From the Publisher
Lucia Ewing had what looked like an all-American childhood. She
lived with her mother, father, sister, and brother in an affluent
suburb of Minneapolis, where they enjoyed private schools,
sleep-away camps, a country club membership, and skiing vacations.
Surrounded by a tight-knit extended family, and doted upon by her
parents, Lucia had no doubt she was loved and cared for. But when
it came to accidents and illnesses, Lucia's parents didn''t take
their kids to the doctor''s office--they prayed, and called a
Christian Science practitioner.
fathermothergod is Lucia Greenhouse''s story about growing
up in Christian Science, in a house where you could not be sick,
because you were perfect; where no medicine, even aspirin, was
allowed. As a teenager, her visit to an ophthalmologist created a
family crisis. She was a sophomore in college before she had her
first annual physical. And 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 they watched their mother's
agonizing suffering, Lucia and her siblings struggled with their
own grief, anger, and confusion, facing scrutiny from the doctors
to whom their parents finally allowed them to turn, and stinging
rebuke from relatives who didn't share their parents' religious
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
About the Book
Giving readers a firsthand glimpse into the Christian Science church, Greenhouse delivers a beautifully written memoir about growing up in a faith whose followers don't believe in doctors or medicine--and how those religious values shattered a family.