Selected Works

Essay
Laura Ingalls Wilder, the politicization of her Little House Books, and her passion for wilderness.
On Joyce Carol Oates's preoccupation with violence and victimhood.
The 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre--one of the worst mass murders in American history--was carried out and then concealed by Mormons.
Conservation
"With this book, Fraser does for rewilding what David Quammen did for island biogeography in his seminal "The Song of the Dodo." Fraser uses lucid prose, engaging stories and personal experience to make the ideas accessible and vital to a wide audience."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
History
"Eye-opening...The most powerful and persuasive attack on Christian Science to have been written in this century."--Martin Gardner, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Review
A review of Joyce Carol Oates' Dear Husband, and Little Bird of Heaven
Review of Red Mandarin Dress, by Qiu Xiaolong

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Discussion


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dear Ms. Fraser, it is such a pity that the uppercase texts on your book cover have a completely wrong letter spacing, the graphic designer who made the cover misses the basic typographic knowledge; the letter spacing should be optically the same between all the letters; uppercase letters are not designed with the right kerning to compose titles, when you do so you have to correct them (the computer does NOT do this); in what time do we live? pulitzer prize winner, national book critics award ... and so on, and that in a very amateur book cover design?
Ko Sliggers, typographer, type designer and teacher

Dear Ms. Fraser: I have read your "Prairie Fires" and I am writing to say how much it meant to me. Laura Ingalls Wilder has long captured my interest and from your biography I learned so much more about her. You straightened out the degree Wilder and Lane collaborated in the authorship of the Little House books. I learned how greatly Laura admired her father. The story of Laura in Mansfield was all new to me. And you quite thoroughly developed the contents--Indians, the environment, natural hazards, political and economic circumstances--underlying your text. Your book awards are most deserved.

Let me explain that for 31 years I taught geography at the University of Oklahoma. My favorite course that I taught was Historical Geography of the United States. In that class, I drew on Donald Zochert's biography of Laura to work in the Ingalls family as an example of a frontier family that made many major moves. When I retired from OU, I wrote a textbook drawn from my course titled "The Making of America's Culture Regions." My book was published in January 2018, the month I learned of "Prairie Fires." Unfortunately, I did not have your book to draw from in the section concerning the Ingalls family.

Again, I write with much praise.

Sincerely,
Richard L. Nostrand

DearCaroline, I’m writing to you from Arbirlot Angus in Scotland. I wanted to thank you for what must have been an absolute epic to research, your biography of L I W. Like so many I read her books as a child and they were so different to the stories ofEnglish Victoriana. Thank you for this comprehensive insight into Laura’s life,your wonderful editing and for sharing all your research with a- still avid- public, Thank you for this record of a country that Britain pretended to spawn and nurfure and I’m so glad you now live in New Mexico. Manythanks for the pleasure your biographyhas given me...I am house bound and your book is quite a delightful jewel. Thank you Claire Marie Crighton.

Laura Ingalls and her books have always been like internal furniture fixtures-- some kind of heavy oak 'built-ins" inside of my view of the world. Part of the earliest map. Things I had to reckon with later on, like my parents, or religious faith. Ha! And now this good, good book has gone in and located them, given them a good shaking. I cannot tell you how deep it all went. I have so much to contemplate. I don't love her any bit less. But the whole 19th century of America now is suddenly made more tactile, realized, put into order. Sorry to be nutty- you'll get the gist. THANK YOU!!

I thought I had every book by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder, then I stumbled on your book while on vacation. I want to thank you for your thorough research and respectful writing about one of my all-time favorite authors. Your book is a treasure. Even though some parts are hard to read at times (I've always been bothered by the rumors of Rose's authorship), your research and explanations resolved many of the questions that I had about this issue. Thank you so much for writing this high-quality book!
Molly Ahrens
Snohomish, Washington

I haven’t been a part of the Christian Science world for 30 years or so. I hadn’t realized how much the training still effects me until I recently read your book. In 2015 I was on a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean when my appendix ruptured. I was airlifted to the Azores for surgery and 2 weeks hospital stay. Here is where I find Christian Science was damaging to me. I toured the Azores the day before when the ship was in port. I had a little soreness but had no idea how sick I was. I had learned, as a child to totally believe that I was a spiritual, perfect being. I could have disembarked and had a minor appendectomy while in port if I was more attuned to my body instead of having the Portuguese Military pick me up in a helicopter.
This same thing happened to my sister-in-law. She had septic pneumonia and was airlifted to a major city hospital where she was put into a medically induced coma. She is fine today but I asked her where this came from. She didn’t know. As a practicing Christian Scientist she had no belief of an illness leading up to medical emergency. You know this had to have started with a cold of some kind.
My point is, we have been brain washed to such an extent that we may die not knowing that our physical being is in danger.
Thank you for your enlightening book.

