Commentary on Ms. Eddy’s “Christ and Christmas”

While I had heard about Ms. Eddy’s Christ and Christmas poem growing up, I didn’t read it until just recently, when I came across MJSmith’s analyses of it on The Ark of Truth Mother’s Hood. I am more acquainted with Ms. Eddy’s hymn/poem Christmas Morn as it regularly made an appearance at Christmas Hymn Sings, along with the generically Christian  Joy to the World.

MJSmith makes some interesting observations and draws some interesting conclusions from the poem and illustrations, so I decided to find a copy and see for myself. Christ and Christmas is not in our personal collection, but Google Books and Archive.org have copies available online.

I was never much for poetry analysis (my high school English teachers will agree), and I’m sure if I attempted to analyzing Christ and Christmas it would devolve into a study in esoteric minutia and I would likely come to all the wrong conclusions.

I will leave the musings and analysis to MJSmith and the Discover of New Christian Science, Rolf Witzsche. Below is the full text of the poem, a YouTube video of Wizsche’s “New Christian Science: Christ & Christmas,” and links to MJSmith’s analyses.
A quick note: There is much criticism of Christian Scientists by Christian Scientists about the “right” and “wrong” ways to practice, as well as selective/intentional ignorance about certain aspects of the religion. I feel that these things which may be preceived as controversial should be made more broadly available so that people can judge for themselves — and I’m sure it will make for interesting conversation around the dinner table.

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Some thoughts on “Why I Am Not A Christian Scientist” by Rev. Evans

Some highlights from and thoughts on “Why I Am Not A Christian Scientist” By Rev. William Evans, D. D. Director Bible Course, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Full text available from Archive.org, full link below.


I appreciate that Rev. Evans opens with the well-acknowledged (at least in former-CS circles) fact that

  • The Christian Scientist is forbidden to read books that speak against that cult; he is told he must not argue with any one, even those who are of the closest kinship, if they manifest opposition to the teachings of Christian Science; the doubts that arise in his mind must not be expressed to any one save his teacher; individual thinking and opinion is discouraged; in point of fact, the only books he is encouraged to read are those which are sent out by the Christian Science publishing house in Boston. (p. 4-5, emphasis mine)

Rev. Evans lists several reasons for why he is not a Christian Scientist, several of these are well-worn arguments:

  1. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IS NOT SCIENTIFIC. — yes, yes, we know.
  2. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IS NOT CHRISTIAN. — the arguments he uses are interesting, and if you’re concerned about the Christian (or lack of Christian) points in Christian Science, this section is well worth reading.
  3. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE OF ITS WRONG ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE BIBLE. — clearly the Rev. Evan’s audience is God-fearing Protestants, I’m sure he’d find my attitude towards the bible “wrong” as well.
  4. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IS A FOE TO THE HOME. — this is an argument I have not heard before, and the one I will focus on.

In this fourth example, “Christian Science is a foe to the home” Rev. Evans cites two examples: the first being a family with an invalid sister — in the Loving Christian Family, the brothers help her, but in a Christian Science setting the poor woman is suffering under a false belief and it is her own doing.

  • Let Christian Science enter that home, and it asserts at once that the sister is not sick — she is suffering from a delusion. She is, therefore, to blame, and all these tender ministries of love are changed into the acidities of criticism and rebuke, silent, if not expressed.

Rev. Evans should probably stop here. The blame-the-sick-person trope is played out time and time again in Christian Science communities: nominal worshipers are not welcome, gas-lighting under the guise of “helping them know the truth” is common. There may be lip-service as to the “right use of temporary means” but Ms. Eddy is also clear that these “temporary means” usually bring about more suffering before the patient comes around to realizing that Christian Science is the One True Solution.

The second part of “foe to the home” argument is Rev. Evan’s decidedly 1900s privileged male views on marriage and motherhood. I have rather mixed feelings about this. I am both married and a mother, and I find myself disagreeing with both Rev. Evans and Ms. Eddy’s perspectives on both (although I agree slightly more with Ms. Eddy). Rev. Evans begins on p. 31, and starts by liberally quoting Science and Health, before moving on to Ms. Eddy’s less often read work, Miscellaneous Writings.

Christian Science Virtually Denies the Need and 
Dignity of Marriage and Motherhood. 

