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Christian Science

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description: Several periods of Protestant Christian revival nurtured a proliferation of new religious movements in the United States. In the latter half of the 19th century these included what came to be known as ...
Several periods of Protestant Christian revival nurtured a proliferation of new religious movements in the United States.[14] In the latter half of the 19th century these included what came to be known as the metaphysical family: groups such as Christian Science, Divine Science and the Unity School of Christianity.[3] From the 1890s the liberal section of the movement became known as New Thought, in part to distinguish it from the more authoritarian Christian Science.[15]
The term metaphysical referred to the movement's philosophical idealism, a belief in the primacy of the mental world.[16] Adherents believed that matter emanated from a supreme cause or consciousness, variously referred to as Divine Mind, Truth, God, Love, Life, Spirit, Principle, reflecting elements of Plato, Hinduism, Berkeley, Hegel, Swedenborg and transcendentalism. "The universe is mental," writes religious scholar Dell de Chant, "or, as most New Thoughters would put it, God is Mind."[17]
The metaphysical groups were also known as the mind-cure movement because of their strong focus on healing.[18] Medical practice was in its infancy, and patients regularly fared better if left alone. This provided fertile soil for the mind-cure groups, who argued that sickness was simply an absence of "right thinking" or failure to connect to Divine Mind.[19] The movement traced its roots to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–1866), a New England clockmaker turned mental healer, whose motto was "the truth is the cure."[20] Mary Baker Eddy had been a patient of his, leading to debate about how much of Christian Science was based on his ideas.[21]
New Thought and Christian Science differed in that Eddy saw her views as a unique and final revelation.[22] Eddy's idea of malicious animal magnetism marked another distinction (that people can be harmed by the bad thoughts of others), introducing an element of fear that was absent from the New Thought literature.[23] Most significantly, Eddy dismissed the material world as an illusion, rather than as merely subordinate to Mind, leading her to reject the use of medicine, or materia medica, and making Christian Science the most controversial of the metaphysical groups. Reality for Eddy was purely spiritual.[24]
Christian Science theology
Further information: § Sickness as error and § Christian Science prayer
Christian Science seal, with the Cross and Crown and words from Matthew 10:8
Christian Science leaders place their religion "within the mainstream of Christian teaching," writes J. Gordon Melton, and reject any identification with the New Thought movement.[25] Eddy was strongly influenced by her Congregationalist upbringing.[26] In founding the Church of Christ, Scientist, in April 1879, she wrote that she wanted it to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing."[8] Later she suggested that Christian Science was a kind of second coming, and that her book, Science and Health, first published in 1875, was an inspired text.[27] In 1895, in the Manual of the Mother Church, she ordained the Bible and Science and Health as "Pastor over the Mother Church."[28]
According to the church's tenets, adherents accept "the inspired Word of the Bible as [their] sufficient guide to eternal Life ... acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God ... [and] acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God's image and likeness."[29]
Christian Science theology differs in several respects from that of traditional Christianity. Eddy's Science and Health reinterprets key Christian concepts, including the Trinity, divinity of Jesus, atonement and resurrection; from the 1883 edition she included a glossary that redefined the Christian vocabulary, and added with a Key to the Scriptures to the title.[25] At the core of Eddy's theology is the view that the spiritual world is the only reality and is entirely good, and that the material world, with its evil, sickness and death, is an illusion. Humankind is a perfect idea of God or Divine Mind; what Eddy called "mortal man," writes Bryan Wilson, is simply humankind's distorted view of itself.[30] Despite her view that evil does not exist, an important element of Christian Science theology is that evil thought, in the form of malicious animal magnetism, can cause harm, even if the harm is only apparent.[31]
Eddy viewed God not as a person, but as "All-in-all." Although she often described God as if discussing personhood – she used the term "Father–Mother God" (as did Ann Lee, the founder of Shakerism), and in the third edition of Science and Health referred to God as "she" – God is mostly represented in Christian Science by the synonyms "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."[32] The Holy Ghost is Christian Science, and heaven and hell are states of mind.[33]
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston
There is no supplication in Christian Science prayer. The process involves the Scientist engaging in a silent argument to affirm to herself the unreality of matter, something Christian Science practitioners will do for a fee, including in absentia, to address ill health or other problems.[34] Wilson writes that Christian Science healing is "not curative ... on its own premises, but rather preventative of ill health, accident and misfortune, since it claims to lead to a state of consciousness where these things do not exist. What heals is the realization that there is nothing really to heal."[35] It is a closed system of thought, viewed as infallible if performed correctly; healing confirms the power of Truth, but its absence derives from the failure, specifically the bad thoughts, of individuals.[36]
