musings on the material world & death – Eddy & Steiner’s perspectives

Before I dive into Lecture Four: Devachan, I want to pause and contemplate how Eddy and Steiner talk about the material world, and death. I am only three lectures into Steiner’s work, so my views on this could change as I learn more about Steiner’s perspectives.

Through out Science and Health, the material world is intrinsically linked with sin, disease/sickness and death*. Invoking Jesus, Eddy writes: “He came teaching and showing men how to destroy sin, sickness, and death” (Science & Health 6:27-28).

Every supposed pleasure in sin will furnish more than its equivalent of pain, until belief in material life and sin is destroyed. To reach heaven, the harmony of being, we must understand the divine Principle of being. [emphasis added]

For Eddy, the material (including, but not limited to, sin, pleasure, and husbands) are a distraction from God.  She enumerates five erroneous postulates (S&H p. 91-92) reflecting on how  “the denial of material selfhood aids the discernment of man’s spiritual and eternal individuality, and destroys the erroneous knowledge gained from matter or through what are termed the material senses(emphasis added).

Eddy is really big on the unreality of matter, the denial of the material world, and how, eventually, we will recognize that we are spiritual beings… which sounds like a special level of hell all on it’s own.

I am not as well versed in Steiner as I am in Eddy, and I’m sure my ideas will develop further as I work my way through his lectures. I find Steiner’s perspective differently difficult, but simultaneously easier to relate to on a metaphorical level as he acknowledges the physical aspects of the human experience.

Steiner’s vision of man is multi-faceted, with a physical form, and spiritual elements, in stark contrast to Eddy’s man is a spiritual idea of God (nothing more/less). Steiner acknowledges the physical/material world, as well as other worlds. For Eddy, there is only the spiritual, the rest is an erroneous lie.

Death gets complicated for Steiner, as the soul then goes to a purgatory-esque state, kamaloka, before it can be reborn. In this purgatory, it has to overcome the desires it experienced during its physical experience. Steiner does seem to be passing some judgment on the souls here similar to Eddy’s admonishment that “a great sacrifice of material things must precede this advanced spiritual understanding” (S&H p. 16) — but this is worked out after the death of the physical body, and before rebirth.

Steiner points out living a less-material life will cut back on this struggle in kamaloka, but as far as I can tell, Steiner falls short of lumping acknowledgement of the material body/world with sin, disease and death. The experience in the physical realm are something to be learned from, and worked through, as 1/3 of them will be carried forth into the next life — I could be totally wrong on Steiner’s views of this, but that’s what I read it to be.

In both cases, the departed individual has to do some “working out” of the problems they dealt with in their previous life. For Steiner, the person then goes on to be reincarnated (?) — I’m unclear on the exact process, while Eddy’s departed continues to “work out” whatever the issue is until they reach a totally clear understanding, and they “become as the angels” (which sounds pretty dull).

*The sin, disease and death combination appears 14 times through Science & Health, and sin, sickness and death appears together 55 times. Science & Health as a searchable PDF can be found:


Each Mind a Kingdom

I know I said I was going on hiatus this summer, but this book was too good not to share before I get back into a regular posting routine again! This post contains some affiliate links. Thank you for your support of

I was first introduced to  Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920 by Beryl Satter by a fellow former-CS. Her copy was was full of margin notes and post-its, and the back cover had high praise from Gillian Gill, who wrote one of Ms. Eddy’s authorized biographies.

Each Mind a Kingdom, firmly places Ms. Eddy in the historical context of the New Thought movement, as an undeniable student of Quimby, and inspiration for several prominent New Thought leaders (aka renegade students), one of whom, Emma Curtis Hopkins, went on to inspire a much larger group of prominent individuals in the New Thought movement.

Satter touches on Ms. Eddy’s control of the Christian Science “brand” through copyright and church structure, verses the New Thought movement’s lack of organized framework, and popular teachers having their own followings/ideas. When you think of Christian Science, you think of Ms. Eddy, when you think of New Thought there are nearly a dozen big names who have influenced the movement over the years, each adding their own interpretations and ideas to the mix.

Each Mind a Kingdom, is a dense read, heavy on the historical and sociological aspects of the New Thought movement. It also addresses the evolution of the New Thought ideas from Quimby, through his primary students: Dresser, Eddy and Evans, and their students, and so on, as they are modified, re-worked, and shared.

Satter discusses the social and economic conditions in which these ideas began, and why they were popular with white, upper and middle class women. New Thought provided women a platform with which to make, among other things, social reforms, and economic opportunities through income from faith healing, lectures, pamphlets, and teaching.

