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God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church Paperback – August 1, 2000
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Fraser, a literary critic and poet who was raised a Christian Scientist, has a relentless analytic bent and an acute eye for physical detail, both of which are in evidence on every page of this book. Her stories of parents whose attempts at faith-healing resulted in their children's deaths are especially poignant. These stories also illuminate and analyze the fears and pains that have plagued many Christian Scientists who subscribe to Eddy's belief that individuals can control their physical destiny by force of faith. Ultimately, Fraser has little sympathy for the obdurate self-reliance advocated by Christian Scientist doctrine, which she sees as a forerunner to the extremist paranoia of contemporary cults. "The suggestibility, infatuation, and enthusiasm that sparked Christian Science ... lies behind our current anxious fixations on imaginary perils and medical conspiracies," Fraser writes. "Florid though they may seem, such fears can have far from imaginary consequences."
The goal of Fraser's book is to track down and annihilate irrational fears in the religion of her childhood; her reason for doing so, however, exudes an undeniably spiritual grace: "Should we continue to pursue [these fears], our providences will surely grow ever more remarkable." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Many have focused on the corruption, backstabbing, and stonewalling in the Mother Church as documented in Perfect Child, or have argued about the book's portrayal of Mary Baker Eddy. But for me its thematic core lies in its rich storehouse of insight and examples about how the psychology of denial inherent in the practice of C.S. gives rise to the "shadow" side of the movement, both in the individual lives of adherents as well as how this shadow has been collectively woven through-and-through the movement's history from the beginning. As anyone knows from Psychology 101, any time a part of the psyche is suppressed or regarded as unreal, it merely expresses itself in distorted and unconscious ways, and much of this book is about just this fascinating side of Christian Science.
This includes not just the toll taken in terms of wrongful deaths as discussed in the central sections about the "child cases." As tragic as they are, these cases and/or those of permanently disabling untreated illnesses or accidents probably only involve a modicum of Scientist families.Read more ›
This book was, for me, not only eye-opening in terms of the origins of the church (and the continuing 'dissenting' movement I had no idea existed), but also affirming: Learning that there are others who suffered at the hands of well-meaning, compassionate people who otherwise were caring, giving parents, except when it came to acknowledging your pain, disease, or injury -- when they became emotionally unavailable, sometimes pretending they didn't understand when you asked to go to a doctor...or assuring you that healing would take place as soon as you acknowledged the "Divine Truth" of your relationship with God. When you became no longer an individual but a 'divine idea' that couldn't really be sick, injured, or in pain, because that wasn't part of God and couldn't be part of you either, as His creation.
More shocking still was the realization after reading this book that based on the exclusions for CS treatment still provided in many state laws, abused and neglected animals may have more protections afforded them than the children of praticing Christian Scientists.Read more ›
Hostile reviewers have claimed that Fraser's father, described in the prologue, is some sort of "oddball" Christian Scientist for habits such as not using the seatbelts in his car. In fact, if you truly believe that "accidents are impossible in God's kingdom," as Scientists are taught, then there is no logical reason to use your seatbelts. Christian Scientists who do use seatbelts, like previous reviewer Richard Biever, are tacitly acknowledging that at least some teachings of Christian Science are ridiculous.
After the brief personal account which opens the book, Fraser devotes about the first third of the book to a review of the life and career of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Her primary source, contrary to hostile reviewers, is the church-approved biography by Robert Peel. Fraser does not set out to write a full biography; rather, her focus is on clearing away the mythology Scientists have constricted about their "beloved Leader." For example, Fraser demolishes one of the central Christian Science myths, that of Eddy's "fall on the ice" in 1866, which supposedly led to the epiphanic moment when she "discovered" Christian Science.
Fraser also describes the CS Church's efforts to suppress any unfavorable treatments of Eddy in print.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am so sorry for Fraser's loss and attitude, but do not think slamming and blaming the religion is the answer.Published 2 months ago by madmax
I grew up as a Christian Scientist, and I find God's Perfect Child to be an extremely distorted view
of the Christian Science Church. Read more
Extensively researched and objectively written, this book covers everything: the history of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy as a person, a bit of the atmosphere that fostered... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Elle W.
God's Perfect Child is an eye-opening account of the Christian Science church and of Mary Baker Eddy. I can't recommend this book enough. It is a great book! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bill
After reading this book, I had to contact Caroline Fraser and tell her how spot on her book was!!! I was also raised as a Christian Scientist, from a mixed marriage ( a term I had... Read morePublished 15 months ago by John Wedeward
This was much more to wade through than expected, but the author is a journalist and obviously really wants to present her information in an informed and documented manner. Read morePublished 16 months ago by sandiegonana
As an ex-Christian Scientist raised by CS parents this book frames the whole crazy experience of growing up and growing out of supernatural beliefs in the broader historical... Read morePublished 18 months ago by M. Potter
Caroline Fraser is an American writer who has also written Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution. Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by Steven H Propp