Eddy accepted as true the creation narrative in the Book of Genesis up to chapter 2, verse 6 – that God created man in his image and likeness – but rejected the rest "as the story of the false and the material," writes Wilson.[37] Her theology is nontrinitarian; she viewed the Trinity as suggestive of polytheism.[38] She saw Jesus as a Christian Scientist, a "Way-shower" between humanity and God,[39] and distinguished between Jesus the man and the concept of Christ, the latter a synonym for Truth and Jesus the first person fully to manifest it.[40] The crucifixion was not a divine sacrifice for the sins of humanity, the atonement (the forgiveness of sin through Jesus's suffering) "not the bribing of God by offerings," writes Wilson, but an "at-one-ment" with God.[41]
Her views on life after death were vague and, according to Wilson, "there is no doctrine of the soul" in Christian Science: "[A]fter death, the individual continues his probationary state until he has worked out his own salvation by proving the truths of Christian Science."[42] Eddy did not believe that the dead and living could communicate.[43]
To the more conservative of the Protestant clergy, Eddy's view of Science and Health as divinely inspired was a challenge to the Bible's authority.[44] "Eddyism" was viewed as a cult; one of the first uses of the modern sense of the word was in A. H. Barrington's Anti-Christian Cults (1898), a book about Spiritualism, Theosophy and Christian Science.[45] In a few cases Christian Scientists were expelled from Christian congregations, but ministers also worried that their parishioners were choosing to leave. In May 1885 the London Times' Boston correspondent wrote about the "Boston mind-cure craze": "Scores of the most valued Church members are joining the Christian Scientist branch of the metaphysical organization, and it has thus far been impossible to check the defection."[46]
In 1907 Mark Twain described the appeal of the new religion:
She has delivered to them a religion which has revolutionized their lives, banished the glooms that shadowed them, and filled them and flooded them with sunshine and gladness and peace; a religion which has no hell; a religion whose heaven is not put off to another time, with a break and a gulf between, but begins here and now, and melts into eternity as fancies of the waking day melt into the dreams of sleep.
They believe it is a Christianity that is in the New Testament; that it has always been there, that in the drift of ages it was lost through disuse and neglect, and that this benefactor has found it and given it back to men, turning the night of life into day, its terrors into myths, its lamentations into songs of emancipation and rejoicing.[47]
History and development
Birth of the religion
Mary Baker Eddy
Further information: Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy, 1850s[48]
Born    July 16, 1821
Bow, New Hampshire
December 3, 1910 (aged 89)
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
[show]More details
Born Mary Morse Baker on a farm in Bow, New Hampshire, Eddy was the youngest of six children in a family of Protestant Congregationalists. Her father, Mark Baker, was a deeply religious man, although, according to one account, "Christianity to him was warfare against sin, not a religion of human brotherhood."[52] In common with most women at the time Eddy was given little formal education, but said she had read widely at home.[53] From childhood she lived with protracted ill health, complaining of chronic indigestion and spinal inflammation, and according to biographers experiencing fainting spells.[54] The literary critic Harold Bloom described her as "a kind of anthology of nineteenth-century nervous ailments."[55]
Eddy's first husband died just before her 23rd birthday, six months after they married and three months before their son was born, leaving her penniless; as a result of her poor health she lost custody of the boy when he was four, although sources differ as to whether she could have prevented this.[56] Her second husband left her after 13 years of marriage; Eddy said that he had promised to become the child's legal guardian, but it is unclear whether he did, and Eddy lost contact with her son until he was in his thirties (per the legal doctrine of coverture, women in the United States could not then be their own children's guardians).[57] Her third husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, died five years after they married; she believed he had been killed by malicious animal magnetism.[58] Six years later, when she was 67 and apparently in need of loyalty and affection, she legally adopted a 41-year-old homeopath as her second son.[59]
Eddy was by all accounts charismatic and able to inspire great loyalty, although Gillian Gill writes that she could also be irrational and unkind.[60] According to Bryan Wilson, she exemplified the female charismatic leader, and was viewed as the head of the Christian Science church even after her death; he wrote in 1961 that her name – Christian Scientists call her Mrs. Eddy or "our beloved Leader" – was still included in all articles published in the Christian Science journals.[61]
She wore an imported black satin dress heavily beaded with tiny black jet beads, black satin slippers, beaded, and had on her rarely beautiful diamonds. ... She stood before us, seemingly slight, graceful of carriage, and exquisitely beautiful even to critical eyes. Then, still standing, she faced her class as one who knew herself to be a teacher by divine right. She turned to the student at the end of the first row of seats and took direct mental cognizance of this one, plainly knocked at the door of this individual consciousness. ... This continued until each member of the class had received the same mental cognizance. No audible word voiced the purely mental contact.
