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

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From a former Christian Scientist, the first unvarnished account of one of America's most controversial and little-understood religious movements.

Millions of Americans-from Lady Astor to Ginger Rogers to Watergate conspirator H. R. Haldeman-have been touched by the Church of Christ, Scientist. Founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, Christian Science was based on a belief that intense contemplation of the perfection of God can heal all ills-an extreme expression of the American faith in self-reliance. In this unflinching investigation, Caroline Fraser, herself raised in a Scientist household, shows how the Church transformed itself from a small, eccentric sect into a politically powerful and socially respectable religion, and explores the human cost of Christian Science's remarkable rise.

Fraser examines the strange life and psychology of Mary Baker Eddy, who lived in dread of a kind of witchcraft she called Malicious Animal Magnetism. She takes us into the closed world of Eddy's followers, who refuse to acknowledge the existence of illness and death and reject modern medicine, even at the cost of their children's lives. She reveals just how Christian Science managed to gain extraordinary legal and Congressional sanction for its dubious practices and tracks its enormous influence on new-age beliefs and other modern healing cults.

A passionate exposé of zealotry, God's Perfect Child tells one of the most dramatic and little-known stories in American religious history.

592 pages, Paperback

First published August 15, 1999

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About the author

Caroline Fraser

11 books115 followers
Caroline Fraser was born in Seattle and holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in English and American literature. Formerly on the editorial staff of The New Yorker, she is the author of two nonfiction books, God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution, both published by Henry Holt's Metropolitan Books.

She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside Magazine, and The London Review of Books, among other publications. She has received a PEN Award for Best Young Writer and was a past recipient of the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writer's Residency, awarded by PEN Northwest. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, Hal Espen.

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Profile Image for Annie.
891 reviews301 followers
September 4, 2017
[Apologies for the mile long review, it's a long and complex book and merits a lot of analysis/recap IMO]

Gripping but not sensational, serious but not soulless, and completely readable, this book flew by and I found myself itching to get back to it every time I had to put it down. In 500+ pages, in a nonfiction book about a small religion, I wasn’t bored for a second.

My interest in Christian Science (academic interest, not “I’m going to join” interest) stems from the fact that about a year ago, I moved to Boston, birthplace of Christian Science, home of Mary Baker Eddy, place of the Mother Church and plaza (which, incidentally, is across the street from my old apartment; its reflecting pools are one of my favourite Boston haunts). I’ve always heard references to the religion, of course (a close friend’s grandmother was a Scientist and passed away after refusing treatment that would likely sustain her life; also, my partner’s friend is a devout Scientist) , but there are just *so* many more of them living here in Boston. That, combined with a discussion I had recently with a Christian Scientist, led me to seek out a comprehensive narrative of the religion.

This was a lovely choice. The author is sincere, intelligent, warm, and even subtly funny at times, without losing the credible tone.

She left the religion because, as she says, “it’s better to turn your back on a religion than on a human being… you can’t pray a lie.” I love that.

-----------------CREDIBILITY-----------------

Now, I know this is an expose-type book written by an ex-Scientist, so it’s not exactly objective, but I also don’t find it sensationalist or gimmicky, and it gives you what seems to be a more or less straight scoop. Plus, it has the added benefit of giving you a better idea of what the religion is actually like from the inside out. Overall, impressed with the amount of objectivity and straightforwardness.

In the preface, the author states this, which I think lends some credibility to her perspective:

“I no longer believe in Christian Science. I do, however, believe that it is a profoundly complex experience to be or to have been a Scientist, an experience worth understanding in its own right… For those experimenting with [alternative or spiritual healing], Christian Scientists are the test case. They have bet their lives on the potency of their beliefs, and not all of them have lived to tell the tale.”

She adds that Christian Scientists are mostly good people, and that “they do not deserve to be mocked any more than Christians do for believing that Jesus rose from the dead, or than Catholics do for believing the wafer and the wine literally become the body and blood of their Savior. But there are beliefs that respect the basic human rights of men, women, and children, and beliefs that do not. Religion in all its innumerable forms is dedicated to helping humanity cope with death and the afterlife. It shouldn’t hurry us on our way there. Christian Scientists deserve religious freedom as much as any other group. They deserve that, and no more.”