I jut recently visited the Mount in Massachusetts to hear your talk. Thoroughly enjoyed your presentation, but wished that you spent some time on how you obtained all your information and why you chose the writings that you did.
Nadine

I loved the book, but the only issue I had was when you speculated that the two fillies they sold where their riding horses. I believe you stated they were two-year-olds when sold - that would mean they would have been riding them while they were yearlings which is not possible. Most horses are not seriously started with their riding training until 3 - Almanzo would not have put Laura on a green broke pony either, so they ponies would be even older than that. You would NEVER ride a yearling or even a two year old outside of the racing world. The riding ponies most likely were in the lot of other horses sold. I know it is a small detail, but it really bothered me since it was clearly incorrect.

I truly enjoyed the perspective "Prairie Fires" brought to the Little House saga--both fiction and non-fiction. Several years ago, my husband and I were driving across the country and stopped in Mansfield, MO at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home museum. I was fascinated and felt privileged to see the items on display there and to walk in the homes Laura inhabited. In the bookstore, I noticed the absence of "The Ghost in the Little House," which I originally read with dismay, then gradually began to accept as true. Your book reinforced what I suspected--Lane polished up the stories. I asked a teenage docent about the possible collaboration between Laura and Rose, and she nearly recoiled in horror. I figured it would be easy enough to find out the truth, and your thorough scholarship proved that for me. Thanks for an excellent read! Cari Clark

If no one else ever understands what growing up in Christian Science, I will rest easier knowing that Caroline Fraser does understand.

We don't need your intolerant liberal opinions. Please feel free to shut up and go away! Remember you libs are only a bunch of extra hippies who smoked too much pot.

I regret that I spent money on your book, Prairie Fires. You expect that her family would act and behave differently than the times they lived in?

I have been reading your book Prairie Fires,about Laura Ingalls Wilder life. Very well written and powerful story! Sadden to hear that Laura Ingalls Wilder is being stripped of a literary award. I don't understand why people don't want to hear the good, the bad and ugly when it comes to our historical literature. Keep writing, and thanks for courage to share the truth in context.

I found your book brilliant. I cannot imagine your thoughts re: the decision this weekend by the Assn of Library Service to Children to rename their Laura Ingalls Wilder Award because of the “stereotypes” in her books. I am stunned, angry and sad. Thank you for your wonderful book, which discussed the historic nuances of Laura’s writing in such a fair, nonjudgmental manner.

Second generation Christian Scientist - grateful for the example my mother set, grateful for the continual unfolding of God's goodness in my human experience. Grateful to realize more and more that "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
SMD - Boston,MA

I have started reading _Prairie Fires_ and am finding it a very informative and fascinating read. I'm impressed with the extensive amount of research that went in to writing this book. But, every time I read about the price of wheat, it seems to be an impossibly high price. For example, in chapter 3 you quote the price as being $102 a bushel. Shouldn't that read $1.02 a bushel? https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/M04F1AUS16980M260NNBR

Dear Caroline,
How does a child grow up and live a full life when “matter isn’t real” is drummed into her head day after week after year? The more I read of “God’s Perfect Child” the angrier I get. It has taken me a lifetime to undo my Christian Science mindset, come down to earth, and live my life as a living, breathing, bleeding, hurting, feeling human being. Thank you for writing this eye-opening book. It should be required reading for every CS parent. Judith, Rocky River, Ohio

I’m enjoying ‘Prairie Fires,’ but as a lifelong resident of rural Kansas, ‘The Wheat State,’ I have to question the statement on page 69 — ‘Wheat was selling high at the moment, at $102 a bushel.’ Wheat has NEVER sold at that price per bushel. I’m guessing a decimal point is missing. How about $1.02 a bushel? — Dave Webb

I am enthralled by your book and so appreciative of the care you took to present Laura Ingalls Wilder's story within the larger historical context. I'm still reading it and enjoying every minute.
I ran across an editorial oversight on page 331 of the hard cover edition that I thought I'd bring to your attention. There's a reference to temperatures topping 105 degrees and the Wilders suffering from altitude headaches. That caught my attention, because as a Colorado resident, I haven't heard of such high temperatures occurring at such a high altitude. In your book, Keystone, S.D. is reported to be at 9,173 feet above sea level. According to Wikipedia, however, Keystone, Colorado is at that elevation. Keystone, S.D. is at 4,331 ft. The highest point in S.D. is Black Elk Peak is 7,244 ft.

