I gave a copy of The Unseen Shore to the senior pastor of our Presbyterian Church sometime in the early 90s. In our monthly newsletter this very erudite man stated his opinion that it was the best theological text of that year.
This memoir was a bit too cerebral for me, but I’ve talked to others who liked it. Weaving poetry and philosophy throughout this pilgrimage, Simmons offers an intelligent, literate account of his personal ‘dark night of the soul.’ Ultimately, he acknowledges life and the material as real—despite imperfections—rather than as the illusory, spiritual manifestations of his Christian Science youth.
This book was one of the first I read around the time of my mother’s death. I related to his childhood pain and was touched at his descriptions of relating to his child after leaving Christian Science. I identified with that; my children have been my reality, also. This is a very honest book. He writes about a journey which is not for the faint-hearted. One formerly CS friend of mine couldn’t finish it, as it raised many painful memories.
Powerful and revealing. How could people who love their children not get them medical care? This books shows how.
Short, well-written, very touching, but at the same time it was difficult to read because of its subject matter which hit a bit too close to home. It stirred memories of my own time in Christian Science, and dealing with Christian Science practitioners, a class of ‘professionals’, if you want to call them that, who often and routinely cross personal and professional boundaries, at least in my own experience, and the experience of the author of this memoir.
I’m disgusted by the behavior of the practitioners before and after Matthew’s death and by their petty rivalries. Hardly an ounce of charity in the lot. I’m also disgusted by the church’s fraudulent claim that it had healed another case of meningitis, when in fact the other child had the more benign form of the disease and had been treated in a hospital.
An utterly heartbreaking but beautiful tribute to Rita’s son Matthew, who died while under Christian Science ‘care.’ This little book packs a powerful punch and clearly illustrates the utter coldness, denial, and futility of Christian Science.
I downloaded fathermothergod and read the whole thing today. I finished it a couple of hours ago and have been an emotional, blubbering mess since then. I was identifying with so much of what she said and feeling secure in my gut feeling that Christian Science isn’t the Truth.
A moving, powerful, and beautifully written work. The author convincingly recreates the bizarre dynamics of a Christian Science household: the jargon with its euphemisms and absolutist declarations of Truth, the denial and suppression of facts and feelings, the secrecy, the mistrust directed toward non-CS family members. When her mother becomes gravely ill, Lucia is frustrated in every attempt she makes to break through the intransigence of CS belief. Tragic and infuriating.
fathermothergod is extremely readable for non-Christian Scientists as well. Three of my friends and my therapist read it at my request, and their sudden understanding and compassion for me has been unexpected and extremely welcome.
This book was the easiest to read and a great primer for the uninitiated. It was so easy and friendly, while describing the horrors we all shared. This book was the easiest to read and a great primer for the uninitiated. It was so easy and friendly, while describing the horrors we all shared. I loved it, but it was tough to take. My own mom used to lie in bed, writhing in pain and screaming out to God on a regular basis. Damn, scratch the surface and you get so many revelations about things you have yet to really deal with.
– Katie J.
I read fathermothergod over the weekend. It was difficult, but gripping. I cried more than once.
fathermothergod was the first critical book about Christian Science that I read after leaving the faith. Its pages stirred echoes of my own experience — from her recounting of childhood memories to her experience with her mother’s illness and death. I read it in about two days; I found it hard to put it down.
A tragic story. The author was a staunch Christian Scientist and worked at the The Mother Church. A series of non-healings changed his attitude.
I loved this book! The author said it took him eight years to write. It comes from the heart.
I love this one! I even reached out to the author last year and he emailed me back. I related so much to his story, and appreciated the fact that it didn’t bash Christian Science. It was just a heartfelt, honest retelling of his experience. It was difficult for me to read some of the stronger ex-CS stuff early in my departure and this was a great transition.
– Laura N.
I think it’s good to have such books written from the male perspective. I found Robert Ellis’s style very readable and when I contacted him, he was cordial and encouraging. He describes the impact on his thinking as he studied true science and read far more widely than Christian Science would allow. He describes in a sensitive way the effect of Christian Science on his family and his journey into new avenues of life.
I stumbled upon Blue Windows a number of years ago at someone’s house. I started to read it and was so freaked out by the similarities between the author’s experiences and my own that I almost threw it across the room. It was like a lit match and it burned.
The mental health issues associated with leaving Christian Science are the theme of this memoir, especially the struggle with ingrained Christian Science concepts. The author’s mother’s struggle with self-destructive mental illness brought on by a sense of failure as a Christian Scientist is a turning point. It is a powerful book that will resonate with many who grew up in Christian Science homes.
