A better understanding of Mary Baker Eddy requires fact above falsehood. It requires admitting and correcting mistakes, rather than turning a blind eye or giving excuses.
- When Mrs. Eddy is accused of plagiarism, recognize the validity in this argument. Although 19th century writing wasn’t regulated by today’s copyright laws, Mrs. Eddy’s writings contain a glaring lack of referencing. If she was ahead of her time, she would have credited everyone she quoted with due respect. Mrs. Eddy didn’t even follow her own advice when telling other writers of her time to credit her when discussing ideas found in her Science and Health. What was considered complete in the 19th century is no longer complete to today’s human perceptions and as a result Mrs. Eddy is misperceived. But correction is possible by producing copies of her works with added references and proper crediting. Fact above falsehood also adds credibility to the “science” of Christianity. Scientific documents and texts are such because they’re referenced.
- The claim that Mary Baker Eddy was a charismatic leader of an un-Christian cult seems complex, however, the light of understanding shows that all leaders have charisma. Mrs. Eddy’s charisma shouldn’t be denied but admitted and then her followers should answer honestly: Do I talk and act as if Mrs. Eddy teaches exclusive (cultish) knowledge? Do I talk and act as if Mrs. Eddy had, or her writings have, all the right answers? Or, do I talk and act as if Mrs. Eddy was a significant servant to Christ? Do I place God and the Bible as sufficient to advance Christian Science, as stated in the first tenet given by Mrs. Eddy for Christian Science? Charisma isn’t the focus when God is.
- Misunderstandings of Mary Baker Eddy multiply and mangle when critics and admirers speak for her. When in fact we really can’t speak for her. No matter how well we know her history, our words shouldn’t speak for Mrs. Eddy as if we know what she “believed,” or “revered,” or “wished.” There can be no assuming or pretending we know what Mrs. Eddy would do today, because it’s not a point in Christian Science which deals with fact, evidence, and divine inspiration. We can actively admit the evidence that her church leadership was successful, however her outline for future church leadership lacked foresight and success. But based on the facts that Mrs. Eddy amended church bylaws as spiritual ideas unfolded and spiritual ideas are still unfolding, the bylaws can be amended again by people who take full responsibility for their action. Moving forward with God, rather than repeating or arguing opinions about what Mrs. Eddy wanted or didn’t want, would substantially aid in a better global understanding of her.
In today’s world of 7 billion inhabitants, Mary Baker Eddy is unknown. To the few who are acquainted with Mrs. Eddy, many are critics. Eddy has always been a controversial person, however, as with any controversy, it is opportunity to clarify and advance in understanding. In other words, if clarity and understanding aren’t given the upper hand, Mrs. Eddy will continue to be lost to history through misunderstandings. Clarity is not achieved by repeating “insider” language and behavior.
Clarity is achieved by representing that which is correct to human perception.
Tagged: american religion, church leaders, mary baker eddy
These are all fair points. Thank you for sharing your insight. I’ve only read excerpts of your book. Were you able to go back and find the references Mrs. E. should have included?
I researched every single referenced and non-referenced remark made by Mrs. Eddy in her Science and Health, with help from the New York Public Library archives and the Bible.
As with any physical object, Science and Health is not perfect, however the good work must outweigh the work that appears poorly done.
Three quick examples:
1. Mrs. Eddy talked about an aged woman, not aging, and tied it to The Lancet Journal. I could not find any, let alone barely adequate, evidence to support Mrs. Eddy’s words.
2. I could not verify the “very periodical containing” a statement that Mrs. Eddy attributed to “the late Theodore Parker.”
3. Mrs. Eddy quoted the Bible about 500 times, many times using the same few verses, however referencing is severely lacking. Mrs. Eddy also referred to other thinkers about 50 times, showing the reader that a significant number of words in Science and Health are not Mrs. Eddy’s.
These facts are up against the minds of today’s scientists needing credible referencing, the minds of today’s theologians needing honorable Scripture referencing, and the minds of today’s thinkers needing honesty. Repeating what amounts to rumors or Mrs. Eddy’s memory reaches a tipping point and becomes unacceptable, making Science and Health unacceptable.
Admirers of Mrs. Eddy don’t like to hear these facts, while critics of Mrs. Eddy do. However, millions of unprejudiced minds are ready and receiving ever unfolding spiritual ideas.
I revise and update Science and Health for readers who expect clear evidence of referencing, healing, and guidance., while yet giving Mrs. Eddy credit for her original ideas as found in her Science and Health.
Thank you, Anita, for your question.