Congratulations, Caroline, on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for "Prairie Fires." Each day, I pass the Little House on the Prairie Museum between Independence, Kan., and Caney, Kan., everso mindful of the Ingalls family and their rugged determination to put an axe in the hard Kansas soil and start a life amid the Osage Indians, the oppressive Kansas heat, and the remoteness of the region. I look forward to reading "Prairie Fires" and hope someday you might visit the LHOP Museum, where the Ingalls' family replica cabin is currently being rebuilt. We're waving the wheat for you in Kansas! — Andy Taylor, editor, Montgomery County Chronicle, Independence, Kan.

Dear Caroline -- I grew up in Wisconsin and read the Little House books over and over. I am so enjoying your book and remember certain incidents, like losing the money in the writing desk, almost as if they had happened to me. Wonderful work on this book!!! Congratulations on the well deserved honors. Grace

I am loving this book and am thrilled to be only 1/4 of the way through. I stop to check maps and history. The Wilder-Ingalls lives parallel my mother's family from NY/PA, to Tama Iowa in 1855(and on to Florence CO in 1882). Prairie Fires gives fascinating fill in to the stories my great grandparents did not pass on. I highly recommend Old Jules by Mari Sandoz for another take on Great Plains Homesteading. (Word of warning: Jules is brutal).

I grew up loving Wilder's books(and later hated the tv series!). My grandfather's families migrated from New York through Iowa to homestead in SD around 1880 also. Some stayed, some moved on to the Black Hills and Montana. O was fascinated reading Laura's real story. One detail correction: Keystone,SD,is only about 4100 ft in elevation, not over 9100' as stated in the book. The highest point in the Hills is just over 7200' (Harney Peak). I doubt Laura suffered from elevation sickness while visiting-- more likely heat and travel exhaustion!Avenida

Hi! Thanks so much for the comments! We've fixed the error about the Keystone elevation in later printings (ebook, etc.)--so thanks for letting us know. All best, Caroline

Dear Caroline,

I have been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder since early childhood, and my fascination continues today at 37 years of age. I've read extensively and I want to thank you for addressing in your book the question the has tickled my brain for decades: did Laura and Eliza Jane manage to form a better relationship after her marriage to Almanzo? I enjoyed the greater context in your book that provided so much more context for the events in the LH books. Thanks so much.

Melanie
Warwick, RI

Your book was given to me as a Christmas present. I have enjoyed Prairie Fires immensely and have devoured it, almost finished after just a week of reading. While your book is very well cited, I have come across a few historical errors (some inconsequential, others, very glaring) that I wanted to bring to your attention. Perhaps, they have already been brought to your attention. It is commonly thought that Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack rather than a cerebral hemorrhage. Keystone is not @ 9,000 feet elevation - it is only 4331 ft elevation, so I doubt anyone would suffer from elevation sickness there. But as a farmer who lived through a unbelievable boon of wheat @ $22/bu just a few years ago, I found your claims wheat being of $143/bu in 1867 and $102 in 1873 most UNBELIEVABLE and had to check into the cite you used. I believe you misread the tables as wheat was $1.43 in 1867 and $1.02 in 1873 (at Chicago). I can't imagine who on earth would be able to buy wheat @ $143 per bushel during that time period. Making bread would be more expensive than eating caviar! Thank you for writing the book. I know such a well researched book as this is very pain-staking.

Caroline, I am just finishing "Prairie Fires," filled with awe and gratitude. Born 1955, I read the "Little House" books over and over as a child; read them aloud to my sons repeatedly as well. I admire especially your ability to zoom in and out from individual to context so that we not only understand Laura's story but also the place of that story in US history. Thank you! -- Carol Wallace
PS I cried when Garth Williams appeared. Lordy, how I loved his illustrations....