Blue Windows was one of my triggers for leaving Christian Science. I owe that book a lot. It helped me see that the emotions and anxieties I have lived with for so long had a root in something.
I loved Blue Windows. I thought it was more comprehensive than the other memoirs. Her background about Mrs. Eddy and the [Christian Science] Movement was helpful and added a lot of balance to the book.
I just finished Blue Windows. It was harder to get through than other Christian Science survivor books. Not because it wasn’t well written, it really was. Maybe it was too close to home? While I was able to sit and read others in a few long sittings, this one took an effort. Anyone else remember the Christian Science book that she takes the title from? I actually remembered it as a regular children’s book, not Christian Science literature. Funny how much deprogramming there is to be done, even when you think it’s all done already!
– Katie J.
I found Blue Windows difficult to read, purely because it felt like she was describing my childhood and I found it unnerving to think that others had experienced carbon copy childhoods. Mind you, this was quite a few years ago when I read it and I was still discovering that other former Christian Scientists were actually out there. Three cheers for the internet!
This is a wonderful book that has helped many people understand their way out of Christian Science. Originally printed with the publisher-imposed title The Religion that Kills, it is now an eBook with this more temperate title. The first two-thirds deconstructs the control mechanisms that operate under the surface in Christian Science. Linda shows how Christian Science employs influence factors and thought reform techniques that psychologists have identified as typical tools of cults. This explains how Christian Science is able to keep a hold on people, many of whom are intelligent, educated, good folks, and who later are astonished at their deep involvement with Christian Science. In the last third of the book, Linda tells her personal story of finding a new religious path based on an understanding of Jesus Christ as illuminated in the Bible.
Linda Kramer’s book gave me a lot of compassion for those who are still practicing Christian Science. The author clearly explains how Christian Science is consistent with the characteristics of a cult, and why it can be considered a form of mind control. Linda discusses specifically why leaving and recovering from Christian Science is such a difficult and complex lifelong process. All former Christian Scientists that I know have Mary Baker Eddy quotes still bouncing around in their heads, often cringe at the doctors office, etc… why? Linda’s book gives some pretty great insight. This has been helpful to me in my own healing process. I better understand my family and am encouraged to speak more boldly.
– Katie B.
I attended CHILD meetings with the author, Linda Kramer, for probably five years. I watched and participated as she was in the throes of working through what had every evidence of being a process of deprogramming. It can be frightening and there is no way that the reactions can be feigned.
In this book Linda brings her well-trained scientific mind to the monumental task of reliving and reinterpreting half a lifetime’s experiences and beliefs. Giving full expression to the emotional content while analyzing it with clarity, she has made a powerful case for relegating Christian Science to the category of cults.
Linda S. Kramer talks about her upbringing in Christian Science, her decision to leave, her book, Perfect Peril: Christian Science & Mind Control, and her ministry to others leaving that faith, speaking at the conference for the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists, Grace & Peace Fellowship, St. Louis, MO, August 2014.
Despite the title, Paul Offit’s latest book is not anti-religion. He argues that compassion is the core of Christ’s teaching and that much good is performed by many religious organizations, but the notion that medical treatment conflicts with reliance on God persists in many sects, resulting in unnecessary suffering and tragedy, especially to children.
The struggle to repeal religious exemptions in US federal and state legislation is part of the story Offit tells, with much credit to Rita and Doug Swan for their perseverance in that cause. This is an important book, painful to read in places, about an issue that has been under-reported far too long. Of special interest to Christian Scientists is Offit’s discussion of the psychological factors that keep people devoted to cultish systems.
[Paul Offit] reports on the tragedies of faith healing, anchoring the book by beginning and ending with Rita Swan’s story.
It is compelling and informative, and if you weren’t upset before reading it, you will be afterwards. (Most of us are already upset.)
He gives the appalling history of child abuse, covers incidents I didn’t know about, and gives a Christian-based rationale for rejecting faith-based health care.
This is the gold standard critique of Christian Science – scholarly, exhaustive, and courageous. Roughly the first half of the book is an unfiltered history Eddy’s life, the early days of the Christian Science movement, and the establishment of the Mother Church. The second half covers the social history of Christian Science in the 20th century, conflicts within the movement, the Board of Directors’ campaigns against dissidents, the censorship and suppression of critical books, the disastrous business decisions made by church executives during the 1980s and 1990s, and the demise of the Monitor, etc., including an unflinching account of the child cases of the 1970s and 1980s and the defensive attitude of the Mother Church. Fraser puts Christian Science in the context of American cultural mythology. This is a must-read!
