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Mary B. Eddy - History

Mary B. Eddy - History

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Mary Morse Baker Eddy was born in Bow, New Hampshire, on July 16, 1821. From childhood onward, she was often ill, so much so that, after she was widowed, her only child was even taken away from her. She would not see her child again for thirty years. She spent much of her life in a quest to discover ways to healing sickness of the body and soul. In 1862, she was influenced by the unorthodox medical techniques o Phineas Parkhurst Quimby of Portland, Maine, who was able to improve her health temporarily through the use of suggestion. In 1866, however, she was crippled after falling on ice near her home in Lynn, Massachusetts. After this incident, she studied the New Testament, and was healed of her injuries. These experiences led her to develop the doctrines upon which she would found the religion known as Christian Science. The doctrines were based on belief in the healing powers of Jesus Christ, which Eddy felt that modern Christianity underplayed. After spending several years studying the Christian Bible, as well as lecturing and demonstrating the tenets of Christian Science, she published Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875).
The following year, she founded the Christian Scientists’ Association. Eddy established the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879, and the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in 1881, both in Boston, Massachusetts. The mother church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized in Boston in 1892. Eddy also established periodicals, including the Christian Science Monitor (1908). When she died, on December 3, 1910, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, she left her church an estate worth more than $2.5 million, and a membership of about 100,000. Eddy remains the only woman in modern Western history to have founded a major religion.

From the Papers—Part Two: Learning from Letterhead

J. Newton Stone to Mary Baker Eddy, January 7, 1886, 577.59.007. J. Allen and Lysbeth L. Campbell to Mary Baker Eddy, October 22, 1885, 528.57.009. Harriette D. Walker to Mary Baker Eddy, October 21, 1885, 721AP1.88.029. Solomon W. Straub to Mary Baker Eddy, June 2, 1884, 952.93.040.

Our work on the Mary Baker Eddy Papers includes research into Mary Baker Eddy’s correspondents, which we publish on our website as short biographies. We check genealogical databases, church files, and other sources for anything we can find about these individuals. Sometimes we can also learn about them from the very paper they used to write their letters.

Our article Part One: Learning from Letterhead, published in 2018, discussed the stationery that some of Eddy’s correspondents used in communicating with her. We’d like to share another installment of unique examples of letterhead that we’ve since found in working on her papers.

Interest in Christian Science continued to be strong among those active in the temperance movement—a cause Eddy herself was involved in for a time. Harriette D. Walker wrote to her on the stationery of the Rhode Island Women’s Christian Temperance Union, inquiring about taking Christian Science class instruction. 1 Walker hoped to attend Eddy’s next class, but it conflicted with her involvement in the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union convention. The Union’s letterhead featured the quote “For God, and Home, and Native Land,” which is likely a reference to a temperance song of the same name by Henry B. Funk and E. P. Moffitt.

Eddy received a letter from another composer of such songs, Solomon B. Straub, inquiring about the wholesale price for Science and Health 2 In 1883 Straub published Temperance Battle Songs! For the Use of Choirs and Glee Clubs in All Kinds of Temperance Meetings. His stationery described him as a “Music Publisher” and referred to his publication The Song Friend as “a monthly magazine for the people.” Like other similar publications of the time, it promoted the music published by Straub’s firm and included articles on relevant topics and some sheet music. 3 Straub was also involved in other music education pursuits throughout the midwestern United States.

Through these two pieces of letterhead, we find clues about both Walker and Straub. Digging deeper, we also learn a bit about the temperance movement, as well as the music and culture of the time.

Eddy received letters from many other businesspeople. A number of them wrote of trying to sell their businesses in order to devote more time to practicing Christian Science. Their letterheads often revealed more details about their work. For example, J. Newton Stone, who learned of Christian Science through his sister, M. Bettie Bell, wrote: “…am sorry to say I am not progressing very fast as I have so much work to do I don’t have time to study and practice. I am trying to sell out my business so I can devote all of my time to the Science & hope I will succeed soon.” 4 Stone’s stationery showed that he sold everything from groceries to several types of fine pottery.

Letters received from J. Allan Campbell, whose letterhead showed that he was a sculptor, don’t mention his leaving that business. However, they did indicate he had a strong interest in doing more for the Christian Science movement, including the desire to organize a Christian Scientist Association in New York. 5 After his first letter to Eddy, subsequent letters written on his stationery appear with the letterhead crossed out. Perhaps this was his way of showing that this correspondence was about Christian Science, rather than business.

Mary B. Eddy - History

Mary Baker Eddy founded a popular religious movement during the 19 th century, Christian Science. As an author and teacher, she helped promote healings through mental and spiritual teachings. Today, her influence can still be seen throughout the American religious landscape.

Eddy was born in 1821, in Bow, New Hampshire. Her parents were members of the of the Protestant Congregationalist denomination. Unfortunately, she was very ill and spent most of her childhood bedridden. At the age of fifteen, her family moved to another town in New Hampshire and she began school. Almost immediately, her teachers realized that she was an extremely bright pupil. Eddy finished school at the Holmes Academy and went on to teach. She married in 1844, however her husband died only six months into the marriage leaving her a new mother and a widow. Later she remarried but the union ended divorce.

For many years, Eddy worked to discover a cure for her chronic illness. She experimented with alternative forms of medicine, whole heartedly rejecting prescription drugs from doctors. Additionally, Eddy vigorously studied the Bible. After suffering from an almost deadly illness she became a patient of Phineas Quimby, a healer from Maine. Historians believe Quimby influenced Eddy’s writings.

In 1866, Eddy slipped on an icy sidewalk. The fall forced her to remain bed for several months. During her downtime, she studied healings in the Bible. Her belief that the healings performed by Jesus could be used in the present day inspired her to create a movement which focused on the mental aspects of sickness. She began to teach others her new method and Christian Science quickly gained a following.

Eddy wrote the principal text for the Christian Science movement, Science and Health with Key to Scriptures in 1872. She opened the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in 1879 to educate others. Eddy’s teaching was extremely attractive to many who suffered from illness. Her students eventually spread the knowledge to others as they traveled throughout the United States. As a result, Christian Science congregations emerged in several cities. In 1894, a reading room solely dedicated to Eddy’s writings opened in Boston, Massachusetts. The congregation also moved into a physical building that same year. Because of Eddy’s growing popularity as a religious leader and woman, she was the center of many rumors and attacks. Her character and sanity were often questioned publicly. However, the attacks did not discourage her followers.

In her later years, Eddy focused much of her attention on expanding her teachings by constantly revising manuals and other publications. When Eddy was unable to get others to print her work, she started a publishing society. She published The Christian Science Monitor and the Herald of Christian Science. In 1910, Eddy died of pneumonia and was buried in Massachusetts. Today, there are still numerous Christian Science churches and Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to Scriptures remains on best seller lists throughout the world.


Bow, New Hampshire Edit

Family Edit

Eddy was born Mary Morse Baker in a farmhouse in Bow, New Hampshire, to farmer Mark Baker (d. 1865) and his wife Abigail Barnard Baker, née Ambrose (d. 1849). Eddy was the youngest of the Bakers' six children: boys Samuel Dow (1808), Albert (1810), and George Sullivan (1812), followed by girls Abigail Barnard (1816), Martha Smith (1819), and Mary Morse (1821). [8]

Mark Baker was a strongly religious man from a Protestant Congregationalist background, a firm believer in the final judgment and eternal damnation, according to Eddy. [9] McClure's magazine published a series of articles in 1907 that were highly critical of Eddy, stating that Baker's home library had consisted of the Bible. [10] Eddy responded that this was untrue and that her father had been an avid reader. [11] [12] According to Eddy, her father had been a justice of the peace at one point and a chaplain of the New Hampshire State Militia. [13] He developed a reputation locally for being disputatious one neighbor described him as "[a] tiger for a temper and always in a row." [14] McClure's described him as a supporter of slavery and alleged that he had been pleased to hear about Abraham Lincoln's death. [15] Eddy responded that Baker had been a "strong believer in States' rights, but slavery he regarded as a great sin." [13]

The Baker children inherited their father's temper, according to McClure's they also inherited his good looks, and Eddy became known as the village beauty. Life was nevertheless spartan and repetitive. Every day began with lengthy prayer and continued with hard work. The only rest day was the Sabbath. [16]

Health Edit

Eddy and her father reportedly had a volatile relationship. Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore wrote in 1932 that Baker sought to break Eddy's will with harsh punishment, although her mother often intervened in contrast to Mark Baker, Eddy's mother was described as devout, quiet, light-hearted, and kind. [17] Eddy experienced periods of sudden illness, perhaps in an effort to control her father's attitude toward her. [18] Those who knew the family described her as suddenly falling to the floor, writhing and screaming, or silent and apparently unconscious, sometimes for hours. [19] [20] Robert Peel, one of Eddy's biographers, worked for the Christian Science church and wrote in 1966:

This was when life took on the look of a nightmare, overburdened nerves gave way, and she would end in a state of unconsciousness that would sometimes last for hours and send the family into a panic. On such an occasion Lyman Durgin, the Baker's teen-age chore boy, who adored Mary, would be packed off on a horse for the village doctor . [21]

Gillian Gill wrote in 1998 that Eddy was often sick as a child and appears to have suffered from an eating disorder, but reports may have been exaggerated concerning hysterical fits. [22] Eddy described her problems with food in the first edition of Science and Health (1875). She wrote that she had suffered from chronic indigestion as a child and, hoping to cure it, had embarked on a diet of nothing but water, bread, and vegetables, at one point consumed just once a day: "Thus we passed most of our early years, as many can attest, in hunger, pain, weakness, and starvation." [23]