Dear Caroline,

Congratulations on *Prairie Fires* having been named one of the 10 best books of 2017 by the NY Times. It's a wonderful book and fully deserves to be on that list.

Thank you for all the time and care you put into writing it. I read all 12 Little House books every summer as a child and have been reading them recently to my own daughters. I love them deeply and am so grateful for the context you have provided for them.

I wish you all the best!

Nancy Hurrelbrinck
Charlottesville, VA



Hi Caroline, We had coffee at the Travel Bug in Santa Fe a couple years ago. You loaned me some papers "Local Action for Biodiversity." I never returned them to you and would like to do so now. I can mail them or we can have coffee again. Please let me know.
Carol Johnson 505-757-2988 or carolj@cybermesa.com


Religion is a very personal and individual choice. Whatever religion you choose is what may be right for "you". How you believe, is up to "you", whether it is "Jesus Saves", or "God is Love". It is not up to us to determine if one religion versus another is the right path to heaven or hell. It certainly isn't up to us to disavow religions that are meaningful to others, whether it is Christian Science, Catholicism, Baptist, Jewish etc. If you don't believe in something, then choose what you do believe in and allow others the same opportunity, and have respect for everyone's choices.

I have not read this book nor do I intend to unless perhaps it is given to me. But from the comments above, I am certain that these former CSers did not really understand the teaching. You cannot demonstrate what you do not understand which is why there are so many "failures" in CS practice. I'm a third generation CS student. My mother lived a very healthy life until she passed at age 100 without ever having a doctor or seeing one, even though it is free here in Canada. And I use medicine when necessary. Practical Christian Scientists will regard materia medica as "Second Aid". My wife and I have had many healings some quick, some taking time, some not yet resolved. It all depends on the effort one makes. I have three university degrees but I have spent more time studying CS. It is the work of eternity.
Bob J.

Hi Caroline. I have read your book "God's Perfect Child" and I loved it!! As a former Christian Scientist I never was told about all the things that are in your book. I really would appreciate your keeping up the pressure on the Church and keep writing about it. Maybe you can put up a website with current information on it or you can write a second book on the Church. Whatever you choose to do I would love to see what you come up with.

Bill A.

Hi Caroline. Robert here from Australia. Fourth generation Christian Scientist, wife is too. Two kids, everyone is2654 happy and healthy, plenty of documented healings. No psychological scars. Happy to verify for one and all. Know others who will also.

PART V RE: Raising My Children
This in response to a previous post about "How other parents fared in raising their children after the experience of Christian Science. To answer that, neither me or my wife had any problems raising ours. Probably because she was NEVER a Christian Scientist and I REJECTED the whole Christian Science BS at a very early age. (see my earlier posts) Because of that, I never needed therapy or any of that to "straighten out" my life. Needed some to get through PTS after Viet Nam, but that is an entirely differant story.

PART IV
Also, although I usually do not bring this up, while fighting in Viet Nam in 1970, I was wounded by schrapinal from a booby trap. I was as hell was not going to turn down the medical attention and surgery to save my left foot. Since then I have had the following surgeries: one to remove my tonsills, hemmeroid surgery, eye surgery, more surgery on my left foot, surgery for a cyst on a testicle and of course the never ending treatment of my life threating Hemocromatosis. If I had stayed with the teaching of Christian Science I would not even be alive today to write this! It may be Christian, but CERTAINLY NOT Science!!!!
JMW 10/13/20114

Caroline; This Part III
Although my mom was a strict Christian Scientist, as I mentioned in part I, some (or a LOT) of the examples in your book was something that never occured with our family (or at least of branch of the church) My parents had no problems with me and my younger brother getting vaccinations for small pox, measles or mumpes. Also, in 5th grade when I got it it the face with a baseball bat, they certainly had no problems with me going immediately to the hospital.

