Tag Archives: mary baker eddy
I spent the last year writing a historical fiction book. It was a self-imposed doable project that fit the time and space of Covid-19. The book’s setting is northeastern United States so, I could drive my own car, bring my own food, and stay at triple cleaned rentals for the night, while investigating the protagonist’s landscape. But I didn’t have to do much traveling, because most of my research was done from home through the internet. Let me say that in another way. It wasn’t the internet that supplied the bulk of my collected information, it was the services of historical societies and libraries.
Although I have memories of me walking through Saco Cemetery in Maine, last autumn, feeling embraced by the yellows, oranges, and reds of falling leaves while searching for the gravestone of my main character, Daniel Patterson, and memories of me getting lost while driving in circles looking for historical markers, I have a gazillion more memories of me standing in my office at my standup desk, with grandchildren bursting in the room and saying, “Grandma, I made this for you.” I have more memories of me speaking over the phone with, or contacting through a webpage, people who work at historical societies and libraries.
Although I used the internet, it was not the internet that supplied the historical information. It was the people who wrote history books, the people who worked in historical societies, the people who worked in libraries, the people who updated webpages with information who supplied what I needed.
It was the people who haven’t stopped thinking and working, simultaneously.
I know we all get excited over different things. I don’t get excited about shopping or eating anything else other than oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch, and potatoes for supper but get me on the phone or online with a historian and I get excited.
“Daniel Patterson, you say, when did he die?” asks Mrs. Elder from the Dyer Library in Saco, Maine. “I’ll call you back.”
But I get excited as I see in my head, Mrs. Elder walking pass the history section to the research department, closed to the public because of Covid, and making efforts to peruse microfiche or digital newspapers. While waiting at home, I write about something else or organize all the paper craft projects made for me by little innocent grand-fingers. Sure enough, Mrs. Elder will call me back with a found obituary that leads me to the United States Patent Department, where a Mr. Salis assists me. He emails me a court documents that sheds light on more of Daniel Patterson’s story.
Daniel Patterson was a man who grew up in Maine during the emergence of the industrial age. He became a dentist in New Hampshire, paid royalties on a patent for vulcanized rubber dentures (superior to wood or metal dentures), escaped Salisbury Prison during the Civil War and walked 400 miles during the night to safety in the north, married and divorced a woman who would later become famous for incorporating spirituality into healing.
What else did I learn? To always double or triple check information.
While most of the historians and libraries were smack-on delightful to work with and sharp-as-tacks, a few were lax and only repeated what they read on the internet, which I already could do from home with a grandchild sitting on my desk saying, “I’m drawing a fairy picture for you, Grandma.”
Although websites such as Ancestry dot com or Find A Grave dot com are amazing, they contain errors. Human errors. No biggie, mere reminders that human beings make mistakes, including the characters in my book. So, I politely thank and disconnect from the person who repeats what they read on the internet, all the while failing to countercheck the information on another website themselves.
Don’t bother getting disgusted, I remind myself. There are nearly three hundred thirty million people in the United States, someone else will make the effort to help me. And this is where I learned to use the internet to contact municipal offices for vital records. It was another place where I exercised my right to give people a break. Let me say that in another way. It was another opportunity to act on the fact that someone will help me, I just have to make an effort also.
I pretty much count on it because, if Covid teaches me anything, it is that the same spirit that motivated a Union man to escape prison and traverse his way over the Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountains, living off the land, wearing the same clothes he was wearing when captured seven months prior, is the same spirit that motivates us today. And I do see people helping people.
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.
On August 9, 2016, Bonnie Lykes-Bigler interviewed Cheryl Petersen about her revisions of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, on WIOX Roxbury radio.
To listen to a recording, click here and scroll down to the streaming box with Cheryl’s photo before clicking Play.
As read in The Christian Science Journal, July 2014, volume 132, issue 07, with my remarks given in bold font:
Question. Should Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures be changed to keep up with the times?
Answer. It’s characteristic of human experience to keep on changing. But, interestingly, Mary Baker Eddy realized the textbook of Christian Science would never be swallowed up by change. She once wrote, “If the world were in ashes, the contents of ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures’ would remain immortal’ (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p 178.)
The “contents” of Science and Health are ideas, spiritual ideas. If the world were in ashes, the ideas would still remain because they are immortal.
I do not assume to know what Mary Baker Eddy “realized,” however I will not impose upon Mary Baker Eddy the notion that she believed human words or a physical book were immortal. This imposition would restrict Christian Science to a book and a lost language, until the advancement of divine Science reverts back to the oral tradition.
A better crafted question is: Should Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures be revised? And the answer is, yes, because truth stays ahead of mortal mind’s perversions. Eddy wrote in Science and Health, “A germ of infinite Truth, though least in the realm of heaven, is the higher hope on earth, but it will be rejected and hated until God prepares the soil for the seed. That which when sown produces immortal fruit, perfects humanity only when it is understood—consequently, the many readings given the Scriptures, and the requisite revisions of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
The presumption that God won’t be rejected is complacent to the very evil that is rejecting God. A sacrifice of beloved material words is requisite to express the higher hope on earth.
Was Mrs. Eddy unaware of the effect time would appear to have on all books and human opinions, or was she so profoundly aware of how this book had come into being that she had not the slightest doubt of its eternal nature? She observed, “No human pen nor tongue taught me the Science contained in this book, Science and Health; and neither tongue nor pen can overthrow it.” (Science and Health p. 110).