Eddy experienced near invalidism as a child and most of her life until her discovery of Christian Science. Like most life experiences, it formed her lifelong, diligent research for a remedy from almost constant suffering. Eddy writes in her autobiography, "From my very childhood I was impelled by a hunger and thirst after divine things, - a desire for something higher and better than matter, and apart from it, - to seek diligently for the knowledge of God as the one great and ever-present relief from human woe." She also writes on page 33 of the chapter, "Medical Experiments", in her autobiography, "I wandered through the dim mazes of 'materia medica,' till I was weary of 'scientific guessing,' as it has been well called. I sought knowledge from the different schools, - allopathy, homeopathy, hydropathy, electricity, and from various humbugs, - but without receiving satisfaction." [24]

Tilton, New Hampshire Edit

In 1836 when Eddy was fifteen, the Bakers moved twenty miles to Sanbornton Bridge, New Hampshire, known after 1869 as Tilton. [25]

My father was taught to believe that my brain was too large for my body and so kept me much out of school, but I gained book-knowledge with far less labor than is usually requisite. At ten years of age I was as familiar with Lindley Murray's Grammar as with the Westminster Catechism and the latter I had to repeat every Sunday. My favorite studies were natural philosophy, logic, and moral science. From my brother Albert, I received lessons in the ancient tongues, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. [26]

Ernest Bates and John Dittemore write that Eddy was not able to attend Sanbornton Academy when the family first moved there but was required instead to start at the district school (in the same building) with the youngest girls. She withdrew after a month because of poor health, then received private tuition from the Reverend Enoch Corser. She entered Sanbornton Academy in 1842. [27]

She was received into the Congregational church in Tilton on 26 July 1838 when she was 17, according to church records published by McClure's in 1907. Eddy had written in her autobiography in 1891 that she was 12 when this happened, and that she had discussed the idea of predestination with the pastor during the examination for her membership this may have been an attempt to reflect the story of a 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple. [28] [29] She wrote in response to the McClure's article that the date of her church membership may have been mistaken by her. [30] Eddy objected so strongly to the idea of predestination and eternal damnation that it made her ill:

My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade me lean on God's love, which would give me rest if I went to Him in prayer, as I was wont to do, seeking His guidance. I prayed and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone and I rose and dressed myself in a normal condition of health. Mother saw this and was glad. The physician marveled and the "horrible decree" of Predestination – as John Calvin rightly called his own tenet – forever lost its power over me. [31]

Marriage, widowhood Edit

Eddy was badly affected by four deaths in the 1840s. [32] She regarded her brother Albert as a teacher and mentor, but he died in 1841. In 1844, her first husband George Washington Glover (a friend of her brother Samuel) died after six months of marriage. They had married in December 1843 and set up home in Charleston, South Carolina, where Glover had business, but he died of yellow fever in June 1844 while living in Wilmington, North Carolina. Eddy was with him in Wilmington, six months pregnant. She had to make her way back to New Hampshire, 1,400 miles by train and steamboat, where her only child George Washington II was born on 12 September in her father's home. [33] [34]

Her husband's death, the journey back, and the birth left her physically and mentally exhausted, and she ended up bedridden for months. [35] She tried to earn a living by writing articles for the New Hampshire Patriot and various Odd Fellows and Masonic publications. She also worked as a substitute teacher in the New Hampshire Conference Seminary, and ran her own kindergarten for a few months in 1846, apparently refusing to use corporal punishment. [36]

Then her mother died in November 1849. Eddy wrote to one of her brothers: "What is left of earth to me!" Her mother's death was followed three weeks later by the death of her fiancé, lawyer John Bartlett. [37] In 1850, Eddy wrote, her son was sent away to be looked after by the family's nurse he was four years old by then. [38] Sources differ as to whether Eddy could have prevented this. [39] It was difficult for a woman in her circumstances to earn money and, according to the legal doctrine of coverture, women in the United States during this period could not be their own children's guardians. When their husbands died, they were left in a legally vulnerable position. [40]

Mark Baker remarried in 1850 his second wife Elizabeth Patterson Duncan (d. 6 June 1875) had been widowed twice, and had some property and income from her second marriage. [41] Baker apparently made clear to Eddy that her son would not be welcome in the new marital home. [39] She wrote:

A few months before my father's second marriage . my little son, about four years of age, was sent away from me, and put under the care of our family nurse, who had married, and resided in the northern part of New Hampshire. I had no training for self-support, and my home I regarded as very precious. The night before my child was taken from me, I knelt by his side throughout the dark hours, hoping for a vision of relief from this trial. [42]

George was sent to stay with various relatives, and Eddy decided to live with her sister Abigail. Abigail apparently also declined to take George, then six years old. [41] Eddy married again in 1853. Her second husband, Daniel Patterson, was a dentist and apparently said that he would become George's legal guardian but he appears not to have gone ahead with this, and Eddy lost contact with her son when the family that looked after him, the Cheneys, moved to Minnesota, and then her son several years later enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. She did not see him again until he was in his thirties:

My dominant thought in marrying again was to get back my child, but after our marriage his stepfather was not willing he should have a home with me. A plot was consummated for keeping us apart. The family to whose care he was committed very soon removed to what was then regarded as the Far West. After his removal a letter was read to my little son, informing him that his mother was dead and buried. Without my knowledge a guardian was appointed him, and I was then informed that my son was lost. Every means within my power was employed to find him, but without success. We never met again until he had reached the age of thirty-four, had a wife and two children, and by a strange providence had learned that his mother still lived, and came to see me in Massachusetts. [42]

Mesmerism had become popular in New England and on October 14, 1861, Eddy's husband at the time, Dr. Patterson, wrote to mesmerist Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who reportedly cured people without medicine, asking if he could cure his wife. [43] Quimby replied that he had too much work in Portland, Maine, and that he could not visit her, but if Patterson brought his wife to him he would treat her. [44] Eddy did not immediately go, instead trying the water cure at Dr. Vail's Hydropathic Institute, but her health deteriorated even further. [45] [46] A year later, in October 1862, Eddy first visited Quimby. [47] [48] She improved considerably, and publicly declared that she had been able to walk up 182 steps to the dome of city hall after a week of treatment. [49] The cures were temporary, however, and Eddy suffered relapses. [50]

Despite the temporary nature of the "cure", she attached religious significance to it, which Quimby did not. [51] She believed that it was the same type of healing that Christ had performed. [52] From 1862 to 1865, Quimby and Eddy engaged in lengthy discussions about healing methods practiced by Quimby and others. [53] [54] [55] She took notes on her own ideas on healing, as well as writing dictations from him and "correcting" them with her own ideas, some of which possibly ended up in the "Quimby manuscripts" that were published later and attributed to him. [56] [57] [a] Despite Quimby not being especially religious, he embraced the religious connotations Eddy was bringing to his work, since he knew his more religious patients would appreciate it. [59]

Phineas Quimby died on January 16, 1866, shortly after Eddy's father. [b] Later, Quimby became the "single most controversial issue" of Eddy's life according to biographer Gillian Gill, who stated: "Rivals and enemies of Christian Science found in the dead and long forgotten Quimby their most important weapon against the new and increasingly influential religious movement", as Eddy was "accused of stealing Quimby's philosophy of healing, failing to acknowledge him as the spiritual father of Christian Science, and plagiarizing his unpublished work." [61] However, Gill continued:

"I am now firmly convinced, having weighed all the evidence I could find in published and archival sources, that Mrs. Eddy’s most famous biographer-critics—Peabody, Milmine, Dakin, Bates and Dittemore, and Gardner—have flouted the evidence and shown willful bias in accusing Mrs. Eddy of owing her theory of healing to Quimby and of plagiarizing his unpublished work." [62]

Quimby wrote extensive notes from the 1850s until his death in 1866, in addition to the text of a proposed book (never published) about 1845 [ citation needed ] some in his own hand appear in a collection of his writings in the Library of Congress, but far more common was that the original Quimby drafts were edited and rewritten by his copyists. The transcriptions were heavily edited by those copyists to make them more readable. [63] [64] Rumors of Quimby "manuscripts" began to circulate in the 1880s when Julius Dresser began accusing Eddy of stealing from Quimby. [65] Quimby's son, George, who disliked Eddy, did not want any of the manuscripts published, and kept what he owned away from the Dressers until after his death. [66] In 1921, Julius's son, Horatio Dresser, published various copies of writings that he entitled The Quimby Manuscripts to support these claims, but left out papers that didn't serve his view. [67] Further complicating the matter is that, as stated above, no originals of most of the copies exist and according to Gill, Quimby's personal letters, which are among the items in his own handwriting, "eloquently testify to his incapacity to spell simple words or write a simple, declarative sentence. Thus there is no documentary proof that Quimby ever committed to paper the vast majority of the texts ascribed to him, no proof that he produced any text that someone else could, even in the loosest sense, 'copy.'" [68] In addition, it has been averred that the dates given to the papers seem to be guesses made years later by Quimby's son, and although critics have claimed Quimby used terms like "science of health" in 1859 before he met Eddy, the alleged lack of proper dating in the papers makes this impossible to prove. [69] [70] [c]

According to J. Gordon Melton: "Certainly Eddy shared some ideas with Quimby. She differed with him in some key areas, however, such as specific healing techniques. Moreover, she did not share Quimby's hostility toward the Bible and Christianity." [71]

On February 1, 1866, Eddy slipped and fell on ice while walking in Swampscott, Massachusetts, causing a spinal injury:

On the third day thereafter, I called for my Bible, and opened it at Matthew, 9:2 [And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy Son, be of good cheer thy sins be forgiven thee.(King James Bible) ]. As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense and the result was that I arose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed. That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit this Life being the sole reality of existence. [72]

Two contemporaneous news accounts are recorded of this event:

Lynn Reporter, February 3, 1866:

"Mrs. Mary M. Patterson, of Swampscott, fell upon the ice near the corner of Market and Oxford streets, on Thursday evening, and was severely injured. She was taken up in an insensible condition and carried to the residence of S. M. Bubier, Esq., near by, where she was kindly cared for during the night. Dr. Cushing, who was called, found her injuries to be internal, and of a very serious nature, inducing spasms and intense suffering. She was removed to her home in Swampscott yesterday afternoon, though in a very critical condition."