"Did God at first create man unaided — that is, Adam, — 
but afterwards require the union of the two sexes in order 
to create the rest of the human family? No!" (S. & //., 
pp. 531, 532, 1909). "Generation does not rest on sexual 
basis at all" according to Christian Science. 

"To abolish marriage at this period and maintain mor- 
ality and generation would put Ingenuity to ludicrous 
shifts; yet this is possible In Science, (meaning, of course, 
Christian Science), although it is today problematic." 

Being totally wrong about where babies come from aside, I’m going to stop Rev. Evans here, and remind him of what Ms. Eddy says in Science and Health, about the formation of mortals, which, to be fair to the good Rev. gets quite convoluted quite quickly. Ms. Eddy is not trying to abolish marriage — at least not yet.

"In Miscellaneous Writings, p. 288, the question is asked, 
'Is marriage nearer right than celibacy?' The answer is 
given, 'Human knowledge inculcates that it is, but Chris- 
tian Science indicates that it is not.' " 

For the curious, the full passage from p. 288-9:

Is marriage nearer right than celibacy?

Human knowledge inculcates that it is, while Science indicates that it is not. But to force the consciousness of scientific being before it is understood is impossible, and believing otherwise would prevent scientific demonstration. To reckon the universal cost and gain, as well as thine own, is right in every state and stage of being. The selfish rôle of a martyr is the shift of a dishonest mind, nothing short of self-seeking; and real suffering would stop the farce.

All partnerships are formed on agreements to certain compacts: each party voluntarily surrenders independent action to act as a whole and per agreement. This fact should be duly considered when by the marriage contract two are made one, and, according to the divine precept, “they twain shall be one flesh.” Oneness in spirit is Science, compatible with home and heaven. Neither divine justice nor human equity has divorced two minds in one.

I can see where Rev. Evans is drawing his conclusions, but I read this as more of a cautious warning from a thrice-married, twice-widowed woman: be careful what you’re getting yourself into. Evans’ continues:

These statements show where Christian Science stands 
with regard to the question of marriage. It shows that in 
the mind of the Christian Scientist celibacy, or the unmarried 
state, is nearer right than the married state. It is true that 
Christian Science does not openly forbid marriage, but who- 
ever heard of a marriage taking place in a Christian Science 
church, and performed by Christian Science readers or 
ministers? Such facts as these ought to make those of us 
who have the moral welfare of our nation at heart pause 
and think, if not shudder!

I’m sure Rev. Evans has read 1 Corinthians, that’s a requirement to be a Reverend right? Ms. Eddy’s view of marriage and children is not unlike that of Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7: verses 8-9, and again in verses 25-40.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

There seems to be a bit of suffer it to be so now in both Ms. Eddy and Paul’s perspective. Both see marriage as distraction from the spiritual path, but if you must be with a woman (or man), and you must have children (although Ms. Eddy seems unclear on where babies come from… Generation does not rest on sexual basis at all), being married is the appropriate way to go about it.

I’m not sure what choosing not to be married has to do with “the moral welfare of our nation” — the unmarried Christian Scientists are choosing a life of celibacy, I see this as no different than monks or nuns opting to devote their lives to God, but instead of being cloistered away in a monastery, these Christian Scientists are going about their day-to-day lives.

The good Rev. Evans then moves on to Ms. Eddy’s perspective on Motherhood. I’m going to start with saying I’m not sure I’d take Ms. Eddy’s advice on marriage (even if she was married three times), where babies come from, or how they come into the world, but I also take issue with the Rev. Evan’s perspective:

Motherhood is not, according to Christian Science, the 
highest badge of womanhood. In Miscellaneous Writings, 
p. 289, we have these words: "Human nature has be- 
stowed on a wife the right to become a mother, but if the 
wife esteems not this a privilege . . . she may win a 
higher." What is that higher? ... to become a wife 
and not a mother? Thus motherhood is to be avoided; it 
is to be put in the category of that which is below a 
woman's highest and noblest function. This is the Chris- 
tian Science idea of the marriage relation. May we be pre- 
served from such a doctrine as this! It reminds us of the 
heresy foretold by the apostle concerning those who are led 
captive by silly women, and who forbid to marry.