– C. Lulu Blackman (student of Eddy's), 1885[62]
It was in part because of her unusual personality that Christian Science flourished, despite the numerous disputes she initiated among her followers. "She was like a patch of colour in those gray communities," McClure's wrote, "She never laid aside her regal air; never entered a room or left it like other people."[63] Mark Twain, a prominent critic of hers, described her in 1907 as "vain, untruthful [and] jealous," but "[i]n several ways ... the most interesting woman that ever lived, and the most extraordinary."[64]
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Further information: Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, c. 1860
Eddy tried every remedy for her ill health, including a three-month stay at the Vail's Hydropathic Institute in Hill, New Hampshire.[65] She told the Boston Post in 1883 that, for the seven years prior to 1862 (most of her second marriage), she had been effectively confined to her bed or room.[66]
In 1861 Eddy heard of a healing method developed by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a former clockmaker in Portland, Maine.[67] Self-styled Dr. P. P. Quimby, a practitioner of the "Science of Health," Quimby had become interested in healing after recovering suddenly from a condition he believed was consumption (tuberculosis).[68] After attending a lecture in Maine in 1837 by the French mesmerist Charles Poyen, Quimby began to practise mesmerism himself.[69] Mesmerism was named after Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), a German physician who argued for the existence of a fluid through which bodies could influence each other, a force he called animal magnetism. Quimby and an assistant, Lucius Burkmar, traveled around Maine and New Brunswick giving demonstrations; Burkmar, in a trance, would offer mind readings and suggestions for cures.[70]
Quimby abandoned mesmerism around 1847 when he realized that it was suggestion that was effecting the apparent cures. He came to the view that disease was a mental state.[71] When Jesus healed a paralysed arm he had known, Quimby wrote, "that the arm was not the cause but the effect, and he addressed Himself to the intelligence, and applied His wisdom to the cause."[72] In so doing Jesus had relied upon Christ, a synonym for Truth, Science and God, a power that Quimby believed all human beings could access.[73] Quimby referred to this idea, in February 1863, as "Christian science," a phrase he used only once in writing.[74] He wrote:
The basis of Dr. Quimby's theory is that there is no intelligence, no power or action in matter of itself, that the spiritual world to which our eyes are closed by ignorance or unbelief is the real world, that in it lie all the causes for every effect visible in the natural world, and that if this spiritual life can be revealed to us, in other words if we can understand ourselves, we shall then have our happiness or misery in our own hands ..."[75]
By 1856 Quimby had 500 patients a year.[76] He would sit next to them and explain that the disease was something their minds could control; sometimes he would wet his hands and rub their heads, but it was the talking that helped them, he said, not the manipulation.[77] Quimby began to write his thoughts down around 1859 – his work was published posthumously as The Quimby Manuscripts in 1921 – and was generous in allowing his patients to copy one of his essays, "Questions and Answers."[78] This became an issue, from 1883 onwards, when Eddy was accused of having based Christian Science on his work.[21]
Eddy as Quimby's patient
Mary Baker Eddy, c. 1864
When Eddy first met Quimby in Portland in October 1862, she had to be helped up the stairs to his consulting rooms. She spoke highly of him the following month in a letter to the Portland Evening Courier: "This truth which he opposes to the error of giving intelligence to matter and placing pain where it never placed itself ... changes the currents of the system to their normal action ..."[79] In a second letter she offered to supply quotations from Quimby's "theory of Christ (not Jesus)."[80] Between then and May 1864, Eddy returned to see Quimby several times, staying for weeks in Portland and visiting him daily.[81] She wrote to him regularly, and composed a sonnet for him, "Mid light of science sits the sage profound."[82]
Eddy first used mental healing on a patient in March 1864, when one of Quimby's patients in Portland, Mary Ann Jarvis, suffered a relapse when she returned home to Warren, Maine. Eddy stayed with her for two months, giving Jarvis mental healing to ease a breathing problem, and writing to Quimby six times for absent treatment for herself. She called the latter "angel visits"; in one of her letters to Quimby, she said that she had seen him in her room. In April she gave a public lecture in Warren, contrasting mental healing with Spiritualism, entitled: "P. P. Quimby's Spiritual Science healing disease, as opposed to Deism or Rochester Rapping Spiritualism."[83]
Fall in Lynn
Quimby died on January 16, 1866, three months after Eddy's father. Eddy wrote a poem on January 22, "Lines on the Death of Dr. P. P. Quimby, Who Healed with the Truth that Christ Taught, in Contradistinction to All Isms," which was published in a local newspaper.[84] Two weeks later, on February 1, she slipped on ice in Lynn, Massachusetts, injuring her head and neck:
Mrs. Mary 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 into 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 severe nature, inducing spasms and internal suffering. She was removed to her home in Swampscott yesterday afternoon, though in a very critical condition.