Salem Register, February 5, 1866:

"Mrs. Mary M. Patterson of Swampscott was severely injured by a fall upon the ice near the corner of Market and Oxford streets, Lynn, on Thursday. It is feared she will not recover."

These contemporaneous news articles both reported on the seriousness of Eddy’s condition. Compare the statement in the Register, “It is feared she will not recover” and the statement in the Reporter that Eddy’s injuries were “internal” and she was removed to her home “in a very critical condition,” to Cushing’s affidavit 38 years later, in 1904: “I did not at any time declare, or believe, that there was no hope of Mrs. Patterson’s recovery, or that she was in a critical condition.” Cushing's effort to downplay the seriousness of the accident perhaps reached its most extreme point in this letter from Gordon Clark, confirmed Eddy critic and author of The Church of St. Bunco, to the editor of the Boston Herald, March 2, 1902:

"I have a recent letter from him [i.e., Dr. A. M. Cushing] in which he utterly denies the whole substance of her assertions. Her injury was mostly a jar of her imagination and a contusion, on her veracity."

Cushing’s diagnosis a third of a century later was that “I found her very nervous, partially unconscious, semi-hysterical, complaining by word and action of severe pain in the back of her head and neck.” [73]

She later filed a claim for money from the city of Lynn for her injury on the grounds that she was "still suffering from the effects of that fall" (though she afterwards withdrew the lawsuit). [74] Gill writes that Eddy's claim was probably made under financial pressure from her husband at the time. Her neighbors believed her sudden recovery to be a near-miracle. [75]

Eddy wrote in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, that she devoted the next three years of her life to biblical study and what she considered the discovery of Christian Science: "I then withdrew from society about three years,--to ponder my mission, to search the Scriptures, to find the Science of Mind that should take the things of God and show them to the creature, and reveal the great curative Principle, --Deity." [76]

Eddy became convinced that illness could be healed through an awakened thought brought about by a clearer perception of God and the explicit rejection of drugs, hygiene, and medicine, based on the observation that Jesus did not use these methods for healing:

It is plain that God does not employ drugs or hygiene, nor provide them for human use else Jesus would have recommended and employed them in his healing. . The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love. [77]

During the mid-1800s, spiritualism had become popular in New England, particularly with those dissatisfied with the dominate Calvinistic religion of the time. [78] It began in 1848, when the Fox sisters from Rochester, New York claimed they could communicate with the dead through what Eddy would later derisively refer to as "Rochester rappings". [79] According to Ann Taves: "Mary Baker Eddy and her followers rejected Spiritualism and animal magnetism outright." [80] However, around this time rumors started that Eddy was actually a believer of spiritualism and even acted as a medium [d] and although this view has been rejected by modern scholarship, [82] it persisted for some time. This was likely partially due to the poor reputation spiritualism had, and its association with free love and feminism, which made critics of Eddy eager to accuse her of it in order to tarnish her reputation, [83] and due to some spiritualists themselves who wanted to associate their beliefs with Eddy. [84] It was also likely due to the fact that Eddy did in fact associate with some spiritualists during the early years after 1866, and even advertised in a spiritualist magazine, The Banner of Light. [85] [86] At one point Eddy apparently acted like a medium in front of Sarah Crosby, a friend who she met while a patient of Quimby's and later stayed with. [87] Sibyl Wilbur wrote that she only did this in order to convince Crosby how easy it was to fake being a medium. [88] However, critics of Eddy of sneered at this explanation, saying it was actually Eddy who converted Crosby of spiritualism. [89]

Between 1866 and 1870, Eddy moved at least nine times at one point living with Brene Paine Clark, a women with an interest in Spiritualism. [90] Séances were often conducted there, and Eddy and Clark apparently engaged in vigorous, good-natured arguments about them. [91] Clark's son George also tried to convince Eddy to take up Spiritualism, but he said that she abhorred the idea. [92] Eddy found spiritualists to be “liberal, kind-hearted people” who were “quite ready to accept new ideas” even though she disagreed with their beliefs. [85] According to Cindy Safronoff, "she considered Spiritualism to be the opposite of her own Bible-based beliefs. However, the people most interested in her healing work and her spiritual insights at this time were Spiritualists. Her devout Christian friends, family, and acquaintances were uncomfortable with the whole idea of spiritual healing". [85] During the 1860s, she tried to convert those with spiritualistic beliefs to her religion, [93] and many people would end up abandoning spiritualism for Christian Science movement. [94] For instance, her first student, Hiram Crafts, later stated that Eddy "was not a Spiritualist when she taught me Christian Science in the year 1866. At that time I was a Spiritualist, but her teachings changed my views on that subject and I gave up Spiritualism." [95]

Eddy's denunciations of spiritualism were consistent and emphatic. Even while a patient of Quimby in 1864, she gave a public talk defending Quimby against charges of spiritualism, although she would later change her mind and lump Quimby and spiritualists together. [96] She wrote a chapter called "Imposition and Demonstration" in the first edition of Science and Health in 1875 denouncing spiritualism, a chapter which she renamed to "Christian Science vs. Spiritualism" in the final edition. [97] Cindy Safronoff writes that: "Throughout her book, Eddy made it clear that although she appreciated some Spiritualist individuals, she had no respect for Spiritualism, or any other 'isms'" [98] and that Eddy believed that only through "Christian transformation" and "through the recognition of one God, the one eternal Spirit— would mortal life be replaced with eternal life." [99] In the first edition of Science and Health, Eddy wrote:

"The Rochester rappings inaugurated a mockery destructive to order and good morals. . its rites and ceremonies that choose darkness rather than light, and above all its loose morals, do not entitle spiritualism to the standing it has gained in society. . the majority of what is termed mediumship, is simply imposition, not even clairvoyance, or mind-reading, but a catch-penny fraud." [100]

Despite this, she was continually forced to deny spiritualism as she was attacked by Christian ministers, especially in Boston, for her past association with spiritualists, and was accused of "planning to rewrite the Bible" in the name of "medieval nihilism." [101] Some locals even accused her of witchcraft and called her a "child of Satan". [102] In 1885, Eddy was accused of promoting Spiritualism and pantheism by Adoniram Judson Gordon, in a letter read out at Tremont Temple in Boston. Eddy responded and told the congregation that she was not a Spiritualist, and that she believed in God as the Supreme Being and in the atonement. [103] Stephen Gottschalk wrote that the occasion marked the "emergence of Christian Science into American religious life." [104]

Eddy divorced Daniel Patterson for adultery in 1873. She published her work in 1875 in a book entitled Science and Health (years later retitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) which she called the textbook of Christian Science, after several years of offering her healing method. The first publication run was 1,000 copies, which she self-published. During these years, she taught what she considered the science of "primitive Christianity" to at least 800 people. [105] Many of her students became healers themselves. The last 100 pages of Science and Health (chapter entitled "Fruitage") contains testimonies of people who claimed to have been healed by reading her book. She made numerous revisions to her book from the time of its first publication until shortly before her death. [106]

On 1 January 1877, she married Asa Gilbert Eddy, becoming Mary Baker Eddy in a small ceremony presided over by a Unitarian minister. [107] In 1881, the Mary Baker Eddy started the Massachusetts Metaphysical College with a charter from the state which allowed her to grant degrees. [108] In 1882, the Eddys moved to Boston, and Gilbert Eddy died that year. [109]

In the 24th edition of Science and Health, up to the 33rd edition, Eddy admitted the harmony between Vedanta philosophy and Christian Science. She also quoted certain passages from an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, but they were later removed. According to Gill, in the 1891 revision Eddy removed from her book all the references to Eastern religions which her editor, Reverend James Henry Wiggin, had introduced. [110] On this issue Swami Abhedananda wrote:

Mrs. Eddy quoted certain passages from the English edition of the Bhagavad-Gita, but unfortunately, for some reason, those passages of the Gita were omitted in the 34th edition of the book, Science and Health . if we closely study Mrs. Eddy's book, we find that Mrs. Eddy has incorporated in her book most of the salient features of Vedanta philosophy, but she denied the debt flatly. [111]

Other writers, such as Jyotirmayananda Saraswati, have said that Eddy may have been influenced by ancient Hindu philosophy. [112] The historian Damodar Singhal wrote:

The Christian Science movement in America was possibly influenced by India. The founder of this movement, Mary Baker Eddy, in common with the Vedantins, believed that matter and suffering were unreal, and that a full realization of this fact was essential for relief from ills and pains . The Christian Science doctrine has naturally been given a Christian framework, but the echoes of Vedanta in its literature are often striking. [113]

Wendell Thomas in Hinduism Invades America (1930) suggested that Eddy may have discovered Hinduism through the teachings of the New England Transcendentalists such as Bronson Alcott. [114] Stephen Gottschalk, in his The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life (1973), wrote:

The association of Christian Science with Eastern religion would seem to have had some basis in Mrs Eddy's own writings. For in some early editions of Science and Health she had quoted from and commented favorably upon a few Hindu and Buddhist texts . None of these references, however, was to remain a part of Science and Health as it finally stood . Increasingly from the mid-1880s on, Mrs Eddy made a sharp distinction between Christian Science and Eastern religions. [115]

In regards to the influence of Eastern religions on her discovery of Christian Science, Eddy states in The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany: "Think not that Christian Science tends towards Buddhism or any other 'ism'. Per contra, Christian Science destroys such tendency." [116]

Eddy devoted the rest of her life to the establishment of the church, writing its bylaws, The Manual of The Mother Church, and revising Science and Health. By the 1870s she was telling her students, "Some day I will have a church of my own." [117] In 1879 she and her students established the Church of Christ, Scientist, "to commemorate the word and works of our Master [Jesus], which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." [118] In 1892 at Eddy's direction, the church reorganized as The First Church of Christ, Scientist, "designed to be built on the Rock, Christ. . " [119] In 1881, she founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, [120] where she taught approximately 800 students between the years 1882 and 1889, when she closed it. [121] Eddy charged her students $300 each for tuition, a large sum for the time. [122]

Her students spread across the country practicing healing, and instructing others. Eddy authorized these students to list themselves as Christian Science Practitioners in the church's periodical, The Christian Science Journal. She also founded the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine with articles about how to heal and testimonies of healing.

In 1888, a reading room selling Bibles, her writings and other publications opened in Boston. [123] This model would soon be replicated, and branch churches worldwide maintain more than 1,200 Christian Science Reading Rooms today. [124]

In 1894 an edifice for The First Church of Christ, Scientist was completed in Boston (The Mother Church). In the early years Eddy served as pastor. In 1895 she ordained the Bible and Science and Health as the pastor. [125]

Eddy founded The Christian Science Publishing Society in 1898, which became the publishing home for numerous publications launched by her and her followers. [126] In 1908, at the age of 87, she founded The Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper. [127] She also founded the Christian Science Journal in 1883, [128] a monthly magazine aimed at the church's members and, in 1898, [129] the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly religious periodical written for a more general audience, and the Herald of Christian Science, a religious magazine with editions in many languages. [130]

The opposite of Christian Science mental healing was the use of mental powers for destructive or selfish reasons – for which Eddy used terms such as animal magnetism, hypnotism, or mesmerism interchangeably. [131] [132] "Malicious animal magnetism", sometimes abbreviated as M.A.M., is what Catherine Albanese called "a Calvinist devil lurking beneath the metaphysical surface". [133] As there is no personal devil or evil in Christian Science, M.A.M. or mesmerism became the explanation for the problem of evil. [134] [135] Eddy was concerned that a new practitioner could inadvertently harm a patient through unenlightened use of their mental powers, and that less scrupulous individuals could use as a weapon. [136]

Animal magnetism became one of the most controversial aspects of Eddy's life. The critical McClure's biography spends a significant amount of time on malicious animal magnetism, which it uses to make the case that Eddy had paranoia. [135] During the Next Friends suit, it was used to charge Eddy with incompetence and "general insanity". [137]

According to Gillian Gill, Eddy's experience with Richard Kennedy, one of her early students, was what led her to began her examination of malicious animal magnetism. [138] Eddy had agreed to form a partnership with Kennedy in 1870, in which she would teach him how to heal, and he would take patients. [139] The partnership was rather successful at first, but by 1872 Kennedy had fallen out with his teacher and torn up their contract. [140] Although there were multiple issues raised, the main reason for the break according to Gill was Eddy's insistence that Kennedy stop "rubbing" his patient's head and solar plexus, which she saw as harmful since, as Gill states, "traditionally in mesmerism or hypnosis the head and abdomen were manipulated so that the subject would be prepared to enter into trance." [141] Kennedy clearly did believe in clairvoyance, mind reading, and absent mesmeric treatment and after their split Eddy believed that Kennedy was using his mesmeric abilities to try to harm her and her movement. [138]

In 1882 Eddy publicly claimed that her last husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, had died of "mental assassination". [142] Daniel Spofford was another Christian Scientist expelled by Eddy after she accused him of practicing malicious animal magnetism. [143] This gained notoriety in a case irreverently dubbed the "Second Salem Witch Trial". [144] Critics of Christian Science blamed fear of animal magnetism if a Christian Scientist committed suicide, which happened with Mary Tomlinson, the sister of Irving C. Tomlinson. [145]

Later, Eddy set up "watches" for her staff to pray about challenges facing the Christian Science movement and to handle animal magnetism which arose. [146] Gill writes that Eddy got the term from the New Testament account of the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus chastises his disciples for being unable to "watch" even for a short time and that Eddy used it to refer to "a particularly vigilant and active form of prayer, a set period of time when specific people would put their thoughts toward God, review questions and problems of the day, and seek spiritual understanding." [146] Critics such as Georgine Milmine in Mclure's, Edwin Dakin, and John Dittemore, all claimed this was evidence that Eddy had a great fear of malicious animal magnetism although Gilbert Carpenter, one of Eddy's staff at the time, insisted she was not fearful of it, and that she was simply being vigilant. [146] According to Eddy it was important to challenge animal magnetism, because, as Gottschalk says, its "apparent operation claims to have a temporary hold on people only through unchallenged mesmeric suggestion. As this is exposed and rejected, she maintained, the reality of God becomes so vivid that the magnetic pull of evil is broken, its grip on one’s mentality is broken, and one is freer to understand that there can be no actual mind or power apart from God." [147]

As time went on Eddy tried to lessen the focus on animal magnetism within the movement, and worked to clearly define it as unreality which only had power if one conceded power and reality to it. [148] Eddy wrote in Science and Health: "Animal magnetism has no scientific foundation, for God governs all that is real, harmonious, and eternal, and His power is neither animal nor human. Its basis being a belief and this belief animal, in Science animal magnetism, mesmerism, or hypnotism is a mere negation, possessing neither intelligence, power, nor reality, and in sense it is an unreal concept of the so-called mortal mind." [149]

The belief in malicious animal magnetism "remains a part of the doctrine of Christian Science." [150] Christian Scientists use it as a specific term for a hypnotic belief in a power apart from God. [151] They contend that it is "neither mysterious nor complex" and compare it to Paul's discussion of "the carnal mind. enmity against God" in the Bible. [152]

There is controversy about how much Eddy used morphine. Biographers Ernest Sutherland Bates and Edwin Franden Dakin described Eddy as a morphine addict. [153] Miranda Rice, a friend and close student of Eddy, told a newspaper in 1906: "I know that Mrs. Eddy was addicted to morphine in the seventies." [154] A diary kept by Calvin Frye, Eddy's personal secretary, suggests that Eddy occasionally reverted to "the old morphine habit" when she was in pain. [155] Gill writes that the prescription of morphine was normal medical practice at the time, and that "I remain convinced that Mary Baker Eddy was never addicted to morphine." [156]

Eddy recommended to her son that, rather than go against the law of the state, he should have her grandchildren vaccinated. She also paid for a mastectomy for her sister-in-law. [157] Eddy was quoted in the New York Herald on 1 May 1901: "Where vaccination is compulsory, let your children be vaccinated, and see that your mind is in such a state that by your prayers vaccination will do the children no harm. So long as Christian Scientists obey the laws, I do not suppose their mental reservations will be thought to matter much." [158]

Eddy used glasses for several years for very fine print, but later dispensed with them almost entirely. [159] She found she could read fine print with ease. [160] In 1907 Arthur Brisbane interviewed Eddy. At one point he picked up a periodical, selected at random a paragraph, and asked Eddy to read it. According to Brisbane, at the age of eighty six, she read the ordinary magazine type without glasses. [161] Towards the end of her life she was frequently attended by physicians. [162]

In 1907, the New York World sponsored a lawsuit, known as "The Next Friends suit", which journalist Erwin Canham described as "designed to wrest from [Eddy] and her trusted officials all control of her church and its activities." [163] During the course of the legal case, four psychiatrists interviewed Eddy, then 86 years old, to determine whether she could manage her own affairs, and concluded that she was able to. [164] Physician Allan McLane Hamilton told The New York Times that the attacks on Eddy were the result of "a spirit of religious persecution that has at last quite overreached itself", and that "there seems to be a manifest injustice in taxing so excellent and capable an old lady as Mrs. Eddy with any form of insanity." [165]

A 1907 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that Eddy exhibited hysterical and psychotic behavior. [166] Psychiatrist Karl Menninger in his book The Human Mind (1927) cited Eddy's paranoid delusions about malicious animal magnetism as an example of a "schizoid personality". [167]

Psychologists Leon Joseph Saul and Silas L. Warner, in their book The Psychotic Personality (1982), came to the conclusion that Eddy had diagnostic characteristics of Psychotic Personality Disorder (PPD). [168] In 1983, psychologists Theodore Barber and Sheryl C. Wilson suggested that Eddy displayed traits of a fantasy prone personality. [169]

Psychiatrist George Eman Vaillant wrote that Eddy was hypochrondriacal. [170] Psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel has written that Eddy's lifelong secret morphine habit contributed to her development of "progressive paranoia". [171]

