“Unimaginable . . . As much an indictment of Christian Science as it is a memoir of her family’s experience of loss.”—O: the Oprah Magazine
Lucia Ewing had what looked like an all-American childhood, but when it came to accidents and illnesses, her parents didn’t take their kids to the doctor’s office—they prayed and called a Christian Science practitioner. As a teenager, her visit to an ophthalmologist created a family crisis, and she was a sophomore in college before she had her first annual physical. 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 their mother suffered, they were grief-stricken, angry, and confused.
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.
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|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
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About the Author
LUCIA GREENHOUSE, a graduate of the Emma Willard School and Brown University, lives with her husband and four children in Westchester County, New York. This is her first book.
Reading Group Guide
Please consider the below discussion questions to enhance your reading of fathermothergod by Lucia Greenhouse.
Readers' Guide for fathermothergod
1. How successful would you say the author was in conveying the doctrine of the Christian Science Church, (starting from the point of view of a child)?
2. As a young girl Lucia thinks about the dichotomy between Christian Science and the real world as being like the Venn diagrams in math class, wondering if the two circles overlap at all. Does this metaphor apply to your own religion or that of others?,Does it apply to other conflicting aspects of a child’s life?
3. What were Lucia’s parents’ motivations in embracing Christian Science? Lucia’s grandfather and uncle were prominent physicians. What are possible explainations for her mother’s rejection of medicine?
4. Is there a time in your own life when you’ve had to make an extremely difficult choice between adhering to your own beliefs and respecting those of close friends or family members? How have you dealt with that conflict?
5. The Christian Science church has often been viewedas a more or less mainstream--if small-- Protestant religion. What was your understanding of the church, and how has that understanding changed?
6. Freedom of religion is a fundamental principal of American democracy. Are there limits to the free exercise of religion? Should there be?
7. Lucia and her siblings had been raised in the Church, and indoctrinated from a young age. Even though they never fully embraced Christian Science, its grip on them remained tight, even paralyzing. But the same cannot be said about some of Lucia’s other family members who remained silent after they learned about Joanne’s illness. What kept them from acting? Filial loyalty? Religious tolerance? Fear?
8. What would you have done, had you been in Lucia’s shoes?
9. Where should the line between personal choice and legal interest be drawn (like assisted suicide) ?
10.At one point Lucia says that her grandmother may be the only person capable of forgiving her father, and only because her own faith dictates it. What role has forgiveness played in Lucia’s life and that of her family since the events of 1986?
11. Do you think Lucia loves her parents?
12.What is the lowest point in the story?
13. Regardless of one’s feelings about Mary Baker Eddy’s theology, she was an early feminist, who founded a religion and started The Christian Science Monitor.. What will her legacy be?
14. What do you think attracts people to Christian Science?
15. What is the difference between a religion and a cult?
16. Lucia’s sister, Olivia, said to Lucia near the end of the book, “I just want you to know, you, Sherman and I: we had three very different sets of parents. Your story is not mine.” Is Olivia’s comment a universal truth?
17. Sibling dynamics around family secrets are always complicated. How is what happened in fathermothergod similar or dissimilar to the way families handle other secrets, such as alcoholism and other addictions?
18. Which character in fathermothergod do you most identify with and why?
For more information visit, LuciaGreenhouse.com, facebook.com/LuciaGreenhouse and twitter.com/LuciaGreenhouse.