100 years on: recalling a recent perspective on Mary Baker Eddy from a contemporary scholar…

Next in a “100 years on, and still going strong” series, we follow our 100 reflections appreciation of Mary Baker Eddy’s life and ideas 100 years after her passing with a glance back to an article from earlier this decade…

A few years ago, Radcliffe Biography Series author of Mary Baker Eddy, Gillian Gill, shared some of her insights about the subject of her book with staff of The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.  A monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal, compiled an article of excerpts transcribed from Ms. Gill’s interviews with the Library staff. Her comments, of which these are a select few, remain as thought-provoking today…

“Mrs. Eddy isn’t just historically important. Her life offers us some blueprints for life in the 21st century. There is a difference between Mrs. Eddy and some of her great female contemporaries. I’m thinking of Clara Barton, Catherine Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These are some of the great names of the 19th century–women who did not just have achievements, but who also achieved fame. To me, Mrs. Eddy is different from them because she lives directly in the present.

Beyond her time

“She founded a movement that is still with us. She has written a book that is not just being read out of historical interest, but because it’s still one of those books that changes peoples [sic] lives, as lives were changed by reading that book in the 19th century. So Mrs. Eddy is a continuing presence. …

Salvation and legacy

“She was not just leading the Christian Science movement; she was also an individual Christian Scientist. She had to think about her own salvation. This was very, very important to her, and she worked it into her daily life. She experienced the complexity of striving for different goals, and achieved a remarkable amount of success in many of them.

“Mrs. Eddy felt that she had found a transcendental truth, something that was not dependent on cultural context, on period–that she had seen something true forever, for all. This truth was obscure for many people, but she felt she could produce an organization, build a movement, construct a church, that would move those clouds away so that one would see less darkly. And she wrote a book [Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures] where she put that truth down in words.

“Now, the question is: Was she right? Does it work today? And this is the test she puts before us all. In those hours every day that she spent until the end of her life–thinking, revising, taking time to pray, to refine her message–that was her central task. That was not something she was prepared to scrimp on.

“She has set Science and Health before us. I think one can say that it has gone through time and proved its enduring value.”

Published in The Christian Science Journal, March 2002, pgs. 44-47.

Gillian Gill recently revisited the Mary Baker Eddy Library to contribute to their Strength of Spirit—Engaging with Mary Baker Eddy 100 Years Later series of events:

1. Author Talk – this is a video records of Dr. Gill discussing her biographies of Agatha Christie, Mary Baker Eddy, Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria.

2.  This ia an audio recording of  a Web Forum following the Author Talk, at which Gillian Gill answered questions sent in via Internet.

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Categories: Mary Baker Eddy, Women's spiritual leadership

Author:Tony Lobl

I write and speak on spirituality from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I am also an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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One Comment on “100 years on: recalling a recent perspective on Mary Baker Eddy from a contemporary scholar…”

  1. December 20, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Great post, Tony. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – one of my favorite biographies. Happy Christmas!

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