I highly recommend Each Mind a Kingdom for anyone who is interested in the origins of Ms. Eddy’s and New Thought ideas, as well as the broader context in which Ms. Eddy began her religion.


I’d like to share with you an exciting new resource for those who are doubting, questioning, leaving or have left Christian Science.

unnamed-2A group of former members of the Christian Science Church have launched a new website designed as a resource for people who have left or are considering leaving the Christian Science faith. Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology) was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 19th century and is perhaps best known as a sect that rejects medical treatment, advocating prayer exclusively for healing.

The website, called The Ex-Christian Scientist (, is maintained by an informal group of about fifty former Christian Scientists “who strive to assist those questioning their commitment to Christian Science as well as those who have already left it.” Individual members of the group left Christian Science for varying reasons. Some are still religious, some are not. All, however, are united in their desire to help those who are questioning Christian Science to decide if there is a more appropriate path for themselves, and to provide an inclusive and understanding community for those who leave the faith.

Continue reading

Part 3 & 4: Nothing Has Gone Right, God’s Law is never wrong

This is part of a series of posts on God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church by Caroline Fraser. For all posts on this topic, see the tag God’s Perfect Child

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Part 3: Nothing has Gone Right

Part 3, is entitled “Nothing has Gone Right Since 1910”: Christian Science After Death. Starting on page 170 and continuing through page 257, this section has eleven sub-sections and a ream of photographs.

Having grown up in Christian Science, I had heard about some of the incidents discussed, they all happened well before my time (this chapter discusses just after Ms. Eddy’s death up until the mid-1970s). As I heard them, they were more apocryphal tales than historical events bolstered by research and footnotes. Even with this background knowledge, there were still some sections that made me wonder if I was reading an article from The Onion. This section also covers a number of topics that I knew very little about, several of which I will touch on.

The Telephone in the Tomb

Augusta Stetson suggested to the press that the Board of Directors had posted a guard to make sure Ms. Eddy didn’t rise from the dead. Others thought the guard was there to welcome their Dear Leader back. Eventually a church spokesperson was forced to make a statement that Christian Scientists “do not look for her return to this world” (GPC 172).

Nothing Succeeds Like Supply

This is something I’ve never been quite able to wrap my head around, for all that matter is unreal, the accumulation of material wealth is a “demonstration” — God is supplying! “The expectation of perfect wealth, along with perfect health, follows from Eddy’s teachings about a perfect world” (GPC 191). Wealth and material accumulation is “an expression of spiritual riches” (GPC 193).

Masochism & Radical Reliance in Hollywood

The most notable example is of Carol Channing — preforming with a broken arm, high fever, in a wheel chair, in a neck brace, and while suffering from allergic reactions to her hair dye, all the while glorifying and romanticizing the image of Christian Scientists “never missing a day of work” (GPC 213-4). Fraser says Channing’s endurance “verges on masochism.” I agree, there is a strong masochistic streak that runs through the Christian Science community, Ms. Eddy reminds us that we are suffering because we want to be, because we have not yet aligned our thought properly with God, it is our failing to do so that is causing our suffering. We must put up a good fight and emerge from our battle with error victorious.

Drama, Suppression & the Church

  •  The Board actively attempted to suppress Edwin Franden Dakin’s book on Ms. Eddy — their attempts backfired. As one reviewer wrote “The total effect of his work is sympathetic; it is the facts that alienate us….” (GPC 219). Christian Scientists put out a “threefold attempt” to stop the book — attempting to stop the publication, when that failed, visiting libraries and bookstores, and letters to every newspaper or magazine that reviewed it. They threatened boycotts, and it is clear that the campaign was organized by the top levels of The Mother Church (GPC. 222-3).
  • “The Paul Revere” pamphlets – really esoteric stuff that only Christian Scientists cared about that caused more schisms in the church. Bickering and finger pointing about the power structure and how much individuality branch churches should be allowed. A number of people are excommunicated and some form unauthorized groups to carry on what they feel Ms. Eddy’s “discovery” actually entails. One such example is  the Kappeler Institute
  • The unauthorized works of Arthur Corey. Corey published Christian Science Class Instruction and Behind the Scenes with the Metaphysicians, with the intention of making Christian Science more accessible. Corey was one of the few Christian Scientists to acknowledge the dangers posed to children, and was “particularly scathing about those who pressed on with Christian Science treatment even when it became painfully absurd and absurdly painful” (GPC 237). Corey also spoke out about Ms. Eddy’s own use of medicine and eyeglasses, and pointed out the illogic of accepting dental care, but not medical care.
  • The Kerry Letters – A series of letters written by Reginald Kerry charging the church with corruption. The letters get quite heated, charges of immoral behavior of the Board. The letters are not currently available online. The Kerry Letters were the impetus for the Church to run several editorials in the Christian Science Monitor and religious periodicals, that homosexuality was immoral and could be healed through Christian Science, soon after, periodicals began to run testimonies by those claiming to be “healed” of impure desires (GPC 255).