-- emphasis mine -

To follow Rev. Evan’s logical interpretation of Ms. Eddy’s work: remaining celibate is the highest honor, but if you must settle, than be married but don’t have children. I think what Rev. Evan’s finds most problematic is Ms. Eddy’s thought that people, including women, have a choice: a woman can choose to become a mother or not.

The larger context of Ms. Eddy’s quote makes this slightly more clear:

Rights that are bargained away must not be retaken by the contractors, except by mutual consent. Human nature has bestowed on a wife the right to become a mother; but if the wife esteems not this privilege, by mutual consent, exalted and increased affections, she may win a higher. Science touches the conjugal question on the basis of a bill of rights. Can the bill of conjugal rights be fairly stated by a magistrate, or by a minister? Mutual interests and affections are the spirit of these rights, and they should be consulted, augmented, and allowed to rise to the spiritual altitude whence they can choose only good.

Mutual consent must be a foreign concept to Rev. Evans. I’m fairly sure Ms. Eddy is not referring to fun-sexy-time when she talks about “exalted and increased affections,” and while “allowed to rise to the spiritual altitude whence they can choose only good” does not mean Neotantra, the emphasis here is mutual, both parties must want it — regardless of what “it” is, and regardless of how much it may differ from what Rev. Evans’ thinks.

Reverend William Evans, your male privilege is showing, and while this may not have been a problem in 191.”?, I take issue with it now. What people mutually consent to do within (or without) the bonds of marriage is really none of your business.

However, as this is 191.”?, the Rev. feels entitled to weigh in on another hot-button topic that continues to have charged internet debates today: is motherhood a woman’s highest calling? (click on that embedded link, I dare you).

Ms. Eddy and the dear Rev. clearly diverge on the question is motherhood a woman’s highest calling? Rev. Evans seems to think that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, while Ms. Eddy seems to feel woman should at least be able to consider an alternativehigher calling — an uninterrupted Relationship with God. Ms. Eddy already feels that sex, alcohol, matter, etc. all distract from this relationship, so clearly children belong on this list as well. I’m fairly certain the Reverend is Protestant, as the Catholic church has no problem with men (and women) devoting their lives to God.

I disagree with Ms. Eddy about what a woman’s highest calling being to have a Relationship with God, and I disagree with Rev. Evan as well. Both are problematic at best.

Rev. Evans does not seem to know when to quit: his arguments against Christian Science stem from a fundamentally flawed notion that his version of Christianity is correct (it isn’t), and he needs to re-read Paul and re-examine his interpretations of Ms. Eddy’s views on marriage. The most solid argument he makes is that of the siblings, as so many of us have seen the blame-the-sufferer trope is played out again and again.


More by Rev. William Evans, D.D., Director, Bible Course, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago

Links of interest & Further Reading

Part 3 – A Woman Becomes a Diety (xii-xx)

This is part of a series of posts about Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind by Francis Dakin. For all posts on this topic, see the tag the Biography of a Virginal Mind


But the desire for glory has great power in washing the tincture of philosophy out of the souls of men. — Plutarch

The title of Part 3 neatly sums up Ms. Eddy’s rise, although in reading over my notes, I think the title: Ms. Eddy Becomes a Corporate Monolith would have been more apt, but far too literal for Dakin’s liking. Ms. Eddy was always a business woman of sorts, looking for a long-term way to generate income to escape her poor origins, and Christian Science seems to have been the key.

After leaving Lynn, Ms. Eddy goes to Boston and finds that Big City Life is well suited to spreading Christian Science.  Small town gossip is replaced by Big City Newspaper coverage and sensational doctrine sells. Ms. Eddy sets about working on her brand image, founding the Christian Science Journal, and opening the Massachusetts Metaphysical College of which she was the only teacher.

Eddy continues to work and expand her brand to large cities, namely Chicago and New York, and sends the Christian Science Journal far and wide. As Christian Science expands, so do accusations of plagiarism, and accusations of failed healings. To counteract the plagiarism charges, Ms. Eddy cracks down on unauthorized Christian Science literature – most notably a series of books by Ursula Newell Gestefeld (1), as well as pamphlets by various charismatic Christian Science pastors/ministers of the day (2).