– Lynn Reporter, February 3, 1866[85]
Eddy and her husband were living on the second floor of this house at 23 Paradise Road, Swampscott, Massachusetts, when Eddy experienced the fall in Lynn. It was here that she recovered.
Christian Scientists call this "the fall in Lynn," and see it as the birth of their religion. Decades later Eddy wrote that, on the third day after the fall, she had been helped by reading a certain Bible passage. In several editions of Science and Health she identified it as Mark 3, but later said that it had been Matthew 9.2, a passage about one of Jesus's healings: "As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I rose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed."[86] The physician who treated her at the time, Alvin M. Cushing, swore in an affidavit in 1907 that the injury had not been a serious one, and that Eddy had responded to morphine and a homeopathic remedy; she had not said anything to him about a miraculous healing.[87]
The fall in Lynn in 1866 was one of several experiences Eddy associated with the development of mental healing. In the first edition of Science and Health (1875), she wrote that she had "made our first discovery that science mentally applied would heal the sick" in 1864, while she was seeing Quimby, and in 1883 told the Boston Post that she had "laid the foundations of mental healing" in 1853, when she was practising homeopathy.[88] Elsewhere in the first edition of Science and Health she attributed the discovery to her difficulties with chronic indigestion as a child.[89] Eddy first linked the fall in Lynn to Christian Science in 1871, in a letter to a prospective student:
I have demonstrated on myself in an injury occasioned by a fall, that it [her healing method] did for me what surgeons could not do. Dr. Cushing of this city pronounced my injury incurable and that I could not survive three days because of it, when on the third day I rose from my bed and to the utter confusion of all I commenced my usual avocations and notwithstanding displacements, etc., I regained the natural position and functions of the body.[90]
Whether Eddy considered herself healed at the time is unclear. Two weeks after the fall she requested treatment from another patient of Quimby's, Julius Dresser,[91] and in June that year the Mayor of Lynn told the city Eddy had sent them a letter "in which she states that owing to the unsafe condition of [the streets] ... she slipped and fell, causing serious personal injuries, from which she has little prospect of recovering, and asking for pecuniary recompense for the injuries received."[92] In February 1867 Eddy and her husband, Daniel Patterson, a dentist, filed a lawsuit against the city to recover damages.[93]
Writing and teaching
Teaching Sally Wentworth
Eddy's ad (second ad, as Mary B. Glover), Banner of Light, July 4, 1868
In March 1866, a month after the fall, Eddy and her husband (then married for 13 years) moved into an unfurnished room in Lynn. At some point her husband left and Eddy was evicted, unable to pay the $1.50 weekly rent. He appears to have returned briefly – they moved to a boarding house in July, and in August he paid Dr. Cushing's bill from the fall – but the marriage was over. He sent her $200 a year for a time, and they divorced in 1873.[94]
Eddy moved between lodgings in Swampscott, Lynn, Stoughton and Amesbury, teaching Quimby's healing method in lieu of rent, parting company with her hosts over money and what several said was an imperious attitude. Her first student was Hiram Crafts, a shoe worker in whose house she stayed, who advertised for patients himself in May 1867, offering a cure for "Consumption, Catarrh, Scrofula, Dyspepsia and Rheumatism." Eddy asked Crafts to set up a practice with her, but the plan came to nothing.[95] In addition to teaching, Eddy had started to write; toward the end of 1866 she began work on an allegorical interpretation of Genesis, intended as the first volume of a book (never published), The Bible in its Spiritual Meaning.[96]
In the summer of 1868, while lodging with Spiritualist Sarah Bagley in Amesbury, Eddy advertised for students in a Spiritualist magazine, the Banner of Light, as Mary B. Glover (her first husband's surname). The ad promised a "principle of science" that would heal with "[n]o medicine, electricity, physiology or hygiene required for unparalleled success in the most difficult cases."[97] Sally Wentworth, another Spiritualist, offered Eddy $300-worth of bed and board in Stoughton if Eddy would treat her daughter's lung condition and teach Wentworth the healing method. Eddy stayed there for two years, from 1868 to 1870, teaching Wentworth with Quimby's unpublished essay, "Questions and Answers." She acknowledged that the manuscript was Quimby's, and spoke often of how she had promised to teach his healing method, which at the time she called Moral Science.[98]