I left the church officially after reading God’s Perfect Child.
God’s Perfect Child is a lot to digest. I read it three years after I departed the church, and I’m glad I waited. I wasn’t ready for it until I’d been out for a bit, and any sympathy I had for Christian Science was largely gone.
The book answered many questions I always had, like why dentists and optometrists are okay but doctors are not. It clarified some of Mary Baker Eddy’s peculiarities. The history of Christian Science was also enlightening.
Every page is thoroughly researched and annotated, and is pretty much unassailable. That’s why The Mother Church hates this book so much. They have a hard time refuting it.
God’s Perfect Child was mind-blowing for me, even though I’d been out of Christian Science for five years when I read it. God’s Perfect Child made me realize what a house of cards the whole church is. I’ve read the book several more times cover to cover, and my copy is marked up, highlighted and Post-it noted.
– Liz Heywood
Christian Science tended to be so vague and anecdotal that even in retrospect, I never got a clear objective sense of the thing. God’s Perfect Child provides an unblinking appraisal that for the first time gave me some real clarity about my own childhood experiences. It gave me so much more of the history and context that are crucial to understanding how Christian Science developed. It’s objective, thoroughly researched and cited, and places Christian Science in a sane and clear context.
This book is a bracing wakeup call for anyone who’s ever had any connection to Christian Science. It is strong stuff that elicits deep responses, and the sense of outrage that it evokes needs to translate into positive action or acknowledgment in support of yourself, and not just a vague sense of hopeless anger.
Caroline Fraser is spot on with everything as far as I can see. I had a front row seat for much of the stuff that went on in the 1980s and 1990s, and her research is impeccable. Reading what she writes about Mary Baker Eddy is an education. That woman was a con artist on par with L. Ron Hubbard, David Koresh, and Jim Jones. Our dear families were duped by a master. For someone with knowledge of the Christian Science community, this book is a real page turner.
It wasn’t until I read Caroline Fraser’s book God’s Perfect Child, that I realized how deeply programmed I truly was. I highly recommend it.
I started my journey away from Christian Science a little over six years ago. I had been struggling to make it work, and a series of pivotal, life-changing events finally forced me to acknowledge that Christian Science was not right for me.
Leaving Christian Science was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, and I don’t want anyone to feel they have to do it alone. I have been fortunate to have the support of my husband, and a group of close fellow-former-Christian Science friends, as I’ve made my journey way.
I’m launching the sort of support website for former Christian Scientists that I wanted when I started on my journey away from Christian Science. I don’t want to focus on the gut-wrenching horror stories many of us have in our pasts, I want to focus on helping people get the appropriate care and support they need.
I am not going to tell you which spiritual path you should take, I’m going to encourage you to find your own. I don’t want to save your soul, I want you to take care of your body so you can have a long and healthy life. I don’t want you to feel alone, or crazy, as you leave Christian Science, I want you to realize there are others out there who have left as well, and it is okay to question, doubt, and leave. I want to help direct you to resources you may find useful on your journey, support communities, articles on healthcare, books.
Peace be with you,
Founder & Editor in Chief The Ex-Christian Scientist
A group of former members of the Christian Science Church have launched a new website designed as a resource for people who have left or are considering leaving the Christian Science faith. Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology) was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century and is perhaps best known as a sect that rejects medical treatment, advocating prayer exclusively for healing.
The website, called The Ex-Christian Scientist (www.exchristianscience.com), is maintained by an informal group of about fifty former Christian Scientists “who strive to assist those questioning their commitment to Christian Science as well as those who have already left it.” Individual members of the group left Christian Science for varying reasons. Some are still religious, some are not. All, however, are united in their desire to help those who are questioning Christian Science to decide if there is a more appropriate path for themselves, and to provide an inclusive and understanding community for those who leave the faith.
Visitors to the website will find testimonials, including stories of childhoods adversely affected by Christian Science, stories of why and how folks left the faith, and first-time experiences with medical care. Visitors will also find reviews of books of particular interest to those who are questioning Christian Science as well as links to online resources. A future roll-out will include a guide to the basics of accessing medical care, which can be a confusing new world to someone who has spent a lifetime in a faith that rejects modern medicine.
The overarching goal of The Ex-Christian Scientist is to offer an inclusive, understanding, and supportive community for former Christian Scientists and those questioning Christian Science, regardless of the direction of their journey to a new faith or non-faith outlook. We are all refugees from a strange and obscure religion, and sometimes the best therapy is the company of those who understand the unique path we have walked.