We never believed (or were taught in Christian Science Sunday School) that our thoughts could control the weather (wish they could have though as I would have wished away all those zero degree days in winter (Wisconsin) or that there was no such things as car accidents. All that was even strange to me. As I mentioned earlier, growing up in the 1960's we questioned everything, including religion, coming to the conclusion that Science and Heath and the "teachings" of Mary Backer Eddy were hog wash. also, never saw ANY miracle cures by the use of Christian Science in my life. But, your book, "Gods Perfect Child" did make for interesting reading because of my Christian Science background. Never knew that people were "excommunicated" from the church. I thought that was basically a Catholic thing. I did now the "power" the Church used to over turn court cases and laws. Also the power struggle within the church after Ms Eddy's death was interesting. But, I am glad I was smart enough to leave it and have NEVER regretted that decision the last 45 years.
JMW

This is an addition to the my first comments. Yes, Christian Scientists are of higher middle class and educated. My mother had degrees from The University of Wisconsin and taught German and Latin. Myself, my dad and my three brothers all have (had) advanced degrees from The University of Wisconsin also. The age difference between the brothers (they grew up in the 50's while me and Steve grew up in the 60's made it out to be almost a total different generation. Although a "strict" Christian Scientist most of her life, my mom developed crippling arthritis in the mid 1970's and lived with total pain until her death in 1986. After praying and using a "practioner" for years even she finally turned to "modern medicine" the last years of her life. My younger brother also passed away in 1986 from Hemocromatosis, which at that time was relatively unknown. Now I believe my mother's arthritis came from that also. Growing up and even years later I could never understand how someone that educated could be "taken in" by the BS of Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy. I do believe that there is some good in it as positive thinking is a GREAT thing. But as I believe now, if God gave man the knowledge to develop drugs and cures for disease, that knowledge should be used. If not, as I also have the heditary disease Hemocromatosis, which is treatable, I wound NOT be writing this at age 62. Again, thank you for writing an OUTSTANDING book on Christian Science, Science and Health and the inner working of the church. It is a excellent book for both those raised in the Christian Science religion and for outsiders trying to understand it!

Thank God, I NEVER put my own children through it.

JMW part II

ps having been in Boston numerious times, the last place I ever wanted to go was The Mother Church!!!!

Dear Caroline:
I just finished your fascinating book "God's Perfect Child" I too am an ex - member (actually not because I NEVER joined the church) of Christian Science. Like you, our family was a "mixed marriage". My mom was a total Christian Scientist while my dad (still going ok at age 98 was not. I think your experience was a little more stricter than mine or the ones in your book. But that may be what my older brothers (by 11 and 12 years) went through. One of my older brothers was born with a Rickets" which could have been fixed, but was not allowed by my mother (1945). So, he has been crippled by this "religion" his entire life (now age 73). But, though both me and my younger brother were forced to read and study Science and Heath" both of us were smart enough to see through all the BS of that religion. We both played sports and knew darn well that an angle sprains or torn ligaments were NOT going to heal by just "praying". Both of us in Jr High and HS (in the 1960's) just ignored the "brain washing" we got and got our own medical attention. The hardest thing for us was to explain why "we did not believe" in doctors. The town we grew up in (in Wisconsin) was 75% Catholic, 25% Lutheran and our family. We had to drive 15 mile to the next town to go to Christian Science Church. In HS, I developed tonsillitis with a temperature of 103 degrees. I when to a doctor on my own, and one shot of penicillin cured me almost over night and of that religion. At that moment BOTH me and my younger brother (by one year) told our parents we were done - FINISHED with Christian Science!!!!! Never have been back inside a Christian Science Church since April of 1969. (I practice the Lutheran Religion now). Your book does make for great reading (I read it in one day) with my back ground in CS. And yes, even though I stopped in HS, I did keep a watch for that was going on in Christian Science, so most of what you wrote about was not totally new to me. Looking at Amazon, I still see "rave" reviews for Science and Heath, which baffles me, as have not people awoken to the real truth yet????

JMW

Hi!
Just a little bit of a balance for your writings. My mother was the most loving, kind person I have ever known. She lived by Will Rogers' comment "I've never met a person I didn't like." She was a student of Christian Science and lived it with every breath. I saw many healings in my family, including my own. It was through the practice not the worship of Mrs. Eddy that we lived our lives.
She never forced it on us and attended any church if she couldn't attend the Christian Science Church. She always said there were many roads to understanding.
I attended and was baptized in more churches than I care to admit looking for a religion that would save me from the terrible things I was told I was from the pulpit. I could never find my sins but I looked for salvation anyway. My Christian Science mother supported my search. When I reached the end of my rope and told her I just thought I did not believe in a god. She gave me the answer I needed to find my way. If she had the answer by studying Christian Science them maybe I could find mine.
I found a God of Love waiting. Mrs. Eddy's writings opened the door. My search has led me to many who have been enlightened and written on Christian Science. This truth isn't an entity in itself but lives and permeates existence. You have taken the approach that Mrs. Eddy is responsible for this truth. I take the approach that she was the instrument. Even John the Baptist had his devils (mortal mind) to fight.
I am so grateful for the people who continue inside and outside the organization, to share their revelations. After all, Christian Science is just a name given to Truth. Mrs. Eddy was the first to see it. Others have since taken it forward to a practical approach to living a happy and joyful life.
Where would we be without freedom. The understanding of God through Christian Science has given me mine. I would fight to death for your right to express your feelings through the written word. However, I am so sorry that you feel the need to throw the "baby out with the bathwater" so to speak.
Becky Johnston,