This chapter was quite an eye-opener and a very firm reminder that the Christian Science Church, for all it’s “divine inspiration” is run by humans, with their own agendas, bickering and infighting. It was like picking up a log and seeing all the little creepy crawlies underneath scurrying away from the light, and there are many creepy crawlies that the Church would prefer to remain hidden. Fraser notes the Church set itself up for failure as it forbids Christian Scientists to write, debate, or discuss the Church and its teachings. There are no ways to air grievances, or seek guidance. The disgruntled have no official channels so they make their own.

Part 4: “God’s Law”

Part 4, is entitled “God’s Law”: Christian Science Goes to Court. Starting on page 261 and continuing through page 339, this section has only seven sub-sections.

This was a particularly challenging section for me to read, more than once, I found I had to put the book down and come back later, the atrocities committed while practicing Christian Science are numerous, and many of the stories echoed experiences I’ve heard from friends and fellow former-CS.

While all of God’s Perfect Child makes people face uncomfortable truths about Christian Science, Part Four made me particularly uncomfortable as it dealt with the (lack of) treatment of children, and the “treatment” meted out in Christian Science Sanatoriums — where Christian Science Nurses provide care.

Christian Science vs. the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association and Christian Science both got their start in the mid-1800s. The AMA focused on public health policy, rooting out quacks, and promoting medicine based on scientific criteria (allopathic medicine). Early on, several Christian Science Practitioners were tried for manslaughter (or murder) following the death of their patients. The CSPs cases were often dismissed because there was no ability to conclusively prove that medical science could’ve saved the patient’s life, and that CSPs had not committed any criminal act because they were preforming a religious, not medical service (GPC 262).

Consistent Legislative Action

Starting in the late 1800s, Christian Scientists rallied and pressured legislatures to pass statutes exempting Christian Scientists from medical licensing requirements. This went smoothly until modern medicine began to out-heal Christian Science in key areas: namely serious illness and contagious disease. Deaths in the general population began to decline, and Christian Scientists continued to die (GPC 270). Christian Scientists argued that “children died under medical care as often, if not more often than, children under Christian Science care” and in 1902 this came across as a reasonable defense (GPC 271).

Christian Scientists have successfully lobbied for exemption from criminal and civil child abuse laws in Arizona, for fees of CSPs and CS Nurses to be deducted as medical expenses, and religious exemptions from immunizations (GPC 274). The Church has gone as far as to publish booklets for each state with lists of exemptions.

Christian Scientists also lobbied insurance companies, gaining much needed “recognition” — now it is not just a religion to be protected by the first amendment, it is now a “proven” and “effective” healthcare system — proven by the Church’s own claims as published in the Church’s own periodicals (GPC 275-6).

Child Cases

This was a particularly difficult section for me to read as it discusses children and Christian Science, starting with a focus on Rita Swan and the formation of C.H.I.L.D. it is a gut wrenching read.

This section also touches on measles outbreaks at Principia College, as well as polio outbreaks at  the Daycroft School, in Greenwich Ct, a diphtheria outbreak at a Christian Science camp in Colorado (GPC 303), as well as several other heart wrenching stories of children suffered greatly as their parents chose to rely on Christian Science for healing.

The  Fruitage & C.S. Nursing

The rest of Part IV reads like an anti-Fruitage (the Fruitage is the last chapter of Science and Health recounting the amazing healings people had), it is a very difficult read and it touches on topics ranging from gas lighting (why CS Parents opt not to seek medical care), to Christian Science Nursing. Fraser interviews people and recounts experiences from a wide range of people who were all directly and negatively impacted by Christian Science “treatment.”

I was going to try and talk further about Chapter Four, but I can’t bring myself to go back through it right now. It really speaks for itself — and speaks volumes about Christian Science as an alternative health care method.

Extra reading

Inspiration Link Dump (1) – a bit of everything

Every now and then I get inspired to research a topic and then when I get around to writing the blog post the inspiration flees, leaving me with a post of links and background information that is unlikely to ever make it onto a blog post. I’d like to change that, so I’m going to start posting “Inspiration Link Dumps” of things that I looked into, but never got around to writing about further. Perhaps you’ll find something informative or interesting.