Eddy died on the evening of December 3, 1910, at her home at 400 Beacon Street, in the Chestnut Hill section of Newton, Massachusetts. Her death was announced the next morning, when a city medical examiner was called in. [172] She was buried on December 8, 1910, at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her memorial was designed by New York architect Egerton Swartwout (1870–1943). Hundreds of tributes appeared in newspapers around the world, including The Boston Globe, which wrote, "She did a wonderful—an extraordinary work in the world and there is no doubt that she was a powerful influence for good." [173]

The influence of Eddy's writings has reached outside the Christian Science movement. Richard Nenneman wrote "the fact that Christian Science healing, or at least the claim to it, is a well-known phenomenon, was one major reason for other churches originally giving Jesus' command more attention. There are also some instances of Protestant ministers using the Christian Science textbook [Science and Health], or even the weekly Bible lessons, as the basis for some of their sermons." [74]

The Christian Science Monitor, which was founded by Eddy as a response to the yellow journalism of the day, has gone on to win seven Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other awards. [174]

In 1921, on the 100th anniversary of Eddy's birth, a 100-ton (in rough) and 60–70 tons (hewn) pyramid with a 121 square foot (11.2 m 2 ) footprint was dedicated on the site of her birthplace in Bow, New Hampshire. [175] A gift from James F. Lord, it was dynamited in 1962 by order of the church's Board of Directors. Also demolished was Eddy's former home in Pleasant View, as the Board feared that it was becoming a place of pilgrimage. [176] Eddy is featured on a New Hampshire historical marker (number 105) along New Hampshire Route 9 in Concord. [177]

Several of Eddy's homes are owned and maintained as historic sites by the Longyear Museum and may be visited (the list below is arranged by date of her occupancy): [178]

Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was a spiritual pioneer. Her work covered the disciplines of science, theology, and medicine.

She studied the Bible her whole life. In 1866, she experienced a dramatic recovery from a life-threatening accident after reading one of Jesus’ healings. From that moment, she wanted to know how she had been healed. She read the Bible and prayed for answers. It became clear to her that spiritual healing was based on divine laws of God, Spirit. She proved that these laws could be applied by anyone to heal every form of human suffering and sin.

Spiritual healing isn’t miraculous, but an effect of understanding God’s all-power and love. It’s as provable today as it was in biblical times. For the next forty years, Mary Baker Eddy practiced, taught, and shared this healing Science of Christianity. As Mary Baker Eddy became known as a Christian healer, she was often asked to cure cases that had been given up by doctors. Once she went to see a woman who’d been given up as dying by a well-known physician. She wrote about this experience, “On seeing her immediately restored by me without material aid, he asked earnestly if I had a work describing my system of healing . . . he urged me immediately to write a book which should explain to the world my curative system of metaphysics” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 105). When she went home, Mrs. Eddy opened her Bible to the verse in Jeremiah, "Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." (Jeremiah 30:2). That clear message to her from God prompted her to write Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

At the time, she was already writing notes that would expand into her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This book contains the full explanation of Christian Science and its biblical foundation of spiritual healing. For over a century, readers have shared how reading and studying Science and Health has given them a new spiritual sense of the Bible and of their unchangeable relationship to God. These new insights result in physical healing and moral regeneration.

Mary Baker Eddy went on to establish the Church of Christ, Scientist. It’s a Christian denomination and worldwide movement of spiritual healers. She published 16 more books and started several weekly and monthly magazines—the Christian Science Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal, and The Herald of Christian Science—that feature articles on Christian Science practice and verified testimonies of healing. In 1908, when she was 87, she founded The Christian Science Monitor, a global newspaper that provides balanced, humane coverage of world news. It is alert to progress and promise as well as to humanity’s need to address suffering and conflict. It was established to “injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353). The Monitor publishes a daily digital edition on its website and a weekly print magazine. It distributes news coverage and commentary via articles, charts, audio, and video content.


Eddy and 26 followers founded the Christian Science church in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts, [18] following the publication of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875. In her book, Eddy outlined what she felt was the "law" or "Science" of God, which she named Christian Science. [19] [a] Eddy believed Christian Science was provable through demonstration, specifically of healing through prayer. [9] [21] She did not believe that her ideas were new however, instead, the church sought to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" which she believed that Jesus had taught. [22]

Christian Science at the time was the fastest growing religion in the United States. The church had 27 members in 1879, and 65,717 in 1906 when McClure's began its research. [23] [b] In 1890 there were just seven Christian Science churches in the US by 1910, a few years after the McClure's article, there were 1,104. [25] Construction of the Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was completed in Boston in December 1894, and in 1906 the Mother Church Extension, rising 224 ft and accommodating nearly 5,000, was built at a cost of $2 million (equivalent to $57.61 million in 2020), donated by Christian Scientists around the world. [26] Art historian Paul Ivey writes that, for many, the building "visibly declared that Christian Science had, indeed, arrived as a major force in American religious life". [27] The rapid rise of Christian Science as a religious movement created a significant backlash, [28] and although not all media was antagonistic towards Eddy and Christian Scientists many were, most notably The New York World and McClure's. [29]

McClure's articles Edit

The McClure's articles were published in 14 installments between January 1907 and June 1908, under Georgine Milmine's byline, as "Mary Baker G. Eddy: The Story of Her Life and the History of Christian Science". The series was preceded by a seven-page editorial in December 1906, outlining the difficulties of the investigation and explaining why it was being published. [30] The editorial printed a picture of an older women, which it claimed was Eddy, stating that "[o]ther photographs taken in later years have been greatly retouched" and that Eddy was more aged than her followers were led to believe. However, this claim got the series off to a rough start when it was found out that the picture was actually an elderly lady living in Brooklyn unrelated to Eddy. [31]

The article attacked Christian Science, referring to it as a cult based on a "hazy and obscure" book, it continued: "A church which has doubled its membership in five years, which draws its believers mostly from the rich and respectable . and which has just paid for the most costly church building in New England—to the worldly, this is no longer a joke. In 1875 no one living outside of two or three back streets of Lynn had heard of Christian Science. Now, the very name is a catch phrase. In those early days the leader and teacher paid out half of her ten dollars a week to hire a hall, patching out the rest of her living with precarious fees as an instructor in mental healing now, she is one of the richest women in the United States. She is more than that—she is the most powerful American woman." [9] The editorial preemptively accused Christian Scientists of opposition to the work: "The Christian Science mind is unfriendly to independent investigation. It presupposes that anything even slightly unfavorable to Mrs. Eddy or to Christian Science is deliberate falsehood." [32]

Synopsis Edit

The book's criticism of Eddy is considerable. According to Stuart Knee: "Eddy is, by turns, guilty of vanity, ignorance, theft, vengefulness, compulsions, witchcraft, mesmerism and the evil eye." [14] The authors of the series produced witness statements from Eddy's childhood in Bow, New Hampshire, alleging that she engaged in repeated fainting spells to gain attention, particularly from her father, and that, as an adult, she developed a habit of appearing to be seriously ill only to recover quickly. [c] Biographer Gillian Gill disagreed that the book offers an accurate portrayal of Eddy she argued, for example, that the story of Eddy having "fits" as a child to get her own way, or the way McClure's described them, was "invented more or less out of whole cloth" by McClure's journalist Burton Hendrick, and that the accounts of Eddy as "hysterical" were misogynist. [34] [35] She wrote: "there is no solid evidence at all for Milmine’s melodramatic description of the young Mary Baker repeatedly falling on the floor in hysterical catatonic fits. No family member, no close friend makes any mention of such fits, either when she was young or later. When questioned on the subject in the 1900s, those few remaining contemporaries who had been familiar with the Baker family denied that Mary had shown any such abnormal behavior." [36]

The articles offer examples of Eddy's "marital, maternal, and domestic inadequacies." [37] Most notably the loss of her son: Eddy was widowed when she was 22 years old and pregnant, after which she returned to live in her father's home. Her son was raised there for the first few years of his life, looked after by domestic staff because of Eddy's poor health. McClure's alleges that she allowed him to be adopted when he was four. According to Eddy, she was unable to prevent the adoption. [d] Women in the United States at the time could not be their own children's guardians, per the legal doctrine of coverture. [e]

Her next two marriages, lifelong poor health, and the numerous legal actions in which she was involved, are examined in detail—including lawsuits she supposedly initiated against her students a criminal case in which her husband Asa Eddy was arrested for murdering one of them (Asa Eddy was released when it was found the student had faked his death) her belief that her former students killed Asa Eddy by using "mental malpractice" and her legal adoption of a 41-year-old student and former homeopath when she was 67. The authors allege that Eddy's major work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which became Christian Science's main religious text, borrowed heavily from the work of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a New England faith healer. Quimby had treated Eddy in the years before his death and According to McClure's had given her some of his unpublished notes. The series and book discuss the alleged rewrites of Science and Health by her editor James Henry Wiggin, [40] who served as a proofreader of the book from the 16th edition in 1886 until the 50th in 1891, including the 22 editions that appeared between 1886 and 1888. [41]

Initial research and Georgine Milmine's involvement Edit

Born in Ontario, Canada, Georgine Milmine Welles, who went by her maiden name Georgine Milmine, had worked for the Syracuse Herald as a proofreader and had done some journalistic work. She wanted to write a 12-part monthly series on famous women in American, including Eddy, and had gone to Eddy's home to ask for an interview but was denied. She then went to Josephine Woodbury and Frederick Peabody, fierce critics of Eddy, and Peabody especially became extremely influential to Milmine's research and her views of Eddy [42] and Peabody was actually hired later on by McClure's to collect affidavits. [43] For a number of years she collected material about Eddy for years—newspaper articles from the 1880s, court records, and a first edition of Science and Health, all of which were hard to obtain—but lacked the resources to check and write it up herself, so she sold it to McClure's. [44] There is documented evidence that a number of Milmine's sources were paid to give their testimony. [45]