Moral Science practice in Lynn
Richard Kennedy in 1871
Eddy was asked to leave the Wentworths' in early 1870. They fell out over several issues, including her request that they pay a printer $600 to publish her Genesis manuscript, which apparently ran to over 100,000 words.[99]
She returned to Amesbury to stay with Sally Bagley, where she resumed contact with Richard Kennedy. Kennedy had been a fellow lodger two years earlier when he was working in a box factory, and had become one of her earliest students. She now asked him to join her in opening a Moral Science practice in Lynn; he would see patients and she would teach.[100] He agreed to pay her $1,000 for the previous two years' tuition.[101] Kennedy rented rooms in Lynn in June 1870, and placed a sign in the yard, "Dr. Kennedy"; he was 21 and Eddy 49. The practice became popular; McClure's wrote that people would say: "Go to Dr. Kennedy. He can't hurt you, even if he doesn't help you."[102]
Mrs. Glover, the well-known Scientist, will receive applications for one week from ladies and gentlemen who wish to learn how to heal the sick without medicine, and with a success unequaled by any known method of the present day, at Dr. Kennedy's office, No. 71 South Common Street, Lynn, Mass.
– Lynn Semi-Weekly Reporter, August 13, 1870.[100]
Lynn was a center of the shoe industry and most of Eddy's students were factory workers or artisans. She charged $100, raised a few weeks later to $300, for a three-week course of 12 lessons (reduced in 1888 to seven).[103] Eddy based the lessons on a revised version of Quimby's "Questions and Answers" manuscript, now called "The Science of Man, by which the sick are healed, Embracing Questions and Answers in Moral Science," and on three shorter manuscripts, "The Soul's Inquiry of Man," "Spiritualism" and "Individuality," which she had written for her classes.[104] "Questions and Answers" began: "What is God?" The answer: "Principle, wisdom, love, and truth."[105] Two books on mental healing appeared around that time that may have influenced Eddy's thinking: The Mental Cure (1869) and Mental Medicine (1872), both by Warren Felt Evans, another former patient of Quimby's.[106]
Eddy allowed her students to make copies of the manuscripts, but they were forbidden, under a $3,000 bond, from showing them to anyone. The students agreed to pay Eddy 10 percent annually of income derived from her work, and $1,000 if they failed to practice or teach it. [107] She at first taught them to rub patients' heads, to "lay [their] hands where the belief is to rub it out forever"; Kennedy would manipulate each student's head and solar plexus before class in preparation.[108] The head rubbing was abandoned when the women complained about having to take their hair down, and the stomach rubbing held no appeal for them either. Eventually Eddy told them to ignore that part of the manuscript, and from then on Christian Science healing did not involve touching patients.[109]
In 1879 Eddy sued two of the students (unsuccessfully) for royalties from their practices. They testified that she had claimed she no longer needed to eat and had seen the dead raised. Eddy told the judge she meant she had "seen the dead in understanding raised."[110]
Mary B. Glover's Christian Scientists' Home
8 Broad Street, Lynn, Massachusetts, around 1880, with the sign "Mary B. Glover's Christian Scientists' Home."[111]
Kennedy decided toward the end of 1871 to end his business partnership with Eddy. She had accused him in front of others of cheating at cards; it was one of several scenes she had caused between them and he walked out on her.[112] There was a temporary reconciliation, but he was unhappy about the abandonment of head rubbing, and after a dispute between Eddy and a student over a refund was played out in the local press, he decided to go his own way.[113]
Once Kennedy and Eddy had settled their financial affairs in May 1872, she was left with $6,000.[112] Peel writes that at this point she had already written 60 pages of Science and Health.[114] She was renting rooms in Lynn at 9 Broad Street, when 8 Broad Street came on the market. In March 1875 she purchased it for $5,650, taking in students to pay the mortgage. It was in the attic room of this house that she completed Science and Health.[115]
Shortly after moving in, Eddy became close to another student, Daniel Spofford. He was 33 years old and married when he joined her class; he later left his wife in the hope that he might marry Eddy, but his feelings were not reciprocated. Spofford and seven other students agreed to form an association that would pay Eddy a certain amount a week if she would preach to them every Sunday. They called themselves the Christian Scientists' Association.[116]