Hopefully all of these links still work. Apologies if they have changed. Some of these resources may be more scholarly than others. 

Conscientious Objectors 

Cross & Crown

Free Masons

Nicene Creed


Spindrift Research

Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists, Dr. Linda Kramer’s Talk

This is a fascinating talk by Dr. Linda Kramer, author of Perfect Peril: Christian Science and Mind Control — I have not read it, but it is on my list.

Content warning: Dr. Kramer has “found Jesus” so there are strong, recurrent themes of Christianity in the first 20 minutes.

Around the 20 minute mark, Dr. Kramer embarks on an interesting analysis of Christian Science as a cult, as well as a discussion of the mythos that has grown around Christian Science and Ms. Eddy’s early years (the fall on the ice, animal magnetism, sacred science).

FFCS Conf 14080102 Kramer Linda S PhD Journey Book Ministry –

Other videos from the FFCS Conference:


This post may contain affiliate links. Anything you purchase through these links helps keep the coffee going. Thank you in advance for choosing to support us.

Mary Baker Eddy, Miranda Rice & the Wikipedia Edits Mystery

The following is an e-mail I received — reprinted here with minor modifications — with permission. If anyone knows anything more about the alleged tampering with Calvin Frye’s Journal or Miranda Rice we would love to hear from you!

Dear Kat,

Greetings! We’ve never communicated before, but I stumbled onto a tiny mystery which I think you alone might appreciate, and for this reason, am sharing it with you.

I must confess, I am fairly ignorant about the finer points of Christian Science, but feel something of a kinship towards its former members, as I myself was raised in an unusual protestant denomination, the Seventh-day Adventists, also begun in mid-19th century New England, led by a woman (in our case, Ellen G. White) who claimed special insight, but who, despite whatever her lofty intentions, seems to have lived all-too-human of a life. Other parallels that jump out at me include the focus on linking health and religiosity, this business of incorporating other people’s pseudo-scientific ideas into one’s own message (generally, without giving credit), and maybe the overall goal of giving old world Christianity a brave, new, futuristic, and typically American, face. Adventists also have had their share of defections, excommunications, white-washing and editing of embarrassing materials, etc., so, this side too is something I am well familiar with. I suppose, if the measure of a thing is its fruits, the Adventists have done well, due to subsequent pioneering efforts in the field of medicine, but I can’t speak to how well, as a denomination, they have done, having myself lost faith in their message long ago.

That said, just recently I was surfing through wikipedia, where I read the Mary Baker Eddy entry, and encountered the very strange paragraph, as follows, under the subhead “Use of medicine“:
A diary kept by Calvin Frye (1845-1917), Eddy’s personal secretary, suggested that Eddy had a lifelong dependence on morphine, but the credibility of this diary is in question. It is highly likely that this diary was stolen and the following testimony of Miranda Rice was falsely entered. [109] Rice, an early student of Eddy who later defected from the church, told a newspaper in 1906: “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 went herself and got it. She locked herself into her room and for two days excluded every one. She was a slave to morphine.”[110] Interestingly enough there is no other mention of Rice anywhere else in print. It is as if this woman appeared out of thin air for the sole purpose of making this one false accusation and then vanishing. Such a claim is baseless and highly skeptical. It is nothing more than mere personal testimony lacking any proof whatsoever clearly intended for character assassination during Eddy’s later years. No actual proof has ever been uncovered that Eddy took or even requested medicine. Even though Gillian writes that the prescription of morphine was normal medical practice at the time, it still proves nothing in regards to Eddy’s personal situation.[111]
Frankly, I am not interested in the assassination of Mrs. Eddy’s character, and not personally invested one way or another about her potential morphine use and/or addition- these are problems, I think, for people so-invested. It merely struck me that this paragraph read fairly hard– there was a strange, snarky, bitey, disjointed character to it, that, unless I’m wrong, doesn’t appear anywhere else in the entire article. I mean, “Such a claim is baseless and highly skeptical” sounds more like an opinion than a statement of fact, is not  the sort of thing you generally encounter in a wiki entry, but is also atypical, I think, for this article as well. It’s not alone, though, as you see, if you read it two or three times, that there are a number of other protesty bits here, including the rather astonishing assertion, it would seem, that Miranda Rice was a fictitious individual, created, de novo, for the purpose of smearing Mrs. Eddy’s character at some point late in her life. This is the second assertion, actually, the first seeming to be (I say seeming, because the wording here is so poor that the individual responsible for it actually hurts his/her point in attempting to make it) that Frye’s diary cannot be trusted with regard to comments about Eddy’s supposed drug dependency, since it had been stolen, and by implication, meddled-with, so that any comments to this effect likely being spurious later insertions by unnamed individuals with malicious intent.