It is worth noting here that throughout Part 3, Eddy is quite concerned with her brand image, and who is controlling how it is being disseminated. She does not take kindly to charismatic students teaching, as she fears their influence may someday overshadow her own. She is also quite upset at others expanding and interpreting her divinely inspired works. Some of the policies penned during this time — including those about obnoxious literature — remain in place to this day.

The failed healings were easily dismissed as well. One of the more prominent failed healings was that of a mother and child during childbirth. Mrs. Corner, having attended some of Ms. Eddy’s lectures attended her own daughter in childbirth in lieu of a doctor. Ms. Eddy’s statement to the Boston Herald of April 29, 1888 blames Mrs. Corner for not having taken the Metaphysical Obstetrics (3) course at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, and accuses Mrs. Corner of “quackery” (Dakin, 240). Dakin is quick to point out after the Corner controversy Ms. Eddy modifies her teachings, and engaged an M.D., Ebenezer J. Foster to assist with the Metaphysical Obstetrics classes (Dakin, 241).

During this time Ms. Eddy works to consolidate her brand. She starts work on the Mother Church/Branch Church structure. The Branch Churches have a democratic structure, while the Mother Church is tightly controlled by Ms. Eddy and a hand-picked Board of Directors. The first members were carefully selected by Ms. Eddy and her chosen students (4). In 1895, Ms. Eddy abolished pastors, she later went on to set term-limits for Readers, so that charismatic individuals could not challenge her position (Dakin, 259-266).

With her power consolidated and control assured, Ms. Eddy decides to retire to Concord, New Hampshire, and eventually purchases a home, hereafter known as Pleasant View. Although Ms. Eddy had picked Pleasant View as a place free from Malicious Animal Magnetism, M.A.M. (aka poor health and “fits”) continued to be an issue. Ms. Eddy’s persecution complex grew, and she began to compare her suffering with that of Christ (Dakin, 280). Luckily, Ms. Eddy never had a shortage of followers to call upon at whim to staff the house, maintain the grounds, and attend to her. It was considered a great privilege to work for “Mother” at her home.

Dakin concludes the section by informing us Ms. Eddy’s last scheduled public appearance before church members was in 1904 (Dakin, 287). This still leaves six years and two more sections of Dakin’s book to get through.


Further Reading

End Notes

  1. http://www.answers.com/topic/ursula-newell-gestefeld  Gestfeld wrote for the Christian Science Journal and in the late 1880s wrote three books, Mental Medicine? (1887), Ursula Gestefeld’s Statement of Christian Science (1888), and Science of the Christ (1889). These books brought her into conflict with Eddy, who accused Gestefeld of distorting her teachings. Gestefeld was dismissed from Eddy’s church and responded with an attack on Eddy in Jesuitism in Christian Science (1888). She later went on to be an influential founder/member of the New Thought Movement.
  2. Yes, Christian Science used to have individual ministers, it wasn’t until 1895 that Ms. Eddy changed over to The Bible and Science and Health are our only preachers. (Dakin 266)
  3. https://kindism.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/metaphysical-obstetrics1.pdf
  4. Many of the apostates went on to be influential in the New Thought movement, see Endnote 1, Getsfield.

Georgine Milmine & The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy

In reading the forward of Francis Dakin’s biography, Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind, I was struck by Dakin’s praise of Georgine Milmine and her book, The life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the history of Christian Science. On p. x, Dakin writes of Milmine’s work:

That her book was withdrawn, and even the plates destroyed, does not lessen the obligation to her which the future must acknowledge — an indebtedness to a pioneer which footnotes can but partially express, and which this author is proud to record.

I have a copy of Milmine’s work, The life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the history of Christian Science, I found it at a used bookstore in the late 1990s — it was reprinted in 1993 by the University of Nebraska Press. Eventually, I plan to do a series of posts about it. Dakin’s praise made me curious so I did a bit of searching. I first turned to Wikipedia for a bit of background information:

The material first appeared in McClure’s magazine (1893–1929) in 14 installments between January 1907 and June 1908, preceded by an editorial in December 1906 announcing the series.[1] The articles were the first major examination of Eddy’s life and work, published when she was 85 years old, and became a key primary source for most independent accounts of the church’s early history.[2]  (1)Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 7.06.54 PM

When Milmine’s book came out in 1909, The New York Times called it “An Important but Unsympathetic Biography of the Founder of Christian Science by Georgine Milmine” and goes on to refer to Christian Science as “the strange cult” (2).