Eddy placed a sign on 8 Broad Street, Mary B. Glover's Christian Scientists' Home.[117] According to McClure's, there was a regular turnover of tenants and domestic staff, whom Eddy accused of stealing from the house; she blamed Richard Kennedy for using mesmerism to turn people against her.[118] According to Peel, there was gossip about the attractive woman, the men who came and went, and whether she was engaged in witchcraft. She was hurt, he wrote, but made light of it: "Of course I believe in free love; I love everyone."[119]
Science and Health
Further information: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
King James Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Christian Science's central texts
Eddy copyrighted her book, then called The Science of Life, in July 1874.[120] Three of her students, George Barry, Elizabeth Newhall and Daniel Spofford, paid a Boston printer, W. F. Brown and Company, $2,200 to produce the first edition. The printer began work in September 1874, but stopped whenever the advance payment ran out, so progress was slow. The book – Science and Health by Mary Baker Glover, with eight chapters and 456 pages – finally appeared on October 30, 1875. The publisher was named as the Christian Science Publishing Company.[121]
The book was positively received by Amos Bronson Alcott, who in 1876 wrote to Eddy that she had "reaffirm[ed] in modern phrase the Christian revelations," and that he was pleased it had been written by a woman.[122] The printer's proofreading had been poor. Martin Gardner called the first edition a "chaotic patchwork of repetitious, poorly paragraphed topics," with spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes.[123]
James Henry Wiggin (1836–1900)
Eddy changed printers for the second edition, which was also poorly proofread, and for the third edition in 1881 switched again, this time to John Wilson & Sons, University Press, Cambridge, MA. John Wilson and his successor, William Dana Orcutt, continued to print the book until after Eddy's death.[124] To the 6th edition in 1883, Eddy added with a Key to the Scriptures (later retitled with Key to the Scriptures), a 20-page glossary containing her definitions of Biblical terms. The book sold 15,000 copies between 1875 and 1885.[125]
In August 1885, on the advice of John Wilson, she hired one of his proofreaders, the Rev. James Henry Wiggin, as an editor and literary adviser for the 16th edition.[126] The issue of how much Wiggin contributed to Science and Health is controversial. A former Unitarian clergyman, he was the book's editor from the 16th edition in 1886 until the 50th in 1891 – 22 editions appeared between 1886 and 1888 alone – and according to his literary executor, speaking after Wiggin's death, said he had rewritten it.[127] Robert Peel wrote that Wiggin had "toned up" Eddy's style, but had not affected her thinking.[128] In a letter to Wiggin in July 1886, Eddy wrote: "Never change my meaning, only bring it out."[129]
Eddy continued to revise the book until her death in 1910. In 1902 she added a chapter called "Fruitage," recounting healing testimonies from the Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel.[130] There were over 400 editions (the final ran to 18 chapters and 600 pages),[131] seven of them major revisions, according to Gottschalk, and members were encouraged to buy them all.[132] Other income derived from the sale of rings and brooches, pictures of Eddy, and in 1889 the Mary Baker Eddy souvenir spoon; Eddy asked every Christian Scientist to buy at least one, or a dozen if they could afford to.[133] When the copyright on Science and Health expired in 1971, the church persuaded Congress to extend it to 2046; the bill was supported by two of President Nixon's aides, Christian Scientists H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. The law was overturned as unconstitutional in 1987, after a challenge by United Christian Scientists, an independent group.[134] By 2001 the book had sold over nine million copies.[4]
Sickness as error
Eddy in her skylight room at 8 Broad Street, Lynn, from her illustrated poem, Christ and Christmas (1893).[135]
Science and Health expanded on Eddy's view that sickness was a mental error.[136] People said that simply reading Science and Health had healed them; cures were claimed for everything from cancer to blindness. Eddy wrote in the New York Sun in December 1898, in an article called "To the Christian World," that she had personally healed tuberculosis, diphtheria and "at one visit a cancer that had eaten the flesh of the neck and exposed the jugular vein so that it stood out like a cord. I have physically restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and have made the lame walk."[137] Eddy wrote that her views had derived, in part, from having witnessed the apparent recovery of patients she had treated with homeopathic remedies so diluted they were drinking plain water. She concluded that Divine Mind was the healer:
The author has attenuated Natrum muriaticum (common table-salt) until there was not a single saline property left ... and yet, with one drop of that attenuation in a goblet of water, and a teaspoonful of the water administered at intervals of three hours, she has cured a patient sinking in the last stage of typhoid fever. The highest attenuation of homœopathy and the most potent rises above matter into mind. This discovery leads to more light. From it may be learned that either human faith or the divine Mind is the healer and that there is no efficacy in a drug.[138]
She argued that even naming and reading about disease could turn thoughts into physical symptoms, and that the recording of ages might reduce the human lifespan.[139] To explain how individuals could be harmed by poison without holding beliefs about it, she referred to the power of majority opinion.[140] Eddy allowed exceptions from Christian Science prayer, including for dentistry, optometry and broken limbs; she said she had healed broken bones using "mental surgery," but that this skill would be the last to be learned.[141] But for the most part (then and now), Christian Scientists believe that medicine and Christian Science are incompatible. Medicine asserts that something needs to be fixed, while Christian Science asserts that spiritual reality is perfect and beliefs to the contrary need to be corrected.[12]
In the 1890s Richard Cabot of Harvard Medical School studied the healing testimonies published by the Christian Science Journal, which Eddy founded in 1883, for his senior thesis.[142] He wrote in McClure's in 1908 that the claims were based on self-diagnosis or secondhand reports from doctors, and attributed them to the placebo effect.[143] In 1900 medical lecturer William Purrington called the beneficiaries "hysterical patients ... the victims of obscure nervous ailments."[144]
Rodney Stark writes that a key to Christian Science's appeal at the time was that its success rate compared favorably with that of physicians, particularly when it came to women's health. Most doctors had not been to medical school, there were no antibiotics, and surgical practices were poor. By comparison the placebo effect (being treated at all, no matter what the treatment was) worked well. Stark argues that the "very elaborate and intensely psychological Christian Science 'treatments' maximize such effects, while having the advantage of not causing further harm."[145]
Malicious animal magnetism
Further information: Animal magnetism
Asa Gilbert Eddy (1826–1882)
In January 1877 Eddy spurned an approach from Daniel Spofford, and to everyone's surprise married another of her students, Asa Gilbert Eddy.[146] Eddy already believed that her former student and business partner Richard Kennedy was plotting against her. Weeks after the wedding Spofford was suspected too. She had hinted in October 1876 that he might be a successor, but instead he was expelled from the Christian Scientists' Association for "immorality" after quarrelling with her over money. She filed lawsuits against him and others for royalties or unpaid tuition fees. McClure's wrote that Eddy required "absolute and unquestioning conformity" from her students.[147]
The conviction that she was at the center of plots and counter-plots became a feature of Eddy's life. She believed that several students were using what she called "malicious animal magnetism," or evil thought, against her.[148] (She would abbreviate this as M.A.M.; she also called it mesmerism, malicious mesmerism, animal magnetism, mental malpractice, malicious malpractice, and mental influence.)[149]
Wilson writes that the concept of malicious animal magnetism was an important one in Christian Science.[150] In 1881 Eddy added a 46-page chapter on it, "Demonology," to Science and Health (from the 16th edition in 1886, when James Henry Wiggin became the book's editor, the chapter was reduced and renamed, and in the final edition is a seven-page chapter called "Animal Magnetism Unmasked").[151] Eddy spoke openly about this, including to the press; when her husband died in 1882 she told the Boston Globe that malicious animal magnetism had killed him.[152] "Those of her students who believed in mesmerism were always on their guard with each other, filled with suspicion and distrust," Cather and Milmine wrote in 1909. "Those who did not believe in it dared not admit their disbelief."[153]
While Eddy argued that reality was entirely spiritual (and therefore entirely good), it remained true that human beings were affected by their belief in evil, which meant it had power, even if the power was an illusion; evil was "like a bankrupt to whom credit is still granted," writes Wilson.[154] To defend herself against it, Eddy organized "watches," during which students (known as mental or metaphysical workers) would give "adverse treatment" to her enemies. This was called "taking up the enemy in thought." According to former students, Eddy would tell them to say (often with Richard Kennedy in mind): "You are affected as you wish to affect me. Your evil thought reacts upon you," then call Kennedy bilious, consumptive or poisoned by arsenic.[155]