---CONTEXT: THE CURIOUS PRIVILEGE OF CHRISTIAN SCIENCE---

According to Wikipedia, there are only about 85,000 Christian Scientists. That’s the size of a medium-sized suburb. There’s only that many in the whole world. Given those numbers, it’s surprising they’re as vocal and visible a group as they are. I’ve either met or heard of a handful of Christian Scientists before coming to Boston. Tiny, insular religious groups, with such divergent beliefs from mainstream religion, tend to be labeled cults.

How, then, has this little group of adherents mostly escaped this label?

Even more curiously, how has this religion been granted such unusual legal privileges?


For instance:

-I don’t know if it’s still true, but at the time of this book’s writing, Christian Science nursing homes could be funded by Medicare- even though there’s zero medicine happening, even though it’s purely religious “treatment.”

-Additionally, laws exist in some jurisdictions which specifically exempt Christian Scientists from being prosecuted for neglect or manslaughter for the consequences of their beliefs (even if a regular person who treated their child the same way, but not for religious reasons, would be charged with a crime).

-CS practitioners can sign certificates of sick leave or disability, even though they’re not doctors.

-The IRS lets you deduct CS spiritual treatment as “medical expenses.”

How can these questions about the social and legal privilege of Christian Science over comparable religions be answered?

Well. though they be but little, they be strong. Christian Scientists are overwhelmingly white and wealthy- not to mention, they have quite a few powerful figures and celebrities among their ranks.

Some examples of CS celebrities and public figures:

-Louisa May Alcott’s father and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wife
-Mark Twain turned to Christian Science to heal his favourite daughter; when she died of spinal meningitis, he was furious with Eddy and wrote an entire book about how it was all charlatan.
-Clara Barton was a fan.
-Nancy Astor, first female Parliament member, was a Christian Scientist.
-Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, Doris Day were all Scientists.
-The artist Joseph Cornell.
-silent film star Mary Pickford.
-Poet Mina Loy.
-Lead singer of Metallica was raised as one, as were Robert Duvall and Elizabeth Taylor.
-George Hamilton (whose son, incidentally, my cousin dated) is a Scientist.
-Monica Lewinsky.
-William Webster, director of the FBI, was a Scientist, as was Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA.
-Astronaut Alan Shepard’s wife and mother were Scientists; he took a microfilm copy of the Christian Science Monitor to the moon on Apollo 14.
-Haldeman and Erlichman, the Nixon White House chief of staff and domestic policy adviser respectively who covered up the Watergate scandal, were Scientists. (Curiously, in fact, the Nixon administration was flush with Scientists- food for the conspiracy theorist’s thought).

These powerful characters have the influence and the personal finances to legal to privileges, and also normalize Christian Science sufficiently to make it an accepted religion in the eyes of America.

But is it a cult regardless? Or should it be viewed as a legitimate religion?

---------------CULT VS. RELIGION?---------------

Let’s talk about the philosophical underpinnings of this religion, because I think they’re very interesting and deserve a moment of thought.

Although the author notes a number of the political and cultural trends that may have given rise to the religion- Calvinist ideas of pragmatism, general American values rooted in self-reliance, the growing desire by and possibility for women to have more influential roles in the world, ineffective medical treatments, the Second Great Awakening during which many religions rose up- there’s also an interesting philosophical influence going on here that doesn’t get brought up: Idealism.

Maybe influence is the wrong word. Considering Mary Baker Eddy was a woman in the 19th century, she didn’t have a strong formal education. She claimed her older brother, the first of the family to go to college, taught her some of what he learned, such as Greek and Latin, there’s no real proof of this and she made up a lot of stuff about her childhood (fun fact: her older brother’s mentor, whose law practice he eventually took over, was Franklin Pierce, future president).

So I’d be surprised if she’d read much of philosophy. In that case, it might be mere coincidence.

Nevertheless, her belief system lines up quite well with classical philosophy- brushings of Neoplatonism, of course, but most of it, it has extremely heavy parallels with Bishop Berkeley’s brand of Idealism. Perhaps a more apt name for this religion would be “Church of Christ, Philosopher.”