The First Church of Christ, Scientist (the Mother Church) purchased the original manuscript of the book and there were rumors that the plates had been destroyed. In 1920, the Church acquired some of the McClures research and manuscripts. The Mary Baker Eddy Library has a 61 page pdf, the Georgine Milmine Collection, which documents the June 1920 inventory (3). I highly recommend reading at least the first two-three pages.

The Georgine Milmine collection documents research, writing, and correspondence related to a series of articles about Mary Baker Eddy that appeared in McClure’s Magazine from January 1907 to June 1908. The collection also contains material related to the 1909 biography by Georgine Milmine titled The Life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. The collection also contains later correspondence and memos related to the purchase and subsequent handling of the papers by The First Church of Christ, Scientist.

Regardless of the Mother Church’s meddling, Milmine’s work heavily influenced the non-Church authorized biographies, including Edwin Franken 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), Martin Gardner‘s The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy: The Rise and Fall of Christian Science (1993), and Caroline Fraser‘s God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (1999).[2] (1).

Milmine’s work is referenced in no fewer than 3,560 GoogleBook search results (4), and many of the biographers at least mention Milmine’s biography, if only to remind readers of her “radical bias” and relative obscurity before and after the McClure’s piece.

In 1978 Stephen Gottschalk wrote: “Copiously documented but radically biased against its subject, Miss Milmine’s series was the first in a line of debunking biographies of the founder of Christian Science” ((The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life p. 160) (5).

Gottschalk mentions Milmine again in his 2011 work, Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy’s Challenge to Materialism, offering some insight into Milmine’s McClure’s piece:

That series was set in motion when Georgine Milmine, an obscure New York journalist who intended to include Eddy in a series of articles on eminent American women, arrived at Pleasant View seeking an interview, but was turned aside by Eddy’s staff. Convinced that Eddy had something to hide, she began a series of interviews with disaffected former associates… (Gottschalk p. 381) (6)

In 1998 Gillian Gill acknowledges Milmine’s biography as “The first and still most influential biography of Mrs. Eddy was first published in fourteen parts in McClure’s Magazine between January 1907 and June 1908, and then revised in form as a book in 1909.” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 563). Gill then goes on point out:

Apart from the fact that she is listed as author on the cover of a biography of Mary Baker Eddy, remarkably little is known about Georgine Milmine. She was, according to early reports from other biographers who knew her, a minor journalist, perhaps originally from Canada, working in New York State. When she started to work on Mrs. Eddy, she was in fact not Miss Milmine, but Mrs. Wells, married to Benjamin Wells, a newspaper editor. …. Georgine Milmine never managed to make a name for herself nationally, and nothing is known about her political opinions, her professional interests, or her journalistic assignments before or after her work on Mrs. Eddy. (Gill, p. 564) (7)

Radical bias and obscurity aside, the Mary Baker Eddy Library has 6 Document Cases, 2 Small Document Cases, and 3 Linear Feet of material on Milmine (8). The PDF states

The collection was generated primarily by Georgine Milmine as she set out to write a series of articles about the life and work of Mary Baker Eddy. In this pursuit, she took extensive research notes, both from library work and from personal interviews, kept a clippings file of newspaper articles, collected photographs, and retyped passages from Eddy’s published writings. She eventually turned her research into drafts of articles, none of which seem to bear any resemblance to the final published articles. Her work also sparked a great deal of correspondence involving Milmine, various McClure’s editors, and individuals writing to express approval, disapproval, or offer more information about Eddy. (emphasis mine)

I don’t live close enough to the Mary Baker Eddy Library to pop over and request to view them, and I am left wondering how the drafts differ from the final publications.


