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God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the…

God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (edition 1999)

by Caroline Fraser (Author)

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Title:God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church
Authors:Caroline Fraser (Author)
Info:Metropolitan Books (1999), Edition: 1st, 576 pages
Collections:Read 2019, Read but unowned
Tags:Religion, Non-fiction, Christian Science

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God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church by Caroline Fraser



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Highly researched and footnoted, this is not an emotional book but a journalistic explanation of the religion, the founder, the controversies, and fairly current activities. ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
This is a scathing, but scholarly "biography" of Christian Science. Detailed in the extreme, the book covers the religion's strange, histrionic, attention-seeking quack of a founder, Mary Baker Eddy, as well as the larger development of the movement. Author Caroline Fraser grew up in a mixed Christian Science home: her father was a member; her mother was not. In her late teens, with her rational faculties growing, Fraser left the church. Her break was more or less complete when a young boy, a member of the Mercer Island Scientist community, died of a ruptured appendix. His mother had brought in a "practitioner" to pray over her febrile, vomiting son, rather than taking him to the hospital for surgery. When he died, his mother and the practitioner continued to pray, hoping to resurrect him, only phoning the funeral home when his body began to decay.

I hope to return to Fraser's book one day. It was due back at the library before I could work my way through its many pages. Interestingly, Fraser connects Christian Science to many "thinkers" (can we call them that?) in the New Age movement, including Deepak Chopra, Bernie Siegel, and Louise Hay. The idea that one's mind or one's less-than-optimistic thoughts have something to do with one's receiving a diagnosis of cancer or autoimmune disease plagues many. I recall having a discussion about this notion (of defective thinking somehow being responsible for disease) with my sister when we were in our teens. We had recently lost two lovely dogs to cancer. Who could have had a more cheerful, optimistic, and forgiving nature than those two? my sister pointed out to me. They enjoyed their days and lived them with no apparent tendencies toward imperfect thought. Blaming illness on attitude is simplistic, dangerous (black-) magical thinking.

Heavy though Fraser's book is, it is a worthy and accessible one that links the tenets of this belief system with the wider society it grew out of. As I said, I hope I can return to it later when I've got a bit more time and reading stamina.
  fountainoverflows | Jun 29, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805044310, Paperback)

In God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church, Caroline Fraser delivers the most intelligent, humane, and even-handed history yet published of this important American religion. God's Perfect Child begins by telling the life story of Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science in 1879. Eddy built the church from a fringe sect into a mainstream religion whose wealth and power exceeded that of many Protestant denominations in the mid-20th century--and were considerably augmented by the church's once-popular newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor.

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:46 -0400)

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