This belief set, on its face it’s not crazy. All religions require some suspension of disbelief, of course, but it’s not wild and insane, to a point. All matter is actually Divine Mind, the product of God’s (and humans’) imagination, the physical world is wholly dependent on the mental world. Fine, dandy, I can entertain all this. Bishop Berkeley is with us here, too. All good.

It’s where we veer into the “...and therefore you, being God’s perfect child and part of His Divine Mind, can therefore control your external reality by harnessing your inner Divine Mind” that we start to get into questionable territory, by mainstream religion or philosophical standards.

To suggest a child’s influenza is all in their head, and they just don’t believe enough in God’s omnipresence? That you can make your cancer go away if you keep in mind that all physical matter is an Error of thought/faith, a product of your Mortal Mind? That kids should be careful not to get too angry at other people, because they could literally kill them with their minds? That you shouldn’t wear seatbelts, because, as the author’s father said, “they implied accidents could happen”?

This is a religion that compelled a woman to tell her husband, who came home shaken from watching a fiery car accident, told him sharply, “You’re listening to error. You didn’t see any car on fire.” This is a religion where that same woman let her son die of appendicitis without treatment, then spent two days praying over him, trying to resurrect his rotting corpse, before finally calling the funeral home.

Not to mention, the worship of the personality figure (Mary Baker Eddy) who is practically seen as a goddess, in spite of the glaring inconsistencies she offered. Like the fact that Christian Scientists can see dentists and have bones set by doctors, but can’t have any other kind of medical intervention. What’s with the loopholes? If you can really heal everything with your mind, can’t you will away the plaque and the cavities and the broken bones? Even more, why do you bother eating food if your body and food are both illusions? Can’t you survive without food if nothing, no disease, is real?

So basically, yeah, this is the kind of belief system that usually gets labeled a cult. But because of the members’ influence and personal credibility, it’s usually seen as a more accepted religion, if not a mainstream one.

On the other hand…

-----------CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS AREN’T CRAZY-----------

That’s a point the author notes that is well-taken. She drives it home quite well. Despite the fact that what they do is sometimes crazy, from the inside out, it’s quite reasonable.

Take the astonishing case of the Swan couiple. One with a doctorate in a mathematics, the other working on her doctorate in Percy Shelley’s poetry. Living ordinary lives except for the fact that they don’t know anything about medicine. Adult, intelligent professionals who had no idea what a coma was, didn’t understand how hospitals worked, didn’t know what diseases were medically treatable.

From their perspective, as presented here, it really did seem perfectly reasonable to be afraid of science contaminating the method you believe to work. It’s actually quite reasonable. As Fraser says, “All Christian Scientists have their own fund of such testimonies that they fall back on in moments of doubt or trouble or when they are questioned by curious or skeptical outsiders.”

I mean, a lot of conditions and diseases do heal on their own with time. If you don’t really know much about the way the “material” body works, it’s sensible to believe that there had to be a reason you got better, and that the reason was that Christian Science prayer works. Especially if you grow up in the religion and have witnessed dozens of these “healings,” big and small, from family and friends.

Think about it: it’s essentially the same thing most of us do. We believe in modern medicine because our parents told us doctors know what’s up, and we can trust them. When they tell us a disease is caused by X and can be cured by Y, we believe them and act accordingly. It almost always works eventually, so we take that as proof. (Most of us haven’t personally run scientific studies testing these theories out, we take scientists for their word that these studies have been done correctly and the results mean what they say they mean.)

If you’re a Christian Scientist, your parents tell you to trust Scientist practitioners. Scientist practitioners tell you the problem is A and can be cured by B. Usually, that works too, and you add that to your mental bank of proof that your parents were right and practitioners know what’s up. Plus, Christian Science has its own “studies” that have ben conducted which “prove” that it works as well as modern medicine- if you’re a Christian Scientist, you’d accept that as readily as the rest of us accept the claims of science.

Christian Scientists aren’t kooks. Everyone else believes in this “magical thinking” too, to an extent-
only our blind trust goes to doctors. It’s worth keeping that in mind for skeptics. Some of what Scientists believe is crazy, and steps need to be taken to protect the victims, particularly children, from suffering as a result, but they aren't lunatics. This is an internally cohesive religious system, like any other.
Profile Image for Canadian Reader.
1,030 reviews
November 5, 2022
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.