End Notes

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_of_Mary_Baker_G._Eddy_and_the_History_of_Christian_Science#General_reception_and_influence
  2. New York Times, Feb. 26, 1910 http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9C06EFD91539E433A25755C2A9649C946196D6CF
  3. http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/sites/default/files/uploads/Milmine%20Finding%20Aid%20Final%202011.pdf
  4. https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=georgine+milmine&gws_rd=ssl
  5. http://books.google.com/books?id=r-FYQv75w7kC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
  6. http://books.google.com/books?id=bcDwAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA382&dq=georgine+milmine&hl=en&sa=X&ei=THrMU7ShJoq-igLs6oGYAQ&ved=0CEcQ6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=georgine%20milmine&f=false
  7. http://books.google.com/books?id=eiEMHjyvTGEC&pg=PA564&dq=georgine+milmine&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rnTMU4zNJ8fcoAS2sYK4BQ&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=georgine%20milmine&f=false
  8. http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/sites/default/files/uploads/Milmine%20Finding%20Aid%20Final%202011.pdf

See also

Mary Baker Eddy, The Mother Church, Vaccinations, Doctors & Practical Health Care

This post was originally going to try and show Christian Scientists that Mary Baker Eddy was not totally against doctors and people doing their best to meet their needs at their own current spiritual level, and abide by the law. So far I’ve come across one article from the from The Christian Science Journal, Volume 18 By Mary Baker Eddy (1)

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 3.07.35 PM

Some have interpreted this to mean that Christian Scientists should follow the law and be vaccinated, while others have argued it simply means Christian Scientists must report contagion to the proper authorities. Mary Baker Eddy teaches contagion is unreal, and Christian Science Nurses are not trained to recognize disease, so I’m not sure how this is supposed to happen (2).

There is the oft-talked about Christian Science Church Seeks Truce With Modern Medicine, from the NYTimes, May 24, 2010 (3), but it is fluff and PR.

In June 2011, the young-hip-cool Time4Thinkers had a piece entitled “Let’s get over the judgement thing” (4) which cited a passage in Science and Health, and attempted to claim that Ms. Eddy was okay with people using doctors if they felt the need. It is okay, we won’t judge. If you actually read the rest of the Chapter XIII, Teaching Christian Science (5), you’ll see Ms. Eddy was actually saying is that they’ll learn the hard way how wrong they are, try to be nice about it, but distance yourself from them.

I could take a number of the passages from Science and Health out of context to create the appearance that Christian Science is okay with people seeking medical aid, but context is very important.

I don’t usually like to block-quote things from wikipedia (6), but in this case, it is well footnoted so I will only make a few comments. First, the assertion that Ms. Eddy was addicted to morphine:

A diary kept by Calvin Frye, Eddy’s personal secretary, revealed that she was addicted to morphine, and had a lifelong dependence on morphine pills and shots.[100] Miranda Rice, a friend and close student of Eddy claimed to have treated her hundreds of times with morphine. Rice wrote “I know that Mrs. Eddy was addicted to morphine in the seventies. She begged me to get some for her. She sent her husband, Mr. Eddy, for some; and when he failed to get it she got it herself. She locked herself into her room and for two days excluded everyone.”[101] However, biographer Gillian Gill notes that the prescription of morphine was normal medical practice at the time, and that in her view Mary Baker Eddy was at no time addicted to morphine.[102]

“Addicted” or not, she used morphine. The excuse that “prescription of morphine was normal medical practice” is hollow at best, as Ms. Eddy regularly rails against morphine and other treatments of the day (7).

Towards the end of her life Eddy wore glasses and was frequently attended by doctors, these things acted in direct contradiction to the tenets of her own religion, in the view of critics.[111] On this subject Walter Martin in his book Kingdom of the Cults (2003) wrote:

  • The Christian Science Church has known for many years that though Mary Baker Eddy spoke vigorously against doctors and drugs as well as vigorously affirming the unreality of pain, suffering, and disease, she herself was frequently attended in her declining years by doctors, received injections of morphine for the alleviation of pain, wore glasses, and had her teeth removed when they became diseased. However, despite this, the Christian Science Church insists upon the validity of Mrs. Eddy’s teaching, which deny the very practices Mrs. Eddy herself exemplified.[112]

I think the passage from Kingdom of Cults sums it up nicely. Ms. Eddy could not live up to her own “spiritual standards,” perhaps because they were, themselves, unreal. Not unattainable, or unrealistic, but simply UNREAL.