S. S. McClure assigned five writers to the story: Milmine, Willa Cather, Burton J. Hendrick, political columnist Mark Sullivan, and William Henry Irwin. [11] When the series was suggested, the journalist Ida Tarbell was also involved, but she left before the series began and had "little or nothing" to do with it. [43] Cather had recently started working at McClure's as a fiction editor in 1906 when she was 32 years she worked there until 1912, for most of the time as managing editor. [2] Cather reportedly spent from December 1906 until May 1908 in Boston, checking the sources and writing up the research. [46] [47] The journalist Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, a friend of Cather's, wrote in 1953 that S. S. McClure saw Eddy as a "natural" for the magazine, because of her marital history and idiosyncrasies: "The material was touchy, and would attract a world of readers both of the faithful and the doubters. . The job seemed to [Cather] a little infra dig, not on the level where she cared to move. But she inspired confidence, had the mind of a judge and the nose of a detective when she needed it." [48]

Willa Cather's involvement Edit

Manuscript Edit

The Christian Science church purchased the book's manuscript and has made it available at the church's Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston. According to David Stouck, professor emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University and author of several books on Willa Cather, Cather's handwriting is evident on the manuscript in edits for the typesetter and notes with queries. [49] Several of Cather's later characters appear to have been modeled on her portrait of Eddy, including Myra Henshawe in My Mortal Enemy (1926). [50]

Reluctant to discuss most of her work before O Pioneers! (1913), Cather told her father and close friends that she was the author of Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy but told others that her role had not been significant. [51] According to L. Brent Bohlke of Bard College, editor of Willa Cather in Person (1990), Cather regarded the Eddy book as poorly written. While it contains some excellent writing and character analysis, Bohlke wrote, it is not well-structured the editing failed to rid the book of the serialized nature of the McClure's pieces. [52] Cather wanted to distance herself from journalism, and according to Stouck sought to minimize her role in the articles because they had angered the Christian Science church. [49]

According to Gillian Gill, McClure's decision to run the series under Milmine's name was probably influenced by the fact that "it would be better for an attack on a famous woman to come from an unknown young independent female reporter rather than from their own staff, who had something of a reputation for putting sensationalism ahead of accuracy." [43] Gill also noted that Milmine's supposed authorship became important to many critics of the church, especially Edwin Franden Dakin, who according to Gill was "almost apocalyptic in his enthusiasm" for Milmine and the book. [43] [f] Gill wrote further:

"As I see it, Georgine Milmine is here being recast in the image of the real-life Ida Tarbell and other famous pioneer women reporters. By the early twentieth century, the American public had grown to appreciate the story of the plucky girl reporter who hits pay dirt after much digging and writes a crackerjack book. This story was so much more romantic and appealing than the life of the real Mrs. Welles, who, as far as can now be determined, was fed a lot of material by interested parties, proved smart enough to take it to New York, but did not have the ability to write it up herself. Behind the unknown and subtly mythical Georgine Milmine we find the well-known staff of McClure’s, and behind the magazine loom the ghostly figures of the strongly implicated Woodbury and the avowedly prejudiced Peabody. How ironic it is that plagiarism is one of the most damning accusations Georgine Milmine laid against Mrs. Eddy, yet Milmine herself wrote little if any of the book which bears her name." [54]

Early letters Edit

Cather identified herself as the author on December 17, 1906, in a letter to her father, Charles F. Cather, in which she wrote that the articles beginning February 1907 (at the time written but not published) were hers. [49] Apologizing for being unable to come home for Christmas, she explained that she had to get the March article ready: "But if you were here, my father, you'd tell me to stand by my job and not to desert Mr. McClure in this crisis. It would mean such a serious loss to him in money and influence not to have the March article come out—Everyone would think he was beaten and scared out, for the articles are under such a glare of publicity and such a fire of criticism. I had nothing to do with the January article remember, my work begins to appear in February. Mr. McClure is ill from worry and anxiety . ". [55] She referred to her authorship again in a letter to the writer Harrison G. Dwight on January 12, 1907:

Mr. McClure tried three men on this disagreeable task, but none of them did it very well, so a month ago it was thrust upon me. You may imagine me wandering around the country grubbing among newspaper files and court records for the next five months. It is the most laborious and sordid work I have ever come upon, and it takes every hour of my time and as much vitality as I can put into it.

She continued: "You can't know, never having done it, how such work does sap your poor brain and wring it dry of anything you'd like to pretend was there. I jump about like a squirrel in a cage and wonder how I got here and why I am doing it. I never in my life wanted to do this sort of thing. I have a clean conscience on that score. Then why am I hammering away at it, I'd like to know? I often wonder whether I shall ever write another line of anything I care to." [56]

Letter to Edwin Anderson Edit

In 1982 Brent L. Bohlke discovered that Cather had written on November 24, 1922, to a friend, Edwin H. Anderson, director of the New York Public Library, which seemed to confirm that she was the author of the entire book except for the first chapter. [57] [58] [5] [59] Georgine Miline had brought the research to McClure's, she wrote, "a splendid collection of material", but Milmine lacked the technical skills to write it up:

Mr. McClure tried out three or four people at writing the story. It was a sort of competition. He liked my version the best chiefly because it was unprejudiced—I haven't the slightest bone to pick with Christian Science. This was when I first came to New York, and that piece of writing was the first important piece of work I did for magazines. After I finished it, I became Managing Editor." [57] [58]

Burton J. Hendrick (who went to work for the book's publisher, Doubleday, founded in 1897 as Doubleday & McClure Company) had written the first installment, Cather told Anderson, but it had been based largely on rumor: "with what envious people and jealous relatives remember of Mrs. Eddy's early youth". She said Hendrick was "very much annoyed at being called off the job and never forgave Mr. McClure". As for the other 13 installments: "A great deal of time and money were spent on authenticating all the material, and with the exception of the first chapter, I think the whole history is as authentic and accurate as human performances ever are." She added: "Miss Milmine, now Mrs. Wells, is in the awkward position of having her name attached to a book, of which she didn't write a word." [57] [58]

Cather believed Frank Nelson Doubleday, Doubleday's co-founder, should have promoted the book more: "Undoubtedly, Doubleday has perfectly good business reasons for keeping the book out of print. There has been a great demand for it to which he has been consistently blank. You see nobody took any interest in its fate. I wrote it myself as a sort of discipline, an exercise. I wouldn't fight for it it's not the least in my line." She asked Anderson to keep what she had told him confidential: "I have never made a statement about it before, in writing or otherwise. I suppose somebody ought to know the actual truth of the matter and so long as I am writing to you about it, I might as well ask you to be the repository of these facts. I know, of course, that you want them for some perfectly good use, and will keep my name out of it." [57] [58]

Cather left a clause in her will forbidding the publication of her letters and private papers, which meant that for many years her letters could only be paraphrased by scholars. [60] The correspondence entered the public domain in the United States on 1 January 2018, 70 years after her death in April 1947. [61] Nevertheless, the Willa Cather Trust permitted the publication of selected letters in 2013, including the letter to Anderson. [62]

Early public indications Edit

In letters to others, Cather continued to deny her authorship she told Genevive Richmond in 1933 and Harold Goddard Rugg in 1934 that she had helped only to organize and rewrite parts of the material. [49] An early public suggestion of her authorship was made by the columnist Alexander Woollcott in the New Yorker in February 1933: "And speaking of ghostwriters and Mrs. Eddy, I have recently learned on almost (if not quite) the best authority in the world that the famous pathfinding predecessor of all these [Eddy] biographies—the devastating series published in McClure's under the name of Georgine Milmine in the brave days of 1906—were not actually written by Miss Milmine at all. Instead, a re-write job based on the manuscript of her researches was assigned to a minor member of the McClure staff who has since made quite a name for herself in American letters. That name is Willa Cather." [63]

In March 1935, the Los Angeles Times reported that a copy of the book listed for sale by Philip Duschnes, a New York bookseller, was found to contain an editor's note that the book had been written by Cather. [g] Witter Bynner, an associate editor for McClure's when the series and book were published, had signed the book on February 12, 1934, and added: "The material was brought to McClure's by Miss Milmine, but was put into the painstaking hands of Willa Cather for proper presentation, so that a great part of it is her work." [52]

Initial church reaction Edit

By November 1904, long before the first articles appeared in the press, the Christian Science church was informed by a minister named Rev. Lord that McClure's was working on a project on Eddy comparable to Ida Tarbell's take down of Standard Oil, but, as he understood it, that they would be open to hearing from the church and printing their perspective. [65]

S. S. McClure's grandson, Peter Lyon, in a 1963 biography of his grandfather entitled Success Story: The Life and Times of S. S. McClure, relates a story of three Christian Science officials arriving at the McClure's offices and asking an editor, Witter Bynner, to take them to McClure:

The Christian Scientists came in. Before they sat down, they stood on chairs and closed the transoms over the two doors to the rooms. Then they made their demand: the series must not be published. S.S. scowled at them and said nothing. To fill the silence, Brynner began rather nervously to assure the Scientists that the articles were not sensational, not offensive that there was no cause for apprehension that all the facts had been most carefully verified. One of the Scientists cut in to suggest that perhaps there would be no objection to publication of the material if the Scientists were permitted to edit it as they might please. S.S. now spoke. He flatly refused either to suppress the material or to permit the Scientists to see it in advance of publication, much less to tamper with it. "Good day, gentlemen," he said grandly, and took up some papers from his desk. The Scientists arose. One of them announced that if McClure persisted in his course he would soon notice a distinct loss of advertising in his magazine. They then marched out. [66]