My understanding, from just the short amount of time I’ve spent on the topic, is that Miranda Rice, and her sister Dorcas Rawson, are fairly well-known early associates of Mrs. Eddy in Lynn, Mass, where she lived in the 1870s, and while one might have grounds for questioning Miranda’s testimony (though these grounds are not produced here, apart from these oddly disjointed, dismissive qualifying statements as just mentioned), I think questioning her existence is probably going too far, especially since several decades of census entries validate the fact that a woman of this name did live in Lynn, Mass.

But it took me about three seconds to find an online google edition of Mrs. Eddy’s “Science and Health: With Key to the Scriptures,” published in 1889, though the first edition seems to have been published as early as 1875. If you turn to page 24, you will see that Mrs. Eddy has, herself, included a rather remarkable personal testimony from Miranda Rice, whereby Mrs. Rice recounts the near-painless birth of her son, thanks to Mrs. Eddy’s methods: [image capture below]

To say, then, something like, “Interestingly enough there is no other mention of Rice anywhere else in print. It is as if this woman appeared out of thin air for the sole purpose of making this one false accusation,” strikes me as incredibly strange, especially since we have Mrs. Eddy’s own work, “in print,” to the contrary.

So, I dug a little deeper (and by dug, I mean, took the extreme effort and time to run a differently worded google search), and I found your webpage, where you made specific reference to the same wiki article of interest to me, and, amazingly enough, had also found reason to capture and reproduce the VERY paragraph of interest to me, as follows (of course, you know your own webpage, I only clip it here for my own reference):
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]

Again, this story gets even stranger. because your version of this paragraph (I don’t know when you pulled it) is MISSING all of the strange, protesty, opiniony bits. In fact, without those bits, and taking no position on the potential veracity of the claims within it, the paragraph reads much smoother, clearly, as originally intended. And here’s the great irony, which, hopefully you will find as humorous as I do, that all of these insertions have been made into a paragraph, where the first thing they do is suggest that another document (Frye’s diary) has had later insertions added to it, and thereby threatening its legitimacy!

I thought, for the hell of it, we might see your version, clearly the older, if not original, version, with the additional insertions in all-caps [and bolded].

So, I guess, to be quite accurate, the author of these insertions has done more than simply insert pieces into this paragraph, he have also removed bits, creating the very odd situation near the end where he is proceeds to attack an account of Gillian, present in the original paragraph, which he himself has already removed from it! Anyone reading the current version would be very confused (and disappointed, I think, by the shit quality of the writing at this point in the article, as evidenced by his ignorance over the correct use of the term “skeptical”).

I think the key to the mystery is the fact that, while this paragraph deals very specifically with the matter of morphine use and/or possible abuse or overuse, the author of the insertions has gone a step too far, overplayed his hand, and given himself away, when instead of saying there is no proof that Eddy took or even requested morphine, he says “took or requested MEDICINE.”

So the real danger, clearly, to whoever made these helpful improvements to the original paragraph, was not that anyone might think Mary had taken morphine, but that they might think (gasp) that she had taken any medicine at all. The only person for whom these things might be equal, naturally, being a member of a belief system which equated morphine and any medicine as equally malevolent forces in the world. Here, as I said, he has overplayed his hand, because while I think a number of us share a certain amount of concern over an aggressively pharmacological approach to medicine, I think relatively few of us (in the developed world, anyway) would equate penicillin, for example, with a toxic and addicting opium derivative.

The mystery remains, however, how this person could be such a true believer, and yet have no knowledge of Miranda Rice, of, if he did, think he could get away with this really remarkable assertion that she did not exist.

Anyway, I hope you’ve found a chuckle in all of this, as I have, and that it hasn’t wasted too much of your time. I thought, since you had taken the time to draw specific attention to this very paragraph, you might alone appreciate what’s happened to it in the time since.


A Reader

screen shot Oct. 17, 2014

screen shot Oct. 17, 2014

Miranda Rice’s testimony starts on p. 24 of the 1889 version of Science and Health, below is a screen shot of the part of p. 25, as well as a screen shot of Ms. Rice listed in the index.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 2.01.29 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 2.01.10 PM