I find it interesting that the Official Christian Science website’s A closer look at health/Christian Science (8) focuses heavily on the placebo effect. There has been much debate about the ethics of prescribing placebos (see Further Reading below), and I wonder if the PR machine at the Mother Church has done their research. Wikipedia notes that

The placebo effect occurs more strongly in some conditions than others. Dylan Evans has suggested that placebos work most strongly upon conditions such as pain, swelling, stomach ulcers, depression, and anxiety that have been linked with activation of the acute-phase response.[65] (9)

I happen to agree, a good Christian Science Practitioner can be an excellent ally when it comes to depression and anxiety, but for everything else, unless the “healing” is  instantaneous (10), I’d use a bit of caution. Neither Christian Science or a placebo will regrow a limb. Very few Christian Scientists will submit to having the efficacy of their prayers tested in a laboratory setting, and to the best of my knowledge, The Mother Church frowns upon such testing (11). It is also worth noting that most Christian Scientists do not ever receive an official diagnosis, so they often speculate on what they might have been healed of based on vague symptoms — appendicitis or constipation? Several symptoms could be the same, so claim a healing of the more impressive one.

So what is a Christian Scientist to do? I strongly feel, if the healing is not instantaneous — the way Jesus is purported to have healed — you should seek medical care. Unlike many Christian Science Practitioners, most doctors will not judge if you choose to seek a medical path and choose to simultaneously pray about it. Use prayer to allay your fears about turning to the medical community for help.


Further Reading


Sources Cited

  1. The Christian Science Journal, Volume 18 By Mary Baker Eddy  http://books.google.com/books?id=Ya_SAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA724&lpg=PA724&dq=mary+baker+eddy+vaccination&source=bl&ots=7aHvByVTKk&sig=FowKxQ25NilluLrHnrRlJF6jMtY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JKv6Uoq9C8TFrQGbm4GwDw&ved=0CFwQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=mary%20baker%20eddy%20vaccination&f=false
  2. Outbreak Investigations Around the World edited by Mark Dworkin, Chapter 8 Measles Among Religiously Exempt Persons Charles E. Jennings p. 133-144  http://books.google.ca/books?id=cm5pTOiYEmsC&lpg=PA133&ots=KLN47X2iIA&dq=%22charles%20e.%20jennings%22%20principia&pg=PA133#v=onepage&q=%22charles%20e.%20jennings%22%20principia&f=false
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/nyregion/24heal.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
  4. http://time4thinkers.com/lets-get-over-the-judgment-thing/
  5. http://christianscience.com/read-online/science-and-health/%28chapter%29/chapter-xiii-teaching-christian-science#anchor.1.13
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Baker_Eddy
  7. http://christianscience.com/read-online/science-and-health/%28chapter%29/chapter-xii-christian-science-practice#anchor.1.12  (p. 416)
  8. http://christianscience.com/what-is-christian-science/a-closer-look-at-health
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo#Symptoms_and_conditions
  10. http://mkhuggins.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/a-warning-about-christian-science-practitioners/
  11. http://spindriftresearch.org/

Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 3

Welcome Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 3 (for all posts on this topic see the MBE Inspiration tag). Answers to Ms. Eddy’s Inspiration Round 2 are now up.

As noted in Rounds 1 and 2, Ms. Eddy claims Science and Health with Key to the Scripture was divinely inspired and that her only source was the Bible, I have drawn from a variety of sources to compile the passages below. What work is hers? I’ll let you try and sort that out.

  • Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (the 1875 and 1994 editions)
  • Quimby Manuscript by Horatio Dresser
  • The Leiber Document found in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (1936) by Walter M. Haushalter

** Please note I have temporarily allowed “anonymous” commenting. All first-time comments will be moderated. **


1) The time will come when the true God will be worshipped in spirit and truth, for God is a Spirit and not a man.

2) Matter is not the medium through which Spirit acts, or is manifested. Spirit is never individualized, and there is no medium for it. Spirit is infinite, because it is Intelligence, what then can limit it? Again, to Spirit Intelligence alone is Substance, and there is no matter. If the body was intelligent, it could never return to dust, for mind dies not, and Intelligence never developed from matter.

3) Jesus’ parable of “the sower” shows the care our Master took not to impart to dull ears and gross hearts the spiritual teachings which dulness and grossness could not accept. Reading the thoughts of the people, he said: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”

4) The unity of God and man is made real by Spirit.

5) He travelled all through the land curing all sorts of diseases, preaching the kingdom of Science, and His fame went everywhere. Great multitudes followed Him and He went up into a higher state or Science and opened His mouth to them in truth or parables.