Profile Image for Judie Holliday.
262 reviews
September 2, 2012
This book is amazingly well researched and well written. Fraser isn't out to vilify a group of people or make fun of religion in general or this one in particular. She feels strongly that some Christian Scientists make bad decisions, but she isn't bitter, full of hate or out to get anyone. I wanted to understand the history and tenets of the Christian Science Church and I feel I do now. I wish I could read a similar book about Scientology or Jehovah's Witness.
Profile Image for Barbara (The Bibliophage).
1,083 reviews147 followers
May 31, 2015
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.
164 reviews2 followers
October 21, 2012


Eye opening for a former Christian Scientist.
Profile Image for Colleen.
35 reviews
March 24, 2017
The last chapter of this book is one of the best analyses about American religion I have ever encountered. It should be read (even if only as a standalone essay) by anyone interested in the influence individualism has had on the evolution of religious thought in the US.

4/5 for the book as a whole
5/5 for the last 30 pages
Profile Image for Sam.
312 reviews
July 28, 2012
Decided to re-read it this morning and forgot how incredibly pissed off it makes me at CS. Weeee.
Profile Image for Ang.
1,701 reviews39 followers
February 9, 2017
Well, this is very chilling. Super informative, too. The history and blow-by-blow stuff is a little boring, but you know, it's a history of the Church, so...
Profile Image for Pat Giese.
288 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2022
I'm a fan of the Christian Science Monitor for its good journalism but have not given much thought to "scientists". Turns out, Mary Baker Eddy was anything but a scientist, whose cult following spread around the world. The author reminds us of their distrust of medicine [isn't that "science"?] and reliance on prayer to heal all wounds & sickness, telling the story of a child who died of appendicitis while his mother only prayed for him. It is so hard for me to comprehend that in the 21st century, people still believe this nonsense.
Miss Mary Baker was a hypochondriac prone to hystrionics as a young person, who claims to have been cured by a "doctor" Quimby, whose words & methods she assumed as she developed her notion of "science" & "animal matter". Her 2 or 3 failed marriages, with a son she gave away to the servants tells us she is not a well-adjusted person. First was Mr Glover, who fathered their son. Then, Mr. Paterson, who died. Then Mr. Eddy. Later in life, she didn't marry her acolytes, but "adopted" one even tho he was 41 years old
Her theories are far fetched: "malicious animal magnetism" or MAM for one. She has convinced her cult that simply because another person is thinking of you, particularly thinking badly of you, that causes you to become ill & need "healing". Her concept of healing is simply faith healing, where someone is praying for you often not even in your presence, without any physical contact. Mary becomes quite wealthy by charging $300 to "teach" her methods, often brief encounters over a few weeks. Not only does she high-jack the word "science" but goes on to confer "doctor" credential from her "university". Today we see a similar trend with online "universities" using the term to equate their programs to the degree from a Big 10 school!!
Around 1890, she shut down her "church" in Boston, foreclosed on the land for her church & instructed her cult to suspend all "rules". One would think this bizarre behavior would drive her followers away, but the faithful stuck with her. She was living in a lovely home, Pleasant View, near Concord, NH at this time. Not coincidentally, the Massachusetts AG was investigating her & her "university" for its "doctor" credential. Perhaps she was putting some distance between herself & the rhubarb over that land she purchased for the church in Boston? Whenever some unsavory news emerged about Mary, she claimed her actions were God's will, as if that absolved her of any wrong-doing.
Her rise to fame corresponds with a boom in the number of faith-healing sects. Even Scientology has its roots in Christian Science.
Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy's "Science and Health" document defies logic as her statements often contradict each other. SMH over how so many thousands of people believed her version of christianity! The author provides many examples of this. Mary claimed to be the mouthpiece of God, but does not acknowledge death nor that Jesus died and rose from the dead. She seemed to think she was immortal, requiring her Board of Trustees to get her consent for many actions, ignoring that she too would some day die & leave the Board with the dilemma of following her instructions or not. When she did succumb to kidney stones around the age of 80, the Board scrambled to clarify their role leading her church. Later, they would be engaged in "Big Litigation" with the Board of their publications [incl Christian Science Monitor over which group of men was making decisions about what was printed. The deed of trust for the publications division gave clear authority to their trustees, separating it from the church Board of Directors. Both the church and the magazine survived. But legal wrangling persists throughout the church's existence.
Her mausoleum in Boston was guarded round the clock for years after her death, with rumors of a telephone inside for her to use when she returned from the dead. Is it still there?
Mary's rise to fame and from being a poor farm girl to a wealthy woman is an astonishing story. It seems to me that she was the master at branding herself & her cult in a very successful way, preying upon people's fears of illness [& treatment] as well as death. Mary's faith simply pretended those things did not exist, "errors" of being human. Often, dissent from within created public embarrassment & further decline in church enrollment. There was the "Revere" campaign, warning members that consolidated power with the Mother Church was a threat. Later, the Kelly letters also raised the alarm to current members that financial mismanagement, amoral behavior & much more plagued their center in Boston.
The history of those celebrities who partook in Christian Science is astonishing: Carol Channing, Doris Day, and so many others of the era. During the Nixon years, Haldeman & Erlichman were closet Christian Scientists.
The more I read, the more alarmed I am by the "accommodations" made to this so-called religion: allowing practitioners to be paid by insurance; legislating their ability to practice with impunity, free from liability! despite the best efforts of the AMA; and using their letter writing campaigns to strong-arm representatives in Congress to do what they want, despite what the general public thinks. The more you read their history, the angrier you become. But we should be furious about the "baby cases": detailed accounts of children that died of meningitis, diabetes, bowel obstruction, measles and so many other curable diseases in the last few decades. Some of those parents & their CS practitioners were charged with manslaughter, negligence or indifference but few convicted because they had persuaded our government to create laws exempting them from prosecution, which the courts upheld. Those CS "nurses" who do less than a nurses aid might do in a facility, should not be allowed to use the title "nurse", IMO as an RN x 45 years!!!!!!
This is not an easy book to read. While the church may be gasping its final breath, having lost most of their followers & nearly bankrupted by the foray into TV and radio by the misguided Board, the author takes us on a well-researched journey from the beginning to today. She is an exceptional writer and her passion for the topic is evident in every section, but none more so that the end. I hope Ms. Frasier found peace from writing this eye-opener. She divulges the details of watching her CS father die a painful death from gangrene of his toes, then his foot & eventually up to the knee, in a CS nursing home, after declining any treatment offered by the doctors during his one ER visit.
Profile Image for Budd Dwyer.
41 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2010
The book that blew the roof off the Xtian Science Church.