Eddy set up what she called a secret society of her students (known as the P. M., or private meeting) to deal with malicious animal magnetism, but said that the group only met twice.[156] In her later years, Wilson writes, Eddy concluded that individuals ought not to be "taken up in thought," and came to see animal magnetism as an impersonal force.[157] From 1890 she felt that her students were focusing on it too much, and thereafter public discussion of malicious animal magnetism declined, although Gottschalk adds that it continued to play an important role in the teaching of Christian Science.[158] Adam H. Dickey, Eddy's private secretary for the last three years of her life, wrote that hour-long watches were held in her home three times a day to protect her against it.[159] The Manual of the Mother Church requires that Christian Science teachers instruct students "how to defend themselves against mental malpractice, and never to return evil for evil."[160]
Witchcraft trial, conspiracy charge
Further information: Salem witchcraft trial (1878)
Daniel Spofford
In May 1878 Eddy brought a case against Daniel Spofford, in Salem, Massachusetts, for practicing mesmerism. It came to be known as the second Salem witchcraft trial. The case was filed in the name of one of Spofford's patients, Lucretia Brown, who said that he had bewitched her, though Eddy appeared in court on Brown's behalf.[161] In preparation for the hearing, Eddy organized a 24-hour watch at 8 Broad Street, during which she asked 12 students to think about Spofford for two hours each and block malicious mesmerism from him.[162] She arrived at the court with 20 supporters, including Amos Bronson Alcott (a "cloud of witnesses," according to the Boston Globe), but Judge Horace Gray dismissed the case.[163]
The attempt to have Spofford tried was not the end of the dispute. In October 1878 Eddy's husband and another student, Edward Arens, were charged with conspiring to murder Spofford. A barman said they had offered him $500 to do it; after a complex series of claims and counter-claims, the charges were dropped when a witness retracted his statement.[164] Eddy attributed the allegation to a plot by former students to undermine sales of the second edition of Science and Health, just published.[165] Her lawyer had to apply for an attachment order against her house to collect his fee.[166]

Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements.[3] It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), who argued in her book Science and Health (1875) that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. The book became Christian Science's central text, along with the King James Bible, and by 2001 had sold over nine million copies.[4]
Eddy and 26 followers were granted a charter in 1879 to found the Church of Christ, Scientist, and in 1894 the Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in Boston, Massachusetts.[5] In the early 20th century Christian Science became the fastest growing religion in the United States, with nearly 270,000 members there by 1936, a figure that had declined by 1990 to just over 100,000.[6] The church is known for its newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, which won seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002, and for its Reading Rooms, which are open to the public in around 1,200 cities.[7]
Eddy described Christian Science as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing."[8] There are key differences between Christian Science theology and that of orthodox Christianity.[9] In particular, adherents subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism, believing that reality is purely spiritual and the material world an illusion.[10] This includes the view that disease is a mental error rather than physical disorder, and that the sick should be treated, not by medicine, but by a form of prayer that seeks to correct the beliefs responsible for the illusion of ill health.[11]
The church does not require that Christian Scientists avoid all medical care – adherents use dentists, optometrists, obstetricians, physicians for broken bones, and vaccination when required by law  – but maintains that Christian Science prayer is most effective when not combined with medicine.[12] Between the 1880s and 1990s the avoidance of medical treatment was blamed for the deaths of several adherents and their children; parents and others were prosecuted for manslaughter or neglect, and in a few cases convicted.[13]

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