.
Why would anyone ever go to a doctor if getting a diagnosis meant getting sicker???

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Umbrella Girl permalink
    August 14, 2011 5:26 am

    I read the book and found it profoundly moving. It was an eye opening account of life as a Christian Scientist.

    I, too had a few relatives who were Christian Scientists. I am sad to say that when one older relative became ill and infirm, that relative died sooner than had medical treatment been included.

    This book was extremely well written and I especially loved anecdotes about Olivia and Sherman.

  2. August 19, 2011 9:41 pm

    Lucia, You are an amazingly courageous woman and an excellent writer. Good for you for not only writing the book but surviving your own experience and I loved reading this post of how you graciously stood your ground when challenge by Christian Scientists. I too “escaped” by the skin of my teeth from CS. I was a practitioner for 14 years and also did consulting with the College Organizations division of The Mother Church. Now I am an Episcopal Priest. Your book arrived yesterday in the mail from Amazon and I finished it this morning. I can hardly find words to say how confirming and validating I found it. I alternately wanted to tear my hair out in frustration and at the same time laugh at the empty phrases you quoted from Mrs. Eddy’s writings…I could just hear the “tone” with which they were given. I am so glad you have found your way and kept on writing and I especially loved the quote at the end of the book from the Unitarian tradition. Thank you again and again.
    Peggy Sullivan

    • November 4, 2011 5:54 pm

      Thank you Peggy. I’m sorry, I thought I had already replied to this, but I guess not. I’m so glad your spiritual journey has led you to a faith, and a calling, that helps others heal using many modalities, including prayer.
      It sounds like you have an interesting story to tell too! Best regards,

  3. Lynda Kelsey permalink
    August 21, 2011 12:41 am

    I am so TOTALLY disgusted by this book, I cannot believe it. Do you realize Ms. Greenhouse that on almost every page, you have one if not several question marks? Which pretty much encapsulates this book. You ask a whole lot of questions but only ask them silently – never to anyone who would answer or actually do something. How does a WHOLE family get to this point? What you do in this book is ask yourself hypothetical questions over and over, not to mention rehashing events over and over. Readers just keep reading how you “wish” you’d said something/done something etc. Do you not have to run your manuscript by an editor? Did you publish this yourself. See, we have questions too. I am just not believing that all of you could sit by and let your father and mother pull this off! What did you think Uncle Jack was going to do? He a doctor for God’s sake. Of course, he wants to take action…doing what you 4 should have done. By the time your mother had surgery, she AND your father were incompetent. None of you have the backbone it took to get her out of an abusive situation. You are swearing at your father in your head, hating him……well, do something. Just too much for me. Yes, I’m in medicine. I am not sure I could have been as kind as the medical community was in treating this case. I would have called a social consult asap.

    • November 4, 2011 5:47 pm

      Wow. Harsh. You’re right. No backbone but now that I’m fifty I’ve found mine. My publicist would probably tell me not to respond to comments such as yours. Something we actually agree on: Wish someone had called a social consult.

  4. helen olmstead dean permalink
    September 5, 2011 3:05 am

    I just finished reading your fascinating book. It is hard not to feel anger and sadness about your mother’s premature death, and how your hands were truely tied from intervening. As someone who works in the medical field, I often see too many interventions done when there is little hope. It is equally hard to see no interventions done by intelligent, educated people. I know very little about Christian Science, but it seems almost cultlike. You have my sincere sympathy for losing your mother at such a young age. I wish I had known you were going to be at Chautauqua, as I live 20 minutes away. I would have enjoyed hearing more of your story.

    • September 24, 2011 2:32 pm

      Thank you Helen, for your kind message. If I return to Chautauqua I will let you know! What a wonderful place that is. Best regards,

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