Now we need one on Mormonism!
Profile Image for Ivy.
102 reviews5 followers
July 17, 2011
fascinating book if you ever want to learn about the history of Christian Scientists
Profile Image for Meepspeeps.
627 reviews
August 2, 2012
The author provides lots of evidence regarding the mental instability of the founder of Christian Science, the many discrepancies in her own writings, and how strongly the Mother Church has quashed dissension and criticism over the years. The author's major flaw, though, is that she argues the inability of the church to "prove" its healing works, and of course virtually no religion is expected to prove its central tenets because they are based on faith. I think because Christian Science claims to be science when convenient and religion when convenient, she argues there should be scientific evidence. Overall there is lots in the book that leads me to conclude that this belief system may have made a little sense back before medicine had scientific evidence of healing, but nowadays vaccinations, antibiotics, insulin and the like are God-given lifesavers to me and should not be ignored for children. Adults can do as they please. I believe God's answer to prayer includes lifesaving medical treatments.
Profile Image for Sharon.
129 reviews
August 4, 2017
My husband's mother, aunt and grandmother were Christian Scientists (all deceased). Two sisters died from incurable diseases (MS & Parkinson's). Their mother died in an auto accident. An uncle died from a ruptured appendix at age 14. Grandfather died from a heart attack at 55. This book explains their beliefs and includes an an interesting biography of it's founder, Mary Baker Eddy. Strange people and strange beliefs.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
3,080 reviews28 followers
September 14, 2011
Whew, this is a large book filled with lots of information...too much for me....
Profile Image for Sheri faulk.
647 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2016
Wow! This book helped me to understand Christian Science Beliefs. It's just hard for me to understand how you can go on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. Why follow someone with such bad character?
Profile Image for Chris Huff.
170 reviews3 followers
December 28, 2019
I grew up frequently attending a Christian Science church. My grandparents were CS, and they took me to church with them for awhile. It wasn't until years later that I found out how much error the church taught.

