For most people, losing their mother to cancer would be a difficult loss to cope with. For Lucia Greenhouse, the author of fathermothergod, that grief was complicated by anger. Her father had told Lucia and her sister and brother that one of the reasons her mother was not getting better was that Lucia and her siblings were not going to Christian Science church and did not accept the church’s method of healing.
In fact, in the Christian Science household she grew up in, Lucia was told that illness — any illness — wasn’t real. Sickness was a kind of error in thinking, an illusion. Lucia Greenhouse says that explanation sort of made sense to her as a child. When she got chicken pox shortly after her sister, she was told that like water on the edge of the desert, the red, itchy spots all over her eight-year-old body were the same sort of mirage.
I prayed the way I was taught to pray. After a few days, the spots crusted over. I thought I’d had a good Christian Science healing, even though that’s the natural course of the disease.
When her “illusory” outbreak was less intense and more short-lived than her sister’s, she says, she thought she was the superior “scientist.”
While we were drawn to “fathermothergod” on its own merits, we were also interested in the opportunity to hear from someone with first hand experience in a faith that eschewed traditional medical care. We have repeatedly tried to speak to members of the Followers of Christ church in the wake of the series of faith healing deaths in that community. Unfortunately, no one has accepted our invitation.
Lucia Greenhouse joins us to talk about her childhood, how the church affected her family and ultimately her “Journey Out of Christian Science.”
Are you a Christian Scientist? What does your faith mean to you? If you’re a former Christian Scientist, why did you leave? What’s your relationship with faith now?