Hi Caroline,
For use in a to-be-published book, what are the basics concerning the use of direct quotes from Mrs. Eddy's writings, as well as paraphrases?
Does "fair use" allow for a few, footnoted quotes, without
obtaining permission from the Christian Science Church?
I appreciate your help.
I wish I could email you, but Windows 7 will not permit it.
Thanks, Dot

Hi Caroline,

I wasn't raised as a Christian Scientist, so never had the the experience of raising children in it, nor personal stresses and strains associated with it. However, I've known many Christian Scientists over the years and have been interested in the religion for a long time. I've always had certain questions, but haven't found the answers in Christian Science:

1. Why are matter and material life "unreal" only when they cause discomfort? I've never heard a Christian Scientist claim that matter or material life was unreal when everything was going well. How can a sick body be unreal, but when it's healed, all of a sudden it's real?

2. Mary Baker Eddy claimed that her religion had revived Jesus Christ's emphasis on healing. But there's a huge difference between the way Jesus healed and the way healing is conducted in Christian Science. Jesus took upon HIMSELF the entire burden of healing, which makes perfect sense. Some of the people he healed were in no position, physically or mentally, to know or claim any kind of truth, or to effect any kind of healing. Moreover, they were already suffering. Jesus did not place upon them the added burden of healing themselves! In Christian Science, on the other hand, despite treatment by practitioners, the burden of healing is placed upon the person needing healing [unless the person is a child.]

3.Theoretically in Christian Science God is the healer, but in actual practice, the human mind seems to the instrument of healing, and if healing doesn't come, then the sufferer is oppressed by guilt in addition to being oppressed by the original malady, because the sufferer's thinking must have somehow been deficient, lacking in the understanding of truth.

4. I sometimes wonder if some of the affirmations I hear come from the soul, or whether they're just shallow statements lacking substance. Often I find it difficult to have honest conversations with Scientists, because if I say, "The weather is bad", the person instantly denies this, claiming there is no bad weather in Spirit. If I say that someone did me an injustice, the reply is that I must see that person as God made him or her. That would be fine, except that unless the other person recognizes the same identity, they're going to wreak havoc. I'm troubled by the implication that in Christian Science an individual "seeing the other person as God made him or her" is actually trying, by exerting one's own mental thinking, to change the outward reality. Thus my concern, and question, is this: To what extent do Christian Scientists actually rely on God (as they profess to do), or on their own human mind, to "project" onto the universe the outcomes they desire. I don't doubt that such a course might produce seeming positive results, but such results would probably be shortlived. At some point, a false basis will crumble.

I'm not opposed to the idea that God heals disease. There are numerous instances of unusual healings, many of which have astounded medical practitioners. I feel that there's another power at work. However, this Power operates all over the world. It isn't confined to Christian Science.

That we don't see more evidence of this enormous power interceding more often is a mystery.

I know you're busy, but if you can shed light on any of the questions I asked above (or suggest readings), please let me know.

Carolyn, a very belated thank you for your AM article and for God's Perfect Child, both of which helped me understand the enormous complexities of my childhood. My father was a exceptionally zealous practitioner and my mother had paranoid schizophrenia-- a toxic combination for my two brothers and me. I have many harsh memories of growing up in the atmosphere of denial, with no explanation or empathy for my mother's illness ("She's under the influence of error") and the years of emotional abuse and physical neglect. The fact that I survived is due to sheer rebelliousness, and yes, dumb luck.

My 2 children are grown now, and although I rejected the church's teachings at age 9 (even survived one semester at Principia Upper School--expelled in 1968), in raising them I don't think I was able to completely erase the years of indoctrination regarding illness-- despite years of therapy. They got adequate medical care, but emotionally it was hard for me to be there for them.