This quote from the book basically sums up the contradiction of CS:

"practitioners-who cannot diagnose disease or illness-are allowed to sign certificates for sick leave and disability, although the Church has never explained how practitioners can verify conditions they don't believe in." (p. 274)


God's Perfect Child is a well-researched handbook of sorts about CS. The title, of course, is tongue and cheek. It does not entertain the idea that Mary Baker Eddy was God's Perfect Child, but only that she and her followers seemed to think that she was. The first half of the book deals most with Mary Baker Eddy, while the second half deals primarily with the church after her death.

Read the first half. Skim the rest.

It's amazing to me, given all the facts that are contained in this work, that anybody believed Mary Baker Eddy at all. She appears to have been an eccentric, egotistical, paranoid fanatic. But she must have been somewhat charismatic and convincing to have gained such a following.

The author does not come across as having an ax to grind. She acknowledges some good that CS has accomplished. But overall, she documents a huge piles controversies and cover-ups that surround the CS church.

I would rate this higher if it weren't so tedious to get through. While it, of course, deals primarily with CS, it's also a piercing warning to everyone to be careful to believe truth, not mixed with any error.
May 11, 2022
God’s Perfect Child by Caroline Fraser:
I came to read this after adoring Fraser’s Prairie Fires and Rewilding the World. I find Ms Fraser a brilliant researcher who writes nonfiction in a very readable way because she’s such a good researcher and writer. This is an exposé of Christian Science and also of the myriad new-age and other modern healing cults that the US gives spawn to — from Louise Hay, A Course in Miracles, Andrew Weil and the “you can heal yourself”, “you create your own reality” — they all came out from under Mary Baker Eddy’s overcoat.
Profile Image for Clownface3 Kinder.
100 reviews2 followers
September 18, 2018
Not the personal memoir I was expecting, but rather an instructive, albeit biased history of the Christian Science Church, religious pluralism, and alternative healing in the U.S.

Mostly captivating, occasionally a little long, definitely thought-provoking. The last chapter, especially vis-a-vis the culture wars in the U.S., will stay with me a long time.
9 reviews1 follower
October 6, 2020
The first half of the book was very slow and dry, but the information included was interesting enough to keep me reading. It picked up towards the back half, and I definitely felt I learned a lot and had a mostly enjoyable reading experience
Profile Image for Jacky.
59 reviews2 followers
August 20, 2018
Shocking. Brought up in the CS church my brother and I saw much hypocracy. Had no idea how bad it was even tho we both left as teenagers.
Profile Image for Rachel .
73 reviews
November 21, 2022
Excellent book and expose on Christian Science. Was quite dry in spots but contained a lot of good information.
Profile Image for Hilary Nihlen.
78 reviews
September 25, 2022
This took me forever to finish because it’s long (over 600 pages) and upsetting. Fraser did a lot of research and covers the entire history of the church and Eddy’s life, both of which are quite sad. She was thorough and heartfelt like a good journalist. I’m grateful for her work. Content warning: child abuse and neglect and religious abuse.
251 reviews21 followers
December 11, 2018
Caroline Fraser spares no detail in her research and writing, which makes for informative, if not always enjoyable, reading. It was a slog getting through some parts of this exhaustive (and at times exhausting) work, but I'm glad I did. Lots of insight into how mass movements take hold, and brave work on Fraser's part, delving into a subject so close to home and about such a famously litigous bunch as Christian Scientists.
Profile Image for Liz.
380 reviews2 followers
Shelved as 'stopped-reading'
June 30, 2018
I like this book a lot but haven't picked it up in a while. I read ebooks much faster bc I can read them anywhere/don't have to worry about keeping the bedside lamp on. Putting this on unfinished for now with the hope of getting back to it sometime.
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