This paragraph is a guesstimate made by the Board of Directors as to what Mrs. Eddy believed one hundred years ago about time. Their guesstimate has nothing to do with Science.
She described herself as feeling like a little child when first stepping into the new universe of Spirit. What had been sought through centuries of Christian prayer she was discovering to be the existing actuality of infinite divine good. Is it any wonder Mrs. Eddy saw the Science behind Jesus’ healing as the fulfillment of his prophecy of the coming of the Comforter to humanity (see John 14:16)?
This unchanging Allness of God, Spirit, she learned, brings concrete changes for the better in human experience. Thousands of healings through Christian Science over more than a century and a half provide abundant evidence. The chapter “Fruitage” in Science and Health includes this example of healing among many others:
“For twenty years I was a constant sufferer, my spine having been injured when I was very young. As a little child I suffered so much that I would look up to the starts and beg God, who I thought might be up there somewhere, to take me away from the earth,—I was so tired. A great wall of pain seemed to separate me from the pleasures enjoyed by others…This was my condition when I commenced reading Science and Health. I was ready for its message, and in about ten days there came a wonderful insight into the truth which heals the sick and binds up the brokenhearted. All pain left me, I had a glimpse of the new heavens and the new earth, and was beginning to be fed by Love divine” (p. 690).
A single, deeply moving account of such a healing, and the glimpse of the wholly new and different reality behind it, should be enough to give anyone pause in trying to “improve” the textbook of Christian Science. Whatever differences in punctuation, language, biblical scholarship, or translations, or even social norms and attitudes, may have developed since the final edition of Science and Health, the book stands as Mrs. Eddy saw it to be, the final revelation of the Science of Christ.
Maybe, a testimony of spiritual healing should give pause. But arguing with a century-old testimony, out of millions of testimonies, is self-jeopardizing. Moreover, the testimonies of people who were harmed by reading Science and Health should also give pause.
As for the “final” edition of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, is only final because she died. Mrs. Eddy never ceased revising her book while she was alive.
Its uniqueness and completeness is God-given. The textbook of Christian Science can’t be made simpler, and doesn’t need to be made more “accessible,” as the author herself pointed out.
The above words are words put in Mary Baker Eddy’s mouth. Words she did not write, that is why there is no reference for the quoted word “accessible.”
Moreover, the Board of Directors statement is based on the thinking that leads to the distortion that Christian Science and Science and Health are synonymous.
There would be no more sense in opening the door to mortal minds’ unremitting desire to conform truth to its own state of thought than there would to permit an art or music student to make a Michelangelo sculpture “better’ or to “fix” Bach’s or Beethoven’s music.
Is the Board of Directors assuming that readers of Eddy’s Science and Health never try to conform truth to their own states of thought? This assumption is negligent.
Or, is the Board of Directors assuming that Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures would be changed while retaining Eddy as the author? That assumption is immoral and illegal. The Board’s statement makes no sense.
But, it makes complete sense for students to discover Christian Science, as did Eddy, and express or read about Science uniquely and individually, with inspiration. It makes sense to learn from Michelangelo, Bach, Beethoven, or Eddy and go on to create our own masterpieces.
There can be no changes to an original spiritual discovery anymore than to discovering the basic facts of a new galaxy’s existence. And none are needed to increase the significance and attraction of Science and Health. Deepening spiritualization and Christianization awaken its readers every day to the incredible, lasting newness of this little book the angel had in hand (see Science and Health, pp. 558-559).
This statement by the Board of Directors adds to the detrimental imposition placed on Mary Baker Eddy by her opponents. Nowhere, does Eddy say Science and Health is the little book held by the angel as spoken of in the book of Revelation.
Eddy uses Revelation 10: 1 as a metaphor. The “little book” is likened to divine Science, not Science and Health. Divine Science or Christian Science is NOT Science and Health.
Science and Health isn’t a book needing help in keeping up. It’s “out there,” already far ahead of time and human opinions. It is best made known now through Christian Science healing and the revolutionary message of hope and fulfilling it offers humanity.
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
I warn against this attempt to conform human mind to matter, whether in the form of a book or words or actions.
I will not impose upon Eddy the assumption that she was a semi-god, fanatic, theocrat, or autocrat. She simply wrote a good book, that in order not to be buried in human language, needs honestly to be revised.
My revision of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was accomplished, not because Eddy’s book needed help, but because the ideas found in Eddy’s book were helpful. A fifth edition of my book, 21st Century Science and Health is coming soon .
The ability to conquer language and gain insightful meaning is empowering. The revision work of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures continues to unfold spiritual meaning. The latest work can now be found online. It includes five abridged chapters from Science and Health, Footsteps of Truth, Christian Science Practice, Science of Being, Investigating Mysticism, and Prayer.
Sin is controversial to say the least but instead of debating it, I try to focus on walking the fine line between not blowing sin out of proportion and not blowing sin off.
If I blow sin out of proportion, a heavy gloomy fog moves into my mind. I lose sight of our unity with the one sinless God and evil becomes real.
If I blow sin off, I become oblivious to my own shortcomings yet become overly sensitive to the sins of others. Egotism and hypocrisy creep into the psychology and I wonder why goodness is being depleted. No rather, I blame others for the depletion as if there is a cause and effect other than God, Love, Truth.
When it comes to sin, it is prudent to have a balanced perspective. God is sinless but I can’t ingrain myself in a routine of mentally and audibly protesting against the reality of sin so much so that I forget to overcome sin in myself.
You, Me & Religion has posted an interview… We discussed Christian Science today. Click the image below