I wonder how most children of Christian Scientists fare as parents? Are they able to empathize and respond to their children's emotional needs when they are ill?

Thank you again for the tremendous research and well-written exposé of this dangerous cult.



I think it rare why such a bright person with tremendous writing skills would waste their time and talents on such a slanted interpretation of the truth. My humble belief is this demonstrates how ones early environment can bring such confusion and conflict. CF mother was not a student of CS but her father was. This created the basis for her confusion over CS. Please use your tremendous writing talents for subjects of more importance. CS is and properly practiced is a tremendous resource and faith. Your book provides misinformation and reflects the authors confusion.

Caroline, I stumbled on your AM article on Christian Science this morning and was consumed to tears by the content. I was raised, through fever, meazles, colds, cuts and broken bones and more in that "religion". I even went to The Principia for middle and high school. Imagine in adulthood, the "revelation" I felt the first time I took medication to relieve pain and fever. Now I am a father and I would never want my children to suffer needlessly through any illness any more than I wouldn't find them a bathroom if they needed to pee. I could fill this website with my own stories. Great article, even 17 years later. If you ever need a witness, call me.

I want to say a huge thank you to Caroline for her courageous and objective look at Christian Science. I was raised in "Science" and have struggled with the "demons" that follow so many of those whose introduction to Jesus and God are portrayed in such bizarre contrast to the truth of the Gospel. It is amazing how deep the stream of deception runs and how persistent it can be. On my second reading, I saw even more than on my first and have, I believe, been able to put the whacky teachings of Mary Baker Eddy even further behind me. So many of the scars of abandonment I and others have experienced in childhood are the best example of the kind of fruit which comes from this tree. I was particularly struck by the whole concept of "radical reliance" and how much this is a mind over matter religion rather than one which firmly acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Thank you, Caroline, for pushing aside the cobwebs and giving us all a clear view.

re: God's Perfect Child. As someone raised in CS,but rejecting it when reaching a mature consciousness, I have finally found an explantion of the inexplicable in your book. You are "right on" in your exploration of the irreconcilablity of CS's rejection of the material world we live in but are supposed to deny, and their idea of the true spiritual world.I have never read a book I can so totally relate to. Thank you for writing it.

Your talents and efforts are much better employed in your other work:

"Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution"


Regarding the work:

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

--A strictly honest and much more effective title for this work would have been:

"I Couldn't Hack Christian Science: So I Got Mad" -by Caroline Fraser

CF: Oh, snap! It sounds like somebody else is a little mad too. Sure you're not projecting?


Hi Caroline...

Hi,
I am writing a senior argumentative paper on Christian Science and how it is a form of Child Abuse. I was wondering if you know what a religion has to do to gain recognition as a religion. In my conclusion I am planning on stating that if anyone wanted to make it okay to break certain laws all they have to do is start their own religion not allowing the jury to go against the first amendment. If you think that's lame let me know. haha I've been struggling with this but your article is great

CF: There are different ways by which religions are recognized. You may have seen in the news a few years ago that the Church of Scientology was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS in this country (a privilege it has been denied in other countries, such as Germany), so that's one way to get official recognition. Another way is the time-honored method of just hanging around long enough and gathering enough followers. Best of luck with your paper.

Caroline, I recently read your 1995 article from Th Atlantic, "Suffering Children and the Christian Science Church". I found it extremely well-written and compelling. I was also raised by two Christian Scientists and have often felt that it was only luck that allowed me to grow up healthy and happy. But, even though I was and am healthy, there are so many simple things which would have made my life easier and happier but for Christian Science. (For example, simple acne medicine would have done a lot for my confidence as a young girl and woman. I live with the acne scars today as a reminder of how cruel Christian Science can be, even in cases which do not involve life or death.) The child-death cases are horrendous, but I was also tremendously moved by your discussion of the strains people like us face as adults confronting our parents' premature decline. Your description of the "classic bind of the lapsed children of Christian Scientists" wanting to save our parents from themselves is absolutely correct and I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for the article. It is still moving readers over 13 years later. Please keep speaking out against Christian Science!

CF--Many thanks for these comments, and I'm so glad you found the article helpful. I certainly do plan to keep speaking out: Check back again soon. I'm hoping to add a newsletter and make some updates to the godsperfectchild.com website.



Caroline Fraser's website is comprehensive, well written and swell! -An admirer from Bellingham WA

CF--Many thanks!