However, this narrative seems to be at least partially a fabrication, as letters from the time tell a different story. [67] According to the letters: two men, not three, working for the church's Committee on Publication, Alfred Farlow and Cornell Wilson, first came to the office and talked with Bynner without meeting with McClure, they told him that they had heard the magazine had not called upon any Christian Scientists but it had worked extensively with critics of the church, and that they were worried the end result would be prejudiced. Bynner responded that he was glad they had come, and told them he was not satisfied with the material prepared by Milmine, and offered for Farlow and Wilson to look at and edit the draft if they would like. [68] Farlow and Wilson left happy with the result, and later returned to talk with McClure himself, but were told he was ill and rescheduled the meeting. They then met with him as scheduled the next day. There is no indication that McClure's staff tried to shield McClure from them, and it appears that it was Bynner's idea for Farlow and Wilson to look at and edit the draft, rather than the other way around. [69] William Irwin later asked to met with Farlow in order to get permission to get interior views of the Mother Church, and again assured him that the articles would be fair and not a "roast". [70]

Mary Baker Eddy's response Edit

After the first segment appeared in press, which focused mainly on her early life and family, [71] Eddy wrote in the Christian Science Sentinel that the "attack on me and my late father and his family" compelled her "as a dutiful child" to respond. [72] She countered many claims made by McClure's, such as its description of her father, early family life, and the issues surrounding her marriages highlighted the educational and professional achievements of her family provided an affidavit of her own and ended her response by quoting Jesus: "blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." [72] She did not respond to any of the other articles publicly.

Sibyl Wilbur's Human Life articles Edit

Around the same time the McClure's articles were being written, another set of articles were being written by Sibyl Wilbur. Wilbur was an experienced, fairly well-known journalist with strong feminist tendencies who had interviewed Eddy in 1905. [73] She had the financial support of the church to write a biography of Eddy which it hoped would counter the McClure's narrative, and which appeared in Human Life magazine only a month behind Milmine and Cather's work. [45] Like Milmine, Wilbur spent months traveling through New England, and she countered the McClure's articles with her own documents and evidence, and re-interviewed all of Milmine's primary witnesses. [45] [74] Gillian Gill found that Wilbur clarified her sources more carefully than Milmine did. [45] Wilbur's articles were published in book form as The Life of Mary Baker Eddy through the Concord Publishing Company in 1908 at first against the wishes of Eddy, who did not want anyone writing a biography about her, but then consented and even publicly thanked Wilbur for her work. [75] [74]

According to Gill, Wilbur's biography "received little positive attention at the time." [75] Since it was very much a reaction to Milmine, Wilbur painted an extremely positive picture of Eddy which was the opposite of the McClure's narrative and as a result her work was quickly dismissed by many for its "adulatory style". [74] Stefan Zweig described the two biographies as "rose colored" and "black" in their contrasting images of Eddy. [76] Both series became even more extreme as books, and Gill recommended that scholars read the original article form. [45] [74]

Like Milmine's The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy, Sibyl Wilbur's The Life of Mary Baker Eddy is once again in print, this time through the Christian Science Publishing Society, [75] and the original Human Life articles are in print through Longyear Museum. [74]

Further reception and influence Edit

The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy became an important primary source for many biographies of Eddy. It influenced Lyman Pierson Powell's Christian Science: The Faith and its Founder (1907) Edwin Franden Dakin's Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind (1929) Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore's Mary Baker Eddy: The Truth and the Tradition (1932) [4] and Martin Gardner's The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy (1993). [10] Robert Peel, a life-long Christian Scientist and member of the church's Committee on Publication, also used it extensively as a source in his own three-part biography of Eddy (1966–1977). [77] Biographer Gillian Gill, who examined many of the claims made by Milmine and Cather, wrote in her own book Mary Baker Eddy (1998):

"There is no doubt that the Milmine biography is one of the most important sources of information on Mrs. Eddy. All the interviewing and dredging up of legal papers and newspaper files, all the collection of primary documents done by Peabody, Milmine, and the McClure's team of reporters not only amassed an invaluable data bank, it also stimulated the Church of Christ, Scientist to do its own research and its own collecting. The Milmine biography is a work of considerable style and great intellectual passion, it has a message and a mission, and, perhaps for that reason, it is still very readable. I have used it extensively in this book. Yet as I hope I have shown just as extensively, the Milmine book is as much a work of polemic as a piece of reporting. When it vows, as it were, hand on heart, to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, when it claims not rhetoric but reportage, not passion but objectivity, it lies and compromises the very truth of the standards it claims to espouse." [73]

The book became an instant hit with critics of the church. A New York Times reviewer wrote in February 1910 that the book "ranks among the really great biographies—or would were its subject of more intrinsic importance" and that "were Christian Scientists open to argument or amenable to reason the wretched cult would not have survived its publication for a single month. It is unanswerable and conclusive, and nobody who has not read it can be considered well-informed as to the history or nature of Eddyism." [13] Also in February 1910, a reviewer in The Nation compared the book to Ida Tarbell's The History of the Standard Oil Company (1904), which similarly began as a series in McClure's and hastened the demise of the company: "Miss Milmine, like Miss Tarbell, is plainly not in sympathy with the persons or the movement she describes. But the indictment, if we choose to call it that, is framed dispassionately. The damaging evidence is elaborately built up and skilfully arranged, but the reader is left largely to form his own conclusions." Arguing that the result is "an historical record of high value and of fascinating interest", the reviewer concluded that the book "demolishes Mrs. Eddy without necessarily demolishing Christian Science". [78] Reviewing the book in the American Historical Review in July 1910, Woodbridge Riley, author of The Faith, the Falsity and the Failure of Christian Science (1925), wrote that the book "offers a strangely interesting human document. Mrs. Eddy is more than a personality, she is a type. Given the free field of a democracy she illustrates the possibilities of a shrewd combination of religion, mental medicine, and money." [79]

A contemporary journalist, B. O. Flower, wrote that Christian Scientists were victims of a "persistent campaign of falsehood, slander and calumny." [80] and later wrote his own book on the subject defending Eddy and the church. [81] German Lutheran church historian, Karl Holl, wrote of Milmine's articles in Die Szientismus that: "Despite the verification adduced, most of the statements (in it) are readily recognizable as slander." [82] In 2017, L. Ashley Squires wrote: "Christian Science remains poorly understood by the broader scholarly community and the public as a whole. One need only look to the frustratingly enduring usage of the 1907 McClure’s biography as an authoritative source . for evidence of scholarly ignorance." [17]

Early copyright history Edit

There were rumors (which seem to have originated with Frederick Peabody) that the church purchased the manuscript and copyright as soon as the book appeared, and that the plates had been destroyed. [83] [84] [85] In reality, when S. S. McClure was forced to leave the magazine in 1911 after being bought out by the board, the new owner let go of the material and drafts. [86] Mary Beecher Longyear, a collector and founder of Longyear Museum, bought the plates in 1916, [87] and the church bought much of the material, including a number of early drafts, from a New York manuscript dealer in 1920. [88] It currently has the material available at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. [88] The copyright was owned by Milmine and not the publisher and in 1937, Milmine, then known as Georgine Milmine Adams, renewed the copyright of the biography and kept it for the rest of her life, until it entered public domain. [89]

More rumors started that Christian Scientists were supposedly buying and destroying copies of the book, and removing them from libraries. [83] Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant wrote in 1953 that the book "disappeared almost immediately from circulation—the Christian Scientists are said to have bought the copies". Sergeant wrote that it became scarce even in libraries, and readers in the 1950s were likely to have to borrow it from the chief librarian and be watched while reading it. [90] However, these rumors, which again seemed to originate with Frederick Peabody, may not be true. According to Keith McNeil there is no independent record that the book actually sold out and, besides Peabody's claim, "the evidence of any systematic boycott is actually quite limited." [91]

Baker Book House edition Edit

The book's copyright expired 28 years after publication. [h] Baker Book House, a Christian publishing house, republished it in 1971 "in the interest of fairness and objectivity", according to its back cover. [83] The introduction by Stewart Hudson explored Cather's involvement in the authorship and the influence of Eddy on several of Cather's characters, particularly Enid Royce and her mother in One of Ours. [92] [77]

University of Nebraska Press edition Edit

Caroline Fraser, the most famous modern critic of the church, accused the church of trying to stop the University of Nebraska Press from republishing the book in 1993. The press was interested in doing publishing it, under its Bison Books imprint with a new introduction by David Stouck, because they saw the articles and book as Cather's first extended work and therefore important in her development as a writer. [93] They obtained a copy of the original 1909 edition, by then hard to come by, from the Leon S. McGoogan Library of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. [94] According to Fraser, the head of the church's public-relations office, the Committee on Publication, called the press and told them the reprint might damage the church's and Eddy's reputation. According to her, the press representative told her that the church representative "felt it was his responsibility to try to bully us into stopping publication or into saying that the book was worthless". [93]

According to Gillian Gill the University of Nebraska Press editors were not interested in the "accuracy or inaccuracy of the biography", but only were interested in it as a "literary exercise, and early development of some of Cather's themes and characters." [4] Stouck made clear his view in the book's preface that Willa Cather was "indisputably the principal author". [49] He also added a statement to the book:

Since the Bison re-issue of The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science went to press new materials have come to light which suggest that Ms. Eddy's enemies may have played a significant role in organizing the materials for the "Milmine" biography. New information about Georgine Milmine, moreover, suggests that she would have welcomed biased opinion for its sensational and commercial value. The exact nature of Willa Cather's part in the compiling and writing of the biography remains, accordingly, a matter for further scholarly investigation. [94]

The "enemies" Stouck refers to are likely Josephine C. Woodbury and Frederick W. Peabody, who did in fact play a significant role in supplying Milmine with much of her material. [42] Woodbury, a former student of Eddy's, had hired Peabody as a lawyer in 1899 and sued Eddy for slander and defamation, but the case was dismissed in 1901. [95] Peabody in particular became a notable critic of Eddy, and besides his involvement in the McClure's articles and book, wrote a significant amount attacking Eddy under his own name, including The Faith, the Falsity and the Failure of Christian Science with Woodbridge Riley and was also involved in the "Next Friends" lawsuit against Eddy which was initiated in March 1907, after the McClure's serialization had begun. [96]

The process of “discovery”

Eddy’s spiritual quest took an unusual direction during the 1850s with the new medical system of homeopathy. Losing faith in medical systems based on materialistic premises, she hit on what some today would call the placebo effect. Her conviction that the cause of disease was rooted in the human mind and that it was in no sense God’s will was confirmed by her contact from 1862 to 1865 with Phineas P. Quimby of Maine, a pioneer in what would today be called suggestive therapeutics. The degree of Quimby’s influence on her has been controversial, but, as his own son affirmed, her intensely religious preoccupations remained distinct from the essentially secular cast of Quimby’s thought. Though personally loyal to Quimby, she soon recognized that his healing method was based in mesmerism, or mental suggestion, rather than in the biblical Christianity to which she was so firmly bound.

Injured in a severe fall shortly after Quimby’s death in early 1866, she turned, as she later recalled, to a Gospel account of healing and experienced a moment of spiritual illumination and discovery that brought not only immediate recovery but a new direction to her life. “That short experience,” she later wrote, “included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit this Life being the sole reality of existence. I learned that mortal thought evolves a subjective state which it names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.”

While the precise extent of her injuries is unclear, the transforming effect of the experience is beyond dispute. From 1866 on, she gained increasing conviction that she had made a spiritual discovery of overwhelming authority and power. The next nine years of scriptural study, healing work, and teaching climaxed in 1875 with the publication of her major work, Science and Health, which she regarded as spiritually inspired. And it was in this major work that Eddy eventually included the basic tenets of the church:

Although the first edition of Science and Health contained the essential structure of her teachings, Eddy continued to refine her statement of Christian Science in the years to come. For the rest of her life she continued to revise this “textbook” of Christian Science as the definitive statement of her teaching. In 1883 she added the words “with Key to the Scriptures” to the book’s title to emphasize her contention that Science and Health did not stand alone but opened the way to the continuing power and truth of biblical revelation, especially the life and work of Jesus Christ.

Christian Science

Prior to her fall, Eddy's life had been fairly conventional. In nineteenth-century America, men held legal, financial, and decision-making power over women's lives. Women, especially genteel women, were daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, widows — and Eddy was all of these. Even in religion women were denied a public voice in worship and were expected to assent to the beliefs of their male relatives. In preaching a theology that promoted biblical authority over clerical teaching, and in founding a church, Eddy threatened established patriarchal positions and subsequently suffered legal, verbal, and even physical consequences.

Following her recovery, Eddy committed herself to a deep study of the Bible, spending the next several years seeking the spiritual significance of biblical accounts of healing. She searched for the "primitive Christianity" of Jesus and the early Christians in the period before the institutional church darkened its hue (Eddy, 1875, p. 139). This was her concept of evangelical religion. She wrote extensive exegetical notes, particularly reflecting on the books of Genesis and Revelation. Revisions of these books, and the addition of a glossary containing her interpretation of the spiritual meaning of selected terms mainly drawn from these two books, later formed the basis of her class teaching and the "Key to the Scriptures" section of the Christian Science textbook. As her radical ideas developed and she began to broadcast them, she found herself at odds with family and friends.

Over the next few years Eddy moved from boardinghouse to boardinghouse. She had little in the way of financial resources and made her living through modest literary contributions and eventually by taking students, to whom she began to teach her theology of healing. Her teaching was reinforced by her own healing practice. During this period she began writing her major work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the first edition of which was published in 1875. The book went through eight major revisions and over two hundred lesser versions before Eddy's death.

Initially Eddy hoped her ideas would be adopted by existing churches. When this did not happen, she organized her own church in 1879, only to abandon its charter in 1889. In 1892 she reorganized the church and named it the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Although Eddy herself preached both from the pulpit and in public halls, she decreed in 1895 that there would be no ordained clergy in her church. Instead she "ordained" the Bible and Science and Health as its pastor. Worship services consisted of readings from the Bible and "correlative passages" from her book. The readers, one man and one woman, were elected for a stipulated term from the lay membership.

In addition to Sunday and midweek worship, Eddy provided for lecturers who visited communities by invitation. Both women and men could be called to this position. She developed a highly centralized government for her church, delegating daily oversight to a board of directors. Both men and women were eligible to serve in this capacity, although female directors remained in the minority. Eddy also set up a structure for theological education, the teachers of which could be either men or women. Most notable, however, was the prominence of females in the public practice of what Eddy called Christian healing.

During the remainder of her life Eddy faced repeated internal dissension from followers wishing to supplement or supplant her teaching with their own. Most of these left Christian Science, and several of the women eventually became religious leaders in their own right, particularly in the New Thought movement. Eddy was convinced that the glimpse of spiritual reality she had experienced in 1866 and its subsequent refinement was divinely inspired and, as such, could not be modified by anyone else. Neither the church government she formed nor the denominational textbook she wrote can be revised. Her final achievement was the founding of an international newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, in 1908.

At a time when many women lived domestically centered lives, Eddy's talent for organization and for conducting business, skills nineteenth-century society usually associated with men, attracted hostility and opposition. Followers defected and opponents criticized the control she maintained. At the same time, others found healing through the teachings of Christian Science.

Mary Baker Eddy's Carriages and Sleighs

This virtual program, designed for students in grades K-5, will explore some of the different forms of transportation used by Mary Baker Eddy during the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Students will learn about a number of her vehicles and about her much-loved horses who pulled her carriages and sleighs. The program will include an up-close look at one of Mrs. Eddy’s carriages currently on display at Longyear Museum, as well as a set of her sleigh bells from our collection and a short video showing sleighs in action here in New England. We look forward to welcoming you and your family and young friends to this program!

Recommended for students in grades K-5.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions regarding the program.

Sign up for A History Snapshot: Mary Baker Eddy’s Carriages and Sleighs now!


Above image: “American Homestead Winter,” Currier & Ives lithograph.

Mary Baker Eddy And The Christian Science Church Essay

The Church of Christ, Scientist (official name) was established in 1879. However, the notion of Christian Science was cultivated by Mary Baker Eddy after her instantaneous recovery in 1866 from severe injuries sustained in an accident, in her words, “which neither medicine nor surgery could reach.” What did reach her serious condition were the healing words of Jesus, which became the foundation of her method for achieving authentic health. Born in a small New Hampshire village in 1821 to Congregational parents who were devoted to her education and her study of the Bible, Mary Baker had always been an unhealthy child and adolescent. Over the course of her life, she married three times: first to George Washington Glover in 1843, who died suddenly six months later then to Daniel Patterson in 1853, whom she divorced 20 years later after tolerating his numerous infidelities and, finally, in 1877, to Asa Gilbert Eddy, who died in 1882. Mary, having survived ill health, marital tragedy, and injuries, lived into her 90th year, dying in 1910.

Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science is documented in her book Science and Health, a title that she later extended to include With Keys to the Scriptures. This book, first published in 1875, was quickly adopted as the textbook of a new religious movement. Besides a short autobiographical sketch of her recovery, it offers practical advice on family relationships and engages in analyzing literary issues such as the Genesis creation stories and scientific discussions on subjects such as Darwinism. But what sets her book apart as a new religious text is its exploration of a philosophy of radical idealism, in which only the divine mind exists, while matter is mere illusion. This illusion is what leads to intellectual error and ill health, and ultimately evil and death. Awareness of this illusion and the salvific need for a sense of “at-one-ment” with the divine mind of the biblical God is what leads to both spiritual and physical health.

Eddy sustained considerable critique of her philosophy from both Joseph Pulitzer, who accused her of senility, and Mark Twain, who made her the target of his stinging wit, as well as numerous Christian theologians, who believed she had abandoned essential orthodoxy. Deeply influenced by her encounter in 1862 with Phineas P. Quimby, the famous mentalist and ridiculed progenitor of the mind-over-matter philosophy, Eddy’s resolve was more than enough to withstand a lifetime of criticism, which allowed her to publish several books and to found the Boston Mother Church, the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, the Christian Science Journal, and a world-class newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor. Each local branch church, without the benefit of ordained clergy and guided by Eddy’s Church Manual, conducts simple Sunday services that consist of hymn singing and the reading of biblical texts and complementary passages from Science and Health. While the membership of the church is difficult to assess, given its prohibition on publishing statistics (though it claims 2,000 worldwide Branch Churches and Societies), and while the movement has faced legal challenges, given its practice of a strict form of faith healing that encourages the avoidance of hospitals, it is generally believed to have well over 300,000 American adherents and a growing European and Asian mission.

Watch the video: Body camera of interaction with Gabby Petito and her boyfriend before she went missing FULL VIDEO (July 2022).


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