6) The beauty of matter passes away fading at length into decay and ugliness. But beauty itself is a thing of Life exempt from age or decay and to be this is must be a thing of Spirit.

7) Disease is the offspring of error

8) Matter and its claims of sin, sickness, and death are contrary to God, and cannot emanate from Him. There is no material truth. The physical senses can take no cognizance of God and spiritual Truth.

9) there is no truth, substance, life or intelligence in matter; all is infinite Mind. Thus matter has no reality; it is only the manifestation of Spirit.

10) That Spirit propagates matter or matter Spirit, is morally impossible.

I resigned from The First Church of Christ, Scientist (The Mother Church), but they seem to have misplaced my resignation letter

Back in May 2013 I wrote a letter to The Mother Church announcing that

I hereby voluntarily withdraw my membership The First Church of Christ, Scientist, effective immediately, and request you to remove my name permanently from your membership records.

My husband wrote a similar letter (actually, I just changed the names around and printed a second copy), but that didn’t stop The Mother Church from sending more propaganda — in October, they offered him a great deal on CS lit.

I didn’t hear anything from the Mother Church for eight months, and then in a recent trip to the mail box, the 2014 per capita tax arrived.

photo

On one hand, I am seriously tempted to send back the per capita tax form with another letter requesting to be removed from their list, on the other hand, I’m not sure it is worth the infinity stamp that such a letter would cost.

The letter, addressed to “Dear precious Church member” goes on for half a page about the importance of contributions (mostly financial), and the importance of “contributing his or her highest sense of what it means to follow the Master.” I’m pretty sure they mean Jesus, because Mary Baker Eddy is usually referred to as “the Discoverer and Founder” or “Our Beloved Leader.” I take issues with all of these titles, and with the idea that Jesus is “the Master” even if he “was servant to all and taught us by example to love as he loved.”

The letter asserts that “what [Jesus] taught could be practiced by everyone.” I take issue with this, as Jesus’ disciples, who got first-hand on the job training failed to heal on several occasions, see Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-42, and Ms. Eddy herself reminds us all are privileged to work out their own salvation according to their light – which occasionally means falling back on the “right use of Temporary Means” loophole and going to a doctor.

The Christian Science Board of Directors then continues with the idea that

Our contributions to Church take many forms. The most important is our commitment to healing others and ourselves. We also share what we’ve been witnessing of Christ’s healing and saving power at Wednesday meetings and in articles and testimonies written for our periodicals. We subscribe to these print and online publications. We pray during our church services for our congregations and daily for the world. We devote time and effort to conducting services, teaching Sunday School classes, sponsoring lectures, and serving our community in Reading Rooms. We donate as generously as we can to support all our Church activities.

I think the embedded hyperlinks speak for themselves.

The Christian Science Board of directors closes with a reminder that my individual contribution to the “greatest and holiest of all causes,”* will bring “hope and healing to the world.” My contribution is to not partake in the culture of radical reliance and to work to distance myself and my family from all toxic aspects of Christian Science as much as possible.

I’m also going to keep trying to leave the Mother Church.


A few more thoughts…

On the back of the demand letter, the Christian Science Board of Directors reminds us “Giving online is the fastest and most secure way to satisfy your Per Capita Tax obligation.

I will NOT link to the website here, but I did check it out. You can pay online, you can even set up monthly contributions from your credit card or debit card/checking account, you can contribute to other funds (MBE Library, Monitor operating fund, TMC endowment) but you can’t politely decline to contribute because you want to leave/have left the church. Jerks.

As I see it, I do not have a per capita tax obligation because I sent in my letter of withdrawal and am not “obligated” to do anything, and the worst they can do – per the Manual’s direction – is drop me from the roster of Mother Church Members. I also don’t see what the big deal is about membership, Article VIII, Guidance of Members talks about “Numbering the People” in  SECT. 28. which is strictly forbidden, or perhaps that is just to outside sources.

Christian Scientists shall not report for publication the number of the members of The Mother Church, nor that of the branch churches. According to the Scripture they shall turn away from personality and numbering the people.

I have been unable to find anything further about this. The Christian Scientists, unlike the Mormons, tend to be even more secretive about these sorts of issues.


* as Ms. Eddy referred to Christian Science in remarks dated July 4, 1866 (the letter cites Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 p. 177)

Posts about Leaving TMC: